Reading the whole Word

This morning I was reading the book of Amos.  I was reminded that we cannot just pick and choose which parts of God’s Word we read.  It is all important.

It is normal and helpful to choose verses that help us through the day, such as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” or “My God shall supply all your needs through His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Mt. 6 reminds us not to worry.  John reveals to us the power of Jesus and the power that brings to our lives.

These verses are wonderful and help us survive and cope here on Earth.  While we are waiting on the Lord, we cling to the hope we find in His Word.  I am so grateful that we have access to the Word of God.

What a blessing that He gave us such access to Him!

Reading Amos; however, reminds us that this life is about more than just being comfortable.  Life is about more than surviving.

Amos reminds us that while we are comfortable, other around us are lost and dying.  People are literally without God and headed for destruction.  When we read outside of our “comfort verses,” we are reminded to grieve for the lost, which will spur us to action.  We are reminded that this life isn’t a game.  There is a mission for us in this life.

Yes, I believe God’s promises to prosper us and give us life more abundantly, but I don’t believe those things supersede His desire that all His children come to Him.  I don’t believe He sent His Son to die on the cross simply for our comfort.

He wants us to be saved, and to live eternally with Him.  But not just us…also those around us.

Amos, and other prophets remind us that this life will not always be.  The Word of God is a gift we have, that cannot be taken for granted.  Life is not only about eating, drinking, and being merry, but also about eternity.

Christ’s return will come.  Not everyone will be known by Him on that day.  Does that grieve your heart?  If it doesn’t, I encourage you to turn to Amos.  I encourage you to ask the Lord to remind you of His heart.

It is easy for the worries of the day to blind us and cause us to forget the larger picture.  God’s Word is there to remind us to grieve and to act.  We can spread the verses of hope with those who come to believe.

Encouraging you,

jamie

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Investing 101

Pr. 18:16:  “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”

While we wait on the Lord’s return we have work to do.  We can never forget that ultimately, the work we are called to do is to spread the message of Jesus Christ.  God is depending on us to point others to Him.

I was reading the parable of the talents in Mathew 25 this morning.  It reminded me that God has entrusted us with resources that He expects us to use to multiply the kingdom.  He did not give us resources and salvation so that we can sit comfortably in our happy place and keep it all to ourselves.  He expects us to put those resources to work.

That work will look different in a lot of lives.  We have all been given different resources so that we can reach a wide range of people.  Some will be preachers and pastors.  Some will be missionaries in a foreign land.  Others will minister to people in prison.  Levites will lead the way with music ministry, bringing others into the presence of the Lord.

Others, however, may look more like a mother talking to her children about the Lord day after day, reminding them of God’s love and provision.  Some will hand out food in their community, or spread God’s love to those around them by simple actions of kindness or charity.  I have watched my own mother approach a cash register to simply purchase a shirt, and before we walked away, both she and the cashier were in tears, hugging and praising God.  It could look like that.

Perhaps it’s a Sunday school teacher, faithfully teaching Sunday after Sunday, feeding adults or children with the Word of God.  It could be a nursery worker, caring lovingly for a helpless baby while it’s parents are being ministered to.  Sometimes it’s a miraculous offering of forgiveness that can only be explained as a gift from God.  It could even be a financial giving of resources.

God expects us to use our resources for His kingdom.  In the parable of the talents, the man who had given the talents to his servants returned to find out what had been done with them.  There was 1 servant who had buried and hid his talent until the master returned.  The master was disappointed that the servant had not done anything with it.

One day, Jesus will return.  He will look to see how we have used our resources for His kingdom, and He will expect to see some sort of return.  We cannot hide our resources or His love away.  Others are counting on us.  And our work will please the Master.

Investing,

jamie

It’s not in vain in the Lord

1 Cor. 15:58:  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

As I logged in on my computer to begin my blog this morning, the headlines caught my eye.  I realized that there is no better time for this verse to be recalled.

Death and it’s sting, sin, will be destroyed.  That is a fact.  We have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!  Therefore…knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord, we can continue until He returns.

When you start to find yourself wearing down and you feel like yielding or wavering, remember this verse and stand fast in the promise that your work in the Lord is never done in vain.

Keep going!  When that trumpet sounds the fruits of your labor will reveal how worthwhile it all was.

Standing firm beside you,

jamie

Don’t give up now

Pr. 27: 18:  “Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who waits on his master will be honored.”

A workout buddy of mine once gave me some advice that stuck.  She said, “At the point when you want to give up, that’s when you’re building endurance.”  Her advice got me through some intense (former) workouts.

However, the last time I felt like giving up the fight and giving into depression, her words rang again in my mind.  I realized how true they are, not just for working out, but for life.

The NKJV Bible that I read uses the word perseverance.  Let’s look at Ro. 5:3-5:

we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2 Peter 1:5-11 talks about fruitful growth in the faith:

giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Talk about eating the fruit of the tree we keep.

Peter also reminds us in chapter 3, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, [the day of the Lord] be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (vs. 14-18)

At the point where we feel like giving up the fight against temptation, sin, indifference, and justification…if we will instead choose to persevere, that is when our endurance is built.

What happens when we build endurance?  We are stronger in the face of the next temptation.  We have the stamina to go longer between moments of intentional, willing sin.  Our brains begin to think more clearly, and our justifications become baseless.  Our confidence in who we are in Christ will grow, and our confidence in His strength will not easily be shaken.

Building our endurance takes diligence.  Diligently growing in our faith while we wait on our Master will allow us to be honored upon His arrival.

The day is at hand.  We cannot give up now.  We must diligently keep ourselves to see the fruit.

Let me say it again so maybe it will stick in your brain like it has mine:  At the point when you want to give up, that’s when you’re building endurance.  And for that fight we put up, we will indeed be honored.  🙂

Waiting on Him,

jamie

Oh, and I heard this song this morning that reminded me of this.  He is worth it!

 

Let’s advance together

Pr. 30:27:  “The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks.”

Locusts are one more thing that is little on the earth, but called exceedingly wise by Agur.  Chemicals in their brains cause wise-spread breeding, and when their numbers are large enough, they advance.  Although they indeed have noted no king, the natural instinct that God placed inside them causes them to move as one in a decisive order.

God has given humans free-will.  We have instincts, but unlike animals, we are not ruled by them.  All of us were created with a sense of right and wrong.  We were all created to worship.  The difference is that we have a choice.  What we decide to worship is a choice.  Whether we fight against that right and wrong is a choice.  We also have the advantage of having the Holy Spirit adding wisdom to the instincts God has already placed within us.

What if we Christians all quit fighting against the God-given instincts of right and wrong and stopped ignoring and going against the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and started advancing, as one, toward our common goal?

The times in my life where I have fought against my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudgings and wisdom have been the times when I have fallen out of rank.  I was not advancing the kingdom of Christ one bit.  I was headed in a different direction.

When I choose to follow my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudges, I am always left knowing that I have done what I was created to do.  Whether it’s walking away from sin or ministering to someone in need, I am decisively advancing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When a swarm of locusts advances, there is no doubt where they’ve been.  The effects are long-term.  They create environmental change, famine, economical devastation, and educational decline.

What if we decided to truly do what is actually right and advanced as one in a decisive order as the locusts do?  We could bring positive environmental change for countless people.  We could feed starving souls the Bread of Life.  We could introduce the Provider to those in need.  We could acquaint others with the wisdom that is freely given from the Lord.

If we allowed ourselves to be driven, as one, by the One who change bring the best change of all, the effects would not only be long-term, but amazingly profitable for all.

Time is short, and the day of Christ’s return is drawing closer.  It’s not time to be falling out of rank.  It is time to pull together and advance for the kingdom of Christ.  He is the answer for us all!

Falling in line,

jamie

Keep watching

Pr. 29:1:  “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

There is a punishment and a destruction that will come that will indeed be without remedy.  This morning, I was reading Luke 12 where Jesus talks about the end coming.  There is a punishment for those who do not choose the Lord as their Master and their Lord.

As this year comes to an end, it is a good time for a reminder that there is an eternal reward, or punishment, that awaits.  Our lives are not about what we see and experience here on this earth, but about the Lord, His will, and eternity with Him.  We cannot harden our necks to this truth, but must stand corrected and ready, waiting on His return.

Jesus tells His disciples, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

This entire passage reminds me of Christmas evening.  We knew that some of our family was expected to arrive that evening.  When they called and let us know that they were 3 hours from arrival, we left my parents house and our other family and went home to prepare.  We wanted to be home when they arrived, to have our home nice and cozy, and to have food waiting on them upon their arrival.

As we waited excitedly, my kids were watching out the window and asking for updates on the time, hardly able to contain themselves with the anticipation.  Luke 12:37 says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.”  This reminds me of what we were doing Christmas evening.

The difference is that we knew what time to expect our company.  We do not have that knowledge about the return of Christ.  vs. 45 says, “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink, and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”

When we lose the anticipation about the Lord’s return and become distracted and caught up by this life, He will come back to find us unready and we will be appointed our portion with the unbelievers.

That is not God’s will for our lives.  Hell was created for satan and his angels, not for us.  (Mt. 25:41)  Heaven is the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.  (Mt. 25:34)  We are meant to spend eternity in heaven with our Savior and King.

Let us not become so distracted, as we wait, that we lose our anticipation of His coming.  He will return!  He will come back for us.  Let’s keep watching, expecting Him at any moment.  Our blessing awaits.

Eagerly,

jamie

Is God really rude?

As my kids and I were leaving the park yesterday, my son announced that he lost 2 of his prized knives at the park.  (I hadn’t even realized he’d brought them)  Upon our arrival back at the park, we spoke to a man who had actually found one of the knives.  Honestly, it was pretty amazing, as the kids had run over a mile during their playtime and the search area was close to a football field in length.

A few nice people joined in as we began earnestly searching for the 2nd knife, although my son couldn’t even remember what color it was.  (goodness)  After about 15 minutes I finally remembered to pray for the Lord’s help.  (i’m a little slow occasionally)  Right when I was done, my daughter spoke up and said, “I prayed that God would help us find the knife.”  (yes!)  Now that 2 of us had prayed, surely we’d find it, right?  However, after 5 more minutes, it was still not found, and it was time for me to end the search and call the knife lost.

My daughter sat down on the slide in defeat and said, “We prayed that God would help us find the knife and He didn’t.  How rude!”  I was a bit taken aback by her comment and momentarily unsure what to say.  I reminded her that God is faithful and that one of the lady’s promised to continue looking while she and her son’s continued to play.  God could help her, and she’d call us if she found the knife.

As we made our way down the trail to the entrance of the parking lot, I spotted the knife.  While pointing it out to my daughter, I said, “I told you God is faithful.  He heard our prayers and He always will.”

This morning I read 2 Peter 3:3-4, “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?”

My son should not have taken something so valuable to a playground in flimsy costume pockets.  It was not God’s “fault” that his knives were lost.  Yet, because we were struggling to find them, my daughter forgot all the other amazing things God has done and all the other answered prayers she has witnessed.

Just because Jesus has not returned, does not mean He won’t.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

In frustration or impatience, we cannot forget all the promises God has been keeping since He created this world.  He has been faithful, He does not lie; and if He said He will return, then He will.  Our prayers aren’t always answered with a yes, but God is always faithful to hear them and His will for our lives is always in our best interests.  He loves us.  He truly loves us, and His faithfulness endures forever.

Keep trusting,

jamie