Don’t understand?

Pr. 3:5:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

Last week I lost a friend to suicide.  How do you line that up with your faith?

Just like anything else.  Keep trusting in the Lord.  In this life we will have trials.  Although God’s plans for us are good, we live in a sin-cursed world where disease and sin have tainted things.  Sin brought in death and disease.  Sin brought in meanness, evil intentions, cruelty, and poison.  The life we live in this temporary place will have trials and pain, but God can turn every pain and trial around for good.

Joseph’s brother’s plotted to kill him, but instead threw him in a well and sold him into slavery.  He was falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned, forgotten.  But of all of the things that were meant for evil in his life, Joseph said, “God meant it for good to save many people.”  And he was right.

This morning I was reading about all the apostles of Christ that were mocked, scourged, homeless, sawed in half, tormented, etc.  (Heb. 11:32-40)  It was said that they did it that they may receive a better resurrection.  Paul, as well, was shipwrecked, snake-bitten, imprisoned, and had a thorn in his flesh that the Lord would not remove.  The Bible says he accepted that gladly for the promise of the power of Christ upon him.

How in the world can we accept suffering, pain, or trials?  How can we make it through these dark times in our lives?  By trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding.

It doesn’t make sense to us when the pain comes.  But the Word says that His ways are not our ways.  Perhaps, like Joseph, He is going to make something beautiful come from our pain.  Death and suffering don’t come naturally to us, but God has sent us the Comforter.  God supplies for our needs.  He comforts.  He gives joy and peace in the storms and trials of our lives.  When the storms come, He is the One in which we can take refuge.

The Lord is the One who provides the peace that surpasses all understanding which guards our hearts and minds when we pray to him in our times of anxiety.  The Lord is the One who shows Himself strong for us when we remain loyal to Him.  The Lord is the One whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.  It is the Lord in which we need to continue to trust.  He will be as faithful tomorrow as He was in the beginning.  He does not change.

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness, in which we can place our trust and our hope!

jamie

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Turn away and live!

Pr. 4:14-15: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

Oh, I have travelled on those paths too many times.  I want to remind us today that we are told to turn away and pass on.  There are good reasons for this.

Today happens to be the birthday of a dear friend of mine from back in high school.  Sadly, we can’t celebrate together because he passed away several years ago.

There was a night when he chose to take the wrong path.  He made some poor decisions with some friends.  Afterwards, when his judgment was impaired and his decision-making was affected, he chose to literally walk on the exact wrong path…a busy road, where he was hit and killed by a vehicle as he walked.

God’s warnings are for our protection.  He wants to protect us from the consequences of sin.  Satan always lies and tells us that there aren’t any.  He says that our decisions are our own and they won’t affect anyone else.  He convinces us that we can repent at a later time.

Friends, there may not be a later time! My friend did not have a later time.  He took the wrong path and he is gone.

Thanks to God’s grace, you and I have been given more time, another chance to turn away and pass on.  Let’s do that.  Let’s make that choice and be better off for it.  There is protection for us here and eternal life for us on the other side of this life!

In memoriam,

jamie

 

There’s life in there yet!

“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”  Rev. 3:2

Is there a spiritual discipline in your life that’s ready to die?  Has your worship begun to wither, or your prayer life been declining?  What is it that’s dying?  When that happens, we know it.

We must take inventory today of the things which remain.  It is time to strengthen them.  It’s not time to simply “give up the ghost” on those things and let what will be just be.  No!  It is time to strengthen what remains!

The hour of Jesus’ return is upon us, but is not yet here.  We who overcome will be clothed in white, our names confessed before the Father, and will inherit all things the Father has in store for his children.

Let us take the time to strengthen what remains and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into our relationship with Him.  We are not done for or so far gone that we cannot be renewed!  Now is the time!  Today is the day!

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with Him, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Rev. 21:3-4

Looking forward,

jamie

How can I save those I love?

Pr. 24:11:  “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.”

I have not been able to shake this verse since I read it yesterday.  My heart breaks when I think of people I know and love who are stumbling towards the slaughter.  Some are walking there willingly, and others are being deceived.  I want nothing more than to grab them in an embrace and lead them to the Lord.  But what can I really do?  I can’t make up people’s minds for them.  I cannot convince them with smooth words, or even stop them with my insistence.  How can I deliver them?   How can I hold them back?

The fact is, I can’t.  This is where I have to pray and trust that God will be able to get hold of them, to deliver them and hold them back.  Maybe God can use me in some way, but the truth of the matter is, it is between them and God.

Genesis 3:4 is where the serpent convinced Eve to sin against God.  “…in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan is still using this same tactic–telling us we will get something from the sin.

“You will know what it’s like to really feel loved.”  “You will finally have peace.”  “You will get what you’ve deserved for so long.”  “Your pain will finally go away.”  “No one will ever know.”

This is how he leads people to the slaughter.  His empty promises that are actually lies in disguise.  1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that our own consciences can become seared with a hot iron.  When that happens, we no longer view sin as sin.  It becomes a right to which we cling.  Our lives become about us, our wants, and our desires.  Our lives become about what we deserve…just as Eve ‘deserved’ to have her eyes open to know good and evil in just the same way that God did.

The truth is that it is God’s will for us on this earth is to tell people about His kingdom.  We can find this truth in His Word.  When the focus of our lives is only our own will, then we have departed from God.  God has and is all that we need, and more.  All the things satan promises, are things that only God provides.  Satan has wanted to be like God from the beginning, so he tries to promise what only God can give, but his path only leads to pain, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, my heart breaks that people I love are being led to the slaughter.  Oh, how I long to open their eyes!  God, please open their eyes.  Holy Spirit, please bring back to their remembrance the truth of Your Word.  Lead them away from death, and hold them back from the slaughter, dear Lord, I pray.  In Jesus’ saving name, Amen.  

Trusting,

jamie

Investing in eternal life

Pr. 11:4:  “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

I just finished a book series that took place after an outbreak of a pandemic disease wiped out 80% of the world’s population.  Children were orphaned, farms were abandoned, industry and retail ceased.  Money could no longer buy a single thing on the earth.  Everyone was suddenly on equal grounds…all simply trying to survive.

This verse reminds me of that.  On the day the Lord returns, our riches, material possessions, status, and opulence won’t save us.  Only righteousness (living right with God) will deliver us from death.

The question begs to be asked of us all:  Are you investing more time into gaining or upkeep of riches that will not profit or into gaining or sustaining your relationship with God, which will quite literally save you from death?

As I think about the plans I’ve made for my day, with this verse in mind, I can see that my plans are a bit unbalanced.  Thankfully I still have time to readjust those plans before the day is up.  So do you.  🙂

Calibrating the scale,

jamie

Those enticing deceptions

Pr. 7:27:  “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.”

This chapter in Proverbs is speaking about the immoral woman and the young youth who yielded to her enticements.

Certainly he was not the first one to whom this has happened.  We have all been seduced by sin.  We must learn by our mistakes; however, and the mistakes of those around us.  We can see clearly that the end result of sin is death and hell.

We don’t want to believe that.  We really want to justify and rationalize.  We are so good at trying to figure out the loopholes.  Sin is attractive.  Just like this harlot, sin is alluring.  It fascinates us with its sensations.  The rationalizations that accompany it tempt us to believe that it can all work out.

However, just as this simple youth was led to the slaughter by this enchantment, we are also led to death when we succumb.

Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to “exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Sin is deceitful.  The rationalizations and justifications that accompany sin are deceitful.  The bewitching package of sin is deceitful.  It is all a ploy.  Satan wants us to give in to sin.  He wants us to allow our flesh to win the war against the Spirit.

When faced with this seducing bait, we must remember that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit are contrary to one another.  We cannot live in intentional sin and still be walking in the Spirit.  That is a lie.  If we find ourselves believing this, we have been hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

We must be vigilant to guard ourselves from giving into temptation.  We must continue to feed on the Word of God and allow His Spirit to be our guide.  Temptations will still be presented, but when we are walking in the Spirit, His wisdom will keep us from stepping where we should not.

Jesus is still on the throne where He is able to aid those who are tempted.  (Heb. 2:18)  We have the ultimate ally, who will literally supply us with every single provision we need to stay true to His desires.  Let’s take advantage of all we’ve been given through Him.

With Jesus, there is life, and the victory of death has already been won!  Instead of allowing sin to lead us to the slaughter, we can allow Jesus to lead us to eternal life.  Praise God for this amazing blessing!!

It’s still Today!

jamie

Profits of sin

Pr. 10:2:  “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.”

So, I tried to make these wreaths with my kids today.  They look so cute, right?

I left them in the oven too long and they all melted into big red and white blobs.  (This lovely picture came off the internet)

Later today I thought about those blobs.  Have you ever seen a sin that seemed like just the right thing to do?  You anticipate how it will be.  You romanticize the outcome.  You think of all the possible positive outcomes, and overlook all the negatives.  It seems like the perfect plan.

And then, in the aftermath, it turns into a big melted, messy blob.  It looks nothing like your original idea, and the whole place smells of smoke.

Steer clear,

jamie