The serving legacy

Have you been called to serve?  Do you find yourself serving in your church over and over again?  There could be a good reason for that.  Maybe it runs in the family.

I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Numbers.  This is where the Lord placed the Levites over the service of the care of the most holy things in the tabernacle of meeting.  When the Israelites were ready to move locations, Aaron and his sons would disassemble everything…the curtains, the utensils, the lamps…and then cover them.  They were the only ones allowed to touch the things inside.  After that, the Levites were the ones entrusted with carrying everything to the next location.  They were called for this purpose.

I believe that there are families today that are called in this same way.  Do you notice how some people just love to serve?  Have you seen some families that seem to always have a member that serves or is involved?  The church needs workers.  Things that go on at a church don’t happen by accident or without help.

My great-grandmother, Pearl Tolbert

My great-grandmother started a church that is still going strong to this day.  To its original church building, she would walk from her home, and light a fire in the old wood stove in the winters.  Sometimes, when it was extremely cold, people wouldn’t even show up, but she was ever-faithfully there.

My mother was often a teacher for one of my classes at church; and we sang in the church choir together for most of my life.  My father served on the church board up until my young adulthood; and, on the weekends, could almost always be found mowing grass or making repairs around the church.

On the flip side, I know a pastor who was not raised with Christian parents, but made the decision to live for and serve the Lord.  His son and grandson became pastors, as well.  His great-grandchildren are also growing up with hearts that love the Lord and a passion for serving.  Just because you don’t have the heritage behind you, doesn’t mean you can’t start one for the generations that will follow you!

The best thing you can do for your family is to serve with them, and to leave a legacy of service behind you.  I am grateful that I was born into a family of people who serve the Lord, but I am more grateful that I can show my children the way to serve Him.  Even if you don’t have children of your own, it’s those nieces and nephews, those cousins and young people around you that you can still influence.  Don’t ever think it doesn’t matter.  Just one servant decision at a time…it matters.

Serving with you,

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

 

Taking control of the wrong thing

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is filled.”  2 Cor. 10:3-6

My tattoo caught my attention the other morning and got me thinking about the reason why I got it.  I recalled coming to the place where I had decided that I had no control over anything in my life and so, I resolved to take control of something…enter the tattoo.

Whether you’re for or against tattoos, I can tell you that, at this point, I’m generally pretty indifferent towards mine.   But today it’s going to teach us all a lesson.

I’ve written before about when I got sick in 2012.  I never had a moments doubt that the Lord would heal me.  I remember reading my Bible in the hospital, completely trusting the promises within.

As the inconclusive medical tests continued to come in, and my pain persisted, I began to grow a bit weary.  At a church service a few months later, I heard a lesson about prayer lives that I didn’t like, and it hurt my feelings.  It made me feel inferior and inadequate.  I thought about it over and over.  I talked to myself about it.  I fumed over it.  I resented it.

Looking back, I know that when Satan realized that the physical issues weren’t going to cause me to turn against God, he knew would need a new tactic.  I gave him exactly what he needed.  He whispered, taunted, and argued against my knowledge of God with that comment I heard at church.  I could have just brushed it off and moved on with my life, but I allowed him to get in that crack.  I didn’t take control of my thoughts.  I didn’t take them captive.  I allowed him to control my thoughts for me.

As the months went by I let it impair my prayer life a little at a time.  Anger set itself deeper and deeper within my soul.  And then, someone I trusted even more spoke about the same thing, and I remember that being the day I just quit.  I remember thinking, “I’m done.”

What happened?  Satan won.  And I ended up with a tattoo.  I fought in the flesh instead of using the mighty weapons I have in God.  I became weaker because I took ‘control’ with my weakest weapon…my flesh.

Instead of taking my thoughts captive and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God, I listened to the twisted “truths” of the enemy.  Instead of ‘taking control’ by getting a tattoo, I should have taken control of my thoughts, reading the Word for myself and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and bring to my remembrance all the Lord has said to me.

Let my tattoo be a permanent reminder for us all…take control of your thoughts!  Take control of the “truths” you are listening to.  Stay in God’s word and let the Holy Spirit minister to and teach you.  Fight in the Spirit and not in the flesh!  God is on your side and He is fighting for you.

Marked,

jamie

Follow-up blog:  How to take your thoughts captive

Month of Prayer, Day 10

Lord, how I do love Your Word.  Not only is it the weapon You have given us against the enemy, but it is life, and truth, and love.  Your Word is living and powerful.  It transforms and reforms.  It cleanses and guides.  It breathes life into our thirsty souls.

I love Pr. 10:3, that says You will not allow the righteous soul to famish.  Lord, Your Word is living water and food for our hungry souls.  Only You can fill the void within us.  That is why we can delight in Your Word and in Your commandments; because Your Word protects us, shapes us, and breathes truth into our inmost beings.

Lord, we can walk securely and at liberty when we follow Your precepts.  Your precepts and commands are what keep us safe.  In Proverbs 10, Solomon wrote of the peril, destruction, danger, and consequences of living a life outside of Your will.  But, oh my God, You made us Your righteousness through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and You, Lord, will keep us safe when we follow You.

Lord, keep my feet from stumbling onto any path that is not laid out by You.  When I face a fork in the road, let Your law I have kept be my compass.  Let Your statutes I have meditated upon make my decisions easy and my choices clear.  Lord, Your Word gives me very clear guidance.  Help me to heed it.

Thank You that Your way is strength for the upright.  Thank You that the righteous will never be removed, and that our labor leads to life.  Thank You for the security, the love, and the salvation that You have given us.

Oh God, let me be wise enough to make You glad.  Let my life please You and be a sweet-smelling offering for You, as I walk in love and in Your wisdom.  You are the amazing God!

I love you,

jamie

Foolishness can depart

Pr. 27:22:  “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”

This week I ran into a girl I knew in high school.  She mentioned a mutual friend we had and noted that while that friend had been pretending to act foolishly like us, she was really going home at night and doing her homework.  She was the only one who got a full scholarship to college and went on to have a prestigious career.

I left there with memories of the past replaying in my mind and, as is my custom, I began to feel down.  I began to recount the many, many bad and sinful decisions I have made and how they greatly altered the course of my life.

Each time I thought of a low point, I’d remember an even lower point, and then I wondered if I’m the foolish person in this proverb.  Am I the one who will never learn?  I began to worry about how it would be all too easy for me to allow one more foolish decision to cause the life I live now to crumble around me.  But isn’t that basically true for us all?

Then, I thought of God’s grace.  I remember when God stepped into my life and said, “That’s enough.”  I’m grateful to  remember the decision He used to turn my course back to Him.  I can look back and see my life changing and my decisions slowly changing to line up with His will and His word.  I can recall times when He helped me make the decision to turn my back on foolishness in an effort to be wise.

I will never be perfect; however, I am not as foolish as I once was.  I have allowed God to undertake the ongoing process of replacing my foolishness with His wisdom.  Trusting God is the wisest thing I’ve ever done.  Foolishness can depart, through Him.

Carefully,

jamie

God’s clear guidance

Pr. 8:5:  “O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.”

You know what our Bible gives us?  It gives a clear road map we can follow throughout our lives.

No, the Bible doesn’t tell us if we should move to a different town, take that new job, or say no to that new offer.  It does, however, give us very clear examples of the consequences of other people’s choices.  The Bible has an example of every type of sin, with the cause and effect clearly laid out.  The Bible has examples of faith, clearly showing the rewards that accompany it.

Learning from the choices of others is very resourceful.  We can save ourselves a lot of time by simply noting how the decisions of others affect their lives, their families, and their walk with God.

Instead of being simple…walking straight into the wall we just watched someone else walk in to, we can can watch and learn how to be prudent (careful) by taking note and choosing differently.

An understanding heart can clearly see that not only was David’s decision to commit adultery a sin, but it led to even more sins, a blemished relationship with God, and the death of his child.

An understanding heart can see clearly that running from God, as Jonah did, only causes unnecessary troubles in our lives and delays the inevitable.

Heb. 4:11 reminds us, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”  The Bible is full of examples from which we can learn.  We just have to read it and trust God enough to fight the urges to make those same mistakes.

We are also given examples of faith that can encourage us that trusting God will not end badly.

An understanding heart can see clearly that Noah’s faith in God caused him to be not only favored by God, but caused his family to be saved from destruction.

An understanding heart can clearly see that Rahab’s faith also caused her family to be saved.

An understanding heart can note the provision that came when Moses’s faith allowed him to stretch out his hand over the Red Sea, believing that God would do what He said He would do.  Provision also came to the widow who made a cake for Elijah with her last flour and oil, believing the Lord’s word that her flour and oil would last for her son and her until the rain came.

Over and over, we can see how faith has produced results and sin has caused harm.  There is so much we can learn in God’s Word.  There is so much guidance for us all.  All we have to do is read, and with our understanding hearts, learn prudence.  Praise God for His Word that gives provision!

Taking note,

jamie

All suggestions are not equal

Pr. 8:14:  “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.”

There is a game I sometimes play on my iPad where I have to move pieces around.  If I hesitate, the game will suggest a move for me.  A few weeks ago I saw it lighting up a suggestion for me, but when I looked more carefully I saw a better move.  It reminded me that not all suggestions are in our best interests.  Even those from an expert.

Daily, suggestions are lighting up all around us.  We have to know our own end-game and make our decisions based on our own beliefs, convictions, and knowledge.  God’s word gives us what we need.  If we want our lives to lead to eternal life for us and for others, we must be careful with other suggestions…even from experts.

Wisdom, which was possessed by the Lord at the beginning of His way, cries out to us.  Like the suggestions on the game I play, wisdom lights up and suggests our next move.  Unlike the game; however, which was created by humans, wisdom has counsel from the Creator of the world.  Wisdom IS understanding and has strength.  Wisdom hates the evil way and will lead us on the paths of righteousness and in the midst of the paths of justice.

True wisdom, crying out to us daily, is from the Lord.  Whoever finds the Lord’s wisdom finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against her wrongs his own soul; all those who hate her love death.  Pr. 14:35-36

When it’s time to make a decision, and suggestions are lighting up all around us, we must take the time to look carefully and find the path that of righteousness that wisdom is suggesting.  Blessed is the man who listens to wisdom.

Considering carefully my path,

jamie