Are you with him?

Do we really need to read our Bibles, pray, worship, spend time with God?  Does that stuff actually matter?  Does it make us saved?  Does it change anything?

Things I’ve heard lately:  “How do I know if I’m saved?”  “I don’t need to raise my hands in worship.  God knows how I feel.”  “I don’t need to read my Bible, I feel saved.”

Now, let me be clear right up front.  John 3:16 says whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life.  It says if we believe, then we are saved.  I will never say that anyone is not saved if they don’t perform.  The Lord indeed knows our hearts.

However, when Jesus told people to follow Him, He would ask them to give things up.  Some gave up families, jobs, and homes.  He asked the rich, young ruler to give up his wealth.  And he always told people to repent.  He never said that anyone could just go on sinning.  He very clearly told the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.”

We don’t believe in Jesus without knowing Him and if we truly know Him then we understand that He is not ok with us just living any kind of way we want.  No, He doesn’t expect us to come to Him in a perfect state.  What He does expect is that we spend time with Him and allow Him to change us, mold us, and grow us into the person He wants us to be.

How does this happen?

I can say that I’m married to my husband, but if I never spend time with him, how can I know him?  If I don’t have conversations with him, then I will never learn anything about him.  If we never spend time together, then we won’t grow closer together.  What if I live somewhere else and choose to maybe call him twice a year?  What kind of relationship would we have then?

And if we told you we were married, but we were never affectionate, we never saw each other outside of the church, never talked outside of the church, and didn’t even write letters or emails to one another or read each others writings, then would you really believe we belonged to one another?

Worship (being affectionate to God) is an outward way to show that we know Him, we are grateful for His blessings, and that we believe in Him.  No, it is not required, but if you’re in a relationship with someone, isn’t affection usually expected?

Reading your Bible is the way you get to know God more.  It isn’t required, but the Bible is our sword!  It gets us right into the heart of God.  It is how we grow and change.

Prayer is the way we get to talk to God.  We are blessed to be able to speak directly to Him.  Prayer is our lifeline to God.

Cultivating our relationship with Jesus is what grows us and helps others to see that we belong to Him.  Then we become a true disciple for Him.

Follow Him,

jamie

 

 

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Keep showing up

Acts 1:21-22: “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

When Jesus’ disciples were set to choose someone to take the place of Judas, these are the words they spoke.  They wanted someone who had been with them from the beginning and could attest to all that Jesus had done and said.  It needed to be someone who had been faithfully by their side along the journey, paying attention, and someone who could reveal Jesus’ true nature to others.  They then chose 2 men and left it up to God to make the final decision.

I’m compelled to say to someone this morning, keep serving.  Keep showing up.  Keep being faithful.

Matthias was not one of the original 12 disciples, but he was 1 of the leaders who spread the gospel of Jesus after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  His role was pivotal.

Had he not spent his early years showing up, he would not have been qualified by the Lord.  Keep showing up.  The Lord sees you and knows you by name.  He is preparing a place for you.

Stay faithful,

jamie

Walk on the water!

Mt. 14:28:  “Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

Peter sees Jesus walking on the water and his reaction is to ask Jesus to tell him to come to him.  He wanted to walk on the water with Jesus.  Jesus says, “Yes, come.”

Peter went over the side of the boat and actually walked on water!  He walked on the water to toward Jesus!

 

When was the last time you saw Jesus doing something amazing right in front of you?  Was it at a revival service?  Down at the altar when the Holy Ghost was moving?  Was it in a hospital room?  Did you ask Him to let you join in?  Peter was the only disciple that asked Jesus to let Him walk on the water…and He got to!!  I’m assuming all the others were just watching from the boat.

The next time we see Jesus walking by doing something miraculous, we don’t need to sit in our pew watching as others join Him.  We need to ask Him to tell us to come to Him.  I believe He will say come!

Let’s jump in,

jamie

Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.

-jamie

All you need is love

Pr. 2:6:  “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

My mom and I were talking about love yesterday.  Perhaps that is what caused this dream I had last night.

I was in an old school building and there was an evil woman forming in the wall.  I was with a group and as we were waiting for the moment for her to form, I flashed back to the last time she had come.  We had tried to defeat her with battle, but apparently had not won.  She had turned some of our group into animals and although she had gone away for a time, she was now forming again.

A man and I gathered some of our loved ones that had turned to animals and hid in a closet, blocking the door, and preparing to fight again.  As we were waiting, I realized that fighting was not the answer.  The answer was love.

I opened the door, and as the evil one approached, instead of striking out at her, I began speaking love.  We all sat around her, and I reminded her of the good in her.  I told her why she was special.  I spoke lovingly of the things about her that were uniquely created, and about why I loved her.

As I spoke, she was motionless; unable to move in the presence of my love.  Her face began changing and eventually I could tell that she was free.  There was nothing dark or evil about her any longer.  She smiled and everyone cheered.  That’s my last memory of the dream.

As evil takes form in our world, and turns some of our loved ones to ‘animals’, and as we stand in the face of things that seems scary, I believe the same answer holds true.

Do we need to strike out at others?  Is it best that we prove our point?  Do we need to attack people with the Word or our opinions of the Word?  Is aggression towards sinners the answer?  I don’t think so.

I believe the love of God deserves more credit than that.  God is love, and His love for us is so strong that He gave His only Son that we should not perish.  We cannot keep that love for ourselves and offer only condemnation and judgment to those around us who are less than perfect.

Realizing that we are not the ultimate judge, we are here to offer hope, love, compassion, understanding, empathy, and the beauty of the freedoms in Christ.  Loving sinners does not mean you love sin.  It means you are following Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Beatles weren’t the first ones to let us know that all we need is love.  Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you…by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

Let’s trust Him enough to offer that love and leave the rest to Him.

Loving you,

jamie

 

You are as important as a spider

Pr. 30:28:  “The spider (one of the things that is little on the earth) skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in king’s palaces.”

Strange verse to pick?  Let’s see.  In Acts 6 when there was a complaint that some widows were being neglected.  The twelve believed they were supposed to remain in prayer and in the Word, so they summoned the growing number of disciples and told them to, “seek out from among you some men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

The whole multitude was pleased with this decision and seven disciples were chosen to take on the task.

From Jamie's phone 2-18-15 2044

How do I relate this to a spider?  Spiders, indeed, are little.  They can be scary to some, insignificant to others, and tolerated by others.  However, to those who appreciate their skills and their contribution to the balance of nature, they are amazing and extremely important.

The same goes for the “little” people in the kingdom of Christ.  Sometimes we feel too small, somewhat insignificant, and sometimes simply tolerated.  However, God gave us all specific skills and abilities we can use for His kingdom.  We are all part of the balance and each of us is important.

We must not; however, wait until we’re called upon to decide to use what we have for the Lord.  When the seven were chosen it was because they were already of good reputation, and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.  They may not have had a chance to put their specific skills to work prior to this; however, they had already made the choice that what they did have would be used for the Lord.  They were already of good reputation.  They were already full of the Holy Spirit.  They were already tapping into God’s wisdom.

We can do the same.  We can make sure that we are daily walking with the Lord, being fed His wisdom, being filled with His Holy Spirit, and ensuring that we are making wise choices that lead to a good reputation.  Like the spider, we were given certain skills for the work in our King’s palace.  When the time comes that our specific skills are needed to complete the task, we will be found ready.

So, see?  You are important, and your skills are just as good as those of the spider.  Keep learning with the Master.

Feeling sticky,

jamie

You will feel it again!

Pr. 26:9:  “Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.”

Having previously been a bit of a drunkard on occasion, I understand that a thorn in the hand would not go much noticed.  Being drunk dulls the senses and a thorn likely would not even be felt.

Certainly there are times in our lives when even the scriptures enter us and their weight goes much unnoticed.  There are seasons where one can read about the love of God and still feel quite unloved.  Moments come where forgiveness is promised, but the reader feels only guilt.

Likewise, in seasons of sin, we can read about the consequences of our sins and feel no remorse.  In fact, at times we disregard it as irrelevant or inapplicable to us.  Gossip is strongly discouraged in the Word, but we can look at those verses and point straight at someone besides ourselves.

It’s amazing that the same Word of God that captures our hearts and causes us to submit to the Lord and His will can later be just another noise that we can no longer distinguish from the others.

Sin and deceit can so harden us that we can read every verse in the Word about our sins and still choose to walk continuously into them.  The lies of satan can so oppress us and bring us to a place of despondency, that the love, care, and compassion of Jesus seems farther out of reach than Saturn itself.

We’re not alone.  Even the disciples, when in the presence of Jesus Himself, did not always understand.  Some lessons were lost on them or not felt at times, causing Him to ask them, “Do you still not perceive or understand?”  He encouraged them to remember the things which they had already seen Him do.

Thankfully, the Word of the Lord is living and powerful.  (Heb. 4:12)  Open your ears to this next verse this morning, which is very fitting today as it is raining outside my window and is snowing in other parts of the world right now:

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

No matter the season of our life, we must continue persevering in the Word.  In times where we’re so “drunk” that we cannot even feel it, it is still watering our soul to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.  Do not give up when the scriptures seem unspeaking…God is still speaking, and soon your ears will be opened and you will remember!

Hallelujah!

jamie