Can we be trusted?

Pr. 6:13 describes a wicked man: “He winks with his eyes, he shuffles with his feet, he points with his fingers.”

In other words, he can not be trusted.

And then, in Psalm 7:8, we read the words of David, “The Lord shall judge the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and acccording to my integrity within me.”

What a striking contrast.  David actually invites the Lord to judge him according to his integrity.  As Christians, we already know God will judge us; however, David’s conscience is so clean that he invites God to do this.

Lord, You said that David was a man after Your own heart.  Like David, make us more like You.  Help us to be full of integrity, Father, and contrite when we’re not.  We love You, Lord, and long to honor You with our lives.  Help us to be the ones of which it can be said, “Yes.  They can be trusted.”  

Genuinely,

jamie

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What’s that in your eye?

Mt. 7:3-4: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”

Have you ever wondered if the speck we are seeing in someone else’s eye is really a reflection of the plank in our own eye?  Perhaps the shadow of our plank is reflecting off the surface of their life.

It is so easy for us to notice the imperfections in others.  Sometimes I think we even create issues that aren’t truly there, as a result of our own guilty consciences or our own inner feelings.

A simple example of this is a tired child who cries over the unfairness of everything.  The real issue isn’t that everything everyone else is doing is actually unfair.  The real issue is their own plank:  they are tired and need to rest.  The specks they are seeing in everyone else are only a reflection of their own plank.

The examples of planks grow more serious as we grow older:  jealousy, insecurity, dishonesty, adultery, deception, addiction, two-facedness, etc.  All can result in an hypocrisy in our lives…we have these things within us, but harshly project them onto others or judge them in error, when what we “think” we see in them is really the reflection of our own internal issues.

Has anyone else noticed this?  This morning I read John 8 about the adulteress that was caught in the act and brought to Jesus for stoning. Certainly she had sinned and broken the law, but what Jesus asked her accusers was, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

It is so easy for us to see the sins in the lives of others, and sometimes, perhaps the sin we see is real, but we really need to worry more about our own issues.

When we notice specks in the lives of those around us more often than we notice them in ourselves, it is likely that we are actually carrying around a plank.  Our plank is probably reflecting off of them and showing something that isn’t even there.

If that is the case, we need to seek the Lord’s counsel and help for our own sins and issues, and pray that the Lord would help us see others through His eyes of love.  When we submit to the Lord and allow Him to change us, the Word says that we will see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  (If it’s our place to do so…and if there truly is one)

I hope that today, like me, you will bear with the specks on those around you, and ask God to remove the planks from your own life.  What a happier environment we will create as we do so.

Trying not to leave splinters,

jamie

Don’t let the commercials distract you

Pr. 28:6:  “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.”

Not having cable, I rarely see commercials.  Yesterday I watched, in amazement, a commercial about fingernail polish.  It started with flirting and ended with 2 people in bed together.  For some fingernail polish.  Really!?

I am not trying to write a bitter diatribe about our society, but it saddens me when I see things like this.  Sin has a mighty grip on our world.  Sin would have us believe that life is all about ourselves, popularity, status, fame, success, sex, and sexiness.

Millions of dollars are spent daily on indulgences, advertisements, and commercials telling us how our lives should be.  Meanwhile, there are people dying every second from hunger.  Christians are dying and being persecuted for the Word of God.  Young girls are enslaved in human trafficking.  Babies are being killed.  People are dying from the lack of the simplest of the medical care.  There are still some who do not know the Lord as their Savior.

There is a work for us to do here on this earth, and I can assure you that it has nothing to do with wearing the sexiest fingernail polish or clothes, having the sexiest body, having the most impressive position at a company, having the most partners or experiences in bed, or having the most socially acceptable friends.

Integrity, a servant’s heart, modesty, humility, contentedness, purity, generosity, and honesty are still better.  God created us for a purpose.  I don’t care what this sin-cursed, sexy-fingernail-polish-wearing world says, God’s will and plans are still what are most important.

We still have work to do.  We don’t have time to allow the commercials and distractions of sin, temptation, or possessions to keep us from that work.  We must choose God, choose integrity, and choose to stay focused on the work for which we were created.  We may not be able to save the entire world in 1 day, but we can start with 1 person in 1 moment, and change a life.

We have to regain our focus on what is truly important.  That starving child does NOT care what kind of lipstick, suit, or shoes we are wearing.  The young girl enslaved in sexual trafficking is not worried about your fingernail polish.  The lady dying from a curable parasite is not interested in which Christmas dishes or tablet you’re picking out.  Those things are distractions and they do not matter.

There are people trapped in sin and others who have never even heard of the Lord.  We must reach out and show the love of Jesus and share about His sacrifice and forgiveness now.  It doesn’t matter what our position or status in society, God can use us to save people’s souls.

We must come to our senses.  We have a job to do, and people are counting on us!

Thank you for indulging me,

jamie

 

There is a better reward for honesty

Pr. 21:6:  “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.”

The first thing that comes to mind for me with this verse is games.  Cheating to win a game may bring a moment of exhilaration, but certainly it is a delusion that is short-lived and distorted.  The lesson that must eventually be learned is that if you had to cheat to win, then you really didn’t “win” at all.

Some, however, never learn this.  Some get used to the feeling of winning, to the feeling of exhilaration that comes from manipulating their environment to get what they want.  I remember when I was a young kid, maybe 5 or 6, and I stole something from a store.  My mom eventually found out and she drove all the way back to the mall, made me hand my prize back to the cashier, and I had to tell them that I had stolen it.  I still remember the terrifying feeling of having to do that.

What if my mom had not done this?  Her plan wasn’t fool-proof, but she had to try if she was to teach me about integrity.  If I had been allowed to relish the feeling of getting something free, perhaps I would have tried it again the next time we went shopping.  Time after time, if I continued, my path may have led me to cheat and steal in other areas of my life.  Lying and stealing would have become second nature to me.

How does someone become a person who consistently lies to get what they want, steals from others, embezzles, or cheats people out of their own possessions or money?  Almost certainly it is not a decision they wake up one day and make.  It is more probable that the trajectory of their life has led them to that place. Little by little, understanding that lying or stealing can get them something they want or make them feel good, they begin to trust in that feeling and grow comfortable that consequences won’t come.

Still those feelings are a fleeting fantasy, and while they may not be purposefully choosing to seek death, the snares of death have taken hold of their lives.  The only way to be released from the snares is the truth.

Confessing our sins to our Savior (whatever they may be) and asking for forgiveness allows God to release His forgiveness and grace over our lives.  Honesty from that point forward will continue to point to the Savior and to eternal life.  The power and presence of God is a reality that brings better things.  There is a great, enduring reward for those who believe in the Lord.  Now THAT is a real Win!

Let’s be careful not to pursue fleeting fantasies of sin, but to endure for a great reward in heaven.  We will be ever so grateful that we did.

Sincerely,

jamie

The flowing brook

Pr. 18:4:  “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.”

We are not born wise.  Just this morning, as my children began their day and sat down for breakfast and a Saturday morning TV show, my daughter was rude to my son 3 times in about 3 minutes.  Him making a noise was the reason she couldn’t count.  His coughing, with his mouth covered, meant he was coughing on her.  Her putting her finger in his face was just a joke.  Apparently this is the day when she is entitled and everything he does is absolutely wrong.

I had to remind her that her attitude was showing that her heart was not housing kindness or love, and invited her to pray about it and stop, or go back to bed.  She is still sitting at the table with us, so I am hoping that means that wisdom is taking over.  Time will tell.

There were a few verses in Pr. 18 that would have been appropriate with this situation, but I like this one best.  I like the positive note of this particular verse.

It is true that the words of our mouths come from deep places.  The deep, secret places of our hearts contain what we truly feel and believe.  Out of those places, flow the words we speak.  It is clear that deep in my daughter’s heart right now there are places of pride, selfishness, bitterness, and dishonesty.  Now, not to pick on my baby girl (who just yesterday offered to buy the same brother a new Batman sword as he cried over the pieces of the one he had just broken) the same could probably be said of any of us.  We are all imperfect in our flesh.  We live in a fallen, sin-cursed world and will not be perfect until the Lord makes all things new.

What is encouraging to me is that with time, experience, study, prayer, and teaching, we can become people whose hearts are filled with more and more of God.  As we read the Beatitudes over and over, we are reminded that the peacemakers, the merciful, the meek, and the pure are blessed.  Spending years of our lives in submission to God reminds us that He is ultimately in control and will fulfill our every need.  Filling our hearts with His love, His wisdom, His percepts, and His promises cleanses the deep places and purifies the waters.

As our hearts become more full of God and less full of ourselves, His wisdom can take over and the brook that will flow from our mouths will indeed be a wellspring of the wisdom deep inside.  If you’re not perfect today, take heart, each moment that you spend with God purifies you deep inside.  The wellspring within you grows purer and holds more Living Water.  Until we are made new, we will never be perfect, but God can use us now to be a wellspring for those around us.

Cheers!

jamie