Which fruit are you eating?

Pr. 1:31:  “Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies.”

I have eaten the ‘fruit of my own way’ more times than I care to admit. I must say, that while it may have tasted sweet for a moment, it turned quickly bitter, and left an aftertaste not to be desired.

We’ve all done it.  We have wanted to be full of our own fancies, and have our own way.  Perhaps we have even tried to push the voice of wisdom to the back and keep trodding through the mud and muck of sin to have just a bit more.  Sad, but true, huh?

The beautiful thing about the fruit of the Spirit is that it doesn’t require such a struggle.  When we choose to live for God, and walk in the Spirit, we take the path without the mud.  In fact, we can soar above it, on wings like eagles.  There is no conscience to step over.  There is certainly no bitter taste.  And the aftertaste?  Heavenly.

I can’t help but think of the lyrics of Blessed Assurance that say, “Oh what a foretaste of glory devine.”  The fruit of God’s way not only nourishes and fills us here and now; its nutritional benefits are eternal and more wonderful than we can even begin to imagine.  Thank You, Lord, for Your fruit!

Bon Appetit!

jamie

Advertisements

Month of Prayer, Day 23

Lord, the theme in my scripture reading this morning is that regarding Your Word is wise and will lead to eternal rewards.  You warn us not to envy sinners, but to be zealous for the fear of You, reminding us that there is surely a hereafter, and that our hope will not be cut off.

You remind us not to overwork to be rich, but to set our eyes on eternity.  You remind us to correct and discipline our children so that they may be delivered from hell.

In Pr. 23:23, we are told, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”  We are reminded throughout this chapter about wisdom.  We are encouraged to remember that while temptations may look good for the moment, they lead to bad results.  Help me to remember these verses when I am tempted to focus on earthly pleasures more than eternal rewards, Lord.

Like the writer of Ps. 119:125, I say, “I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.”  I do not want to regard Your Word as void, Lord, but to love Your commandments more than find gold, or any other earthly treasure.

Help me to hate every false way, but to focus on Your precepts, and Your promise of eternity.  Lord, You loved me so much that You allowed Your only Son to be killed so that I could live with You in eternity.  Do not let me trample on that gift just to ‘feel good’ here on earth.  I want to be with You forever.

Thank You, God, for the gift of salvation.  Thank You for the promise of an eternal reward.  Thank You for Your love that is sacrificial.  Please help me love the same way.  Thank You for Your Word, which gives me wisdom.  Please help me to live a life according to Your Word, that I may please my Father in Heaven.

I pray and ask these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Month of Prayer, Day 17

Lord, in Ps. 119:81-88, I see the author is being persecuted and crying out for You to execute judgment upon his enemies.  In Pr. 17, Solomon warns over and over about lying, gossip, spitefulness, quarreling, deceitfulness, and evil intentions.  He even says, in vs. 12, that it would be better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs, than to come upon a man in his folly.

It is clear that other people’s decisions, intentions, and actions can greatly affect our lives here on earth.  But You, O Lord, test the hearts. Judgment comes from You alone.  Solomon tells us that, “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

Knowledge and understanding of You, O Lord, can keep our spirits calm here as we endure the circumstances that present themselves in our lives.  Our hope, Lord, is in You.  Indeed, we do hope in Your Word and long for eternity with You.

No matter what happens around us, Lord, we can continue to pursue our relationship with You.  We can continue to trust and hope in You.  We can keep Your testimony in our mouth as You revive us according to Your lovingkindness.

Thank You for being the One upon which we can call.  Thank You for being faithful to hear and to provide.  Thank You for being the Wise King who is just and honorable.  We can certainly trust in You.

I love you, My King.

jamie

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

Which way?

Pr. 17:24:  “Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”

The Lord revealed something to me yesterday as I was driving.  There are signs, arrows, and directional markers all around us.  Some signs to tell us exactly which driving lane we need to be in.  Arrows point us in the right direction on one-way streets.  There are signs to let us know what’s ahead, when to merge, if there is a detour, and on and on.  

We are surrounded by instructions, and yet some people are still ‘directionally challenged.’  Why is that? They have good intentions.  They know where they want to end up; however, the get flustered in the details and lose their way.

This proverb says that even though the fool is looking for wisdom, he cannot see her, though she is right in front of him.

Not everyone can clearly see the signs and markers.  Not everyone can figure out which lane is correct when there is so much going on around them.  Driving (like life) is so busy sometimes, and we cannot always see the little arrows in the midst of the noisy crowds.  Sometimes the little details can be hard to pick out among all the hundreds of signs, directions, and choices all around us.

This could be a lesson about how we shouldn’t overlook the wisdom that is right in front of us.  This morning; however, my heart is aching for those are can’t find their way.

The word fool has a condescending meaning in our times; however, God uses the word fool to mean someone who is disregarding His Word.  It is someone who has become lost on their journey.  Sure, there are signs, markers, arrows, and indicators all around them, but they cannot see them in their search for answers.

Instead of us having ‘road rage’ against those around us who are lost or disregarding God’s Word, we must allow compassion for their souls to cause us to be someone who lovingly points them in the right direction.  Do we want those around us to drive off the cliff into tribulation, fiery death, or torment?  I don’t want anyone to end up in a location of pain and anguish that was designed for their enemy just because they missed the U-turn sign.

When we’re driving as a group and someone doesn’t make it through the light or misses the turn, do we continue on, leaving them behind?  No.  We stop and wait for them.  Perhaps we go back to get them and guide them on.

The journey to eternity is of far greater importance than a trip to the store or to that vacation spot.  We can’t let ‘road rage’ cause us to laugh at, judge, or scoff at those who are losing our way.  We MUST stop and help!  Someone else showed us the way.  We have to share the secret with someone else.

Help us see the wisdom, Lord,

jamie

Which wisdom do you seek?

Pr. 5:1:  “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding.”

I’m struck again today by what the Bible says about wisdom.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks about the wisdom of men vs. the wisdom of God.  There is a vast difference indeed.

Paul is reminding the Corinthians, and us, that it is not the wisdom of man that we should chase, obsess over, or count on.  He tells us in chapter 2:10-11 that the Spirit alone knows the deep things of God.  We should be chasing after God.

When Paul spoke to them it was not with persuasive words of human wisdom, with excellence of speech, or from his own power and ability.  The only thing he desired to know was Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and when he spoke, he demonstrated the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The ‘wisdom’ of this world is driving us further and further from God.  Of worldly wisdom, Is. 29:14 says that the wisdom of the wise will be destroyed and the understanding of the prudent will be brought to nothing.  We cannot count on the wisdom of men to give us the answers we seek.  We cannot count on the wisdom of men to protect us, solve our problems, or bring true freedom.  Their wisdom will be destroyed and brought to nothing.

Only wisdom from the Lord endures.  When seeking after wisdom, let’s make sure we’re going to the right source.  Wisdom was with God at the beginning of His way, and exists with true prudence, knowledge, and discretion.  (Pr. 8)  We have been invited to ask God for that same wisdom, and told that He who gives to all liberally and without reproach will give it.

We may sometimes feel foolish in the face of worldly wisdom, but we needn’t.  God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things to put to shame the things which are mighty.  In the end, God’s wisdom will be what makes all things new and will lead us to our heavenly home.

Let’s grow wiser by running after God.  He’s the one we can truly count on.

With eternity on my mind,

jamie

Tasty but destructive

Pr. 26:22:  The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

I read an article that was written about one of my great-aunts who passed on a few weeks ago.  She would have been 100 years old this winter.  The author of the article had gone to visit her and asked my great-aunt what life advice she would give a middle-ager.

The 3 things my great-aunt said she would have done differently were to read her Bible more, pray more, and not believe things she heard about others without having first heard their side.

I didn’t see that last one coming.  Not something I would expect to hear a 99-year-old woman saying; however, perhaps a relationship in her life was lost or altered in her middle years that caused her to still think such a thing all those years later.  I’m not sure.

This verse tells us that it shouldn’t be surprising, though.  Words of gossip do not just bounce off of us, but are taken in, savored, digested, and soaked up into our very core.  It then becomes very difficult to erase what we’ve heard, lie or not, because our minds are so hungry to make us feel better about ourselves.

If a 99-year-old woman, knowing she’s passing on to eternity, is still thinking about the effects of a decision like this, it seems it is certainly something we shouldn’t take lightly.

I guess the best thing is probably to avoid gossip at all, whenever possible.  Then, if there is a situation where we do hear something, we can take her other advice and pray more.  We can pray that God would help us be responsible with what we’ve heard and either help us forget it, if it isn’t necessary for us to know or concern ourselves with; or to give us a proper setting to hear the other side.

Remembering that no one is perfect, and that we all fall short of the glory of God and of perfection, we must be careful with not only what we hear, but also what we choose to do with those words.  We can choose to savor, digest, and soak it in to raise ourselves up, or we can choose to protect, love, and build others up.  With God all things are possible.

Soaking in the advice,

jamie