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

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Wounds from a friend

Pr. 27:6:  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Have you ever been wounded by a friend or kissed by an enemy?  Did you know the difference?

Yesterday I was talking with one of my dearest friends.  We have both been affected by suicide lately and the subject of my attempted suicide in high school came up.  After a failed 1st attempt, I wrote a letter with my intentions to my friends before my 2nd attempt, and she took it upon herself to take that letter to the school guidance counselor who called my parents.  I was promptly enrolled in counselling.  Yesterday she admitted to me that she was so scared, back then, that I was going to be mad at her.

I told her that I was mad at her for a while.  Wounds from a friend hurt.  But aren’t they ever faithful?  Because of her loyal and caring action, I got the help that I needed and am here writing this blog today.  She could have allowed her fear of losing our friendship to cause her to not take action, but would that have been the best thing for me?  Absolutely not!  I would have died!  She had to choose between my life or our friendship.  I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her, but at the same time, how easy it was…a no brainer, really.

Now, that one is pretty shut and dry as far as what to do, right?  But…Has your friend started drinking more and more recently and been justifying to you?  What about when your friend is flirting with men who aren’t her husband?  How about when your buddy’s jokes are only dirty ones anymore?  Have your friends started letting the youth hang out at their house and do things that are inappropriate?  Lines can get a little grayed at some point and subjects can get a little touchier.

It’s not always up to us to speak.  Sometimes, the Lord just calls us to pray.  If, after you have prayed; however, you still feel you need to speak then keep this in mind:  There is a popular mantra about thinking before we speak, and as friends, we definitely need to keep this in mind, because it’s so important HOW we say things.

When we are truly someone’s friend, and we say things from a place of love then they know it.  Even if they do get upset, if we have done it with the right heart, and we have prayed and thought before we have spoken, then we have done all we can to be faithful to them.  We never want to attack our friends from a place of anger or judgment.  So, as faithful friends, we may end up wounding our friends at times, but if we would pray first and think, then we would definitely have less to repair in our relationships.  My friend of 30 years would agree.  😉

Think first,

jamie

Where’s the faithful man?

Pr. 20:6:  “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”

I read a chapter in a book to my kids yesterday and, after I finished, I asked them what happened.  My daughter gave a quick answer, but my son was distracted and didn’t appear to be prepared to speak.  I asked him a question about it and, after pretending to think about the answer, he said he didn’t remember.  I asked him some specific questions about the story about things that would have stood out, and found out that he had not been listening at all…for the entire chapter!!  Grrrrr.  I was pretty frustrated.

Now what?  Was I to read the entire chapter over just for him?  Skip it and just recap it for him?  Make him read it on his own?  (It’s way above his “grade level” but that could be a good reminder for him)  Or perhaps I should just give up on that book entirely since it obviously didn’t grab his attention?  Anyway…

I was so frustrated at that moment that I decided it would be best if we moved on to another school subject.  I would decide what to do about the book later, but I was stewing on the inside.

Boy did he throw off my vibe for the day and my plans for our book reading time.  Why couldn’t he just listen?  Why didn’t I just make him sit beside me like I usually did?  So many questions.  So much stewing.  Why couldn’t he just be perfect, right?  haha!

How many times have my kids tried to talk to me and I’ve been doing something else and giving them half of my attention?  How many times have they told me all about something they’ve been working hard on in Minecraft and, while I “listened” to them enough to appease them, I couldn’t repeat it to you now if I had to because it didn’t really matter to me?

I know I’m not the only one.  We are all guilty of things like this.  When we see the faults in others, we compare their faults to our strengths.  That’s not really fair, is it?  Like this verse says, we all proclaim our own goodness, but not one of us are faithful.  Not 100%.  We are all just doing the best we can.

It’s good that we know who we are in Christ and that we have confidence in ourselves.  It’s when we start thinking ourselves better than those around us that we begin to err.  We have no business comparing ourselves with others…especially not fault to strength.  We each have our faults and we each have our strengths.  That’s why we work so well together as ‘the body’ of Christ; each having our own part to play.

Today is a new day.  My son will be sitting beside me today as we read, but my understanding cap is on and we will get through this together.

Team building,

jamie

Sowing harmony

Twice in Proverbs 6 there is mention of sowing discord.  How can we avoid sowing discord?

Becoming humble, understanding that we are imperfect ourselves, helps us not to sow discord.

Walking in the Spirit fills us with the fruit of the Spirit, which promote harmony:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves brings harmony.  If we truly love someone as ourselves, we will want things to be harmonious and not full of discord.

Serving others helps us to love them and to desire harmony with them and others.

Praying for those with whom discord seems to be inevitable.  When you are praying for someone…sincerely praying…it becomes very difficult to talk badly about them or to them.  Sincerely praying for another helps us to love them with the love of Christ.

Imitating Christ is another way to sow harmony instead of discord.  What better example than the One who gave Himself as a sacrifice for the world.

Forgiving helps us to sow harmony, as well.  We are asked to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave us.

It is God’s will that we not sow discord.  Just check Proverbs 6, if you need confirmation.  I pray today that we will not allow discord to be what we sow, but that we will intentionally seek to sow harmony.  If we notice the seeds of discord in our seeder, we can ask God to help us replace them with those of harmony and love.  He will faithfully offer His aid.

Loving you,

jamie

Proving we are faithful stewards

Pr. 3:9:  “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase”

This morning I was also reading Luke 16, about the unjust steward.  A steward is a person in charge of the property of affairs of another.  I believe the Lord has placed us all in charge of His estate here on earth, as we are His hands and feet.  That is why this proverb is so important.

When we honor the Lord with our possessions, with our firstfruits (our tithes) we are honoring and giving back to Him what is really His.  The parable of the unjust steward talks about a steward accused of wasting his master’s goods.  Verses 11 and 12 teach us, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (money), who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”

Instead of wasting the money He entrusts to us, we give back a portion to Him in a demonstration of our understanding that He is the One who provides for all of our needs.  We give evidence that our trust is not in money, but in the One who holds the world in His hands.

We are told that if we are not faithful with money, we will not be trusted with true riches.  I am now reminded of Mt. 6:19-21.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If our heart and our trust belong to the Lord, we understand that being faithful stewards of the things He has entrusted to us on this earth will store up for us treasures for eternity.

God will provide for our needs here on earth, if we are faithful with what He gives us.  If we show honor to Him by demonstrating our trust in Him through tithing, then we are demonstrating that we can be trusted with true riches.  What is more complimentary than that?

Let’s be faithful stewards, doing God’s work with the provisions He gives to us.  He will bless and care for us here, and reward us further in heaven.

Thanks, God!

jamie

Where honor is due

Pr. 30:11:  “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother.”

This reminds me of the world in which we currently live, although, I know that disrespect goes back to the beginning of time.  I remember the story of Noah and his sons.  Noah became uncovered in his tent and when his son, Ham, saw his father’s nakedness, he went out and told his brothers all about it.  His brothers, on the other hand, went in and covered their father, keeping their faces turned.  They showed their father the respect he deserved because he was their father.  Ham was cursed and his brothers were blessed.

Disrespect seems to be more rampant in our society these days.  All you really have to do is visit a play ground or the mall and listen to the way that children speak to their parents to find out the truth.  More and more we are modeling the behavior of Ham.  Sadly we even hear of worse, as I just heard a story about a man who stabbed his mother to death.  How far we’ve strayed.

I won’t get in to all the discipline issues, but speak to God’s instructions about our parents.  As far back as the Exodus of the Israelites, the Lord gave the command:  “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  This was the first commandment with a promise.  Not only will our parents be honored and respected, but we live long on the earth and things will be well with us.

Some parents teach false or wicked things to their children.  What then?  We are not responsible for the actions of others, but for our own.  We aren’t to give respect only to those who have earned it, but to those who are in a position of authority over us because the Lord has appointed them.  We honor their position, not their worthiness.  We give honor and respect because we were commanded to do so, and because we see what Jesus has done for us when we have not earned it.  We honor and show respect as unto Christ.

Pr. 11:29 says, “He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind.”  Surely, not giving honor to our parents causes trouble; and instead of gaining a promise, we will get nothing.  Trusting in God as our heavenly Father allows us to follow His commands without fear.  Surely He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  He shows Himself strong to those whose hearts are loyal to Him.  Trust Him enough to keep His commands.  You will receive help and a promise to boot!

Respectfully,

jamie

 

 

Are you groaning?

Pr. 29:2:  “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”

This verse reminds me of work.  Have you ever worked for a boss who just seemed unbearable?  Sadly, in our sin-fallen world, not everyone is perfect.  Occasionally, there are people who rule over us in a very unpleasant way.  This can be true for work, for government, just about anything.  Truly we groan within ourselves when this is the case.

On the other hand, when we are ‘ruled’ by someone who is righteous, our lives are made much easier, and seem much more pleasant.

This reminds me of Col. 3:23-24, which says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

It is the Lord we are serving, not men.  No matter how many raises, bonuses, incentives, or even punishments are given to us by men, our ultimate reward comes from the Lord.

I’m reminded, as well, of Eph. 6:5-8:  “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”

We are actually ruled by One who is righteous.  Our reward comes from Him, not from man.  We are instructed to serve our ‘masters’ in sincerity of heart, as to Christ.  Serving Christ, the One who laid down His very life for us, is a privilege and an honor.  If we can remind ourselves that it is He that we are serving, truly we can willingly lay down our pride and our lives to do His will in all we do.  We can also be assured that the good we do will be done unto us by the Lord.

Also, this morning I read Ps. 43, in which the writer is asking for God to deliver him from the deceitful and unjust man.  At the end of the Psalm, the writer reminds himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

Then there is Pr. 29:25 which points out that the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.  We can trust in God because He is faithful.  Our hope lies in Him, the One who is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Do not grow weary.  Work as to the Lord today.  You are safe in His hands, and your reward is forthcoming.

Rejoicing,

jamie