I’m #1! I’m #1!

Pr. 27:2:  “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips”

We sometimes want to brag on ourselves for a number of reasons, but man, isn’t it so much better when some random person brags on us?  It really is.  (Although I do occasionally tell people when I complete I’ve been putting off and tell them, point-blank, to be proud of me. 😛 )

I’d also rather brag on someone than to hear them go on and on about their own accomplishments.  ha!  It may surprise some of those people to hear that, but when you are doing a good job of something it usually doesn’t go unnoticed.

I was helping in a 6th-8th grade cooking class this year and there was a student that was constantly looking for ways to be helpful.  Honestly, you couldn’t have stopped her if you tried.  She went out of her way to be helpful; even staying longer than the other students to make sure everything was cleaned up.  She also had a smile on her face and was just a delight to be around.

I praised her several weeks in a row.  Then, one week, as I was drying the dishes she was washing, I asked her about her helpfulness.  She told me that her New Years Resolution for 2018 was to be more helpful.  Well, she was definitely nailing that one!  What a lovely resolution.

I was reading Eph. 5 this morning that said that we should be imitators of God.  Jesus said that He came to serve and that we should do the same.  This young lady had resolved to imitate the greatest Servant I know, and I know that I’m not the only one who noticed.  Her obedience to His Word will earn her a reward from the Father.

Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first last,” and “He who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Mt. 20:16, Mt. 23:11)  Not only has she learned and chosen to humble herself, but she wasn’t shouting it from the rooftops for everyone to know.  It was only after I praised her and asked her why she was choosing to act so differently that she confided in me that she had made that resolution.

I was more than happy to praise this helpful young lady!  She had no need to brag.  I guess that’s the thing with being obedient to God’s Word.  When we are truly doing what it says, it works out just as it says it will.  Amazing, huh!?

This 8th grader can teach us a lot today.  Let’s learn from her example and start humbling ourselves the way Jesus told us to.  God will reward us, whether on this side of eternity or on the next.  You can count on it!

On the flip side, when we see someone doing just that, let’s make sure we say thanks!

jamie

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2018 is for sharing!

Tomorrow is another new year.  I’m not one for making resolutions, but certainly a new year does deserve some pause for thought.

Enter my neighbor’s chickens.  Yes, chickens.  Today, I saw that there were 5 of them under my bird feeder scratching and eating all the bird seed they could find.  I was a little frustrated at first because this neighbor’s animals seem to be in our yard a lot, but the more I thought about the fact that they just wanted some food, the less frustrated I became.  

And then I realized that they’re just like all of us.  Ha!  All of us want to be fed.  We are all searching for sustenance.  Not just physical sustenance, but spiritual, as well.  When we can’t find it where we live, we go off to the neighbor’s in search.  We scratch and dig and look until we find something.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Lord has given us so much.  This new year, we must keep in mind that there are people around us that are hungry.  They are searching for what they have not yet found.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed when they come to us looking for answer or asking questions, we need to make sure we have a loving, generous heart that is ready and willing to share with them from our abundance.

Not everyone has what we have or knows what we know.  They are hungry.  We have the Bread of Life.  We must be willing to share.  We have no right to be frustrated or greedy with what we’ve been given.  Salvation is for all who believe, not just the ones we believe are deserving.

Everyone’s ministry is going to look different.  As we go into this new year, let’s remember that our time to share this Bread of Life is not over.  We are still here to do the will of our Father.  How will your sharing look?  Will it be a blog?  Will you minster to a co-worker, family member, friend, or student.  Will you teach a class at church or preach from the pulpit.  Maybe you will teach at the nursing home or lead a devotion for a small group.  Perhaps your ministry will look different still.  Could this even be your year for a mission trip?  The main thing is that we are open to the Lord’s leading and that we are wiling to share.

Ready to share alongside you in 2018!

jamie

How do we take our thoughts captive?

Pr. 23:12: “Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.”

I was told that my blog from yesterday was really sad.  It is sad that I chose not to take my thoughts captive, mostly because that was the start of a downward spiral in my life that lasted about a year.  I struggled more than I ever needed to and even had thoughts of suicide.

So, how do we take our thoughts captive?  It starts with the Word.  We have to know it.  We have to know Him.  Instruction and knowledge are available to us all, and we need to apply ourselves to them.

Let’s look back at Eve in the garden.  The Lord told Adam that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  When satan came to tempt Eve to eat it, she told him that the Lord said they could not eat it nor touch it.  (That’s not what He said)  Then satan subtly convinced her that the tree was good for food.  We must know the truth of God’s Word, and we must trust it.

Satan even used God’s word when tempting Jesus after His 40-day wilderness experience.

He does the same with us…subtle shifts in God’s word.  Nothing that seems too alarming, except that instead of growing us closer to the Lord, it pulls us away from Him.  Nothing grossly misrepresented, just enough word play to cause us to begin focusing more on ourselves than we do on the Lord.  After all, just as satan wanted to be like God, he tempted Eve with being like God, he tempted Jesus with power and pride; he tries to distract us away from the One true God.

We have access to the Word of God today like no other time in history.  Before we accept anything as truth, we need to consult the Word and find out what it says…word for word.

Jesus took His thoughts captive when tempted by satan, when He accurately quoted God’s Word to satan.  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.  Mt. 4:11

I believe that when we follow Jesus’ example, and do the same, that God show will Himself strong for us, and help us through those tough moments, as well.  We don’t have to struggle and head for the downward spirals, but can be lifted up in His Spirit to draw ever closer to Him.

Taking our thoughts captive, we can regain control in our lives, declaring who the Lord of our lives truly is, and trusting that He will do what He said He will do.

He spoke the light, sun, stars, plants, and animals into existence.  Whatever He speaks comes to pass.  The promises in His Word cannot be lies.  What He says has to be.  Do you believe it?  Claim it!

Believing on His Word,

jamie

Keep traveling

Pr. 16:17:  “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul.”

This verse reminds me of driving home to our new house at night.

In Oct., we bought a new home with a few acres.  It’s so far out in the country that my father jokes that when we visits he needs to stop at a hotel on the way to spend the night because it’s such a long journey.  ha!  Not only that, but once you finally get to our road, our house is a mile down at the dead-end.

Last night I had to go to the ‘big city’ to pick up some new rabbits for my kids.  I was supposed to be there at 5:30, but didn’t take in to account all the after-work traffic.  I was stuck in long traffic lines 3 separate times.  Wow!  I do Not miss that.  I inched along in town, survived the somewhat terrifying interstate/exiting traffic, and headed back towards the country.

My favorite thing about driving home is that as my journey continues, less and less cars are with me.  As I go, the cars fall away.  They turn off on other roads, until finally, my car is the only one on the road.  I literally sighed with relief last night once I was free from all those cars.

This verse says that the highway of the upright is to depart from evil.  A lot of times when we are living lives of sin, we are surrounded by people.  There is a lot going on around us.  We get caught up in the activities all around us.  There is a terrifying, yet exciting feeling of being surrounded by others like us; and sometimes we comfort ourselves with the justifications that we clearly aren’t the only ones doing it.

The Bible tells; however, that to preserve our soul, we must keep our way.  This is where I’m reminded of the part where I’m headed out-of-town.  Once we’ve made our decision to follow God’s path, we need to keep on that path.  All the crowd will fall away.  At this point, others will be turning off on other roads.  Some may come a little ways with us, but then change their minds and do a u-turn.  We may even lose some of our closest friends.  We may find that we are the only one we know that is on that road.

What are doing; however, is preserving our soul.  We are choosing to trust and follow God.  And we will be rewarded in heaven.

Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind us all that we are not actually alone.  Not only does God never leave us or forsake us, but there are plenty of people who have also chosen God’s way.  It does us good to go to church and meet with others of like mind.  With their help, we can be encouraged and then we can go out and show the lost a new way.

Keep on the way,

jamie

Under whose authority?

“Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray away from the words of knowledge.”  Pr. 19:27

In Mark 1:16-20, Jesus told Simon and Andrew to follow Him.  He also called to James and John, sons of Zebedee, who left their father and went after Jesus.  How convincing must Jesus have sounded to these men?  Seriously.  They were at work, doing their jobs, making money, and this stranger speaks to them and they just leave it all and follow him.  That’s out of the ordinary.

After they went into Capernaum, Jesus taught in the temple and spoke “as one having authority.”  A man with an unclean spirit then approached Him, and Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”  The spirit came out of the man.

They left the synagogue and went to Simon’s house.  His mother was sick, so Jesus took her by the hand, lifted her up and her fever immediately left her.  That night, the whole city was gathered together at the door of Simon’s house, where Jesus healed their diseases and cast out demons.  He wouldn’t allow the demons to speak.

A leper later came to Jesus to see if He was willing to heal him.  As soon as Jesus spoke the words, “I am willing; be cleansed,” the leprosy left the man.

Have you seen the same pattern I’m seeing?  Jesus’ authority is undeniable.  He spoke to strangers, and they gave up everything for Him.  He spoke to demons and they obeyed.  He spoke to sickness and it left.

What is He speaking to You right now?  Another pattern I’ve noticed is that we tend to try to resist the Lord’s instructions to us.  When the Holy Spirit prompts us to do something we hesitate, we debate, we put it off.  We’re afraid to obey for various reasons.  Why?

Have we given something or someone else more authority in our lives?  Jesus’ authority is undeniable in Mark.  He still has the same authority today.  He does not change.  The only thing that changes is us.  We stray.

How sad that even the demons obeyed Jesus, and yet we try to ignore or debate with Him.

When the Lord speaks to You, listen.  He has the power to make things happen.  All He needs us to do is be willing to be part of His plan.  When we obey the Lord, the outcome is up to Him.  Don’t put Him off any longer.

In fact, may I be so bold to say, let’s be better than the demons, and ask Him in advance to speak to us.  And when He does, let’s simply obey.

Listening for instruction,

jamie

Who me, a sinner?

Pr. 20:9:  “Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Let me give you the answer:  no one.

Last night I dreamed that I was preaching about God’s faithfulness.  I was on fire.  People were responding.  The Holy Spirit was moving.  Less than an hour later, I was at sneaking into the home of a missionary, stealing a very valuable tropical plant.

Isn’t that just like reality?

We are all sinners.  It’s not just me.  It’s not just you.

It’s only the blood of Jesus Christ that washes those sins away.  Once that happens, the Lord no longer chooses to remember them.

So, while we strive to live a holy life that glorifies and honors the Lord, we must remember that we will never be perfect.  We don’t need to allow satan to beat us down, constantly reminding us that we are sinners.  God made provision for that already!

There is a reason we need a Savior.  It is only through Him that we are saved.  If we keep our eyes on Him, we will follow Him into eternity.

Happy trails,

jamie

What are you preaching?

Pr. 21:29:  “A wicked man hardens his face, but as for the upright, he establishes his way.”

Yesterday we talked about our beautiful feet, and how our lives, that point to Jesus, preach.  (You have beautiful feet)  Notice the catch there?  When our lives point to Jesus, we preach His gospel.  When our lives do not, well…

Sometimes I preach fear.  Didn’t God say He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind?  Sometimes I’m so tired that it would almost seem like my strength doesn’t come from the Lord.  Sometimes I worry so much that I appear to have no Provider that faithfully supplies all my needs.

When we our willingly living in sin, we point others to satan.  When we allow bondage and temptation to drive our actions, we are preaching something other than the freedoms that come from Christ.  When we talk only about things gone wrong in our lives or our world, we preach that praise is not our weapon.  When we don’t open our Bibles to seek or our mouths to pray, we preach that we have no need of a Savior.

If our actions preach, then we need to be very aware of which actions we are choosing.  We must not harden our hearts or faces.  Ro. 12:1 begs that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God; reminding us that this is our reasonable service.

When we establish our way, our actions will reflect that choice.  We must not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove (preach) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

God will renew our minds daily when we spend time with Him.  His mercies are new each morning.  He is the portion we need every day, and when we have established our way in Him we can have the strong assurance in the hope we have in Him.  With that, our lives will preach the gospel of peace…the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Established,

jamie