Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  John 15:13

Who in your life has ever loved you this much?

Jesus

Why did He lay down His life for us?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

He took our sins and sickness upon Himself so that He could spend eternity with us.  He wants to be with us forever.

Now THAT is true love.  😉

Falling more in love with Him each day,

jamie

Enjoy this song about His love.  “How He Loves,” sung by John Mark McMillan:

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Is your trough too clean?

Pr. 14:4:  “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox. “

At times we think life would be so much easier without kids running around messing up the house, without having to make more trips to the store for food, without people constantly emailing, texting, or dropping by, or without people requiring us to visit and spend time with them.

However, as we see in this verse, that is just not so.  Well, ok…maybe the house would be cleaner if no one was messing it up.  Maybe we would have more money if we weren’t having to restock the refrigerator or entertain guests.  Perhaps we would have more time on our hands if we didn’t have so many people contacting us or counting on us.

Our lives, however, are increased by those around us.  Having people in our lives that care enough about us to come around gives us strength.  Having a family to care for us when it matters is an amazing gift from God.  Having friends reach out and help when we are weak or unable is a blessing like no other.

Sure, our home may be cleaner without little ones leaving messes, but without those little ones, we wouldn’t have giggles, unexpected hugs, imaginative play, or as many trips to the zoo.

Not having people reach out to us may indeed free up our time, but without friends and family who care, we wouldn’t have affection, unexpected gifts, meals when we’re down, or reactions to the new recipe we want to try out.

There is strength in numbers.  There may be a little more work in it for us, but it’s worth any sacrifice on our part.  Without others in our lives, we would simply find ourselves in a very clean, very unscheduled world…all alone.

Let’s make sure to be grateful for the oxen in our lives.  (And I mean that in the very best of ways).   Without them our lives sure would be boring and a lot more lonely.

Grateful for all those messing up my trough,

jamie

Trust in the One who is faithful

Pr. 29:25:  “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

This is one of those verses I use to remind myself of the truth.  When we begin to fear man more than the Lord, we are on a slippery slope, at best.  A snare is something that entraps us, entangles us, catches and keeps us.

In Mt. 16:26, Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

This world offers so much.  We can be the most popular, the sexiest, the best dressed, the richest, the most successful.  We can be housewives with immaculate homes, and the cleanest, most well dressed, and sportiest children.  We can have the latest hairstyle or color, the best car, the coolest gadgets.  We can watch all the right shows, have the biggest and best network of contacts, drink the most revered drinks, party at the most sought after places, or hold the most prestigious jobs.

All of it; however, has the potential to bring a snare upon us to entangle us, and to distract us from our true purpose.  If the opinions of others becomes the driving force in our lives, we will become ensnared in the constant pursuit to keep up, to fit in, to be noticed for those titles we hold.  Man’s opinions are fickle, let me remind you, and what’s the best today can easily become the most out-dated tomorrow.  Also, we must keep Jesus’ words in mind:  what profit is it to gain the whole world and lose our souls?  We simply cannot give in and exchange our souls for dust and ashes.

While man’s opinions continually change, the Lord remains the same yesterday, today, and forever.  The Lord does not change.  Unlike those who may only be a ‘friend’ while you’re doing as they like or approve, the Lord loved us so much that even in our worst state, He sent His Son to take our sin and disease upon Himself to give us eternal life.  Surely we are safe with One such as this.

Also, the Lord, who promised to care for and provide for us, is faithful to keep His promises, never turning His back in our time of need or despair.  The same God whose glory passed before Moses, turning his hair white and causing him to shine so brightly that he had to cover his face with a veil, is the same God who goes before you and keeps you safely in His mighty arms.

His name is actually a refuge to which we can run.  We need not fear.  What can man do to those whose Helper is the great and mighty Lord of Lords?  Don’t allow yourself to become ensnared by the ever-changing opinions or expectations of imperfect people.  Trust in the Lord who will never leave you nor forsake you.

In His arms,

jamie

 

The blessing of friendship

Pr. 17:17:  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Good, true friends are a treasure.  God knows we have need of affection and companionship and I believe He sends the right people into our lives for the right moments.  I love the stories of the friendship of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel.  Despite his father, Jonathan was a true friend to David.  What a privilege for them to have a friendship so strong.

It is rare to find a friendship that is as strong as that.  Most often we have more acquaintances or friendly relationships.  Occasionally, however, we find another person with whom we connect in a way that is deeper than just association.  What happens to cause a friendship so strong that it causes one to love another as his own soul, as David loved Jonathan?  Loyalty.

When a friend is around during the good times it is great fun.  It’s always good to have some good laughs and to find others who amuse us and give good conversation.  However, when a friend is around and constant during the hard times in life, they become more like a brother or sister to us.  It is so comforting to know that there is someone with whom you can be yourself.  It is a wonderful to have someone in whom you can confide.  It is a blessing to know that there is one who will lift you up when you are down.

Often, when people go through truly hard times, people will actually pull away.  When the good times are gone, they may not see much point in hanging around, or they just don’t know how they can help.  It is during those hard times that you find your “brother” or your “sister.”  The ones who not only hang around, but who encourage you, uphold you, allow you to lean on them, and who continue in prayer for you will stand out as ones who are truly loyal.

Let me encourage you today.  If you have a friend who is facing adversity, dig in and encourage them.  In the end, you may just find that you have found a new brother or sister, and if the time ever comes when you’re the one facing the hardship, that dear friend will be right there to return the favor.

If you are in the middle of adversity today, and all your friends have pulled away, I pray that the Holy Spirit will surround and comfort you today.  Surely, Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  He loved you so much that He died just for you.  Call out to Him today and the Comforter will be swift to uphold you.

Affectionately,

jamie

Forgiving and forgetting

Pr. 17:9:  “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

Have you ever been in a relationship where you’ve been given a list of all the wrongs you’ve done throughout the entirety of the relationship?  Maybe its been 2 months, maybe its been 2 years, but the list seems to encompass every wrong you could possibly have committed.  This can happen in any type of relationship.  I’ve actually been given more than one list in my lifetime.  Apparently I’m wrong a lot.  Ha!

Of course, we all make mistakes.  We hurt others intentionally and unintentionally.  We can be inconsiderate.  Sometimes we are selfish.  Other times, actions or words are simply misunderstood, or the benefit of the doubt is not given.  Whatever the reason for the existence of strife in a relationship, there is a truth in this proverb that is important.

All types of relationships have discord of some type; however, there is a key element that will enable any relationship to prosper:  forgiveness.  If we are truly seeking love, we can choose to bear with one another, and forgive.

That’s the beauty of our relationship with our Father.  Not only does He forgive, but He also forgets.  Heb. 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  Is. 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

We were created with good memories.  It is not easy for us to forget grievances, but we can still forgive and choose not to dwell on the wrongs done to us.  Matthew 6:14-15 tells us something important about forgiveness:  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

While the Lord is more than willing to forgive, and certainly faithful to forget, our own offering of forgiveness determines whether or not He will do so.  It is not just good that we forget.  It is imperative!

We know that we aren’t perfect; however, sometimes we expect perfection from others around us.  It can be a co-worker, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, or a spouse.  Whoever it is, try to remember they’re not perfect either.  Whatever the relationship, forgiveness is the key.

If you’re the one not being forgiven, then look to your Savior who has not only forgiven, but forgotten.  He isn’t keeping a list of your wrongs, but has cast your sins as far as the east is from the west and will remember them no more.  There is One who seeks to show you love.  Jesus showed it on the cross.  The Holy Spirit shows it in His comforting.  The Father shows it in His faithful forgiveness.  You are loved…and forgiven.

Imperfectly,

jamie

Understanding the language of wisdom

Pr. 8:9:  “They (all the words of wisdom’s mouth) are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.”

Think back to a time when you were around someone who was speaking a language unfamiliar to you.  Clues can be gathered from body language, gestures, and voice inflections, but without knowledge of the language, we don’t get the full message.  In order to truly understand, you must study the language or immerse yourself in the culture that uses the language.

Having taken Spanish for 3 years in high school, I can understand certain words and phrases in Spanish; however, I have always lacked confidence when it comes to speaking the language.  The first time we went to Panama, I was resistant to speak the little bit of Spanish I knew for fear of sounding foolish.  We had a translator, but she could not be with each of us every moment of every day.  If I wanted to communicate with those around me I had to figure something out on my own.

I had to begin speaking Spanish.  Those who heard me speak the language became excited and eagerly taught me even more.  I learned even more words while there, and by the end of the week I was speaking many words to communicate.  On the plane to go home I even caught myself saying, “Si” to the English-speaking airline attendant instead of “Yes.”

Being surrounded by others who spoke the language gave me the desire, the familiarity, and the confidence to speak their language.  The same is true with wisdom.  If you want to truly understand and get the full message of God’s wisdom you must study His word, surround yourself with others who speak the language, and allow its familiarity to give you confidence to continue understanding.  Soon the words of wisdom will become plain to you.  You will understand the will of God more plainly.  You will understand His precepts, His guidance, and His rebukes in a way you never did before you began immersing yourself in them.

If you truly want the wisdom of God to guide your life, it must become plain to you.  Study it, surround yourself with others who speak it, and allow them to teach you even more.  God is willing to generously give wisdom to all who ask.  James 1:5.  Pray and ask God to fill you with His wisdom, open His word, and begin to study. You will find so much more than you ever dreamed.  I learn something new every day.

Dios te bendiga,

jamie

 

Are you a sharp friend?

Pr. 27:17:  “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

As friends, we are able to sharpen our friends in order to strengthen them, build them up, and guide them to keep them focused.  They are able to do the same for us.  Friends are able to speak into each other’s lives in ways that others cannot.

I was reading 2 Timothy chapter 2 this morning, which relates well to this scripture about friends.  We are told in vs. 24 that, “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

While this verse is speaking about correcting those who are distorting the truth of the gospel message, it is also applies to those who have accepted the Lord as their Savior, but are living a life opposed to their beliefs.  As friends, we have a more intimate knowledge of one another’s lives and true thoughts.  We are able to see discrepancies in each others lives and know if repentance is needed.

Paul tells us not to quarrel, but be able to gently, patiently, and humbly teach each other, in order to let the truth be known and repentance be granted.  The truth is in this verse.  If your friend is not walking in their faith, they have lost their senses and have been taken captive and ensnared by the devil, to do the devil’s will.  As friends, we have the unique opportunity and duty to gently guide our friends to the Lord, so that He can bring repentance and sensibility to them.

We will need to know the Word in order to guide them.  We need to be able to tell them that they must be diligent to present themselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.  (vs. 15)  We need to able to encourage them to flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  (vs. 22)  We need to be able to remind them that if they cleanse themselves, they will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.  (vs. 21)

Likewise, if you have a friend rubbing you with the truth of the Word, examine your heart to make sure you haven’t lost your own senses.  Perhaps your friend is trying to faithfully sharpen you.  Be grateful for a true friend that doesn’t desire that you remain a captive of the devil, to do his will, but instead desires repentance and eternal life for you.  Now that’s a friend!  🙂

Gently,

jamie