Messes and all…

When I got to the couch this morning to do my devotions, I moved the couch pillow and discovered crumbs from my son’s snack of chips last night.  “Ugh!” was my immediate reaction.  Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me.  So I left them there, took a picture, and opened up my Bible to Psalm 103.

The Lord redeems our lives from destruction.  He crowns us with lovingkindness & tender mercies.  He is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.  The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to them, but sent His Son as the Way of salvation.

The Lord’s mercy is a great as the heavens are high, and He removes our sins and mistakes from us.  He pities us as a father pities his children.  (hmmmmm)  He knows our frame, remembering that we are dust….

I thought about how many messes I have tried to hide or cover up.  I thought about how many crumbs I’ve left behind in my life and how many mistakes I’ve made.  Yet, my heavenly Father continually has mercy upon me, and He pities me, remembering my frame.

How will I react towards my son’s little chip mess here beside me?  Will I guide him?  Absolutely.  Will I be a tyrant, lording over him the rules in frustration?  After reading this, I cannot.  Will I show mercy?  That’s exactly what I will do.  I’ve made my own mistakes, and I’ve been forgiven!  I have to model the same forgiveness my Father shows me.

It may not be chips on your couch, but whatever situation you find yourself facing today, I pray you’ll remember to be slow to anger, to show mercy, and to deal in lovingkindness.

dusting myself off,

jamie

 

He chose you

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”

Yes.  There is more to that Scripture in Eph. 1:4, but this morning, I wanted to point out to you and to me that God chose us before the foundation of the world.  If you’ve been wondering if you were chosen, if there has been any doubt in your mind if the gospel message is for you, if you weren’t sure if you were lovable enough for Him, then let this verse reassure you this morning…He chose YOU before the foundation of the world.  And then He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to ensure that Your salvation would be in place if you chose to believe.

Thursday night I went to visit an elderly man that I have befriended over the last few years.  He is a precious man that has spoken encouragement and life into me over the last couple of years, and when I went into his house he said that his heart was racing with me being there because he was so excited to see me.  When I left there that night I was in tears.

This man chose me.  He chose to be my friend, to speak encouragement into my life, to want to be my friend; and when he saw me, his heart was literally racing with excitement.  That says so much to me.  I went there to see him because I love him, but I left there feeling so overwhelmed with love.

God chose us before the foundations of the world!  He speaks life and encouragement into us through His Word more than any person could ever do.  He sent His only Son to die so that we could be with Him for eternity.  That’s how much He wants to be with us.  Y’all!  He wants us!  We are chosen!  If you have ever doubted it…let those doubts be erased now.  He loves You!

His,

jamie

Loving like God

Reading through the first few chapters of Galatians this morning I was struck by the beauty of the gift of God’s grace–in the fact that He truly doesn’t judge us by our works.

This past week I’ve had several times where I’ve been able to let my guard down with people and just be me and it’s been so amazingly refreshing in a world where our performance is “king.”

It’s exhausting to have to perform constantly, because then you have to out-perform the next time, and the next time, and the next… but if we can just admit that “this is me” and I’m imperfect and although I’m doing the best I can, what I’m most grateful for is that God isn’t judging me on my performance.  He loves me for who I am.  If I have faith that He says who He say He is, then that’s enough for Him.

If, in our relationships with others, we can not expect people to perform to perfection, but love them for who they are…who they were created to be, we will be releasing them to be free from a burden that even God Himself didn’t place upon them.

Yes, we need to be responsible humans, and we should keep our word.  But some days we’ll be brilliant and get it all done, and other days we’ll fall flat on our face.  The performance of the day is not the sum total of who we are.

Gal. 4:7 says, “We are an heir of God through Christ.”

We are more than our mistakes.  They happen.  Get up.  And keep moving.  Apologize if necessary.  Always forgive.  Laugh about it if at all possible!

Tripping up,

jamie

 

this is the performance pic, the other one was a “mistake”…it made us laugh harder, though. 😉

 

Broken, but not forsaken

I heard a sermon on Sunday night that reminded us that a lot of times before we go into a season of being given out to be used by the Lord we go through a season of being broken, like bread.

I keep thinking about that, and what I love about God is that during that time when we are broken, He doesn’t allow us to be broken into crumbs and spread out in such a way that we cannot be whole again.  If we are like bread, He continues to hold the 2 pieces in His 2 capable hands the entire time, ensuring that we are well and cared-for, never alone, or truly crumbled; and we are never crushed!  Sometimes we feel that way, but all the while, He is holding us.  We are in his hands.  We are safe, and when it passes, He will use that time of brokenness as a way for us to minster to the people in our lives.

He never lets go!

“He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.”  Ps. 23:3

You are held,

jamie

How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

Using the right tools?

Cleaning the mirror with furniture polish…not so much.

The other day, I was thinking about how we sometimes go about our lives without the proper tools, making things much harder for ourselves, or looking for the help in the wrong places.

Take peace, for instance.  When we need peace in our lives, we might try meditation, medication, alcohol, or a costly get-away.  All the while, peace is just an ask away.  Ph. 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The peace that comes from God transcends all understanding.  We can get that out of our tool box, if we just trust Him enough to ask.

How about discernment?  That’s the ability to judge well…to judge our actions, our reactions, our words, our Facebook posts, our attire…discernment.  We might try to base that off what others are saying or doing, or how we want them to react to us.  Ps. 119:66 is a great reminder that there is only one place we should be looking for advice on those things: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  God is the One who will give us the good judgment (discernment) that we need as we walk through this life and navigate these choppy waters.

And what about financial troubles.  We get title loans, put things on credit cards, and go into more and more debt.  Are we tithing?  There are blessings that come with giving the Lord the tenth that belongs to Him.  We came into this world with nothing, and all that we have came from Him.  We are blessed.  When we give back to Him that tenth, He will honor His word in Malachi 3:9-11, when He says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” 

The Lord uses the tithes we bring to bless others around us.  When we are all being obedient, there will be more than enough for everyone, but we will also be blessed when we give.  If you’re having financial troubles, my advice to you today is to tithe.  I know the math doesn’t make sense, but I promise you, God will faithfully honor it, and will meet your needs.  

Don’t struggle through life using the wrong tools.  Look to God and His Word for all that you need.  He has all this and more waiting for you now.

You’re not alone,

jamie

Authentic parenting

Pr. 10:25: When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.

3 times in the last 3 weeks my son has been given advice that goes against our Christian beliefs.  It’s amazing.  He is being offered things other than what the Word of God says.  In fact, one person’s sentence literally started with the words, “Just because the Bible says it’s wrong…”

I’ve been so proud of and amazed by my son.  He has stood his ground and defended his beliefs to the best of his 9-year-old ability.  Actually, he has probably done better than some adults.  He is a natural evangelist, and I have got to step up my game in my prayers of protection for this boy.  The job my son has ahead of him is not going to be an easy one.

What I’m impressed to share today is that we cannot hope that 1 or 2 hours at church each week will equip our kids for evangelism or for attacks from the enemy.  It will never be enough.

We have got to walk the walk at home, and talk the talk as we trust God in the hard times.  We have got to show our kids how to love the people who are living in sin, while pointing them to Christ.  We must teach them how to pray, by praying.  We have to give them a hunger for the Word by being hungry for the Word ourselves.  If we want our kids to love to worship, we have to love to worship.

Now, I understand that our kids are going to make their own choices, but I also know what the Word says, and it tells us that if we train them in the way they should go, that when they are old they will not depart from it.  We must never cease to do our job as parents just because we may not see the results on the outside.  We must do our job and let the Holy Spirit do His.

Our children need to be prepared with every piece of armor that is available to them and it is our job to equip them.

Even if your kids are grown and out of the house, do not give up.   There is still hope!  They are still watching you, and they still know whether you are trusting in God or not.

Walk the walk.  Don’t just be a Christian at church.  1 or 2 hours a week will never be enough.  We must be authentic if we are to truly win the souls of our children and the lost around us.  We have to equip them!

My motherly advice for today,

jamie