Are you with him?

Do we really need to read our Bibles, pray, worship, spend time with God?  Does that stuff actually matter?  Does it make us saved?  Does it change anything?

Things I’ve heard lately:  “How do I know if I’m saved?”  “I don’t need to raise my hands in worship.  God knows how I feel.”  “I don’t need to read my Bible, I feel saved.”

Now, let me be clear right up front.  John 3:16 says whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life.  It says if we believe, then we are saved.  I will never say that anyone is not saved if they don’t perform.  The Lord indeed knows our hearts.

However, when Jesus told people to follow Him, He would ask them to give things up.  Some gave up families, jobs, and homes.  He asked the rich, young ruler to give up his wealth.  And he always told people to repent.  He never said that anyone could just go on sinning.  He very clearly told the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.”

We don’t believe in Jesus without knowing Him and if we truly know Him then we understand that He is not ok with us just living any kind of way we want.  No, He doesn’t expect us to come to Him in a perfect state.  What He does expect is that we spend time with Him and allow Him to change us, mold us, and grow us into the person He wants us to be.

How does this happen?

I can say that I’m married to my husband, but if I never spend time with him, how can I know him?  If I don’t have conversations with him, then I will never learn anything about him.  If we never spend time together, then we won’t grow closer together.  What if I live somewhere else and choose to maybe call him twice a year?  What kind of relationship would we have then?

And if we told you we were married, but we were never affectionate, we never saw each other outside of the church, never talked outside of the church, and didn’t even write letters or emails to one another or read each others writings, then would you really believe we belonged to one another?

Worship (being affectionate to God) is an outward way to show that we know Him, we are grateful for His blessings, and that we believe in Him.  No, it is not required, but if you’re in a relationship with someone, isn’t affection usually expected?

Reading your Bible is the way you get to know God more.  It isn’t required, but the Bible is our sword!  It gets us right into the heart of God.  It is how we grow and change.

Prayer is the way we get to talk to God.  We are blessed to be able to speak directly to Him.  Prayer is our lifeline to God.

Cultivating our relationship with Jesus is what grows us and helps others to see that we belong to Him.  Then we become a true disciple for Him.

Follow Him,

jamie

 

 

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Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

Be usable during the trials

Laying block with oxygen.  What’s stopping you??

My father was bed-ridden for several years, and then weak for several more.  Why not healed?  One night the Lord spoke to him and told him to build a house for someone he’d never met.  He wasn’t able to in his own strength.  The Lord also spoke to the pastor at his church and told him to give away a substantial amount of money.  He spoke to another man and told him to donate land.  Person after person stepped forward, obeying God’s leading, and a home was built for a family from start to finish in 40 days.

My dad’s weakness enabled God’s strength to be perfected and manifested.  Might I suggest that before that time my dad may have been too busy to hear the voice of God in that way?  Or too busy to take the time to help organize and attend a project of that magnitude?

God uses us all in different ways and for different reasons.  We just have to be available for His purposes and plans.

“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

These are the words the Lord spoke to the disciple that was sent to put his hands on Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul–missionary to thousands), when he would regain his sight.  And yet, Paul always had what he called a “thorn in his flesh” that God never removed.  He said he prayed for the Lord to remove it and the Lord told him no.  The Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness.

It’s interesting that when Paul was called into ministry he was shown how many things he would suffer God’s name’s sake, and how the Lord told Paul no, and how now, in 2019 we think our Christian walk should be about our comfort, our happiness, our delight….about us.  When did things get so twisted?

Christianity just simply isn’t about us.  It is about the Lord.  It says about Saul, “Immediately he preached the Christ in synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”  He began immediately doing what he was called to do, and people immediately began wanting to kill him.  (You can find all of this in Acts 9)

Job, in his agony and suffering repented and humbled himself before the Lord…before he was ever healed or restored.  Then, in Job 42:8, the Lord put Job in charge of praying for his friends.  In his state, he was best suited to pray for his friends.  He was the one God called to pray, to work, to do His will.  And then, praise God for him, He was restored.

Sickness and trials are not a problem that keeps us from fulfilling God’s call in our lives.  It may hinder us from doing all the things we want.  I know I still have times when I can’t sing, can’t raise my hands in worship, can’t teach or even attend church; however, if we are still alive then God can still use us.

Ask God how He can use your vessel.  When He gives you an opportunity, don’t let it pass you by.  Don’t fear that you’re too weak.  In your weakness, His strength is made perfect.  It has been proven over and over:  see David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark, 3 Hebrew’s in the furnace, on and on.  God will give you all that you need to complete the task He sets before you.

Be available just as you are,

jamie

 

Giving thanks!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!  For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!  For His mercy endures forever.   Ps. 136:1-3

 

jamie

Abraham’s incentives

Heb. 11:8-10:  “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise like a foreigner living in tents; and so did Issac and Jacob, who inherited the same promised.  For Abraham waited for a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.”  

Abraham leaving his country, family, and his father’s house to go dwell in tents in a land he didn’t know…as a foreigner…does take great faith.  There is even more to his faith story, but for today…

When I went back to Genesis this morning to read the beginning, I saw the mention of the fact that Abraham’s wife Sarai was barren; she had no child.  (Gen. 11:30)  Then, in Gen. 12:1-3, the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country and go to a land He would show Him.  But God gave him an incentive.  Well, several incentives, actually.

Remember, his wife is barren.  The Lord said, “I will make you a great nation.”  Wow!  That’s a pretty great incentive to leave.  Ok.  “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.”  Goodness!  Really?  I mean, me?  “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Boom!

So, not only was the Lord promising to bless Abraham, but He was going to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham.  I mean, come on!!!!  How can anyone resist that!?  And so, Abraham obeyed.  And so God did as He promised.  God blessed Abraham and his wife.  And God has blessed us all because through Abraham and his descendants came our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!!

Drop the mic.

If we trust in anything in this life, let it be the Lord.  He does what He says He will do.

Last night we had a soup dinner at church.  I had this amazing new recipe for cornbread casserole that I had eaten the day before.  I also have a great crock pot.  I put all the ingredients in my crock pot and mixed it all up.  When it was time to leave for the dinner, I simply unplugged the crock pot and we headed out the door.  When my pastor’s wife took the lid off the crock pot and stuck a serving spoon inside the casserole was more like soup.

I’d trusted in my recipe and my crock pot, and didn’t even check the results before we left home.  Fail.

Abraham trusted in the Lord who promised to bless him and all the families of the earth through him, living in tents and waiting for a city with eternal foundations.  Win!

In God we can always trust.  He will never let us down.

Served,

jamie

2 things to believe

Pr. 15:14:  “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Today my study of faith brought me to my long-time hero…Enoch!  He rocked!

Let me tell you his story.  After Enoch begot Methuselah, he walked with God 300 years and had sons and daughters.  The Bible says he lived 365 years.  So, for 300 of his 365 years, he walked with God.  And this must have been some really good walking (i.e. living), because the Bible doesn’t say that he died.  It says, “And he was not, for God took him.”  Man!  I just love this!!!!  How amazing must his relationship with God have been!?  Heb. 11:5 tells us that he had this testimony, “That he pleased God.”

It goes on, in verse 6, to say, but without faith it is impossible to please God, for He who comes to God must believe 2 things:  #1. that He is.  #2. that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Ok.  So, do you believe that He is?  If you do, check that one off.  If you’re unsure, then move on with us to #2 and we can all journey together.

#2 says we must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  If we believe this then we’re already walking down a similar path like Brother Enoch, and that’s amazing!

I looked up verses this morning about seeking God and thought I’d just share a couple.  What happens when we seek God?

  • Ja. 4:8:  “Come near to God & He will come near to You.”
  • Jer. 29:13:  “You will seek Me & find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
  • Ps. 9:10  “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord have never forsaken those who seek You.”
  • Deut. 4:29  “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart & soul.”
  • Is. 55:6  “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
  • Luke 11:10b  “The one who seeks finds, & and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

When we seek God, He is always there.

On Tuesday, my son came up to me and asked me if he deserved a hug.  I told him there will never be a moment when he doesn’t deserve a hug.  He doesn’t have to earn those.  He is my son and therefore he gets hugs, regardless of the circumstances.

If we, being sinful, understand this, how much more does our Heavenly Father love us and desire to show us His affection.  If His Word says it, then He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  How much has He already given to us with His grace and His mercy and yet we wonder if we’re enough and if we deserve what He’s got.  Just like my son, we’ve simply got to come to Him…seek Him, and ask.

Let’s please God today, like Enoch, and take Him at His Word.

jamie

 

Seeking faith with the wise

Pr. 13:20:  “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

So, yesterday I admitted that God corrected me for doubting.  Am I alone in that?  I have asked God to increase my faith.  Maybe you guys are already full of faith.

See, it’s not that I doubt that God is able.  My goodness, if He can split the Red Sea, He can heal me.  If He can send so much fire from heaven that it burns up Elijah’s offering, including the wood, the rock altar, the ground around the altar, and the water in the ditch, He can do anything!  I believe He is the God of the Bible.

I believe He is the God that led David’s stone into Goliath’s forehead.  I believe He is the God who kept Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from even smelling of smoke when they were thrown into the fiery furnace.  I believe He is the same God who kept Paul from even getting sick when he was bit by a poisonous viper.

I believe He is the same God today that He was even then!

The trouble I have had in the past is when it comes to His will.  Does He desire for me to be healed?  Paul prayed 3 times to be delivered from the thorn in his flesh and the Lord told him no.  The Lord told Him that His grace was sufficient and that His strength was made perfect in weakness.

What I have found since 2012, when I first became afflicted, is that God’s grace is indeed sufficient.  And although I fought it so many times at first, His strength is made most perfect in my weakness.  I can honestly say that I could not have been brought to the place I am with God had I not gone through what I have.  I can truly say, “what the enemy meant for evil, God has used for good.”

Does that mean that I can’t ask for healing and have the faith that it’s still possible?  No.  And in my Bible study of faith what better place to start than Heb. 11?  I want to walk with wise men, like this proverb says.  I want to walk with the hall-of-famers of faith!  I’m going to start there and keep walking.  I’m going to keep believing and keep increasing in my faith.

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for…

jamie