Feeling dismayed?

These all look to You to give them their food in due season.  When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.  When You hide Your face, they are dismayed…”  Ps. 104:27-29

Since Creation began there have been moments where the creation has felt like God has hidden His face from them.  All throughout the Pslams you can see the questions, posed, “Why do you hide Your face from me? Why are You so far from helping me?”

Before that, Job asked, “Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” We even heard Jesus, from the cross, ask, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Because we look to God for all things, it is in our moments of sorrow, pain, anxiousness, or uncertainty; it’s in the moments of silence that we sometimes feel as though He has hidden His face, and we are dismayed.

As we can see from the reaction of Jesus, and all throughout the Bible, it is a normal, human reaction.  We were created in God’s image, with emotions; and loneliness, uncertainty, grief, and pain are some of those emotions.

What can we do?  Keep looking for Him, seeking Him, and reminding ourselves of all He has done.  Job was looking for him in his darkest moments, when all he wanted to do was die, and he couldn’t find God to the right or the left–he kept seeking.

He spoke of all the works and wonders God had done in the past, and even as he wondered at first where God was, speaking of who God is built him up, and helped him keep close the One he needed all along.  Eventually he found his way back, not just to physical health, but to emotional and spiritual health, too.  This is how it works for us all.

I know there was a lot involved behind the scenes in Job’s story, but seeking God in the tough times the way Job did, praising, and reminding ourselves of God’s works and the things He has done in the past is the best way to find our way out.

We tend to pull away when we go through pain and crisis, and we feel like we can’t find God, but the truth is that the answer lies with Him alone.  He is the One.  He is the Salvation.  He is the Deliverance.  He is the Healing.  He is the Provision.  He is the Wisdom.  He is the Unity.  He is the Peace.  He is All in All, the Great I Am.

Every answer we need to fill the great gaping hole we feel inside is found in Him.  We just have to hold on and seek Him.   God said in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  This is still true today.

Grateful for a God who cares,

jamie

Failing?

I put the location into my GPS and hit start.  “Take the 3rd exit,” she said.  Huh?  I don’t think that’s right.  I didn’t know exactly where I was going, but I knew the general direction.  Now I was headed the wrong way and I was stuck in traffic.

As soon as I was able I turned around, and I re-keyed the location.  It was coming up wrong.  No wonder.  As I tried again I realized that it was no use…the location I needed wouldn’t come up.  34 minutes from my arrival time now, and I was at a standstill.  Ugh!  I had to make a phonecall and get some help.

I finally made it to my son’s longest, most intimidating karate test of his entire life.  (thus far) We made it right on time, and I was then horrified to realize that I had forgotten to bring him a drink.  Seriously!?  He was going to be in there sweating and working for over 2 hours, and I didn’t even bring him a drink!?

Within the next minute, I realized that I had additionally left his sparring gear at home when he also should have brought that.  NO!!

Epic mom fail!

Yes, I made sure he had his GI on, and that it was ironed, and I fed him and got him there…not to mention the fact that we stretched together earlier and I took care of him most of the day, but was I thinking about those things?  Nope.  Just the fails.

It’s so easy for us to see the fails, defeats, and disasters in our lives.  Often those look so much larger than the wins, the rights, and the achievements… especially when they are in the everyday things.  It’s in the wins and the rights; however, that our heart of gratitude and our spirit of thankfulness comes.

It’s in those things that we find God’s hand on our lives, working faithfully, amidst the fails that look so large.  He never left us, He never stopped looking out for us, He never quit working His plan.  He has been there, blessing all along.  He has been there, giving us wins, helping us achieve all the way…did we notice?

I had many mom achievements today.  My list of mom achievements today would way outnumber those couple of things I didn’t get done this evening.

The things that we fail at in our lives, in light of all the things where we win, are nothing in comparison to all those wins.  We are abundantly blessed.  We just need to take notice, and perhaps even begin to literally take note, if that’s what it takes.

God still goes before us, behind us, beside us, and He dwells within us.  He will not forsake us.  How do I know?  Not only did He promise it, but He has proven it to me over and over again.

Winning,

jamie

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