How to hear wisdom

I just can’t stop thinking about that verse.  “So then faith comes from hearing…”  Ro. 10:17

Do you know what else we hear?  We hear our own thoughts in our heads.  We talk to ourselves all the time.  What are we saying?  Not only that, but sometimes we allow the enemy to run thoughts through our minds that bring us down.  What are we hearing?

“I’ll never be as smart as her.”

“Man, he really has it all together.  Look how successful he is.”

“It’s hopeless.”

“Her kids are so perfect.  I feel like such a mess.”

“I never do anything right.”

“I can’t do this.  It’s too hard.”

“God doesn’t hear my prayers.  What’s the point?”

Pr. 22:17 tells us to incline our ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply our hearts to knowledge.  We will find wisdom and knowledge in the Word of God.  The truth, which are the words that counteract all of the thoughts above, is within God’s Word.

If faith comes from hearing, we need to be careful what we are saying to ourselves.  We need to be hearing words of truth, of life, of wisdom.  We need to put on our helmets of salvation, get out our swords (the Bible), and begin reading words that are living and powerful, that pierce even to the division of soul and spirit, and discern our thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Heb. 5:12)

In fact, we can trust that God’s Word will help us in our time of need because Is. 55: 11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Where we fail in cheering ourselves us, or convincing ourselves that things are ok, God prevails!  Where we fail in pushing down thoughts of hopelessness, God’s hope achieves exactly that!  God’s Word is truly a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  He sheds light on our darkest moments, situations, and thoughts.

Thank You, God, for Your faithfulness, and the hope we find within the refuge of Your name.  Thank You for shielding and protecting us when we turn to You. 

So, each day, when we notice any thoughts that threaten to drag us down or pull us away from God, we need to turn to the truth of God’s word, allow it to take them captive, and allow Him to give us discernment and breathe life and truth back into us.

We’ve got this!  Because, with God, all things are possible.  😉

jamie

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When bad news comes

What do we do when bad news comes our way?  Depending on how bad it is, my first reaction is to cry.  And that’s ok.  It is ok for us to react with emotion.  God made us in His image and we are emotional beings.  But after that…

We have to take our eyes off the circumstances as much as we can and get our eyes on the Lord.  He has the ultimate say in this life.  Sickness doesn’t get to have the final say.  Doctor predictions don’t have the final say.  Lawyers and politicians don’t get the last word.  God is in control and whether He does what we hope or what He knows is best, He is Sovereign and He still holds His creation in His hands.

Keep your eyes on the Lord above.  Keep trusting in Him and calling out to Him in your time of need.  Run boldly to His throne of grace where you will find help.  Find the safety in the refuge of His holy name.  Count on His word that is settled in heaven.  Believe in the One for whom it is impossible to lie.  He is faithful and true.  He has defeated death and the grave, and one day He will send His Son, Jesus, to be with Him again for all eternity.  Praise God, we are His…now and forevermore!  In fact, our eternity has begun now…we are just waiting for Jesus to come get us so we can finish the rest of our eternity in heaven.  We are already His.

When the bad news comes, we have some wonderful, amazing, praise-worthy news to focus on!  God has not left us nor forsaken us.  He is with us.  We just have keep our eyes on Him and lean in.  Not only will He guide and strengthen us, but His Comforter is with us to offer peace every step of the way.

Focusing on Him,

jamie

 

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

Taking control of the wrong thing

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is filled.”  2 Cor. 10:3-6

My tattoo caught my attention the other morning and got me thinking about the reason why I got it.  I recalled coming to the place where I had decided that I had no control over anything in my life and so, I resolved to take control of something…enter the tattoo.

Whether you’re for or against tattoos, I can tell you that, at this point, I’m generally pretty indifferent towards mine.   But today it’s going to teach us all a lesson.

I’ve written before about when I got sick in 2012.  I never had a moments doubt that the Lord would heal me.  I remember reading my Bible in the hospital, completely trusting the promises within.

As the inconclusive medical tests continued to come in, and my pain persisted, I began to grow a bit weary.  At a church service a few months later, I heard a lesson about prayer lives that I didn’t like, and it hurt my feelings.  It made me feel inferior and inadequate.  I thought about it over and over.  I talked to myself about it.  I fumed over it.  I resented it.

Looking back, I know that when Satan realized that the physical issues weren’t going to cause me to turn against God, he knew would need a new tactic.  I gave him exactly what he needed.  He whispered, taunted, and argued against my knowledge of God with that comment I heard at church.  I could have just brushed it off and moved on with my life, but I allowed him to get in that crack.  I didn’t take control of my thoughts.  I didn’t take them captive.  I allowed him to control my thoughts for me.

As the months went by I let it impair my prayer life a little at a time.  Anger set itself deeper and deeper within my soul.  And then, someone I trusted even more spoke about the same thing, and I remember that being the day I just quit.  I remember thinking, “I’m done.”

What happened?  Satan won.  And I ended up with a tattoo.  I fought in the flesh instead of using the mighty weapons I have in God.  I became weaker because I took ‘control’ with my weakest weapon…my flesh.

Instead of taking my thoughts captive and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God, I listened to the twisted “truths” of the enemy.  Instead of ‘taking control’ by getting a tattoo, I should have taken control of my thoughts, reading the Word for myself and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and bring to my remembrance all the Lord has said to me.

Let my tattoo be a permanent reminder for us all…take control of your thoughts!  Take control of the “truths” you are listening to.  Stay in God’s word and let the Holy Spirit minister to and teach you.  Fight in the Spirit and not in the flesh!  God is on your side and He is fighting for you.

Marked,

jamie

Traditional prayer journal

I gave you the why’s for praying journaling in my last blog Prayer Journaling 101.  Now, let’s get to the how.

Let’s start with what I think of as the “traditional” prayer journal.  I put it in quotes because there is no formula that must be followed for this, but in this type of journal, you just write your prayers. 

Although I pray all throughout the day, I find that it also helps me to set aside some time for focused prayer.  That’s where my prayer journal comes in handy.  I find that my written prayers tend to feel more sincere and focused, because my attention does not become as easily distracted.

I also like the language I use when I write a little more than the informal language I use when I speak, so when I really want to give God my personal best, I write.

This type of journal is also where you might want to write how you are feeling and then pray about it.  Perhaps you are feeling joyful and full of praise.  Write out your praises and leave that proof of His faithfulness for the next time you need to be reminded that He still answers prayers.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, He already knows it.  Talk to Him about it.  When He created Adam and Eve, He came down in the cool of the day to talk with them.  He wants fellowship with us.  He has also invited us to come boldly to His throne of grace in our time of need.  It’s ok to tell Him things.  Write it out in your prayer journal and watch Him come to your rescue!  He will.

Sometimes, even as I’m writing, I can feel God’s Holy Spirit…the Comforter…come upon me, bringing me peace, and speaking comfort to me.  If you have your prayer journal, you can write down the things you feel God speak to your heart as He speaks them.  What beautiful records to have for later reference, as well.  🙂

To the left, is a record of a night when I was feeling down, but had gone to the altar at church and the Lord spoke to me through a Pastor and lifted me up.  I remember that service and I’m so glad I have it recorded as a reminder that my God is faithful!  I wrote it down and praised the Lord through prayer in my journal.  He deserved honor for what He had done for me.  I wanted it to be known!  When my kids read through that one day, they will see His faithfulness at work and know that I was grateful!

Prayer journals are also an excellent place to record prayer requests.  How many people have you told that you will be praying for them?  Have you been?  You can write their names down and come back to them daily or weekly and pray for them.  You can also leave a record and remind others as you watch God answer those prayers.

I hope that you are feeling encouraged to begin a prayer journal.  They aren’t anything fancy.  Just a way to keep our ever-distracted minds focused as we pray, and a beautiful record of God’s faithfulness, love, and provision.

Next time, I will share a few of my less traditional journal pages.  They’re different, but have been helpful during different seasons of my soul.

Grab your journal and pen.  It’s time to start writing!

jamie

Next blog:  Scripture/Prayer Journal and Art Prayer Journals

Prayer journaling 101

I had someone ask me about prayer journals a while back and thought I would write about how they can be effective.  I am also going to be sharing some of my own personal styles and pages with you along the way.

Why do it?

Have you ever wondered if God hears your prayers?  Look up the scriptures that tell you that God hears your prayers.  Write them in your prayer journal and then write down your praise to Him for the fact that He hears you.

Have you ever thought God doesn’t answer any of your prayers?  When you write down a prayer, you can go back later and record when that prayer was answered.  A lot of times, when we speak our prayers, we forget what we have even prayed, and can’t see all the wonderful things God has done in our lives.  We fail to give Him praise for things He has done!  Writing down our prayers gives us something to go back to so we can see the things that can be crossed off the list.  God is working in our lives every day.  He is faithful.

Do you get distracted when you pray or study?  Writing out your prayers can keep your mind focused on what you are saying.  You can add the scriptures that have spoken to you, as well.  (I will share more about this in a coming blog)

Do you want to leave footprints so you can look back and see how far God has brought you?  When times get hard, you will be able to look back at God’s love and faithfulness.  You will see what He has done in your life and know that if He’s done it before, He can do it again.  These footprints can also be left there for your family to see, as well.  What a testimony to leave!

Are you seeking more from your relationship with God?  Writing out your prayers, and spending uninterrupted, undistracted, intimate time with God is a great place to start.  You may find yourself saying things you wouldn’t normally say.  Personally, I’m much more eloquent with writing than speaking.  I don’t even enunciate words properly when I speak.  (ha!)  You might find yourself writing Him a psalm, before you know it, or an intimate letter where the only appropriate closing is, “I love you.”

Bottom line:  a prayer journal may be just what you’re needing.  I will share some personal examples in my next blog to help get you started.  In the meantime, just know that the material you use isn’t important.  It can be a beautiful journal, a $.25 spiral notebook, an art canvas, or even a blog.  Over the years, I have used many different things.

Get your journal ready,

jamie

Next blogs:  Traditional Prayer Journal, Scripture/Prayer Journal, Art Prayer Journals

A completion

“And in this I give advice:  It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.”  2 Cor. 8:10-11

In this verse, Paul was speaking to the church in Macedonia about generosity, but it got me wondering what I was desiring to begin a year ago.  Interestingly (and conveniently) enough, a year ago is when the Lord encouraged me to blog a Month of Prayer, so I was able to go back and read through my blogs from last year.  What exactly was I desiring?  Had I not recorded those prayers, I can honestly say I wouldn’t remember my desires from a year ago.

The Lord has been faithful this past year.  He has not only been answering prayer, but stretching and growing my family and me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  Most of the prayers were things I will need over a lifetime:  to increase in prudence, depart from evil, know Him more, honor Him with my possessions, etc.

I also asked that contentions, gossip, and greed be kept far from me, and that I would be slow to anger.  Truly, the Lord has been faithful in those things; although, like everyone else, I am always a work in progress.  I prayed about my children’s desire to serve Him.  There is an excitement inside them when it comes to serving that warms my heart.  Now, to see them seek after Him as they would seek after treasure.  (that’s coming…)

The desires I had a year ago and things the Lord began when I prayed are not to be forgotten.  This verse in 2 Cor. reminds me that there is not just to be a beginning, but a time of completion.  It is good to take time to revisit and re-evaluate those old desires and monitor our own progress on the journey, as well.  Am I still seeking after the wisdom that I desired last year?  Am I still doing all I can to leave a legacy of integrity and godliness for my children and grandchildren?  Have I been teaching my children how to give when it’s in their power to do so, like I prayed I would?  Have I been trusting in God’s provision?

Do you know what you began or desired a year ago?  Is it time to complete it or to seek God’s guidance?  If the Lord has already completed something for you, or is in the process now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!!  If you have forgotten what you desired, I pray His Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance.  We don’t want to make hollow commitments to the Lord or His work.

When it comes to remembering the things we pray (what we ask for or say to God), a written record can be a very helpful thing.  I will be posting about prayer journaling next.  If you’ve never tried it, or want to try something new, I encourage you to check it out.

Complete it,

jamie