Turn away and live!

Pr. 4:14-15: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

Oh, I have travelled on those paths too many times.  I want to remind us today that we are told to turn away and pass on.  There are good reasons for this.

Today happens to be the birthday of a dear friend of mine from back in high school.  Sadly, we can’t celebrate together because he passed away several years ago.

There was a night when he chose to take the wrong path.  He made some poor decisions with some friends.  Afterwards, when his judgment was impaired and his decision-making was affected, he chose to literally walk on the exact wrong path…a busy road, where he was hit and killed by a vehicle as he walked.

God’s warnings are for our protection.  He wants to protect us from the consequences of sin.  Satan always lies and tells us that there aren’t any.  He says that our decisions are our own and they won’t affect anyone else.  He convinces us that we can repent at a later time.

Friends, there may not be a later time! My friend did not have a later time.  He took the wrong path and he is gone.

Thanks to God’s grace, you and I have been given more time, another chance to turn away and pass on.  Let’s do that.  Let’s make that choice and be better off for it.  There is protection for us here and eternal life for us on the other side of this life!

In memoriam,

jamie

 

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God still loves you

“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20  (The Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32)

I’ve been teaching my class about God, the Father, and yesterday we talked about the prodigal son.  This son took the possessions his father gave him, went his own way, wasted them all to the point of starvation, and found himself wishing he could eat pig food.  He suddenly realized that even the servants who worked for his father had it better than he, so he decided to go back home and beg his father for mercy…and for a job.

The scripture says that when he was still a great way off his father saw him.  That makes me think his father had been watching for him.  His father was just hoping and waiting, day after day, that his son would return.  The father was so full of compassion that he ran and hugged and kissed his son.

Not only did he welcome him, but he gave him gifts.  He ordered that the best robe and a ring be put on his son.  He also gave him new sandals.  I don’t know if he had no sandals by this point, or his were just tattered all to pieces, but his father wanted nothing but the best for his son.

Next he ordered a feast–bbq time!!  He said, “It’s time to eat and be merry, for my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.”  There was music, dancing, and celebration for this son who came home.

It’s the same way when we come back to the Lord.  God isn’t just sitting on a throne of Judgment.  Hebrews 4:16 says it is a “Throne of Grace, where we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  God is waiting for us, just like that father.  God is our Father, waiting for us with grace and mercy.

Not only that, but when we do decide that being with Him is better than starving in sin, there is rejoicing in heaven when we come home!  (Luke 15:6-7)

Don’t ever think it’s too late to return to your Father, God.  He still loves you.  You are still His child.  He’s watching for you, waiting.  He has good things to bestow upon you.  His grace and mercy still available now.

Come home,

jamie

On the verge of eternity

Pr. 5:14:  “I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

It’s never too late to turn back!

Even if you’re on the verge of total ruin, God’s forgiveness and grace is still available.

I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.  1 Jo. 2:12

Don’t take another step towards ruination.  God is willing to forgive and make you a new creation.  You just have to ask.

Father, I come to You right now, confessing my sins against you.  Lord, Your word says that forgiveness is available through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Right now I need that forgiveness.  Have mercy on me now, God, and cleanse me.  Turn my feet from the path of ruin to the path of eternal life.  Lord, I no longer desire to live for myself and for my own desires, but long to live a life that is pleasing and useful for You.  Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask that You guide me the rest of my days.  Thank You for salvation and forgiveness.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus Christ’s saving name, Amen.

I am praying for you,

jamie

Who me, a sinner?

Pr. 20:9:  “Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Let me give you the answer:  no one.

Last night I dreamed that I was preaching about God’s faithfulness.  I was on fire.  People were responding.  The Holy Spirit was moving.  Less than an hour later, I was at sneaking into the home of a missionary, stealing a very valuable tropical plant.

Isn’t that just like reality?

We are all sinners.  It’s not just me.  It’s not just you.

It’s only the blood of Jesus Christ that washes those sins away.  Once that happens, the Lord no longer chooses to remember them.

So, while we strive to live a holy life that glorifies and honors the Lord, we must remember that we will never be perfect.  We don’t need to allow satan to beat us down, constantly reminding us that we are sinners.  God made provision for that already!

There is a reason we need a Savior.  It is only through Him that we are saved.  If we keep our eyes on Him, we will follow Him into eternity.

Happy trails,

jamie

Foolishness can depart

Pr. 27:22:  “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”

This week I ran into a girl I knew in high school.  She mentioned a mutual friend we had and noted that while that friend had been pretending to act foolishly like us, she was really going home at night and doing her homework.  She was the only one who got a full scholarship to college and went on to have a prestigious career.

I left there with memories of the past replaying in my mind and, as is my custom, I began to feel down.  I began to recount the many, many bad and sinful decisions I have made and how they greatly altered the course of my life.

Each time I thought of a low point, I’d remember an even lower point, and then I wondered if I’m the foolish person in this proverb.  Am I the one who will never learn?  I began to worry about how it would be all too easy for me to allow one more foolish decision to cause the life I live now to crumble around me.  But isn’t that basically true for us all?

Then, I thought of God’s grace.  I remember when God stepped into my life and said, “That’s enough.”  I’m grateful to  remember the decision He used to turn my course back to Him.  I can look back and see my life changing and my decisions slowly changing to line up with His will and His word.  I can recall times when He helped me make the decision to turn my back on foolishness in an effort to be wise.

I will never be perfect; however, I am not as foolish as I once was.  I have allowed God to undertake the ongoing process of replacing my foolishness with His wisdom.  Trusting God is the wisest thing I’ve ever done.  Foolishness can depart, through Him.

Carefully,

jamie

The safety net of hope

Pr. 11:14:  “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

I’ve been reading some of Paul’s letters to different churches.  Being a travelling missionary, he couldn’t always be present at the churches, so he would write them letters of counsel.  I flipped through and realized how many of those churches I’ve been like over my lifetime.

I’ve been like the church in Thessalonica, young in the Lord, and excited to live for Him!

Oh, but then I’ve turned into the church of Galatia.  Deceived by false teaching, I would believe that in order to be accepted by God, I had to follow the law again.  I allowed guilt, pressure, comparison, or the example of some to lead my away from the salvation of Jesus Christ, and into the thinking that I am saved by my works…not by God’s grace.

Then, I would find my way back to God’s grace, understanding that salvation comes from Him alone, and I would find myself becoming more like the Ephesian church.  Maturing in my spirituality, truly trusting in God’s grace and His strength, walking in unity with my fellow believers, and growing in wisdom, I would be more whole.

After that season of beautiful growth, I would become like the church in Colosse.  I would get distracted from my spiritual growth, and instead, grow in immorality.

Then, after true repentance, I’d be back to baby steps, starting out like a new baby trying to get back to my Savior.  Feeling young and vulnerable again, I would once again be like the church in Thessalonica, excited to give my life to Christ again, and ready to begin taking care of my spiritual growth again.

Just the way Paul counseled the churches through his letters and through the fellow believers he sent their way, I have been counseled along the way by mentors, teachers, Pastors, friends, and the Word of God throughout my inconsistent journey.

I am so thankful that the Lord never let me fall so far that I couldn’t find my way back to Him.  There was a safety that came from the many ‘counselors’ that navigated me through.  Be encouraged today, He can do the same for you.

Certainly I’m not done with my journey.  By God’s grace, I find myself currently in an Ephesian-like season, growing daily closer to Him.  Although it is my hope to remain in that place going forward, I understand that until I’m home in heaven, I will never have it all together.  That’s the beauty of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and renewal.

I encourage us today to be ‘counselors’ for others on their journey.  I pray we will be the instruments God can use to provide the safety they need to block their fall.  Let’s use Paul as our example and encourage those around us in the Lord.  He’s not finished with us yet!

Redeemed,

jamie

 

It is finished

Pr. 3:20:  “By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew.” 

Ya know there are some things that just are…

The clouds drop down dew because that is the way the Lord designed it.  We “men” don’t have to force that to happen.  The Lord, in His knowledge, deliberately set it up so that dew would water the earth.

Breathing.  Most of us don’t have to think about making ourselves breathe, although anyone who has ever had breathing difficulties will appreciate breath all the more.  God created our brain to cause our lungs to work on their own.  It just happens.

We also don’t have to tell our hearts to beat.  With wise forethought, our Creator, caused this to happen whether we’re consciously thinking about it or not.

These are not the only things God purposely designed to be already in place for us.  For example, we don’t have to offer sacrifices for our forgiveness.  Likewise, we don’t have to earn our salvation.

Our forgiveness and salvation are already in place.  With the same forethought, our Deliverer offered His Son on the cross and offered salvation and forgiveness to us all.

Besides accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, there is nothing we have to do to make those things happen.  Jesus already did it.

Sometimes we don’t “feel” like we’re forgiven.  Sometimes we may worry that we’re not doing enough to be saved.  When our feelings don’t line up with the Word of God, however, those feelings are wrong.  Forgiveness and salvation already exist, whether we ‘feel’ them or not.

In the same way that we don’t have to cause the clouds to drop down dew, tell our lungs to breathe, or remind our hearts to beat, we don’t have to do anything to earn those things.  By His knowledge, the Lord has done it!  When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it.

Go out and touch the dew.  Let it remind you of the grace of God, which was offered freely, and has saved you.  Just like that dew you didn’t create, you don’t have to make it happen.  It is finished.

Breathing fresh air,

jamie