How can I save those I love?

Pr. 24:11:  “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.”

I have not been able to shake this verse since I read it yesterday.  My heart breaks when I think of people I know and love who are stumbling towards the slaughter.  Some are walking there willingly, and others are being deceived.  I want nothing more than to grab them in an embrace and lead them to the Lord.  But what can I really do?  I can’t make up people’s minds for them.  I cannot convince them with smooth words, or even stop them with my insistence.  How can I deliver them?   How can I hold them back?

The fact is, I can’t.  This is where I have to pray and trust that God will be able to get hold of them, to deliver them and hold them back.  Maybe God can use me in some way, but the truth of the matter is, it is between them and God.

Genesis 3:4 is where the serpent convinced Eve to sin against God.  “…in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan is still using this same tactic–telling us we will get something from the sin.

“You will know what it’s like to really feel loved.”  “You will finally have peace.”  “You will get what you’ve deserved for so long.”  “Your pain will finally go away.”  “No one will ever know.”

This is how he leads people to the slaughter.  His empty promises that are actually lies in disguise.  1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that our own consciences can become seared with a hot iron.  When that happens, we no longer view sin as sin.  It becomes a right to which we cling.  Our lives become about us, our wants, and our desires.  Our lives become about what we deserve…just as Eve ‘deserved’ to have her eyes open to know good and evil in just the same way that God did.

The truth is that it is God’s will for us on this earth is to tell people about His kingdom.  We can find this truth in His Word.  When the focus of our lives is only our own will, then we have departed from God.  God has and is all that we need, and more.  All the things satan promises, are things that only God provides.  Satan has wanted to be like God from the beginning, so he tries to promise what only God can give, but his path only leads to pain, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, my heart breaks that people I love are being led to the slaughter.  Oh, how I long to open their eyes!  God, please open their eyes.  Holy Spirit, please bring back to their remembrance the truth of Your Word.  Lead them away from death, and hold them back from the slaughter, dear Lord, I pray.  In Jesus’ saving name, Amen.  

Trusting,

jamie

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Investing 101

Pr. 18:16:  “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”

While we wait on the Lord’s return we have work to do.  We can never forget that ultimately, the work we are called to do is to spread the message of Jesus Christ.  God is depending on us to point others to Him.

I was reading the parable of the talents in Mathew 25 this morning.  It reminded me that God has entrusted us with resources that He expects us to use to multiply the kingdom.  He did not give us resources and salvation so that we can sit comfortably in our happy place and keep it all to ourselves.  He expects us to put those resources to work.

That work will look different in a lot of lives.  We have all been given different resources so that we can reach a wide range of people.  Some will be preachers and pastors.  Some will be missionaries in a foreign land.  Others will minister to people in prison.  Levites will lead the way with music ministry, bringing others into the presence of the Lord.

Others, however, may look more like a mother talking to her children about the Lord day after day, reminding them of God’s love and provision.  Some will hand out food in their community, or spread God’s love to those around them by simple actions of kindness or charity.  I have watched my own mother approach a cash register to simply purchase a shirt, and before we walked away, both she and the cashier were in tears, hugging and praising God.  It could look like that.

Perhaps it’s a Sunday school teacher, faithfully teaching Sunday after Sunday, feeding adults or children with the Word of God.  It could be a nursery worker, caring lovingly for a helpless baby while it’s parents are being ministered to.  Sometimes it’s a miraculous offering of forgiveness that can only be explained as a gift from God.  It could even be a financial giving of resources.

God expects us to use our resources for His kingdom.  In the parable of the talents, the man who had given the talents to his servants returned to find out what had been done with them.  There was 1 servant who had buried and hid his talent until the master returned.  The master was disappointed that the servant had not done anything with it.

One day, Jesus will return.  He will look to see how we have used our resources for His kingdom, and He will expect to see some sort of return.  We cannot hide our resources or His love away.  Others are counting on us.  And our work will please the Master.

Investing,

jamie

Let’s advance together

Pr. 30:27:  “The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks.”

Locusts are one more thing that is little on the earth, but called exceedingly wise by Agur.  Chemicals in their brains cause wise-spread breeding, and when their numbers are large enough, they advance.  Although they indeed have noted no king, the natural instinct that God placed inside them causes them to move as one in a decisive order.

God has given humans free-will.  We have instincts, but unlike animals, we are not ruled by them.  All of us were created with a sense of right and wrong.  We were all created to worship.  The difference is that we have a choice.  What we decide to worship is a choice.  Whether we fight against that right and wrong is a choice.  We also have the advantage of having the Holy Spirit adding wisdom to the instincts God has already placed within us.

What if we Christians all quit fighting against the God-given instincts of right and wrong and stopped ignoring and going against the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and started advancing, as one, toward our common goal?

The times in my life where I have fought against my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudgings and wisdom have been the times when I have fallen out of rank.  I was not advancing the kingdom of Christ one bit.  I was headed in a different direction.

When I choose to follow my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudges, I am always left knowing that I have done what I was created to do.  Whether it’s walking away from sin or ministering to someone in need, I am decisively advancing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When a swarm of locusts advances, there is no doubt where they’ve been.  The effects are long-term.  They create environmental change, famine, economical devastation, and educational decline.

What if we decided to truly do what is actually right and advanced as one in a decisive order as the locusts do?  We could bring positive environmental change for countless people.  We could feed starving souls the Bread of Life.  We could introduce the Provider to those in need.  We could acquaint others with the wisdom that is freely given from the Lord.

If we allowed ourselves to be driven, as one, by the One who change bring the best change of all, the effects would not only be long-term, but amazingly profitable for all.

Time is short, and the day of Christ’s return is drawing closer.  It’s not time to be falling out of rank.  It is time to pull together and advance for the kingdom of Christ.  He is the answer for us all!

Falling in line,

jamie

You are as important as a spider

Pr. 30:28:  “The spider (one of the things that is little on the earth) skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in king’s palaces.”

Strange verse to pick?  Let’s see.  In Acts 6 when there was a complaint that some widows were being neglected.  The twelve believed they were supposed to remain in prayer and in the Word, so they summoned the growing number of disciples and told them to, “seek out from among you some men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

The whole multitude was pleased with this decision and seven disciples were chosen to take on the task.

From Jamie's phone 2-18-15 2044

How do I relate this to a spider?  Spiders, indeed, are little.  They can be scary to some, insignificant to others, and tolerated by others.  However, to those who appreciate their skills and their contribution to the balance of nature, they are amazing and extremely important.

The same goes for the “little” people in the kingdom of Christ.  Sometimes we feel too small, somewhat insignificant, and sometimes simply tolerated.  However, God gave us all specific skills and abilities we can use for His kingdom.  We are all part of the balance and each of us is important.

We must not; however, wait until we’re called upon to decide to use what we have for the Lord.  When the seven were chosen it was because they were already of good reputation, and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.  They may not have had a chance to put their specific skills to work prior to this; however, they had already made the choice that what they did have would be used for the Lord.  They were already of good reputation.  They were already full of the Holy Spirit.  They were already tapping into God’s wisdom.

We can do the same.  We can make sure that we are daily walking with the Lord, being fed His wisdom, being filled with His Holy Spirit, and ensuring that we are making wise choices that lead to a good reputation.  Like the spider, we were given certain skills for the work in our King’s palace.  When the time comes that our specific skills are needed to complete the task, we will be found ready.

So, see?  You are important, and your skills are just as good as those of the spider.  Keep learning with the Master.

Feeling sticky,

jamie

Nourishment to complete the tasks

Pr. 19:27:  “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

It is easy for us to give in to busyness in this life, especially during this season of year.  There are so many things pulling at us each day.  We have countless responsibilities.  We are asked to help with many things from those around us.  We have personal things we want to do.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with being busy.  Currently, our “Christmas break” schedule is jam-packed with things to do.

The danger; however, is neglecting the only thing that really matters:  our relationship with God.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to put aside our time with God in an effort to get done all the things that are pulling at us.

Without God, though, we can do nothing.  He is our Strength.  He is our Provider.  He is the One who guides and directs us.  He is the One who instructs us.  If we put Him first, He will help us get done all the things we need to do, or He will direct us when we need to say no to certain things.

Because it is true that when we cease listening to instruction we are more likely to stray from the words of knowledge, we must be diligent and intentional in setting aside our time for the Word of God.

If we are going to choose to say no to something, we must make sure that something is not our time with God.  Above all else, we need to continue abiding in the Vine.  We must remain attached to Him, allowing Him to nourish and enrich us.  It is only abiding in Him that brings the fruit in our lives.

John 15:6 reminds us, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We cannot risk not abiding in Him.  Once we become unattached, we stray, and eventually fall away, being then cast out and withered.  After that, we see what happens.

It may seem like I’m being overly-dramatic, but I’ve seen it before.  Sometimes it only takes a few days for the enemy to cause us to become so distracted that we get out of the routine of making time with God our priority.  Once that takes place, we are vulnerable to his sway.  His sway will always lead us away from God.

During this season, during all the busyness, giving, and frivolity, we must protect our time with God and in His Word.  We must ensure that abiding in Him is at the top of our to-do list.  If we put Him first, all the rest will fall beautifully into place.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Let’s remain in Him,

jamie

Find wisdom

Pr. 3:13:  “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.”

In Mark 12:38-40, Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the scribes.  He said they were people whose religion was for show.

Verse 28; however, introduces us to a scribe who came to Jesus and asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  After Jesus answered him, the scribe told Jesus, “Well said, Teacher.  You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.  And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Certainly this scribe had gained understanding.  For the wisdom he found, Mark 12:34 says, “Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.'”

What happier knowledge is there than that you are not far from the kingdom of God?

It is ok for us to ask questions of God.  It is ok for us to seek wisdom in His Word and search for the answers.  Through Him, we gain the wisdom and understanding that we need.  Knowing the truth, knowing who He really is, knowing His nature keeps us from religion that is just for show.  Knowing God leads to loving God, and loving God leads to humble and willing submission to Him.

The most amazing and mind-boggling thing about God is that good works do not impress Him.  He is not interested in our outward appearances or performances.  He does not require that we strive for perfection.  God simply desires that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that we love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.

We learned in 1 Sam. 16:7 that, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  God knows what is truly in our hearts, no matter what sacrifices or pretenses we may bring forth.

Once we discover who He truly is, through the wisdom and understanding found in His Word, it is not difficult to kneel to the God of the Bible.  Our flesh may still be weak and we may have moments of doubt, confusion, or fear; but God, knowing our hearts, will come to our rescue.  If we continue seeking Him, reading His Word, asking questions of Him, and searching for the answers, we find Him ever-faithful.

We don’t need to pretend we have it all together or be afraid to ask questions of God.  Gaining understanding and finding wisdom brings true happiness and brings us ever closer to Him and His kingdom.  What better knowledge is there than that?

Asking,

jamie

I have good news

Pr. 25:25:  “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.”

I have good news.  Jesus is coming back for us!

“Behold, I am coming quickly!”  Rev. 22:7

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”  James 5:7-8

We must establish our hearts, to choose Him once and for all; and wait patiently on our reward.  Like the crop, long-awaited, He will return.

Rev. 21:1-5 tells us, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also, there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

No more death.  No more pain.  No more tears.  If we but patiently endure while on this pilgrimage in this foreign land, our reward will be given.  Sometimes our lives can be painful and even feel consuming, but we can trust in the Word that is proven, that is pure, and that endures forever.  God says He will make all things new.  His return and our great reward will redeem all the pain we’ve experienced in this life.

We must find the strength to trust Him in all things.  He has plans for our lives, and more importantly for our eternity, that are perfect.  We must allow Him to be the refuge for us in this life, patiently enduring and trusting in Him.  If we do that, we will dwell in the place where there is no more curse.  Our pain will be over and we will be surrounded by the glory of God for eternity.

Be ready.  The King is coming!

Enjoy the refreshingly great news,

jamie