Tag Archives: God’s love

Ensnared by God’s love

I wound up watching some episodes of a show yesterday that seemed relatively harmless.  The characters drew me in, the plot was intriguing, and the setting was lovely.  

As I lay down to try to sleep last night; however, I realized the show had affected me more than I’d realized.  The scenes replaying in my mind revealed how quickly I had been drawn in and accepted things that go against my very beliefs and values.  

Here was my next thought:  If sin so easily ensnares and holds up captive, why aren’t we making the love of God so captivating that it ensnares everyone around us in the same way?  

Hear me out.  John 3:16 says that, “God loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  

God’s love is captivating!  He says His yoke [the tie we have with Him] is easy, and His burden upon us is light.  They are not things to weigh us down or make us feel overwhelmed and unable to measure up.  

As I prayed about and contemplated this last night, I thought about the Pharisee’s & the Sadducees of Jesus’ day.  They made so many rules and burdens for the people that the people could hardly get to God.  As the church grew after Jesus was resurrected, there were times when rules and burdens placed on the people were beyond what Jesus instructed.  What about now?

If we read the Word of God for ourselves, pray, and seek God, we find out just how much we are loved, and that what we have been offered is a relationship. We can understand that once we fall in love with Him, He changes us when & if necessary.  We don’t change out of obligation to rules or burdens.  We change because of a real relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is faithful, and He can be trusted.  

If we read the Word of God for ourselves, pray, and seek God, we find out just how much He loves others, and we understand that once we can point them to Him and His love, offering them a relationship with the One who loves them as much as He loves us.  How marvelous!  His love will change their lives and their futures for all eternity.  

And He is the One who asks them to make any earthly changes, if necessary.  They don’t change out of obligation to rules, burdens, or traditions; and they don’t change to suit us.  They change because of a real relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is faithful, and He can be trusted.  

Yes, there will be a judgment one day, and until that day, remember, God is love!  

John 3:17 reminds us, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent Him to save them!”

Let’s go forth today, and make God’s love so captivating that it ensnares those around us!  And maybe binge the Word.  😉

jamie

Approval that matters

“When Ahithophel saw that Absalom and the leaders of Israel were not going to follow his advice, he saddled his donkey and rode back to his home in Gilo.  He told his family and servants what to do.  Then he hanged himself.”  2 Sam. 17:23 

Let’s go back to chapter 16 vs. 23:  “Ahithophel gave such good advice in those days that both Absalom and David thought it came straight from God.”

I know I started this off with a shocker of a verse this morning, but it’s reality.  Let’s face it, Ahithophel had fallen far.  

At one time his advice was revered by both King David, a man after God’s own heart, and his son, Absalom, who was now trying to be king.  They literally regarded his advice as though he was one who had been in a consultation with God.  And later, no one wanted to follow his advice.  

It didn’t just hurt his feelings a little or make him feel a bit disgraced.  It caused him to go commit suicide.  

It may sound shocking to you, but it shouldn’t.  When we get our sense of self-worth from people, this can easily happen.  If our identity is tied up in those around us, and they don’t approve of us, then, just like Ahithophel, we may feel like that is our only answer.  

When we are regarded by men as the best or regarded by men as not much, we need to keep our eyes on the Maker of heaven and earth.  He is the One who is our Strength.  He fights for us, gives us wisdom, lets us run to Him for refuge, and comforts us in times of need.  

Our identity comes from the One who created us, wonderfully, and willingly gave His Son to die for us so that we could have eternal life.  God made us in His image, and calls us His own.  He created us with a purpose.  We are loved so much that Jesus chose to die for us–we were worth dying for.  

No matter what happens or what they say…stand on what God says, and run to Him when you need a word of encouragement.  He is always faithful, and He can be trusted.  

Choose to stay, with Him,

jamie

Don’t lose your balance

“So don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.”  2 Peter 3:17

That’s what it says in the CEV.  In The Passion Translation, it says, “Be careful that you are not led astray by the error of the lawless and lose your firm grip of the truth.”

Either way, when we have our eyes on others, we can be led in the wrong direction, lose our grip on the truth, lose our balance, and even fall. 

This is why Paul told us to plant our roots in Christ, and to let Him be the foundation for our lives.  He also told us to set our hearts on what is in heaven.  John tells us to keep thinking about the message we first heard so that we will always be one in our hearts with the Son, and the Father, just as the Holy Spirit has taught us to do. 

Where are your roots getting their nourishment right now?  Make sure that you are planted in Christ, first and foremost.  What was that message you first heard?  Do you need to go back to the B.I.B.L.E?  Do you need to remind yourself that, “Jesus Loves Me, this I know?” 

Let me affirm you right now, and remind you that the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you.  You have also been blessed with the Holy Spirit…the same powerful Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.  You belong to Christ, who is over every power & authority, and in His name, you are more than a conqueror! 

Brothers & sisters, I encourage you, with the words of Paul, “But you must stay deeply rooted & firm in your faith.  You must not give up the hope you received when you heard the good news.”  Col. 1:23

No matter what is going on around you, and what choices others are making, know that you are loved, you have power, and you can keep your balance as you stay on the path with the Lord.  Take time to nourish yourself.  It matters.  

Dig those roots in,

jamie

God always wins!

Some interesting reading this morning in Psalms.

First I read Ps. 76, which talks about how God always wins.  He is God.  Famous.  Honored in Israel.  On Mt. Zion He destroyed fiery arrows, shields, swords, and all the other weapons.

He is more glorious than the eternal mountains.  When He roars, enemy chariots & horses drop dead in their tracks.  He is fearsome and no one can oppose Him when He is angry.  He is also ready to rescue everyone in need.  Even the most angry people will praise Him when He is furious, and He destroys the courage of rulers & kings, making cowards of them.

Then I read Ps. 74, which talked about a nation in trouble.  People felt like God had rejected them.  It was asking for God to remember them.  It said, please don’t forget about Mt. Zion.  (the same Mt. Zion where He had destroyed those things above)

It talks about how God’s enemies roared like lions in the holy temple and placed their own banners there.  Ah, but I remember God’s roar and the damage it can do…

The enemies used axes & hatchets to smash the carvings in God’s temple, and they burned down the temple & badly disgraced it.  They burned every one of God’s meeting places all over the country.  There were no more meeting places & no more prophets.  The question was where was God?  How long would He wait?

But His Word says, that even the most angry people will praise Him, and He destroys the courage of rulers, making cowards of them.

God hasn’t left.  He does not change.  The Lord is truthful, and he can be trusted.

“The Lord isn’t slow about keeping His promises, as some people think He is.  In fact, God is patient, because He wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.”  (2 Peter 3:9)  He is still being patient for those who would still turn to Him.

“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn its people.  He sent Him to save them!”  (John 3:17)

If we feel ourselves getting overwhelmed by what we see around us, we can be reminded to look to the One who is still in control and remind ourselves that there is a bigger reason for life here on Earth.  Things aren’t always as they seem.

God’s desire is that all would be saved and turn to Him.  Is that our desire, as well?  God loves the world so much that He sent His only Son to save them.  Do we love the world enough to tell them and show them and pray for them?  Or have we written the world off?  God said Jesus will return and we will be with Him in eternity.  Don’t lost heart, dear ones.

God hasn’t said it’s over yet.  Neither should we.  God always wins!

jamie

Trusting God…even with our enemies?

Why do we think that God’s Word won’t work?  We do that more often than we will probably admit.  I was reading Ro. 12 this morning, and there are several verses that remind us what the Lord says about 1 subject:

  • “Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you.  Ask Him to bless them and not to curse them.”   (vs. 14)
  • “Dear friends, don’t try to get even.  Let God take revenge.”   (vs. 19)
  • “If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat.  And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads.”  (vs. 20)

From the youngest of ages, this is something we have to begin learning.  It goes against the flesh-nature of us all.  Kids learn immediately that they want their way.  They learn immediately who they feel safe around and who they don’t.  And find out who they can and cannot trust.

Same for us.  But, as Christians, we are told how to we are to handle the situation.  We are told to pray for them.  Ask God to bless them.  And then, if they need something, we are to supply that need, trusting that God’s Word is actually true.  If we say we believe in His Word, then we prove it by doing all of it, not just some, right?  Eeeeeek.

Jesus said, “I tell you love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.”  Does that mean we have to allow an enemy in our lives, submitting to them every minute?  I don’t know.  I hope not.  Wisdom from the Lord, and discernment from the Holy Spirit are certainly very helpful things to have in our lives, to guide us as we make decisions.

But we can pray for anyone, and forgive, finding the love of God for anyone…loving them as Christ loved us.  This will enable God to do the work that only He can do, and let Him prove that He and His Word are mighty and true.

We can’t just pick out all the parts of the Word that we want and leave the rest.  He will honor it all.  And He can be trusted.

Loving you,

jamie

Get off that rock! part 1

While we were kayaking, my son started eating a snack.  While he was distracted with that, his kayak ran straight into the only huge rock sticking out in this section of the wide, clear river.  We’d even tried to yell and warn him, but he was so distracted that he couldn’t hear us.

Sometimes we get distracted.  In life, we eat, clean the house, work, invest in relationships, drive places, pay bills, etc.  And while we’re distracted with those things, sometimes we run into the 1st big obstacle that sticks out.

People might even warn us.  But there we are.  Stuck on a rock.

We can stay there, stuck and unable to move forward.  We can let it be the place where we take up residence.  Or we can do like my son did and break free.

He knew how to safely get his boat off the rock.  It took a bit of patience and effort, but to him it was worth it.

If we’ve found ourselves stuck on some obstacle in life, it might be time to break free.

We may be able to just wiggle a tiny bit and quickly break away.  Small changes.  A new attitude.  A decision to simply move on.

Or we may find that it takes a bit more patience and effort to move on.  But, it will be worth it!

Distractions and obstacles are all it takes to keep us from remembering that God showed how much He loved us by having Christ die for us, that faith in Him causes God to accept us, and that Christ’s death has allows us to live in peace with God.

We are loved.  So we can get off the rock.  Those around us are loved, too.  They need to know it.

“Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper.  Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.”  Ph. 4:8

Get off that rock! part 2

jamie

(not an actual picture of my son)  😉

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

Lessons from ol’ Eb

In Jeremiah 38, we find Jeremiah cast into a dungeon, meaning he had to be lowered down with ropes; and the Bible says there was no water, but mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.  Jeremiah is in a bad situation.

Someone found out about this.  He was a eunuch in the king’s house, named Ebed-Melech.  We’ll just call him Eb, for short.

Jeremiah was a prophet, which means he normally had some respect, but right now he is sinking in mire, in a place where he had to literally be lowered down with ropes.  Yikes!  Not much respect here.  Eb goes to the king and says, “My lord the king, these men have done evil..to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is.  For there is no bread in the city.”

The king commands Eb to take 30 men with him to go lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon before he could die.  So, the men got some old rags and clothes and lowered them down into the dungeon on some ropes and told Jeremiah to put them under his armpits, under the ropes, and then they pulled him up, and hopefully fed the man and let him get cleaned up a little.  (I don’t know…it doesn’t say that part)

There are people in our lives right now that feel as though they are sinking the mire.  Are we taking the time out of our lives to send down the ropes and pull them out?  It’s ok if we need to get some others to go with us.  Eb took 30 men with him.  If you’re too insecure or uncertain to do it alone call for back up!  But never leave someone sinking if you know they’re there.  Pull them out before they can die…emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

I also love the care they took with Jeremiah.  They considered his weakened state and sent down some old rags and clothes for him to put under his armpits before having him put the ropes under his arms before they pulled him back up.  When we are helping people, it’s ok to take a little extra care and not always assume “tough love” is the immediate best plan.

There are also people around us who need to be literally fed or given some water.  Perhaps you can help with that.  If so, please do.  Maybe you don’t have all the resources, but like Eb, you know someone who does.  Talk to them.  See if they can help, and maybe you can even pitch in and help like ol’ Eb did.  Don’t just watch someone suffer and do nothing.  Pr. 3:27 says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.”

Thanks for these great reminders today Eb!  You were a stand up guy!

Look for someone around you that may need some help today,

jamie

 

Love your enemies, part 3

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

Love your enemies, part 2

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

In yesterday’s blog, I asked this question: if someone who has hurt you needs prayer will you pray for them?

When you or someone you love has a serious prayer need in your life don’t you desire compassion and aren’t you seeking for people to pray for you?  Most of us are.

Now, say that the wrathful person you envisioned in this verse has a prayer need.  Are you going to take time to pray for them?  If someone who has previously injured you in some way now needs prayer, will you pray for them?

What was it that Jesus told us in Mt. 5:44-45?  Get ready for it…

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

Jesus said we should love our enemies.  Not only that, but we should bless those who curse us and do good to those who hate us.  Also, we should pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.  Why?  So we may be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.  He makes us all, loves us all, and according to John 3:16, died for us all.

I have a testimony not meant for a blog, but the Lord once asked me to pray for someone who had seriously injured me.  It seemed like an unreasonable request, considering the pain this person had caused me, and although I initially argued with God (in the pew at church), I eventually gave in.  Once I did, I was lifted of a burden in a way I never could have imagined.

The Lord freed ME of anger…freed ME of unforgiveness…freed ME of pain and bitterness.  I am much more equipped to forgive now than I was before, and I am so thankful for the freedom the Lord gave me when I trusted Him enough to do as He commanded. 

We cannot control what the people around us do.  All we can control is what we choose to do.  We can choose to trust the Lord enough to follow His Word and do as He commanded.

Just like He showed me…there are great rewards in store when we do!

Give it a shot!

jamie

Love your Enemies, part 3

Love your Enemies, part 4