Showing up

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  Heb. 10:25

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.  In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a certain time in to the pool and stirred up the water then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.  Now a certain man was there had an infirmity thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there, an knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.”  John 5:2-8

The man had no one to put him in the water.  And yet he was there.  He was present in the place where the miracles happened.

I recently heard about a woman who was avoiding her church because she is going through a hard time in her life right now and when she goes to church it makes her cry.  I’ve felt that way before.  Sometimes, when times are the toughest, we feel the most like avoiding the house of God.

Friends, it is during those tough times, that we need to be in the house of God the most.  We need to show up and be present in the place of miracles.  We cannot expect a breakthrough if we avoid the place where they happen.  We cannot get the peace that passes understanding if we do not seek out the Peace Giver.  The shadow of death will loom so much larger on the outside, but when we enter into God’s presence, we find Him with us.  His rod and His staff ever ready to comfort us.  His green pastures and restoration of the soul can only be found where He is.

We may cry when we get in church.  It’s ok.  Church is not a place for perfect people.  It is a place for the broken.  Like this infirmed man, when we show up at the place where there is healing, restoration, deliverance, comfort, then there are emotions we will naturally go through.  But when we hear the Lord tell us to, “Rise, take up our bed, and walk,” it will be so worth it!

Go to church.  Cry if you must, but Go!  Seek the Lord.  Seek your miracle.  Just show up and do not give up.  God will meet you there.

Thankful I showed up,

jamie

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Do others find favor from you?

Pr. 21:10:  “The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

Several years ago our house was robbed.  If you’ve ever experienced that, you know how violating it is.  Our daughter was still young enough to be in a crib and my husband worked 2nd shift.  The first night after it happened, I was so afraid to leave my daughter alone in her room that I fell asleep on the floor in front of her crib until my husband came home from work.  I knew it wasn’t entirely rational, but it made me feel better at the moment.

The fingerprints and an eyewitness linked the robbery to one of our neighbors.  Our very own neighbor broke into our house and robbed us.  We were never very comfortable in that house again.  In fact, it wasn’t long before we sold it and moved.

There are times that the desire of sin and evil becomes so strong that no relationship is exempt.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a different scenario where a neighbor, friend, or even a family member desired evil so strongly that they wouldn’t even spare you.  Perhaps you’re the one who hurt those close to you.

Why does this happen?  Sin.  It causes our focus to become so narrow that we see only what we want and blinds us to others around us.  We go so strongly after our sinful desire that anyone in our path is at risk of being hurt.

We can’t control others, but we can make wise decisions about our own actions.  We can become so focused on God and His desires that sinful desires become less and less desirable.  We can become so focused on the work to which He has called us that we see others and their needs with very clear eyes.

God’s plans for us and for those around us are for good.  If we’re focused on Him and His ways, we won’t want to hurt others anymore.  Of course, we will still have temptations, battles, and trials, but He is willing and able to aid us through.

When we desire God, others will find favor in our eyes, and perhaps that will be all the encouragement they need follow suit.

His,

jamie

Where are you God?

Pr. 1:28:  “They will call on me (says wisdom), but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.”

Last week we returned home from a 3-day trip to a find our house just as we’d left it.  There had been no fire, no break-in, no water damage, no tree through the roof–nothing.  Everything was perfect.

As I thought about this and began to thank God for His protection over our house and our lives, I recalled all the times when I’ve returned home from a trip and didn’t even stop to fully consider it.  I thought of all the things we could have returned home to find, and things that I know others have returned to find before.

I thought about how it can be so easy to blame God when things go wrong.  It seems so normal that we ask or wonder why God allowed unfortunate things to happen.  Why is it that it took me until this trip to come home specifically thanking God that there was no tree on my roof, or water damage to our home?  Why hasn’t it been the most natural thing for me to praise Him for the fact that fire did not burn our home down or destroy our pictures and possessions while we were away?

This proverb reminds me of how we can sometimes wait until disaster strikes to look for God.  Then, we wonder where He is or why He allowed it.  Did we thank Him every other time that it didn’t?  Were we talking to Him daily beforehand, nurturing our relationship with Him?

In this proverb, wisdom didn’t answer nor show herself to those who call upon her or sought her.  Why not?  Because she had been trying to get their attention every other moment before this and they ignored her, turned their backs on her, and refused her.  Now, when they needed her most and finally decided to call for her, she wasn’t there.  She was allowing them to have their own way, just as they had always wanted.  Wisdom means business!

But where is God when disaster strikes?  He is right there, ready to offer peace, strength, refuge, and hope….right where He has always been.  He is the same God that was there every other time disaster did not strike.  He is the same God that offered protection 5 minutes before.

We don’t need to wait until it’s too late to look for or call upon God, and only then to place blame.  We must nurture our relationship with Him from moment to moment, knowing that He loves and cares for us the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His plans for us are good, He always provides, and we have a great reward ahead, just like we always did.

Call for Him now,

jamie

They will realize you’ve been with Jesus

Pr. 25:11:  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

In Acts chapter 4, after healing a lame man, Peter and John had been arrested for preaching about Jesus and His resurrection.  The next day they were brought before the rulers and asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”  vs. 8:  “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them…”

vs. 13:  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

The words Peter fitly spoke, through the power of the Holy Spirit, were like apples of gold in settings of silver.  It was even more of a testimony to the rulers that he and John were uneducated and untrained.  Because of this, and the words that had been spoken, they marveled.  “And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

We don’t have to be Pastors, Bishops, certified teachers, or even seminary students to speak of Jesus and His resurrection.  John 15 tells us to abide in Him.  Simply being with Jesus gives us what we need to do His work.

When we spend time in God’s presence, we are not only being fed His wisdom, but also strengthened, equipped, and more confident in Him and who we are in Him.  When questioned, Peter didn’t have to pull out his credentials in order to be heard or set free.  He who had been with Jesus, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit did the work.

Vs. 14 says, that after this and “seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”  God took care of everything.  Peter and John simply did what they were called to do and the Lord did the rest.  The rulers could say nothing against it.

The lesson for us:  Spend time with Jesus

Learning from the Master,

jamie

Need a time of refreshing?

Acts 3:19:  “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”

You may be way ahead of me on this one, but I never noticed the second part of this verse, “So that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  That sure sounds like the Lord I know…Refreshing.

I knew we were to repent and be converted so that our sins would be blotted out; however, I never noticed that another promised reward of doing so would be so that times of refreshing would come upon us from God’s presence.  I love when I find something new in a verse I’ve read over and over before.

When we repent and call the Lord ours He not only blots out our sins, but refreshes us with His presence.  I can think of nothing more refreshing than the presence of the Lord.  When I am in His presence I can feel pure joy, peace, love, hope, safety, purity, and salvation.

Are you in need of refreshing?  Not only can God give you what you need, but He will.  Being saved by grace offers a refreshing that you cannot find anywhere else.  Having the Comforter as your King offers a peace that cannot be duplicated.

If you have repented and been converted and you are in need of a time of refreshing, call upon your Savior.  He will rain down all that you need.  Spend time in His presence and feel His power and His love envelope you now.

Enjoying the perks,

jamie

Feeding the hungry

Pr. 10:21:  “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.”

This verse instantly makes me think about my Pastor.  Give or take a few services, he feeds thousands of God’s sheep in the pews 144 times each year.  Not only that, but he ensures that we are being fed during the other services, equips us with daily devotions, sends out blogs almost daily for extra nourishment; and for 40 extra days each year, at his urging, we gather as a church for very personal and intentional time with the Lord.

Certainly, our Pastor disburses to us the Bread of Life and the Living Water on a continual basis.  Anyone who is truly hungry or thirsty for eternal things, and encounters our Pastor, will find provisions awaiting them there.

How does our Pastor feed so many?  I think part of it can be summed up in a declaration he made several years ago.  He declared that Jesus is the true Pastor/Shepherd of our church and our earthly Pastor is merely the servant charged with carrying out God’s will in our midst.  He has submitted his life and his will to the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a result, the Bread of Life literally moves throughout our midst without hindrance.

He also diligently studies the Word of God.  His study of the Word is intensive and intentional, and his eyes are continually opened in new ways to “old” verses and passages.  He is open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit in not only his life, but in his studies.

He is also unafraid to ask listen to and ask questions of others around him with regard to scriptures.  He truly wants to know what others have gleaned from the scriptures and is constantly seeking more from God.

I read Luke 2:46 today which says, “Now so it was after three days they found Him [Jesus] in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

This is a wonderful example that Jesus set for us.  Vs. 47 says, “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”  When we get into the presence of God, when we diligently seek Him in the temple, when we ask questions of and listen to those who are laboriously in the Word, and when we seek answers in His Word, we find understanding and answers.

This Proverb says that fools die for lack of wisdom.  When it comes to learning more of God, we cannot afford to be headstrong, proud, hardened, or unteachable.  We must be willing to submit to Him in order for Him to reveal Himself more and more to us.  We must be willing to consider the teachings of those whose job it is to dig into the Word, find the answers, and guide us through that understanding.

Most importantly, though, we must know the Word and be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit, so that we may, in turn, begin to feed those around us.  People around us are hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for Living Water.  Sometimes it is up to us to release those things to them.  We must feed some people ourselves, but we must have something to offer.  We can’t leave it all up to 1 Pastor.

Dig in so you can dish it out!

jamie

Sweeter than honey

Pr. 8:33:  “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it.”

When is the last time you read Psalm 119?  I encourage you to make time to read it this weekend.  Give yourself 15 or 20 minutes…enough time to not have to rush through it.  It is really quite beautiful and it is very inspiring.

The author of Psalm 119 certainly did not disdain instruction, but embraced and delighted in it.  I pray that this weekend, we would all long for the Word of God the way the writer of Psalm 119 did.  I pray that the Lord would awaken within us a consuming desire for Him and for His Word unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

Lord, like the author of this beautiful Psalm, help us to become devoted to fearing you.  Oh, that our only hiding place would be in You.  As those who have found great treasure, Lord, make us to rejoice in Your word.  Great peace awaits us when our hearts stand in awe of Your Word.  Open our ears, Lord, to truly hear You in Your word; and then let the wisdom saturate us so that we will not just be hearers of the words, Lord, but doers.  Let us be engulfed in Your presence, oh God, and to touch others with the light of Your truth.  All praise and honor and glory be to You, our King and our Lord! 

Happy reading!

jamie