Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

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Wisdom at the door

Pr. 8:3: “She [wisdom] cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors”

Historically, the gates of the city were not just a wall with a big, guarded door.  The gates were where business was conducted.  There were rooms and levels, benches and seats.  The elders of the city would gather there to discuss legal matters.  Kings would have their thrones at the gate.  Purchases would be made.

It was at the city gate that Abraham purchased Sarah’s cave in which he would bury her.  (Gen 23, see vs. 18)  The city gate is also where Boaz spoke before 10 of the elders of the city and Ruth’s closest relative, in order to redeem her.  Ruth 4:11, “And all the people who were at the gate, and all the elders, said, “We are witnesses.”  It was also in the city gate that King David sat after Absalom died, to reassure his people that all was well.  (2 Sam. 19:8)

In Abraham’s blessing from the Lord, He said, “And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.”  (Gen. 22:17)  We can now see that this was a very important part of the blessing because we see the importance of the city gate.  The city gate was the heart of the city.  It was the gate of the city that enemies aimed to overtake when conquering other cities.

What is our city gate?  We could say it is where our government gathers.  So then, does wisdom still cry out there?  We must pray that she will be heard there.  Our job is to stop complaining, get on our knees and pray that she will be heard in the city gate of our government.

Is the city gate our home?  Is wisdom being heard in our homes?  What are we allowing in the doors of our homes?  What do we track in?  What are others bringing in?  Who are we allowing entrance that we shouldn’t?  Is anyone or anything else sneaking in?  We must be on watch.  Wisdom is still crying out.  We must pray that she can be heard.

Perhaps the city gate is our bodies.  After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Temples have doors.  We must listen as wisdom cries out to protect what we are allowing in our temple.  What are we watching on our iPads, phones, televisions and computers?  What are we drinking?  What are we consuming?  What exactly are we doing with our bodies/His temple?  Wisdom is still crying out.  Can you hear her?

We cannot allow wisdom’s voice to be drowned out at the city gate, at the entrance of the doors.  In fact, we need to stop, and ask for wisdom’s advice before opening the doors.  Are we brave enough?

Let’s keep guard,

jamie

Why become wise?

Pr. 7:4:  “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin.”

Wisdom is a wonderful thing.  We should always be striving to become more wise.  Wisdom brings with it things like prudence, diligence, discretion, respectfulness, humility, boldness, confidence, intelligence, ability, understanding and reason.  These are definitely qualities that are wonderful for us to have in this life.  Wisdom can help us be successful in our ventures, maintain and cultivate healthy relationships, and keep us from making choices that will endanger our lives.

It’s interesting; however, that Paul told the Corinthians that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  Does that mean we shouldn’t try to become wise?  Does that mean we shouldn’t grow and learn?  Of course not!  God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities.  Not only that, but He has given us each different capacities for learning and different interests that He has intended for us to use in pursuit of the eternal goal.

We all have something different to offer this world.  Paul reminds us that God did not call many wise or mighty people.  He has chosen the foolish and weak things to bring Him glory.  I for one am weak.  (I didn’t want to admit to being foolish.  ha!)  Truly I am weak, though, and indeed foolish in many ways.  I am not the wisest or mightiest.  Paul himself said to the Corinthians,

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

That’s it.  He didn’t come to them in his own wisdom and power, but in God’s.  And why?  That their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  That’s exactly what our own weakness and foolishness can show in our lives.  When we think in worldly terms, we think of those things only as pure weakness.  Think of it the way this way, though.  When the weakest person gets up and allows God’s Spirit and power to use them in a mighty way, how much more powerful is that for us to witness?

If you know someone is barely able to walk or speak or move, but, under the power of the Spirit, they begin to shout, jump, or minister to people, is that not an amazing thing to witness?  If you hear someone who is mentally handicapped in any way begin to speak in a way that inspires and encourages and glorifies the Lord, is that not a power thing?  It is.

Our weaknesses are not weaknesses when we use them to glorify the Lord.  Yes, we should still strive for wisdom, but let it be through God’s strength as we rely on Him and His Spirit to guide us.  Let us allow Him to use us as a vessel that brings Him glory!

Foolishly,

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

Follow-up blog:  How to take your thoughts captive

Those enticing deceptions

Pr. 7:27:  “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.”

This chapter in Proverbs is speaking about the immoral woman and the young youth who yielded to her enticements.

Certainly he was not the first one to whom this has happened.  We have all been seduced by sin.  We must learn by our mistakes; however, and the mistakes of those around us.  We can see clearly that the end result of sin is death and hell.

We don’t want to believe that.  We really want to justify and rationalize.  We are so good at trying to figure out the loopholes.  Sin is attractive.  Just like this harlot, sin is alluring.  It fascinates us with its sensations.  The rationalizations that accompany it tempt us to believe that it can all work out.

However, just as this simple youth was led to the slaughter by this enchantment, we are also led to death when we succumb.

Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to “exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Sin is deceitful.  The rationalizations and justifications that accompany sin are deceitful.  The bewitching package of sin is deceitful.  It is all a ploy.  Satan wants us to give in to sin.  He wants us to allow our flesh to win the war against the Spirit.

When faced with this seducing bait, we must remember that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit are contrary to one another.  We cannot live in intentional sin and still be walking in the Spirit.  That is a lie.  If we find ourselves believing this, we have been hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

We must be vigilant to guard ourselves from giving into temptation.  We must continue to feed on the Word of God and allow His Spirit to be our guide.  Temptations will still be presented, but when we are walking in the Spirit, His wisdom will keep us from stepping where we should not.

Jesus is still on the throne where He is able to aid those who are tempted.  (Heb. 2:18)  We have the ultimate ally, who will literally supply us with every single provision we need to stay true to His desires.  Let’s take advantage of all we’ve been given through Him.

With Jesus, there is life, and the victory of death has already been won!  Instead of allowing sin to lead us to the slaughter, we can allow Jesus to lead us to eternal life.  Praise God for this amazing blessing!!

It’s still Today!

jamie

Turn it off

Pr. 14:7:  “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.”

This verse could be talking about a lot of things.

Turn off that song when you realize the lyrics are giving you knowledge that is against what the Word says is beautiful, true, and for eternal life.

Turn off that movie or that tv show when you realize that you’re learning to become desensitized to sin and neglectful of your real purpose on this earth.

Turn off that podcast when it is teaching you something other than reliance on the Lord as your Source and your Strength.

Turn off the computer or your phone when you find yourself reading or looking at things that are draining your devotion to, or your knowledge and understanding of the Holy One.

Turn off that relationship when you know it’s not of God.

Turn off your ears when hear someone preaching a different God or Jesus than the One of the Bible.

How can we know when it’s time to ‘turn it off’?  We must know the Word.  When we know the Word, we understand more easily what things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.  (Ph. 4:8)

It’s ok!  Just turn it off.

Satan tries to distract us in the flesh, but God’s knowledge gives us life.

Jesus is the One who said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are LIFE!”  (John 6:63…exclamation mark and capitalization added by me)

Wanting more Life,

jamie

Reality

I’ve been sick for a while.  While I was simply trying to function, blogging was beyond the scope of possibility.  This morning is the first day I have been mentally/physically able to read the Word in quit some time, and as always, God was there.  Waiting.

Sickness has a way of making it feel as though weakness is the reality in which you live.  Then I read the words in 2 Cor. 5 that speak of the way our tents groan; being burdened, because we long to be clothed in immortality, which God has already prepared.  It reminds me that all of us groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.  This weakness is just part of my groaning.

Reality is that while we are at ‘home’ here on this earth, we are absent from the Lord, and nothing will ever be perfect until we are present with Him.  Reality is that there is something wonderful awaiting us.

Verse 16 says, “we regard no one according to the flesh.”  Vs. 17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”  I cannot regard myself or my reality according to the flesh.  My flesh may be weak, but that does not cancel out the fact that I am a temple of the living God.

I think it’s significant that 2 years to the day that I was re-baptized, I wound up in the ER.  Sept. 18, 2013, I was re-baptized to publicly make known that no matter what struggles I may have been presented within my body, the Lord was and will continue to be my God.

2 years later I was lying in the ER, barely able to hold myself up.  Weak as I may have been, I am still a new creation.  I may have dark, sunken skin around my eyes right now, but through Christ Jesus, all things in my life have become new.  I may have physical issues that I continue to carry around, but my sins are no longer imputed to me because my Savior bore them upon Himself at Calvary.

Reality isn’t what we see or feel on this earth.  Reality is God.  Reality is that our Savior took the sins from all of us, offering forgiveness and salvation to all who will believe in Him and call Him Lord.  Reality is that one day soon God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sorrow, or crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things will have completely passed away.

No matter your struggles or weaknesses here on this earth, remember that there is so much more to your reality.  Christ WILL appear a second time, and your groaning will end.

Thank you for this guarantee, Holy Spirit,

jamie