2018 is for sharing!

Tomorrow is another new year.  I’m not one for making resolutions, but certainly a new year does deserve some pause for thought.

Enter my neighbor’s chickens.  Yes, chickens.  Today, I saw that there were 5 of them under my bird feeder scratching and eating all the bird seed they could find.  I was a little frustrated at first because this neighbor’s animals seem to be in our yard a lot, but the more I thought about the fact that they just wanted some food, the less frustrated I became.  

And then I realized that they’re just like all of us.  Ha!  All of us want to be fed.  We are all searching for sustenance.  Not just physical sustenance, but spiritual, as well.  When we can’t find it where we live, we go off to the neighbor’s in search.  We scratch and dig and look until we find something.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Lord has given us so much.  This new year, we must keep in mind that there are people around us that are hungry.  They are searching for what they have not yet found.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed when they come to us looking for answer or asking questions, we need to make sure we have a loving, generous heart that is ready and willing to share with them from our abundance.

Not everyone has what we have or knows what we know.  They are hungry.  We have the Bread of Life.  We must be willing to share.  We have no right to be frustrated or greedy with what we’ve been given.  Salvation is for all who believe, not just the ones we believe are deserving.

Everyone’s ministry is going to look different.  As we go into this new year, let’s remember that our time to share this Bread of Life is not over.  We are still here to do the will of our Father.  How will your sharing look?  Will it be a blog?  Will you minster to a co-worker, family member, friend, or student.  Will you teach a class at church or preach from the pulpit.  Maybe you will teach at the nursing home or lead a devotion for a small group.  Perhaps your ministry will look different still.  Could this even be your year for a mission trip?  The main thing is that we are open to the Lord’s leading and that we are wiling to share.

Ready to share alongside you in 2018!

jamie

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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

What are you seeking?

Pr. 25: 27:  “It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory.”

This verse tells us not to seek our own glory.  Who’s glory are we to seek?  Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Mt. 5:16

Do we need seek our glory in order to gain man’s approval?  Solomon warned that, “the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  Pr. 29:25.  Worrying about what others think of us only traps us.  Paul encouraged the people in Colosse that it is only God’s opinion that matters:  “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”  Col. 3:23-24.  Man’s opinions are fickle and they can offer nothing of eternal value.  When we seek the approval of the Lord, we will be rewarded with eternal life.

What should we seek?  While on earth, Jesus said, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”  John 5:30.  In Mt. 6:33, He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing, etc.) will be added to you.”  Paul implored Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  1 Tim. 6:11.

The only reward we receive when seeking our own glory is a temporary surge in our pride.  That surge will soon wane and we will have to seek glory once again.  We will never be satisfied.  Ps. 107:9 tells us that “He (the Lord) satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”  The Lord is the only One who will ever satisfy.  Heb. 11:6 tells us that “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Let us continue to seek and pursue things outside of ourselves and trust God to keep us safe, reward and satisfy, and turn us into more patient and gentle people.  In doing so, our light will shine before men and point them toward the Savior.  He’s the only One whose opinion will ever matter.

Seeking His glory,

jamie

 

Wake up and eat…for heaven’s sake.

John 6:48:  “I am the bread of life.”

John 6:35:  “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Pr. 24:30-34:  ” I went by the filed of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there is was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction.  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”

Pr. 20:13: “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty.  Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”

Get up!  Spend time with Jesus each morning.  Be filled with “The Bread” of Life!

Both of the scriptures in Proverbs speak of poverty…I read them to also speak of poverty of the soul.  A little extra sleep in the morning; laziness keeping us from getting out of bed to spend time with The Lord, and poverty will quickly come upon our souls.  We will quickly become devoid of understanding, thorns will quickly spread upon our hearts and nettles will choke out the fruit of The Spirit within us.  A little extra slumber and we will become broken, believing lies instead of truth, exchanging the truth about our strength in The Lord with the enemy’s deceiving lies about our weaknesses.

If we will open our eyes, we will truly be satisfied with bread.  We will be strengthened instead of broken.  We will become pure through His blood.  We will be set free, instead of pierced with the thorns that come from feeding our flesh.  We will be filled with wisdom, instead of drained of all understanding.  The fruit of The Spirit will be evident in us instead of being choked out by the nettles of the fruit of our own ways.  Our souls will be rich and overflowing instead of destitute hungry.

Don’t allow poverty to overtake your soul like an armed man overtakes a victim.  Amass an arsenal of truth.  Stockpile praise as a wall of defense.  Protect yourself at all costs.  Invest in your soul.  Invest in your eternal life.  This investment is a guaranteed success!

Stockpiling,

jamie

Hungry?

Pr. 10:3:  “The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish, but He casts away the desire of the wicked.” 

This same verse in the English Standard Version:  “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”

These 2 translations work well together to sum up this verse.  The Lord will not allow the soul of the righteous to starve to death or to suffer extreme hunger; likewise, the cravings and desires of the wicked will be frustrated and prevented from accomplishing a purpose.

We were created for a purpose.  Our purpose is higher than any earthly goal.  When we get distracted and begin trying to accomplish the purposes of our own sinful desires, our plans will be thwarted.

When we diligently work to accomplish our heavenly purpose, God works all things for our good.  He did that for Joseph.  He will do it for us.

The best part of this promise is that when our souls are hungry for God we will be filled.  When we hunger for more of Him, He is faithful to give us all we need and more.  The Bread of Life will satisfy our craving for Him.  When we long for eternal life and for doing the will of the One who sent us, then our desires will satiated.

I do know that when I have had seasons where I was intentionally living in sin that I usually felt very unfulfilled and ravenously greedy for something more.  In sin, in our own desires and cravings there is never enough.  We do not experience true fulfillment and satisfaction.  That is why it is hard for us to step out in faith, believing that there is truly something that can fill the empty holes.

When we become hungry for the Lord, He satisfies completely.  No longer do we have that longing desire for something more.  When we have given ourselves fully to God, He fills every need and leaves us feeling full and complete.  With Him we have no hunger pains for more.  He is the Bread of Life.  He has Living Waters.  Nothing can ever satisfy us more.

What do we do when the hunger pains hit?  Feed on the Lord.  His food endures to everlasting life.  We can step out, faithfully believing that the One who gave His life for us will also give us food for life.

Stuffing myself,

jamie

 

Do spiritual disciplines taste bitter to you?

Pr. 27:7:  “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Honey has never been on of my favorite things to eat.  I have tolerated it at times but have never consumed much.  The last 2 years have been very strange with my eating and tolerating of food.  Some days I am not able to eat anything.  Some days I can eat only crackers or maybe bread.  Other days I can eat as I desire.  It’s a day by day, and sometimes moment by moment journey.  There is no diagnosis for me, so I simply research and experiment.  Some of my research told me that raw honey may be a beneficial thing for me to ingest.

Last month, I was feeling rather awful and was having a spell of not being able to eat very much, so I finally bought a jar of raw honey.  This was my first experience with raw honey.  To this hungry girl, it honestly tasted like candy.  I was so delighted.  Not only might it help me, but it was so sweet and uplifting.  Something sweet that won’t cause me pain, and could possibly even help prevent it…what an amazing thing!  🙂

I remember those days before this strange sickness hit my body.  Remember how I said I didn’t consume much honey?  I could eat anything I wanted.  Why would I choose something I only barely enjoyed?  I was full of tastier food and didn’t need it.  Now that I am hungry, I will eat almost anything that won’t cause pain.  I drink papaya juice, green algae, hibiscus flowers, ginger root, and apple cider vinegar, and now eat honey.  It’s not that I enjoy all these things immensely.  I do this because it is what’s best for me.

I do believe our souls are the same way.  When we are full of our delights, we have no need for spiritual disciplines.  Making time for prayer seems silly.  (unless we need something, of course)  Making time for the Word seems like a drag.  We have so many more enjoyable things to do.  Making time for church seems like nonsense when we could sleep in, clean the house, mow the lawn, go to the lake, go to a ball game, head off to the beach, or make a trip to the park.  Making time for missions isn’t even on the radar.

But get hungry for God, and every “bitter” thing seems sweet.  When we finally come to our senses, and realize that life is no life at all without The Lord, we realize how sweet it is to have time for prayer.  There is nothing like spending time talking to our Father and allowing Him to speak into our hearts.  When we realize that spending time in the Word will arm us for battle and show us God’s will, we won’t go a day without it.  Why wait until we need God to be in His word?  We could prevent so many issues by preparing in advance for the trials we will face.  When the trials come, if we’ve been in the Word, we will already be prepared, sword in hand, and we will be victorious.

When we’re hungry for more of God, church isn’t even an option, it is a given.  Church becomes the time we long for, when we can worship with others, experience the presence of the sweet Holy Spirit, be stretched, taught and encouraged by Pastors, teachers, and friends, and it becomes the time when we’re refreshed while our armor is sharpened and polished.  Missions becomes what we long to do, to help God’s children because that’s His will and it will please Him, and because we desire that others can experience what we have.

Yes, to a hungry soul, every thing that seems bitter to those not seeking more of The Bread of Life, seems sweet.  If we’re too full of our selves, our desires, and the lusts and lies of this world, it will show as we turn our nose up at the precious things that could draw us closer to Christ.  Spiritual disciplines are the sweet thing, like honey, that won’t cause pain, and could possibly even prevent it.  What an amazing gift!  We do them, maybe at first, just because that’s what’s best for us.  Then we’re surprised and delighted at how sweet they really are.

Enjoy your honey.  🙂

jamie