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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Month of Prayer, Day 25

Truly Your word is very pure, Lord.  I love it.  You are righteous!  Though trouble and anguish have attempted to overtake me, Your commandments have saved me.  I do not forget Your precepts.  The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; give me understanding, and I shall live.  I would rather live with You as my God, than die in sin.

Do not let me falter before the wicked, like a murky spring or a polluted well.  Let my confidence be in You.  Help my countenance reflect the unspeakable joy that comes from knowing and serving You.

Through Your Holy Spirit, give me rule over my own spirit, so that I am not like a city broken down, without walls.  Self-control protects my heart from wandering from You and Your precepts.  Your Word gives me protection.  You are a shield to those who trust You.  Thank You, Lord!!!

I love You, Father.  Forgive me for anything I have placed before You.  Help me to break down every idol that has attempted to interpose itself between You and me.  You alone are my God.  You alone have brought me salvation.  You alone are my Healer.  You alone are the One, true, living God!  You alone are the Resurrection and the Life!  I want to live in You alone.

I love you My God and My King,

jamie

Which do you desire more?

Pr. 24:1:  “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them”

Ro. 13:11-14 encourages us to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.  It says, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”  Why?  Because the day is at hand.  Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Make no provision for the flesh:  making provision for something means that you gather necessary supplies, plan and prepare, set the stage.  We are not to do those things for the lusts of our flesh.  We are to cast off the works of darkness, getting rid of the provisions and plans for our lusts.

Some associations in our lives make it difficult to walk as in the day.  Choosing not to walk in revelry, drunkenness, and lewdness usually involves ending some relationships.  Making no provisions will mean that certain actions will have to be changed.  Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ will mean that new choices will need to be made.

Change is never easy, but with the day of our salvation nearer than ever before, it is necessary.  Anticipating the day when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, take away sorrow, death, crying, and pain, we must not give up or continue to willingly give in.  On that day, former things will pass away, and The Word tells us that, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall by My son.” (Rev. 21:7)

Since the former things are going to pass away anyway, they are not worth hanging on to.   Rev. 12:11 tells us not to “love our lives to the death.”  Choosing the idols of our flesh over God reveals what we love most, and will only lead to our death.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  It is our relationship with Jesus that bring salvation.

Making provision to put on the Lord Jesus Christ every day will allow Him to bring to us His great reward.  Choosing Him gives us rights to the tree of life and access to the gates of the city of heaven.  Confessing, by our choices, that He alone is our God allows us to hear Him say, “Come!” on that great day.

Let’s allow God to help us get rid of the provisions we’ve placed in our lives that help us feed the lusts of our flesh, and to give us a new testimony that includes the healing blood of the Lamb.  Together, we will worship, knowing that He is coming quickly…for us.

Here is a song to help set the stage for those changes.  I pray God will speak to, strengthen, and cleanse us all today.

Desiring what will last,

jamie

The beauty of church

I went to church yesterday feeling tired, heavy, and regretful.

I taught my 5th graders in Sunday school about 3 superheros named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.  Even in the face of great pain and death, they stood up for what was right, and because of their conviction, others could literally see God, and came to believe that He was the Most High God.

What is the worst thing we can do about this story?  Forget.  Without reminding ourselves of what God can do and has done, we forget that we can be delivered from the fiery furnaces in our own lives.  We forget that if we stand up for and believe in God, even in our painful situation, others may be able to see God and come to believe that He is the Most High God, as well.

During the church service I was reminded that anything I can’t stop thinking about is an idol.  I could list several things that my mind couldn’t shake at that moment.  Do I want to be a servant of regrets, money, sickness, fashion, or cultural acceptance; or do I want to be a servant of the Most High God?  If it’s the later, then I need to be thinking about Him.  Trusting in Him means thinking about His goodness, His faithfulness, and His constant provision and abilities.

I then heard a testimony that reminded me that I am still alive because I still have work to do for Christ.  I don’t need to become so distracted that I forget why I’m here.

Last night I was heard that the Lord made dry bones live (Ez. 37), and that if He can bring dry bones back together into a perfect person, breathe life back into them, and join their ranks into an exceedingly great army; then He can breathe life back into the places that feel dry in my life, and that rivers of Living Water can still pour forth from me to reach those in need.

I was still tired when I left church last night; however, I was tired from being taught and ministered to all day long.  This morning, I feel the rivers stirring around in me.  My hope is not cut off.  I am not dry and desolate.  I am full of the Lord and His goodness, and because I am choosing to stand on His promises, I believe that others will be able to see Him in my life.

What’s the big deal about going to church?  Had I sat home with my heaviness and regrets yesterday, this morning would have looked a lot more dismal.  When you go to church and focus on God, allowing yourself to be open to His wisdom and encouragement brought in unexpected ways, He will minister to you, dust you off, and breathe life into you for the rest of the journey ahead.

I’m so thankful for a place to refuel, and for those who encourage and pray for me.

Gushing,

jamie

 

Are you counting on idols?

Pr. 25: 19:  “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.”

Recently, I was part of a conversation about a statue of Buddha.  It was proclaimed that the statue would bring tranquility, peace, and serenity to a room.  My thoughts immediately went to Jesus.  In Micah 5:5, it was said of Jesus that, “this One shall be peace.”  He doesn’t just bring peace.  He IS peace.

In John 14:27, Jesus reassured that when He went to heaven He would leave peace:  “Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”   He left peace we can neither fathom nor replicate.

Paul encouraged the people of Philippi to be anxious for nothing, knowing that if they presented their requests to God, with thanksgiving, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, would guard their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  This promise is true for us, as well.

We can trust in the Lord because He is faithful and His Word proves it.  If we put our trust in the unfaithful statue of a man long gone, we are out of joint.

The Lord clearly said that we should not make for ourselves carved images to which we would bow.  Are we truly trusting in and submitting to the statue of Buddha, or any other earthly trinket to bring us peace?  If so, we must re-examine our hearts.  Are we doing exactly what the Lord told us not to do?

In our society almost anything goes.  I’ve seen Buddha statues in the trendiest of stores.  I’ve seen other gods and symbols of “life” dressed up in the most “harmless” of ways.  The bottom line; however, is that they are still idols.  1 John 5:21 quite simply says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

If we find more peace in a trinket than we do in the Word of God, then something is gravely out of joint in our hearts.  Satan loves to distract us and to get our eyes off of God, but what’s worse is that this can curse our families for generations.  (see ex. 20:4-6)

Josiah was once the king of Jerusalem.  When he turned 16 he began to seek the God of his father David.  Four years later he began breaking down altars and purging Judah and Jerusalem of the wooden, carved, and molded images.  After seeking the One true God, Josiah understood that there is but One God, who is the Lord, and that we are to have no other gods before Him.  God rewarded Josiah and blessed the land around him because of his humility and faithfulness.

God will do the same for us.  Ex. 20:6 tells us that He will show mercy to thousands to those who love Him and keep His commandments.  We can bless our family for generations by being faithful to the only One who is faithful.  If we place our confidence in an unfaithful man, we will reap trouble, and true peace will always be out of reach.  If we trust in the God of David, peace will be a natural fruit of our life.

Trusting in the great I AM,

jamie

 

Your choices reveal your true God

Pr. 21:16:  “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.”

When I began this blog, there was one thing I knew for certain.  I even shared it with my husband, so that he would hold me accountable.  I knew that if I ever began slacking off on writing posts, then most likely my priorities would be out of whack, and that I would need to get my relationship with the Lord back on track.  I haven’t been as constant with my blog this last week.  I apologize.

Fortunately, my relationship with the Lord will survive this one, as I have actually been pretty sick in body since last Tuesday and am just beginning to recover.  I spent 2 days completely unable to read and the rest reading through a fog.  My prayers were breathed between groans and naps, but are now a little more sensible.

There have been times in my life; however, when I have found myself putting my spiritual disciplines off so long that they eventually vanished.  It’s when we suddenly can’t find the time for our Bible reading, for studying the scriptures, for prayer, or for learning and accountability at church, that we are putting other things before the Lord and we are wandering off on a dangerous trajectory.

This scripture reminds us that when we wander from the way of understanding, that trajectory will lead us straight to the assembly of the dead.  We don’t like to think about that.  We like to think God understands all the things we have going on and is intelligent enough to know that there is only so much we can do with 24 hours.

God; however, asked us to seek first His kingdom, promising that if we did, He would meet all our needs.  All those other things we have to do…God will be the One to help us complete them if we simply put Him first.  The math doesn’t make sense to us, but its a truth of the Lord, and His ways are not our ways.

God also told us to have no other gods before Him.  When we don’t have time for prayer, what is it that we are finding more important than our time with God?  It hurts to realize that the thing you put before Him has now become a god in your life.  If we find there just isn’t time to read the Word, thinking there are just too many other things that require our attention, then we have put those other things before Him.  We have made idols of the minute and random things on our schedule.

I know.  This hurts to think about.  We so easily justify our actions, thinking our excuses can cover the truth.  The truth; however, is that when we begin putting off our relationship with God, we will eventually find rest from our schedule…in the assembly of the dead.  We just can’t afford to wander from understanding, and Pr. 9:10 clearly tells us that understanding is “the knowledge of the Holy One.”

We must make time to continue in His Word and His presence.  He will take care of our schedule, and we will find that we actually have more joy, peace, strength, and patience to handle all that comes our way when the Holy Spirit is the One in control.  Don’t wander off!

Happy to be back in the Word,

jamie

 

 

Speaking of sin…

Yesterday I wrote about sin and the fact that we must have a faithful witness in order to show others the Way.  We must allow the Lord to examine and weigh our hearts to get rid of the impurities.  However, please remember this:

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.  Then each one’s praise will come from God.”  1 Cor. 4:5

This verse tells us something wonderful…the Lord knows what satan does to each of us.  We each have individual battles and temptations that we daily must fight and the Lord will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness.”  He knows what satan is doing to us every day!!!  Is that not reassuring to know?

We no longer have to live in condemnation.  Judgment has not yet taken place.  The Lord understands that satan comes in and offers “counsels of the hearts.”  Do you not think the enemy whispers in your ear anything he can to distract and dismay you?  Of course he does.  He will stop at nothing to get your eyes off God.  He will fill you with negative thoughts, regret, overwhelming guilt, and condemning thoughts about yourself.

Of course the Holy Spirit will examine our hearts and give us wisdom on how to live holy lives, but God knows our frames and ultimately He knows what battles we fight every day.  Maybe you’re not a murderer, but maybe you overcome the temptation of lust every hour on the hour.  Maybe you haven’t stolen millions from the fatherless, but maybe you have to make the choice each day not to harbor anger in your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Maybe you haven’t created a room in your home and filled it with idols, but perhaps you constantly fight the temptation to idolize something or someone and instead decide…one more time…to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength.

The Lord knows our battles and He knows what satan throws at us each day.  Let’s let Him be the judge of us.  Only He truly knows how we battle temptation each day in order to choose Him.  Then on that day of true judgment our praise will come from God!  🙂

Thankful to truly be free,

jamie