Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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

Can I have some breakfast?

My daughter walks into the kitchen almost every morning and asks, “Can I have some breakfast?”  This is her home.  It’s breakfast time.  She is old enough and capable enough to fix food on her own.  There is even food in the kitchen.  And yet, she asks this question almost daily.

After she asked it this morning, I thought about the words Jesus told us to pray to our Father in heaven, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus told us to look to the Father as our faithful Provider.  He will supply all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  (Per Phil. 4:19)

We don’t have to worry or fret about our physical needs.  In fact, Jesus specifically told us not to.  We are God’s image-bearers.  He will care for our physical needs so that we can pursue needs higher than those.

We just have to ask Him to provide for those physical needs, be grateful for and content with what He gives us, and be willing to move on and pursue the higher calling ahead of us.  Our lives are about more than food and clothing.  There is a much higher calling placed upon each of us.

After breakfast, it’s time to get to work.

Eat up!

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

Good news!

Reading the book of Acts the last few days, I am reminded, once again, of the task at hand.  As Christians, our job is to share the good news about Christ.  If you’ve been looking for some good news to share, here it is:  Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ was the prophesied Messiah, prophesied by David, Isaiah, Micah, and others.

He lived on earth, performing miracles and understanding all of our human trials and temptations.  He was crucified for our sins; and after 3 days, God raised Him to life!  He was then seen by more than 500 people before He was taken back up into heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of God.

When He ascended to heaven, we weren’t left powerless, but more power then came as the Holy Spirit was promised.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come upon His people and give them power, and then we would be able to tell everyone the good news.  Jesus said that His followers would be able to do even greater things than He did because He was going to His Father, God, and the Holy Spirit would then come.

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn its people.  He sent Him to save them!  God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die.

Not only that, but Jesus understands our weaknesses, having been tempted in every way that we are, and He intercedes for us.  So when we are in need, we can go straight to God’s throne, in prayer, and receive the kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and grace that we need.  Jesus is there beside Him, acting as high priest, and speaking on our behalf.

So, if you needed some good news, I hope this helps!  If you know someone else who is looking for some good news, please share it with them.  This is the best news of all!  Jesus Christ died for all.  His death brought forgiveness and eternal life for all who believe.  And His Holy Spirit gives power and wisdom day after day to walk in the way that God would have us to go.  All we have to do is accept! 

enjoy!

jamie


Lessons from Peter, part 1

Jn. 21:21:  ‘When Peter saw that disciple, he asked Jesus, “Lord what about him?”‘

I found a beautiful, deep lesson in some interaction between Jesus and Peter this morning.  And then I found this, and I had to laugh!

Jesus had literally just commissioned Peter to take care of His church.  He had just set Peter apart.  They had just had this beautiful, special moment, where Jesus told Peter to “Feed His sheep.”  It was an individual calling.  A singular, specific commission just for Peter.  A memorable moment.  It couldn’t have been more personal.

Then, Peter turned and sees Jesus’ ‘favorite disciple’ following them, and Peter asked, “Lord what about him?”  Jesus’ answer is just wow:  “What is it to you?”

Peter’s concern is so like ours.  Here he is having this amazing moment with Jesus, literally being commissioned for ministry, by the physical Lord, and He’s looking at someone else, asking, “But what about them?”  “Why does their calling looking different than mine?”

It made me laugh out loud and yet made me feel so much relief.  It’s human nature.  He asked that directly to the face of the Lord.  But take note: what was Jesus answer?

Jesus replied, “What is it to you?”  Can we see that Jesus doesn’t want us concerning ourselves with this?  We know that Jesus had a specific calling on Peter’s life.  A job Peter was created to do.  It couldn’t have been done by another.  Not the way Peter did it.  Peter was made for his purpose.

We, likewise, were made for ours.  Yes, it’s human nature that look to others and ask, “but what about them?”  But what is it to us?  God is calling us to our purpose.  He is calling them to theirs.  It’s time to remember that it’s not a competition or a fight.  We all have our own job to do, as we work to the same end.

Our job:  focus on our relationship with Christ, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as we do the job He has given us each to do.  Meanwhile, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, as we support them while they are doing their best to do the same.

Thanks for the laugh, Lord,

jamie

Lessons from Peter, part 2

Lessons from Peter, part 3

Messes and all…

When I got to the couch this morning to do my devotions, I moved the couch pillow and discovered crumbs from my son’s snack of chips last night.  “Ugh!” was my immediate reaction.  Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me.  So I left them there, took a picture, and opened up my Bible to Psalm 103.

The Lord redeems our lives from destruction.  He crowns us with lovingkindness & tender mercies.  He is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.  The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to them, but sent His Son as the Way of salvation.

The Lord’s mercy is a great as the heavens are high, and He removes our sins and mistakes from us.  He pities us as a father pities his children.  (hmmmmm)  He knows our frame, remembering that we are dust….

I thought about how many messes I have tried to hide or cover up.  I thought about how many crumbs I’ve left behind in my life and how many mistakes I’ve made.  Yet, my heavenly Father continually has mercy upon me, and He pities me, remembering my frame.

How will I react towards my son’s little chip mess here beside me?  Will I guide him?  Absolutely.  Will I be a tyrant, lording over him the rules in frustration?  After reading this, I cannot.  Will I show mercy?  That’s exactly what I will do.  I’ve made my own mistakes, and I’ve been forgiven!  I have to model the same forgiveness my Father shows me.

It may not be chips on your couch, but whatever situation you find yourself facing today, I pray you’ll remember to be slow to anger, to show mercy, and to deal in lovingkindness.

dusting myself off,

jamie

 

Permission to depart

“He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”  Mt. 14:13

Something in ministry that we all worry about it being available to the people.  We should be, but we must remember that need to be refreshed, as well.  If we are modeling our lives after Jesus, then let’s model this part of our lives after Him, as well.

Even Jesus would separate Himself for times of emotional recharging (as in the verse above), or times of prayer.  That ensured that when He would come back to the people He would have something to give them besides a frazzled, “I’m hanging on by a thread and just barely getting things done”, exhausted, Lord who is only giving them pieces of Himself; or a Lord who hasn’t prayed in 3 days because He hasn’t found the time.

Throughout the gospels you will find Scriptures that show Christ getting away by Himself, or getting away with those closest to Him…away from the multitudes…just to recharge and refocus.  See Mt. 17 when He took Peter, James, and John up on the mountain.  It was just the 4 of them and they went for 1 special reason.  Not everyone was invited to this.  Not all 12 disciples, not the whole crowd; and Jesus didn’t just go alone for this one.  These were the ones He needed to be with.

It is ok for us to put our phones away for an hour or 2 (get away from the multitude), go off with our certain one or few for something special (or nothing special), or spend time alone recharging so that when we come back we have more to give in our ministries.

Each time Jesus came back from one of those times, the multitudes were waiting and there was work to do.  He had compassion on them and got to work, but He was refueled and ready.  The work of ministry (and life) will never end, so we must take care to carve out those times of ‘departing’ on our own.  No one else can do that for us…no one will.

Let’s be like Jesus and depart from multitude before it gets out of hand.  Schedule it if you need to.  Refocus, recharge, and come back recharged and ready for ministry…just like Jesus did.

And when He went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with great compassion for them…

jamie

Got my grace. Which way now?

It’s time to conclude yesterday’s story about the freedom & grace Jesus Christ gave us through His death.  His death fulfilled the law and removed the bondage of sin.  He won the victory for us!  However, Paul warns that we shouldn’t use the freedom we’ve been given as an opportunity to live in the flesh…in other words, we can’t just live any ol’ way we want.  We aren’t called to serve our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit.

It is when we are led by the Spirit of the Lord that we are no longer under the law because the Spirit proves it through us.  When we are led only by the flesh, we want things that are in direct opposition to the Spirit.  Here are some examples that Paul gives of things that the flesh wants:  adultery, impatience, drunkenness, fornication, envy, prostitution, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambitions, anger, and others.  Can we be forgiven of these things?  Absolutely!  But if we simply live a lifestyle of these things then we are not being led by the Spirit, because these things are in opposition to His desires.

When we are led by the Spirit, it shows up in our lives in ways like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will bear one another’s burdens, not bite and devour one another with our words and actions, and we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

Paul said if we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life.  In other words, after we have accepted the grace of God, it isn’t about the customs and traditions that we perform; but if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the evidence will come through in our lives in ways like kindness, goodness, love, self-control, etc. Every day we will have a choice to make, “Will I walk by the flesh, or by the Spirit?”  One will corrupt us, and one will point us and those around us to the Father.

I, for one, want to be led by the Spirit.  Those times when I’ve been led by my flesh have never turned out so well, and I’ve lost many an opportunity to be a witness for the Lord.  It’s time to let Him be in control.  Not only will we be able to show more love and be able to witness more, but it will take the pressure off of us, as well.  Let Him take control and lead the way.  We already know where it leads.  🙂

walking there alongside you,

jamie