Don’t start nothing

I was driving behind a van today sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”

This line is from the Men in Black movie, apparently, but struck such a chord with this motorist that they felt the need to add it to their vehicle’s decor.  I realized right away that the driver of this van did not want to be provoked, and if they felt they were, things could get ugly very quickly.

I couldn’t help but think that this is actually the way the world seems to be all around me now days.  People seem ready to strike out at the first hint of provocation.  And then this saying…it seems like a large population lives by this rule.  If others won’t mess with me we’ll be fine, but if they start something, then it’s on.

But can’t we do better?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to loving our enemies?  What happened to forgiving and looking over trespasses?  Jesus was literally hanging on a cross, being mocked, bleeding from his hands, feet, back, and head, and said, “Father, forgive them.”  But we say, “don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”  Hmmm.  That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think we have to let people walk all over us or abuse us, but we also don’t have to always be ready to attack.  There are ways to say things that are kinder.  There are ways to say things that are calmer.  Sometimes it’s even ok to say nothing.  How about praying before we speak or react?  That’s still acceptable.  It’s not an old-fashioned concept.  It is Biblical.  God is still there on His throne offering grace and mercy in our times of need.  God is still handing out wisdom.

I really do think we can do better.  As Christians, I believe we should do better.  Not everyone is even trying to start something…we could start by realizing that.  After that, we could take an approach more like, “You start something, I end it.”  I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care who started it; they can be the one that ends it.  It’s all about choices.  I remind them that they, alone, are responsible for the choices they make.  I also remind them that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Let us be the ones that stand out from the crowd and don’t react with attacks and harsh answers.  Let us be the ones that end it before it even begins.  We can do better.

I’m ok with you,

jamie

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Love your enemies, part 3

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

Keep walking

Pr. 6:28: “Can one walk one hot coals, and his feet not be seared?”

The answer to that is yes.  You actually can walk on hot coals and have your feet not be seared.  There is a very important thing to know about walking on coals, however.  You cannot linger.

The scientific explanation is that coal and ash are not good conductors of heat, so if you simply walk at a moderate pace across the coals, you will be fine.  If you linger you will give the coals and ash enough time to conduct the heat to your skin and you will be burned.

On this earth, we have many temptations.  We cannot escape them.  They are all around us.  Temptations are not sin.  However, when we are faced with them, we cannot linger.  Once we linger, that is when we will be seared.

Paul warned the Ephesians not to let their understanding be darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance in them and blindness of their heart; becoming past feeling, giving themselves over to lewdness [being sexual or lustful in an offensive way], to work all uncleanness with greediness.

All the words that are the result of being seared are the ones that I marked in bold.  Once we have given in to temptation and lingered there, our understanding is darkened.  We become ignorant, our hearts become blind and we become past feeling.  In Hebrews 3:12, the author says we should, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Sin is deceitful.  It sears our hearts, our sensibilities, our morals, and our consciences, just as coals would sear our feet if we would linger.

We cannot linger near temptation.  It may seem harmless.  It may seem tolerant.  It may seem appetizing or cathartic.  We may even be convinced that we deserve it.  Those are lies from the enemy.  If we linger, we will be seared.  That is a fact.

“For in that He [Jesus Christ] Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  Heb. 2:18

All we have to do is ask Him for that aid that He has readily available to us.  He understands temptation and He is able to aid us when we are faced with it ourselves.  He took the shame and the painful death on the cross so that we don’t have to suffer the searing pain of sin.  He wants to help.

Don’t linger.

jamie

Introducing the Messiah

Mt. 27:25: “And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children.'”

This is what the people said to Pilate when he washed his hands before them saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person [Jesus]. You see to it.”

Pilate could find no fault in Jesus because there was none.  The people took the fault upon themselves, but what struck me this morning was that they not only took the fault upon themselves, but they put it upon their children, as well.  Wow!  That’s some kind of serious burden and legacy to place upon your own children.

Back in Ps. 78, Asaph writes, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”  (vs. 2-4)

What happened between the time he wrote this and the time that Jesus was standing before the people and Pilate?  Well, just because one father decides to tell his kids about the Lord doesn’t mean they all do.  We know that.  That is why people did not recognize the Messiah when He came.  He was standing right in front of them, and instead of worshiping and honoring them, they took their blood upon themselves and their own children, crucifying Him.

We have the same responsibility today that Asaph had all those years ago, and it doesn’t matter if we are a parent or not.  Jesus is going to come back one day for His bride.  We must not hide the parables and the truth about our loving Savior and Messiah from the generations around us.  We need to tell the praises of the Lord.  He is worthy!  We need to talk about His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.  He is mighty!

We can leave a wonderful legacy to the world around us.  A legacy of eternal life and reward.  There is still time to help those around us recognize the Messiah and give Him honor.  Get involved in sharing the gospel one way or another.  Don’t let someone meet their Messiah unprepared because you weren’t willing to open your mouth.  Let’s follow Asaph’s example and leave the legacy of hope they’ve been granted through grace.

Thank You, Jesus Christ, for our salvation through Your death and resurrection!  Thank You for Your grace, mercy, and forgiveness through the cross!  We praise You, and You alone, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Amen.

jamie

Pr. 20:7: “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”    (Now that’s a legacy worth leaving!)

 

Month of Prayer, Day 23

Lord, the theme in my scripture reading this morning is that regarding Your Word is wise and will lead to eternal rewards.  You warn us not to envy sinners, but to be zealous for the fear of You, reminding us that there is surely a hereafter, and that our hope will not be cut off.

You remind us not to overwork to be rich, but to set our eyes on eternity.  You remind us to correct and discipline our children so that they may be delivered from hell.

In Pr. 23:23, we are told, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”  We are reminded throughout this chapter about wisdom.  We are encouraged to remember that while temptations may look good for the moment, they lead to bad results.  Help me to remember these verses when I am tempted to focus on earthly pleasures more than eternal rewards, Lord.

Like the writer of Ps. 119:125, I say, “I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.”  I do not want to regard Your Word as void, Lord, but to love Your commandments more than find gold, or any other earthly treasure.

Help me to hate every false way, but to focus on Your precepts, and Your promise of eternity.  Lord, You loved me so much that You allowed Your only Son to be killed so that I could live with You in eternity.  Do not let me trample on that gift just to ‘feel good’ here on earth.  I want to be with You forever.

Thank You, God, for the gift of salvation.  Thank You for the promise of an eternal reward.  Thank You for Your love that is sacrificial.  Please help me love the same way.  Thank You for Your Word, which gives me wisdom.  Please help me to live a life according to Your Word, that I may please my Father in Heaven.

I pray and ask these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

How Great He Is!

“When He prepared the heavens, I was [wisdom] was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoice always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.”  Pr. 8:27-31

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

How Great Thou Art, by:  Carl Boberg

Awestruck,

jamie

God’s love for us all

On this Good Friday, I am reminded of the love of God.  Our Savior literally took on death to save us from our sins.  He took the punishment that would have been ours in order to keep us safe.  Truly He is good.

Remember today that God loves you.  Whatever the Lord speaks is created, so when He says that He loves you, it is.  He proved it by doing whatever it took for our salvation.

I know there are a lot of songs I could share today, but this is the one I can’t shake.  He is a good, good Father, and today is the perfect day to remember that we are loved by Him.

Loved,

jamie