Tag Archives: Jesus’ death

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

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

Get off that rock! part 1

While we were kayaking, my son started eating a snack.  While he was distracted with that, his kayak ran straight into the only huge rock sticking out in this section of the wide, clear river.  We’d even tried to yell and warn him, but he was so distracted that he couldn’t hear us.

Sometimes we get distracted.  In life, we eat, clean the house, work, invest in relationships, drive places, pay bills, etc.  And while we’re distracted with those things, sometimes we run into the 1st big obstacle that sticks out.

People might even warn us.  But there we are.  Stuck on a rock.

We can stay there, stuck and unable to move forward.  We can let it be the place where we take up residence.  Or we can do like my son did and break free.

He knew how to safely get his boat off the rock.  It took a bit of patience and effort, but to him it was worth it.

If we’ve found ourselves stuck on some obstacle in life, it might be time to break free.

We may be able to just wiggle a tiny bit and quickly break away.  Small changes.  A new attitude.  A decision to simply move on.

Or we may find that it takes a bit more patience and effort to move on.  But, it will be worth it!

Distractions and obstacles are all it takes to keep us from remembering that God showed how much He loved us by having Christ die for us, that faith in Him causes God to accept us, and that Christ’s death has allows us to live in peace with God.

We are loved.  So we can get off the rock.  Those around us are loved, too.  They need to know it.

“Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper.  Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.”  Ph. 4:8

Get off that rock! part 2

jamie

(not an actual picture of my son)  😉

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


Feeling dismayed?

These all look to You to give them their food in due season.  When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.  When You hide Your face, they are dismayed…”  Ps. 104:27-29

Since Creation began there have been moments where the creation has felt like God has hidden His face from them.  All throughout the Pslams you can see the questions, posed, “Why do you hide Your face from me? Why are You so far from helping me?”

Before that, Job asked, “Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” We even heard Jesus, from the cross, ask, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Because we look to God for all things, it is in our moments of sorrow, pain, anxiousness, or uncertainty; it’s in the moments of silence that we sometimes feel as though He has hidden His face, and we are dismayed.

As we can see from the reaction of Jesus, and all throughout the Bible, it is a normal, human reaction.  We were created in God’s image, with emotions; and loneliness, uncertainty, grief, and pain are some of those emotions.

What can we do?  Keep looking for Him, seeking Him, and reminding ourselves of all He has done.  Job was looking for him in his darkest moments, when all he wanted to do was die, and he couldn’t find God to the right or the left–he kept seeking.

He spoke of all the works and wonders God had done in the past, and even as he wondered at first where God was, speaking of who God is built him up, and helped him keep close the One he needed all along.  Eventually he found his way back, not just to physical health, but to emotional and spiritual health, too.  This is how it works for us all.

I know there was a lot involved behind the scenes in Job’s story, but seeking God in the tough times the way Job did, praising, and reminding ourselves of God’s works and the things He has done in the past is the best way to find our way out.

We tend to pull away when we go through pain and crisis, and we feel like we can’t find God, but the truth is that the answer lies with Him alone.  He is the One.  He is the Salvation.  He is the Deliverance.  He is the Healing.  He is the Provision.  He is the Wisdom.  He is the Unity.  He is the Peace.  He is All in All, the Great I Am.

Every answer we need to fill the great gaping hole we feel inside is found in Him.  We just have to hold on and seek Him.   God said in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  This is still true today.

Grateful for a God who cares,

jamie

He chose you

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”

Yes.  There is more to that Scripture in Eph. 1:4, but this morning, I wanted to point out to you and to me that God chose us before the foundation of the world.  If you’ve been wondering if you were chosen, if there has been any doubt in your mind if the gospel message is for you, if you weren’t sure if you were lovable enough for Him, then let this verse reassure you this morning…He chose YOU before the foundation of the world.  And then He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to ensure that Your salvation would be in place if you chose to believe.

Thursday night I went to visit an elderly man that I have befriended over the last few years.  He is a precious man that has spoken encouragement and life into me over the last couple of years, and when I went into his house he said that his heart was racing with me being there because he was so excited to see me.  When I left there that night I was in tears.

This man chose me.  He chose to be my friend, to speak encouragement into my life, to want to be my friend; and when he saw me, his heart was literally racing with excitement.  That says so much to me.  I went there to see him because I love him, but I left there feeling so overwhelmed with love.

God chose us before the foundations of the world!  He speaks life and encouragement into us through His Word more than any person could ever do.  He sent His only Son to die so that we could be with Him for eternity.  That’s how much He wants to be with us.  Y’all!  He wants us!  We are chosen!  If you have ever doubted it…let those doubts be erased now.  He loves You!

His,

jamie

Burdened under the law

The Galatian church was a church being turned away from the grace of Jesus.  Paul had taught them, they’d believed, but someone had come into their midst and caused them to believe that grace wasn’t enough.  Sound familiar?  Suddenly, they started thinking they had to begin observing the old Jewish customs again of the Passover, the Feasts, festivals, and other areas of the law.  They were even about to become circumcised.  They went back to the old ways because what they were doing wasn’t enough.  It couldn’t be enough, could it?

Paul asked them if they really believed that if they started out in the Spirit of the Lord were they were now being made perfect by what they were doing in the flesh?  He implored them, “Stand fast in the freedom by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”  Over and over, he reminded them that Jesus fulfilled the law and brought grace and victory for a reason.  He said that if we bind ourselves within the confines of the law again then Christ died for nothing.  Christ died to fulfill the law once and for all, and anyone who tells us otherwise is not of God.

That freedom doesn’t mean we should simply live or speak however we choose, however.  There is more to the story…

Tune in again tomorrow,

jamie

How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

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

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