Lessons learned on today’s hike

Life can put any manner of obstacles in our path.  Sometimes we are strong and energetic, jumping right over them.  Other times we are a little more cautious, stepping carefully over them.  There are other times; however, when we are so tired and wearied that we just feel like sitting down and weeping before them, giving up.  If that happens we sometimes even backtrack and wind up back where we began, making no progress in our journey at all.  It can happen to any of us.

 

 

Life can also offer us bridges.  Sometimes bridges can be scary things.  They can be very high, very rickety, made of rope, built over raging waters, or just something that someone fears.  In order to cross a bridge, we have to have faith that what awaits us on the other side of a bridge is worth us crossing it in the first place.

Those obstacle and bridge moments are definitely moments in our lives when we are prone to call out to God.  We cry out for help from the One we know or have heard can calm our fears or give us peace.  We reach out for the one that calms the storm when the bridge starts swaying.  We ask for help with the obstacles when we know they are Goliath’s that we cannot defeat.

 

It’s those other moments, when the path is clear and the going seems easy that we can get so confident that we forget we are still need of that same Savior.  We see the empty path and assume we can handle the steps ourselves.  We don’t feel the urgency to read our Bible like we did when we were facing the bridges, so we read less and less until maybe we aren’t reading at all.  Meanwhile, there are roots under the leaves that begin trip us up as we go.  Suddenly, the small roots begin to look like the large obstacles once again.

We think our prayer time can wait until we get around the curve, but then we get busy with our day and forget.  Next thing we know, we look up and see a bear lumbering towards us.  Because we haven’t been plugging into the power of the Holy Spirit, we aren’t prepared when the enemy meets us on the path.  Now we’re weak, meeting him in our own strength, and full of fear again.

I’m reminded of how David yelled out to Goliath, “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of the Lord, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand.” 1 Sam. 17:45-46

We don’t just need the Lord on our side when the obstacle is in our face.  We need to have had the Lord by our side all along, so that once we meet the obstacles we are sure to face we can face them with a David-like faith, strong and sure.

Walk with Him daily,

jamie

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Wisdom at the door

Pr. 8:3: “She [wisdom] cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors”

Historically, the gates of the city were not just a wall with a big, guarded door.  The gates were where business was conducted.  There were rooms and levels, benches and seats.  The elders of the city would gather there to discuss legal matters.  Kings would have their thrones at the gate.  Purchases would be made.

It was at the city gate that Abraham purchased Sarah’s cave in which he would bury her.  (Gen 23, see vs. 18)  The city gate is also where Boaz spoke before 10 of the elders of the city and Ruth’s closest relative, in order to redeem her.  Ruth 4:11, “And all the people who were at the gate, and all the elders, said, “We are witnesses.”  It was also in the city gate that King David sat after Absalom died, to reassure his people that all was well.  (2 Sam. 19:8)

In Abraham’s blessing from the Lord, He said, “And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.”  (Gen. 22:17)  We can now see that this was a very important part of the blessing because we see the importance of the city gate.  The city gate was the heart of the city.  It was the gate of the city that enemies aimed to overtake when conquering other cities.

What is our city gate?  We could say it is where our government gathers.  So then, does wisdom still cry out there?  We must pray that she will be heard there.  Our job is to stop complaining, get on our knees and pray that she will be heard in the city gate of our government.

Is the city gate our home?  Is wisdom being heard in our homes?  What are we allowing in the doors of our homes?  What do we track in?  What are others bringing in?  Who are we allowing entrance that we shouldn’t?  Is anyone or anything else sneaking in?  We must be on watch.  Wisdom is still crying out.  We must pray that she can be heard.

Perhaps the city gate is our bodies.  After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Temples have doors.  We must listen as wisdom cries out to protect what we are allowing in our temple.  What are we watching on our iPads, phones, televisions and computers?  What are we drinking?  What are we consuming?  What exactly are we doing with our bodies/His temple?  Wisdom is still crying out.  Can you hear her?

We cannot allow wisdom’s voice to be drowned out at the city gate, at the entrance of the doors.  In fact, we need to stop, and ask for wisdom’s advice before opening the doors.  Are we brave enough?

Let’s keep guard,

jamie

Can we be trusted?

Pr. 6:13 describes a wicked man: “He winks with his eyes, he shuffles with his feet, he points with his fingers.”

In other words, he can not be trusted.

And then, in Psalm 7:8, we read the words of David, “The Lord shall judge the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and acccording to my integrity within me.”

What a striking contrast.  David actually invites the Lord to judge him according to his integrity.  As Christians, we already know God will judge us; however, David’s conscience is so clean that he invites God to do this.

Lord, You said that David was a man after Your own heart.  Like David, make us more like You.  Help us to be full of integrity, Father, and contrite when we’re not.  We love You, Lord, and long to honor You with our lives.  Help us to be the ones of which it can be said, “Yes.  They can be trusted.”  

Genuinely,

jamie

God’s clear guidance

Pr. 8:5:  “O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.”

You know what our Bible gives us?  It gives a clear road map we can follow throughout our lives.

No, the Bible doesn’t tell us if we should move to a different town, take that new job, or say no to that new offer.  It does, however, give us very clear examples of the consequences of other people’s choices.  The Bible has an example of every type of sin, with the cause and effect clearly laid out.  The Bible has examples of faith, clearly showing the rewards that accompany it.

Learning from the choices of others is very resourceful.  We can save ourselves a lot of time by simply noting how the decisions of others affect their lives, their families, and their walk with God.

Instead of being simple…walking straight into the wall we just watched someone else walk in to, we can can watch and learn how to be prudent (careful) by taking note and choosing differently.

An understanding heart can clearly see that not only was David’s decision to commit adultery a sin, but it led to even more sins, a blemished relationship with God, and the death of his child.

An understanding heart can see clearly that running from God, as Jonah did, only causes unnecessary troubles in our lives and delays the inevitable.

Heb. 4:11 reminds us, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”  The Bible is full of examples from which we can learn.  We just have to read it and trust God enough to fight the urges to make those same mistakes.

We are also given examples of faith that can encourage us that trusting God will not end badly.

An understanding heart can see clearly that Noah’s faith in God caused him to be not only favored by God, but caused his family to be saved from destruction.

An understanding heart can clearly see that Rahab’s faith also caused her family to be saved.

An understanding heart can note the provision that came when Moses’s faith allowed him to stretch out his hand over the Red Sea, believing that God would do what He said He would do.  Provision also came to the widow who made a cake for Elijah with her last flour and oil, believing the Lord’s word that her flour and oil would last for her son and her until the rain came.

Over and over, we can see how faith has produced results and sin has caused harm.  There is so much we can learn in God’s Word.  There is so much guidance for us all.  All we have to do is read, and with our understanding hearts, learn prudence.  Praise God for His Word that gives provision!

Taking note,

jamie

Christmas with an offended brother

Pr. 18:19:  “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

During this season of family gatherings, this verse stands out.  Not everyone’s families get together in happy, peaceful, harmonious ways.  There are times when contentions, offenses, and pain are also present.  Sometimes it is an unspoken expectation that during a holiday the contention will cease, and so when it doesn’t, it can hurt even more than usual.

Sadly, there are some people for whom forgiveness never seems to be an option.  We cannot speak for them; however, we can decide for ourselves how we will respond.  If there are contentions in your family, I am sorry.  You may not be met with friendliness or the opportunity to move in and make it all go away.  So, what can you do?

Continue to pray.  Continue to walk in love.  Continue to walk with integrity, being the person you claim to be in Christ.  Continue to trust in the Lord and His faithfulness in your life and the lives of those with whom the contentions exist.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.  But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.  Ps. 13

David wrote this Psalm when it seems he was experiencing similar emotions with those who would not forgive and relent.

We have the Lord and Savior on our side.  We have the One who shows Himself strong for us.  We have the one who keeps us safe when our trust is in Him.

It is hard when others do not like us nor will offer forgiveness; however, Jesus said that the servant is not greater than his Master.  The world hated Jesus before it hated us, and if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute us.  (John 15:18)  Jesus knows about rejection, hatred, contention, and betrayal.  He’s been there.  He is able to offer aid to us if that is the case in our lives, as well.

We cannot force others to forgive or love us, but we can walk in the knowledge that we have a High Priest who will comfort us and offer mercy.  He is always on our side.

If you happen to be the one who has not been forgiving or relenting, perhaps this is the Christmas when you can offer that gift to someone as imperfect as you.  Everyone needs forgiveness, which is why Jesus came as our Savior.

Whatever the case, I pray that the Comforter will be able to offer you peace this Christmas season.  The Lord is faithful and does not allow the righteous soul to famish.  If you allow it, He will give you all that you need.

Praying for you,

jamie

In times of doubt

Pr. 16:3:  “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.”

King David knew betrayal and fear in his lifetime.  What had David done to Saul?  Nothing.  It was Saul’s own sin and distress that caused him to make poor decisions.  David had nothing to do with those things.  Yet, Saul tried to kill David on more than one occasion.

In Psalm 11, we get a glimpse of David wondering about his trust in the Lord.  He says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  With God as his foundation, David wondered what he could do if that trust was destroyed?

This is a temptation that comes upon us all.  There are times of pain, sadness, doubt, sickness, sorrow, or confusion when we wonder at God’s plans.  We know that His thoughts are not the same as ours.  We know His ways are not our own.  We understand that He holds the world in His hands and that He is sovereign.  Yet, there are times when we are tempted to lose our trust in Him.

David, continues; however, stating what He knows to be true about the Lord.  (vs. 4-7)  He reminds Himself why His trust has been placed in the Lord, and why that trust is not misplaced.

We can see this Proverb proven in this time of David’s temptation and reassurance.  He had committed his ways to the Lord since childhood.  He had trusted in the Lord’s might enough to face and kill Goliath.  He knew what God could do and was willing to do.  He knew the things that displease God.

Even though David was tempted with doubt and despair, his thoughts were established.  His commitment to the Lord, his knowledge of the Lord, and his trust in the Lord created a firm foundation on which he could placed his trust.

It is our commitment to the Lord and our knowledge of Him that allows us to have that same foundation.  When times of doubt sneak upon us, we need to know the One in whom we are trusting.  If we know Him, our thoughts will be established, and on our solid foundation, He will pull us up straight and strengthen us by our trust in Him.

Continue getting to really know Him.  He is our foundation!

Steadying myself in Him,

jamie

 

 

Turn to God

Pr. 9:4:  Wisdom cries, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

Wisdom has been prepared for us.  Pr. 9 tells of the preparations that have gone into the instructions that are available to us from wisdom.

I read Psalm 143 this morning, which is entitled:  An earnest appeal for guidance and deliverance.  In this Psalm, David is crying out to the Lord for wisdom, understanding, and guidance.  Here is a snippet of that Psalm:

My heart within me is distressed.  I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.  I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land.  Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails!  …cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.  …teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good.  Lead me in the land of uprightness.

If our hearts become distressed, when darkness looms around us, or as sin seeks to lure us, we must not allow ourselves to feel ‘simple.’  A simple person is defined as ignorant, foolish, or gullible.  We who trust in the Lord are not simple.  Yet, Satan would have us believe that we are.  He puts thoughts into our minds that confuse us and bring us low.

Satan wants us to believe gullible things such as, “It’s harmless,”  “It’s not That big a deal,” “It only affects me,”  “I will never get past this.”  He wants us to believe foolish things like, “I have to take care of this myself,”  “I just need to man up,”  “God has more to do than worry about this.”  Ignorant thoughts he feeds us sound something like, “There is no way out of this,”  “God could never forgive something like this,”  “If I’ve sinned, there is no hope of stopping,”  “It’s too late to turn back now,”  “My life will never get any better.”

We must not give in to satan and his lies.  He is the father of lies.  He wants nothing more than to destroy our souls.  We are Not simple.  We have the truth available to us through the Word of God.  His Word reminds us of the days of old, the works God has done, and the works of His hands.

If His Word is not getting through, we also have something else even more wonderful:  access to the Holy of Holies.  We have been personally invited by the Lord to boldly approach His throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need, just as David did.

When ‘simple’ thoughts begin to creep into our minds, we must turn toward the throne.  We have a Lord whose wisdom is perpetually available to us.  He has not left us.  He will never forsake us.  He is with us always.  We simply need to turn to Him.  He is waiting with everything we need.

Seeking His guidance,

jamie