Using the right tools?

Cleaning the mirror with furniture polish…not so much.

The other day, I was thinking about how we sometimes go about our lives without the proper tools, making things much harder for ourselves, or looking for the help in the wrong places.

Take peace, for instance.  When we need peace in our lives, we might try meditation, medication, alcohol, or a costly get-away.  All the while, peace is just an ask away.  Ph. 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The peace that comes from God transcends all understanding.  We can get that out of our tool box, if we just trust Him enough to ask.

How about discernment?  That’s the ability to judge well…to judge our actions, our reactions, our words, our Facebook posts, our attire…discernment.  We might try to base that off what others are saying or doing, or how we want them to react to us.  Ps. 119:66 is a great reminder that there is only one place we should be looking for advice on those things: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  God is the One who will give us the good judgment (discernment) that we need as we walk through this life and navigate these choppy waters.

And what about financial troubles.  We get title loans, put things on credit cards, and go into more and more debt.  Are we tithing?  There are blessings that come with giving the Lord the tenth that belongs to Him.  We came into this world with nothing, and all that we have came from Him.  We are blessed.  When we give back to Him that tenth, He will honor His word in Malachi 3:9-11, when He says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” 

The Lord uses the tithes we bring to bless others around us.  When we are all being obedient, there will be more than enough for everyone, but we will also be blessed when we give.  If you’re having financial troubles, my advice to you today is to tithe.  I know the math doesn’t make sense, but I promise you, God will faithfully honor it, and will meet your needs.  

Don’t struggle through life using the wrong tools.  Look to God and His Word for all that you need.  He has all this and more waiting for you now.

You’re not alone,

jamie

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Knowledge vs. Love

Pr. 9:1: “Wisdom has built her house, she has been out her seven pillars;”

A couple of days ago, after my son woke up, I asked him what he’d read in his Bible when he woke up.  He said, in a confused voice, “I read about She. It was in Proverbs.”  I knew he must have been speaking of wisdom, so we went and looked at it and talked it out so he could understand it a little more.

Wisdom is the one you want to know.  She, as the Bible describes her, was with God at the beginning, when He was creating the foundations of the earth.  She also helps us forsake foolishness and go in the way of understanding.  She speaks excellent, right, and true things.  She is better than rubies and more desirable than any other thing.

This morning I was reading a contrasting scripture, 1 Cor. 8:1, which says, “We know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”

Paul was talking to the Corinthians about a hot topic of that day: food offered to idols.  Of course, people had a lot of knowledge, but apparently not everyone was sharing that knowledge with love.

I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve been present for many heated conversations, and I’ve witnessed the aftermath of people’s “knowledgeable” comments towards one another..we still have the same issue today.

There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. We all have knowledge, as Paul said, but it is when we let wisdom take charge that we all win.  Wisdom is the one that helps us bite our tongues.  That’s still a rarely used tactic.  Holding back comments is not a bad thing.  Praying before speaking is never a poor decision.  Choosing to not have the last word is never a sign of weakness…that always takes more strength.

Loving people is a choice that sometimes takes extra strength, as well.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, and with wisdom, we are much more equipped to show love than to show frustration, anger, disappointment, bitterness, superiority, and the like.

I pray that today, we will lay down our knowledge and choose, in love, to listen to wisdom.  Love edifies.  Let’s seek first the kingdom of God, and second to edify, in love.  When we do that, we can then point people to His kingdom because we won’t be driving them away.

Seek “she” out today,

jamie

Who am I?

Yesterday I turned down a job opportunity.  To be exact, my husband and I turned down the opportunity to minister in a new state, hundreds of miles away from where we are living now.  It’s something we have been praying about since February, and yesterday we officially said no.  I knew it was the right decision.  He knew it was the right decision.  And although I suppose I should have expected it, I wasn’t prepared for the attack that came at me after the phone call ended.

Backstory time…

As 2019 rolled around, my husband and I knew that God was preparing us for something new.  We knew that He was preparing us for the next thing.  When we got the invitation for this ministry opportunity, we couldn’t help but wonder if this was the new thing.  There was a nagging feeling; however, that it was not.  If it wasn’t, though, what was?  So, we kept hanging on, undecided.

Meanwhile, I was sick, sick, and sicker.  Currently, I am bed-ridden…well, couch-bound, I’d say, since I am spending my days on the couch instead of the bed.  haha.  I will be having surgery in 7 days (yes, I’m counting down), but until then, I am trapped, unproductive, not participating in life the way I would like, and in pain.

So, here I am, not attending church, not being “productive”, and not contributing to the world in the ways I would like to, and now I’m turning down an amazing opportunity in ministry.  I live to minister.  I love to minister.  I desire to minister.  And now I’m trapped on a couch and saying, “No, thank you,” to this opportunity before me.  What is happening?  Who am I?

Who am I?  That’s the exact question the enemy wanted to attack me with when the phone call ended.  If you aren’t going to go minister to these people; if you aren’t going to take this chance, then who are you?  If you are just going to be lying around on the couch doing nothing, then how can God even use you?  What difference can you even make?

This, my dear friends, is why we need to know what God has said about us.  10 days ago, I got a confirmation that the Lord was calling me to a higher level.  Just because I’ve said no to that specific chance does not mean it’s the end of my story.  It means God has a different plan for me.  There is a different assignment under my name and once I am healed and my training is complete, He will make sure that I am placed there.

I cannot allow the enemy to take captive my thoughts and pull me down now…not after all this time.  The Word tells me that I am to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  It’s up to me to take captive my own thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.  Anything that tries to set itself against my knowledge of Christ has got to go!

So, today, if you feel yourself having any thoughts like me:  Who am I?  What difference can I make anyway?  How can God even use me?  Then I hope you will demolish those arguments, as well, and take captive your thoughts, too!  Satan wants to steal our hopes, destroy our ministries, and kill the people we love by having us neglect to do the ministry we were meant to do because we feel too crippled to do it.

Even from this couch, I can minister.  Even from where you are, so can you.  Take those thoughts captive and let’s get busy!  There are too many souls at stake and there are assignments out there with OUR names on them!

Called,

jamie

You are qualified to minister!

Why is it that our imperfections make us feel as though we are unqualified to minister?

Logically, we know that no one is perfect.  When it comes to ourselves; however, we have this harsh standard of judgment that we hold ourselves up against.  We think our imperfections are too imperfect.  If people only knew…  Why would anyone want to listen to us…  What makes us so special or all-knowing…

Let me tell you this.  Your imperfections are Exactly what make you qualified to minister.  It is because you are imperfect that you know how to relate to the imperfections of others.  It is because of your past trials that you understand what others are going through.  It is precisely because of the pain you’ve experienced that you can speak to another’s pain.

No hurting person wants to be ministered to by someone who acts like their own life is perfect and that nothing has ever gone wrong for them.  We always relate much more to people who are real and have scars, just like us .

Having gone through your trials, your pain, and your battles has made you the minister that you were meant to be.  I know for a fact that God doesn’t allow things to happen in our lives without having something good come from them.  If that good thing is that our faith is built, then we are better for it.  If that good thing is that our character is stronger, than praise be to Him!  If that good thing is that we now rely on the One who gives the strength, then we have come out as winners.

You get it?  There is a verse in 2 Timothy that really speaks to me on this.  Chapter 3, verse 7 says, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Is that what we are doing?  Always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth?  It is time for that to stop!  It is time to come to the knowledge of the truth, once and for all.

My pain and my trials have equipped me for ministry.  What I have learned through them and through God’s Word have equipped me for ministry.  What you have learned has done the same for you.  It is time to stop doubting, to trust in God, to come to the full knowledge of the truth, and to minister as though the end is drawing near.  Because brothers and sisters, I assure you the end is indeed drawing nigh.

The very fact that you have come out on this side of your battle, still looking to God as your Source, says that you have endured!  Now, there are others out there in need of the same Savior, Healer, Deliverer, and Provider that you’ve been leaning upon.  It is time for you to go forth and minister!

Fulfill your ministry,

jamie

How to hear wisdom

I just can’t stop thinking about that verse.  “So then faith comes from hearing…”  Ro. 10:17

Do you know what else we hear?  We hear our own thoughts in our heads.  We talk to ourselves all the time.  What are we saying?  Not only that, but sometimes we allow the enemy to run thoughts through our minds that bring us down.  What are we hearing?

“I’ll never be as smart as her.”

“Man, he really has it all together.  Look how successful he is.”

“It’s hopeless.”

“Her kids are so perfect.  I feel like such a mess.”

“I never do anything right.”

“I can’t do this.  It’s too hard.”

“God doesn’t hear my prayers.  What’s the point?”

Pr. 22:17 tells us to incline our ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply our hearts to knowledge.  We will find wisdom and knowledge in the Word of God.  The truth, which are the words that counteract all of the thoughts above, is within God’s Word.

If faith comes from hearing, we need to be careful what we are saying to ourselves.  We need to be hearing words of truth, of life, of wisdom.  We need to put on our helmets of salvation, get out our swords (the Bible), and begin reading words that are living and powerful, that pierce even to the division of soul and spirit, and discern our thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Heb. 5:12)

In fact, we can trust that God’s Word will help us in our time of need because Is. 55: 11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Where we fail in cheering ourselves us, or convincing ourselves that things are ok, God prevails!  Where we fail in pushing down thoughts of hopelessness, God’s hope achieves exactly that!  God’s Word is truly a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  He sheds light on our darkest moments, situations, and thoughts.

Thank You, God, for Your faithfulness, and the hope we find within the refuge of Your name.  Thank You for shielding and protecting us when we turn to You. 

So, each day, when we notice any thoughts that threaten to drag us down or pull us away from God, we need to turn to the truth of God’s word, allow it to take them captive, and allow Him to give us discernment and breathe life and truth back into us.

We’ve got this!  Because, with God, all things are possible.  😉

jamie

How do we take our thoughts captive?

Pr. 23:12: “Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.”

I was told that my blog from yesterday was really sad.  It is sad that I chose not to take my thoughts captive, mostly because that was the start of a downward spiral in my life that lasted about a year.  I struggled more than I ever needed to and even had thoughts of suicide.

So, how do we take our thoughts captive?  It starts with the Word.  We have to know it.  We have to know Him.  Instruction and knowledge are available to us all, and we need to apply ourselves to them.

Let’s look back at Eve in the garden.  The Lord told Adam that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  When satan came to tempt Eve to eat it, she told him that the Lord said they could not eat it nor touch it.  (That’s not what He said)  Then satan subtly convinced her that the tree was good for food.  We must know the truth of God’s Word, and we must trust it.

Satan even used God’s word when tempting Jesus after His 40-day wilderness experience.

He does the same with us…subtle shifts in God’s word.  Nothing that seems too alarming, except that instead of growing us closer to the Lord, it pulls us away from Him.  Nothing grossly misrepresented, just enough word play to cause us to begin focusing more on ourselves than we do on the Lord.  After all, just as satan wanted to be like God, he tempted Eve with being like God, he tempted Jesus with power and pride; he tries to distract us away from the One true God.

We have access to the Word of God today like no other time in history.  Before we accept anything as truth, we need to consult the Word and find out what it says…word for word.

Jesus took His thoughts captive when tempted by satan, when He accurately quoted God’s Word to satan.  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.  Mt. 4:11

I believe that when we follow Jesus’ example, and do the same, that God show will Himself strong for us, and help us through those tough moments, as well.  We don’t have to struggle and head for the downward spirals, but can be lifted up in His Spirit to draw ever closer to Him.

Taking our thoughts captive, we can regain control in our lives, declaring who the Lord of our lives truly is, and trusting that He will do what He said He will do.

He spoke the light, sun, stars, plants, and animals into existence.  Whatever He speaks comes to pass.  The promises in His Word cannot be lies.  What He says has to be.  Do you believe it?  Claim it!

Believing on His Word,

jamie

Taking control of the wrong thing

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is filled.”  2 Cor. 10:3-6

My tattoo caught my attention the other morning and got me thinking about the reason why I got it.  I recalled coming to the place where I had decided that I had no control over anything in my life and so, I resolved to take control of something…enter the tattoo.

Whether you’re for or against tattoos, I can tell you that, at this point, I’m generally pretty indifferent towards mine.   But today it’s going to teach us all a lesson.

I’ve written before about when I got sick in 2012.  I never had a moments doubt that the Lord would heal me.  I remember reading my Bible in the hospital, completely trusting the promises within.

As the inconclusive medical tests continued to come in, and my pain persisted, I began to grow a bit weary.  At a church service a few months later, I heard a lesson about prayer lives that I didn’t like, and it hurt my feelings.  It made me feel inferior and inadequate.  I thought about it over and over.  I talked to myself about it.  I fumed over it.  I resented it.

Looking back, I know that when Satan realized that the physical issues weren’t going to cause me to turn against God, he knew would need a new tactic.  I gave him exactly what he needed.  He whispered, taunted, and argued against my knowledge of God with that comment I heard at church.  I could have just brushed it off and moved on with my life, but I allowed him to get in that crack.  I didn’t take control of my thoughts.  I didn’t take them captive.  I allowed him to control my thoughts for me.

As the months went by I let it impair my prayer life a little at a time.  Anger set itself deeper and deeper within my soul.  And then, someone I trusted even more spoke about the same thing, and I remember that being the day I just quit.  I remember thinking, “I’m done.”

What happened?  Satan won.  And I ended up with a tattoo.  I fought in the flesh instead of using the mighty weapons I have in God.  I became weaker because I took ‘control’ with my weakest weapon…my flesh.

Instead of taking my thoughts captive and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God, I listened to the twisted “truths” of the enemy.  Instead of ‘taking control’ by getting a tattoo, I should have taken control of my thoughts, reading the Word for myself and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and bring to my remembrance all the Lord has said to me.

Let my tattoo be a permanent reminder for us all…take control of your thoughts!  Take control of the “truths” you are listening to.  Stay in God’s word and let the Holy Spirit minister to and teach you.  Fight in the Spirit and not in the flesh!  God is on your side and He is fighting for you.

Marked,

jamie

Follow-up blog:  How to take your thoughts captive