What have you heard lately?

Ro. 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing…”

If faith comes by hearing, then it’s safe to say that it matters what we’re listening to.  When I was a little girl, we sang a song that said, “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear…”   How true that song is, because this verse tells us that faith comes from hearing.  What we are hearing is what leads to our faith.

Let’s start with something simple, like childhood.  When a kid hears over and over how dumb or nerdy or fat they are, from other kids, they start to believe that.  If they hear that they are pretty, smart, or talented, they believe the same.

When we watch documentaries, we find they are so easy to believe.  Before we’ve even checked the facts, we’ve heard what the experts have said, and our faith in their ‘truth’ is built.  Sometimes it is true.  Sometimes not so much.

When politicians are what we are hearing most, we can begin to believe our salvation or destruction rests on their decisions.

Likewise, if I am constantly listening to words that tell me how strong and able I am, but neglect to listen to anything that reminds me of how strong and able God is, I will begin to put my faith in myself.

We cannot deceive ourselves.  Our faith IS going to come from somewhere.  It will come from whatever it is we are hearing right now.  And when we aren’t hearing God’s word, our faith is going to come from somewhere else.  What is it you are hearing at this time in your life?  Is it the word of God?  Is it something else?

In Ro. 12:2, Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We have voices and noise all around us, in this world, but we cannot conform to what this world tells us.  It is not old-fashioned or out-dated to serve the Lord with gladness.  It is not going to hold us back in life to renew our minds and prove what the will of God is.  When our lives prove that which is good and acceptable and perfect, it shows that we are hearing the right voice.

Being a good person isn’t going to cut it.  Doing good works won’t save us in the end.  Believing in another God is not the way to heaven.  When we are hearing God; however, we will know this, and we won’t resent it.  We will understand the great rewards that await all who have chosen the narrow and difficult way that leads to eternal life.

While we are walking that path, let’s make sure someone else hears the same message and take them with us.  How will they know the way unless they first hear it from us?  After all, faith comes from hearing…

Listen selectively,

jamie

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

 

 

Advertisements

Where’s the faithful man?

Pr. 20:6:  “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”

I read a chapter in a book to my kids yesterday and, after I finished, I asked them what happened.  My daughter gave a quick answer, but my son was distracted and didn’t appear to be prepared to speak.  I asked him a question about it and, after pretending to think about the answer, he said he didn’t remember.  I asked him some specific questions about the story about things that would have stood out, and found out that he had not been listening at all…for the entire chapter!!  Grrrrr.  I was pretty frustrated.

Now what?  Was I to read the entire chapter over just for him?  Skip it and just recap it for him?  Make him read it on his own?  (It’s way above his “grade level” but that could be a good reminder for him)  Or perhaps I should just give up on that book entirely since it obviously didn’t grab his attention?  Anyway…

I was so frustrated at that moment that I decided it would be best if we moved on to another school subject.  I would decide what to do about the book later, but I was stewing on the inside.

Boy did he throw off my vibe for the day and my plans for our book reading time.  Why couldn’t he just listen?  Why didn’t I just make him sit beside me like I usually did?  So many questions.  So much stewing.  Why couldn’t he just be perfect, right?  haha!

How many times have my kids tried to talk to me and I’ve been doing something else and giving them half of my attention?  How many times have they told me all about something they’ve been working hard on in Minecraft and, while I “listened” to them enough to appease them, I couldn’t repeat it to you now if I had to because it didn’t really matter to me?

I know I’m not the only one.  We are all guilty of things like this.  When we see the faults in others, we compare their faults to our strengths.  That’s not really fair, is it?  Like this verse says, we all proclaim our own goodness, but not one of us are faithful.  Not 100%.  We are all just doing the best we can.

It’s good that we know who we are in Christ and that we have confidence in ourselves.  It’s when we start thinking ourselves better than those around us that we begin to err.  We have no business comparing ourselves with others…especially not fault to strength.  We each have our faults and we each have our strengths.  That’s why we work so well together as ‘the body’ of Christ; each having our own part to play.

Today is a new day.  My son will be sitting beside me today as we read, but my understanding cap is on and we will get through this together.

Team building,

jamie

Are you listening to me!?

Pr. 10:26: “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.”

Have you ever had smoke from a fire get into your eyes?  I recently did, and it is extremely uncomfortable.  Not only that, but it set off a chain of events that caused more discomfort.  My eyes were irritated and watering, my nose began to run and become stuffy, and my throat began to hurt.

Does your mind link that with a lazy person not doing what you sent them to do?

As a parent, I understand that my kids are not necessarily lazy, but their lack of ‘following orders’ mirrors that of someone lazy on occasion.  My son will just keep moving and pretend he didn’t hear me.  My daughter will instantly begin to play with one of our 2 cats.

It does cause me a bit of discomfort when I realize they have no intentions of doing what I just asked.  Then I have to stop what I’m doing to give them a reminder.  “Oh yeah!,” they say, and then they move to do it.

Occasionally I find that, even though they moved at the 2nd command, they still aren’t doing what I’ve asked.  Now there is a bit of irritation.  If what they are supposed to do is something to help us get out the door to go somewhere, it does set off a chain of events that could definitely cause us to be late, or cause tension as we go, instead of peace.

What about when God asks us to do something?  Ouch!  You felt that one, didn’t you?  I know I did.

When God asks us to do something, do we act like we didn’t hear him?  Do we try to move on and hope He’ll forget what He just asked.  Maybe someone else can do it.  Do we just ignore it and begin to do something we’d rather do instead hoping He didn’t really mean it.  Do we say, “Ok, I’ll do it,” but then move on to the next distraction?  🐱

When we don’t obey our Father, we are acting like the lazy man.  We are irritating His plans, possibly causing a chain of reaction that makes what He was trying to accomplish more difficult.

Not only that, but we miss out on the opportunity to please our Father and to have peace.  I don’t know about you, but when I ignore His requests, it eats at me and I know I’m wrong.  It causes tension in our relationship.

What He asks us to do may not be on our personal list of priorities or on that bucket list we’ve created.  It may require a sacrifice of us, but His thoughts and ways are still higher than ours.  What He has planned is for someone’s good… maybe ours, maybe someone else’s.

Whatever it is, like a parent asking a child to do something, He has his reasons.  Let’s just trust Him and do it.

Listening,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 18

Today’s scriptures are about words.  Your Words are powerful, Lord, because they create.  Indeed, Lord, Your Word is forever settled in heaven.  It is as unchanging as Your faithfulness.  You established the earth by Your Word, and it abides.  What You create is for a purpose.

Lord, Pr. 18 tells us that our words create, as well.  Help my words to also have a purpose.  Help me not to express my own heart, but to delight in understanding. Help the wellspring of wisdom flow from my mouth and not foolishness.  Help my lips not to enter into contention or call for blows.  I do not want my mouth to be my destruction, or be a snare for my soul.  I want my mouth to honor and glorify You.

Keep me from haughtiness. Keep my ears and my lips closed to gossip. Let my ears wisely seek knowledge. Help my heart to be prudent, acquiring knowledge. Let the produce of my lips be good and not evil.

Lord, Pr. 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Let my tongue speak life. Help me to be a wife who is honorable, loyal, and helpful.  Help me to speak life into my husband.  Let me to listen before speaking, and to answer softly.

Lord, I thank You that Your name is a strong tower that I can run to for safety.  When I need protection, Lord, You are ever there; unchanging, and eternal.  Thank You, Lord.  Thank You that Your faithfulness will endure to the generations that come after me!

I love You, Lord,

jamie

 

Prudently receiving instruction

Pr. 15:5:  “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.”

Peter once had a remarkable vision of instruction from the Lord.

Meet another man:  a Gentile named Cornelius, a devout man who feared God with all his household, giving generously and praying to God always.  In a vision, he was told that His prayers and alms had come up for a memorial before God, and that a man named Peter would come and tell him what to do.

In His vision, the Lord revealed to Peter that no man is common or unclean, and that God shows no partiality.  This was a life-changing revelation!  When Peter preached to Cornelius’ household, the Holy Spirit fell upon the household.  The Gentiles not only spoke in tongues and magnified God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they were baptized with water, as well.

Because Peter received the correction of his Father, this was a major shift in the church and in the meaning of the Great Commission.

Peter certainly had a choice.  He could have ignored the correction and refused to go to Cornelius.  Upon arriving at Cornelius’ house, he even reminded Cornelius that it was unlawful for him to be there.  He went on; however, explaining that God had given him new instructions.  Peter prudently followed the instructions of the Lord and our lives have never been the same.

Also worth noting…Cornelius was following the instructions of the Lord long before this happened, this fact went up as a memorial before the Lord, and his life was forever changed.  God’s instructions are always for good.  Perhaps they are for our own good, as in the case of Cornelius.  Perhaps they are for the good of others, as we see with Peter’s instructions.  Regardless, He knows best.

The Lord humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth.  (Ps. 113:6)  It is prudent for us to follow His lead.

Listening,

jamie

Nourishment to complete the tasks

Pr. 19:27:  “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

It is easy for us to give in to busyness in this life, especially during this season of year.  There are so many things pulling at us each day.  We have countless responsibilities.  We are asked to help with many things from those around us.  We have personal things we want to do.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with being busy.  Currently, our “Christmas break” schedule is jam-packed with things to do.

The danger; however, is neglecting the only thing that really matters:  our relationship with God.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to put aside our time with God in an effort to get done all the things that are pulling at us.

Without God, though, we can do nothing.  He is our Strength.  He is our Provider.  He is the One who guides and directs us.  He is the One who instructs us.  If we put Him first, He will help us get done all the things we need to do, or He will direct us when we need to say no to certain things.

Because it is true that when we cease listening to instruction we are more likely to stray from the words of knowledge, we must be diligent and intentional in setting aside our time for the Word of God.

If we are going to choose to say no to something, we must make sure that something is not our time with God.  Above all else, we need to continue abiding in the Vine.  We must remain attached to Him, allowing Him to nourish and enrich us.  It is only abiding in Him that brings the fruit in our lives.

John 15:6 reminds us, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We cannot risk not abiding in Him.  Once we become unattached, we stray, and eventually fall away, being then cast out and withered.  After that, we see what happens.

It may seem like I’m being overly-dramatic, but I’ve seen it before.  Sometimes it only takes a few days for the enemy to cause us to become so distracted that we get out of the routine of making time with God our priority.  Once that takes place, we are vulnerable to his sway.  His sway will always lead us away from God.

During this season, during all the busyness, giving, and frivolity, we must protect our time with God and in His Word.  We must ensure that abiding in Him is at the top of our to-do list.  If we put Him first, all the rest will fall beautifully into place.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Let’s remain in Him,

jamie

Have you been listening?

Pr. 10:8:  “The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.”

 

This verse reminds me of the scribes and Pharisees about which Jesus spoke in Matthew 23.  They would tell the people all that they should do, lay heavy burdens of duty upon the people’s shoulders, and loved to be the center of attention.  These men would be seen in the synagogues, at the best feasts, and making long eloquent prayers in order to draw all attention upon themselves.

With their many words, they exalted themselves.  Jesus said, “but all their works they do to be seen by men.”  Jesus called them hypocrites, fools, and blind, saying they were clean on the outside but full of uncleanness on the inside.  “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  Mt.23:28

Over and over, Jesus reminded those who listened and received His commands that He came to serve and they we are called to do the same.  “He who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Mt.23:12.  Those who are truly wise in heart are those who listen to the words of God and hide them in their hearts.  The wisdom they receive from the Lord is then put into practice.  It is not something about which they simply chatter.

Learning from them, we must examine ourselves from time to time.  If we find ourselves talking more than those around us, there is a strong likelihood that we’re no longer receiving commands, but possibly trying to give them.  Constantly stating our own opinion is a warning sign, as well.  Unless speaking is our full-time job, having wisdom within is not something we must prove with words.  Putting our beliefs into action usually what speaks the loudest.

To be truly wise servants, we must ensure that we are clean on the inside.  As we’ve heard, the outward appearance means nothing to God.  The blood of Jesus washes and cleanses us from the inside out, and the Word pierces to the division of soul and spirit, and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.  If there is anything in our hearts that needs to be cleansed, God is the answer.  He will cleanse us from our sins, create a clean heart within us, and draw us nearer to Him.

When we are truly clean, God can use us to minister to and encourage His people.  Listen closely and serve joyfully.  When our works of service are done for His glory, He uses us more and more.  This is the recipe that will keep us from falling.  We won’t have to exalt ourselves.  He promised to exalt us Himself one day.

Shhhhhh,

jamie