Why become wise?

Pr. 7:4:  “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin.”

Wisdom is a wonderful thing.  We should always be striving to become more wise.  Wisdom brings with it things like prudence, diligence, discretion, respectfulness, humility, boldness, confidence, intelligence, ability, understanding and reason.  These are definitely qualities that are wonderful for us to have in this life.  Wisdom can help us be successful in our ventures, maintain and cultivate healthy relationships, and keep us from making choices that will endanger our lives.

It’s interesting; however, that Paul told the Corinthians that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  Does that mean we shouldn’t try to become wise?  Does that mean we shouldn’t grow and learn?  Of course not!  God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities.  Not only that, but He has given us each different capacities for learning and different interests that He has intended for us to use in pursuit of the eternal goal.

We all have something different to offer this world.  Paul reminds us that God did not call many wise or mighty people.  He has chosen the foolish and weak things to bring Him glory.  I for one am weak.  (I didn’t want to admit to being foolish.  ha!)  Truly I am weak, though, and indeed foolish in many ways.  I am not the wisest or mightiest.  Paul himself said to the Corinthians,

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

That’s it.  He didn’t come to them in his own wisdom and power, but in God’s.  And why?  That their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  That’s exactly what our own weakness and foolishness can show in our lives.  When we think in worldly terms, we think of those things only as pure weakness.  Think of it the way this way, though.  When the weakest person gets up and allows God’s Spirit and power to use them in a mighty way, how much more powerful is that for us to witness?

If you know someone is barely able to walk or speak or move, but, under the power of the Spirit, they begin to shout, jump, or minister to people, is that not an amazing thing to witness?  If you hear someone who is mentally handicapped in any way begin to speak in a way that inspires and encourages and glorifies the Lord, is that not a power thing?  It is.

Our weaknesses are not weaknesses when we use them to glorify the Lord.  Yes, we should still strive for wisdom, but let it be through God’s strength as we rely on Him and His Spirit to guide us.  Let us allow Him to use us as a vessel that brings Him glory!

Foolishly,

jamie

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Clothing choices

Pr. 31:25:  “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.”

Strength and honor are her clothing.  This is such an interesting verse to me.  I like the idea of being clothed with strength and honor.  What a beautiful attire.

I am not strong in body, but with God I can absolutely be strong in spirit.  It is the Lord that gives me strength.  It is in my weakness that the Lord perfects His strength within me.  It is the Holy Spirit that empowers and equips me.  The Lord, alone, is my strength; for nothing is impossible with Him.  No matter what this life brings, the knowledge that the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me gives me such strength that I can continue forward, in His care.

Honor can come in many ways.  When we do what we say we will do, we are being honorable: keeping promises and commitments, following through, showing up.  Telling the truth is honorable, especially if we can also understand that sometimes truth needs to be delivered in a loving and kind way.  (Sometimes the truth can hurt)  Treating others kindly and respectfully shows them honor, and thus brings honor back to ourselves.  I could go on and on.

Honor is a beautiful accessory to our wardrobes, for sure.  It is something we can ask the Lord to continue to grow in our lives.  I think it is something akin to holiness, which is never out of style.

“She will rejoice in time to come.”  When we have been wearing such beautiful things in our lives, of course when we look back over our lives we will rejoice.  What a wonderful legacy we will have been leaving behind us.  What beautiful footprints we will have laid down in which others can safely follow.  What a glorious testimony we will have given; one of glory to our God and trust in the One who gave us strength to make it through.  🙂

I can’t help but smile as I think about it.  The clothes in my closet certainly won’t bring any level of satisfaction at the end of my life, but this strength and this honor…Oh, Lord, let it be.  Help me, daily, Lord, to wear the attire that has been described in this verse.  I want to honor You above all, Father, and to bring glory to Your name.  I want to be able to show that it was by Your strength that I was able to do things that would have otherwise been impossible.  Help us all, Lord, in the matchless name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Richly clothed,

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

Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.

-jamie

2018 is for sharing!

Tomorrow is another new year.  I’m not one for making resolutions, but certainly a new year does deserve some pause for thought.

Enter my neighbor’s chickens.  Yes, chickens.  Today, I saw that there were 5 of them under my bird feeder scratching and eating all the bird seed they could find.  I was a little frustrated at first because this neighbor’s animals seem to be in our yard a lot, but the more I thought about the fact that they just wanted some food, the less frustrated I became.  

And then I realized that they’re just like all of us.  Ha!  All of us want to be fed.  We are all searching for sustenance.  Not just physical sustenance, but spiritual, as well.  When we can’t find it where we live, we go off to the neighbor’s in search.  We scratch and dig and look until we find something.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Lord has given us so much.  This new year, we must keep in mind that there are people around us that are hungry.  They are searching for what they have not yet found.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed when they come to us looking for answer or asking questions, we need to make sure we have a loving, generous heart that is ready and willing to share with them from our abundance.

Not everyone has what we have or knows what we know.  They are hungry.  We have the Bread of Life.  We must be willing to share.  We have no right to be frustrated or greedy with what we’ve been given.  Salvation is for all who believe, not just the ones we believe are deserving.

Everyone’s ministry is going to look different.  As we go into this new year, let’s remember that our time to share this Bread of Life is not over.  We are still here to do the will of our Father.  How will your sharing look?  Will it be a blog?  Will you minster to a co-worker, family member, friend, or student.  Will you teach a class at church or preach from the pulpit.  Maybe you will teach at the nursing home or lead a devotion for a small group.  Perhaps your ministry will look different still.  Could this even be your year for a mission trip?  The main thing is that we are open to the Lord’s leading and that we are wiling to share.

Ready to share alongside you in 2018!

jamie

On courage

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'” John 4:34

I was reading about courage this morning: Courage being the act of doing what you are afraid to do.

It occurred to me that I most often hear people (including myself) express fear about doing God’s work.  People aren’t as hesitant to go back to school, move to a new state for work, go skydiving, or start a new business as they are to begin a new ministry, teach Sunday school, sing on the praise team, or speak from the pulpit.  Forget moving to another country to minister in missions…that is almost incomprehensible.

Why in the world are we more afraid to do the work of the One who is our Provider than to do ordinary things?  Why are we more willing to commit to the PTA than to helping in the nursery at church just once a quarter?

Is it possible that we are feeding on the wrong things?  Jesus’ food was to do the will of the One who sent Him, and we have been sent by that same God.

When the Lord lays some new work on our heart, here are some helpful things we will need to have been feeding on:

  • God has commissioned all of his followers to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  (Mt. 28:19)  This is our job.
  • God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (Ph. 4:19)
  • God has already sent pastors and teachers to equip us for the work of the ministry  (Eph. 4:11-12)  We are ready.
  • We’re invited to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Heb. 4:16)  We are not alone.
  • And finally, if we our obedient and choose to give in to God’s leading, trusting that He will take care of our needs, we can be certain He will meet them as He said because Heb. 5:18 reminds us that, “It is impossible for God to lie.”

Karl Bath said, “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.”  I can’t think of a better way for us to take on our fears.

If the Lord lays a work on our hearts, it’s ok to be afraid.  Moses was afraid.  Joshua was afraid.  Gideon was afraid, too.  However, we need to take our fears to God’s throne of grace and receive the help He has waiting there for us.

Don’t we know that the One who created the heavens and the earth, owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and holds this world in His hand…that same One can certainly help us teach a class, preach a sermon, sing a song, minister to the sick, or any other thing He has asked us to do?

He has given us His Word so that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Tim. 3:17)  If we are feeding on the right things, then we have all we need.

Let’s get to work!

jamie

Pouring sacrifice on Jesus’ head

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.  But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?  For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” Mt. 26:6-9

This familiar passage spoke something new to me this morning.  Sometimes, the acts we feel led to do for the Lord do not make sense to others around us.

Perhaps we choose to fast at an “inopportune” time.  Maybe we worked in the nursery 4 Sundays in a row, while others had the opportunity to worship in service.  It could be that we chose to drive far out of our way to stop by and visit someone who needed to see a friendly face.

The examples could go on and on, but the principle remains.  Not everything we personally choose to do for the Lord will viewed in a beautiful light by others around us.  We may even be criticized for our sacrifice.

Let me remind you what Jesus thinks about it:  “Why do you trouble this woman?  For she has done a good work for Me.”  Vs. 10

Not everything we do has to meet with the standards of others…even if they are fellow followers.  If we feel a nudging to do a work in the Lord’s name, then we are pleasing the only One who matters.

Keep on, friend.  You are pleasing the One who is worth the sacrifice, and that is truly all that matters.

Proud of you,

jamie