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

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Traditional prayer journal

I gave you the why’s for praying journaling in my last blog Prayer Journaling 101.  Now, let’s get to the how.

Let’s start with what I think of as the “traditional” prayer journal.  I put it in quotes because there is no formula that must be followed for this, but in this type of journal, you just write your prayers. 

Although I pray all throughout the day, I find that it also helps me to set aside some time for focused prayer.  That’s where my prayer journal comes in handy.  I find that my written prayers tend to feel more sincere and focused, because my attention does not become as easily distracted.

I also like the language I use when I write a little more than the informal language I use when I speak, so when I really want to give God my personal best, I write.

This type of journal is also where you might want to write how you are feeling and then pray about it.  Perhaps you are feeling joyful and full of praise.  Write out your praises and leave that proof of His faithfulness for the next time you need to be reminded that He still answers prayers.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, He already knows it.  Talk to Him about it.  When He created Adam and Eve, He came down in the cool of the day to talk with them.  He wants fellowship with us.  He has also invited us to come boldly to His throne of grace in our time of need.  It’s ok to tell Him things.  Write it out in your prayer journal and watch Him come to your rescue!  He will.

Sometimes, even as I’m writing, I can feel God’s Holy Spirit…the Comforter…come upon me, bringing me peace, and speaking comfort to me.  If you have your prayer journal, you can write down the things you feel God speak to your heart as He speaks them.  What beautiful records to have for later reference, as well.  🙂

To the left, is a record of a night when I was feeling down, but had gone to the altar at church and the Lord spoke to me through a Pastor and lifted me up.  I remember that service and I’m so glad I have it recorded as a reminder that my God is faithful!  I wrote it down and praised the Lord through prayer in my journal.  He deserved honor for what He had done for me.  I wanted it to be known!  When my kids read through that one day, they will see His faithfulness at work and know that I was grateful!

Prayer journals are also an excellent place to record prayer requests.  How many people have you told that you will be praying for them?  Have you been?  You can write their names down and come back to them daily or weekly and pray for them.  You can also leave a record and remind others as you watch God answer those prayers.

I hope that you are feeling encouraged to begin a prayer journal.  They aren’t anything fancy.  Just a way to keep our ever-distracted minds focused as we pray, and a beautiful record of God’s faithfulness, love, and provision.

Next time, I will share a few of my less traditional journal pages.  They’re different, but have been helpful during different seasons of my soul.

Grab your journal and pen.  It’s time to start writing!

jamie

Next blog:  Scripture/Prayer Journal and Art Prayer Journals

Pure from sin

Pr. 20:9:  “Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

I’ve been reading all week about the grace that comes from God, through Christ Jesus.  Unfortunately, not one of us can be pure through our own works.

(Well, honestly I’m not convinced that is so unfortunate.  As imperfect and inconsistent as I am, I am thankful that my purity from sin is not up to me.  I have a Savior who loves me so much that He took that responsibility upon Himself.)

Sin was brought into the world in the Garden of Eden.  It has been here ever since; so, we were born unclean and sinful into an unclean and sinful world.

Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to make a way for us to be cleansed, forgiven, and justified.  It is through Jesus that we are given salvation. 1 Cor. 1:4-9 talks about the grace we were given, and goes on to say that we are enriched in everything by Him.

Through Jesus, our past has been forgiven, our present is covered by his grace, and our future is in His faithful and merciful hands.  What more could we possibly need?  What a gift we have all been given!

Let’s quit trying to earn more grace and forgiveness and praise the One who has already given it all!

Turning our eyes upon Jesus,

jamie

Words revealing the true treasure of the heart

Joel 2:23:  “For He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you…”

I had the terrible realization this week that I had replaced God as the treasure in my heart.

In May, our daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Although, we already suspected it, the diagnosis brings a large and immediate flurry of tasks, paperwork, phone calls, and appointments.

If that wasn’t enough, I personally decided to allow future planning, homeschool curriculum planning, future therapies, and even more to loom over me with urgency.  Although these hold a certain level of importance, I honestly didn’t realize how much this had consumed me.

Mt. 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Mt. 15:18 says, “Those things which proceed from the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

Keeping those scriptures in mind, it became obvious this week, through the words of my mouth, that the Lord was no longer the treasure in my heart.  AHHHHHH!!!  I had made research and information my new treasure.  And I honestly didn’t even realize it had happened.

Looking back, however, I can see the warning signs.  I will share those with you in the hopes that I can spare you from doing something similar:

  • I was spending more time reading about Autism than I was reading about and reflecting on God’s faithfulness.
  • I began to consider myself too weak to care for and teach my daughter.  I wasn’t considering the truth, which is that the Lord is my strength and that through Him all things are possible.
  • Fear began to drain a lot of my energy, when the Lord clearly gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • I began trusting in the information I was learning in my research more than I was reminding myself that the Lord supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This scripture in Joel says, “For He has given you the former rain faithfully.”  That’s it, isn’t it?  He has always been faithful.  He will continue to be faithful.  He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I’m not saying that the research shouldn’t be done.  Information is good, but when it begins to cause fear and doubt, or begins to overshadow the truths of God’s Word, then there is a problem.

I had to repent for making information and worldly ‘facts’ my treasure.  I want to encourage you, as well.  God is still in control.  He still holds the world in His hands, and if He has taken care of you in the past, He will take care of you in the future.  He is faithful.

Repentant,

jamie

Satisfaction without devastation

Pr. 14:14:  “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”

I recently saw a sign that read, “Sin Captivates, Then Devastates.”  That is so true.  Sin isn’t always something that reviles us and causes us to turn away in disgust.  Sin can be so alluring.  It captivates us with special effects of glitter and lights.  Sometimes we see adventure.  Sometimes escape.  One thing is certain; however, in the end sin does devastate.

Being ‘filled with our own ways’ might seem to meet some momentary need, but it never truly satisfies.  It destroys and devours.  God not only offers satisfaction, He offers provision, refuge, strength, deliverance, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and so much more.  He is truly all we could need.

Sin weighs us down with guilt, consequences, and defeat; and yet the Lord’s yoke is light.  His burden is easy.  He literally invites us to come to Him when we are heavy laden and He will give us rest for our souls.  True rest.  He is gentle.  He is humble.  He renews our strength when we wait on Him.  And He has eternal life waiting for us.

Sin does devastate.  It comes in and throws us completely off course, interrupting our relationship with the Lord, and stalling our ministry.  On the other hand, The Lord, who began a good work in us, will complete what was begun.  He enriches us, builds us up, and He is our helper.  He is the One who offers aid when we are tempted.

I’m so thankful for a God who will never devastate us.  He will leave us nor forsake us.   His promises in His Word are true, and He is faithful.

When we’re looking for true satisfaction, the only place we will find it is at the throne of our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and offer mercy and grace to help us in time of need.

At His throne,

jamie

How loud is your ROAR?

Pr. 17:12:  “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.”

In the heat of folly…of foolishness and sin, a fool cannot be controlled.  That’s what the last part of this verse means.

What extreme danger there is in meeting a mama bear that even thinks her cubs are in danger, much less, a mama bear who has lost her cubs.  We all know that spells almost certain death.  Her anger cannot be controlled and she will rage against the world.

Not my best look!

Same application applies for meeting a person whose passion has become so extreme that they are no longer in control of themselves.  That passion can be anger.  It could be lust.  It could be dependence on anything external, really.

Can you imagine that in the midst of our passionate desires we are more irrational than a wild bear?  This verse says it would better to meet an angry bear.  Wow!

The first chapter in 2 Peter tells us how to escape the corruption of lust.

Starting in verse 5, we read, “…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

That’s pretty self-explanatory.  This advice can certainly keep us from passionate folly.

Vs. 9, “For he who lacks these things is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”  That passions causes blindness.  All we see is the moment.  Folly, indeed.  We cannot forget that we were cleansed from our old sins.

Vs. 10, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble…”

I love it!  The proposed problem and the solution both presented in God’s Word for our learning.  Isn’t God good?  Truly He supplies all our needs.

We don’t have to be more irrational than a beast.  Through diligence with God, we can develop all that we need to remain in control and increase our long-sighted vision.

Keeping the growling to a minimum,

jamie

Scheduling love

Pr. 31:14:  “She is like the merchant ships, she brings food from afar.”

Recently, while I was preparing a meal plan for the week and the accompanying grocery list, my brother-in-law sarcastically asked, “I wonder where Kaili gets her planning skills?”  ha!

My daughter is the queen of planning.  Ever ready for adventure, she can instantly gather pen and paper and prepare a list of fun activities, things needed, or people to invite within moments of you mentioning any activity or the desire to have one.  It always amazes us and/or makes us giggle.

This morning, as I was reading through Proverbs 31, I was reminded what a great trait that actually is.  If she can plan like that in elementary school, by the time she has her own household, she will likely have her schedules running like clockwork.  I have every confidence that she will care for her household well.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be perfect planners to care for those around us.  We just have to pay attention to their needs and desires.  Simply planning to include others in our own personal schedules makes a huge difference in their lives.

More than ensuring every needed supply on hand and every thing is perfect, if we plan to include our family in our routine, they will know without a doubt that they are loved, appreciated, and cared for.  Sadly, those who are closest to us are often the ones who are pushed off the list first.

Today, let’s put our loved ones on our list in ink, planning to include one of their needs or desires in our day.  Talk about a good investment of our time!

Anticipating my day,

jamie