Love your enemies, part 4

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

If you want to go back and read parts one, two, and three of this 4-part series, just click on those links and it will take you there.

Today’s topic is love.  “Behold, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

God IS love!  And we love one another because love is of Him and we are born of Him and we know Him.  When we aren’t loving one another, then it’s an indicator than something is off in our relationship with God.  When we aren’t loving then something is wrong.

Vs. 10 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love on another.”  (vs. 11)

How do we love one another?  1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  …let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

We show love by meeting each other’s needs when we can.  We love by our actions, not just by saying, “I love you.”  Meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Love requires sacrifice.

Pr. 17:22:  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Some people’s bones have been dried through brokenness.  But we have the remedy for that.  Pr. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Perhaps we can be the one who gives health back to that person with the dried bones with our pleasant words and our love.  Also, those wrathful people who stir up strife…perhaps their bones have been dried up for a long time.  Perhaps they are hard, unyielding and rank, but it could be our love and our pleasant words that brings the sweetness and health back to their bones.

Pr. 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before it starts.”  We all know that’s true.  Once it has begun it almost impossible to get it stopped.  Maybe we could be the ones that choose to trust God instead, allay contention, and simply choose love.

Again, we can only control what we do, not what other do, or how others react.  If they don’t react with kindness, then we react with forgiveness, yes?  If you’ve forgotten, go back and re-read the last few blogs at the links above.

I know this all goes against our fleshly, human-nature, but when we do what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will have our back and see us through!  We have to believe it!

Believing we can do it, in Him!

jamie

Love

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How are they so calm right now?

    Photo taken straight through my kitchen window. Notice the water drops…they’re on the outside.  I was safe and dry on the inside.

I was taking a few moments to just enjoy myself and gaze out at the rain through the kitchen window this morning.  Then I looked over and had to laugh when I noticed that our outside cat, who was now inside, was doing the same through the sliding door.

Tropical storm Michael is upon us right now, so we have a nice, steady rain here right now, some wind gusts; and it’s still a bit dark out.  Inside our home this morning; however, it has been so nice and peaceful.  It’s been very calm and quiet this morning, and I’ve felt an unusual type of peace.  It’s been quite lovely.

It reminded me of something that God can do in our lives.  Sometimes there are storms in our lives.  Winds can blow, rain can pelt down, floods can rise.  Things in our lives can be out of control all around us.  Oh, but God…He can keep everything calm and peaceful within us.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Ph. 4:6-7 (NLT)   

God will give us peace that exceeds anything we can understand, and it will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.  That’s the peace I’m talking about.  The peace that keeps us calm on the inside while the storm rages around us on the outside.

It won’t make sense.  People will wonder how we can be so calm.  We may not even believe it ourselves at first, but then we will understand that God has just been faithful once again, like He has been before!  He cannot lie, so if He says He will give us this kind of peace, then we can take Him at His word.  We just have to trust Him enough to try it.

So, the first step is do not worry, but pray.  Tell Him what we need.  Thank Him for all He has done.  And then…then comes that peace…the peace within the storm!  I want that peace in the storms of my life, don’t you?  Let’s give it a shot!

Praying for your peace and mine,

jamie

Can you afford to tithe?

Have you read Malachi 3:10?  It says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

If it seems like a stretch for you to trust God enough to give 10% of your paycheck as a tithe try, to think about those blessings He has mentioned here.  Is that selfish?  I don’t think so.  God is the One who offered them.  In fact, He says, “Try Me now in this.”  He tells us to try Him, to test Him, to see what He can do.

My husband and I have a lot of testimonies of times when the Lord has poured out blessings from the windows of heaven because we have trusted Him at His word.  We have chosen to tithe faithfully through the years and we have found Him to be ever faithful.  I tell you this to encourage you and to praise Him.

Just this week the Lord unexpectedly provided us with the exact amount of a large medical bill that we had been wondering how we would pay.

God’s math doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t add up and cannot be explained.  It’s just true to His word and proves His faithfulness.

I encourage you to start trying Him now.  Test Him in this as He has said.  See if He will not continue to provide all your needs according to His glorious needs in Christ Jesus.  I believe you will find He is truly the faithful Provider He has promised to be.

Give!

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

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

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