Tag Archives: neighbor

God changes the way we think

1 Cor. 2:12:  But God has given us His Spirit.  That’s why we don’t think the same way the people of this world think.  That’s also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us.

It can be so easy to look at people of this world and wonder why they do things the way the do.  I was reading 1 Corinthians this morning and I found the reminder.

We cannot forget, brothers and sisters in Christ, when we see people acting in ways that we wouldn’t, that perhaps it’s because they haven’t found the freedom in Christ that God has so graciously and mercifully gifted to us.  The commission that Jesus left is still the same:  we are to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  We are also to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

When we see the people who need to hear the gospel, instead of being angry with them for not knowing Jesus and behaving as though they know Him; we need to pray for them, and either share the gospel with them, or pray that someone else can come along and share it with them if we aren’t able.

The 2nd part of this Scripture says that because of God’s Spirit, we are able to recognize the blessings that God has given us.  Recognizing the blessings, we can joyfully and lovingly go forth, sharing the good news of the gospel to this hurting and broken world around us.  So many people need to hear about blessings that can be found somewhere.

Have you been blessed?  Do people hear blessings coming from you?  Are you sharing the good news?  When you see people do you see what God sees, and is your heart breaking for them?  Do you feel burdened to share a message of hope with them?  Do you feel love?

Pray, brothers and sisters.  We have a message of hope and freedom to share with the world.  We have good news!  We cannot and should not keep it to ourselves.

Think like Jesus,

jamie

Lessons from Peter, part 1

Jn. 21:21:  ‘When Peter saw that disciple, he asked Jesus, “Lord what about him?”‘

I found a beautiful, deep lesson in some interaction between Jesus and Peter this morning.  And then I found this, and I had to laugh!

Jesus had literally just commissioned Peter to take care of His church.  He had just set Peter apart.  They had just had this beautiful, special moment, where Jesus told Peter to “Feed His sheep.”  It was an individual calling.  A singular, specific commission just for Peter.  A memorable moment.  It couldn’t have been more personal.

Then, Peter turned and sees Jesus’ ‘favorite disciple’ following them, and Peter asked, “Lord what about him?”  Jesus’ answer is just wow:  “What is it to you?”

Peter’s concern is so like ours.  Here he is having this amazing moment with Jesus, literally being commissioned for ministry, by the physical Lord, and He’s looking at someone else, asking, “But what about them?”  “Why does their calling looking different than mine?”

It made me laugh out loud and yet made me feel so much relief.  It’s human nature.  He asked that directly to the face of the Lord.  But take note: what was Jesus answer?

Jesus replied, “What is it to you?”  Can we see that Jesus doesn’t want us concerning ourselves with this?  We know that Jesus had a specific calling on Peter’s life.  A job Peter was created to do.  It couldn’t have been done by another.  Not the way Peter did it.  Peter was made for his purpose.

We, likewise, were made for ours.  Yes, it’s human nature that look to others and ask, “but what about them?”  But what is it to us?  God is calling us to our purpose.  He is calling them to theirs.  It’s time to remember that it’s not a competition or a fight.  We all have our own job to do, as we work to the same end.

Our job:  focus on our relationship with Christ, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as we do the job He has given us each to do.  Meanwhile, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, as we support them while they are doing their best to do the same.

Thanks for the laugh, Lord,

jamie

Lessons from Peter, part 2

Lessons from Peter, part 3

Got my grace. Which way now?

It’s time to conclude yesterday’s story about the freedom & grace Jesus Christ gave us through His death.  His death fulfilled the law and removed the bondage of sin.  He won the victory for us!  However, Paul warns that we shouldn’t use the freedom we’ve been given as an opportunity to live in the flesh…in other words, we can’t just live any ol’ way we want.  We aren’t called to serve our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit.

It is when we are led by the Spirit of the Lord that we are no longer under the law because the Spirit proves it through us.  When we are led only by the flesh, we want things that are in direct opposition to the Spirit.  Here are some examples that Paul gives of things that the flesh wants:  adultery, impatience, drunkenness, fornication, envy, prostitution, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambitions, anger, and others.  Can we be forgiven of these things?  Absolutely!  But if we simply live a lifestyle of these things then we are not being led by the Spirit, because these things are in opposition to His desires.

When we are led by the Spirit, it shows up in our lives in ways like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will bear one another’s burdens, not bite and devour one another with our words and actions, and we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

Paul said if we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life.  In other words, after we have accepted the grace of God, it isn’t about the customs and traditions that we perform; but if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the evidence will come through in our lives in ways like kindness, goodness, love, self-control, etc. Every day we will have a choice to make, “Will I walk by the flesh, or by the Spirit?”  One will corrupt us, and one will point us and those around us to the Father.

I, for one, want to be led by the Spirit.  Those times when I’ve been led by my flesh have never turned out so well, and I’ve lost many an opportunity to be a witness for the Lord.  It’s time to let Him be in control.  Not only will we be able to show more love and be able to witness more, but it will take the pressure off of us, as well.  Let Him take control and lead the way.  We already know where it leads.  🙂

walking there alongside you,

jamie

On their behalf

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about how we should show love to those in pain and trials and not offer judgment and accusations, in the way that Job’s friends did.  I also mentioned how we can pray for those we know who are in pain.  I wanted to talk more on that today, because that is probably the one of the most important things we can do, and yet sometimes we neglect it.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we find the record of Jesus and a centurion.  The centurion’s servant was lying at home paralyzed, and in terribly agony and pain.  (Some versions of the Bible say he was dreadfully tormented.  yikes!)

The centurion came to Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant.  This story is powerful in so many ways.  If you haven’t read it in a while, or ever, I encourage you to read it.

The centurion knew, and acknowledged that Jesus was powerful enough that He need only speak the word and His servant could be healed.  He didn’t even require that Jesus come to his home to do it.  He knew Jesus could do it from right where He stood.

And this is the part I want to stress:  The centurion’s faith alone was great enough that Jesus marveled at it.  (vs. 10)  The servant’s faith was never called into question.  Perhaps his was just as great.  Maybe it wasn’t.  All we know is that the centurion interceded on the servant’s behalf, and that the servant was healed that same hour.

We are called not only to love our neighbors as ourselves, but also to pray for one another that we may be healed. (Ja. 5:16)

Unless they’ve told us it’s the case, we never need to tell someone that they aren’t being healed or delivered from their trial because their faith isn’t strong enough.  We need to intercede on their behalf.  We never need to accuse someone of being sick or in trials due to sin, but we need to pray for them.

What the centurion did on his servant’s behalf is an excellent example of how we should live.  Job, as well, before his children died, offered up offerings to the Lord just in case his children had sinned.  These are excellent examples of people who are going to the Lord on behalf of others.

Not everyone will be healed.  Is that hard to hear?  God has plans for people that sometimes do not include healing, because He uses people in so many different ways.  But that should never stop us from asking.  We do not know His plans.  We need to ask.  We need to seek.

Above all, though, what we need to seek, for ourselves and for each other, is a relationship with Him, which will keep us calm in every storm, every trial, and every sickness.

Let’s be interceders and never accusers,

jamie

Oh, such pain!

I’m reading the conversations between Job and his friends right now in the book of Job.  It’s so uncomfortable for me because I have scars from comments people have made to me during my own health issues the last few years…even while I was down at the altar seeking God’s face.

Job asked his friends why they were tormenting him with their accusations and insults.  I know Job was a man, but I have to wonder if he cried because of what they said?  I usually just cry.  ha!

I’m not sure what it is about health issues or major trials that opens up the doorway to make others think they should step in and offer up judgment instead of encouragement, but it’s sad.  When someone is going through pain and trials, the last thing they need is added pain.

Sickness in someone’s life does not automatically mean they’ve sinned or haven’t asked, in faith, to be healed.  Trials in someone’s life does not mean they have not been generous to the poor or have angered God.

What do those in pain or those in the midst of a trial need?  They need love.  They need compassion.  They need an ear to listen.  They need prayer.  If you know specifically of sin in their life, you can offer help, but if you don’t, then don’t accuse.  People who are hurting need comfort.  They need a friend.

Take them a meal.  Babysit their kids or pay for someone else to do it.  Pay for someone to clean their house for them.  Go sit with them when they can’t get out of bed.  Pray with them.  Give them a hug.  Wash their car.  Offer to do something else you know will bless them.  Do something to bless them, but don’t add to their pain.

I am so blessed by Job.  He did curse the day he was born…that’s understandable, since he was in immense pain…but he was never so discouraged that he allowed his friends to turn mind away from trusting God.

For any Christian in pain, that’s critical.  We can’t turn our hearts away from trusting in God.  As Christians, we cannot be the ones to cause pain.  Our lives are supposed to represent God’s love.  If God’s love looks like judgment and accusations, especially in a trial or painful time in someone’s life, it will make it so hard for them to trust in Him.

As Christians, it is imperative that we operate in love, encouragement, and in prayer.  Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul all our strength and all our mind; and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  What if you were the one in pain?  What would you want to hear?  What if you were in that trial?  What would you need?

We must go and do likewise,

jamie

 

Do others find favor from you?

Pr. 21:10:  “The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

Several years ago our house was robbed.  If you’ve ever experienced that, you know how violating it is.  Our daughter was still young enough to be in a crib and my husband worked 2nd shift.  The first night after it happened, I was so afraid to leave my daughter alone in her room that I fell asleep on the floor in front of her crib until my husband came home from work.  I knew it wasn’t entirely rational, but it made me feel better at the moment.

The fingerprints and an eyewitness linked the robbery to one of our neighbors.  Our very own neighbor broke into our house and robbed us.  We were never very comfortable in that house again.  In fact, it wasn’t long before we sold it and moved.

There are times that the desire of sin and evil becomes so strong that no relationship is exempt.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a different scenario where a neighbor, friend, or even a family member desired evil so strongly that they wouldn’t even spare you.  Perhaps you’re the one who hurt those close to you.

Why does this happen?  Sin.  It causes our focus to become so narrow that we see only what we want and blinds us to others around us.  We go so strongly after our sinful desire that anyone in our path is at risk of being hurt.

We can’t control others, but we can make wise decisions about our own actions.  We can become so focused on God and His desires that sinful desires become less and less desirable.  We can become so focused on the work to which He has called us that we see others and their needs with very clear eyes.

God’s plans for us and for those around us are for good.  If we’re focused on Him and His ways, we won’t want to hurt others anymore.  Of course, we will still have temptations, battles, and trials, but He is willing and able to aid us through.

When we desire God, others will find favor in our eyes, and perhaps that will be all the encouragement they need follow suit.

His,

jamie

Find wisdom

Pr. 3:13:  “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.”

In Mark 12:38-40, Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the scribes.  He said they were people whose religion was for show.

Verse 28; however, introduces us to a scribe who came to Jesus and asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  After Jesus answered him, the scribe told Jesus, “Well said, Teacher.  You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.  And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Certainly this scribe had gained understanding.  For the wisdom he found, Mark 12:34 says, “Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.'”

What happier knowledge is there than that you are not far from the kingdom of God?

It is ok for us to ask questions of God.  It is ok for us to seek wisdom in His Word and search for the answers.  Through Him, we gain the wisdom and understanding that we need.  Knowing the truth, knowing who He really is, knowing His nature keeps us from religion that is just for show.  Knowing God leads to loving God, and loving God leads to humble and willing submission to Him.

The most amazing and mind-boggling thing about God is that good works do not impress Him.  He is not interested in our outward appearances or performances.  He does not require that we strive for perfection.  God simply desires that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that we love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.

We learned in 1 Sam. 16:7 that, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  God knows what is truly in our hearts, no matter what sacrifices or pretenses we may bring forth.

Once we discover who He truly is, through the wisdom and understanding found in His Word, it is not difficult to kneel to the God of the Bible.  Our flesh may still be weak and we may have moments of doubt, confusion, or fear; but God, knowing our hearts, will come to our rescue.  If we continue seeking Him, reading His Word, asking questions of Him, and searching for the answers, we find Him ever-faithful.

We don’t need to pretend we have it all together or be afraid to ask questions of God.  Gaining understanding and finding wisdom brings true happiness and brings us ever closer to Him and His kingdom.  What better knowledge is there than that?

Asking,

jamie