Showing up

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  Heb. 10:25

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.  In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a certain time in to the pool and stirred up the water then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.  Now a certain man was there had an infirmity thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there, an knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.”  John 5:2-8

The man had no one to put him in the water.  And yet he was there.  He was present in the place where the miracles happened.

I recently heard about a woman who was avoiding her church because she is going through a hard time in her life right now and when she goes to church it makes her cry.  I’ve felt that way before.  Sometimes, when times are the toughest, we feel the most like avoiding the house of God.

Friends, it is during those tough times, that we need to be in the house of God the most.  We need to show up and be present in the place of miracles.  We cannot expect a breakthrough if we avoid the place where they happen.  We cannot get the peace that passes understanding if we do not seek out the Peace Giver.  The shadow of death will loom so much larger on the outside, but when we enter into God’s presence, we find Him with us.  His rod and His staff ever ready to comfort us.  His green pastures and restoration of the soul can only be found where He is.

We may cry when we get in church.  It’s ok.  Church is not a place for perfect people.  It is a place for the broken.  Like this infirmed man, when we show up at the place where there is healing, restoration, deliverance, comfort, then there are emotions we will naturally go through.  But when we hear the Lord tell us to, “Rise, take up our bed, and walk,” it will be so worth it!

Go to church.  Cry if you must, but Go!  Seek the Lord.  Seek your miracle.  Just show up and do not give up.  God will meet you there.

Thankful I showed up,

jamie

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Compassion comes from pain

When John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus was sad and wanted to go away with his disciples to a quiet a place for rest.  However, the multitudes followed them.  The Word says that Jesus was moved with compassion for them.

When we are hurt, grieving, disappointed, sad, or in pain, our natural reaction is usually to retreat for a little quiet time or rest.  The truth is; however, that there is not a time when we can feel more compassion for others who are hurting.

Sometimes we don’t understand the pain or hurt in our lives, but God does.  He has a plan for our lives.  He has a plan for others around us.  Although none of us want to be in pain, if that pain is what gives us compassion, then it can be used for good.

We can use our pain to feel for the pain others carry.  We can then minister to them, as God’s hands and feet.  We can lift their needs, that we understand, up to the One who heals, comforts, and delivers.

Let’s let Him use our pain for something good!  Watching someone else’s pain subside sure helps ease mine just a bit.

Reach out,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 14

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.  The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.”  Ps. 119:71-72.  Lord, in 2011, I wrote in my Bible that this is my testimony.  Remembering the battle that had just been won in my life, I know this was true.  I look at that now, after having fought for 4 1/2 years with physical mysteries and I notice my heart is a bit hardened towards those words.  I don’t like being afflicted.

But Lord, You have indeed dealt well with me.  According to Your Word, You have walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death.  You have been my comfort.  You have led me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.  You have been my shepherd who restores.  You have been a place of refuge.  You have turned me away from the snares of death.  And I thank You.

Surely I can have strong confidence in the One who does all those things.  Surely I can rest on the promises of the One who is consistently faithful.  Although there have been times of tearing in my life, I have also seen healing.  When I focus my thoughts on You, I see promise.  Isn’t that what Your Word encourages us to do?  Pr. 14:14 says, “A good man will be satisfied from above.”  Col. 3:1-2 says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.  Set Your mind on things above, not on things on earth.”

Lord, help me set my sights on You and, according to Your Word, let Your peace rule in my heart, causing me to be thankful.  Would I have desired to seek You so had I not been afflicted?  If everything were going my way, would I need a Provider?  Were my body to be in perfect shape, would I consult the Healer?  If I weren’t in pain, would I run after my Father, seeking comfort and peace?  Perhaps not.

Lord, with prudence, help me as I consider well my steps.  As I walk out this affliction day by day, let my focus remain on the One who is good and who does good.  Let my eyes stay fixed on the One who does not cast off His people, nor forsake His inheritance.  Let my trust be in the One who anoints my head with oil, and causes my cup to run over.  Let my cries be sent out to the One who hears my voice from His temple.  Let my tears be entrusted with the One who puts them in His bottle, treasuring my heart’s loyalty and trust in Him.

Lord, the care You take of me, the salvation You’ve given, and the promises You keep in Your faithfulness…surely those things are worth more than thousands of coins of gold and silver.  Thank You, Lord.

I love you,

jamie

I’m so glad my life is in HIS hands

Have you ever sang songs to God with lyrics like these:

“Bring me anything to bring You glory.  And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that’s what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain.”

“No matter what comes my way, my life is in Your hands.”

“My life is not my own.  To You I belong.  I give myself, I give myself to You.”

Do you think you would or have you ever had a moment of hesitation when singing them?  I have.

I used to sing these songs freely.  “Oh, yes, Lord.  Bring the rain.”

And then one day the rain fell.  I was determined to bring God glory through my trial, and for the first bit, I did.  Then, I got a little tired.  I got sad.  That sadness led to feelings of being neglected.  That neglect made me angry.  My anger made me rebellious.  I was no longer allowing God to be glorified.  Those words I had sung so intently, were proven empty.

When I began to find my way back to Him, simply trusting that His plans for me were good, regardless of the trial, I found myself hesitating when it came to singing lyrics like those.  Those words have much more meaning when you realize God’s way of using you may not be quite what you had in mind.  Those words are much heavier when you realize that the rain could bring pain.  Those words are not empty.  They mean something.

The truth is; however, that no matter what comes our way, our lives truly are in His hands.  He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Redeemer, and our Soon coming King.  I can’t think of more capable hands that I’d like my life to be in.

I recently heard someone debunk the familiar saying that God won’t give us more than we can handle.  She said, “Everything is more than we can handle!”  She was right.  That’s why we need the One who gives us strength.

Sometimes it takes a trial for us to truly understand what surrender really means.  We are not in control.  God is.  But the thing about God is that He does not leave or forsake us.  He goes before us, preparing the way, and behind us, directing our steps.  He gives us comfort and peace when there seems to be no reason for either.  He made the way for our salvation before we were ever born.  He is strongest when we are weakest.

With our lives in His hands, we can understand that no matter what comes our way, He is still our God and He is still the same.  Our pain is never in vain.  We have the unique opportunity to give Him glory through it all.  His worth isn’t based on the current circumstances.  He is worthy, no matter the situation.

Voluntarily surrendering our lives to Him brings joy and hope in the midst of the pain.

Surrendered,

jamie

Reality

I’ve been sick for a while.  While I was simply trying to function, blogging was beyond the scope of possibility.  This morning is the first day I have been mentally/physically able to read the Word in quit some time, and as always, God was there.  Waiting.

Sickness has a way of making it feel as though weakness is the reality in which you live.  Then I read the words in 2 Cor. 5 that speak of the way our tents groan; being burdened, because we long to be clothed in immortality, which God has already prepared.  It reminds me that all of us groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.  This weakness is just part of my groaning.

Reality is that while we are at ‘home’ here on this earth, we are absent from the Lord, and nothing will ever be perfect until we are present with Him.  Reality is that there is something wonderful awaiting us.

Verse 16 says, “we regard no one according to the flesh.”  Vs. 17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”  I cannot regard myself or my reality according to the flesh.  My flesh may be weak, but that does not cancel out the fact that I am a temple of the living God.

I think it’s significant that 2 years to the day that I was re-baptized, I wound up in the ER.  Sept. 18, 2013, I was re-baptized to publicly make known that no matter what struggles I may have been presented within my body, the Lord was and will continue to be my God.

2 years later I was lying in the ER, barely able to hold myself up.  Weak as I may have been, I am still a new creation.  I may have dark, sunken skin around my eyes right now, but through Christ Jesus, all things in my life have become new.  I may have physical issues that I continue to carry around, but my sins are no longer imputed to me because my Savior bore them upon Himself at Calvary.

Reality isn’t what we see or feel on this earth.  Reality is God.  Reality is that our Savior took the sins from all of us, offering forgiveness and salvation to all who will believe in Him and call Him Lord.  Reality is that one day soon God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sorrow, or crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things will have completely passed away.

No matter your struggles or weaknesses here on this earth, remember that there is so much more to your reality.  Christ WILL appear a second time, and your groaning will end.

Thank you for this guarantee, Holy Spirit,

jamie

What if you’re called a fool?

This morning I read 1 Cor. 4, where Paul is talking about the apostles being fools for Christ’s sake.  Vs. 12 says, “And we labor, working with our hands.  Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat.”

I’ve been reading a lot about martyr’s lately, both past and present.  Because of this, it was so striking for me this morning to think about Paul’s words.  These aren’t just words on a page.  These are the true thoughts and facts about a human being’s life.

The apostles were truly reviled.  They were left homeless and poorly clothed, spat upon, and condemned, and yet they continued to bless.  For God’s sake, they continued to bless and offer the saving truths of the gospel of Christ.

The apostles were actually persecuted.  They were beaten, threatened, jailed, and killed, and yet they endured.  Looking forward to the reward of serving Jesus Christ, they were able to continue to pour out to as many as possible until the very end.

The apostles were defamed.  They were falsely accused and imprisoned time and time again, and yet they continued to entreat those around them to accept Jesus as their Savior.  They continued to speak the gospel, even in the presence of their accusers, so that anyone whose heart may be open to hear would receive salvation full and free.

I think of the bad days I have, when I can’t get my eyes off of myself.  I think of the times I’ve been hurt, when I’ve allowed my pain to shut me down.  Then, I look at what so many have gone and are going through for the cause of Christ and I know that I still need to mature.

The apostles were the ultimate example of doing all things to the glory of God.

While our individual talents, gifts, and callings may be a little different in description, we are all part of the body working towards the same goal:  to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

In Christ, we have so much to offer those around us.  Even if the time comes when, like the apostles, we are looked upon as fools, it will have been worth it.  There is a great reward awaiting us and those who believe because of our own endurance.

We cannot keep God’s grace and His gifts all for ourselves.  They were meant to be shared.  His sacrifice makes our own sacrifices worth the price.

The song I’ve attached today reminds me that instead of wasting my time on things that don’t matter, I can give everything in my life for Him.  He’s worth it!

Stirred,

jamie

 

Think the path is too steep?

Pr. 30:26:  “The rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags.”

The crags are the steep, rugged parts of the rocks on a mountain or hill.  These are not easy to climb or maneuver.  The going is tough and the steps are unpredictable.  There are broken pieces of rock that project out and could cause injury.  Seems like an uncomfortable area to call home.

Sometimes the circumstances in our lives are like the crags.  The path is steep.  Dangerous, broken things cause injury.  We stumble on unsteady footing.

No matter how ‘feeble’ we feel, we can remember the rock badgers.  They were born to survive the crags; and so were we.  In our weakness, God provides strength.  He directs our paths, and guides our steps.  He goes before us and prepares the way.  When we keep our eyes on Him, the crags become maneuverable and we make it home.

Still climbing,

jamie