Using the right tools?

Cleaning the mirror with furniture polish…not so much.

The other day, I was thinking about how we sometimes go about our lives without the proper tools, making things much harder for ourselves, or looking for the help in the wrong places.

Take peace, for instance.  When we need peace in our lives, we might try meditation, medication, alcohol, or a costly get-away.  All the while, peace is just an ask away.  Ph. 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The peace that comes from God transcends all understanding.  We can get that out of our tool box, if we just trust Him enough to ask.

How about discernment?  That’s the ability to judge well…to judge our actions, our reactions, our words, our Facebook posts, our attire…discernment.  We might try to base that off what others are saying or doing, or how we want them to react to us.  Ps. 119:66 is a great reminder that there is only one place we should be looking for advice on those things: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  God is the One who will give us the good judgment (discernment) that we need as we walk through this life and navigate these choppy waters.

And what about financial troubles.  We get title loans, put things on credit cards, and go into more and more debt.  Are we tithing?  There are blessings that come with giving the Lord the tenth that belongs to Him.  We came into this world with nothing, and all that we have came from Him.  We are blessed.  When we give back to Him that tenth, He will honor His word in Malachi 3:9-11, when He says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” 

The Lord uses the tithes we bring to bless others around us.  When we are all being obedient, there will be more than enough for everyone, but we will also be blessed when we give.  If you’re having financial troubles, my advice to you today is to tithe.  I know the math doesn’t make sense, but I promise you, God will faithfully honor it, and will meet your needs.  

Don’t struggle through life using the wrong tools.  Look to God and His Word for all that you need.  He has all this and more waiting for you now.

You’re not alone,

jamie

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What more could be said?

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Serve God with Spiritual Gifts

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Behave Like a Christian

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Well said. Help us to do this, Lord.

You are not going to crash

I love the methods that God will use to get a message to us.  Migraine rescue medication combined with tension and sadness made for a rough morning today.  I was persevering, though.  I read my Bible while I ate my breakfast, I listened to praise and worship music all morning long.  I know where my strength lies, but sometimes I feel like I’m clawing for it.  Have you ever felt that way?  Is that just me?  Hmm…

Then my kids and I sat down for our morning devotions and the book said, “It is a great gift from God to be able to hear, but what you do with what you hear is your gift back to God.”  Then it quoted Jesus,

Everyone who hears these things I say and obeys them is like a wise man.  The wise man built his house on rock.  It rained hard and the water rose.  The winds blew and hit that house.  But the house did not fall, because the house was built on rock.  But the person who hears the things I teach and does not obey them is like a foolish man.  The foolish man built his house on sand.  It rained hard, the water rose, and the winds blew and hit that house.  And the house fell with a big crash.”  (Mt. 7:24-27)

I could literally hear God reminding me that my house is not built on the sand.  My house, my faith, my hope…they are built on the rock.  The solid rock of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Yes, it is raining hard right now, and the waters have been rising lately.  The winds have been blowing from one direction and then another, but MY HOUSE IS BUILT ON THE ROCK!

I’m not going to fall or crash.  I’ve got the Mighty God, the Great I AM, the Prince of Peace holding me in His hand.  My life is built on a solid foundation and I can take refuge in the stronghold of His name.  I can’t just talk about trusting Him in a blog on Monday and then forget it on Tuesday.  I have to do it!  And I am.

I was immediately comforted by the Lord as we read that devotion this morning.  If the winds are blowing around you and the rains are pouring down, pelting you from all sides, take heart.  If you can literally see and feel the waters rising around you, stand firm.  Your house is built upon the Rock and YOU WILL NOT FALL!

Stand firm…He is holding you steady,

jamie

The pursuit of happiness

Pr. 16:20: “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”

There has always seemed to be the ultimate search for happiness all around us.  “Do what makes you happy.” “Hey! As long as your happy.” “But I’m not happy.”  Happiness is one of those goals that is chased with great fervor.

Well, folks, the answer to truly being happy has finally arrived: trusting in the Lord.  “Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”

Now, how do we do that?  The answer comes before that.  We heed His Word wisely.  His Word tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us, so do we need to walk around feeling like we are all alone in this world?  No.  That feeling will make us sad, for sure.  Knowing the truth will make us happy.

Do we need to walk around weighed down with worry about our needs never being met?  No.  We can give to the Lord, trusting that He will honor His Word and give back to us pressed down, shaken together, and running over. (Luke 6:38)  We will be happy, knowing that our needs are in the hands of our Provider.

If we are heeding the Word wisely we also won’t need to walk around burdened by fear.  We will find happiness in the fact that He did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Ti. 1:7) In fact, we will also be able to trust that He can deliver us from all our fears, because Ps. 34:4 tells us, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” If that doesn’t make us happy, I don’t know what can!

The joy of the Lord is still our strength.  He has not and does not changed.  That is great cause for happiness.  In fact, I think it’s fitting to say it’s even a reason to rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! …Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Ph. 4:4,6

So, the point is that if you know what God has said, you trust in it, and you make your requests known to Him, He will guard your heart and mind with peace and that will lead to what?  Happiness!

Don’t worry, y’all.  Be happy, in the Lord!

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

Waging your own war

“For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.”  Pr. 24:6

I like having a safety net.

Yesterday I found my mind in worry mode.  There was no real reason it needed to be, but it was an indicator to me that I was looking to the wrong things in which to put my trust, that’s for sure.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Since I wasn’t feeling that peace, I knew that I needed to set my mind on God, but I was struggling with that a bit.

Enter my wise counselors:  It was time for Bible study and prayer with my kids.  When we were talking about our prayer requests, I let them know that I was feeling worried.  They did not like that one bit.  I reminded them that I knew that I just needed to trust that God will take care of things, because He always does.  They wholeheartedly agreed.  And then they prayed for me, and the peace set in.

By building up wise counselors these few years, I have helped to wage my own war!  The Lord has given me all that I need and then some.  Not only has He given me His Word for me to depend upon and to use, but I now have wise counselors around me to add extra safety when I need it.

I am so thankful for a God who cares and provides!

Who are your wise counselors?  Where is your safety?  If you know, but you resist them, stop resisting.  God put them in your life for a reason.  If you’re not sure, then ask the Lord to show you.  He always provides for our needs.

Safe,

jamie