Who me, a sinner?

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

Let me give you the answer:  no one.

Last night I dreamed that I was preaching about God’s faithfulness.  I was on fire.  People were responding.  The Holy Spirit was moving.  Less than an hour later, I was at sneaking into the home of a missionary, stealing a very valuable tropical plant.

Isn’t that just like reality?

We are all sinners.  It’s not just me.  It’s not just you.

It’s only the blood of Jesus Christ that washes those sins away.  Once that happens, the Lord no longer chooses to remember them.

So, while we strive to live a holy life that glorifies and honors the Lord, we must remember that we will never be perfect.  We don’t need to allow satan to beat us down, constantly reminding us that we are sinners.  God made provision for that already!

There is a reason we need a Savior.  It is only through Him that we are saved.  If we keep our eyes on Him, we will follow Him into eternity.

Happy trails,

jamie

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All you need is love

Pr. 2:6:  “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

My mom and I were talking about love yesterday.  Perhaps that is what caused this dream I had last night.

I was in an old school building and there was an evil woman forming in the wall.  I was with a group and as we were waiting for the moment for her to form, I flashed back to the last time she had come.  We had tried to defeat her with battle, but apparently had not won.  She had turned some of our group into animals and although she had gone away for a time, she was now forming again.

A man and I gathered some of our loved ones that had turned to animals and hid in a closet, blocking the door, and preparing to fight again.  As we were waiting, I realized that fighting was not the answer.  The answer was love.

I opened the door, and as the evil one approached, instead of striking out at her, I began speaking love.  We all sat around her, and I reminded her of the good in her.  I told her why she was special.  I spoke lovingly of the things about her that were uniquely created, and about why I loved her.

As I spoke, she was motionless; unable to move in the presence of my love.  Her face began changing and eventually I could tell that she was free.  There was nothing dark or evil about her any longer.  She smiled and everyone cheered.  That’s my last memory of the dream.

As evil takes form in our world, and turns some of our loved ones to ‘animals’, and as we stand in the face of things that seems scary, I believe the same answer holds true.

Do we need to strike out at others?  Is it best that we prove our point?  Do we need to attack people with the Word or our opinions of the Word?  Is aggression towards sinners the answer?  I don’t think so.

I believe the love of God deserves more credit than that.  God is love, and His love for us is so strong that He gave His only Son that we should not perish.  We cannot keep that love for ourselves and offer only condemnation and judgment to those around us who are less than perfect.

Realizing that we are not the ultimate judge, we are here to offer hope, love, compassion, understanding, empathy, and the beauty of the freedoms in Christ.  Loving sinners does not mean you love sin.  It means you are following Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Beatles weren’t the first ones to let us know that all we need is love.  Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you…by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

Let’s trust Him enough to offer that love and leave the rest to Him.

Loving you,

jamie

 

Tasty but destructive

Pr. 26:22:  The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

I read an article that was written about one of my great-aunts who passed on a few weeks ago.  She would have been 100 years old this winter.  The author of the article had gone to visit her and asked my great-aunt what life advice she would give a middle-ager.

The 3 things my great-aunt said she would have done differently were to read her Bible more, pray more, and not believe things she heard about others without having first heard their side.

I didn’t see that last one coming.  Not something I would expect to hear a 99-year-old woman saying; however, perhaps a relationship in her life was lost or altered in her middle years that caused her to still think such a thing all those years later.  I’m not sure.

This verse tells us that it shouldn’t be surprising, though.  Words of gossip do not just bounce off of us, but are taken in, savored, digested, and soaked up into our very core.  It then becomes very difficult to erase what we’ve heard, lie or not, because our minds are so hungry to make us feel better about ourselves.

If a 99-year-old woman, knowing she’s passing on to eternity, is still thinking about the effects of a decision like this, it seems it is certainly something we shouldn’t take lightly.

I guess the best thing is probably to avoid gossip at all, whenever possible.  Then, if there is a situation where we do hear something, we can take her other advice and pray more.  We can pray that God would help us be responsible with what we’ve heard and either help us forget it, if it isn’t necessary for us to know or concern ourselves with; or to give us a proper setting to hear the other side.

Remembering that no one is perfect, and that we all fall short of the glory of God and of perfection, we must be careful with not only what we hear, but also what we choose to do with those words.  We can choose to savor, digest, and soak it in to raise ourselves up, or we can choose to protect, love, and build others up.  With God all things are possible.

Soaking in the advice,

jamie

Any love on this menu?

Pr. 15:17:  “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.”

I have been to dinners/breakfasts where there was some level of tension, although perhaps not pure hatred.  It is always an uncomfortable experience.  No matter what magnificent meal has been prepared, no matter what other company is present, or how pretty the table setting may be, the tension is so heavy that it makes the fork hard to lift.

Our accommodations during our family vacation last week were a nice 8-person tent.  Packing our car as lightly as possible meant that all meals were planned in advanced, dehydrated, and bagged for each day to ensure that they took up less space and were camp stove ready.  We didn’t have anything that would be considered gourmet, but those meals were some of the best of my life.  🙂

Because there were no distractions, we spent our meals playing games, enjoying beautiful views, laughing, and talking about our day and our plans.  Each meal, no matter what we ate, was wonderful.  (Even beyond the fact that everything tastes even better to me when eaten while camping)

I am thankful for a family full of love.  I am also thankful for the reminder that perfection is over-rated.  The most important thing in our lives, outside of God, is relationship.  When we focus on building and growing our relationships first, the menu just no longer matters.  It’s the experience that counts.

Planning some delectable relationship time for dinner tonight,

jamie

The flowing brook

Pr. 18:4:  “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.”

We are not born wise.  Just this morning, as my children began their day and sat down for breakfast and a Saturday morning TV show, my daughter was rude to my son 3 times in about 3 minutes.  Him making a noise was the reason she couldn’t count.  His coughing, with his mouth covered, meant he was coughing on her.  Her putting her finger in his face was just a joke.  Apparently this is the day when she is entitled and everything he does is absolutely wrong.

I had to remind her that her attitude was showing that her heart was not housing kindness or love, and invited her to pray about it and stop, or go back to bed.  She is still sitting at the table with us, so I am hoping that means that wisdom is taking over.  Time will tell.

There were a few verses in Pr. 18 that would have been appropriate with this situation, but I like this one best.  I like the positive note of this particular verse.

It is true that the words of our mouths come from deep places.  The deep, secret places of our hearts contain what we truly feel and believe.  Out of those places, flow the words we speak.  It is clear that deep in my daughter’s heart right now there are places of pride, selfishness, bitterness, and dishonesty.  Now, not to pick on my baby girl (who just yesterday offered to buy the same brother a new Batman sword as he cried over the pieces of the one he had just broken) the same could probably be said of any of us.  We are all imperfect in our flesh.  We live in a fallen, sin-cursed world and will not be perfect until the Lord makes all things new.

What is encouraging to me is that with time, experience, study, prayer, and teaching, we can become people whose hearts are filled with more and more of God.  As we read the Beatitudes over and over, we are reminded that the peacemakers, the merciful, the meek, and the pure are blessed.  Spending years of our lives in submission to God reminds us that He is ultimately in control and will fulfill our every need.  Filling our hearts with His love, His wisdom, His percepts, and His promises cleanses the deep places and purifies the waters.

As our hearts become more full of God and less full of ourselves, His wisdom can take over and the brook that will flow from our mouths will indeed be a wellspring of the wisdom deep inside.  If you’re not perfect today, take heart, each moment that you spend with God purifies you deep inside.  The wellspring within you grows purer and holds more Living Water.  Until we are made new, we will never be perfect, but God can use us now to be a wellspring for those around us.

Cheers!

jamie

 

 

Forgiving and forgetting

Pr. 17:9:  “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

Have you ever been in a relationship where you’ve been given a list of all the wrongs you’ve done throughout the entirety of the relationship?  Maybe its been 2 months, maybe its been 2 years, but the list seems to encompass every wrong you could possibly have committed.  This can happen in any type of relationship.  I’ve actually been given more than one list in my lifetime.  Apparently I’m wrong a lot.  Ha!

Of course, we all make mistakes.  We hurt others intentionally and unintentionally.  We can be inconsiderate.  Sometimes we are selfish.  Other times, actions or words are simply misunderstood, or the benefit of the doubt is not given.  Whatever the reason for the existence of strife in a relationship, there is a truth in this proverb that is important.

All types of relationships have discord of some type; however, there is a key element that will enable any relationship to prosper:  forgiveness.  If we are truly seeking love, we can choose to bear with one another, and forgive.

That’s the beauty of our relationship with our Father.  Not only does He forgive, but He also forgets.  Heb. 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  Is. 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

We were created with good memories.  It is not easy for us to forget grievances, but we can still forgive and choose not to dwell on the wrongs done to us.  Matthew 6:14-15 tells us something important about forgiveness:  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

While the Lord is more than willing to forgive, and certainly faithful to forget, our own offering of forgiveness determines whether or not He will do so.  It is not just good that we forget.  It is imperative!

We know that we aren’t perfect; however, sometimes we expect perfection from others around us.  It can be a co-worker, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, or a spouse.  Whoever it is, try to remember they’re not perfect either.  Whatever the relationship, forgiveness is the key.

If you’re the one not being forgiven, then look to your Savior who has not only forgiven, but forgotten.  He isn’t keeping a list of your wrongs, but has cast your sins as far as the east is from the west and will remember them no more.  There is One who seeks to show you love.  Jesus showed it on the cross.  The Holy Spirit shows it in His comforting.  The Father shows it in His faithful forgiveness.  You are loved…and forgiven.

Imperfectly,

jamie

Are you a murky spring?

Pr. 25:26:  “A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.”

Unfortunately, as Christians we do feel a little more pressure on us at times to be perfect; which is something we can never do.  What gets us into heaven?  Believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  There is only one way and His name is Jesus Christ.  Our actions do not get us there.  Our bank account does not get us there.  Our choice of clothing does not get us there.  Our volunteer role at church will not get us into heaven.  We have to believe in Jesus.

Why then does it matter what we do?  It matters because if we believe in Jesus, then out of our hearts will flow rivers of living waters.  Those rivers are the Holy Spirit who will then dwell within us, directing us to do God’s will.  When we believe in and love Jesus we are changed.  We become a new creation and the things that used to satisfy no longer do.  We are cleansed and renewed when we are born again into Christ and we realize that our purpose is much higher than us.  The Holy Spirit guides us in all things and brings to our remembrance the things of God.  The Holy Spirit cautions us and rebukes us when we are going to make a decision that will create a gap between us and the Lord.  The Lord cannot look upon sin.  The Holy Spirit is keeping us ever mindful of the things of God so that our lives will smell like Jesus.

When we do not heed the Holy Spirit’s direction and urgings, and we choose to sin and allow ourselves to be deceived, then we become a murky spring.  No longer do rivers of living water flow from us.  The waters that come from us are then murky and filled with confusion.  When we falter before the wicked, we are losing an opportunity to give them the Living Water.  We miss the chance to introduce someone to a Savior when we waver in our purpose.   The living waters flowing from us become contaminated with sin and tainted with deceit.  Is that what we want to offer to the lost around us?

There are people around us that will be lost to hell if not for us.  We are not called to be perfect.  We will never be perfect.  We are only even worthy because of the blood of Jesus.  However, we were called to live a life led by the Holy Spirit.  He is ever faithful to guide us into all truth.  He will keep us from the wrong paths if we but listen.  He will guide our steps if we will allow Him to lead and guide us.

Let’s trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.  There is one who knows all things, including the deep things of God.  We are blessed and privileged to have an ever-present guide on our walk.  Let’s allow Him to do the exact thing for which He was sent.  🙂  How amazing that God truly gave us everything we could ever need!  Thank you, Lord.  Truly no praise is high enough to express how great you are!  Now let’s let those living waters refresh and renew the lost around us!

Counting on Him,

jamie