Are you listening to me!?

Pr. 10:26: “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.”

Have you ever had smoke from a fire get into your eyes?  I recently did, and it is extremely uncomfortable.  Not only that, but it set off a chain of events that caused more discomfort.  My eyes were irritated and watering, my nose began to run and become stuffy, and my throat began to hurt.

Does your mind link that with a lazy person not doing what you sent them to do?

As a parent, I understand that my kids are not necessarily lazy, but their lack of ‘following orders’ mirrors that of someone lazy on occasion.  My son will just keep moving and pretend he didn’t hear me.  My daughter will instantly begin to play with one of our 2 cats.

It does cause me a bit of discomfort when I realize they have no intentions of doing what I just asked.  Then I have to stop what I’m doing to give them a reminder.  “Oh yeah!,” they say, and then they move to do it.

Occasionally I find that, even though they moved at the 2nd command, they still aren’t doing what I’ve asked.  Now there is a bit of irritation.  If what they are supposed to do is something to help us get out the door to go somewhere, it does set off a chain of events that could definitely cause us to be late, or cause tension as we go, instead of peace.

What about when God asks us to do something?  Ouch!  You felt that one, didn’t you?  I know I did.

When God asks us to do something, do we act like we didn’t hear him?  Do we try to move on and hope He’ll forget what He just asked.  Maybe someone else can do it.  Do we just ignore it and begin to do something we’d rather do instead hoping He didn’t really mean it.  Do we say, “Ok, I’ll do it,” but then move on to the next distraction?  🐱

When we don’t obey our Father, we are acting like the lazy man.  We are irritating His plans, possibly causing a chain of reaction that makes what He was trying to accomplish more difficult.

Not only that, but we miss out on the opportunity to please our Father and to have peace.  I don’t know about you, but when I ignore His requests, it eats at me and I know I’m wrong.  It causes tension in our relationship.

What He asks us to do may not be on our personal list of priorities or on that bucket list we’ve created.  It may require a sacrifice of us, but His thoughts and ways are still higher than ours.  What He has planned is for someone’s good… maybe ours, maybe someone else’s.

Whatever it is, like a parent asking a child to do something, He has his reasons.  Let’s just trust Him and do it.

Listening,

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

 

Nourishment to complete the tasks

Pr. 19:27:  “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

It is easy for us to give in to busyness in this life, especially during this season of year.  There are so many things pulling at us each day.  We have countless responsibilities.  We are asked to help with many things from those around us.  We have personal things we want to do.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with being busy.  Currently, our “Christmas break” schedule is jam-packed with things to do.

The danger; however, is neglecting the only thing that really matters:  our relationship with God.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to put aside our time with God in an effort to get done all the things that are pulling at us.

Without God, though, we can do nothing.  He is our Strength.  He is our Provider.  He is the One who guides and directs us.  He is the One who instructs us.  If we put Him first, He will help us get done all the things we need to do, or He will direct us when we need to say no to certain things.

Because it is true that when we cease listening to instruction we are more likely to stray from the words of knowledge, we must be diligent and intentional in setting aside our time for the Word of God.

If we are going to choose to say no to something, we must make sure that something is not our time with God.  Above all else, we need to continue abiding in the Vine.  We must remain attached to Him, allowing Him to nourish and enrich us.  It is only abiding in Him that brings the fruit in our lives.

John 15:6 reminds us, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We cannot risk not abiding in Him.  Once we become unattached, we stray, and eventually fall away, being then cast out and withered.  After that, we see what happens.

It may seem like I’m being overly-dramatic, but I’ve seen it before.  Sometimes it only takes a few days for the enemy to cause us to become so distracted that we get out of the routine of making time with God our priority.  Once that takes place, we are vulnerable to his sway.  His sway will always lead us away from God.

During this season, during all the busyness, giving, and frivolity, we must protect our time with God and in His Word.  We must ensure that abiding in Him is at the top of our to-do list.  If we put Him first, all the rest will fall beautifully into place.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Let’s remain in Him,

jamie

Your choices reveal your true God

Pr. 21:16:  “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.”

When I began this blog, there was one thing I knew for certain.  I even shared it with my husband, so that he would hold me accountable.  I knew that if I ever began slacking off on writing posts, then most likely my priorities would be out of whack, and that I would need to get my relationship with the Lord back on track.  I haven’t been as constant with my blog this last week.  I apologize.

Fortunately, my relationship with the Lord will survive this one, as I have actually been pretty sick in body since last Tuesday and am just beginning to recover.  I spent 2 days completely unable to read and the rest reading through a fog.  My prayers were breathed between groans and naps, but are now a little more sensible.

There have been times in my life; however, when I have found myself putting my spiritual disciplines off so long that they eventually vanished.  It’s when we suddenly can’t find the time for our Bible reading, for studying the scriptures, for prayer, or for learning and accountability at church, that we are putting other things before the Lord and we are wandering off on a dangerous trajectory.

This scripture reminds us that when we wander from the way of understanding, that trajectory will lead us straight to the assembly of the dead.  We don’t like to think about that.  We like to think God understands all the things we have going on and is intelligent enough to know that there is only so much we can do with 24 hours.

God; however, asked us to seek first His kingdom, promising that if we did, He would meet all our needs.  All those other things we have to do…God will be the One to help us complete them if we simply put Him first.  The math doesn’t make sense to us, but its a truth of the Lord, and His ways are not our ways.

God also told us to have no other gods before Him.  When we don’t have time for prayer, what is it that we are finding more important than our time with God?  It hurts to realize that the thing you put before Him has now become a god in your life.  If we find there just isn’t time to read the Word, thinking there are just too many other things that require our attention, then we have put those other things before Him.  We have made idols of the minute and random things on our schedule.

I know.  This hurts to think about.  We so easily justify our actions, thinking our excuses can cover the truth.  The truth; however, is that when we begin putting off our relationship with God, we will eventually find rest from our schedule…in the assembly of the dead.  We just can’t afford to wander from understanding, and Pr. 9:10 clearly tells us that understanding is “the knowledge of the Holy One.”

We must make time to continue in His Word and His presence.  He will take care of our schedule, and we will find that we actually have more joy, peace, strength, and patience to handle all that comes our way when the Holy Spirit is the One in control.  Don’t wander off!

Happy to be back in the Word,

jamie

 

 

Sometimes its good to be selfish

Pr. 19:8:  “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good.”

It’s ok to worry about your own soul.  It’s wonderful to make the time to take care of your self.  Feeding yourself wisdom and finding a way to maintain your understanding will bring you good and the benefits will be beyond measure.  Allow the Lord to feed you wisdom through any means He can, and then keep it close to you.  Pray over it, dwell on it, cultivate it, study it even more, and allow it to grow into true understanding.

God is meant to be our foremost priority in this life.  Putting Him and His kingdom first will cause Him to keep His word that all your needs will be taken care of.  (Mt. 6:33)  Building on the solid rock of the Lord will cause us not to fall.  (Mt. 7:24-25)  Spending time with the Lord will ensure that Jesus knows us on the day of judgment.  (Mt. 7:21-23)

It’s ok to love your soul enough to intentionally seek as much wisdom, knowledge, and understanding as you can.  It is good to yearn for your time alone with God.  (Ps. 84:2)  Be selfish enough to make time just for you and God.  Putting Him first will ensure that He will take care of everything else.

Selfishly,

jamie

A common goal?

Pr. 12:26:  “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever found yourself distracted, unfocused, or less concerned about the things of Christ.  I have.  Like waking out of a deep sleep, my eyes have opened at times to find myself wandering, focusing on myself, involved in things that shouldn’t have been a priority.

I can honestly say that I have realized that it was during those times that the people with which I was most surrounding myself were good people, fun people, but usually not people whose priority was to serve the Lord.  Typically it was the kind of company that kept me so busy that I no longer made the appropriate amount of time for my relationship with the Lord.

Certainly those friends weren’t controlling me, my choices, or my calendar, but there were such entertaining things of the world surrounding me that, without realizing it, I simply lost focus.  Jesus was friends with sinners, so how is it that He kept His focus so well?

He never lost sight of the reason He was here by focusing on God’s will. (John 6:38)  He also made time to get away for prayer.  Over and over we see Jesus getting away from distractions and from “the crowd” to have intentional time in conversation with His father.

Another thing Jesus did was to surround Himself with those who were willing to follow Him.  His disciples gave everything up in order to follow the Messiah.  He ate with tax-collectors, healed the sick, and spoke with the Pharisees, but the only people with whom He found Himself intimate, were those who had a heart to follow the Lord.

The apostle Paul did the same.  This morning I read Romans 16.  I wanted to skim over it, but came back to it after I read this Proverb.  Paul is greeting his brothers and sisters in Christ.  He has an army of Christ followers with whom he is close and it is clear that he nurtures those relationships above all others.

We need to surround ourselves with others who believe in whom we believe to build us up, help us in times of need, and work alongside us to help us all accomplish the common purpose for which we were created.  I have experienced this, and last night heard someone else speaking about how our brothers and sisters in Christ are often closer to us than our own family.  In the flesh this saddens us, but in the spiritual realm this is because we have a common purpose, goal, and Savior.  It is good to have a family of believers with whom we can surround ourselves and who can keep us focused on the things that really matter.

In Him,

jamie

 

Look straight ahead

Pr. 4:25:  “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.”

I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we are supposed to be looking at one thing, but we really want to look at something else.  A friend or family member wants us to admire something they’ve done, but we keep looking at our phone.  Our child has something to show us, but we keep glancing at our book or our show.  The pastor is preaching, but we are watching the people a few rows over.  We’re supposed to be watching the road, but something on the side of the road looks more interesting.

Our world has so many distractions for us that it is easy to get caught up in them.  This proverb tells us to keep our eyes straight ahead.  With so many options, how can we do that?  We must find solid priorities and remember them.  My pastor has done a blog series on narrowing down the things you Must do in life and weeding out the rest.  ( pastorkemp.com )  It has been very valuable to me as I have tried to narrow the focus of my life.

Where should we look?  Well, that depends.  First we should look to God.  First we must seek His face, His Word, and His will for our lives.  We must align ourselves and our priorities with His call on our lives.  Next we use what we’ve discovered in His presence to figure out what things we must do to complete the work for those priorities.  Those are the things we need to focus on every day.  Those are the things require us to look straight ahead.  If your priorities involve your spouse, then don’t look away.  If your priorities involve your children, do not become too distracted.  Whatever your “must do’s” are, do them first.

When you’re on your death-bed and looking back on your life will it be the distractions that you look back and remember?  No.  It will be the things that should have been your priority.  After you’ve determined your priorities, make sure your eyes are straight ahead.  Do not let the distractions of this life rob your priorities of your full attention.  Those distractions aren’t even worth remembering.

Focusing in,

jamie