Turn away and live!

Pr. 4:14-15: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

Oh, I have travelled on those paths too many times.  I want to remind us today that we are told to turn away and pass on.  There are good reasons for this.

Today happens to be the birthday of a dear friend of mine from back in high school.  Sadly, we can’t celebrate together because he passed away several years ago.

There was a night when he chose to take the wrong path.  He made some poor decisions with some friends.  Afterwards, when his judgment was impaired and his decision-making was affected, he chose to literally walk on the exact wrong path…a busy road, where he was hit and killed by a vehicle as he walked.

God’s warnings are for our protection.  He wants to protect us from the consequences of sin.  Satan always lies and tells us that there aren’t any.  He says that our decisions are our own and they won’t affect anyone else.  He convinces us that we can repent at a later time.

Friends, there may not be a later time! My friend did not have a later time.  He took the wrong path and he is gone.

Thanks to God’s grace, you and I have been given more time, another chance to turn away and pass on.  Let’s do that.  Let’s make that choice and be better off for it.  There is protection for us here and eternal life for us on the other side of this life!

In memoriam,

jamie

 

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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

That necklace is Perfect for you!

Pr. 1:8-9:  “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for the will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.”

Several years ago, when my sister-in-law began her journey with breast cancer, she sent out 7 necklaces.  Each necklace had a letter from the word JOURNEY.  I remember receiving mine in the mail and feeling the weight and privilege of it.  It felt very heavy because of the diagnosis and turmoil that I understood would accompany it; but it was a privilege because she entrusted me to pray with her, reach out to her, and be on her side along the way.

I wore my necklace every day and would sometimes touch it during the day, reminding myself of all she was going through, or facing in the future.  It was a great reminder for me of what was going on in her life.

Solomon compares hearing the instruction of your father and not forsaking the law of your mother to graceful ornaments on our head and chains about our neck.  I certainly don’t believe he meant heavy construction chains.  I believe he meant something more like that necklace my sister-in-law sent to me.  I believe he is saying to his son that the instructions and law would be good reminders for him throughout his life.  Those reminders would guide and protect him.

The entire law of God is the same way.  God does not place heavy chains upon us or bind us with His law.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  His precepts are like these graceful ornaments and chains of remembrance.  Heeding His instruction protects us, keeps us safe, and keeps us mindful of what is truly important.

We all need reminders.  Just as that necklace reminded me to pray for my sister-in-law, God’s instructions and laws remind me to be mindful of things above.  They remind me why I am really here, and what my purpose truly is.  They remind me whose I am.  They remind me that I am not alone on this earth.  I have a Father who has reached out to me and given me His Word to keep me safe and give me everlasting life.

God’s law reminds me that there is One who cares for me so much that He would set things in place to provide protection for me.  The instruction in His Word reminds me that He is aware of me and my needs.  He is my Provider, my Shepherd, my Deliverer, Healer, Help in time of need.  He is my everything.

It is good for us to heed the instruction and law of our Lord and Savior, and to “wear” them as reminders.  They will allow God to guide and protect us all the days of our lives.

Being reminded,

jamie

 

Are your walls secure?

Pr. 25:28:  “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

This verse causes me to think about Jericho.  The reason destruction of Jericho was amazing was that it’s walls made it basically impenetrable.  The walls were made of thick stone.  They were high.  They were well-guarded, and Joshua 6:1 says the gate was securely shut because of the children of Israel.

When a city is securely protected in this manner, it takes either an act of God or a well-planned attack by a heavily-armed battalion to get over or through those walls.

This verse tells us that when we have no rule over our own spirit that we are like a city broken down, without walls.

What happens when a city has no walls, or walls that have been broken down?  Invaders can enter and take over.  The defenses of the city are weakened.  Those inside the city are vulnerable to any type of attack.  Anyone or anything can come in to the city and do what they please.  Unwanted guests can make themselves at home or even take charge.

How is this like us?  When we have no rule over our spirit, we are vulnerable to attack.  When we are allowing ourselves to be ruled by our desires, passions, emotions, or those of others around us, we make openings for the enemy to attack.  He can make himself at home or even take charge of our lives and our decision-making process.

Boundaries in our lives are walls of protection.  Examples of boundaries:  refusing to watch movies with nudity; not ‘playing around’ with black magic; guarding ourselves against worldly teachings that exclude Jesus or His grace; deciding never to be alone in a bedroom with a member of the opposite sex (who is not our spouse); making a pact with ourselves to tell the truth no matter what; making time each day to read God’s word; only listening to songs that remind us of Christ if we have found that songs about worldly passions cause us to veer away from God.  The list could continue, but you get the point.

If we don’t have walls/boundaries in place ahead of time, we leave ourselves vulnerable to any type of attack that may come our way.  We do not have to give in to attacks, invasions, or temptations.  We can guard ourselves, and secure our gates so that we are not allowing just anyone or anything to take over.

When we rule our own spirits, we take charge.  We decide what we believe, do, say.  We do not allow whims to blow us about like the wind.  We stand firm on the foundation, which is Christ Jesus, and we stay put.

I feel the need to remind us that prayer, praise, and time in the Word are the things that fortify and strengthen our walls the most.  Without these our walls will crumble.

Fortifying my walls,

jamie

Who is protecting you?

Pr. 2:8:  “He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.”

Perhaps it is because I am reading through The Hobbit again, but this verse brings to my mind visions of dragons, trolls, goblins, rangers, and elves.

If you have never read the novels by J. R. R. Tolkien, let me introduce you to a character from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, named Aragorn.  He pledges himself to be the protector of a Hobbit (small man) named Frodo Baggins.  He guarded and looked after Frodo along some very dangerous paths.  Even near the end of the story, when Frodo was far from Aragorn’s reach, Aragorn was basing his decisions on what would help Frodo.

As outstanding and mighty as Aragorn is, his strength and protection can never match that of the Lord and Creator of the Universe.  When we walk uprightly, when we make decisions that keep us on paths of righteousness, God guards and protects us.

The Lord has pledged Himself to His children.  He is not only our Protector, but also our Refuge, our Strength, our Deliverer, our Restorer, our Provider.  He loves us so much that He even offered up His own Son to die for OUR sins.  (not His)  He does not desire that any of His children should perish, so protecting and caring for us, He made a way of grace for us to spend eternity in heaven with Him.

Ps. 94:14 tells us that the Lord will not forsake His inheritance.  He is always with us and always on our side.

Ps. 37:23-24 tells us even more:  “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”

We may fall while on the path (Frodo was stabbed by a poisoned blade under Aragorn’s watch), but the Lord is ever there to reach down, grab us, and pull us to safety.  He continues to protect and care for us.

Do not fear.  Continue to walk on the path of justice and righteousness.  God is ever by your side, guarding and protecting you until the very end.  He longs for us to be together for eternity.  He will do all He can for His children who desire the same.

Under His protection,

jamie

Storehouse of sound wisdom

Pr. 2:7:  “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly”

For the upright, the Lord has sound wisdom stored up.  Isn’t that reassuring?  Wisdom is stored up and ready for us to tap into it.  Ps. 94:12 tells us that, “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that you may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked.”  If we are instructed by the Lord, and not the world, we will have rest from the days of adversity, and not be in the pit of the wicked.

And when we walk in the Lord’s wisdom, honor, and holiness, not only will we stay out of the pit, but He will be a shield to us.  Ps. 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  1 Sam. 2:9 tells us, “He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness.”  He instructs us, is a shield to us, and guards our feet.  He will give grace and glory.

If we choose to walk with the Lord, to learn from Him, and to honor Him with our lives, He will keep us from the pit of darkness.  His wisdom will guide our thoughts, actions, and choices.  We will make choices that bring Him honor and glory and those choices will give us rest.  His protection will keep us safe from the consequences of wicked choices.

Receive instruction from the Lord through His Word.  Allow the Lord to be the One who teaches and instructs you.  That’s what I am desiring to do.  If I am instructed out of His law I will be blessed.  For the answers to my questions and the directions for my life, I will seek out the instructions of the Lord.  He is the One who will guard our feet, direct our paths, shield us, give us grace and glory, withhold no good thing from us, give to us out of the abundance of the wisdom He has stored up for us, and give us rest.

From what other source would we truly desire to receive knowledge?  No other source can offer us those things, and eternal life.  The Lord loves us and cares for us.  He created us with a future in mind.  He will help us along the path.  He will hold us up, protect us, and guide us.  Let’s make the decision to turn to Him for the answers we need.  His wisdom is better than any book or expert on this earth.

Shielded,

jamie

 

Obedience simply protects us

Pr. 9:11:  “For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”

For the 1st time in 4 weeks my house is calm and quiet at 5:45 a.m.  4 weeks ago we brought a puppy into our family.  When we got up in the morning, he wanted to be up, too.  Our calm mornings turned to playful chaos, as he required much attention.

Yesterday, our puppy died.  This morning the house is silent.  There was much sadness and mourning yesterday, and some sadness and pain will remain for a while.

Last night as we comforted the kids before bed, I couldn’t help but begin writing my blog in my head.  My daughter was in charge of the puppy when the accident took place, and is therefore blaming herself for his death.  Her heart is very broken and she is carrying a heavy weight of guilt.

The fact of the matter is that the puppy was being disobedient.  Yesterday, while I typed my blog inside, my daughter took him outside to potty.  I heard a commotion and when I walked outside, I saw that he and his leash had gotten away from her and she was trying to get him to obey and come back to her.  He would not.  It was during the commotion caused by his disobedience that the accident took place.

It reminds me of us.  When we go places we shouldn’t, and do things we know we shouldn’t do, it causes commotion and sometimes we are harmed.  Lots of people have died doing something they knew they shouldn’t be doing.  I have been harmed more than once when making a decision to do something or go somewhere I knew I shouldn’t.

Sometimes we think that our actions are isolated to ourselves, but that is just not the case.  When we are disobedient, the effects reach others around us.  The puppy’s disobedience affected my daughter as she tried to take proper care of him.  The puppy’s disobedience affected me, as I tried to help her get him to obey.

And then the accident…I knew right away that he was not ok.  We rushed him to the hospital, but he died several hours later.  The entire situation set the course for our day.  It affected us, as we dropped everything and rushed him to the hospital.  It affected my husband, as he rushed over to be with us.  It affected my parents, whose hearts went out to us, as they rushed over to offer comfort.  It affected the family and friends we text for prayers, as their hearts were touched and they prayed for us all.  We spent 4 1/2 hours, and a good amount of money trying to support this puppy who had made a bad choice and was now in a life or death situation.  After he died, we spent the rest of the day mourning, burying, and comforting.  Our entire day was shaped by 1 act of disobedience.

Today my daughter will wake up with the same guilt and blame taunting her innocent mind.  Her world has changed forever…all because the puppy chose to disobey.

When we make a choice to do something we know we shouldn’t, it can bring us much harm, possibly even death; and admit it or not, it affects those around us.  We will never be perfect; however, we can do our best to understand that most disciplines are for our own good.

Our parents didn’t give us rules to make us having boring lives.  They were striving to protect us from harm.  The Lord, likewise, doesn’t say, “thou shalt not steal” to make sure we can’t have what we want.  He is trying to protect us, and those around us, from the consequences of coveting and stealing.

Honoring our parents brings long life.  Dishonoring them can set a course in motion like the one our puppy set forth yesterday.  It’s all about keeping us wise and keeping us safe.  God love us dearly and wants the very best for us.  He gives us all that we need, and more, to have a whole life.  If we would just stop fighting, struggling, and rebelling against Him, we, and those around us, would all benefit.

A little long today, sorry, but I felt the application was worth noting.  I pray the Holy Spirit will turn my plethora of words into something inspiring.

Listening for the Holy Spirit’s to lead me onto right paths today, and praying you’ll do the same,

jamie