Don’t understand?

Pr. 3:5:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

Last week I lost a friend to suicide.  How do you line that up with your faith?

Just like anything else.  Keep trusting in the Lord.  In this life we will have trials.  Although God’s plans for us are good, we live in a sin-cursed world where disease and sin have tainted things.  Sin brought in death and disease.  Sin brought in meanness, evil intentions, cruelty, and poison.  The life we live in this temporary place will have trials and pain, but God can turn every pain and trial around for good.

Joseph’s brother’s plotted to kill him, but instead threw him in a well and sold him into slavery.  He was falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned, forgotten.  But of all of the things that were meant for evil in his life, Joseph said, “God meant it for good to save many people.”  And he was right.

This morning I was reading about all the apostles of Christ that were mocked, scourged, homeless, sawed in half, tormented, etc.  (Heb. 11:32-40)  It was said that they did it that they may receive a better resurrection.  Paul, as well, was shipwrecked, snake-bitten, imprisoned, and had a thorn in his flesh that the Lord would not remove.  The Bible says he accepted that gladly for the promise of the power of Christ upon him.

How in the world can we accept suffering, pain, or trials?  How can we make it through these dark times in our lives?  By trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding.

It doesn’t make sense to us when the pain comes.  But the Word says that His ways are not our ways.  Perhaps, like Joseph, He is going to make something beautiful come from our pain.  Death and suffering don’t come naturally to us, but God has sent us the Comforter.  God supplies for our needs.  He comforts.  He gives joy and peace in the storms and trials of our lives.  When the storms come, He is the One in which we can take refuge.

The Lord is the One who provides the peace that surpasses all understanding which guards our hearts and minds when we pray to him in our times of anxiety.  The Lord is the One who shows Himself strong for us when we remain loyal to Him.  The Lord is the One whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.  It is the Lord in which we need to continue to trust.  He will be as faithful tomorrow as He was in the beginning.  He does not change.

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness, in which we can place our trust and our hope!

jamie

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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

Wisdom at the door

Pr. 8:3: “She [wisdom] cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors”

Historically, the gates of the city were not just a wall with a big, guarded door.  The gates were where business was conducted.  There were rooms and levels, benches and seats.  The elders of the city would gather there to discuss legal matters.  Kings would have their thrones at the gate.  Purchases would be made.

It was at the city gate that Abraham purchased Sarah’s cave in which he would bury her.  (Gen 23, see vs. 18)  The city gate is also where Boaz spoke before 10 of the elders of the city and Ruth’s closest relative, in order to redeem her.  Ruth 4:11, “And all the people who were at the gate, and all the elders, said, “We are witnesses.”  It was also in the city gate that King David sat after Absalom died, to reassure his people that all was well.  (2 Sam. 19:8)

In Abraham’s blessing from the Lord, He said, “And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.”  (Gen. 22:17)  We can now see that this was a very important part of the blessing because we see the importance of the city gate.  The city gate was the heart of the city.  It was the gate of the city that enemies aimed to overtake when conquering other cities.

What is our city gate?  We could say it is where our government gathers.  So then, does wisdom still cry out there?  We must pray that she will be heard there.  Our job is to stop complaining, get on our knees and pray that she will be heard in the city gate of our government.

Is the city gate our home?  Is wisdom being heard in our homes?  What are we allowing in the doors of our homes?  What do we track in?  What are others bringing in?  Who are we allowing entrance that we shouldn’t?  Is anyone or anything else sneaking in?  We must be on watch.  Wisdom is still crying out.  We must pray that she can be heard.

Perhaps the city gate is our bodies.  After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Temples have doors.  We must listen as wisdom cries out to protect what we are allowing in our temple.  What are we watching on our iPads, phones, televisions and computers?  What are we drinking?  What are we consuming?  What exactly are we doing with our bodies/His temple?  Wisdom is still crying out.  Can you hear her?

We cannot allow wisdom’s voice to be drowned out at the city gate, at the entrance of the doors.  In fact, we need to stop, and ask for wisdom’s advice before opening the doors.  Are we brave enough?

Let’s keep guard,

jamie

Keep walking

Pr. 6:28: “Can one walk one hot coals, and his feet not be seared?”

The answer to that is yes.  You actually can walk on hot coals and have your feet not be seared.  There is a very important thing to know about walking on coals, however.  You cannot linger.

The scientific explanation is that coal and ash are not good conductors of heat, so if you simply walk at a moderate pace across the coals, you will be fine.  If you linger you will give the coals and ash enough time to conduct the heat to your skin and you will be burned.

On this earth, we have many temptations.  We cannot escape them.  They are all around us.  Temptations are not sin.  However, when we are faced with them, we cannot linger.  Once we linger, that is when we will be seared.

Paul warned the Ephesians not to let their understanding be darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance in them and blindness of their heart; becoming past feeling, giving themselves over to lewdness [being sexual or lustful in an offensive way], to work all uncleanness with greediness.

All the words that are the result of being seared are the ones that I marked in bold.  Once we have given in to temptation and lingered there, our understanding is darkened.  We become ignorant, our hearts become blind and we become past feeling.  In Hebrews 3:12, the author says we should, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Sin is deceitful.  It sears our hearts, our sensibilities, our morals, and our consciences, just as coals would sear our feet if we would linger.

We cannot linger near temptation.  It may seem harmless.  It may seem tolerant.  It may seem appetizing or cathartic.  We may even be convinced that we deserve it.  Those are lies from the enemy.  If we linger, we will be seared.  That is a fact.

“For in that He [Jesus Christ] Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  Heb. 2:18

All we have to do is ask Him for that aid that He has readily available to us.  He understands temptation and He is able to aid us when we are faced with it ourselves.  He took the shame and the painful death on the cross so that we don’t have to suffer the searing pain of sin.  He wants to help.

Don’t linger.

jamie

Can your mind be read?

Pr. 23:7:  “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Sometimes we trick ourselves into believing that our thoughts can’t harm anyone.  No one knows about them, after all.  We can think what we want, no one will be the wiser, and we can put on whatever face for others that we need to.

The truth is, however, that our thoughts will eventually show.  Maybe it’s the way we react to someone or something.  Maybe it’s the way we greet someone. Perhaps it’s a choice we make that when our guard is down.

Most often, though, our thoughts break out in our words.  It can happen at any time.  In fact, in Luke 6:45, Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

We may be able to fake it for a while, but what is really in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths.  This is why we must feed ourselves good things.  Paul told the Philippians to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, and that have virtue.  Those things will definitely put good treasure within our hearts.  When that happens, then the abundance that comes out of our mouths won’t be anything we should have to worry about.

What has been coming out of your mouth or been typed by your fingers?  Those things are coming from the abundance of your heart.  They are indicators as to what your heart is full of.

So what do you think in your heart?  That is who you are.  Is that statement upsetting?  Perhaps this is the time to begin meditating on new things. The word of God is a good place to start.

It’s like when the indicator light is on in our car.  We know it’s time to get something fixed.  It happens.  We all have to examine the indicators in our lives from time to time.  We just need to be responsible enough to admit that something needs fixed.

We can then go boldly to the throne of grace in our time of need and find the mercy and grace we need to help to make the changes that need to be made.  The Lord can renew our minds and create within us clean hearts once again.

Renewed,

jamie

Why become wise?

Pr. 7:4:  “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin.”

Wisdom is a wonderful thing.  We should always be striving to become more wise.  Wisdom brings with it things like prudence, diligence, discretion, respectfulness, humility, boldness, confidence, intelligence, ability, understanding and reason.  These are definitely qualities that are wonderful for us to have in this life.  Wisdom can help us be successful in our ventures, maintain and cultivate healthy relationships, and keep us from making choices that will endanger our lives.

It’s interesting; however, that Paul told the Corinthians that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  Does that mean we shouldn’t try to become wise?  Does that mean we shouldn’t grow and learn?  Of course not!  God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities.  Not only that, but He has given us each different capacities for learning and different interests that He has intended for us to use in pursuit of the eternal goal.

We all have something different to offer this world.  Paul reminds us that God did not call many wise or mighty people.  He has chosen the foolish and weak things to bring Him glory.  I for one am weak.  (I didn’t want to admit to being foolish.  ha!)  Truly I am weak, though, and indeed foolish in many ways.  I am not the wisest or mightiest.  Paul himself said to the Corinthians,

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

That’s it.  He didn’t come to them in his own wisdom and power, but in God’s.  And why?  That their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  That’s exactly what our own weakness and foolishness can show in our lives.  When we think in worldly terms, we think of those things only as pure weakness.  Think of it the way this way, though.  When the weakest person gets up and allows God’s Spirit and power to use them in a mighty way, how much more powerful is that for us to witness?

If you know someone is barely able to walk or speak or move, but, under the power of the Spirit, they begin to shout, jump, or minister to people, is that not an amazing thing to witness?  If you hear someone who is mentally handicapped in any way begin to speak in a way that inspires and encourages and glorifies the Lord, is that not a power thing?  It is.

Our weaknesses are not weaknesses when we use them to glorify the Lord.  Yes, we should still strive for wisdom, but let it be through God’s strength as we rely on Him and His Spirit to guide us.  Let us allow Him to use us as a vessel that brings Him glory!

Foolishly,

jamie

Clothing choices

Pr. 31:25:  “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.”

Strength and honor are her clothing.  This is such an interesting verse to me.  I like the idea of being clothed with strength and honor.  What a beautiful attire.

I am not strong in body, but with God I can absolutely be strong in spirit.  It is the Lord that gives me strength.  It is in my weakness that the Lord perfects His strength within me.  It is the Holy Spirit that empowers and equips me.  The Lord, alone, is my strength; for nothing is impossible with Him.  No matter what this life brings, the knowledge that the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me gives me such strength that I can continue forward, in His care.

Honor can come in many ways.  When we do what we say we will do, we are being honorable: keeping promises and commitments, following through, showing up.  Telling the truth is honorable, especially if we can also understand that sometimes truth needs to be delivered in a loving and kind way.  (Sometimes the truth can hurt)  Treating others kindly and respectfully shows them honor, and thus brings honor back to ourselves.  I could go on and on.

Honor is a beautiful accessory to our wardrobes, for sure.  It is something we can ask the Lord to continue to grow in our lives.  I think it is something akin to holiness, which is never out of style.

“She will rejoice in time to come.”  When we have been wearing such beautiful things in our lives, of course when we look back over our lives we will rejoice.  What a wonderful legacy we will have been leaving behind us.  What beautiful footprints we will have laid down in which others can safely follow.  What a glorious testimony we will have given; one of glory to our God and trust in the One who gave us strength to make it through.  🙂

I can’t help but smile as I think about it.  The clothes in my closet certainly won’t bring any level of satisfaction at the end of my life, but this strength and this honor…Oh, Lord, let it be.  Help me, daily, Lord, to wear the attire that has been described in this verse.  I want to honor You above all, Father, and to bring glory to Your name.  I want to be able to show that it was by Your strength that I was able to do things that would have otherwise been impossible.  Help us all, Lord, in the matchless name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Richly clothed,

jamie