How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

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Lessons from ol’ Eb

In Jeremiah 38, we find Jeremiah cast into a dungeon, meaning he had to be lowered down with ropes; and the Bible says there was no water, but mire, and Jeremiah sank in the mire.  Jeremiah is in a bad situation.

Someone found out about this.  He was a eunuch in the king’s house, named Ebed-Melech.  We’ll just call him Eb, for short.

Jeremiah was a prophet, which means he normally had some respect, but right now he is sinking in mire, in a place where he had to literally be lowered down with ropes.  Yikes!  Not much respect here.  Eb goes to the king and says, “My lord the king, these men have done evil..to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is.  For there is no bread in the city.”

The king commands Eb to take 30 men with him to go lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon before he could die.  So, the men got some old rags and clothes and lowered them down into the dungeon on some ropes and told Jeremiah to put them under his armpits, under the ropes, and then they pulled him up, and hopefully fed the man and let him get cleaned up a little.  (I don’t know…it doesn’t say that part)

There are people in our lives right now that feel as though they are sinking the mire.  Are we taking the time out of our lives to send down the ropes and pull them out?  It’s ok if we need to get some others to go with us.  Eb took 30 men with him.  If you’re too insecure or uncertain to do it alone call for back up!  But never leave someone sinking if you know they’re there.  Pull them out before they can die…emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

I also love the care they took with Jeremiah.  They considered his weakened state and sent down some old rags and clothes for him to put under his armpits before having him put the ropes under his arms before they pulled him back up.  When we are helping people, it’s ok to take a little extra care and not always assume “tough love” is the immediate best plan.

There are also people around us who need to be literally fed or given some water.  Perhaps you can help with that.  If so, please do.  Maybe you don’t have all the resources, but like Eb, you know someone who does.  Talk to them.  See if they can help, and maybe you can even pitch in and help like ol’ Eb did.  Don’t just watch someone suffer and do nothing.  Pr. 3:27 says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.”

Thanks for these great reminders today Eb!  You were a stand up guy!

Look for someone around you that may need some help today,

jamie

 

Who are you?

Pr. 31:30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

We have to be careful where we get our sense of identity.  Is it in the image we see in the mirror, the compliments of others, the likes we get on social media?  Perhaps we even get our identity from another person, like our spouse, sibling, boyfriend, or girlfriend?

As this scripture says, charm and beauty are passing, so we certainly can’t rely on our looks as our sense of identity.  I’m not sorry to say to you that it doesn’t matter how beautiful or handsome you are, if you aren’t that way on the inside then it’s truly all for naught.  Maybe no one has told you that lately.

Having all the followers possible on social media or only 10, or losing friends in the real world, should still not be the way we figure out who we are.

Our sense of identity runs deeper than that.  It is who we truly are.  Do you know who you are or do you let others opinions and actions determine that for you?

We cannot allow anyone but our Father and Creator tell us who we are.  He had a plan for us at the beginning, and as a potter shapes clay, He is molding and shaping us over time into the person we are to be.

Daily, we change and grow, but always we are in His righteous right hand, and since He is the author and finisher of our faith, He is the One we should look to for the answer to who we truly are.

We will find out who we are when we spend time with our Father, in His word, in prayer, and in worship.  If you’ve been believing lies about yourself or feeling “less than” or even “more than” about yourself lately, spend some time with the Lord and He will give You a true sense of your identity.  He will let you know who you are in Him, and guide you on the path He has for you.

He has plans for us if we are only willing to accept them and trust Him enough to give in.

What’s it to be?  Who will you trust today?

jamie

Here is a song to get you started in worship.  Go to the Word next…

 

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.

Where’s my path?

Pr. 4:18: But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

If we want our paths to be made clearer, so that we know which direction to go, it is possible.  If we seek for our paths to be increasingly brighter, it can happen.

I recall the days of my youth, and even days not so many years ago, when I was increasingly restless, always uncertain about what I should do or what God’s will was for me.  It seemed that I was always searching for direction.

Those who are “just” are those on whom justice has been assigned, through the righteousness of Christ.  It was through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that we are made just.

Once we accept Him and begin consistently turning to Him as our source of direction, we will find our path.  As this scripture tells us, that path will then begin to shine ever brighter as we continue to look to Him for that direction.

We won’t get the answers we need anywhere else but in Him and His Word.

If your path has been growing dim lately, look to Him.  If it has become overgrown, reach out for Him.  If you’ve lost the path altogether, call out for Him!  He is there!

On my path,

jamie

Are you with him?

Do we really need to read our Bibles, pray, worship, spend time with God?  Does that stuff actually matter?  Does it make us saved?  Does it change anything?

Things I’ve heard lately:  “How do I know if I’m saved?”  “I don’t need to raise my hands in worship.  God knows how I feel.”  “I don’t need to read my Bible, I feel saved.”

Now, let me be clear right up front.  John 3:16 says whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life.  It says if we believe, then we are saved.  I will never say that anyone is not saved if they don’t perform.  The Lord indeed knows our hearts.

However, when Jesus told people to follow Him, He would ask them to give things up.  Some gave up families, jobs, and homes.  He asked the rich, young ruler to give up his wealth.  And he always told people to repent.  He never said that anyone could just go on sinning.  He very clearly told the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.”

We don’t believe in Jesus without knowing Him and if we truly know Him then we understand that He is not ok with us just living any kind of way we want.  No, He doesn’t expect us to come to Him in a perfect state.  What He does expect is that we spend time with Him and allow Him to change us, mold us, and grow us into the person He wants us to be.

How does this happen?

I can say that I’m married to my husband, but if I never spend time with him, how can I know him?  If I don’t have conversations with him, then I will never learn anything about him.  If we never spend time together, then we won’t grow closer together.  What if I live somewhere else and choose to maybe call him twice a year?  What kind of relationship would we have then?

And if we told you we were married, but we were never affectionate, we never saw each other outside of the church, never talked outside of the church, and didn’t even write letters or emails to one another or read each others writings, then would you really believe we belonged to one another?

Worship (being affectionate to God) is an outward way to show that we know Him, we are grateful for His blessings, and that we believe in Him.  No, it is not required, but if you’re in a relationship with someone, isn’t affection usually expected?

Reading your Bible is the way you get to know God more.  It isn’t required, but the Bible is our sword!  It gets us right into the heart of God.  It is how we grow and change.

Prayer is the way we get to talk to God.  We are blessed to be able to speak directly to Him.  Prayer is our lifeline to God.

Cultivating our relationship with Jesus is what grows us and helps others to see that we belong to Him.  Then we become a true disciple for Him.

Follow Him,

jamie

 

 

On their behalf

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about how we should show love to those in pain and trials and not offer judgment and accusations, in the way that Job’s friends did.  I also mentioned how we can pray for those we know who are in pain.  I wanted to talk more on that today, because that is probably the one of the most important things we can do, and yet sometimes we neglect it.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we find the record of Jesus and a centurion.  The centurion’s servant was lying at home paralyzed, and in terribly agony and pain.  (Some versions of the Bible say he was dreadfully tormented.  yikes!)

The centurion came to Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant.  This story is powerful in so many ways.  If you haven’t read it in a while, or ever, I encourage you to read it.

The centurion knew, and acknowledged that Jesus was powerful enough that He need only speak the word and His servant could be healed.  He didn’t even require that Jesus come to his home to do it.  He knew Jesus could do it from right where He stood.

And this is the part I want to stress:  The centurion’s faith alone was great enough that Jesus marveled at it.  (vs. 10)  The servant’s faith was never called into question.  Perhaps his was just as great.  Maybe it wasn’t.  All we know is that the centurion interceded on the servant’s behalf, and that the servant was healed that same hour.

We are called not only to love our neighbors as ourselves, but also to pray for one another that we may be healed. (Ja. 5:16)

Unless they’ve told us it’s the case, we never need to tell someone that they aren’t being healed or delivered from their trial because their faith isn’t strong enough.  We need to intercede on their behalf.  We never need to accuse someone of being sick or in trials due to sin, but we need to pray for them.

What the centurion did on his servant’s behalf is an excellent example of how we should live.  Job, as well, before his children died, offered up offerings to the Lord just in case his children had sinned.  These are excellent examples of people who are going to the Lord on behalf of others.

Not everyone will be healed.  Is that hard to hear?  God has plans for people that sometimes do not include healing, because He uses people in so many different ways.  But that should never stop us from asking.  We do not know His plans.  We need to ask.  We need to seek.

Above all, though, what we need to seek, for ourselves and for each other, is a relationship with Him, which will keep us calm in every storm, every trial, and every sickness.

Let’s be interceders and never accusers,

jamie