Integrity? Or just the appearance of it?

Pr. 10:9:  “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.”

Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

It is important to have moral principles and live an upright life, but if it something that is only for appearance, then we’ve erred.

Jesus spoke to the ‘religious’ people, the scribes and Pharisees, about their own integrity.  Outwardly, they gave the impression that they were full of integrity and religion.

Jesus pointed out to them; however, that they were missing the fundamental things of Him:  justice, mercy, and faith.  Their ways had become perverted, and Jesus made it known.

Maybe others cannot, but the Lord can see past the surface into the truth of our hearts.  And a relationship is a choice that is made on the inside.

We can say we have a boyfriend or girlfriend.  We can wear a necklace that bears their name, change our status on Facebook, tell everyone we know all about them.  If we are still secretly dating other people; however, the truth is we have not made the choice to be in a true relationship.

When we have a relationship with God, it is what is truly in our hearts that matters.  No amount of cross necklaces, church attendance, or declarations will replace the decision to turn our lives over to Him alone.

God doesn’t want us to pretend we have a relationship with Him anymore than another person would want us to do that with them.  He is worth us making the choice to truly choose Him and devote ourselves to investing in our relationship with Him.

That’s the integrity that brings security:  security in knowing that God is for us, with us, and that eternal life is ours!

In a relationship,

jamie

 

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Not all traditions are bad

2 Thessalonians speaks of one who will come in deceit, proclaiming to be God.  Paul reminds the church that they were called by the gospel, for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He urges the church to stand fast and hold the traditions which we were taught, so as not to be deceived.

Religious traditions get a bad rap, and sometimes rightfully so.  God did not call us to ‘religion’, but to Him.  We can clearly read that Jesus didn’t care for men’s religious rules, but for true worship and belief.

On the other hand, some traditions are pivotal in keeping us as a true follower of Christ.  How can we follow someone we don’t know?  Reading our Bible opens our hearts and minds to truly know the Lord.  How can we have a relationship with someone with whom we don’t speak?  Praying keeps us humble before the mighty God, and open to asking for His own will in our lives.  Prayer reminds us who it is upon which we depend.

Pr. 1:3 reminds us that the traditions of prudence, knowledge, and discretion are located in God’s Word, and are also very beneficial to us.  “To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

There are deceitful teachings around us that call discretion ‘out-dated’, prudence ‘old fashioned’, and knowledge of God’s Word ‘unnecessary and narrow-minded.’  The Lord reminds us through Paul; however, that some ‘traditional’ things will keep us from being deceived by one who is not the Living God.  We were called to believe in the truth, and traditions that enhance our belief are beneficial.

I’m not telling anyone to get busy keep man’s rules.  I’m encouraging us to hold tightly to the things remind us of the truth of God’s Word, and keep us close to Him.  Those are the things that just might save our lives.

Stand fast,

jamie

Should we run or stand by?

Pr. 28:18:  “Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved, but he who is perverse in his ways will suddenly fall.”

I saw a remarkable sight a few weeks ago while we were on vacation in the mountains.  While sitting on the porch eating dinner one evening, I noticed a deer eating at an apple tree across the way.  My family and I watched the doe as she ate.  It was a nice, quiet evening, and she seemed to be as relaxed as us.

A cousin of mine was spending that same week up there mowing grass, and as we watched the deer eating under his apple tree, we could hear his tractor coming up the rocky road toward his house.  I watched to see how quickly the doe ran away, but as I watched, I saw an illustration instead.

As my cousin’s tractor got near to his house, the doe simply watched him and kept chewing.  He and his tractor were less than 50 ft. from her.  She was slightly more alert, but was certainly not sprinting away.  He stopped, left his tractor running, went inside and grabbed a jacket, and drove off to do more mowing.  All the while, the doe simply watched.

Later that evening, I told him how amazed I was that this happened.  He said it happens all the time.  As he mows, he sees all kinds of wildlife.  They have become so used to him that as long as his tractor is running, they don’t move, but if he turns the tractor off they bolt.

This made me think of how easily we can become so used to dangers around us that in their presence we continue to feel safe.  My cousin, if he were so inclined, could easily take a rifle with him and shoot himself a deer while he’s on the tractor, knowing they wouldn’t run.

The same could happen to us.  Just because most movies and television shows have inappropriate sexual scenes in them, and we can become used to them, doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous to us spiritually.  Finding ourselves becoming comfortable in company that is putting pleasure first may not seem very dangerous, but without a doubt we will find ourselves putting pleasure first after a while.  Decorating our homes with trinkets from other religions just because they’re pretty, might seem harmless, but they invite the enemy to become comfortable in our homes.

There are so many examples I could use.  The point is that we cannot allow ourselves to become so used to sin and danger around us that we simply stand by and watch it become the norm in our lives.  We must remember that sin is dangerous and when it comes driving up that rocky road toward us, we must bolt.

Just being used to sin doesn’t make it safe.  At some point, we will fall.  At any time, the enemy can take out his rifle and fire a shot that proves it’s too late to run.

We must be on guard, and even in the presence of dangerous things that seem unthreatening, we must continue to flee and walk blamelessly on our way.

Standing ready to bolt,

jamie

Which way?

Pr. 16:25:  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

This verse is so fitting in our world.  Although, it has been since time began.  Didn’t satan twist words just so to coerce Eve into believing the way she was taking was right?  Certainly its end was the way of death.

Today, he is still doing the same.  He twist words to make them sound right.  Sure, there may be some truth in the words he whispers, but is it THE truth?  The Word of God reveals the truth of Jesus who is THE WAY, the truth, and the Life.

It is an imperative that we verify our path by the Word of God.  The way we’re headed may seem right, but is it truly?  In order to end up with eternal life, we must go by way of Jesus Christ.  All other ways, even as right as they may seem, lead to death.  Find the true Way.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Mt. 7:13-14

Walking slowly,

jamie

Do you have the heart for it?

Pr. 17:16:  “Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?”

After determining to go “chemical free” with all the products that touch my skin, I have recently been experimenting with herbs to replace my former chemical shampoo and conditioner.  This has taken a lot of research and a lot of fun chemistry experiments in my kitchen to discover the best way to prepare them.

To be perfectly honest, I am not convinced that my hair is clean at all.  I am not, however, quite ready to throw in the towel.  Perhaps I will end up with a different recipe, or with a bottle of store-bought, all natural shampoo, but for now my stubborn, choleric personality has kicked in, and I am determined to make this work.  I will not give up without a fight.

This verse reminds me of my current situation.  How so?  Well, I could buy as many herbs as I want.  I could line them up in beautiful bottles on the shelf and show them off to everyone who comes into my home.  I could tell everyone I can find about the wonderful herbs I bought for my hair.  Oooh…I could join some fancy ‘herb club’ or get a discount plan for the best herb shop I can find.  I could even show them off as I make my rounds through town.

If I never put them to use; however, there is no point in even spending the money or the time on them.  It would be foolish.

We can buy as many Bibles, study guides, and concordances as we want.  We can join the best church around.  We can wear our church gear, put our church stickers on our cars, show off our Bible apps to everyone we see, and even talk about all the great outreaches we know about.

If we never put any of those things to use; however, there is no point.

Why have a Bible and not use it?  Why join a church and not attend?  Why wear the gear or sport the logos if you’re not committed?

When we determine to become truly invested in the wisdom that comes from God, and set our minds to learn more of Him; that is when we are no longer counted a fool.  We must get into the Word.  We must turn our hearts into a “chemistry lab” where God can create something new within us.

We must continue and not give up.  That’s when we know we have a heart for it:  when we won’t allow anything to stop us from learning more and we will stubbornly continue, not allowing setbacks, failures, or greasy situations to get us off track.

The Lord has so much to offer.  If we not only get the purchase price in hand, but also set our hearts toward Him and continue with Him the rewards will be beyond measure!

Washing my hair in faith,

jamie

Find wisdom

Pr. 3:13:  “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.”

In Mark 12:38-40, Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the scribes.  He said they were people whose religion was for show.

Verse 28; however, introduces us to a scribe who came to Jesus and asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  After Jesus answered him, the scribe told Jesus, “Well said, Teacher.  You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.  And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Certainly this scribe had gained understanding.  For the wisdom he found, Mark 12:34 says, “Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.'”

What happier knowledge is there than that you are not far from the kingdom of God?

It is ok for us to ask questions of God.  It is ok for us to seek wisdom in His Word and search for the answers.  Through Him, we gain the wisdom and understanding that we need.  Knowing the truth, knowing who He really is, knowing His nature keeps us from religion that is just for show.  Knowing God leads to loving God, and loving God leads to humble and willing submission to Him.

The most amazing and mind-boggling thing about God is that good works do not impress Him.  He is not interested in our outward appearances or performances.  He does not require that we strive for perfection.  God simply desires that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that we love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.

We learned in 1 Sam. 16:7 that, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  God knows what is truly in our hearts, no matter what sacrifices or pretenses we may bring forth.

Once we discover who He truly is, through the wisdom and understanding found in His Word, it is not difficult to kneel to the God of the Bible.  Our flesh may still be weak and we may have moments of doubt, confusion, or fear; but God, knowing our hearts, will come to our rescue.  If we continue seeking Him, reading His Word, asking questions of Him, and searching for the answers, we find Him ever-faithful.

We don’t need to pretend we have it all together or be afraid to ask questions of God.  Gaining understanding and finding wisdom brings true happiness and brings us ever closer to Him and His kingdom.  What better knowledge is there than that?

Asking,

jamie