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

 

 

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Be usable during the trials

Laying block with oxygen.  What’s stopping you??

My father was bed-ridden for several years, and then weak for several more.  Why not healed?  One night the Lord spoke to him and told him to build a house for someone he’d never met.  He wasn’t able to in his own strength.  The Lord also spoke to the pastor at his church and told him to give away a substantial amount of money.  He spoke to another man and told him to donate land.  Person after person stepped forward, obeying God’s leading, and a home was built for a family from start to finish in 40 days.

My dad’s weakness enabled God’s strength to be perfected and manifested.  Might I suggest that before that time my dad may have been too busy to hear the voice of God in that way?  Or too busy to take the time to help organize and attend a project of that magnitude?

God uses us all in different ways and for different reasons.  We just have to be available for His purposes and plans.

“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

These are the words the Lord spoke to the disciple that was sent to put his hands on Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul–missionary to thousands), when he would regain his sight.  And yet, Paul always had what he called a “thorn in his flesh” that God never removed.  He said he prayed for the Lord to remove it and the Lord told him no.  The Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness.

It’s interesting that when Paul was called into ministry he was shown how many things he would suffer God’s name’s sake, and how the Lord told Paul no, and how now, in 2019 we think our Christian walk should be about our comfort, our happiness, our delight….about us.  When did things get so twisted?

Christianity just simply isn’t about us.  It is about the Lord.  It says about Saul, “Immediately he preached the Christ in synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”  He began immediately doing what he was called to do, and people immediately began wanting to kill him.  (You can find all of this in Acts 9)

Job, in his agony and suffering repented and humbled himself before the Lord…before he was ever healed or restored.  Then, in Job 42:8, the Lord put Job in charge of praying for his friends.  In his state, he was best suited to pray for his friends.  He was the one God called to pray, to work, to do His will.  And then, praise God for him, He was restored.

Sickness and trials are not a problem that keeps us from fulfilling God’s call in our lives.  It may hinder us from doing all the things we want.  I know I still have times when I can’t sing, can’t raise my hands in worship, can’t teach or even attend church; however, if we are still alive then God can still use us.

Ask God how He can use your vessel.  When He gives you an opportunity, don’t let it pass you by.  Don’t fear that you’re too weak.  In your weakness, His strength is made perfect.  It has been proven over and over:  see David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark, 3 Hebrew’s in the furnace, on and on.  God will give you all that you need to complete the task He sets before you.

Be available just as you are,

jamie

 

Words revealing the true treasure of the heart

Joel 2:23:  “For He has given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you…”

I had the terrible realization this week that I had replaced God as the treasure in my heart.

In May, our daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Although, we already suspected it, the diagnosis brings a large and immediate flurry of tasks, paperwork, phone calls, and appointments.

If that wasn’t enough, I personally decided to allow future planning, homeschool curriculum planning, future therapies, and even more to loom over me with urgency.  Although these hold a certain level of importance, I honestly didn’t realize how much this had consumed me.

Mt. 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Mt. 15:18 says, “Those things which proceed from the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

Keeping those scriptures in mind, it became obvious this week, through the words of my mouth, that the Lord was no longer the treasure in my heart.  AHHHHHH!!!  I had made research and information my new treasure.  And I honestly didn’t even realize it had happened.

Looking back, however, I can see the warning signs.  I will share those with you in the hopes that I can spare you from doing something similar:

  • I was spending more time reading about Autism than I was reading about and reflecting on God’s faithfulness.
  • I began to consider myself too weak to care for and teach my daughter.  I wasn’t considering the truth, which is that the Lord is my strength and that through Him all things are possible.
  • Fear began to drain a lot of my energy, when the Lord clearly gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • I began trusting in the information I was learning in my research more than I was reminding myself that the Lord supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This scripture in Joel says, “For He has given you the former rain faithfully.”  That’s it, isn’t it?  He has always been faithful.  He will continue to be faithful.  He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I’m not saying that the research shouldn’t be done.  Information is good, but when it begins to cause fear and doubt, or begins to overshadow the truths of God’s Word, then there is a problem.

I had to repent for making information and worldly ‘facts’ my treasure.  I want to encourage you, as well.  God is still in control.  He still holds the world in His hands, and if He has taken care of you in the past, He will take care of you in the future.  He is faithful.

Repentant,

jamie

Need a time of refreshing?

Acts 3:19:  “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”

You may be way ahead of me on this one, but I never noticed the second part of this verse, “So that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  That sure sounds like the Lord I know…Refreshing.

I knew we were to repent and be converted so that our sins would be blotted out; however, I never noticed that another promised reward of doing so would be so that times of refreshing would come upon us from God’s presence.  I love when I find something new in a verse I’ve read over and over before.

When we repent and call the Lord ours He not only blots out our sins, but refreshes us with His presence.  I can think of nothing more refreshing than the presence of the Lord.  When I am in His presence I can feel pure joy, peace, love, hope, safety, purity, and salvation.

Are you in need of refreshing?  Not only can God give you what you need, but He will.  Being saved by grace offers a refreshing that you cannot find anywhere else.  Having the Comforter as your King offers a peace that cannot be duplicated.

If you have repented and been converted and you are in need of a time of refreshing, call upon your Savior.  He will rain down all that you need.  Spend time in His presence and feel His power and His love envelope you now.

Enjoying the perks,

jamie

Is God really rude?

As my kids and I were leaving the park yesterday, my son announced that he lost 2 of his prized knives at the park.  (I hadn’t even realized he’d brought them)  Upon our arrival back at the park, we spoke to a man who had actually found one of the knives.  Honestly, it was pretty amazing, as the kids had run over a mile during their playtime and the search area was close to a football field in length.

A few nice people joined in as we began earnestly searching for the 2nd knife, although my son couldn’t even remember what color it was.  (goodness)  After about 15 minutes I finally remembered to pray for the Lord’s help.  (i’m a little slow occasionally)  Right when I was done, my daughter spoke up and said, “I prayed that God would help us find the knife.”  (yes!)  Now that 2 of us had prayed, surely we’d find it, right?  However, after 5 more minutes, it was still not found, and it was time for me to end the search and call the knife lost.

My daughter sat down on the slide in defeat and said, “We prayed that God would help us find the knife and He didn’t.  How rude!”  I was a bit taken aback by her comment and momentarily unsure what to say.  I reminded her that God is faithful and that one of the lady’s promised to continue looking while she and her son’s continued to play.  God could help her, and she’d call us if she found the knife.

As we made our way down the trail to the entrance of the parking lot, I spotted the knife.  While pointing it out to my daughter, I said, “I told you God is faithful.  He heard our prayers and He always will.”

This morning I read 2 Peter 3:3-4, “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?”

My son should not have taken something so valuable to a playground in flimsy costume pockets.  It was not God’s “fault” that his knives were lost.  Yet, because we were struggling to find them, my daughter forgot all the other amazing things God has done and all the other answered prayers she has witnessed.

Just because Jesus has not returned, does not mean He won’t.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

In frustration or impatience, we cannot forget all the promises God has been keeping since He created this world.  He has been faithful, He does not lie; and if He said He will return, then He will.  Our prayers aren’t always answered with a yes, but God is always faithful to hear them and His will for our lives is always in our best interests.  He loves us.  He truly loves us, and His faithfulness endures forever.

Keep trusting,

jamie

Stop speaking

Pr. 23:9:  “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”

The Bible describes a fool as one who has said in his heart, “there is no God.”  For those of us who deeply love and believe in God, knowing that someone we love does not also believe can be deeply painful.  We do not wish that our loved ones would pass away not believing, and not going to their eternal life in heaven.  It is also sad to watch loved ones not living this life empowered by the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we understand the power that comes from surrendering to the Lord, and we wish that for those we love.  It is natural for us to talk about the Lord on a daily basis, but when faced with an unbeliever, these conversations can be seen as offensive or even turn into hurtful debates.  I think we can gather from Solomon that although we have much wisdom within us, there is a time when we must simply cease our speaking.

This is where it become imperative that we are walking in the Spirit.  If we simply trust in the Lord, love Him with all our hearts, walk in His power, and allow His Spirit to guide us, it will be evident to those around us.  We must be the example of the reasons why believing in and trusting in the Lord is the best option.

I am not saying we shouldn’t witness to others.  I believe we should be full of the wisdom of the Lord and ready to offer praise and answers about Him at all times.  There comes a point; however, when our words become despised.  Our words, when heard over and over, can begin to grate on the nerves of one who does not believe.

So what do we do?  We walk in the Spirit.  We live a life that honors God.  We pray.  This is where prayer is truly an imperative.  We must bring our loved ones before the Lord, who is the One who has given salvation.  The word says that the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts sinners.  (John 16:8)  The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.  (John 16:13)  The Holy spirit also teaches all things and brings to remembrance the things the Lord has spoken to us (and to our loved ones).  (John 14:26)

Notice that the Holy Spirit does the teaching, the truth-telling, and the convicting.  Yes, we must be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have, but an answer requires a question.  If the hope of God shows in our lives, someone may just ask us why.  We can then answer their question.  If we don’t show any hope and only try to do the convicting ourselves, our words will be despised.

We must let go and let God do His job.  He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance.  Our job is to continue in the truth, in His wisdom, in faith, in hope and in prayer, showing the love and meekness of Christ.

Praying with you,

jamie

A clean heart

I’ve been thinking about David and his deceitful heart.  (from my previous blog)  I wasn’t thinking about it yesterday, but when David did repent and cry out to God for forgiveness, one of the things for which he prayed was for the Lord to create in him a clean heart.  David understood that he was led astray by the heart.  He then came to the Lord, broken and contrite, desperately sorry for sinning against Him.

We have the privilege of reading some of David’s most intimate and open thoughts in the book of Psalm.  David deeply loved the Lord and trusted in Him above all things.  David loved the Word of God and knew that hiding it in his heart would keep him from sinning against the Lord.

Obviously we know that David did sin.  It’s clear that no man is perfect–not even the man God chose to lead His people.  God said that David was a man after his own heart who would do all His will.  God knows that we live in a world in which sin will always be present.  He doesn’t expect our perfection.  He only expects our devotion.  He sent His Son to take care of the perfect salvation.

David did love the Lord and lived a life in a passionate pursuit of more of Him.  Because of his devotion, he wasn’t content in his sinful nature.  He wasn’t willing to continue in persistent sin.  In Psalm 51, we are able to get a glimpse in to this man’s brokenness before God.  He repented and asked for God’s mercy.  He wanted to renew his relationship with the God of his salvation.

He also knew that God would place wisdom in the hidden part, the most inward parts of him.  He knew that walking in God’s wisdom would deliver him from future temptations.  He may have learned the hard way, but the point is that he learned.  He did not stay in a place of purposeful sin.  He truly and openly repented and the Lord was able to create within him a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within him.  God was able to continue to use David as His vessel throughout David’s life, and from David’s seed rose our Savior, Jesus Christ.

No matter the condition of our heart, God can create something new if we surrender to Him and allow His Spirit and His Word to guide us in wisdom.  God can give us a clean heart, deliver us from guilt, make us hear joy and gladness again, and blot our all our sins.  He is willing.

Although exalted by the Lord, David was just a man, and there is no partiality with God.  If He forgave and renewed David, He will do the same for you.

Forgiven,

jamie