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

Advertisements

What’s trending now

I love to study nutrition.  I love how God put foods on the earth to heal and protect us.  I love how different foods have different vitamins and minerals.  I like making new recipes with healthy foods.  It fascinates me.  I’ve noticed a trend in nutrition; however, that is very concerning to me and it reminds of the way that I heard satan say to Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree in the garden?'”

That subtle change in God’s Word was enough to get Eve to begin a conversation with satan so that he could tempt her to believe what he said instead of what she knew to be the truth of God’s Word.  This is the same thing I see him doing in the world of nutrition.

I just picked up 3 of my favorite nutrition books this morning to verify.  The first one had a picture of the chain of evolution from monkey to human to fat human.  The second and third talked about how far we’ve come since being cave men.

So, I consulted my book on the history of creation:  The Bible.  I see that God created man and woman in a garden.  He gave them trees with fruit that bore seeds, herbs, and plants.  After they sinned and had to leave the garden, their son Abel was a keeper of sheep.  Cain was a tiller of the ground.  (Shepherd and farmer)  These aren’t unintelligent cavemen with no food.  These are intelligent people with access to healthy foods, intentionally growing them.

I see Jubal coming in a while.  He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.  Tubal-Cain was an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron.  Oh!  And did I mention that before these two were born, Cain built a city and named it after his son?  He wasn’t living in a cave, unable to form words or think properly.

Even after the great flood, Noah became a farmer.  He planted a vineyard, too.  It just goes on and on from there.  As Christians, we have to guard ourselves.  Yes, be wise enough to eat whole foods and take care of your body.  I believe 100% that God put foods on this earth to nourish our bodies and give us the things we need.  But we must beware of what subtleties we allow into our minds.  Know the truth of God’s Word.  Know your Creator and how all things began.  Make sure your house is built on the Rock and you will be safe when the winds of untruth come blowing by.

We must remain in the Word and pray as it says in Ps. 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Dig in!

jamie

Scripture references for the things I mentioned today, in order:  Gen. 3: 1-24, Gen. 2:7-25, Gen. 4:2, Gen. 4:20-21, Gen. 4:22, Gen. 4:17, Gen. 9:20

Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.

-jamie

Lessons from creation

Mt. 18:14:  “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

The song of a Carolina Wren caught my attention this morning.  I found it was perched on my fence, singing.  I noticed a rustling in the garden below and realized that it’s mate was down there eating.  I watched as they took turns perching and eating.  It was nice to see the unity between the birds.

After that, I read the parable of the lost sheep, and I couldn’t help but see the way God shows us His feelings throughout His creation.  Mt. 18:12 says that if one sheep is lost it will be sought.  Every single one of us is important to God.

When we think of the way we feel about our own family, we can understand why this is important to God.  If one of our own family becomes separated from us, we would give anything to bring them back to us.  The birds I was watching this morning were in sync, so beautifully paired, that I know they’re union has meaning to them.

God put examples of His own feelings within His creation.  We can better understand that God truly doesn’t want to lose a single one of us.  He wants us all with Him.  We are important to Him and it grieves Him to lose us, just as it grieves us to lose someone.

If we know someone’s family member is missing, we do everything in our power to help them find that person.  God asked us to do the same with His children.  When one strays away, or one hasn’t found the way to Him, He asks us to show them the way.  He asks us to introduce them to the One who is the Way, Jesus Christ.

We can take a lesson from God’s creation and lovingly seek out God’s lost children and bring them to Him.

Lord, help us show them the Way.  Help us to get over the fear of  speaking to others about You.  Help us to remember that the love we have for our own family is just a glimmer of the love You have for Your own children.  Help us to be willing to seek and find those who are lost.  We know this is Your will.  Thank You for loving each one of us this much, Lord.  You are a good Father.

Found,

jamie

Hope that won’t perish

Pr. 10:28:  “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”

This proverb reminds me of the scripture I was reading this morning in John 10.  Verses 11-16 of John 10 are the words of Jesus:

I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

We who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, have heard the voice of our Shepherd and become righteous only through Him.  Our hope certainly is gladness when our hope is in our Lord and Savior, for we know of the goodness of the Lord.

It is the expectation of the wicked, those who hope in anything other than God, that will perish.  When we count on hirelings to care for us, give us hope, come through for us, guide us, protect us, lay down their lives for us, our expectation will surely perish.

Only God has laid down His life for us.  Others will inevitably let us down.  They are not our true Shepherd.  Sometimes the hirelings in our lives leave us, allow us to be caught, cause us to be scattered.  And though some hirelings do care, people can change, and we must not look to hirelings for our ultimate hope.

We must make sure we our listening for the voice of our good Shepherd and looking to Him for protection, hope, guidance, and care.  He has already laid His life down for us, and will care for His flock like no other ever could.

Jesus said He knows His sheep, and He has already laid down His life to protect His own from the wolf.  We must continue to make sure the voice we follow is His, and that we do not allow a hireling to cause us to be scattered from the flock.  When our hope is rooted solely on the Lord, our expectation will never perish, for the Lord, alone, proves Himself to be faithful.

Don’t place your entire hope on anyone or anything besides your true and good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  True gladness awaits.

Listening for My Shepherd,

jamie

Prudent or simple?

Pr. 22:3:  “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”

When I think of simple, I am reminded of sheep.  They’re depth perception is poor.  In order to check something out, they get very close to it to see the details.  Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m currently reading:

“One never could completely relax with a flock of sheep.  A lamb might escape the pasture and get lost, drown in the swiftly flowing creek, become entangled in the blackberry briars, or wander into the road.  Then there was the possibility of a hungry predator selecting one of her beloved creatures for his evening meal.”

It reminds me of us with sin.  Instead of just steering clear of sin and hiding ourselves, we let our guard down or get curious.  We get close, examine all the options, and check out the details.  Once we’re that close we are in danger of getting lost, being completely caught in the current of or drowning in sin, or entangled in thorns and snares.

Boundaries are for the prudent.  foreseeing all the evil and temptations in this world, we must have boundaries to keep us safe.  There are boundaries in our wedding vows, in the Word of God, in the laws of the land, and in our families.  If we still choose to pass on, danger and punishment will be waiting on the other side.

We also know that when we wander off alone, we are much easier prey for a hungry predator.  Satan will stop at nothing to devour us and rob us of our God-given salvation.  Let us not be simple any longer, but to prudently stay within the boundaries that protect us.  Not only that, but let’s stay safely away from the boundary lines and not go looking at the details of the evil around us.  No reason to get that close.

Let’s stay safe with our good Shepherd, Jesus, who knows us all and gave His life for us.  In His presence we will have life everlasting.

Known by my Shepherd,

jamie

excerpt from:  Ellis, Mary. (2009).  A Widow’s Hope. Eugene Oregon:  Harvest House Publishers