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

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Oh, such pain!

I’m reading the conversations between Job and his friends right now in the book of Job.  It’s so uncomfortable for me because I have scars from comments people have made to me during my own health issues the last few years…even while I was down at the altar seeking God’s face.

Job asked his friends why they were tormenting him with their accusations and insults.  I know Job was a man, but I have to wonder if he cried because of what they said?  I usually just cry.  ha!

I’m not sure what it is about health issues or major trials that opens up the doorway to make others think they should step in and offer up judgment instead of encouragement, but it’s sad.  When someone is going through pain and trials, the last thing they need is added pain.

Sickness in someone’s life does not automatically mean they’ve sinned or haven’t asked, in faith, to be healed.  Trials in someone’s life does not mean they have not been generous to the poor or have angered God.

What do those in pain or those in the midst of a trial need?  They need love.  They need compassion.  They need an ear to listen.  They need prayer.  If you know specifically of sin in their life, you can offer help, but if you don’t, then don’t accuse.  People who are hurting need comfort.  They need a friend.

Take them a meal.  Babysit their kids or pay for someone else to do it.  Pay for someone to clean their house for them.  Go sit with them when they can’t get out of bed.  Pray with them.  Give them a hug.  Wash their car.  Offer to do something else you know will bless them.  Do something to bless them, but don’t add to their pain.

I am so blessed by Job.  He did curse the day he was born…that’s understandable, since he was in immense pain…but he was never so discouraged that he allowed his friends to turn mind away from trusting God.

For any Christian in pain, that’s critical.  We can’t turn our hearts away from trusting in God.  As Christians, we cannot be the ones to cause pain.  Our lives are supposed to represent God’s love.  If God’s love looks like judgment and accusations, especially in a trial or painful time in someone’s life, it will make it so hard for them to trust in Him.

As Christians, it is imperative that we operate in love, encouragement, and in prayer.  Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul all our strength and all our mind; and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  What if you were the one in pain?  What would you want to hear?  What if you were in that trial?  What would you need?

We must go and do likewise,

jamie

 

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

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

Turn away and live!

Pr. 4:14-15: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.”

Oh, I have travelled on those paths too many times.  I want to remind us today that we are told to turn away and pass on.  There are good reasons for this.

Today happens to be the birthday of a dear friend of mine from back in high school.  Sadly, we can’t celebrate together because he passed away several years ago.

There was a night when he chose to take the wrong path.  He made some poor decisions with some friends.  Afterwards, when his judgment was impaired and his decision-making was affected, he chose to literally walk on the exact wrong path…a busy road, where he was hit and killed by a vehicle as he walked.

God’s warnings are for our protection.  He wants to protect us from the consequences of sin.  Satan always lies and tells us that there aren’t any.  He says that our decisions are our own and they won’t affect anyone else.  He convinces us that we can repent at a later time.

Friends, there may not be a later time! My friend did not have a later time.  He took the wrong path and he is gone.

Thanks to God’s grace, you and I have been given more time, another chance to turn away and pass on.  Let’s do that.  Let’s make that choice and be better off for it.  There is protection for us here and eternal life for us on the other side of this life!

In memoriam,

jamie

 

Plotting

Pr. 24:8: “He who plots to do evil will be called a schemer.”

As Christians, this is definitely not what we need to plotting.  That being said, there have been times when I have found myself doing exactly that.

Is it just me?  Not all of my choices in life have lined up exactly with God’s immutable Word, and I have intentionally chosen sin and evil on occasion.

When I think about being a schemer, however, I tend to think about intentionally plotting against another person.

I’ve been thinking all day that there is one thing for me to encourage us to do this week.

This week, let’s plot to pour love into 1 person.  Let’s choose 1 person we can encourage, support, uplift, guide, or saturate with love, kindness, mercy, grace, and goodness.

Do you have someone in mind?  Good.  If not, ask the Lord to show you who needs a special touch this week.  Someone we know needs us to plot to do something for them this week from a heart of love.  💓

Who can you plot against this week?  Who will you pour God’s love into?  Who will you encourage or uplift?

This week, let’s be schemers of love.  Let’s choose to intentionally make someone’s life better, just because we can.

Plotting with you,

jamie

How can I save those I love?

Pr. 24:11:  “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.”

I have not been able to shake this verse since I read it yesterday.  My heart breaks when I think of people I know and love who are stumbling towards the slaughter.  Some are walking there willingly, and others are being deceived.  I want nothing more than to grab them in an embrace and lead them to the Lord.  But what can I really do?  I can’t make up people’s minds for them.  I cannot convince them with smooth words, or even stop them with my insistence.  How can I deliver them?   How can I hold them back?

The fact is, I can’t.  This is where I have to pray and trust that God will be able to get hold of them, to deliver them and hold them back.  Maybe God can use me in some way, but the truth of the matter is, it is between them and God.

Genesis 3:4 is where the serpent convinced Eve to sin against God.  “…in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan is still using this same tactic–telling us we will get something from the sin.

“You will know what it’s like to really feel loved.”  “You will finally have peace.”  “You will get what you’ve deserved for so long.”  “Your pain will finally go away.”  “No one will ever know.”

This is how he leads people to the slaughter.  His empty promises that are actually lies in disguise.  1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that our own consciences can become seared with a hot iron.  When that happens, we no longer view sin as sin.  It becomes a right to which we cling.  Our lives become about us, our wants, and our desires.  Our lives become about what we deserve…just as Eve ‘deserved’ to have her eyes open to know good and evil in just the same way that God did.

The truth is that it is God’s will for us on this earth is to tell people about His kingdom.  We can find this truth in His Word.  When the focus of our lives is only our own will, then we have departed from God.  God has and is all that we need, and more.  All the things satan promises, are things that only God provides.  Satan has wanted to be like God from the beginning, so he tries to promise what only God can give, but his path only leads to pain, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, my heart breaks that people I love are being led to the slaughter.  Oh, how I long to open their eyes!  God, please open their eyes.  Holy Spirit, please bring back to their remembrance the truth of Your Word.  Lead them away from death, and hold them back from the slaughter, dear Lord, I pray.  In Jesus’ saving name, Amen.  

Trusting,

jamie