Love your enemies, part 4

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

If you want to go back and read parts one, two, and three of this 4-part series, just click on those links and it will take you there.

Today’s topic is love.  “Behold, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

God IS love!  And we love one another because love is of Him and we are born of Him and we know Him.  When we aren’t loving one another, then it’s an indicator than something is off in our relationship with God.  When we aren’t loving then something is wrong.

Vs. 10 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love on another.”  (vs. 11)

How do we love one another?  1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  …let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

We show love by meeting each other’s needs when we can.  We love by our actions, not just by saying, “I love you.”  Meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Love requires sacrifice.

Pr. 17:22:  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Some people’s bones have been dried through brokenness.  But we have the remedy for that.  Pr. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Perhaps we can be the one who gives health back to that person with the dried bones with our pleasant words and our love.  Also, those wrathful people who stir up strife…perhaps their bones have been dried up for a long time.  Perhaps they are hard, unyielding and rank, but it could be our love and our pleasant words that brings the sweetness and health back to their bones.

Pr. 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before it starts.”  We all know that’s true.  Once it has begun it almost impossible to get it stopped.  Maybe we could be the ones that choose to trust God instead, allay contention, and simply choose love.

Again, we can only control what we do, not what other do, or how others react.  If they don’t react with kindness, then we react with forgiveness, yes?  If you’ve forgotten, go back and re-read the last few blogs at the links above.

I know this all goes against our fleshly, human-nature, but when we do what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will have our back and see us through!  We have to believe it!

Believing we can do it, in Him!

jamie

Love

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Time to sweep!

We went camping last night.  After we unpacked and put everything away this afternoon, our floor was covered in dirt, bark, leaves, etc.  I swept twice on Thursday and once yesterday, but as I was sweeping the mess from today, I commented to my husband that it looks like I never sweep.

That thought kept rolling around in my mind and reminded me of spiritual disciplines.  Yep…ya just never know what God will use to speak to your heart.

If I don’t sweep one day the house isn’t too messy.  No big deal.  If I miss two days, the specks on the floor would become pretty noticeable.  If I miss three days, dirt and crumbs would probably begin sticking to our feet and something just wouldn’t seem right in the house.

Give it a few weeks and the problem would be pretty evident to anyone who stepped inside.  After a year, cobwebs and dust bunnies would have taken over and no one would want to step foot in the house.  Bugs would probably be pretty comfortable in our home and mold would likely be growing on the piles of food crumbs.  Not only would the house look very nasty, but it would also create an unhealthy environment for our family.

Has your mind already created the parallel with spiritual disciplines?  Missing a day of Bible reading and prayer isn’t so bad, right?  We get busy sometimes, after all.  Missing two days?  Specks begin to show.  Maybe a blot of something undesirable gets stuck somewhere and we either ignore it or don’t notice.  After a few weeks of neglecting our relationship with God and others begin to notice.  We may make excuses and think all is fine.  We’ll get around to it soon.

A year without spending quality time with God and the nastiness of sin would show and continue to grow an undesirable, unhealthy new environment for us and for those around us.  Our hearts grow hard and callous towards sin and the garbage and foul grime that accompanies it.  Eventually we’re trapped inside a putrid life that no longer brings joy to anyone…including us.

God’s word and His presence bring freedom and keep us healthy, happy, and pure before a righteous God.  We cannot let business, distractions, laziness, or apathy keep us from our time with God.  A life that is too busy or consumed with things other than God is one that will create a layer of filth all around us.  Truly we reap what we sow.  If we do nothing to grow our relationship with God, then our relationship will wither and our lives will be the proof.

Being intentional about spiritual disciplines isn’t just a good idea.  Like sweeping keeps a home from being covered in filth, our spiritual disciplines keep our souls from the same.  Spending time with God is what makes us sparkle and shine.  🙂

Enjoy His Word today,

jamie

I have good news

Pr. 25:25:  “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.”

I have good news.  Jesus is coming back for us!

“Behold, I am coming quickly!”  Rev. 22:7

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”  James 5:7-8

We must establish our hearts, to choose Him once and for all; and wait patiently on our reward.  Like the crop, long-awaited, He will return.

Rev. 21:1-5 tells us, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also, there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

No more death.  No more pain.  No more tears.  If we but patiently endure while on this pilgrimage in this foreign land, our reward will be given.  Sometimes our lives can be painful and even feel consuming, but we can trust in the Word that is proven, that is pure, and that endures forever.  God says He will make all things new.  His return and our great reward will redeem all the pain we’ve experienced in this life.

We must find the strength to trust Him in all things.  He has plans for our lives, and more importantly for our eternity, that are perfect.  We must allow Him to be the refuge for us in this life, patiently enduring and trusting in Him.  If we do that, we will dwell in the place where there is no more curse.  Our pain will be over and we will be surrounded by the glory of God for eternity.

Be ready.  The King is coming!

Enjoy the refreshingly great news,

jamie

Guard yourself from those thorns and snares

Pr. 22:5:  “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards his soul will be far from them.”

When I was 19 I drove my car off a small mountainside.  I was over 250 miles from home and 86 miles from my intended destination, where my mom was awaiting my arrival.  I had wrecked and totaled my car, which was now securely held by the trunk of a tree, out of view from the road.  I was hurt.  I was scared my dad was going to kill me.  I was concerned about my mom being worried since I had neither reached her nor had any way to contact her.  It started sprinkling as I climbed up the hill towards the road, and now there were thorns biting and tearing at my hands and legs.  Great!

As I’m recalling this experience, and thinking about it in light of this verse, it seems so true.  When we veer off course, we are always met with snares that trap and hurt us.  We get so far away from where we were that sometimes others can’t even find us anymore…the real us.  They worry about us and become scared for our well-being.  We get bruised, broken, and crushed.  The enemy continues to sprinkle pain on us, and thorns of hell and sin tear at our flesh and our souls.

It all starts out as a simple shift the direction we should be going.  Before we know it, we’ve gone so far out of the way that we’re trapped.  If we would stay on the road we said we’d travel, keep our eyes on the road, and dismiss the distractions, we would guard ourselves from those snares and thorns.  If we guard our souls with prayer, the Word, the truth, and His presence, He will guard us with His peace, His provision, His protection, and eternal life.

The way of sin may be wider, but it ends in destruction and death.

Keep your eyes on the narrow road,

jamie

Sometimes its good to be selfish

Pr. 19:8:  “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good.”

It’s ok to worry about your own soul.  It’s wonderful to make the time to take care of your self.  Feeding yourself wisdom and finding a way to maintain your understanding will bring you good and the benefits will be beyond measure.  Allow the Lord to feed you wisdom through any means He can, and then keep it close to you.  Pray over it, dwell on it, cultivate it, study it even more, and allow it to grow into true understanding.

God is meant to be our foremost priority in this life.  Putting Him and His kingdom first will cause Him to keep His word that all your needs will be taken care of.  (Mt. 6:33)  Building on the solid rock of the Lord will cause us not to fall.  (Mt. 7:24-25)  Spending time with the Lord will ensure that Jesus knows us on the day of judgment.  (Mt. 7:21-23)

It’s ok to love your soul enough to intentionally seek as much wisdom, knowledge, and understanding as you can.  It is good to yearn for your time alone with God.  (Ps. 84:2)  Be selfish enough to make time just for you and God.  Putting Him first will ensure that He will take care of everything else.

Selfishly,

jamie

Is it hot in here or is it just me?

Pr. 17:3:  “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.”

In order to bring forth the precious metal to be brought forth, refiners of silver must separate silver from the dross.  It is a purification process that is necessary in order to melt away the impurities.  Likewise, goldsmiths must melt away the impurities to bring forth the beautiful and valuable gold.  Unpleasant as it is, these refining processes require fire to bring forth what is excellent.

There are times when we go through fire.  We are charred, scorched, and seared by trials in our lives.  When we go through these times when we are surrounded by flames, earthly dross is being separated from our own lives.  These are defining moments when impurities and sin melt away and what is left is a pure and precious soul that is useful for God.

 

1 Cor. 6:9-11a says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.”

The wonderful news:  “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Malachi reminds us that the Lord is like a refiner that will refine us that we may offer to Him an offering in righteousness.  If we allow God to test our hearts now, He can refine us and bring forth the valuable purity that is within us.  If we will truly surrender to His hand, He can devour the sin in our lives and use us for His good works.

The next time you’re in the hot spot and flames are all around, know that God can use that to bring forth the beauty within you and melt away all your impurities.  Also worth noting….if we go successfully make it through the fires on earth, not turning against God, we will be lifted up at judgment and will not have to suffer the 2nd death, which is an eternal fire.  Don’t try to cool off just yet.

A little singed,

jamie

 

Don’t underestimate your value

Pr. 15:32:  “He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.”

You are worth so much to God.  You are His child and His creation.  He created you exactly the way He needed you to be to fulfill your purpose.  I tell my daughter all the time that she is “perfectly Kaili.”  Like you and like me, God created her exactly the way He needed her.  She has a job to do on this earth that only she can do.  He designed her specifically for that job.  He did so with us all.

That being said, do not underestimate the value that you hold as His creation–as His child.  Your soul is valuable and you need to treat it as such.  Neglecting your soul is unhealthy and it is doing you no good at all.  You are worth so much and your soul deserves to be nourished, cultivated, and cared for in the best of ways.

If we only feed our flesh while we are here on this earth, we are not doing what is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which we were created.  We are neglecting the true us and only doing ourselves harm.  1 Cor. 3:9 says, “We are God’s fellow workers.”  vs. 16 reminds us that we are “the temple of God.”  We were built for so much more than what is on this earth.

How can we remind ourselves and focus on our true purpose?  We simply must not neglect our souls.  Our spiritual disciplines are for more than just to say, “I read my Bible” or “Yes.  I pray.”  They are to nurture our souls.  Our souls are too important for us to put spiritual disciplines off for another time or another day.

We have to feed on the Word to truly ingest the healthy, life-giving words of Christ.  Our Lord gave us His words.  We have access to the King of Kings at all times through His word.  We have access to the Lord of Lords at any moment through prayer, as we boldly approach His throne.  When we pray we are allowing Him to breathe life into bodies and souls; into every cell of our being.

The healthiest thing we need to focus on today is feeding on the Bread of Life.  Invest in yourself today…you are SO worth it!

Bon appetit,

jamie