Uncovering the beauty

Pr. 21:9:  “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Pr. 21:19:  “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

The truth is that it’s better to dwell in those places than with anyone that’s angry and contentious (likely to cause an argument).  Relationships are hard enough without having someone always looking for a fight.

 

muddycoupleI was walking in the woods behind our house today and found this little figurine.  I couldn’t believe how applicable it was to real life.  Sometimes our relationships can resemble this…soiled, muddy, polluted, and defiled.  During those times, it can be hard to see through the muck to even imagine something that could possibly look better.

 

couplewipedoff

 

But I chose to wipe off the figurine, and do you see what I saw?  They were still holding hands.  With just a bit of effort, I was able to uncover the fact, that underneath it all, they were still connected.  Do you believe that’s true for our relationships?  I do.  Underneath all the mess, there are 2 people that were once connected, and with just a bit of effort, the fact that there is still a connection becomes visible.

 

 

allcleanedupInspired by what I saw, I took the figurine inside and cleansed it with some soap and water, and a bit of bleach.  The cleansing revealed a couple with a few scars, but look at their faces.  They look happy and content again…renewed and ready for a new life.

 

 

 

Sometimes, deciding to work diligently to wipe off all the offenses and grime to uncover a renewed relationship can be rough and it can definitely sting.  (Just as if being cleansed with bleach)  But it’s so worth it.  Those scars just make us stronger, and more able to testify to the Lord’s mercy and miracles.  Just like this figurine, there can be new life waiting underneath; we just have to be willing to uncover it.

I couldn’t tell you how long this figurine was buried in the mud.  It was pretty deep in there, and even under some other trash.  But that just proves that no matter how long our relationships have been in the mire, with just a bit of interest and care something beautiful can be revealed.

And the most beautiful part for us is that God is faithful to stand with us during the process.

Get out that scrub brush!

jamie

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Compassion comes from pain

When John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus was sad and wanted to go away with his disciples to a quiet a place for rest.  However, the multitudes followed them.  The Word says that Jesus was moved with compassion for them.

When we are hurt, grieving, disappointed, sad, or in pain, our natural reaction is usually to retreat for a little quiet time or rest.  The truth is; however, that there is not a time when we can feel more compassion for others who are hurting.

Sometimes we don’t understand the pain or hurt in our lives, but God does.  He has a plan for our lives.  He has a plan for others around us.  Although none of us want to be in pain, if that pain is what gives us compassion, then it can be used for good.

We can use our pain to feel for the pain others carry.  We can then minister to them, as God’s hands and feet.  We can lift their needs, that we understand, up to the One who heals, comforts, and delivers.

Let’s let Him use our pain for something good!  Watching someone else’s pain subside sure helps ease mine just a bit.

Reach out,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 9

Lord, let Your mercies come to me.  Let Your Word be alive in me.  Let my life show that You and Your Word are true.  Let those around me see that trusting in Your Word is wise.

Lord, do not allow me to be clamorous, simple, or deceitful.  Let Your Word be what my mouth brings forth, and not folly.  My hope is in You, Lord.  Let my life prove that is so.  Let my actions, my words, my reactions, and my exclamations all prove that my hope is indeed in You.

Increase my faith.  Oh, God, I know when I ask You to increase my faith that a situation will likely arise where I will have to make the choice of whether or not to place my faith solely in You.  I have been through this before, and I’m sorry to say that it’s not always easy, but Lord, I trust You.

You have never forsaken me.  I trust that Your plans for my life and my family are good.  I trust that Your wisdom will be with me, helping me to forsake foolishness.  Your Word of truth will not utterly leave my mouth.  Your Holy Spirit will bring to my remembrance the truths I know of You.  I believe Your Word which tells me that You go before me and behind me, guiding me along the way.

Lord, help me go in the way of understanding all the days of my life.  Help my children to receive my teachings that bring them closer and closer to You.  Help my life to be a living testimony of Your goodness and Your faithfulness.  Empower me, through Your Holy Spirit, to be a light.

I love You, Lord.  I thank You for Your Word, and for Your faithfulness.  I thank You for Your mercies and for salvation.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

Foolishness can depart

Pr. 27:22:  “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”

This week I ran into a girl I knew in high school.  She mentioned a mutual friend we had and noted that while that friend had been pretending to act foolishly like us, she was really going home at night and doing her homework.  She was the only one who got a full scholarship to college and went on to have a prestigious career.

I left there with memories of the past replaying in my mind and, as is my custom, I began to feel down.  I began to recount the many, many bad and sinful decisions I have made and how they greatly altered the course of my life.

Each time I thought of a low point, I’d remember an even lower point, and then I wondered if I’m the foolish person in this proverb.  Am I the one who will never learn?  I began to worry about how it would be all too easy for me to allow one more foolish decision to cause the life I live now to crumble around me.  But isn’t that basically true for us all?

Then, I thought of God’s grace.  I remember when God stepped into my life and said, “That’s enough.”  I’m grateful to  remember the decision He used to turn my course back to Him.  I can look back and see my life changing and my decisions slowly changing to line up with His will and His word.  I can recall times when He helped me make the decision to turn my back on foolishness in an effort to be wise.

I will never be perfect; however, I am not as foolish as I once was.  I have allowed God to undertake the ongoing process of replacing my foolishness with His wisdom.  Trusting God is the wisest thing I’ve ever done.  Foolishness can depart, through Him.

Carefully,

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

Hoarding treasure

Pr. 16:21:  “The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning.”

I was reading Matthew 13:52 this morning, which is one of those verses I never noticed before.  Here is the verse:

“Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

This is what Matthew Henry’s commentary said, “A skillful, faithful minister of the gospel is a scribe, well versed in the things of the gospel, and able to teach them.  Christ compares him to a good householder, who brings forth fruits of last year’s growth and this year’s gathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends.  Old experiences and new observations, all have their use.  Our place is at Christ’s feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also.”

Our place is at Christ’s feet.  If we can get that right, the wisdom and learning will come.

When we are speaking to others about Christ, it will be the combination of old lessons we’ve experienced and new observations we are daily experiencing that will bring it all together.  Every day we learn more about Christ, and sometimes those things enlighten us to the older things we’ve already gone through or learned.  It all adds to what we know.

Even those old lessons we learned that we’d rather not share, can help bring credibility to what we say.  If we’ve been through something and learned more about Christ through it, perhaps that will be the thing that will most connect with the person with whom we are speaking.

Perhaps telling someone that God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light is best said when you share about a time when you found out the hard way just how heavy the burden of sin became for you.  Perhaps the childhood verse you learned about hiding God’s word in your heart means so much more when you read Mt. 13:52 that says a scribe is the one who brings out old treasures to combine with the new.

We bring out of the treasure of our knowledge of Christ something to share with others.  Spending time with Christ is what gives us something to share.

Happy hoarding,

jamie

Finding the root I needed

Pr. 12:3:  “A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous cannot be moved.”

I remember my young adult years being filled with what I referred to as restlessness.  I never felt a strong sense of peace in my life and I blamed it on anything but myself.  I listened to my music way too loud, I wore clothes that let me feel ‘free’, I travelled a lot, I drank too much, and camped out alone in the woods.  I was trying to intentionally either out run my restlessness or ease it with over the top activities.

I was trying to find my peace in things of this world, sin, and unconstraint.  Unfortunately, all I really found was more loneliness, more restlessness, and choices to regret later on.  Thankfully I didn’t lose my life in the process.

I remember the day I realized I no longer felt that restlessness.  It kind of snuck up on me, actually.

During my peace-seeking I found a man who loved Jesus.  Yes, I had been raised in church, but I really only loved myself.  Jesus was only ever in my mind when I felt momentary guilt or shame.

Eventually we were married, and this man who loved Jesus took me to a church that loved Jesus.  I began to understand what it meant that Jesus was truly my Savior.  I began to understand how much He loved me.  (You don’t die in someone else’s place if they don’t mean something to you)

I began to read the Word of God out of curiosity and delight rather than out of duty.  I found out more about God’s love than I had ever known before.

I began to worship the Lord just for who He is, not out of guilt or shame.  I finally perceived the truth about grace, realizing salvation was not based on my actions, good or bad, but on God’s grace and compassion.

One day, without warning, I realized I was full of peace.  All the restlessness that I thought I’d been cursed with was simply gone.  In its place was the peace that passes all understanding, and the One who had placed it there was God.

Finally, I had a root to hold me in place.  My foundation was solidly established, and I no longer had to out run the sinking sand beneath my feet.

Once I allowed Jesus Christ to be my personal Cornerstone, I gained the security I’d sought for so long.

I know from experience, that anything outside of God will leave your foundation unsound and unstable.  If you need a foundation for your life that is fixed and unshakable, Jesus Christ is the answer.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”  Matthew 14:27

Rooted in Him alone,

jamie