2018 is for sharing!

Tomorrow is another new year.  I’m not one for making resolutions, but certainly a new year does deserve some pause for thought.

Enter my neighbor’s chickens.  Yes, chickens.  Today, I saw that there were 5 of them under my bird feeder scratching and eating all the bird seed they could find.  I was a little frustrated at first because this neighbor’s animals seem to be in our yard a lot, but the more I thought about the fact that they just wanted some food, the less frustrated I became.  

And then I realized that they’re just like all of us.  Ha!  All of us want to be fed.  We are all searching for sustenance.  Not just physical sustenance, but spiritual, as well.  When we can’t find it where we live, we go off to the neighbor’s in search.  We scratch and dig and look until we find something.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Lord has given us so much.  This new year, we must keep in mind that there are people around us that are hungry.  They are searching for what they have not yet found.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed when they come to us looking for answer or asking questions, we need to make sure we have a loving, generous heart that is ready and willing to share with them from our abundance.

Not everyone has what we have or knows what we know.  They are hungry.  We have the Bread of Life.  We must be willing to share.  We have no right to be frustrated or greedy with what we’ve been given.  Salvation is for all who believe, not just the ones we believe are deserving.

Everyone’s ministry is going to look different.  As we go into this new year, let’s remember that our time to share this Bread of Life is not over.  We are still here to do the will of our Father.  How will your sharing look?  Will it be a blog?  Will you minster to a co-worker, family member, friend, or student.  Will you teach a class at church or preach from the pulpit.  Maybe you will teach at the nursing home or lead a devotion for a small group.  Perhaps your ministry will look different still.  Could this even be your year for a mission trip?  The main thing is that we are open to the Lord’s leading and that we are wiling to share.

Ready to share alongside you in 2018!

jamie

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Growing up for a reason

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”  1 Cor. 3:1

Pr. 11:30 reminds us that, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”  It is hard to win souls when we’re still babes in Christ.

Babies need almost constant attention.  When they’re not sleeping they need to be fed, held, cleaned, and kept safe.

There comes a time in our spiritual journey that we must make the decision to grow up.  We must begin feeding and caring for ourselves, not depending on others to provide us with everything.  We must learn to trust God to hold us and clean us up, not expecting others around us to be the ones who do so.

Of course, we all have moments when we need the love and care of those around us; however, when we find that we need that almost constantly it is an indication that perhaps we are still behaving as babes.

Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world preaching and baptizing.  Solomon reminded us that winning souls is the wise thing to do.  In order to do these things, we must have something to offer.

Babies are born helpless and have almost nothing to offer others.  They have to learn and grow so that they can begin contributing to the world around them.  Likewise, we must continue to grow in our trust in God and in our knowledge of Him so that we have something to offer those around us who are truly in need.

The best place to start is…drum roll, please…the Word.  When we begin feeding ourselves the Bread of Life each day, we are beginning to grow up and care for ourselves.

Once we get used to feeding ourselves, we can begin cleaning ourselves up through prayer.  Asking God for forgiveness and direction cleans us up and gives us wisdom for our next steps.  Thanking God for His blessings causes us to become grateful, which is a very grown up attribute.

With these skills, we will then find ourselves running to God to be held.  We will have grown in our understanding of who our Provider, Comforter, Helper, Deliverer, and Savior truly is.  We will know that when we need help the most, the safest, most dependable place to run is to the arms of our Father in heaven.

Armed with all this knowledge, we can then teach others that these same things are true.  We can point them to the same Father, who gives us the safety to be His baby, and the wisdom to grow into spiritual adults.

Growing up alongside you,

jamie

Let’s advance together

Pr. 30:27:  “The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks.”

Locusts are one more thing that is little on the earth, but called exceedingly wise by Agur.  Chemicals in their brains cause wise-spread breeding, and when their numbers are large enough, they advance.  Although they indeed have noted no king, the natural instinct that God placed inside them causes them to move as one in a decisive order.

God has given humans free-will.  We have instincts, but unlike animals, we are not ruled by them.  All of us were created with a sense of right and wrong.  We were all created to worship.  The difference is that we have a choice.  What we decide to worship is a choice.  Whether we fight against that right and wrong is a choice.  We also have the advantage of having the Holy Spirit adding wisdom to the instincts God has already placed within us.

What if we Christians all quit fighting against the God-given instincts of right and wrong and stopped ignoring and going against the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and started advancing, as one, toward our common goal?

The times in my life where I have fought against my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudgings and wisdom have been the times when I have fallen out of rank.  I was not advancing the kingdom of Christ one bit.  I was headed in a different direction.

When I choose to follow my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudges, I am always left knowing that I have done what I was created to do.  Whether it’s walking away from sin or ministering to someone in need, I am decisively advancing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When a swarm of locusts advances, there is no doubt where they’ve been.  The effects are long-term.  They create environmental change, famine, economical devastation, and educational decline.

What if we decided to truly do what is actually right and advanced as one in a decisive order as the locusts do?  We could bring positive environmental change for countless people.  We could feed starving souls the Bread of Life.  We could introduce the Provider to those in need.  We could acquaint others with the wisdom that is freely given from the Lord.

If we allowed ourselves to be driven, as one, by the One who change bring the best change of all, the effects would not only be long-term, but amazingly profitable for all.

Time is short, and the day of Christ’s return is drawing closer.  It’s not time to be falling out of rank.  It is time to pull together and advance for the kingdom of Christ.  He is the answer for us all!

Falling in line,

jamie

An enigma explained

Pr. 1:5-6:  “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.”

Continuing in Acts 8 today I again found Philip, doing something for which he is probably more famous than the verses I referred to yesterday.

In vs. 26 an angel of the Lord told him to get up and go south.  Philip did so and found a very powerful Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah.  Philip asked the man, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And the man said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  He then asked Philip to come sit with him, read him a passage that was confusing him, and asked Philip to explain.

Philip then explained, preaching Jesus to him and the man was baptized immediately.  Hallelujah!

Sometimes the Word can be an enigma.  The proverb above says that wise people increase learning and attain wise counsel.

If there is something in the Word that we don’t understand, we don’t need to be afraid to ask for help.  That is wisdom, and the Word was given to us in order that we may know our Lord.

If, like Philip, the Holy Spirit sends us to someone who does not understand, we must trust that God will give us the words.  But we must know the Lord and His Word in order to share.  We must continue to feed on the Word of God (the Bread of Life) and spend time with the Lord in prayer.

Philip was ready to explain.  The Holy Spirit called upon him, knowing full well that Philip was the one for the job.  Certainly God was with Philip the entire time, and Philip was not only willing, but also able.  He was full of the Lord and able to offer the Ethiopian the same gift.

Sometimes people are just waiting for someone to show up and guide them.  Perhaps we’re the ones for the job.

Keep feeding on that Bread!

jamie

 

Feeding the hungry

Pr. 10:21:  “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.”

This verse instantly makes me think about my Pastor.  Give or take a few services, he feeds thousands of God’s sheep in the pews 144 times each year.  Not only that, but he ensures that we are being fed during the other services, equips us with daily devotions, sends out blogs almost daily for extra nourishment; and for 40 extra days each year, at his urging, we gather as a church for very personal and intentional time with the Lord.

Certainly, our Pastor disburses to us the Bread of Life and the Living Water on a continual basis.  Anyone who is truly hungry or thirsty for eternal things, and encounters our Pastor, will find provisions awaiting them there.

How does our Pastor feed so many?  I think part of it can be summed up in a declaration he made several years ago.  He declared that Jesus is the true Pastor/Shepherd of our church and our earthly Pastor is merely the servant charged with carrying out God’s will in our midst.  He has submitted his life and his will to the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a result, the Bread of Life literally moves throughout our midst without hindrance.

He also diligently studies the Word of God.  His study of the Word is intensive and intentional, and his eyes are continually opened in new ways to “old” verses and passages.  He is open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit in not only his life, but in his studies.

He is also unafraid to ask listen to and ask questions of others around him with regard to scriptures.  He truly wants to know what others have gleaned from the scriptures and is constantly seeking more from God.

I read Luke 2:46 today which says, “Now so it was after three days they found Him [Jesus] in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

This is a wonderful example that Jesus set for us.  Vs. 47 says, “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”  When we get into the presence of God, when we diligently seek Him in the temple, when we ask questions of and listen to those who are laboriously in the Word, and when we seek answers in His Word, we find understanding and answers.

This Proverb says that fools die for lack of wisdom.  When it comes to learning more of God, we cannot afford to be headstrong, proud, hardened, or unteachable.  We must be willing to submit to Him in order for Him to reveal Himself more and more to us.  We must be willing to consider the teachings of those whose job it is to dig into the Word, find the answers, and guide us through that understanding.

Most importantly, though, we must know the Word and be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit, so that we may, in turn, begin to feed those around us.  People around us are hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for Living Water.  Sometimes it is up to us to release those things to them.  We must feed some people ourselves, but we must have something to offer.  We can’t leave it all up to 1 Pastor.

Dig in so you can dish it out!

jamie

You can get satisfaction!

Pr. 20:13:  “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty, open your eyes, and you will satisfied with bread.”

I have written about this verse before; however, this morning it is speaking something different to me.   Last night I was faced with feelings of inferiority and insufficiency that sometimes attack me and try to eat away at me.  We all have our battles.

There have been times when I have given into them and allowed them bring poverty to my emotional state.  Last night I was pleasantly surprised when, in the face of those thoughts, the truth of the Word of God continued to speak truth into my mind.  This has rarely been the case for me, so the fact that God’s Word was beating out the whispers of the enemy brought me much happiness.

How did this happen?  At one point, I made the choice to get up early every morning and spend time with the Word.  I have reflected on and considered God’s Word and allowed Him to speak into the depths of my mind and soul.  When faced with the thoughts and feelings that I had last night, the Word of God was truly hidden in my heart and the Lord was able to allow His truth to be the healing balm that I needed.

Truly I have been satisfied with the Bread of Life.  No one and nothing else could have truly satisfied.  I’ve tried all the other options.  They only left me more empty and more vulnerable the next time.

When my son woke up this morning, I could hear him running to my room to get in my bed and snuggle.  In that moment of sheer pleasure for me, knowing how he longed for me, I thought of our Father in heaven and how much joy we truly bring to Him.  He loves us so dearly.  Truly He created us fearfully and wonderfully and He wants nothing but the best for His children.  When we run to Him, we are running to the safest place there is.

I hope that like me, you are spending time with the Word.  I hope that when poverty threatens to come upon you, you will have enough of the Bread of Life in your life that it will satisfy and raise you up.  I speak with experience when I say that nothing else will ever satisfy.  Open your eyes and be satisfied.  Your Savior loves you beyond what words can express.  Perhaps that’s why He chose to show us on the cross–with an action.

Let Him embrace you today,

jamie

What are you consuming?

Pr. 4:17:  “For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.”

This is what the wicked are said to do in Proverbs 4.  It could be easy to type the contrasting words, “Christians eat from the Bread of Life,” but we all know that’s just not the plain facts.  All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.  If we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t need a Savior.  Thank God for the Lord’s mercy and the forgiveness that came through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Let’s pause this morning, and ask ourselves what bread we are eating right now.  Are you eating the bread of wickedness?  Is there a sin that seems tasty right now?  Are you savoring the morsels of a sinful act?  Your heart has been deceived and the bread you are eating will turn to ash in your mouth.

David told the Lord, in Ps. 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  You can once again taste the sweetness of the Lord and His Word.  Turn to The Bread of Life and ask Him to forgive you for finding pleasure in lesser things.  Ask the Lord to fill you, to satisfy the depths of your soul, and ask Him to help His word to become sweeter to your taste than honey.  He is faithful.  He will not only forgive you, but He will fill you so that you won’t hunger for lesser things.  (John 6:35-36)

What have you been drinking?  Have you been drinking the wine of violence?  Are you being so consumed by violence and wickedness that you are drunk on it?  Sin can be so consuming that it seems there is no way out.  Satan gives us one taste, and if we don’t turn back and repent, we can become addicted and consumed.  It seems that life without our sinful pleasures is no longer possible.  This is a lie.

If we drink of the living water we will never thirst for lesser drink.  Jesus said the living water that He gives will become in us a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.  Sin causes us to cling to dust.  When our souls are parched, dry, and thirsty, the only thing that will truly satisfy our thirst is the Living Water.  The Living God revives us and pours life into our souls.  The fountain that will spring up within us springs up into everlasting life.  Are you thirsty?

Thank You, Lord, for providing salvation for us.  Thank You for your love.  Thank You for Your faithfulness; for being the same God yesterday, today, and forevermore.  Thank You that Your proven Word reminds us that You do not change.  If You said Your water would cause us not to thirst, then its true.  You said that the one who comes to You, You will by no means cast out.  It is impossible for You to lie.  Thank you for this promise.  Thank you for everlasting life that comes through you.  We are all sinners, but You loved us so much that You wouldn’t leave us without a Savior.  Help us, Lord, to accept that gift and rely on Your strength and Your truth to hold on to it and not become drunk with sin ever again.  Holy Spirit, consume us, and make us new.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray.  Amen.