Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

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Introducing the Messiah

Mt. 27:25: “And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children.'”

This is what the people said to Pilate when he washed his hands before them saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person [Jesus]. You see to it.”

Pilate could find no fault in Jesus because there was none.  The people took the fault upon themselves, but what struck me this morning was that they not only took the fault upon themselves, but they put it upon their children, as well.  Wow!  That’s some kind of serious burden and legacy to place upon your own children.

Back in Ps. 78, Asaph writes, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”  (vs. 2-4)

What happened between the time he wrote this and the time that Jesus was standing before the people and Pilate?  Well, just because one father decides to tell his kids about the Lord doesn’t mean they all do.  We know that.  That is why people did not recognize the Messiah when He came.  He was standing right in front of them, and instead of worshiping and honoring them, they took their blood upon themselves and their own children, crucifying Him.

We have the same responsibility today that Asaph had all those years ago, and it doesn’t matter if we are a parent or not.  Jesus is going to come back one day for His bride.  We must not hide the parables and the truth about our loving Savior and Messiah from the generations around us.  We need to tell the praises of the Lord.  He is worthy!  We need to talk about His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.  He is mighty!

We can leave a wonderful legacy to the world around us.  A legacy of eternal life and reward.  There is still time to help those around us recognize the Messiah and give Him honor.  Get involved in sharing the gospel one way or another.  Don’t let someone meet their Messiah unprepared because you weren’t willing to open your mouth.  Let’s follow Asaph’s example and leave the legacy of hope they’ve been granted through grace.

Thank You, Jesus Christ, for our salvation through Your death and resurrection!  Thank You for Your grace, mercy, and forgiveness through the cross!  We praise You, and You alone, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Amen.

jamie

Pr. 20:7: “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”    (Now that’s a legacy worth leaving!)

 

Now is the time for mourning

Pr. 5:11:  “And you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed.”

Sometimes we continue on a path of sin even though we know better.  Sometimes, even though we’ve been warned and cautioned by others to refrain, we continue to imbibe.  It’s not just you.  We’ve all done it.

Let me encourage you today; however, to stop.  Whatever sinful activity you know you’re entertaining or currently undertaking, simply stop.  Put on the brakes and say, “Today is the that day it stops.”

Don’t wait until it has gone so far that your ‘flesh and your body are consumed.’  Don’t let the time of consequences be your mourning point.

I came by to remind you today that Jesus Christ died to free you from your sins.  He did not leave you helpless, to be bound by sin.  He died to provide you freedom.  He died to provide freedom for those around you.

Let’s not wait and mourn when the consequences of sin have gotten to the point of consuming us.  Let’s mourn now for any separation we have from God.  Let’s let that mourning draw us back to Him.  Let’s mourn now for the lost souls around us, and let’s do something about it.

We have a bigger purpose on this earth than fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.  We have a gospel to preach.  What better way to preach than with the example of our lives?  When we tell others the sinful places and activities from which God has brought us, and the love He continues to have for us and for them, we are fulfilling our purpose.

Stopping today gives you a testimony that is real and that can be used for His purpose.  Mourning now will motivate you to mourn for others around you, and inspire you to share the reality of that same grace and forgiveness that was offered for you.

Now is the time to mourn.

Grieving,

jamie

What if you’re called a fool?

This morning I read 1 Cor. 4, where Paul is talking about the apostles being fools for Christ’s sake.  Vs. 12 says, “And we labor, working with our hands.  Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat.”

I’ve been reading a lot about martyr’s lately, both past and present.  Because of this, it was so striking for me this morning to think about Paul’s words.  These aren’t just words on a page.  These are the true thoughts and facts about a human being’s life.

The apostles were truly reviled.  They were left homeless and poorly clothed, spat upon, and condemned, and yet they continued to bless.  For God’s sake, they continued to bless and offer the saving truths of the gospel of Christ.

The apostles were actually persecuted.  They were beaten, threatened, jailed, and killed, and yet they endured.  Looking forward to the reward of serving Jesus Christ, they were able to continue to pour out to as many as possible until the very end.

The apostles were defamed.  They were falsely accused and imprisoned time and time again, and yet they continued to entreat those around them to accept Jesus as their Savior.  They continued to speak the gospel, even in the presence of their accusers, so that anyone whose heart may be open to hear would receive salvation full and free.

I think of the bad days I have, when I can’t get my eyes off of myself.  I think of the times I’ve been hurt, when I’ve allowed my pain to shut me down.  Then, I look at what so many have gone and are going through for the cause of Christ and I know that I still need to mature.

The apostles were the ultimate example of doing all things to the glory of God.

While our individual talents, gifts, and callings may be a little different in description, we are all part of the body working towards the same goal:  to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

In Christ, we have so much to offer those around us.  Even if the time comes when, like the apostles, we are looked upon as fools, it will have been worth it.  There is a great reward awaiting us and those who believe because of our own endurance.

We cannot keep God’s grace and His gifts all for ourselves.  They were meant to be shared.  His sacrifice makes our own sacrifices worth the price.

The song I’ve attached today reminds me that instead of wasting my time on things that don’t matter, I can give everything in my life for Him.  He’s worth it!

Stirred,

jamie

 

You have beautiful feet

Pr. 20:12:  “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.”

This Proverb reminds us that the Lord made every part of us, and each part is to be used for His service.  He made ears to hear the gospel.  He made eyes to see His glory in creation, and to see those around us who are hurting and need our help.

There are ears that still need to hear the Word of God.  There are ears that need to know they have a Savior who cares so much for them that He would willingly lay down His life for their own.  There are ears that need to know they are worthy of such a Savior.

Romans 10:14 asks, “How shall they hear without a preacher?”  We are the preachers.  We are the voices those ears need to hear.  The Lord made those ears to hear of Him.  It’s up to us to make sure the message reaches them.

We don’t need a pulpit in order to preach.  We preach when we pray for someone who has a need.  We preach when we give our time, in the name of Jesus, for someone who feels they’re unworthy of it.  We preach when we share a scripture to encourage the one who is being oppressed by the enemy.  We preach when we tell someone about Jesus.  We preach when we give praise to God for the blessings in our lives.  We preach when we sing songs about the Lord to our children.  We preach when we tell the truth, no matter the consequences.  We preach when we turn the other cheek, or when we avert our eyes from temptation.

Our lives preach to the seeing eyes and the hearing ears that the Lord made.  When everything about our lives point to Jesus, His gospel is being shared.

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!  Ro. 10:15

Whether it’s a pair of sweat pants, a suit, or a uniform, let’s get our preaching clothes on today, get our beautiful feet moving, and speak up.  Those eyes and ears are waiting.

Warming up my voice,

jamie

What was I trying to say?

Pr. 23:20:  “Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat.”

Last night I had a dream where I was with a small group of people who was encouraging a broken person and witnessing to them about Christ.  One of the people in our group was one of the Pastor’s from my church.  We wound up at a bar, which was the place where that person was most comfortable.  And then, my Pastor ordered shots for us all.

I wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable being in the bar, but when my Pastor ordered us shots and then eagerly drank his, I was worried that he was crossing a dangerous line.   (Reminder…this was only a dream)

We were called to tell others about Christ.  Paul said that he made himself a servant to all, that he might win the more.  To the Jews he became as a Jew, to those who were weak he became as one weak, etc.  (1 Cor. 9:20-23)  He said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”

Paul did what it took to witness; however, this same man also reminds us in the chapter before to be cautious of our liberties in Christ.  He tells us that our decisions could cause a weaker brother could stumble.  He was ever-mindful of the reason he was witnessing in the first place, disciplining himself as to not become disqualified.  (1 Cor. 9:27)

We exist to win people to Jesus Christ and the best way to do that is to make Jesus so attractive that others cannot resist. While doing so; however, we must be careful that we don’t begin to mar our own credibility and risk becoming in bondage ourselves.

This is definitely not a blog about the right or wrong of drinking, but we have something so much better to offer others than a profitless shot of alcohol, and we have to demonstrate that by our actions.  What can be found in Jesus is far beyond any outside lift.  When becoming a servant to all, we must be ever mindful of the One whose servanthood we are first called to emulate.

We must keep in mind that being a witness for Christ means we must give evidence of the hope that is found in Him, and not allow ourselves to forget what we were trying to say in the first place.

Sticking close to the Savior,

jamie

True trust in God

I know it’s Christmas, which is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but the next chapter in my regular reading this morning was about Jesus’ crucifixion.  He was brought before Pilate, accused, betrayed, scourged, ridiculed, struck, spat upon, mockingly worshiped, forced to carry His cross, pierced, blasphemed, and killed.  Only as He died did one of the centurions proclaim, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

During our Christmas performance at church last night, Mary, the mother of Jesus sang a song that said, “Only God knows what my eyes cannot see.  When I don’t understand, I still believe there’s a plan…that only God knows.”  Mary had trusted the Lord even when it made no sense to her.  Joseph had done the same.

As I read about Jesus’ death this morning, I couldn’t help but note the striking difference in feelings that emerge from the story of His birth and the story of His death.  How proud I felt last night of Mary and Joseph for truly trusting God, in His sovereignty, and being vessels to carry out His plans.  We find Joseph trusting in and obeying God more than once as we read the scriptures.  We find Mary, not only being willing, but also magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord.

The story of Jesus’ death includes His mother, as well.  Yet, as I read about her looking on as her Son had been humiliated, abused, and was now suffering and dying on a cross, I felt such sadness for her.  How much harder must it have been to continue to trust in God’s plan during that pain.

And yet, we find her afterwards, in Acts 1:14, gathered with the other believers, continuing in one accord in prayer and supplication.  She continued to submit herself to the Lord and His will even though she had witnessed His will including the horrific death of her Son.  She understood what Jesus’ death meant.  She understood that there is so much more to this life that what our eyes can see.

Oh, how I pray that we will be able to trust in the Lord as Mary did.  As the end approaches, and things increasingly point us away from the Lord, we must still trust in Him and His will.  He still has a plan, and if we’re willing, that plans still includes us.  There is so much more for those who believe in Him.  There is so much more than what our eyes can see or what we can even understand.

The birth of Mary’s Son brought the gospel, healing, and deliverance to those who heard and were touched by Him.  The death of Mary’s Son brought salvation upon the whole world.  Whatever God does through our willingness is also a part of His plan.  We can trust in the One who continues to be faithful.

Counting on Him,

jamie