Messes and all…

When I got to the couch this morning to do my devotions, I moved the couch pillow and discovered crumbs from my son’s snack of chips last night.  “Ugh!” was my immediate reaction.  Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me.  So I left them there, took a picture, and opened up my Bible to Psalm 103.

The Lord redeems our lives from destruction.  He crowns us with lovingkindness & tender mercies.  He is merciful & gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.  The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to them, but sent His Son as the Way of salvation.

The Lord’s mercy is a great as the heavens are high, and He removes our sins and mistakes from us.  He pities us as a father pities his children.  (hmmmmm)  He knows our frame, remembering that we are dust….

I thought about how many messes I have tried to hide or cover up.  I thought about how many crumbs I’ve left behind in my life and how many mistakes I’ve made.  Yet, my heavenly Father continually has mercy upon me, and He pities me, remembering my frame.

How will I react towards my son’s little chip mess here beside me?  Will I guide him?  Absolutely.  Will I be a tyrant, lording over him the rules in frustration?  After reading this, I cannot.  Will I show mercy?  That’s exactly what I will do.  I’ve made my own mistakes, and I’ve been forgiven!  I have to model the same forgiveness my Father shows me.

It may not be chips on your couch, but whatever situation you find yourself facing today, I pray you’ll remember to be slow to anger, to show mercy, and to deal in lovingkindness.

dusting myself off,

jamie

 

Permission to depart

“He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”  Mt. 14:13

Something in ministry that we all worry about it being available to the people.  We should be, but we must remember that need to be refreshed, as well.  If we are modeling our lives after Jesus, then let’s model this part of our lives after Him, as well.

Even Jesus would separate Himself for times of emotional recharging (as in the verse above), or times of prayer.  That ensured that when He would come back to the people He would have something to give them besides a frazzled, “I’m hanging on by a thread and just barely getting things done”, exhausted, Lord who is only giving them pieces of Himself; or a Lord who hasn’t prayed in 3 days because He hasn’t found the time.

Throughout the gospels you will find Scriptures that show Christ getting away by Himself, or getting away with those closest to Him…away from the multitudes…just to recharge and refocus.  See Mt. 17 when He took Peter, James, and John up on the mountain.  It was just the 4 of them and they went for 1 special reason.  Not everyone was invited to this.  Not all 12 disciples, not the whole crowd; and Jesus didn’t just go alone for this one.  These were the ones He needed to be with.

It is ok for us to put our phones away for an hour or 2 (get away from the multitude), go off with our certain one or few for something special (or nothing special), or spend time alone recharging so that when we come back we have more to give in our ministries.

Each time Jesus came back from one of those times, the multitudes were waiting and there was work to do.  He had compassion on them and got to work, but He was refueled and ready.  The work of ministry (and life) will never end, so we must take care to carve out those times of ‘departing’ on our own.  No one else can do that for us…no one will.

Let’s be like Jesus and depart from multitude before it gets out of hand.  Schedule it if you need to.  Refocus, recharge, and come back recharged and ready for ministry…just like Jesus did.

And when He went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with great compassion for them…

jamie

He chose you

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”

Yes.  There is more to that Scripture in Eph. 1:4, but this morning, I wanted to point out to you and to me that God chose us before the foundation of the world.  If you’ve been wondering if you were chosen, if there has been any doubt in your mind if the gospel message is for you, if you weren’t sure if you were lovable enough for Him, then let this verse reassure you this morning…He chose YOU before the foundation of the world.  And then He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to ensure that Your salvation would be in place if you chose to believe.

Thursday night I went to visit an elderly man that I have befriended over the last few years.  He is a precious man that has spoken encouragement and life into me over the last couple of years, and when I went into his house he said that his heart was racing with me being there because he was so excited to see me.  When I left there that night I was in tears.

This man chose me.  He chose to be my friend, to speak encouragement into my life, to want to be my friend; and when he saw me, his heart was literally racing with excitement.  That says so much to me.  I went there to see him because I love him, but I left there feeling so overwhelmed with love.

God chose us before the foundations of the world!  He speaks life and encouragement into us through His Word more than any person could ever do.  He sent His only Son to die so that we could be with Him for eternity.  That’s how much He wants to be with us.  Y’all!  He wants us!  We are chosen!  If you have ever doubted it…let those doubts be erased now.  He loves You!

His,

jamie

How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

Using the right tools?

Cleaning the mirror with furniture polish…not so much.

The other day, I was thinking about how we sometimes go about our lives without the proper tools, making things much harder for ourselves, or looking for the help in the wrong places.

Take peace, for instance.  When we need peace in our lives, we might try meditation, medication, alcohol, or a costly get-away.  All the while, peace is just an ask away.  Ph. 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The peace that comes from God transcends all understanding.  We can get that out of our tool box, if we just trust Him enough to ask.

How about discernment?  That’s the ability to judge well…to judge our actions, our reactions, our words, our Facebook posts, our attire…discernment.  We might try to base that off what others are saying or doing, or how we want them to react to us.  Ps. 119:66 is a great reminder that there is only one place we should be looking for advice on those things: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  God is the One who will give us the good judgment (discernment) that we need as we walk through this life and navigate these choppy waters.

And what about financial troubles.  We get title loans, put things on credit cards, and go into more and more debt.  Are we tithing?  There are blessings that come with giving the Lord the tenth that belongs to Him.  We came into this world with nothing, and all that we have came from Him.  We are blessed.  When we give back to Him that tenth, He will honor His word in Malachi 3:9-11, when He says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” 

The Lord uses the tithes we bring to bless others around us.  When we are all being obedient, there will be more than enough for everyone, but we will also be blessed when we give.  If you’re having financial troubles, my advice to you today is to tithe.  I know the math doesn’t make sense, but I promise you, God will faithfully honor it, and will meet your needs.  

Don’t struggle through life using the wrong tools.  Look to God and His Word for all that you need.  He has all this and more waiting for you now.

You’re not alone,

jamie

Who are you?

Pr. 31:30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

We have to be careful where we get our sense of identity.  Is it in the image we see in the mirror, the compliments of others, the likes we get on social media?  Perhaps we even get our identity from another person, like our spouse, sibling, boyfriend, or girlfriend?

As this scripture says, charm and beauty are passing, so we certainly can’t rely on our looks as our sense of identity.  I’m not sorry to say to you that it doesn’t matter how beautiful or handsome you are, if you aren’t that way on the inside then it’s truly all for naught.  Maybe no one has told you that lately.

Having all the followers possible on social media or only 10, or losing friends in the real world, should still not be the way we figure out who we are.

Our sense of identity runs deeper than that.  It is who we truly are.  Do you know who you are or do you let others opinions and actions determine that for you?

We cannot allow anyone but our Father and Creator tell us who we are.  He had a plan for us at the beginning, and as a potter shapes clay, He is molding and shaping us over time into the person we are to be.

Daily, we change and grow, but always we are in His righteous right hand, and since He is the author and finisher of our faith, He is the One we should look to for the answer to who we truly are.

We will find out who we are when we spend time with our Father, in His word, in prayer, and in worship.  If you’ve been believing lies about yourself or feeling “less than” or even “more than” about yourself lately, spend some time with the Lord and He will give You a true sense of your identity.  He will let you know who you are in Him, and guide you on the path He has for you.

He has plans for us if we are only willing to accept them and trust Him enough to give in.

What’s it to be?  Who will you trust today?

jamie

Here is a song to get you started in worship.  Go to the Word next…

 

Where’s my path?

Pr. 4:18: But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

If we want our paths to be made clearer, so that we know which direction to go, it is possible.  If we seek for our paths to be increasingly brighter, it can happen.

I recall the days of my youth, and even days not so many years ago, when I was increasingly restless, always uncertain about what I should do or what God’s will was for me.  It seemed that I was always searching for direction.

Those who are “just” are those on whom justice has been assigned, through the righteousness of Christ.  It was through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that we are made just.

Once we accept Him and begin consistently turning to Him as our source of direction, we will find our path.  As this scripture tells us, that path will then begin to shine ever brighter as we continue to look to Him for that direction.

We won’t get the answers we need anywhere else but in Him and His Word.

If your path has been growing dim lately, look to Him.  If it has become overgrown, reach out for Him.  If you’ve lost the path altogether, call out for Him!  He is there!

On my path,

jamie