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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Only Believe reblog

This morning I read my blog from Sept. 26, 2016 and felt it was a very fitting time to share it again:

“The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road!  A fierce lion is in the street!'”  Pr. 26:13

I don’t really think we’re all lazy, but certainly we can make situations look larger than life quite often.  We have fear.  We have unbelief in the face of uncertainty.  We forget that is truly God that takes care of us.

I had the privilege to spend time this past weekend with some full-time missionaries from 3 different countries.  You know what I noticed?  They’re just ordinary people.

One lady simply saw a need and God touched her so strongly that she obeyed.   She could have been too afraid, and done nothing, but she knew it was up to her to do something.

Do you think she had all the answers?  Definitely not.  Did she have a full understanding of the depths of time, money, and commitment that would be needed to do the work?  Absolutely not!

The task she undertook could rightly be called monumental.  She absolutely did not have the resources to do it, nor did she understand how drastically her life would change as a result of deciding to do something about this need.

Mark 5:36 stands out in my mind, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

She didn’t enter that situation as a seasoned, full-time missionary.  She did not have the answers.  She did not have the resources.  She likely did not even have the time.  Yet, she chose to obey the touch of the Lord on her heart; and to believe in the One who supplies our every need.

Can’t we all do the same?  It terrifies me to imagine myself running an orphanage, and being the sole guardian for 57 kids at a time.  I would doubt my ability to care for a community that was counting on me to be their source of food.  I would feel afraid to go into a tribal village, facing people who practice religions of rage and violence.

However, we aren’t the ones who have to have the resources, answers, and abilities.  God provides those things.  God simply needs us to obey, and to do His work, believing that He will provide what we need.

Most of us won’t be facing those situations that I just described today.  However, speaking to our co-worker about the Lord can feel just as scary.  Sharing God’s love to the cashier who looks like she’s just about to give up, can leave us doubting our abilities.

Perhaps, the Lord asks us to volunteer at a soup kitchen, or repair or build a house for someone in need.  Guess what?  He will equip us.

We are all called to simply obey God’s will in our lives.  We don’t have to be a full-time missionary to do His work.  We are all just ordinary people, children of God, who long to be His hands and feet in our world.

If we obey His call, He will equip us for every good work.

Believing,

jamie

Love your enemies, part 3

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

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

Why become wise?

Pr. 7:4:  “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin.”

Wisdom is a wonderful thing.  We should always be striving to become more wise.  Wisdom brings with it things like prudence, diligence, discretion, respectfulness, humility, boldness, confidence, intelligence, ability, understanding and reason.  These are definitely qualities that are wonderful for us to have in this life.  Wisdom can help us be successful in our ventures, maintain and cultivate healthy relationships, and keep us from making choices that will endanger our lives.

It’s interesting; however, that Paul told the Corinthians that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  Does that mean we shouldn’t try to become wise?  Does that mean we shouldn’t grow and learn?  Of course not!  God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities.  Not only that, but He has given us each different capacities for learning and different interests that He has intended for us to use in pursuit of the eternal goal.

We all have something different to offer this world.  Paul reminds us that God did not call many wise or mighty people.  He has chosen the foolish and weak things to bring Him glory.  I for one am weak.  (I didn’t want to admit to being foolish.  ha!)  Truly I am weak, though, and indeed foolish in many ways.  I am not the wisest or mightiest.  Paul himself said to the Corinthians,

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

That’s it.  He didn’t come to them in his own wisdom and power, but in God’s.  And why?  That their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  That’s exactly what our own weakness and foolishness can show in our lives.  When we think in worldly terms, we think of those things only as pure weakness.  Think of it the way this way, though.  When the weakest person gets up and allows God’s Spirit and power to use them in a mighty way, how much more powerful is that for us to witness?

If you know someone is barely able to walk or speak or move, but, under the power of the Spirit, they begin to shout, jump, or minister to people, is that not an amazing thing to witness?  If you hear someone who is mentally handicapped in any way begin to speak in a way that inspires and encourages and glorifies the Lord, is that not a power thing?  It is.

Our weaknesses are not weaknesses when we use them to glorify the Lord.  Yes, we should still strive for wisdom, but let it be through God’s strength as we rely on Him and His Spirit to guide us.  Let us allow Him to use us as a vessel that brings Him glory!

Foolishly,

jamie

Clothing choices

Pr. 31:25:  “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.”

Strength and honor are her clothing.  This is such an interesting verse to me.  I like the idea of being clothed with strength and honor.  What a beautiful attire.

I am not strong in body, but with God I can absolutely be strong in spirit.  It is the Lord that gives me strength.  It is in my weakness that the Lord perfects His strength within me.  It is the Holy Spirit that empowers and equips me.  The Lord, alone, is my strength; for nothing is impossible with Him.  No matter what this life brings, the knowledge that the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me gives me such strength that I can continue forward, in His care.

Honor can come in many ways.  When we do what we say we will do, we are being honorable: keeping promises and commitments, following through, showing up.  Telling the truth is honorable, especially if we can also understand that sometimes truth needs to be delivered in a loving and kind way.  (Sometimes the truth can hurt)  Treating others kindly and respectfully shows them honor, and thus brings honor back to ourselves.  I could go on and on.

Honor is a beautiful accessory to our wardrobes, for sure.  It is something we can ask the Lord to continue to grow in our lives.  I think it is something akin to holiness, which is never out of style.

“She will rejoice in time to come.”  When we have been wearing such beautiful things in our lives, of course when we look back over our lives we will rejoice.  What a wonderful legacy we will have been leaving behind us.  What beautiful footprints we will have laid down in which others can safely follow.  What a glorious testimony we will have given; one of glory to our God and trust in the One who gave us strength to make it through.  🙂

I can’t help but smile as I think about it.  The clothes in my closet certainly won’t bring any level of satisfaction at the end of my life, but this strength and this honor…Oh, Lord, let it be.  Help me, daily, Lord, to wear the attire that has been described in this verse.  I want to honor You above all, Father, and to bring glory to Your name.  I want to be able to show that it was by Your strength that I was able to do things that would have otherwise been impossible.  Help us all, Lord, in the matchless name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Richly clothed,

jamie

What have you heard lately?

Ro. 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing…”

If faith comes by hearing, then it’s safe to say that it matters what we’re listening to.  When I was a little girl, we sang a song that said, “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear…”   How true that song is, because this verse tells us that faith comes from hearing.  What we are hearing is what leads to our faith.

Let’s start with something simple, like childhood.  When a kid hears over and over how dumb or nerdy or fat they are, from other kids, they start to believe that.  If they hear that they are pretty, smart, or talented, they believe the same.

When we watch documentaries, we find they are so easy to believe.  Before we’ve even checked the facts, we’ve heard what the experts have said, and our faith in their ‘truth’ is built.  Sometimes it is true.  Sometimes not so much.

When politicians are what we are hearing most, we can begin to believe our salvation or destruction rests on their decisions.

Likewise, if I am constantly listening to words that tell me how strong and able I am, but neglect to listen to anything that reminds me of how strong and able God is, I will begin to put my faith in myself.

We cannot deceive ourselves.  Our faith IS going to come from somewhere.  It will come from whatever it is we are hearing right now.  And when we aren’t hearing God’s word, our faith is going to come from somewhere else.  What is it you are hearing at this time in your life?  Is it the word of God?  Is it something else?

In Ro. 12:2, Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We have voices and noise all around us, in this world, but we cannot conform to what this world tells us.  It is not old-fashioned or out-dated to serve the Lord with gladness.  It is not going to hold us back in life to renew our minds and prove what the will of God is.  When our lives prove that which is good and acceptable and perfect, it shows that we are hearing the right voice.

Being a good person isn’t going to cut it.  Doing good works won’t save us in the end.  Believing in another God is not the way to heaven.  When we are hearing God; however, we will know this, and we won’t resent it.  We will understand the great rewards that await all who have chosen the narrow and difficult way that leads to eternal life.

While we are walking that path, let’s make sure someone else hears the same message and take them with us.  How will they know the way unless they first hear it from us?  After all, faith comes from hearing…

Listen selectively,

jamie

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

 

 

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!)