Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.

-jamie

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A story of integrity

Pr. 11:3:  “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

The word that piqued my interest in this verse this morning was ‘guide.’  I find it interesting that the thing that will guide us is integrity.  It’s not just recommended or a good idea, integrity will guide us.

Have you ever thought about that before?  Have you ever thought, “If I want some guidance today, I will start with integrity!”?  I sure haven’t.

When we’re making plans and decisions; however, if you really think about it, integrity does determine which path we choose to take.

Ok, here’s an example:  There are days when I’d love to nothing but sit on the couch and read all day.  Seriously, all day.  My integrity; however, will not allow me to do that because I have responsibilities in my home.  My integrity drives me to keep up my end of things and do my work.  So, I take an allotted amount of time to read, and then I move on to my other tasks.

Let’s look at the other side of this verse:  the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.  We can probably all give examples of this.  Lying sets us up to be found out and to lose others’ trust.  Cheating and stealing can get us punished in all kinds of ways.  Constant excuses render us unreliable.  Unforgiveness and lack of mercy clothe us in bitterness and anger that affects all of our relationships.  A consistent track record of these kind of things causes our character, and sometimes our quality of life, to be destroyed.

2 Cor. 3:3 talks about being an epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God.  Our lives are a story.  If we allow integrity and the Holy Spirit to guide us, then our story points to Christ and His love.  We don’t have to declare ourselves as good people, as honest and faithful, or even as Christians.  Our actions tell that story for us.

If perversity guides us, we are telling a much different story, and no matter what we think, that truth and destruction cannot be hidden.  It is there for all to see.

So today, we need to look to integrity to help us determine what choices we will make.  If integrity is our guide, our actions will reflect it.

Seek out that guide today,

jamie

 

Under whose authority?

“Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray away from the words of knowledge.”  Pr. 19:27

In Mark 1:16-20, Jesus told Simon and Andrew to follow Him.  He also called to James and John, sons of Zebedee, who left their father and went after Jesus.  How convincing must Jesus have sounded to these men?  Seriously.  They were at work, doing their jobs, making money, and this stranger speaks to them and they just leave it all and follow him.  That’s out of the ordinary.

After they went into Capernaum, Jesus taught in the temple and spoke “as one having authority.”  A man with an unclean spirit then approached Him, and Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”  The spirit came out of the man.

They left the synagogue and went to Simon’s house.  His mother was sick, so Jesus took her by the hand, lifted her up and her fever immediately left her.  That night, the whole city was gathered together at the door of Simon’s house, where Jesus healed their diseases and cast out demons.  He wouldn’t allow the demons to speak.

A leper later came to Jesus to see if He was willing to heal him.  As soon as Jesus spoke the words, “I am willing; be cleansed,” the leprosy left the man.

Have you seen the same pattern I’m seeing?  Jesus’ authority is undeniable.  He spoke to strangers, and they gave up everything for Him.  He spoke to demons and they obeyed.  He spoke to sickness and it left.

What is He speaking to You right now?  Another pattern I’ve noticed is that we tend to try to resist the Lord’s instructions to us.  When the Holy Spirit prompts us to do something we hesitate, we debate, we put it off.  We’re afraid to obey for various reasons.  Why?

Have we given something or someone else more authority in our lives?  Jesus’ authority is undeniable in Mark.  He still has the same authority today.  He does not change.  The only thing that changes is us.  We stray.

How sad that even the demons obeyed Jesus, and yet we try to ignore or debate with Him.

When the Lord speaks to You, listen.  He has the power to make things happen.  All He needs us to do is be willing to be part of His plan.  When we obey the Lord, the outcome is up to Him.  Don’t put Him off any longer.

In fact, may I be so bold to say, let’s be better than the demons, and ask Him in advance to speak to us.  And when He does, let’s simply obey.

Listening for instruction,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 18

Today’s scriptures are about words.  Your Words are powerful, Lord, because they create.  Indeed, Lord, Your Word is forever settled in heaven.  It is as unchanging as Your faithfulness.  You established the earth by Your Word, and it abides.  What You create is for a purpose.

Lord, Pr. 18 tells us that our words create, as well.  Help my words to also have a purpose.  Help me not to express my own heart, but to delight in understanding. Help the wellspring of wisdom flow from my mouth and not foolishness.  Help my lips not to enter into contention or call for blows.  I do not want my mouth to be my destruction, or be a snare for my soul.  I want my mouth to honor and glorify You.

Keep me from haughtiness. Keep my ears and my lips closed to gossip. Let my ears wisely seek knowledge. Help my heart to be prudent, acquiring knowledge. Let the produce of my lips be good and not evil.

Lord, Pr. 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Let my tongue speak life. Help me to be a wife who is honorable, loyal, and helpful.  Help me to speak life into my husband.  Let me to listen before speaking, and to answer softly.

Lord, I thank You that Your name is a strong tower that I can run to for safety.  When I need protection, Lord, You are ever there; unchanging, and eternal.  Thank You, Lord.  Thank You that Your faithfulness will endure to the generations that come after me!

I love You, Lord,

jamie

 

Month of Prayer, Day 16

Lord, I love you this morning.  I woke up thinking about trusting You.  I’m so thankful that was my first thought of the day.  Pr. 16:20 says, “Whoever trust in the Lord, happy is he.”  How true that is!

Lord, the running theme in my verses this morning was that no matter our plans or ideas, You have the final Word.  But better than that is the fact that You are faithful and You are directing us into good things.  Even when we are afflicted, it is to produce something good in our lives.

Yesterday I read again that trials produce perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint.  What a wonderful thing to know.  Thank You for that reassurance and those promises.  No matter what the affliction, we can trust that You are producing endurance, character, and hope in our lives.  Thank You.  I see no reason not to trust in the One who does these things.

Help me to depart from evil today.  Help me to rule my spirit and not allow anger to drive me.  Help my words to be pleasant today, as Your Word says that pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

I love you, Lord.  I am so proud and honored to be called Yours.  I know that as You direct my steps, Your love is with me.  Thank You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Month of Prayer, Day 15

Lord, You made and fashioned my children with beautiful intentionality.  Help them to truly KNOW this and to believe it.  Give them understanding, that they may learn Your commandments.  Help them to hope in Your Word!

Give them soft answers and take harshness away.  Let wisdom flow from their tongues and not foolishness.  Give them prudence to accept needed correction, and help them not to be lazy.  Do not allow them to disdain instruction, but to wisely heed rebukes with understanding, that they may fear You and receive Your instructions.

I thank You that our house is indeed filled with much treasure.  You are our treasure.  Help my children to grow in their understanding of this.  Lord, You fill us with love, joy, cheer, hope, and merry hearts.  Thank You.

Lord, give my children enough wisdom to choose the life that winds upward, that they may turn away from hell below.  Help their thoughts and their words to be pure and pleasant, so that they may honor You and their prayers will be Your delight.

I thank You for the privilege to raise these children You have created.  As I lean upon Your Holy Spirit, fill me with the wisdom to guide them the way that is best for them and for their purpose.   Help me to point them to You, so that You can lead them into eternity.

I love you, my Lord and my God.  I praise Your name for all things.  You are an amazing God!

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Let love lurk

Pr. 1:11:  “If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;”

1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

There is a striking difference between the attitudes in this proverb and in 1 John.  Without God, love is not shown to others.  In fact, as is demonstrated in this verse, there may be complete disregard for others well-being.

What’s lurking beneath our surface?  Are we ready to pounce on others and cause harm; or are we so saturated with God’s love that it overflows and gushes onto those around us?

When we are born of God and know God, we show love.  The love in our relationships is a very clear indicator of the knowledge of God and His love within us.  If God’s love is revealed through us, what is our love for others saying right now on His behalf?

Paying attention to my ambushes,

jamie