Oh, such pain!

I’m reading the conversations between Job and his friends right now in the book of Job.  It’s so uncomfortable for me because I have scars from comments people have made to me during my own health issues the last few years…even while I was down at the altar seeking God’s face.

Job asked his friends why they were tormenting him with their accusations and insults.  I know Job was a man, but I have to wonder if he cried because of what they said?  I usually just cry.  ha!

I’m not sure what it is about health issues or major trials that opens up the doorway to make others think they should step in and offer up judgment instead of encouragement, but it’s sad.  When someone is going through pain and trials, the last thing they need is added pain.

Sickness in someone’s life does not automatically mean they’ve sinned or haven’t asked, in faith, to be healed.  Trials in someone’s life does not mean they have not been generous to the poor or have angered God.

What do those in pain or those in the midst of a trial need?  They need love.  They need compassion.  They need an ear to listen.  They need prayer.  If you know specifically of sin in their life, you can offer help, but if you don’t, then don’t accuse.  People who are hurting need comfort.  They need a friend.

Take them a meal.  Babysit their kids or pay for someone else to do it.  Pay for someone to clean their house for them.  Go sit with them when they can’t get out of bed.  Pray with them.  Give them a hug.  Wash their car.  Offer to do something else you know will bless them.  Do something to bless them, but don’t add to their pain.

I am so blessed by Job.  He did curse the day he was born…that’s understandable, since he was in immense pain…but he was never so discouraged that he allowed his friends to turn mind away from trusting God.

For any Christian in pain, that’s critical.  We can’t turn our hearts away from trusting in God.  As Christians, we cannot be the ones to cause pain.  Our lives are supposed to represent God’s love.  If God’s love looks like judgment and accusations, especially in a trial or painful time in someone’s life, it will make it so hard for them to trust in Him.

As Christians, it is imperative that we operate in love, encouragement, and in prayer.  Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul all our strength and all our mind; and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  What if you were the one in pain?  What would you want to hear?  What if you were in that trial?  What would you need?

We must go and do likewise,

jamie

 

Love your enemies, part 4

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

If you want to go back and read parts one, two, and three of this 4-part series, just click on those links and it will take you there.

Today’s topic is love.  “Behold, 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.”  1 John 4:7-8

God IS love!  And we love one another because love is of Him and we are born of Him and we know Him.  When we aren’t loving one another, then it’s an indicator than something is off in our relationship with God.  When we aren’t loving then something is wrong.

Vs. 10 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love on another.”  (vs. 11)

How do we love one another?  1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  …let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

We show love by meeting each other’s needs when we can.  We love by our actions, not just by saying, “I love you.”  Meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Love requires sacrifice.

Pr. 17:22:  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Some people’s bones have been dried through brokenness.  But we have the remedy for that.  Pr. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Perhaps we can be the one who gives health back to that person with the dried bones with our pleasant words and our love.  Also, those wrathful people who stir up strife…perhaps their bones have been dried up for a long time.  Perhaps they are hard, unyielding and rank, but it could be our love and our pleasant words that brings the sweetness and health back to their bones.

Pr. 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before it starts.”  We all know that’s true.  Once it has begun it almost impossible to get it stopped.  Maybe we could be the ones that choose to trust God instead, allay contention, and simply choose love.

Again, we can only control what we do, not what other do, or how others react.  If they don’t react with kindness, then we react with forgiveness, yes?  If you’ve forgotten, go back and re-read the last few blogs at the links above.

I know this all goes against our fleshly, human-nature, but when we do what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will have our back and see us through!  We have to believe it!

Believing we can do it, in Him!

jamie

Love

Can your mind be read?

Pr. 23:7:  “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Sometimes we trick ourselves into believing that our thoughts can’t harm anyone.  No one knows about them, after all.  We can think what we want, no one will be the wiser, and we can put on whatever face for others that we need to.

The truth is, however, that our thoughts will eventually show.  Maybe it’s the way we react to someone or something.  Maybe it’s the way we greet someone. Perhaps it’s a choice we make that when our guard is down.

Most often, though, our thoughts break out in our words.  It can happen at any time.  In fact, in Luke 6:45, Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

We may be able to fake it for a while, but what is really in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths.  This is why we must feed ourselves good things.  Paul told the Philippians to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, and that have virtue.  Those things will definitely put good treasure within our hearts.  When that happens, then the abundance that comes out of our mouths won’t be anything we should have to worry about.

What has been coming out of your mouth or been typed by your fingers?  Those things are coming from the abundance of your heart.  They are indicators as to what your heart is full of.

So what do you think in your heart?  That is who you are.  Is that statement upsetting?  Perhaps this is the time to begin meditating on new things. The word of God is a good place to start.

It’s like when the indicator light is on in our car.  We know it’s time to get something fixed.  It happens.  We all have to examine the indicators in our lives from time to time.  We just need to be responsible enough to admit that something needs fixed.

We can then go boldly to the throne of grace in our time of need and find the mercy and grace we need to help to make the changes that need to be made.  The Lord can renew our minds and create within us clean hearts once again.

Renewed,

jamie

How to hear wisdom

I just can’t stop thinking about that verse.  “So then faith comes from hearing…”  Ro. 10:17

Do you know what else we hear?  We hear our own thoughts in our heads.  We talk to ourselves all the time.  What are we saying?  Not only that, but sometimes we allow the enemy to run thoughts through our minds that bring us down.  What are we hearing?

“I’ll never be as smart as her.”

“Man, he really has it all together.  Look how successful he is.”

“It’s hopeless.”

“Her kids are so perfect.  I feel like such a mess.”

“I never do anything right.”

“I can’t do this.  It’s too hard.”

“God doesn’t hear my prayers.  What’s the point?”

Pr. 22:17 tells us to incline our ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply our hearts to knowledge.  We will find wisdom and knowledge in the Word of God.  The truth, which are the words that counteract all of the thoughts above, is within God’s Word.

If faith comes from hearing, we need to be careful what we are saying to ourselves.  We need to be hearing words of truth, of life, of wisdom.  We need to put on our helmets of salvation, get out our swords (the Bible), and begin reading words that are living and powerful, that pierce even to the division of soul and spirit, and discern our thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Heb. 5:12)

In fact, we can trust that God’s Word will help us in our time of need because Is. 55: 11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Where we fail in cheering ourselves us, or convincing ourselves that things are ok, God prevails!  Where we fail in pushing down thoughts of hopelessness, God’s hope achieves exactly that!  God’s Word is truly a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  He sheds light on our darkest moments, situations, and thoughts.

Thank You, God, for Your faithfulness, and the hope we find within the refuge of Your name.  Thank You for shielding and protecting us when we turn to You. 

So, each day, when we notice any thoughts that threaten to drag us down or pull us away from God, we need to turn to the truth of God’s word, allow it to take them captive, and allow Him to give us discernment and breathe life and truth back into us.

We’ve got this!  Because, with God, all things are possible.  😉

jamie

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

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