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Showing posts from June, 2011

The purpose of the hammer - Part V

29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)
The last two purposes of a hammer are not the traditional uses of a hammer as we might think of when we consider what a hammer might do.  Indeed, a small "hammer" is used to produce music when it either strikes a bell, or a piano string.  Those little hammers inside your old traditional alarm clocks would cause a clang loud enough to raise us from slumber.  The many hammers within the hidden parts of the piano would magically produce melodies that soothed our souls, or set our feet to tapping!
The tiny hammers within the alarm clock produce a sound strong enough to get us to a place that we are aware of our environment once again.  The Word of God is continually in the process of bringing a clear and resonant "sound" that helps to awaken us from our slumber and apathy.  As it produces the "sound" that awakens us, there is a "tuning in"…

The purpose of the hammer - Part IV

29Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, andlike a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)
Our fourth purpose of a hammer has a little different meaning.  The use of a weapon, such as a pistol, requires the "hammer" to connect with the firing pin, thus igniting the cartridge that will force the projectile from the barrel of the weapon.  As the hammer is "cocked" back, it is poised for release.  Once released, the series of actions produced has astronomical results!
The same is true of the Word of God.  The fact is, the Word is "poised" to bring about a series of responses within us that ignite us and propel us into action.  There is always something within us that has the potential of "explosion" if it is ignited by the right connections.  The Word has a way of making that connection that aligns all the parts so as to bring about an "ignition" within.
When something is ignited, it is brought to the place of "exci…

The purpose of the hammer - Part III

29My words are a powerful fire; they are a hammer that shatters rocks. (Jeremiah 23:29)
Our third example of the use of a hammer is in the construction process - it is used to build something - to fasten that which it hits.  It is the combining of the various parts, (nail, wood, or another object), that the position of strength and usefulness takes form.  For example, wood in a pile has not much use until it is combined with a few nails.  The work of the hammer is to drive the nail into the wood, joining it and giving it form.  Soon, that wood takes on a sense of usefulness to the one who is doing the building.
There is a strength that comes in joining the wood.  When God brings pieces of our lives into alignment and then firmly "fixes" them to his foundation of love and grace, our lives take on a strength that they were missing before.  Without that "ordering" of the parts (body, soul, spirit, emotions, mind, etc), we are nothing more than a whole lot of parts!  Once…

The purpose of the hammer - Part II

29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29)
Today, we will explore the second purpose for the hammer.  According to Webster, a hammer strikes blows so as to pound.  It also shapes that which it hits.  It is that shaping process that we will explore today.  God's word is a tool used to "shape" us - it is designed to "adapt" us to the character traits that most closely resemble those of Christ's.


The shaping process of the hammer often brings that which is being shaped into close contact with that object that is creating the shape.  As the object being shaped is placed on top of that which acts as a backdrop to all the shaping process, the hammer comes down on the on the object, conforming it to the image of that which it rests upon.  We might say that the process is one of modifying the object to take on the form of that which it is being molded against.


If we are close enough to Jesus…

The purpose of the hammer - Part I

29 Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord.
   “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29)
You know me well enough to realize that I would look up "hammer" in the dictionary.  In doing so, I discovered some meaningful uses (purposes) for the hammer.  Over the next couple of days, I will explore those with you and see just how they might impact our lives (no pun intended!).
The first use of a hammer is to strike a blow, or repeated blows, so as to pound an object.  As a young girl, Dad would give me some nails and a hammer with a piece of scrap wood.  I'd "pound" them for a while, but soon would have the hammer over in the dirt, pounding down dirt-clods, breaking up little stones, or just plane mashing stuff that was in sight.
When something is "pounded" it is reduced to powder - it no longer bears the image of what it had formerly been.  Being "reduced" seldom occurs on the first blow of the hamm…

Ears, Hands & Feet

Moses then presented the second ram, the ram for the Ordination-Offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram's head. Moses slaughtered it and smeared some of its blood on the lobe of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. Then Aaron's sons were brought forward and Moses smeared some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet.  (Leviticus 8:22-24)
This ordination-offering and the anointing of Aaron and his sons seems a little extreme in light of our present day worship experiences.  We don't bring live animals to church with us to present on the altar, nor do we anoint individuals called into service as ministers with blood from a slain animal.  So, what does this passage have to do with us today?  I think we can take a lesson from the anointing that might help us in our own undivided worship of the King of Kings - Jesus.
We don'…

Dropped on Purpose - Part II

15When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her.16And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!” (Ruth 2:15-16)
Yesterday we began to explore the intentional work of God to provide more than we have need of - allowing us to experience what he has provided ON PURPOSE in our lives.  Ruth was in a rare situation when she was gathering the leftover grains from the fields of Boaz.  She recognized that what was left was more than what most harvesters would leave.  When she came into the realization that there was grain being left ON PURPOSE, she was humbled and felt terribly unworthy of this man's favor.
We often feel the same way about God's favor in our lives - we see ourselves as unworthy and therefore, we resist the favor he extends.  The fact is that God has placed answers in our path ON PURPOSE.  He has pr…

Dropped on Purpose - Part I

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!” (Ruth 2:15-16)
In the book of Ruth, we find a story of Naomi (a Jewish woman of the tribe of Judah) left all alone in a foreign country during a time of drought in Israel.  The misfortune of losing her sons and husband had fallen to her in their sojourn to find a place to wait out the great drought.  She has two daughter-in-laws, Orpah and Ruth.  When Naomi heard that the drought had ended in Judah, she yearned to return to her homeland.  Orpah did not want to leave her family, nor her home of her youth, so she stayed behind.  Ruth declared boldly, "Where you go, I will go!"  So, off they went to Naomi's home town.
The story continues with Ruth doing what most widows of the day did - looking for a litt…

Everything comes out right

43-44 And so God gave Israel the entire land that he had solemnly vowed to give to their ancestors. They took possession of it and made themselves at home in it. And God gave them rest on all sides, as he had also solemnly vowed to their ancestors. Not a single one of their enemies was able to stand up to them—God handed over all their enemies to them.  45 Not one word failed from all the good words God spoke to the house of Israel. Everything came out right. (Joshua 21:43-45)
Israel is coming into possession of their land - after about 40 years of wandering in the wilderness because of their rebellion and unbelief - after they had dispossessed the strong armies that inhabited the region.  They are about to take possession - but the one who gave them the land was God himself.  There are times in our lives when we think that the actions of our own hands and the schemes of our own brains have been exactly what brought about the success we are enjoying.  This seldom is the case - in fact, …

The voice of "me"

19 Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
   if you try to make it better, you'll only make it worse.  (Proverbs 19:19)
There is a message in this passage that has two-sides to it.  The first is the fact that short-fused individuals reap a return on their lack of self-control quicker than they'd like.  The end-result of their outbursts is that a "wake" is left.  That wake leaves damages that are often unable to be repaired.  Trust is lost, respect is disintegrated, and relationships are brought to ruin.
Yet, the most dangerous place to be is in the middle trying to either "reign in" or "mitigate the fall-out" of the outbursts of an individual that has no real sense of what their outbursts are doing.  At some point, we may need to step back.  When we are in the middle, the backlash affects us often more than it does the individual with the lack of self-control.  How many times do we get "involved" in something that was the …

Cross-Examination

17 The first speech in a court case is always convincing—
   until the cross-examination starts!  (Proverbs 18:17)
I like shows or movies that give you a riveting courtroom trial in which there is little to no hope of the defending attorney ever proving the person on trial really did not do the crime.  In these courtroom depictions, the prosecuting attorney must "make the case" against the "defendant".  The case begins with what they term "opening arguments" - the laying out of the case from each person's perspective in such a way that the jury is given a hint about what will be presented.
The passage today is quite revealing - the opening speeches may all be nicely worded and organized into a nice synopsis of the beliefs of both the prosecutor and the defender, but they don't contain all the "evidence".  That is the purpose of the trial - it "opens up" the intricate pieces of evidence for the jury to examine and use in coming to …

Air Hunger

Then the Lord God formed a man. He made him out of the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into him. And the man became a living person. (Genesis 2:7)
I am blessed with two grandsons with lots of energy and a tremendous amount of zeal for life.  Both suffer from asthma, but none had been as severe as the youngest was this week.  I watched as the youngest suffered through his "air hunger" in our pediatric emergency room.  As I sat those long hours seeing his little body work so hard to take in breath, my heart ached for his struggle.  His condition deteriorated, requiring oxygen and strong medications to assist in reducing the inflammation.  It took hours, but eventually this little life began to respond to the treatments rendered.  
In those hours of waiting, I could not help but think about the joy it gives God to breathe life into his creation - you and me!  He gives us our first breath and he continues to allow us the ability to take in breath each and every d…

Outed by Insight

21 A wise person gets known for insight;
   gracious words add to one's reputation. (Proverbs 16:21)
It is no secret to some that I frequent the social networking crowd better known as Facebook.  I like to play the games, find joy in reading about what is going on in the lives of my friends, and laugh occasionally at a well-posted joke.  I also find that there are nougats of truth that people sometimes share that make me pause for a moment to consider those words that have been posted.  They evoke thought, but sometimes they also evoke emotion.  We would call this "insight" - the ability to connect with a truth in such a way that in sharing it, that insight impacts the lives of others.
Insight is really the ability to apprehend the TRUE nature of a matter and it is almost always because the individual has what we'd term an "intuitive understanding" of the subject.  They may not have even had to "study hard" to really "get" what it is that t…

Family Trouble

2 Don't call attention to yourself;
   let others do that for you.  (Proverbs 27:2)
The New Living Translation puts this same passage this way:  "Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips."  There are many things that are outlined within the Proverbs that deal with the use of our "tongue" (speech), relationship issues (and how not to have them!), and keeping a right perspective on just who / what we are (humility).  The lessons are numerous, but the rewards of having learned those lessons well are even greater!
Humility is something we don't easily learn!  In fact, everything within us wanted to be noticed from the first time we took a breath!  Why else do you suppose we cried every time we thought it was time to eat, have a diaper changed, or just be bounced on a knee as the center of attention?  The hard truth is that we learn humility in times of haughtiness!  Whenever we elevate ourselves to a place of importance in our …

Parched ground

Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God's "Well done!" But if it produces weeds and thistles, it's more likely to get cussed out. Fields like that are burned, not harvested. (Hebrews 6:7-8)
Dry ground has many disadvantages - one of which is the extreme danger of fire.  For those following the news, the stories about how Arizona forests are being ravaged by wildfires has become a common theme for over a month now.  According to the reports, over 120 miles of state highways are closed due to smoke and ash.  People have endured the evacuation of their homes and continue to wait for the word that they can return.  The fires found a "fertile" ground for their destruction simply because of the lack of rain this year.  They were fueled by the dryness of the forest floor and the winds of the season.
The condition of the "ground" impacts us in varying degrees.  Our perspective and our…

Celebration of Grace

10 He continued, "Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don't have anything: This day is holy to God. Don't feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!"   11 The Levites calmed the people, "Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don't be upset."  12 So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them. (Nehemiah 8:10-12)
Revival brings a response of heart that cannot but help bring praise to God.  The people of Israel had been listening intently to the Word of God as Ezra, the priest, brought it forward.  They were moved by the Word - brought to a place of awareness about just how far they had drifted from what God had intended for their lives.  That is what a fresh look into the Word can do for us - it can bring us to a place of recognition and repentance.
Ezra is a wise leader - he knows the passion of …

No more "holier-than-thou"

1 By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that God had commanded for Israel. 2-3 So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation. (Nehemiah 8:1-3)
We hear much talk about revival in America.  These concerns about revival have churches preaching that we need to bring back prayer in our schools - in the face of severe opposition to keep it out.  There are movements to reach out to the "un-churched" - connecting with them in a…

God of all comfort

3-5All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
It is easy for us to believe that God is not with us in our times of suffering.  Paul makes some very interesting comments about God's comfort for us in this passage.  First, he refers to God as "Father of all mercy" or "Father of Compassion/Comfort" (depending on the translation you might be reading from). A father is one who has begotten a child - as such, he has a certain sense of responsibility for that child.  We have lost sight of this sense of respo…