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Showing posts from October, 2011

Covering the Tab

9 Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
   fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!  (Proverbs 17:9 The Message)
The Amplified Bible puts this passage this way:  He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.  To cover an offense is more than just overlooking it in a casual manner, responding with a flippant attitude that "it didn't really matter".  Sometimes, I think we get a little confused with what it means to overlook an offense.  You see, in friendship, there will be repeated offenses - that is a given.  We don't set out to offend, but we find ourselves doing it sometimes without really noticing how our actions, words, or slights bring offense to another.  The Amplified Bible is a little clearer about the process of "bonding a friendship".  There is the process of overlooking the offense, and the subsequent process of forgiving it!
When a friend and I go to a restaurant for …

Potency and Purity

3 As silver in a crucible and gold in a pan,
   so our lives are assayed by God.  (Proverbs 17:3 The Message)
Yesterday, we took a look at the process of "stoking" the furnace of our hearts - getting us to a place that God can work with us, forming us into what it is he envisions for us.  Today, I'd like to continue to explore another instrument of the craftsman used in the process of purification - it is what is known as the crucible.  The crucible is similar to the furnace, but its purpose is not so much to heat to the point of being "pliable" in the hand of the craftsman as it is to bring to the surface that which is impure in the substance he is working with.  For some of us, we feel the "heat" of the crucible much more often than we'd like.  Take heart, that really means that God is just at work bringing to the surface the things in our lives that he needs to remove by his tender care.


When I lived in Alaska, I got to know a gentleman that was i…

Lessons from the Glass House

3The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,  but the Lord tries the hearts. (Proverbs 17:3 The Amplified Bible)
On my journeys in Virginia, we went to an old-fashioned glass blower's house.  We learned that the fires of the furnace had to be stoked for a period of not less than two weeks in order to get the necessary heat to actually produce the highest quality of glass.  Two weeks of stoking a fire seemed like a lot to me - think about it - two weeks of standing around, just waiting to be able to "get on" with the thing you really know you enjoy doing.  Isn't that how we often think about the times of the "stoking" of the fires of our heart?  We want to move on to the next thing that we actually enjoy about our walk with God and he wants us to have the fires stoked a little hotter so that the thing produced will actually be of the highest quality!
The crucible is only at its best when it is at its hottest point.  In order to get the fires that ho…

Guilty, but not condemned!

6 Guilt is banished through love and truth;
   Fear-of-God deflects evil.  (Proverbs 16:6 The Message)
We deal with guilt so many times because of well-meant intentions - our failures doing nothing more than bolstering our stores of guilt that we already have way too much of in the first place.  What is it about guilt that has so much power over our lives?  I think it might actually be that we fear what we cannot seem to control - so we hold onto what is familiar to us (guilt) instead of letting go (grace).  
We feel guilty because we lost control - so we try to control our behavior in some "better" fashion the next time.  Have you been down that road a time or two?  I daresay that I have!  When we don't quite succeed the "next time", we add another ration of guilt to the already heavy load of it we carry around!  Then we wonder why we don't "feel" well!
The Amplified Bible adds just a little clarity to this passage:
6By mercy and love, truth and fidel…

Emptied to be filled again

1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn't a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: "Give us water to drink." But Moses said, "Why pester me? Why are you testing God?" 3 But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, "Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?"
(Exodus 17:1-3 The Message)

Yesterday, we began to explore the lessons of the barren places of the wilderness we find ourselves in at times.  We looked at the fact that we often find ourselves "camping out" at a place where it seems like no provision will ever be made.  We find ourselves complaining, even growing a little bitter because of the seeming lack of provision in the time we are experiencing.  Today, I'd like us to consider that the steps of a righteous man (and woman)…

Water...I need water!

1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn't a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: "Give us water to drink."  But Moses said, "Why pester me? Why are you testing God?"  3 But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, "Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?"   (Exodus 17:1-3 The Message)
Okay, I just have to ask this question - why on earth would a huge band of wandering people actually "camp out" in a place where there was absolutely no visible water for their basic physical needs?  Sometimes I think we just don't "think" about where it is that we "camp out" for a while along the way.  We "get going" with God really well, then all of a sudden, we find ourselves "camped out" at a place that…

Count it all joy!

7-8"Listen now, you who know right from wrong, you who hold my teaching inside you:  Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked don't let it get you down.  Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden, but my setting-things-right lasts, my salvation goes on and on and on." (Isaiah 51:7-8 The Message)
There are times when we just feel like the world is against us - like all we live for and stand for is just ridiculed and considered to be silliness in the eyes of those around us.  These are the times when we need to re-read these words and take heart.  The unbeliever has no revelation of God beyond our testimony of a life "squared up" by living the principles God teaches.  It is the testimony of one that can affect the lives of millions!
Do you realize that mockery is really the highest form of honor we can receive?  Think about it - someone sees our the testimony of Jesus in us and finds it so convicting that the only thing they…

Living on crusts and crumbs

1-6 Job answered God: "I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything.
   Nothing and no one can upset your plans.  You asked, 'Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?'
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.  You told me, 'Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.'  I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!  I'm sorry—forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise!  I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor." (Job 42:1-6 The Message)
Some days we all feel like we are living on nothing more than crusts and crumbs of rumors, bits of hearsay about God that others have passed our way.  We simply don't "connect" with God in a way that provides the meaning we are expecting at that very moment.  In…

Rebuilding Old Barns

17-18Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren't perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was "trying to be good," I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan. (Galations 2:17-18 The Message)
There is a Christian dilemma (let me call it a mis-belief) that we often hear people speak about whenever they are struggling with sin in their lives - it is that they "think" they are supposed to be perfect just because they gave their lives to Jesus!  If I am about to burst anyone's bubble here, let me apologize in advance, but we are NOT perfect!  We are NOT perfectly virtuous - we STILL sin!
Paul knew that this would be a huge "bug-a-boo" in the church, so he addresses it in his lett…

Bringing out the best

"To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person." (Luke 6:27 The Message)
Okay, am I really alone here, or do others have a hard time really praying for their enemies?  That whole thing about loving your enemies is a kind of ethereal idea to most of us.  As a matter of fact, it is the furthest thing from our minds when we feel them breathing down our throats, giving us a hard time, or gossiping behind our backs!  But....
God's Word is explicitly clear - if we are ready to hear the truth, that is.  Love 'em!  In other words, be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.  One of the reasons we find it so hard to "love 'em" is because they just aren't all that lovable!  Face it, the idea of loving our enemies, praying for them, and even giving them the shirt off our back is kind of repulsive…

Table for Two

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. (Matthew 5:6 The Message)
I once heard it said that you know that you are living the way God intends when you find that you are taking what you see and hear in the Word of God and begin to live by them.  I think it goes beyond that - to actually living UPON them - they become foundational to all you think and do.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly begins a number of statements with the words, "Blessed are you when..."  In the scripture, I found that we are blessed when we exhibit a poverty of spirit, hunger for his righteousness, experience sorrow, and in moments of persecution when we are reliant on nothing more than Jesus to pull us through.  Okay, now that is not a list of "stuff" that I would automatically add to my Christmas wishlist!
How many of us can honestly say that we have worked up a good appetite for God?  Most of …

Cookies for the King

1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 The Message)
Consecration goes beyond the surface - in fact, it embraces all of our being when it is operational in our lives.  Consecration is simply the act of setting something apart for a specific use.  When we say that the chocolate chip cookies are just for daddy because they are his favorite cookies, we have the expec…

Corrected Courses

17 The road to life is a disciplined life;
   ignore correction and you're lost for good.  (Proverbs 10:17 The Message)
Not too many of us embrace discipline very willingly.  As a matter of fact, we probably chafe a little under it!  We often think that someone is being too harsh in their "judgment" of us and we want to rationalize why it is that we are the way we are.  The proverb is pretty plain about this, though.  If we want to really live well, it is done by having a disciplined life.  If we ignore correction, we face the inevitability of a whole lot of wrong turns!
Since the advent of GPS devices for our smart-phones and cars, most of us have given up the old way of "navigating" to an unfamiliar destination.  My parents traveled in a recreational vehicle for about six years after their retirement.  Mom's "duty" was as "navigator".  She had a huge box of maps - one for each state, and even some for Canada.  To be truthful, I think they…