Today’s world is buzzing! Stress is at an all-time high (ya’ think!). We are on information overload; the sense of community is fading from our neighborhoods and schools and rebellion is rampant. Envy and keeping up with the Joneses is not only exhausting but sometimes financially disastrous.
Yikes, not a pretty picture! But there is a way to relieve all of this stress. How do you spell relief you ask? You spell relief J-E-S-U-S!
Jesus encourages us to lead a quiet life, attend to your own business, work with your hands, do as you are told, behave properly, don’t be in any need, help the weak, be patient with all men, don’t repay evil with evil, and pray without ceasing.
That is so simple…you could almost miss it. And just because it is simple doesn’t mean it is easy. But God’s peace is designed to preserve us body, soul and spirit. Ah, don’t you feel better already? Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
Temptation is an enticement to evil…period! It is too easy to just cruise through life on auto-pilot and thusly end up being slammed over and over again with temptation and then succumbing to it. You need a plan to break that cycle.
If your plan hasn’t worked so far…switch! God has a plan. God does allow various trials to come your way, and in these trials are many temptations. He uses these temptations, not to tempt you…heaven forbid. He uses these temptations to reveal your weaknesses. He doesn’t leave us hanging though; He always makes a way of escape and shows us how to defeat the wily ways of evil. So no excuses!
The battle plan goes like this: fight the devil; follow Jesus; flee from sin; feed the soul. With prayer, consistent Bible study (oh, yeah, gotta do it!) and fellowship with strong Christians, we can go forth and with great power say, “Get thee behind me Satan”. (James 4:7-8, 1 Peter 5:8-9, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Corinthians 10:14, 2 Timothy 2:22, Romans 13:14) Yes, read each one! Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
The term “living water” sounds a bit weird to the natural mind; like some sci-fi movie where the water is a life form or something. Spiritually, though, there is much significance to using these words. The Scriptures are full of references to water and living water. They are used as word pictures for us to denote the cleansing, nourishing and life sustaining effects of the power of God flowing through His servants. (John 4:14, Revelation 7:17, John 7:37)
If we truly have the “living water” of the Spirit of God inside us, then it should be spewing out and bubbling up all over…like a fresh spring. Sadly, many Christians today are just dried up old stagnant ponds! They are stodgy, legalistic prudes, full of condemnation and judgment. Don’t let that be you. Strive to be that new creature in Christ, a fountain through which He can flow His clean rivers of Living Water. He will bring refreshing freedom to all those who care to dive into those “waters” and have them flow out from them to others.
The old devil would love to build a dam around you and never let those rivers flow…reject him; knock down those dams of hatred, unforgiveness, lust, anger, dissentions, bitterness and the like. Let God clean out your dirty, garbage-filled water. Let it all be filtered through Jesus and the clean, refreshing living water of the Holy Spirit will not only cleanse and refresh you, but all those you splash it on, too. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
What do you think of when someone says the word “leader”, CEO; Management Consultant; someone with a PhD? How about YOU? Do you know that God has called every believer to be a leader? (Genesis 1:26)
The impact of leadership is seen throughout the Bible. A good king = all is well with the nation; a bad king = things go poorly for everyone. Are you a good “king” or a bad “king” in your leadership at home, at work, at church and in your community? Remember, leader doesn’t mean being “boss”—Jesus said it means…SERVING OTHERS.
Many people have a master/slave mentality when it comes to leadership…that is far from what God means. To minister is to SERVE. Do you serve or always want to be served; do you go the extra mile or always wait until something is convenient for you; are you a worker or a shirker? Only you and God are going to know the truth on that. But so many times we have so deceived ourselves that our perspective on who we are and what we do is totally different from God’s.
Line up with God on this one…leadership means servant mind, servant heart and servant action. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
So many people live their lives out as if a funeral dirge or something were playing in the background. They whine about not having this, or how that didn’t work out. Whine, complain and whine some more! We can miss out on so much right now while longing for what might come later on or what we hope to come (home, job, church, school, health, finances, personal relationships, etc). Don’t go there. God talks about songs of deliverance and victory…not death and destruction! Read Matthew 6:19-34. If the birds and lilies are well taken care of, how much more then are we!
But we miss it sometimes, don’t we? We miss the awesome while waiting for what we think will be the fantastic. Don’t be fooled any longer.
Jeremiah 7:23 tells us, “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I commanded you, that it may be well with you’". Oh yeah, you want it “well” with you don’t you? Obey God and receive His good gifts. Remember, His good gifts could be improved health, peace in your heart during troubled times, safety while traveling and a myriad of other things that we forget are ever so awesome.
So just be aware of and enjoy the awesome you have now, so when you are asked how you are doing…you can reply…FANTASTIC! Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
We recently talked about suffering and its good end results, even if the process doesn’t look so good! But we need to be reminded, and frequently, that the afflictions constructed and/or allowed by God are holy! The intended result is our sanctification and the building up of our faith and trust in Him.
The name of my blog is, The Crucible, because it addresses the heat and fire needed to get out the “dross” from our lives. As we reflect on this, remember the story about the goldsmith who tends to the smelting of the raw gold ore. The process involves heating the ore to an extremely high temperature, but not too high. As the gold melts, it sinks to the bottom because it is a heavy metal and all the impurities rise to the top and are skimmed off by the goldsmith. Much to the dismay of the gold, this process is repeated over and over and over again until the gold is pure gold and all the impurities are gone.
Sound familiar? Is the heat rising in your circumstances? Do you have that sinking feeling? We are under the care of our Lord, the Expert Goldsmith. Do not fear, you are in good hands, He knows what He is doing…enter His rest during your afflictions and let the blessings flow. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
None of us like the “suffering” part of anything…and rightly so! We love the blessings part from God, but what about those sufferings?
God does tell us about trials and fiery ordeals, but His viewpoint about them is quite different from ours. He says the reproved man is a happy man (Job 5:17); that trials will bring forth as gold (Job 23:10); that affliction produces eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17) and that when discipline has its affect if yields righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).
Remember, God is working out the “wrongness” in us to put in His “rightness”. It is a high cost for us to go through these fiery trials of life on this planet, but the end result is what we are looking for…righteousness, peace, and joy! Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
Pastor Mark shared one time of a recent storm and he noticed that all the oaks were okay, but many of the willows were uprooted and blown over…the only thing to do with them was to cut them up and haul them away.
What made the difference with the end result of the two trees? Well, the roots of an oak go way, way down. Those roots go as far down as the tree goes up, and as far out as it is wide! The oaks were so deeply rooted, that the storm could not uproot them.
The roots on the willows, on the other hand, were shallow. Willows get to be big trees but because of the shallow roots, they are much more susceptible to be destroyed in a storm.
THE OAK—it has strength in a storm plus beauty and majesty.
THE WILLOW—it only has the beauty and majesty.
Which are you? You attend church, give a tithe, and smile at the picnics (beauty and majesty only); or are you one with vision, character, future, hope, determination, service to your church and your community (strength plus beauty and majesty).
Read Psalm 1 which shows you how to have the deep roots in Christ which can weather the storms of life. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
Are you a “Here I am” kind of person or a “There I go” kind of person? Are you there to clean the church, set up the coffee, price some yard sale items for a friend, deliver materials to others, drive someone to appointments or church, show up for prayer meetings, etc., etc?
When it comes to hard work, for some it is always “Here I am”. For others, it is always “There I go”.
Search your heart; see if you are willing to come to the fullness that God has set for you…not just a church worker, but a minister of the gospel of Christ in all you think, do and say.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, we are solemnly charged to be ready in season and out of season, to endure hardship, to fulfill your ministry. And in 1 Peter 4:8-11, we are commanded to love each other, help and serve one another.
It’s really time to be brutally honest with yourself and know who you are…“Here I am” or “There I go”! Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!
A very secular news media and ever increasing secular educational system are painting a picture of our country far different from our Founding Fathers’ landscape. Despite the secular humanist rendition of who we are as a country, many Americans staunchly affirm that this is a God-founded, God-blessed country. You see, in honoring our country, we honor God.
Serving God is very similar to serving our country. Both require the highest of standards and two special character qualities, two “tools” to reach these high standards…service and sacrifice. Service is doing your duty; sacrifice is giving your time, money, labor, and for some, even giving their lives.
Jesus paid that ultimate price for us. He gave His life to do His duty to God. He did that to save us, to change us, to change our destiny.
Our veterans who have honorably served this country have done that too…they have served with duty and honor for country to save us from our enemies, to change the course of history, and our very destiny.
I hope you are encouraged today to ask God to help us all continue with the mission of this country to be a shining Christian light to the world. Let us pray together, “I want to serve God and let His light shine through me as I face the challenges of duty, honor, and country”. We must be instruments of God, used to return America to a God-loving, God-fearing and God-worshipping people. Endure the fire...it's producing pure gold!