Wasted Time & Energy

Last week I used a sharp knife to cut an apple. I rinsed the knife in hot water. I used  a paper towel to firmly wipe the blade. One of my fingertips got a little too close to the blade and it nicked the surface of my skin. I felt it immediately. The cut was so shallow, it took a full minute before a drop of blood oozed to the surface.

First, it amazed me the sharp edge sliced the paper towel and my skin so quickly and easily. It startled me.

Second, I felt pretty stupid for such a silly mistake since I grew up in a meat market handling sharp knives, especially with a Dad who constantly reminded me of the proper handling of a knife.

My Dad always impressed me that he could sharpen a knife so efficiently.  He would carefully draw the knife back and forth on a whetstone at just the right angle alternating each side of the blade.

Then he used a “steel” or honing rod. With a few quick flicks of the wrist he could put a fine edge on it in seconds. (Click HERE to see photo.)

Testing the sharpness came next. He stuck out his left arm. With the knife in his right hand, he carefully placed the blade on his left arm and made a brief shaving motion. If a couple of hairs flicked off effortlessly, then it was sharp!

The few minutes it took to sharpen the blade saved many minutes in work time later, not to mention the physical energy wasted and slowed work pace if he had continued to use a dull blade. (Click HERE to learn how to sharpen a knife properly.)

Living life without regularly reading, meditating on, studying, applying, and memorizing God’s word will waste a lot of time, energy, money, and life itself.

  • Are you using the sharp knife of God’s insightful word or the dull knife of this world’s wisdom?
  • Are you allowing the sharp sword of God’s word to pierce deeply into your heart, mind, and soul?
  • Are you permitting God’s word to affect your motives, emotions, regrets, worries, and intentions?
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Are you willing and ready to have your innermost thoughts and desires surgically examined by your Creator? He already knows what they are! Are you courageous enough to see them for what they are too?

Our Father, thank-you for your sharp, holy, inspired word in the Bible. We commit today to read, study, and apply it to our lives.

 

Your Reactions are Showing

The Irish dramatist, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) observed:

Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

The first time I heard this quote, I heard it as an old Chinese proverb,

He who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the one doing it.

Well, I don’t know who said it first, but a real truth lies within it. The best way to silence a critic is to show them in reality what they say cannot happen in theory.

Anyone who follows Jesus in step-by-step obedience can meet criticism, derision, persecution, and even great harm. They hated Jesus and they will hate His followers.

But Jesus quietly submitted to their torture and execution. Then quietly proceeded to rise from the dead! Then the executioners performed a cover-up. But Christ’s resurrection is the ultimate proof of the proverb!

What’s the best way to prove to others that following Christ and actively participating in a congregation of believers works?

Peter said:

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 1 Peter 2:15-16 NLT

Another translations says:

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. ESV

When someone makes a foolish or uninformed accusation against you because of Jesus Christ, live the life of abiding in Christ before them. To return evil for evil violates the freedom Christ has given to us. Do exactly the opposite of what they expect and do something good to them!

Christ has set us free from the penalty of sin, gives us the power to resist sin, and one day will completely remove sin’s existence! So don’t jump back into sin with your reaction to hurtful people.

Keep on keeping on being a slave to God. Don’t become a slave to sin again! Jesus has rescued you. Live free! Our REACTIONS are important in these pressure situations! React in such a way to glorify Jesus and  retain your freedom from sin.

Our Father, thank-you for giving us freedom in your Son Jesus Christ by forgiving our sins and indwelling us with your Holy Spirit. When people revile us for that freedom, lead us to react in a way that lives out before them the proof of your presence and transformation in our lives.

Read the Directions!

“If all else fails, read the directions.” How many times that has been my modus operandi!

Well to be honest, I had to look that up modus operandi . I just used that phrase to impress you. I’ve heard others use it. I thought I knew what it meant in practice but couldn’t give you a definition!

So, what in the world is a modus operandi? It is Latin for ‘way of operating.’ It means: a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established. I Googled it!

Anyway, so much for my Latin lesson for the day. Back to what I was saying.

I bought one of those gadgets recently that finds studs in the wall of your home so I could know where to drive a nail to hang a heavy mirror. I opened the package and removed the gadget.  I removed the screw on the back to insert the batteries. Uh-oh! The gadget’s insides spilled out!

If I had read the instructions, I would have known that there’s a little slide-out on the back that makes it very easy to insert batteries. Yes, I did get the gadget put back together and re-inserted the screw.  Lesson learned! Well for a little while, until the next time I do something without reading the directions.

Ignoring instructions and despising reproof can have much greater consequences! In fact, it can mean life or death! I prefer life. I prefer wisdom. I value myself pretty highly and would rather not despise myself.

So here’s some really wise words from the writer of Proverbs:

The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself. Proverbs 15:31-32 ESV

Our Father, thank-you for the life-giving reproof of your Holy Bible and your Holy Spirit. Make us sensitive today to accept your reproof and to pay close attention to your instruction to be wise.

T – R – O – U – B – L – E

Billie Sue’s grandfather, Lex Smith, loved to do word puzzles in his retirement years. He would sit for hours filling in the squares with letters.

In the those last days, he would spell the same word out loud over and over again. I can still hear him saying the letters again and again.

“T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”  “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.” “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”

I’m not sure why he got stuck on that one word. But he did.

Jesus talked about “trouble” too.

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 HCSB

We can get stuck on tomorrow’s trouble too.  Jesus knows our tendencies. How easy it is for us to get focused on something that might or might not happen tomorrow. In doing so, we miss living today to the fullest!

Yes, tomorrow will come with its trouble, but why live it today in our minds before it actually happens? Plus, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We could end up worrying about things that will never happen anyway!

I’m just as guilty as the rest of you. Worry sneaks into my thoughts when I don’t stay focused on the truth of God’s Word and His Son Jesus.

So, how do we do that?!

Remember the verse just before verse 34? Verse 34 begins with “Therefore.” So what is it “there for”? The solution and a very familiar verse:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:33 HCSB

All those “things” we worry about God provides for us if we seek His kingdom and righteousness first.  First? Yes, instead of first worrying about things, we seek God’s kingship and righteousness first.

Someone observed, “Today is the Tomorrow you worried about Yesterday.”

Worry is all about putting “things” first instead of God’s will. Remember Jesus’ instructions on how to pray:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 HCSB

How do we “seek first the kingdom of God?” We seek to do His will on earth today! That’s an all-encompassing focus that takes up all our attention today. When we focus on doing His kingdom work today, we are not focused on the “things” that will “trouble” us tomorrow.

Jesus is in the life-changing business!

Our Father, we confess our sins of worry and ask your forgiveness. Thank-you that we don’t need to worry. The “things” of this world are temporary.  Your word and kingdom will last forever! We ask for your ever-present Spirit to teach to live by faith, not by worry.

I Love My Dad

He was a strict disciplinarian while I was growing up. Yet he was very generous as well! My Dad is 79 years of age and lives in Glenwood. He takes care of dozens of cattle, plays golf, and goes to the Sale Barn (the cattle auction) every Thursday. He served as a Deacon at First Baptist Church in Glenwood for 40 years before requesting to became inactive due to health issues.

Yes, he generously gave his discipline and his gifts. I knew he had a standard for his oldest son to meet. I knew quickly and painfully when I didn’t meet that standard. Yet I remember vividly on the evening on my birthday one year when he brought home a brand new, red Western Flyer 26-inch bicycle with the plastic streamers coming out of the handle bars, chrome fenders, and lots of shine! Years later, he paid for most of my college and seminary education! So generous!

Yet I remember one little flaw.  He said he would get me a baseball glove when I got a certain age. I don’t remember the exact condition I had to meet to get it. He forgot too. I just remember he promised a new baseball glove. I never got it. A friend had loaned me his old glove. That glove was a good one, broken in, and worked just fine! I used it for years until it was stolen.

That’s such a minor thing now. But as a child, it seemed like a big thing. An adult said they’d do something and it didn’t happen. (Dad, if you are reading this, I love you and hold no grudge!)

But here’s the deal: words can be so fleeting. Promises can be made and so easily broken. Politicians promise all kinds of things and don’t deliver. A parent tells their child something and then forgets to deliver.

So I am greatly comforted by the words of Jesus when he promises that everything He said is true.  Without a doubt, without a forgetful moment, without a flaw, His words will happen!  Everything he predicted WILL come to pass! What an assurance!

Our perfect Savior, our Lord Jesus said:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 ESV

Our Father, thank-you for sending Jesus. Thank-you for the assurance that every word you spoke through your Son will happen. We praise you for never forgetting what you promise. Our confidence in You grows as we read and meditate on Your word. This planet with its land and oceans and sky will pass away, but Your words will not! Praise Your Name!

Chirping

That cricket on my back porch is chirping loudly and persistently. He doesn’t let up. This has been something I’ve loved about moving to the Village. I can hear the sounds of nature instead of traffic!

Now, back to that cricket. Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup … The joker’s chirpper just keeps on a-chirping!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

I was meditating on that verse when I noticed the little chirpper chirping. What an insight! Our believing, trusting, rejoicing, hanging tough, and praying ought to be persistent just like that chirpper!

Rejoice in hope.

Hope is the confident assurance of our salvation and destiny of heaven! Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, …!

Be patient in tribulation.

Patience is being able to see the big picture and hanging tough till the prize at the end is revealed in spite of the troubles along the way. Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, …! (Thanks Polly for the “Hang Tough” Sunday School lesson this past Sunday!)

Be constant in prayer.

Prayer is communication and communion with the Father in such a way He can tell us at any moment what to do and we do it. We mistake prayer often as only trying to get God to do what we want him to do. Pra-y, Pra-y, Pra-y, O-bey, O-bey, Pra-y, O-bey, …!

So, do some spiritual chirping today!

Our Father, we rejoice constantly that you have provided complete hope and confidence in our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ! We hang tough with patience in the troubled times of life because we know how it all comes out in the end! We commune with you all day ready to obey at a moment’s notice.

Take an Umbrella when it Rains

If you want to build rapport with others and win their trust, do not make them the butt of your jokes, make fun of yourself.

Don’t ever take yourself seriously, but always take God seriously.

Do not expect to get stuff from others because of your position or relationship with them, but always expect to give.

Take an umbrella when it rains.

These are some great words of advice I have received over the years. These tidbits are golden when I listen and take them to heart! I benefited from these encounters when my heart was soft, my ears were open, and I acted upon them.

I thank God for strategically placing in my life at just the right decision-making corners, the right person with the right word of advice.

The book of Proverbs is a book of God’s advice to us.

Here’s some advice: read a chapter of Proverbs each day.  With thirty-one chapters, we could read through Proverbs each month.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction,

that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV)

1. We have to listen to the advice God gives us through Scripture or through people in our lives.

2. We must accept the instruction for it to benefit us.

3. Often the wisdom is for a future event and not for the moment, so patiently hold on to it.

4. We devise many plans in our heads but we must discover God’s purpose for our lives.

5. In a hundred years, only what’s done in God’s purpose will still be left standing.

Thank-you Father for bringing wise people and wise proverbs into our lives just when we need them. Please give us discernment to know when and how to use this counsel. Your Word is a light to our path and a lamp for our feet. May your Word shine brightly so that we may live in the center of Your purpose.