Fires of Life that Build and Restore…

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Fires of Life that Build and Restore…

Each summer we read of fires out west and around the world. We frequently think of them as being disasters. Did you know there are fires in our lives that are intended to develop us spiritually? And yes, we frequently view those as disasters also. There are some misguided souls that teach that if you have fires in your life it is not a good thing or it is because of weak faith. The biblical reality is that some fires in our lives are noted in scripture as trials and tribulations and are required for our spiritual development of our faith.

When we view the reports of the wild fires or drive by where one has been we see that over time they actually renew life. If you’re going through a fire in your life right now, that will be something very important for you to mentally grab a hold of. If you don’t, all you’ll see is the damage and you’ll lose any sense of hope. And then instead of renewal or development the fires bring on discouragement.

It may be that those fires (trials and tribulations) have burned through your family recently, or your church, maybe your business or your relationships. Maybe they have affected your health. And there is no doubt that the fire has taken away a lot. There’s no denying the pain from the fire, but that’s never the whole story. You need to know the “rest of the story”. Maybe what we view as damage is actually development. What a paradigm shift!

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

God describes the fires of life as trials. If you are a believer the only fire in your life not from God are those that are a result of sin. God sees us as valuable like gold. The fires are not forever; they are “for a little while”. And notice what the purpose of the fires or trials is. The purpose is not to destroy but to “refine” the gold or to get the impurities out so that it increases its value. And if we are honest with ourselves we have many impurities that we need to be purged from our lives.

The challenge we have is to view those fires as trials and tribulations sent from God. To count them as joy as James 1:2, 3 says. That’s a tough one but if you believe that God is doing a work in your life that knowledge will give you the courage to say thank you to endure. God sees us as worthy of purifying, improving, and getting ready for greater things. But that requires denial of self and spiritual development on our part. The fire that appears to take away so much, actually brings new life if we stay close to God during the fire.

What kind of new life does God bring out of the flames? For one thing, He helps us focus the rest of our life on the things that really matter. Everything in our lives goes in one of two columns. One column for things that really matter and another for the things that don’t. A lot of times we get those columns confused. When we ask God for the wisdom to know the difference we then can set God focused priorities. When we look to God we then can emerge from the fire more committed to His glory instead of self comfort and glory.

The fire often forces you to sort out where your identity is really anchored. Is it in a person, your job, or your title, or your performance, or your appearance, or in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Or putting it another way the fires help us to see where our real priorities in life are. Are they in self or in serving our Savior? The flames often drive you to a new closeness to Jesus.

Yes, the fire destroys. But it only destroys the parts or things of our lives that have no eternal value. And thank God, that is not the end of the story. The fire also renews!

Portions from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries and “Renewing Fire.”

II Cor 12:9 “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Going to the Movie…

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Going to the Movie…

A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.

The Cons were:

– It contained ONLY 3 swear words
– The ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all
the time they said)
– You actually did not “see” the couple in the movie having sex, it was
just implied sex, off camera.

The pros were:
– It was a popular movie, (a blockbuster).
– Everyone was seeing it.
– If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their
friends discussed it.
– The movie contained a good story and plot.
– It had some great adventure and suspense in it.
– There were some fantastic special effects in this movie.
– The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood.
– It probably would be nominated for several awards.
– Many of the members of their church had actually seen the movie and said
it wasn’t “very bad.”

They then said that, since there were more pros than cons, they
were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE
movie and let them have permission to go see it.

The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the father called his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat one of these brownies, then he would let them go to the movie. But, he explained, just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.

The Pros were:
– They were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients.
– They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them.
– The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top.
– He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe.
– And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.

The brownies only had one con:
He had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well and they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a “little bit of crap” and not be affected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with “just a little bit of smut” and not be affected.

Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, “Would you care for a brownie?”

Of course this is talking to adults as well as children. Satan seems to plant a seed that says the adult mind can handle those brownies and the children cannot.

Think about it. Is your stomach or mind affected by those brownies as an adult? Don’t be deceived.

I Cor 5:6b “…do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

And age makes no difference……………..

Who can I Trust…

Exodus 20:3-4 “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.  Thou
shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that
is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the
earth.”

Who can I trust in?

God created us to live in a social environment, and to be “knit together
in love.”  I know that I need other people.  But I also know that I’m a
sinner (saved by grace through faith) living in a fallen world full of sinful people.
I know that we have an adversary who constantly seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

In the final analysis, I must place my complete trust in the Living God and in
Him alone.  The danger in trusting other people is that they can become gods.

If we are careful, we can start living and planning our life based on “their”
leadership, “their” opinions, and “their” performance.  And when things don’t go as
planned or hoped, we are all capable of going into an emotional, mental,
physical, or spiritual tailspin.

Let’s face it.  Who among us has had a career or a business plan
that panned out “perfectly?”  Who among us has not experienced major business
curve balls?

Perhaps you were just overlooked for a promotion or raise.
Perhaps you are being mistreated by an unreasonable boss.
Perhaps a valued colleague just made a big blunder-and you’re caught in
the painful aftermath.
Perhaps you expected a customer to sign a big contract, but it fell
through at the eleventh hour.
Perhaps you expected to get paid on-time by a client, but you’re still waiting.
Perhaps your company was just sold, and you’re finding it difficult to
adapt to the new culture.
Perhaps your company just announced that your division is closing or
moving elsewhere…or going through another
infamous “reorganization.”

Be of good cheer: God sees everything and knows everything.  Your 100%
solid Shield of Faith in the Lord will quench all the fiery darts and equip
you to keep moving forward regardless of what other people do or don’t do!
God has a wonderful way of working things out for good-often in mysterious
and unexpected ways!

– William Beckett

“Trust and obey…there’s just no other way…to be happy in
Jesus…than to trust and obey!”

 Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on
your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

How to Forgive…

Col 3:13a “bearing one another and forgiving one another…”

How to Forgive…

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life this day, he knew many things were not right.

He thought about those who had lied about him back when he had a job. His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.

Standing there this day, searching for answers he could not find, feeling this entire world had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the One he knew would always be there. And with tears in his eyes, he prayed: “Lord- You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord, because I cannot. I don’t know how. It is not fair, Lord. I didn’t deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn’t have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don’t know how to forgive. My anger is so deep, Lord, I fear I may not hear you, but I pray that you teach me to do this one thing I cannot do – Teach me To Forgive.” As he knelt there in the quiet shade of that old oak tree, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt.

He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been was a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them.

He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally, he saw the suffering and pain on His precious face. The impact was so great it was as if he could hear Jesus say; “Have you ever told a lie,” he asked?

The man answered, “yes, Lord.”

“Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?”

The man answered, “yes, Lord.” And the man sobbed more and more.

“Have you ever taken something from work that wasn’t yours, Jesus asked?”

And the man answered, “yes, Lord.”

“Have you ever sworn, using my Father’s name in vain?”

The man, crying now, answered, “yes, Lord.”

Many more times, “Have you ever”? The man’s crying became uncontrollable, for he could only answer “yes, Lord.”

Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt something fall on his other shoulder. He looked and saw that it was the blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before. He now understood, Jesus didn’t deserve this either, but He willingly went through it for lost sinners.

And that was him!

Col 3:13 “bearing one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must do so.”

The Real CHRISTian…

The Real CHRISTian…

 I Pet 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation,, His own people, THAT YOU MAY PROCLAIM the
praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had
not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

A.W. Tozier

“The real Christian is an odd human being anyway. The Christian
feels supreme love for One he has never seen, he talks everyday with
Someone he cannot see, he expects to go to heaven on the virtue of
Someone else, he empties himself in order to be full, he admits he is
wrong so he can be declared right, he goes down in order to get up, he
is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is the poorest,
happiest when he feels the worst, he dies so he can live, he forsakes in
order to have, he gives away so he can keep he sees the invisible, hears
the inauditable, knows that which passes knowledge.”

The test. What is your life proclaiming? And of course remember, the
biblical requirement for being a Christian is that, ‘you must be born again’

Acts 11:26 “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch.
And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with
the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called
Christians first in Antioch.”

Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

HAVE A GREAT DAY SERVING JESUS and remember what real
priorities Jesus would have you to practice!!!!

Someday…then comes Eternity…

Romans 14:11, 12 “For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every
knee shall bow to Me. And every tongue shall confess to
God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Psalm 22:29 “All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; All
those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he
who cannot keep himself alive.”

Someday…then comes Eternity…Where…

Did you know that you and I are accountable for all of our
actions? I know that sin is a word that is almost nonexistent in our
modern day language but some things do not change with time.

Accountability is one of them. God’s truths and values never change.
That means that we are held to the same standards as those having gone
before us. Those who have not received Jesus as their Savior or have not
been ‘Born Again’ will have to give account of all of their sins. And
as scripture says there are none righteous (Rom 3:10), no not one, and
all of our perceived righteous deeds are viewed as filthy rags (Isa64:6)
in the eyes of God.

I find it interesting that mankind tries the same escape
activities today as they did from the beginning. Listen to what Adam and
Eve said when their moment of accountability came.

Gen 3:11-13 “And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you
eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’
Then the man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me
of the tree, and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is
this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'”

Accountability in God’s eyes rests with the offender and not their family heritage
or surroundings or any other person, place or organization.

Gen 3:16-19 “To the woman he said, ‘ I will greatly multiply your sorrow
and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire
shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ Then to Adam he
said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten
from the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it;’
Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the
days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for
you, and you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of
it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

That’s the ugly part, here is the best part! Someone took your
place if you will accept His sacrifice for your sins. Sin brought on death both spiritual and
physical, thorns, thistles, diseases, etc. Some day everyone will have to give
account for their own deeds… unless you have been ‘Born again”.

Then Jesus took your place.

No sacrifice of our own or of our churches or of our friends can
take away our sins. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice and His was
without blemish. He alone is worthy to be a sacrifice for our sins.

As the book of Hebrews says, without the shedding of blood there can
be no remission of sins and the sacrifice must be from a spotless Lamb.

Fortunately for us;

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have life everlasting.”
Jesus paid for my sins and took upon Himself my accountability. How about you?

If Jesus is your Savior today rejoice. If He is not or you are not sure then it is
time to settle up with God!!! Check it out for yourself;

Romans 3:10, 3:23
Romans 6:23
Ephesians 2:8, 9
Romans 5:8
Romans 10:13

John 3:3  and 14:6

Change is Not always Good…

II Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Change is not always Good…

One evening a boy was talking to his Great-grandfather about current events.
He asked him what he thought about the shootings at schools, the
computer age, and just things in general. His Granddad replied,
“Well, let me think a minute.”

“I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods,
Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees, the computer and the pill. There weren’t things like radar, credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens.”

“Mankind had not invented dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets,
air conditioners, and he hadn’t walked on the moon.
“Your grandma and I got married first — then lived together as God designed it.”

“Every family had a father and a mother, and most boys over 14 had a rifle that their dad taught them how to use and respect. Until I was 25, I called every man older than I, ‘Sir’ — and after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, ‘Sir.'” I opened doors for ladies so they felt respected.
“In our time, closets were for clothes – not for ‘coming out of.'”

“Sundays were set aside for going to church as a family, helping those in need, and just visiting with family or neighbors. We were before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy care.
“Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and
common sense.”

“We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Although like today, we frequently did not.”

“Serving your country was a privilege; living here was a bigger
privilege and responsibility.”

“We thought fast food was what people ate too quickly at the table.”

“Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.”

“Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening
breeze started.”

“Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and
weekends — not in condominiums once a year.”

“We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, computers, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.”

“We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on radio’

“I don’t ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to the Supremes.”

“If you saw anything with ‘Made in Japan’ on it, it was junk.”

“Nothing was imported from China.”

“The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam.”

“Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Walmart and instant coffee were unheard of.”

“5 and 10-cent stores were where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.”

“Ice cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.”

“And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on
enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.”

“You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one? Too
bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.”

“In my day, ‘grass’ was mowed, ‘coke’ was a cold drink, ‘pot’ was
something your mother cooked in, and ‘rock music’ was grandma’s lullaby.”

“‘Aids’ were helpers in the Principal’s office, ‘chip’ meant a piece of wood, ‘hardware” was found in a hardware store, and ‘software’ wasn’t even a word.”

“And my generation that was so dumb as to think a lady needed a husband to have a baby and was special enough to open the door for.”

“No wonder people call us old and confused and say there is such a generation gap.”

“And I’m only 87 years old.”
With “Age” comes progress. Some good and some ugly. Be careful not to adopt them all!

Ecc 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Some things/values should NOT change AND ARE GOOD.

Malachi 3:6a “For I am the Lord, I change not …”

So, yes there are absolutes in this world and they are all recorded and protected for our benefit.

II Tim 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”