Where’s Your Closet?

Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

As most of you know, I enjoy doing leather work. There is some thing about it that just allows me to clear my head and all my aggravations just seem to leave. In fact, I often find that as I work on a project I’m able to focus more on the things of God. Perhaps the concentration I put into the project clears out the “cob webs” just enough to allow the Word to really penetrate; I can’t really explain it much clearer than that. But I do know that much of the most profitable meditation time for me comes when I’m tooling a belt, for example.

Jesus set the example for us in His words and deeds: We need to get away from the “multitudes” of life, what ever they may be for each of us, and have alone time with God. Christ often went into the wilderness to pray. I know a preacher that gets some of his best alone time on his riding mower. And I have some of mine at my leather work bench. We are all different, with different situations, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. But we all need to find our “prayer closet” to get into and away from every one and every thing that might distract us. That intimate time with God is vital, no matter where your’s occurs at, to our spiritual life and walk of faith.

The Blacksmith’s Story

The Blacksmith’s Story

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

This is the story of the blacksmith who gave his heart to Jesus:

Though living a more godly life, still he was not prospering materially. In fact, it seems that from the time of his conversion more trouble, affliction and loss were sustained than ever before. Everything seemed to be going wrong.

One day a friend who was not a Christian stopped by to talk to him awhile. Sympathizing with him in some of his trials, the friend said, “It seems strange to me that so much affliction should pass over you just at the time when you have become an earnest Christian. Of course, I don’t want to weaken your faith in God or anything like that. But here you are, with God’s help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse. I can’t help wondering why that is.”

The blacksmith did not answer immediately, and it was evident that he had thought the same question before. But finally, he said, “You see here the raw iron which I have to make into horse’s shoes. You know what I do with it? I take a piece and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished.”

“But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won’t stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don’t know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse’s shoe.”

He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop. “When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything.”

He went on, “I know that God has been holding me in the fires of affliction and I have felt His hammer upon me. But I don’t mind, if only He can bring me to what I should be. And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this: “Try me in any way you wish, Lord, only don’t throw me on the scrap heap.” – Author Unknown

I think we would all do well to remember the prayer of the blacksmith when a season of trial comes into our lives. How good it is to know that our God is with us, readying us for His purposes, and that good will come from being passed through the purifying fire.

Comfort Zones

I happened across this prayer today. I can only speak for myself on this but imagine that it applies to most all of us: we need to get uncomfortable for God and in doing what He would have us to do, everyday not only on Sunday morning or during midweek service.

“Heavenly Father, I know that You are the only reason why I live. I will follow Your command to step out of my comfort zone, or leave behind what is familiar to me for I know that You will not leave me nor forsake me. Thank you Lord that You will provide everything that I need and continue to provide me as You have promised in Your Word.”

Matthew 7:7-8
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Me Time

Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The last few weeks, months, really, have been very hectic for me. I’ve had a lot on my plate and my mind. Just to name a few things, we had the stress and anxiety of our daughter’s wedding, I got sick, pneumonia, just before the “big event”, and announcing my call to preach, among other things, all added, shall I say, a little extra to my acid reflux.

Over the past few weeks I had been putting so much thought and time into other things I let “my” time with God kind of slide onto the back burner. This week He gently reminded me of this. And I’m so thankful He did!

Sometimes we can get so busy with “stuff”, even good thing like praying for others and trying to be a help to someone, that we neglect our own spiritual health. The Lord showed me that I had allowed this to happen and that I was suffering for it.

While we always want to be a help, to edify when we can and to intercede for others, we have to remember that we need our time every day in our prayer closet just for ourselves. As Pastor Danny said, nothing can take the place of the fellowship we have one-on-one with our Lord. And it is imperative that we not neglect that daily time.

Whoops!

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Earlier today I was forwarded an email that contained a prayer request for a lady’s brother. I was asked to add the man to our prayer list. (Click this link to see it http://is.gd/fCVyR.)

What I normally do is to copy and paste the information into a new note. Then I edit it as needed, spell check it and then copy the final draft into a new email that I send blind carbon copy to all those on the list. Then it gets made into a post and put on our church blog. Normally, this goes smoothly but today I goofed it all up. The result was that the post was right but the emails were wrong: It appeared that I was requesting prayer for my brother (and I don’t even have one).

Anytime we get any information from any human source (news programs, the Internet, email, phone, even in person) it is subject to be incorrect. Scripture isn’t like that though. The verse referenced today says that all Scripture is inspired but it is really much more than that! The original Greek wording translates out more literally “breathed out by God”.

I’m so glad that in a fallen world where most everything can be questioned or suspect we have the infallible Word of God to guide us in all points of our lives! Take a few minutes today or this weekend and think about the Bible, God’s inspired Word, breathed out by Him, to us. And then thank Him for providing you with a Source you know is all true, completely correct, and for your benefit.

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Lost Dog

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

This afternoon one of our dogs went missing, after someone opened the gate on our fence, for several hours. I looked for him as best I could but my physical limitations and being sick really limited what I do as far as searching goes. After two hours of driving the neighborhood, walking as much as I could and hollering for the dog I was exhausted. I came home and began to pray at that point.

I knew that what I was asking, for God to deliver Jack home safely, was just a raindrop in the ocean compared to His power. After all, my God spoke the universe into existence, created all things and has moved mightily in my own life; this prayer was a pittance to Him compared to many that He has already answered.

Time drug on slowly. An hour later my wife came home and began to search the neighborhood. As she searched I moved inside the house to continue to pray. Another hour or more passed and I realized something: My flesh was warring against my spirit. My head kept trying to say it was hopeless, it had been too long, Jack wasn’t coming home. But my faith kept saying trust in God. It was a very real battle and I can’t really explain to you how it felt to know it was going on as it was.

Thank God after over four hours of being gone a neighbor several homes away, who I don’t know, brought a still-damp Jack home. He had fallen into her pool and had been treading water for God only knows how long. She said she went out to put chemicals in her pool and found him, got him out, dried him off and brought him to his address on the tags. She added she’d never have seen him if it weren’t for adding this chemicals and she hadn’t planned to do it today but for some reason did. I told her the reason was that she was used to answer my prayer.

I said all that to say this: Even though we are redeemed through the blood of Christ we are still going to have fights with our flesh. Though we are not of the flesh any longer we are still in the flesh. And as long as we live in this fleshly body we will have to fight against it, for it is still part of a fallen creation. So don’t let the battles drag you down; that’s what the devil would love. No, instead rejoice! The war is already won and as long as we keep up the fight one day we’ll experience the total victory!

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Red Mike

Galatians 6:10a As we, therefore, have opportunity, let us do good unto all men.

A few weeks ago my pastor gave a message on reaching out to someone (he used the fictitious character of Red Mike as his example) in our lives that though we might have interacted with for a long time we had not witnessed to them. It could be anyone: friend, family, neighbor, etc.

When I came across this story I thought it illustrated the “Red Mike” theory much better than I could in a short note. I hope it strikes a chord with you; it did me.

“A writer in the Sunday School Times tells how, during a season of revival, a friend was praying one evening for a certain unconverted neighbor. After this manner he prayed: “O Lord, touch him with Thy finger, Lord!” The petition was repeated with great earnestness, when something said to him: “You are the finger of God. Have you ever touched your neighbor? Have you ever spoken a single word to him on the question of salvation? Go now and touch that man, and your prayer shall be answered.” It was a voice from the throne. God’s servant arose from his knees self-condemned. He had known the man to be impenitent for a quarter of a century, yet he had uttered not a word of warning. Hundreds of opportunities had come and gone, but the supreme question of life had been set aside for such topics as “the weather,” “the latest news,” “politics,” “trade,” etc. His first duty as a Christian had been left undone.”

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