Choose not to be the kindling

Pr. 26:21:  “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

My husband has been working on mastering the art of fire making.  He now only technically needs 1 stick to start a fire.  From there we only have to add more wood to turn it into an entire campfire.  If we didn’t douse the fire with water afterwards, it could spread and grow even larger.

Words can be the same.  Sometimes it only takes 1 or 2 words to kindle strife.  That strife then has the potential to grow larger and larger.

As the wood that ignites the fire, we can be contentious, provoking others by arousing and igniting anger and conflict.  Conversely, we can take preventative measures when speaking, possibly even quenching the fires already beginning to catch their lives ablaze, by allowing rivers of living water to flow out of our hearts.

When we believe in Jesus, He fills us with Living Water, and He said those waters will flow from our hearts.  (Luke 7:38)

We certainly have the option of holding that back from others, kindling strife through harshness, unforgiveness, meanness, disdain, indifference, apathy, impatience, intolerance, and blame.            (Sorry, I was on a roll)

Or we could, instead, recognize the thirst in others around us, and choose to pour forth the living water through forgiveness, compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and understanding.

Remembering that first and foremost, God is love, we can realize that we are all broken and imperfect, and offer His love to those around us.  Those words we speak are either kindling a fire of conflict and strife, or refreshing and encouraging a thirsty soul.

Before speaking, we need to think ahead, and do our part to prevent strife.  Everyone could use a refreshing douse of living water to extinguish the fires and quench their thirsty soul.

Pretty thirsty myself,

jamie

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Feeding the hungry

Pr. 10:21:  “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.”

This verse instantly makes me think about my Pastor.  Give or take a few services, he feeds thousands of God’s sheep in the pews 144 times each year.  Not only that, but he ensures that we are being fed during the other services, equips us with daily devotions, sends out blogs almost daily for extra nourishment; and for 40 extra days each year, at his urging, we gather as a church for very personal and intentional time with the Lord.

Certainly, our Pastor disburses to us the Bread of Life and the Living Water on a continual basis.  Anyone who is truly hungry or thirsty for eternal things, and encounters our Pastor, will find provisions awaiting them there.

How does our Pastor feed so many?  I think part of it can be summed up in a declaration he made several years ago.  He declared that Jesus is the true Pastor/Shepherd of our church and our earthly Pastor is merely the servant charged with carrying out God’s will in our midst.  He has submitted his life and his will to the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a result, the Bread of Life literally moves throughout our midst without hindrance.

He also diligently studies the Word of God.  His study of the Word is intensive and intentional, and his eyes are continually opened in new ways to “old” verses and passages.  He is open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit in not only his life, but in his studies.

He is also unafraid to ask listen to and ask questions of others around him with regard to scriptures.  He truly wants to know what others have gleaned from the scriptures and is constantly seeking more from God.

I read Luke 2:46 today which says, “Now so it was after three days they found Him [Jesus] in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

This is a wonderful example that Jesus set for us.  Vs. 47 says, “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”  When we get into the presence of God, when we diligently seek Him in the temple, when we ask questions of and listen to those who are laboriously in the Word, and when we seek answers in His Word, we find understanding and answers.

This Proverb says that fools die for lack of wisdom.  When it comes to learning more of God, we cannot afford to be headstrong, proud, hardened, or unteachable.  We must be willing to submit to Him in order for Him to reveal Himself more and more to us.  We must be willing to consider the teachings of those whose job it is to dig into the Word, find the answers, and guide us through that understanding.

Most importantly, though, we must know the Word and be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit, so that we may, in turn, begin to feed those around us.  People around us are hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for Living Water.  Sometimes it is up to us to release those things to them.  We must feed some people ourselves, but we must have something to offer.  We can’t leave it all up to 1 Pastor.

Dig in so you can dish it out!

jamie

What are you consuming?

Pr. 4:17:  “For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.”

This is what the wicked are said to do in Proverbs 4.  It could be easy to type the contrasting words, “Christians eat from the Bread of Life,” but we all know that’s just not the plain facts.  All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.  If we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t need a Savior.  Thank God for the Lord’s mercy and the forgiveness that came through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Let’s pause this morning, and ask ourselves what bread we are eating right now.  Are you eating the bread of wickedness?  Is there a sin that seems tasty right now?  Are you savoring the morsels of a sinful act?  Your heart has been deceived and the bread you are eating will turn to ash in your mouth.

David told the Lord, in Ps. 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  You can once again taste the sweetness of the Lord and His Word.  Turn to The Bread of Life and ask Him to forgive you for finding pleasure in lesser things.  Ask the Lord to fill you, to satisfy the depths of your soul, and ask Him to help His word to become sweeter to your taste than honey.  He is faithful.  He will not only forgive you, but He will fill you so that you won’t hunger for lesser things.  (John 6:35-36)

What have you been drinking?  Have you been drinking the wine of violence?  Are you being so consumed by violence and wickedness that you are drunk on it?  Sin can be so consuming that it seems there is no way out.  Satan gives us one taste, and if we don’t turn back and repent, we can become addicted and consumed.  It seems that life without our sinful pleasures is no longer possible.  This is a lie.

If we drink of the living water we will never thirst for lesser drink.  Jesus said the living water that He gives will become in us a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.  Sin causes us to cling to dust.  When our souls are parched, dry, and thirsty, the only thing that will truly satisfy our thirst is the Living Water.  The Living God revives us and pours life into our souls.  The fountain that will spring up within us springs up into everlasting life.  Are you thirsty?

Thank You, Lord, for providing salvation for us.  Thank You for your love.  Thank You for Your faithfulness; for being the same God yesterday, today, and forevermore.  Thank You that Your proven Word reminds us that You do not change.  If You said Your water would cause us not to thirst, then its true.  You said that the one who comes to You, You will by no means cast out.  It is impossible for You to lie.  Thank you for this promise.  Thank you for everlasting life that comes through you.  We are all sinners, but You loved us so much that You wouldn’t leave us without a Savior.  Help us, Lord, to accept that gift and rely on Your strength and Your truth to hold on to it and not become drunk with sin ever again.  Holy Spirit, consume us, and make us new.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray.  Amen.