The Blacksmith's Shop

Posted April 12th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


by Max Lucado

In the shop of a blacksmith, there are three types of tools. There are tools on the junk pile:
outdated, broken, dull, rusty.

They sit in the cobwebbed corner, useless to their master, oblivious to their calling.

There are tools on the anvil:
melted down, molten hot, moldable, changeable.

They lie on the anvil, being shaped by their master, accepting their calling.

There are tools of usefulness:
sharpened, primed, defined, mobile.

They lie ready in the blacksmith’s tool chest, available to their master, fulfilling their calling.

Some people lie useless:
lives broken, talents wasting, fires quenched, dreams dashed.

They are tossed in with the scrap iron, in desperate need of repair, with no notion of purpose.

Others lie on the anvil:
hearts open, hungry to change, wounds healing, visions clearing.

They welcome the painful pounding of the blacksmith’s hammer, longing to be rebuilt, begging to be called.

Others lie in their Master’s hands:
well tuned, uncompromising, polished, productive.

They respond to their Master’s forearm, demanding nothing, surrendering all.

We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop. We are either on the scrap pile, in the Master’s hands on the anvil, or in the tool chest. (Some of us have been in all three.)

From the shelves to the workbench, from the water to the fire…I’m sure that somewhere you will see yourself.

Paul spoke of becoming “an instrument for noble purposes.” And what a becoming it is! The rubbish pile of broken tools, the anvil of recasting, the hands of the Master- it’s a simultaneously joyful and painful voyage.

And for you who make the journey—who leave the heap and enter the fire, dare to be pounded on God’s anvil, and doggedly seek to discover your own purpose—take courage, for you await the privilege of being called “God’s chosen instruments.”

In Pursuit Of Fairness

Posted April 5th, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

by Jon Walker

“The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.” Psalm 103:8 (NLT)

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My kids are obsessed with fairness. They argue over who gets the biggest piece, who gets to play the computer game longest, who gets to sit next to the window. I suspect your children or the children you know are the same way.

One night during dinner, my kids were arguing over who would get the last slice of pizza and out popped the oft repeated phrase, “That’s not fair!”

Okay, it had been a long day and I was tired, so I looked at my children and said, “Fair! You want fair? Since you didn’t pay for the dinner, you shouldn’t get to eat. Are you sure you still want fair?”

But, honestly, it’s not just the kids who argue over fairness. I’m sure this doesn’t happen at your house, but sometimes my spouse and I argue over what is fair – who will change the baby’s diaper, who should make dinner, who gets to drive the “good” car.

This obsession over fairness seems to be in the human DNA: “Let me have the bigger slice;” “let me have the better salary;” “let me get away with it this time.” After all, it’s only fair, right?

We make the same arguments with God. We plead for fairness when we’re really asking for special treatment. But the truth is, God can say to us in true fairness, “I’m a Holy God and you’ve done some very unholy things. Fair would mean I can stay angry at you forever. It would mean I can punish your for the horrible things you’ve done and I can give you every bit of what you deserve. Are you sure you still want fair?”

But God, in his compassion, is not like that at all. David, the ancient poet/king, sang this song of God: “The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.” (Psalm 103:8–9, NLT)

When David sings about God’s “unfailing love,” he uses a Hebrew word that implies God is in loving pursuit of us. Yahweh chases after us with such persistent grace that he refuses to let us get away. His pursuit is energized by his compassion, not only feeling what we feel, but also with the intent to help us: “He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” (Psalms 103:10–11, NLT)

While we’re in pursuit of fairness, God, knowing fair will mean our inevitable destruction, remains in compassionate pursuit of us.

Communicating Compassion:

· Yahweh’s unfailing love – God’s compassion flows from his unfailing, undying love for you. His love for you is so vast it extends from the earth to the heights of heaven, and his compassionate pursuit of you brings Jesus from heaven’s heights to an empty tomb on earth. If you truly trusted God’s unfailing love, how would you live your life differently? Ask God to guide you to a place of true trust.

· Do a Fairness Flip – Start practicing compassion by flipping the angle of any fairness argument. In other words, say, “You, my friend, can have the bigger piece of cake.” “Let me change the diaper again.” “Because of your addictions, you may deserve to live on the streets, but God has shown me compassion, and I want to extend the same compassion to you.”

· From fairness to unfailing love – As God develops compassion within you, he will bring you to a place where you’ll need to give up the “argument of fairness” and replace it with unfailing love. God is patient, so don’t panic or beat yourself up. Ask God to guide you toward unfailing love.

Designed by God

Posted April 1st, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


by Max Lucado

“If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.”
I Peter 4:11 NKJV

God shaped you according to your purpose. How else can you explain yourself? Your ability to diagnose an engine problem by the noise it makes; to bake a cake without a recipe. You knew the Civil War better than your American history teacher. You know the name of every kid in the orphanage. How do you explain such quirks of skill?

God. He knew young Israel would need a code, so he gave Moses a love for the law. He knew the doctrine of grace would need a fiery advocate, so he set Paul ablaze. And in your case, he knew what your generation would need and gave it. He designed you. And his design defines your destiny. Remember Peter’s admonition? “If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.”

Blind Truth

Posted April 1st, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional

by Jon Walker

The Jewish leaders wouldn’t believe he had been blind … John 9:18 (NLT)

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When Jesus healed a man born blind, the Pharisees opened an investigation to determine exactly what had happened. Yet, it appears they decided ahead of time what the answer should be, so when the facts didn’t support their predetermined conclusion, they just kept searching until they found facts they liked.

The Apostle John shows us a sequence of snapshots related to the Pharisee’s investigation:

· They ask the man, formally known as blind, what happened (John 9:13-16), but in this story of a blind man, seeing is not believing to the Pharisees.

· They ask the previously blind man who had healed him (John 9:17), and then they attempted to undermine the credibility of Jesus.

· They ask the man’s parents what they thought had happened (John 9:19-23), and in the process, they began to question the formerly blind man’s credibility.

· They returned to the question: “What did he do?” (John 9:26), demanding an explanation. Their focus was on the “how” and not the “wow.” Instead of saying, “This man who was blind can now see! Wow, God!” they have to know exactly what happened and how it happened. They walk by sight and not by faith, the exact opposite of what we’re taught in 2 Corinthians 5:7.

· When they’re not getting the answers they want, the Pharisees begin to ridicule this man, who now had 20/20 vision: “Then they cursed him and said, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.’” (John 9:28)

· When the Pharisees cannot intimidate the man, frightening him into abandoning his testimony, they pass judgment on him and throw him out of the synagogue. (John 9:30-34)

A sign of our spiritual maturity is when we follow truth, wherever it leads, and we face the truth no matter how much it hurts or how much it costs.

We are called to come out of the darkness and to be obedient to the Truth, who is Jesus Christ, our Lord, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, HCSB)

What does this mean?

· Seek truth, don’t defend – When faced with something or someone you don’t understand, ask God to show you the truth and to help you let go of your preconceived notions or the prejudices you defend.

· Check the ridicule in you – If you find yourself ridiculing someone or his position, putting her down, vilifying another, then check with God. Ask him to show you the root of your attitudes and to guide you into a position of love.

Remain teachable – No matter who you are or what position you hold, there are always things you can learn. The Pharisees were unteachable, rejecting anything that challenged their preconceived ideas. God sends us teachers all the time; Let Jesus open your eyes so you are no longer blind to them.

Loved by God

Posted April 1st, 2008 by Kent and filed in devotional


by Max Lucado

“The LORD loves you.”
Deuteronomy 7:8 NLT

God loves you simply because he has chosen to do so.

He loves you when you don’t feel lovely.

He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.

This is his sentiment: “I’ll call the nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Rom. 9:25 MSG).

This is his promise: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jer. 31:3 NLT).

Do you know what else that means? You have a deep aquifer of love from which to draw. When you find it hard to love, then you need a drink! Drink deeply! Drink daily!