Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trained Disciples

A few weeks ago my Pastor (hubby) began a Bible Study on the book of Joshua.  And in the first chapter, the Bible tells us on four different occasions to be strong, be courageous, be of good courage, and do not fear, in some form or fashion.  The second week of the Bible Study my husband had to go away so I had to teach.  And as I shared with our Bible Study class that evening, I was reminded of this picture that I had seen several years ago that was the epitome (the perfect representation) of courage.  This cat walking in the midst of some German shepherds.  And the cat is almost strolling, as if he is not afraid at all or taken aback by what he has to go through.  And although that night I didn’t have the picture, it was so vivid in my head I tried to explain as best I could.  Courage is having the strength, the mindset, to face danger, fear, or opposition with a bold confidence, just like this cat.  And as I said that, I promised that I would find the picture, and bring it to church.

A couple of weeks went by and at every opportunity he had, my grandson would try and remind me of the picture.  Finally last Sunday I remembered it, printed it out and brought it to church.  After teaching Sunday school, I showed it first to my grandson since he was so eagerly waiting to see.  But as I presented it to him and began looking at the picture again, God spoke this to my Spirit: “We need to be so focused and determined to get what God has for us, that we do not allow distractions to take us off course.”

And as I thought about that,   I was reminded how I found the picture.  That I put in a search for a picture of cats with German shepherds and what came up was “Dog Training.”  In particular, training German shepherds to be police dogs.  The article went on to explain that in order for them to learn how to focus on their mission, their purpose, they had to be taught, had to be disciplined so as not to chase after distractions.  One of them being a cat.  And what made these dogs stay away from the cat, was the reward that they were to receive for their obedience.  Some of these dogs, if you look at the picture, are taking great refrain to not go after that cat.  Some of them, you can see, are looking straight through the cat, almost as if he is not bothering them.   But both groups knew that if they just hung in there, if they just stayed focused, on the other side of their obedience, they would receive their reward. 

God said that we are much like those dogs.  That we are being taught. We are Disciples of Christ, being disciplined to obey.  And we have an even greater reward than these dogs, because we have the promises of God, which are ALL yea and amen.  But we need to stay focused on the end product, our reward, so that we do not allow things to distract us from getting them.

These dogs were being trained that if they stay focused on their reward, be it a biscuit, a steak or whatever, they will get it if they do not give in to the distraction.  And because they were so set on receiving that reward, I believe they had their eyes set on it.  Their mouths were probably watering over it.  And because they did not lose focus of that, they were able to refrain from going after that cat (their distraction). 

We are on a mission.  God has filled us with purpose.  And He promises that if we do not give in, if we do not give up, if we stay on our course, if we keep our eyes on the prize, we will receive the promise.  So when things come along to distract us, and yes, there are many things and there will be much more, we must stay focused knowing that we have a great reward on the other side of our obedience.  Just as those dogs did. 

I will say this again… We need to be so focused and determined to get what God has for us that NOTHING or NO ONE will distract us or keep us from getting it!”  Especially not our enemy!    There is a great reward waiting if we would just obey.

God is good!  And He’s real!  Oh, yes He is!

Sitting and Watching

I recently read a story about the history of a silversmith who explained why silver must go through a fire to be refined.  And the reason he gave is so that all the impurities can be burned away.  And the silversmith knows when that has happened, when he can see his image reflected in the silver.
But as I read this, what stood out for me in the work of a silversmith, was what he said.  “While the piece is in the fire, he must sit and watch it.  He must give it his full attention; otherwise the silver could be damaged.”
While the piece is in the fire, HE must sit and watch it. HE must give it HIS full attention; otherwise the silver could be damaged.  All I could say was, “Wow! God!”  And as He spoke to me, I want you to get this, while YOU are in the fire, God must sit and watch YOU.  God must give YOU His full attention, otherwise YOU could be damaged.  And the good news is that He does!  Bless the name of the Lord!

Malachi 3:3 says, “He (God) will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”  Many times, some of the things that we are going through makes us feel like we are in a fire.  We feel like we are being tested, that we are being tried and the pain seems so severe, that we believe that if it does not stop soon, we will be destroyed.  But God!   God is sitting and watching you.  He is sitting and watching all that you are going through.  And just as the silversmith, He is giving you His full attention to make sure, to make certain, to guarantee, that you will not be destroyed.  He not once turns away or looks in another direction from where you are.  Hallelujah!

To refine means to reduce to a pure state.  To purify.  Another version of the dictionary says, it means to free from coarse, unsuitable, or immoral characteristics. It also means to acquire polish or elegance.  To use precise distinctions and sublety in thought or speech. 

A refiner is a person, a device or a substance that removes such impurities, sediment or other unwanted matter from something.

I want you to know that God is your refiner and you are in the fiery furnace for a purpose.  You are being made holy.  God wants to reduce you to a pure state.  He is purifying your heart, freeing you of unsuitable and immoral characteristics.  You are being conformed to the image of the Son, Jesus Christ.  In the fire, your speech is being changed.  You will no longer speak words of doubt, words of lack, nor words of fear, but your mouth will be filled with words of hope.  Words to encourage, to build up and to strengthen.  Words that speak life to dead things, words that call things that be not as though they were, words that declare victory over defeat.  Words that say I shall not die, but live to declare the glory of the Lord.  Words of faith.    Precise distinctions in thought and speech.

God is refining you.  God is removing the unwanted matter from you.  Those things that you have asked him to take away shall be no more.  Those things that you used to do, those people that are holding you back, those situations and circumstances that you have allowed to hinder you, God is taking them away.  In the fire.
And God is not leaving you alone.  He is sitting and watching you, His silver piece, His child, that you will not be destroyed.  He sees every little detail and He is watching that you won’t get burnt.

And when God removes you from that fire, just like the silversmith, God will then look at His reflection, His image, His likeness, His child and beam.   He might even show some teeth. J

And then you will say like Job, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”  Yesss!!  Pure gold.

God is good!  And He’s real.

Be blessed.

A servant of the Lord,
Sis. E