WE’VE GOT WHAT?

Some time ago we noticed some dirt on the baseboard of the guest room in our home.  It is a room that had gone through multiple iterations of use, from a suite for our daughter and her family, to a bedroom for us after surgery, to a guest room for visiting clergy and friends.  Since our children have moved back home and have established homes of their own, we no longer have need of the guest room for housing their families so it is not put to frequent use.

Therefore, we did not pay much attention to the “dirt” on the baseboard in the corner of the room.  We went into the room recently and discovered that the “dirt” seemed to have become more pervasive and we became a bit concerned about the cause.

The answer to the title question is “We’ve got mold!”  It has not intruded into the entire room, just one corner, but it did a real good job of invading that area.  We have now had the corner stripped of the dry wall by the mold remediator, and we can see the damage that it caused.  Now the mold has been killed and the area sealed off until we can get a contractor to repair the damage.

mold damage 0708191104b
Ceiling in the corner of the room showing mold damage

As I was looking at the damage, while trying to settle my stomach from how ugly it was, the Lord struck me with the realization that my hatred of the mold and what it did to the house is miniscule when compared to His holy hatred of sin. 

The room looked fine when you looked at the wall.  Yes, there was some discoloration at the baseboard, but no one looks at that!  Put something in front of it and you don’t even know it is there!

The room looked presentable.  It was fine.  It was even quite pretty with the curtains and lovely furniture, with knickknacks on the shelves and a broad window showing off the rose bushes outside. 

But when the sheet rock was taken down, what a horrible scene embraced the eyes!  At the lower corner of the room, you could see the outside through the vinyl siding on the exterior wall of the room.  The only thing between the room and the outside was the thin vinyl siding.

mold damage 0708191104a
The lower corner exposed pure sunlight through the siding.

On the outside, we can look presentable, maybe even pretty or handsome as we go to church, pay our tithe, sing in the choir, and do all the things that we are supposed to do.  But if we harbor sin in our hearts, if we are quarrelsome and spiteful, if we covet or lie, if we murder the reputation of others through gossip or slander, or if we abuse the marital bed through adultery, we present anything but a pretty picture when the veneer is taken away.

Jesus spoke of this situation in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Matthew 23:27-28

The Pharisees and scribes were holy men before the people, but they were lawless sinners before God, the One who could read their hearts and minds like an open book. 

It is humbling to realize that God knows your thoughts, your minds, your actions, your motives … your everything.  While the mold hid behind the drywall, it fooled us but it was still there, working its damage. Likewise, God is not deceived by outward appearances.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

2 Chronicles 16:9  These words were said to Asa, King of Judah, after he had sinned by consulting with a medium about an upcoming battle, rather than relying on God.  This was in direct violation of God’s command.  There are negative consequences to violating God’s laws.

David understood the ability of the Lord to see our actions:

“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.”

Psalm 34:15   Fortunately, there also are consequences to obeying God’s command, and these consequences lead to righteousness and a relationship with the Almighty God.

The writer of Proverbs, too, understood the all-encompassing knowledge of God, not just actions but motives and reasons, unspoken words and thoughts:

“For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.”

Proverbs 5:21

God’s omniscient knowledge of us is repeated in the New Testament by the half-brother of Jesus who said:

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.””

1 Peter 3:12

Believer, don’t harbor sin in your heart.  Confess your sin and repent of your actions.  You will be restored and the blot will be taken away … new boards will be erected and the new sheet rock will be unblemished.

Such is not the future of the wicked, however.   In the verses immediately after Proverbs 5:21 quoted above, we read:

“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.  He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” – Proverbs 5:22-23

The remedy for sin in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. 

“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8-9

Don’t let the mold of sin ensnare you.  Confess your sin and repent, claim the Lord Jesus as your Savior, and you will be saved.

“The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!”

Psalm 22:26

Lord, I pray that the mold of sin, eating away at the fiber of our beings, will be purged by the blood of the Lamb, that sin would be eliminated from our lives and that Jesus would replace that rotten wood with clean firm resolve through the Holy Spirit working in our lives on a moment by moment basis.  Forgive us for our sin and cleanse us from all iniquity. In Christ’s holy name, I pray.

I HAVE MY EYE ON YOU!

I love going to the orchard and shopping at the farm store – getting apples directly from the orchard is wonderful.  I always bring home a wide variety of apples, with all the differences in flavors and textures that await the first bite!

 

Carvers orchard 10-2016 - 3
Carver’s Orchard – Tree loaded with apples!

 

I thought it would be fun to make applesauce. So, one day when my young grandson was at the house, I enlisted his help in preparing the apples.  He used the peeler/corer/slicer, turning the handle while the apple rotated through the various blades that accomplished their purpose – this resulted in making the apple ready for the pot much faster than if we had done it by hand with a paring knife.

When one of the apples was completed, and it had stayed in one sliced piece – similar to a slinky – he took it and peered through the center hole saying:  “Grammy, I have my eye on you.”  I responded “I see you too!”

Apple - helper saying I have my eye on you
Looking through the slinky apple!

That little exchange reminded me of many scriptures in which God speaks of seeing us and, also its inverse, where we are reminded to look and see that which God has done.  The Israelites were reminded that they had seen God’s work on their behalf and they should remember that and follow God with all their heart, mind and soul:

“For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that he did.”

Deuteronomy 11:7 ESV

Then there are times when those of faith have asked that God would open other’s eyes.  When Elisha and his servant were in the hills, surrounded by the enemy, the servant was fearful. 

“Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

2 Kings 6:17 ESV.   Elisha had faith because He knew God.  He knew that there was no reason to be fearful because God had His angels surrounding them, protecting them, securing them for further work for His kingdom.  After the servant’s eyes were opened, he too saw the protection and no longer feared as before.  The servant could have said that which David said in the psalms: 

“But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!”

Psalm 141:8 ESV

The security referenced by David is not limited to the Old Testament times.  Our security in the Lord is reaffirmed in the New Testament when we are reminded that God sees His children and responds to their prayers.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:12 ESV

Of course, we also have the scripture telling us about Jesus’ healing the blind as He went through the villages and cities during His ministry. See Matthew 20:30-34, for an example.

The same God who saw what was going on in the Old Testament, who sees what is happening with His children, who walked through the streets giving sight to those who asked of Him, that very same God is watching us today, in 2017.  He sees what we are doing, He knows what we think before we take any action on those thoughts, in fact He knows what we are going to say before we even give utterance to those thoughts.  Psalm 139:1-4.  God is intimately involved with His children, on a level that is so deep and so personal that we cannot imagine it. 

Today, let this be a comfort to you.  Let this permeate your heart, mind and soul.  God – the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent Creator of the Universe – sees you and He wants to open your eyes so that you will see Him as He works His plan in and through you.

“Grammy, I have my eye on you!”    

“Linda, I have MY eye on you!”

Oh, may I live and move this day in the full realization and assurance that God has His eye on me.   May you do so as well.

Father, I praise Your name and thank You for Your watchfulness, Your protection, Your mercy and Your grace.  I thank You for being with me even when I am unaware of Your presence.  Open my eyes today so that I would see You and Your Hand working in my life and in others, for Your glory and honor.

TUNING TOGETHER IN UNITY

We went to the symphony the other evening.  It was an incredible performance, featuring a 29 year old pianist from France.  Both of us were mesmerized by her awesome talent and by the way she and the orchestra mixed and matched each other, with their musical lines intertwining into a beautiful tapestry of sound.

Listen here to “Viam Dei” composed and directed by Jeff Lippencott on the album “Glory to the Holy One”.  

You will notice that each instrument plays a critical part in the overall musical score.  None is wasted.  Some are louder to be sure, but even the little triangle can lend its tone to the beautiful message being created by the entire orchestra.

But, although I have been to a number of concerts over the years and have always seen this happen, what struck me the other evening occurred before the conductor stood on the platform and raised her baton.  It even occurred before the conductor was on the stage. 

As the instrumentalists arrived on stage, they warmed up by practicing various points in the music for the evening, each one running through spots that likely caused problems for them.  The result was a cacophony of sound, not a unified melody or harmonic chord.  The Concert Master, the title for the musician in the position of first chair violin, walked onto the stage and the musicians stopped, silence – no sound from the orchestra. 

oboeThe Concert Master pointed to the oboe player and a clear, pure tone was heard wafting over the instrumentalists.  The various instruments were then tuned to the tone of the oboe.

Whether or not that tone was pitch perfect somewhere else was relatively immaterial (although I suspect it would have been on pitch anywhere, given the skill of our musicians).  The point was, it was to be pitch perfect here, at this point in time, so the musicians tuned their instruments to that pitch and that pitch alone. 

No one said “I’m going to use my pitch!  It’s better!.”  If that had been the case, there would have been discord among the instruments.  All of them needed to be tuned to the same pitch so that the resulting musical presentation would be in harmony.

Later, when a piano was rolled onto the stage for the featured instrumentalist to use for her Concerto, the Concert Master played a note on the piano and the orchestra tuned to that instrument.  After all, it would not do to have the instruments tuned to the oboe if the oboe was not in tune with the piano. 

As I was listening to the musical presentation, which was incredible by the way, I was thinking about how each of the instruments blend together to create the glorious music which we were experiencing. 

orchestra

How like the Church, the Body of Christ.  Scripture teaches us that we are to work together.  We all may have different gifts, talents, interests, abilities – but we are all part of the same Body and our role is important.  Remember the triangle – the percussionist who plays it plays a number of other fascinating instruments in the percussion section and the triangle is by no means the most important one.  But, somewhere deep in the midsection of the piece, there were two measures where the triangle was called for.  He stood and the little triangle was held high, struck the appropriate number of times, and then returned to its hook (or whatever it hangs on) until the next time it was needed.

The instruments that required tuning were all tuned to the same pitch.  In the Body of Christ, each believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is to be tuned to the same pitch as well. 

  • Each and every one of us is to look to the Word of God, the Holy Bible, as the message we are to proclaim. We read what Jesus said and what we are to do in the Scriptures, so it is imperative that each of us knows the Bible and that we each study it as our guide for living the life God desires.
  • Each and every one of us is to look to the Holy Spirit for our guidance, for our message, for our strength and for a proper understanding of the Scriptures.

Remember that Jesus said He would send the Spirit to be with us:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26 ESV

How would my life be changed if I tuned myself each day to the Scriptures?  How would my church be changed if each member tuned themselves each day to that which the Holy Spirit directed them to say and do?  Unity of mind and of purpose is desired and of paramount importance throughout the Scripture.

“A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

Psalm 133:1 ESV

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

And in Ephesians 4 Paul writes that believers should walk worthy of the calling to which they have been called. 

How is that walk? 

We are to live with humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, because we are eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Ephesians 4:1-6.

oboe

This week, remember the orchestra and the oboe.  Tune yourself with the Scriptures and walk in faith in the unity and bond of peace with your brothers and sisters in the Lord.

 

Father, enable me to tune my heart to the tone of the Holy Spirit so that I will reflect the image of my Lord and Savior.  May my life be fueled by the Holy Spirit and may I walk in Your way, today and each day that You give to me.

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 22, GENTLENESS part two

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 22

GENTLENESS – HUMILITY SHOWN IN MEEKNESS

PART TWO

What does Scripture say?

 Humility means putting God and other persons ahead of our own personal selfish interests. Humility comes with the knowledge that God’s creation as a whole transcends our own narrow interests.

 

Humility will cause an individual to wholly subject himself to God.  Even if God sends affliction or depressed circumstances, the humble person does not complain but expresses his gratitude for what God has decreed. The humble man says with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12

How does this apply to my daily life?

  •  The humble person lives by the Golden Rule.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Luke 6:31.

 

If we want to be loved, we must first give our love to others.  If we want to be respected, we must first give respect to all persons, most especially to those persons we do not like.  If we wish to be satisfied in our lives, we must first be generous toward others.

 

  • Gentleness/humility affects our talk, both with regard to attitude and topic. Scripture confirms this in numerous passages:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Proverbs 15:1-2

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”

Matthew 12:35

 

More specifically, when it comes to our talk, gossip is an act of hostility intended to harm someone’s reputation. We must avoid the temptation to misrepresent someone’s character or actions even if we are covering those acts with “Bless her heart!”

 

  • Gentleness/humility also affects our speech and emotions in that the humble person will not respond in anger or revenge.

 

Instead of anger, the humble person’s reaction to life’s difficulties is understanding and empathy.  An understanding attitude will settle the dispute and avoid turning a minor issue into a major confrontation.  The humble demeanor is a perfect tool for avoiding disputes and hard feelings.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

When we respond to anger with empathy and love, we can break the cycle of hatred and transform even our enemies into friends. Jesus recognized this when he gave us the unique command to love even our enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:43-45

  • Certain characteristics can be found win the humble man or woman.

 

The humble man or woman avoids ambitious behavior.  She is not greedy for honor and does not desire to be above her neighbors.   She does not take upon herself that which does not belong to her as if the earth ought to be subject to her bidding. On the contrary, she gives all due deference to the judgment and desires of others.  Her behavior is consistent with Philippians 2:3:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”

 

The humble man or woman avoids ostentatious behavior. If she has any advantage, ability or benefit over her neighbors, she will not make a show of it.    In other words, she is not a Pharisee who, according to Jesus, did all their works to be seen of men.” Matt 23:5.

 

Rather, she knows that the impression others have of her is a small thing indeed.  She is content that the God in Heaven sees what was done and she desires that He approve of her efforts.

 

The humble man or woman will not express scornful or belittling behavior. Treating others with scorn and contempt is one of the most offensive manifestations of improper pride toward them.  The humble woman treats others with courtesy and friendliness – because she is aware of her own weakness before God, and she knows that it is God alone that makes her any different than others.

 

The humble will always have the spirit to “condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16) and this is true even if the person is in a position of public trust and honor.

 

The humble man or woman will not exhibit willful or stubborn behavior.  The humble man or woman will not be stiff and inflexible, and insist that everything must go according to what they happen first to propose.  Further, the humble person will not make all the difficulty they can so as to make others uneasy if they do not get their own way.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

 

On the contrary, humility inclines men to have a yielding spirit to others, ready, for the sake of peace and to gratify others, to comply in many things with the desires of others, and to yield to their judgments when they are not inconsistent with truth and holiness.

 

A truly humble man is inflexible in nothing but in the cause of his Lord and Master, which is the cause of truth and virtue. In this he is inflexible, because God and conscience require it.

 

The humble spirit is desired by God and should be sought by the Christian.  Peter said that this spirit is the richest of all ornaments:  “even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” 1 Peter 3:4.

 

We read in 1 Peter 5:5 that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”   Regarding this verse, Jonathan Edwards says that in the original language, this means God “sets Himself in battle array against him,”  In other words, the proud spirit is abhorrent to God!  I certainly do not want God to fight against me!

 

Jesus – our Lord and Savior said:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

Matthew 5:9.

 

Gentleness/ Humility is the ornament of the spirit, the source of some of the sweetest exercises of Christian experience, the most acceptable sacrifice we can offer to God, the subject of the richest of His promises, the spirit with which He will dwell on earth, and which He will crown with glory in heaven hereafter.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.