Monday, May 8, 2017

Devotion 5.9.17

"Be careful what you ask for because you may get it" is a sentiment I've heard expressed before.  As a follower of Christ, I'd add to my fellow believers, "When you ask God to shape you and let you learn from something, take note of what you just asked."

During our Men's Retreat under the title of "Forged," we focused on the idea of "sharpening" under the Proverb "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (27:17).  We like the idea of sharpening, being shaped and formed, but think about the process, which was dramatized for us as our leader actually built a smelter and brought iron and steel to forge as we learned.  Forging takes three things:  oxygen, fuel, and high heat.  The oxygen was pumped into the coal by a make-shift fan developed to feed the burning coal oxygen.  This produced heat in excess of 1500 degrees and allowed our leader to take a piece of iron, beat it, shape it, re-shape it, and beat it again until it finally became a door knocker (ask, seek, knock).

Sometimes in life we feel that way.  We feel heat, to a degree, and ask God, "What are you trying to tell me?" (Spoiler alert:  He's always telling us through various episodes in our lives to turn to Him, not some of the time or once in a while, but turn to Him in all we do.)  This shaping and sharpening is done for a purpose, to prepare us for our own witness as believers to one another and to a world that does not know Christ.  In my own life, it has been: a father who suffered and died from dementia, most likely Alzheimer's; a mom who had a stroke and died shortly after; children and all the joys they can bring as well as the sorrows; working as an public education administrator; learning the ins and outs of marriage with a forgiving wife; and finally my own stupidity.  It isn't just unpleasant at times, but it is downright hard - high heat with oxygen feeding the fuel source to make me "shapable." All of that adds up to being able to listen to others as they go through similar experiences or reaching out to someone who is hurting and suffering to a degree.  My witness is my own life and the hope given to me when things seem hopeless through faith in Christ Jesus.  My witness is also the joys in life and those blessings Christ has bestowed upon me.

What's the shaping God has given you?  What does that shaping and sharpening enable you to do?

We thank God for our present sufferings as Paul notes in Romans 5:1 - 5, because that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope which does not disappoint us because of the love God has poured out on us through His Holy Spirit.  The ultimate shaping took place by a man who had no blame or no sin as he was beaten and punished for our sins, ultimately to His own death on the cross.  By rising, He gives us that hope we need.

So, pray that you are given the ability to use the shaping you endure to tell others the good news of Christ, and that it enable you to minister to those when the opportunity arises.

Hope Men's Ministry

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