Friday, June 06, 2008

Faith Proved Genuine

When Jesus taught us to pray, he started with, "Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name."

We are to start our prayers with recognition of Who God is, where He reigns, and how Holy and Righteous He is. This is the start of praise and worship.

Today, I found myself thanking God for the fact that my loving family are each born again in Jesus Christ! I love the fact that both of my adult children are believers in Christ and the inerrancy of God's Eternal Word, the Bible.

Oftentimes, young adult children stray from their Christian upbringing. Statistics (see Barna research) share that attending a secular college can lead 20-something-year-olds away from the Christian faith that they had grown up in. It is a very sad statistic, indeed. There can be many diverse reasons for the backsliding. It could also indicate that the person was never genuinely saved in the first place.

Suffering can be one of the culprits that tests the faith of us all. Been there, done that! The title of this post is "faith proved genuine." I will be sharing a wonderful essay from Max Lucado's book, "On The Anvil." I have been enjoying this book immensely over the past few weeks. I have bookmarked several sections that I'd like to share on this blog.

Before I get to today's post, I wanted to share just a bit about the great relationships that both my husband and I share with our adult children.

For Mother's Day, my son bought tickets for us to attend the last day of the Spirit West Coast Concert. He left that 18 inning Padre game early in order to meet me for dinner and attend the concert!

It was the final night of the three day event. The stadium was packed! I was excited to see two of my favorite Christian bands!

The first to appear early that evening was "Kutless." At Christmas, my son bought me their worship CD and I play it all the time while driving in my car. I must admit, however, that I was a bit disappointed at the concert. The group chose to play many secular songs from their upcoming album which is to be released this month. The songs were a bit too hard rock (and secular) for my taste. Even my son was surprised. They only played three songs that I recognized from their worship CD. I looked around at the crowd. We were in the upper portion of the stands where many families were seated. The rockin' kids were right up near the front of the stage - jumping up and down to the hard rock songs.

When Kutless played the worship songs, I glanced around and noticed that all of the adults (ages 30-up) were singing the lyrics of each song along with the band! I thought to myself that many others probably felt the same way I did...wished there were more worship songs.

Later that evening, Third Day took the stage. What a marvelous concert! Every song was a worship song that lifted up the name of Jesus Christ! My son became a new fan of theirs!

They also shared a story about being the first Christian band to join with additional entertainers during a recent USO tour into Iraq. The band member who spoke about the experience shared that they thought they were going there to minister to the soldiers. However, they were SO MOVED by these great men and women of the military that they found THEMSELVES being ministered back by THEM! The band member said that their flight home was called an "angel flight." They had the body of a brave soldier who had been killed by a roadside bomb on the plane back to the United States.

I would imagine that there was not a dry eye in the stadium!

The gratefulness of these band members for the sacrifice of our brave men and women fighting over in Iraq for freedom was very evident. No politics involved...just gratefulness. The lead singer mentioned the band's work of sending thousands of Bibles over to the soldiers and how the men and women grabbed them up!

People...the gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared throughout Iraq!

Praise God!

Back to the Lord's Prayer.

It is the most beloved and favorite prayer because the words came directly from our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is also meant to be a "model prayer" - meaning, that each segment of the prayer can be included in our individual prayers to the Father. We can use our own words while praying, of course.

Jesus continued, "Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven."

We are to pray for God's will to be done on this earth. Praying within the will of the Father is very important. The Bible tells us what is best for us - what God desires for us. Praying for frivolous, finite things that do not help to build God's kingdom just are not as effective.

"Give us this day, our daily bread."

We are to give thanks for each day that we live on earth. Each day is a gift from God! We are to give thanks for our "daily bread." This is not only meant as thanks for our physical food, but also thanks for the spiritual "food from heaven" - God's Holy Word! Recall when Jesus mentioned this kind of food?

"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

There are weeks worth of study involved in that part of the prayer! Briefly, suffice it to say that forgiveness is THE most powerful force in the universe! We only need to fall to our knees at the foot of the cross of Christ to realize that fact!

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

We live in a fallen world. The whole earth groans for redemption! Staying in constant contact with our Lord through prayer strengthens us against any temptation that might come along to trip us up; causing us to stumble back into former sinful ways.

The cross of Christ HAS delivered us from evil! Once born again, no one can snatch us out of His Hands! However, Jesus did warn us that "in this world we will have trouble." We need to be constantly aware of the snares of evil that can take us away from our desire to follow Christ in His Righteousness as we spend the rest of our earthly days in sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit's indwelling.

"For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory now and forever, Amen."

Nothing on this earth could EVER compare to knowing Jesus Christ our Lord! Recognizing His kingdom, power and glory is the goal of our earthly existence! Amen!

I had previously mentioned the term "sanctification" as being a process that believers in Christ go through during our entire lives. No one, this side of heaven, can claim to have ever completely "arrived."

Read this essay from Max Lucado! You will be strengthened in your faith and given hope - even when (and if you are) going through hard times of grief and/or suffering.

It is my prayer today, that you - dear readers - will each be "proved genuine" and allow yourselves to become an unbending, useful tool for God!

In Christ,


On the Anvil
Chapter 14

With a strong forearm, the apron-clad blacksmith puts his tongs into the fire, grasps the heated metal, and places it on the anvil. His keen eye examines the glowing piece. He sees what the tool is now and envisions what he wants it to be--sharper, flatter, wider, longer. With a clear picture in his mind, he begins to pound. His left hand still clutching the hot mass with the tongs, his right hand slams the two-pound sledge upon the moldable metal.

On the solid anvil, the smoldering iron is remolded.

The smith knows the type of instrument he wants. He knows the size. He knows the shape. He knows the strength.

Whang! Whang! The hammer slams. The shop rings with noise, the air fills with smoke, and the softened metal responds.

But the response doesn't come easily. It doesn't come without discomfort. To melt down the old and recast it as new is a disrupting process. Yet the metal remains on the anvil, allowing the toolmaker to remove the scars, repair the cracks, refill the voids, and purge the impurities. (bold mine)

And with time, a change occurs: What was dull becomes sharpened, what was crooked becomes straight, what was weak becomes strong, and what was useless becomes valuable.

Then the blacksmith stops. He ceases his pounding and sets down his hammer. With a strong left arm, he lifts the tongs until the freshly molded metal is at eye level. In the still silence, he examines the smoking tool. The incandescent implement is rotated and examined for any mars or cracks.

There are none.

Now the smith enters the final stage of his task. He plunges the smoldering instrument into a nearby bucket of water. With a hiss and a rush of steam, the metal immediately begins to harden. The heat surrenders to the onslaught of cool water, and the pliable, soft mineral becomes an unbending, useful tool.

"For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Study questions:

1. Describe your own experiences with grief or difficult times. What have you learned through these experiences?

2. Has suffering affected your faith? In what ways?


Source: On The Anvil - Stories On Being Shaped Into God's Image by Max Lucado. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1985, 2008 pp. 37-38.


Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine—

What a blessing to read your words to start Shabbat this evening. God is molding and making you more and more and it is amazing to watch you grow with grace in your use of words on a daily blessing.

I am thankful for you and your family. The life God has given you to share is a blessing, and it is light to the whole world via Talk Wisdom. Have a wonderful weekend and Shabbat Shalom with much love to the West coast from the East. Praise the Lord. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

What a blessing it is for me to read your encouraging comments!

I love Max Lucado's books. He has such wonderful writing talent (essays, prose, devotionals etc.) and uses it all for the glory of God.

I was up so late last night! Was busy working on this new template for my blog! Like it?

I ran into several snags last night and couldn't solve them. When I looked at my watch - it was 1:00 a.m.! It was difficult to just leave it that way, but I was so tired. I got up from the computer and went to bed.

This morning, I got on my own computer (was on husband's last night) and everything was working fine! Apparently, I did something weird to the template late last night while working at my husband's computer. Since I didn't "save" the errors,(good thing!) they didn't ruin all the work I did on the new template afterall!

God is so good! Even when I make stupid errors! Ha!

It might take a while to import all of the links from my former template. But I love this new format - much easier and faster to work with!

Didn't mean to bore you with techie details!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Love & God bless,