Fan the Flame

Settling into our family cabin, I determined to start a big crackling fire in the fireplace. After wadding up several sheets of newspaper, I positioned the logs in tepee style to create a nice little vent for the oxygen to fuel the flame. Completely satisfied, and patting myself on the back, my dancing fire lasted for maybe five minutes before fizzling out.

Fortunately, my husband came to the rescue. It didn’t take long before he chipped away several smaller slivers of wood with the ax before tucking them under my larger charred log. With a little poking and prodding, he had a steady flame atop a bed of hot embers in no time. But he didn’t stop there. As the furnace kicked in, he jumped up to crack the front door open for ventilation so smoke wouldn’t flood the room. When the flame dwindled, he persistently stoked it. Thus we, (I), enjoyed relaxing by the warm glow all afternoon. 🙂

This is where my analogy breaks down, at least in the comparison of keeping the flame fueled in a relationship, with only Eric doing most of the work. But you get the picture. It takes observation and consistent effort to keep a good thing going. Whether in marriage, another relationship, or maybe something God has called you to, keep pressing on. Maybe your faith has been waning. Fan the flame with regular Bible reading, prayer, and regular fellowship. Do the work to keep the fire burning.

If you are God’s child, remember that He is on your side. He will not only equip you in the good work(s) He has predetermined, but will also fuel into you the needed wisdom, faith and strength for the asking.

Build Upon the Rock

Almost lured to sleep atop his air mattress by the gentle rhythmic incoming tide, my dad didn’t see it coming. BAM! A random large wave pelted him downward into the sand before catapulting him onto the shore. That was the end of an otherwise relaxing vacation, and the beginning of his back pain.

Hopefully you haven’t been literally pelted by a random wave, or regular wave for that matter! But all of us experience setbacks and storms in life at one time or another. Like that wave, an unexpected storm barges in with surging winds of adversity, stripping everything bare, exposing our foundation.

All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented Himself as both the final authority and fulfiller of the Law. He finishes His sermon with not only a call to heed His message, but also to find one’s security in Him (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Jesus tells a story about two men: one who builds his house upon a rock and another who builds his house upon sand. I’m sure you know which house weathers the storm. Jesus calls this builder wise. But the house built on the sand collapses during the storm, and the builder is dubbed foolish.

A good foundation is obvious, but its importance can’t be overemphasized. The strength of a building lies in its foundation. The main purpose of the foundation is to hold the structure above it and keep it upright.

In this parable, Jesus gives us some wise words about the foundation of our lives: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Our life foundation is crucial. We will face some storms in this life, and may even need to rebuild. Sometimes the pressure to heed the world’s advice and turn away from God’s words hits with hurricane force. At times, our own feelings bombard us inwardly to do the opposite of God’s will.

But despite these tensions, the wise person will follow God’s words as a result of trust and thankfulness. God will bless the one whose life is built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. As we grow in trust and obedience, He will anchor our “house” in Him so that we are able to weather the storms. It is God who grows our hope and faith. The wise person is like the tree planted by the riverside, whose leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1–3).

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness Sake

The Beatitudes describe traits that are the heart of the Christian way of life. They are characteristics we should bury deep within our souls. If we are living by the Beatitudes, then we will no longer be like the chameleon who easily blends in with its surroundings. Pursuit of living a godly lifestyle will result in standing out from those who live by the world’s standards.

Living a God-pleasing lifestyle will inevitably bring some hardship. Being different in a godly way will bring persecution.

In some areas of the world, following Jesus carries the death penalty. For those of us who live in the Western world, persecution might result in some form of harassment at school or work, or being bullied.

How does persecution bring blessing? Why would Jesus honor those who experience this pain in the eighth Beatitude? Who will undergo persecution and what is His promise to those who undergo this “honor”?

Rev. Mike Michael Glodo writes more about this topic. You may read it here: Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted. Wishing you a blessed week!

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

I, for one, want to see God someday. But is it even possible to truly be pure in heart? Can anyone consistently hold to this high standard? What exactly does Jesus mean in His sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart”?

The Greek word for “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is katharos. It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” Interestingly, the word can refer specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning.

Got Questions does a great job summarizing this important topic. You may read it here: Blessed Are the Pure In Heart.