Smooth Going

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the
Lord by ceasing to pray for you. 1Samuel 12:23a, (NAS)

I was traveling today and thinking about all the people who went into
making my trip safe. As I awoke this morning I had prayed for the
security people, pilots, plane crew and mechanics, knowing that if
everyone did their job well my journey would go more smoothly.

In the quiet moments of waking, I have developed the habit of thinking of
people I will be working with that day, praying for them and for myself.
That prayer might go something like, "Lord, help us to relate well to
each other and give us a sense of your order, truth, and goodness".

Recently a co-worker asked, "You always seem to have such a sense of
calm in the middle of all this work. How do you do it?" My answer
was immediate. "I pray a lot!" I thought if she could only see
what I wrote in my journal last night! My journal is my way of sorting things out, talking to myself and to God. I had written that I want God's presence in my life, so I pray often. Praying is one way that I invite the Lord into my circumstances and into the lives of people around me.

Prayer: Lord, you have given us your power here on earth to pray your
presence into our lives and others. Thank you for that power. Remind me to use it!

By Al, California

Am I Clean Inside?

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV)

The other day, I went to the dentist as my teeth had been giving me a bit of trouble for about two weeks. I assumed the dentist would say that I was lacking calcium or something of the sort and just give a few pills that I could swallow and then miraculously my teeth queasiness would heal. But oh how wrong I was. I prided myself in taking good care of my teeth; I believed I brushed them adequately in order to keep them from decaying. The dentist took a good look inside and his next words surprised me a great deal… He said something like, "It seems like you’ve been cleaning just the outer side of your teeth and your inside is dirty. Just a show for the world huh?" he laughed. I cringed, feeling embarrassed.  

A few days later, the incident got me thinking. How many times have I just put on a show of being kind, loving and generous to the outer world? How many times have I smiled and acted a ‘Christian’ and not really felt God’s love and compassion flow from within me? While I myself had been drifting farther and farther away from God, I’ve put on a mask to the outside world to make them believe that I was a good, devoted Christian. I asked myself, “Who are you fooling?” and the answer made me search deep within myself. For the next few days, I focused on spending more quiet time with God and building my relationship with him. I tried harder to follow his commandments lovingly delivered to us through his life giving Word and the peace and true love that followed are experiences that I cannot pen down in writing. God gives us freely of his love and peace; it’s we who drift away and not abide in the richness of the experience. My dryness, I realised, could be filled with his amazing fullness, if only I chose to seek after Him, and that I did.  

Blessed Father, thank you for caring enough to tell us in your Word how we are to live and thank you for responding to our cries of desperation. Thank you for the love you pour into our hearts. Make us your arms, feet and heart that will go into the world and love as You have called us to love. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen.

A Keen Eye

Then it came about when they entered, that he looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him." But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (The New American Standard)

We visited an operating pegmatite mine recently looking for tourmaline and other attractive minerals. Several students were startled by the fact that the outward appearance of a large stone was not necessarily a good indicator of what was inside. Once they experienced success by cracking a few large rocks and finding treasures within, two approaches emerged among those wielding hammers. Let’s call them the “smashers” and the “tappers” for lack of better labels.

The smashers went about with a heavy handed approach indiscriminately making small rocks from big ones and in the process, shattering that which was beautiful inside. More than once I heard the groans and cries of dismay as crystals were rent asunder by this overzealous approach.

The “tappers” went about lightly tapping on rocks, chipping about the edges, suppressing the urge to become a smasher. While it can be said truthfully they saw the insides of fewer stones and the piles of rubble about them were decidedly smaller, they were only slightly less successful in their attempts to preserve that which was precious inside.

Both smashers and tappers were faced with the same dilemma, how best to deal with something very fragile, encased by equally brittle, stony armor. Each experienced a measure of success before the day was out and I think they all discovered that a keen eye is necessary when looking at the surface veneer of resistance covering that which is very precious.
Lord, help us to have a keen eye and be ready to see the core values you have given those about us. Help us to resist tapping and smashing at the stony veneer and help us to allow your Word to reveal the precious gems that reside within. Amen.