Creator

Purified By Fire

The crucible is for refining silver and the smelter for gold,

but the one who purifies hearts ⌊by fire⌋ is the Lord. (Proverbs 17:3 GW)

(Context—Proverbs 17:1-6 GW)


No one can purify their own heart. No one. We can try but we’ll fail. We fail because we don’t have the right material to work from to develop a pure heart. We’re flawed.

Each of us is born with a selfish nature—a self-will.

This selfish nature isn’t obvious at first. When I first see and hold a newborn grandchild, well, it’s hard to imagine anything but purity in them. Each baby is wholly dependent on their parents, especially the nurturing care of their mother.

But over time—actually, not much time at all—this selfish nature becomes evident. It’s not just a child’s fascination with the word “no!” or their constant pushing of boundaries, it’s deeper than that. It’s embedded in each of us at birth—our individual self-will.

Our self-will is powerful, especially when it’s challenged and even when it appears to be subdued. No matter what the circumstances, it will eventually make its presence known. This can be a good thing many times but not when a pure heart is desired.

Many spiritually-minded people either claim or desire to have a pure heart. But this can only take place when the Creator of our hearts is allowed to work in us. Rather, when we allow the Lord to work our innate rebellion—aka, our selfish nature—out of us.

How does God purify a person’s heart? He uses external pressure. In this Bible version, the idea of fire or intense heat is expressed giving us a graphic illustration of God’s purifying process. But in most other Bible versions of this verse the word test is used to describe the process God uses to purify a heart.

Photo by  Ihor Malytskyi  on  Unsplash

God’s testing

It’s the tests of life that bring our selfish nature to the surface. Just as in purifying a precious metal like silver or gold in a furnace with intense heat that reduces the metal to a liquid, so God uses various tests in our life to reduce and refine us.

The intense heat of the refining process brings the impurities of the metal to the surface. These initial impurities are scraped off the surface. Then the process continues until the metal is pure enough to reflect an image on the surface like a mirror or still water.

Ever wonder why you undergo certain tests in life over and over? Tests related to hard-to-break habits, unhealthy relationships, or other internal struggles are intended to reduce us to a place of dependence upon God to overcome whatever the target is of this testing in our life.

God refines us so His image is reflected in us

As we experience these tests and allow them to melt us into a trusting submission to God, God will purify our hearts. Each test brings impurities to the surface. When the Lord scrapes these impurities out of us, He also heals the wounds they leave in us.

It’s not an easy process for most of us but it’s worth the work. The goal is to have a pure heart that we might see God (Matt 5:8). For now, we walk by faith—trusting in Him and His work in our hearts as He prepares us for the day we shall see Him face to face (1 Cor 13:12).

Reflection—

When you experience God’s testing in your life, allow it to melt your heart and submit to God with a full trust that He’s purifying your heart. As each test brings impurities to the surface, allow the Lord to scrape them out of you so He can heal and restore your heart.

Prayer Focus—

Be willing to surrender your heart to the Lord as you come before Him in prayer, this will lead to a greater confidence in Him to answer your prayers, as you draw closer to Him through the purifying of your heart.

Here’s a link to a beautiful worship song about the purpose of God’s refining work in us— Refiner’s Fire

©Word-Strong_2018


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Good Roots

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A person cannot stand firm on a foundation of wickedness,

and the roots of righteous people cannot be moved.

...but the roots of righteous people produce ⌊fruit⌋.

One person enjoys good things as a result of his speaking ability.

Another is paid according to what his hands have accomplished. (Proverbs 12:3, 12b, 14 GW)

(Context—Proverbs 12:1-14 GW)


Every hurricane season, trees are uprooted, seashores are eroded, and homes get flooded. Such is life in the Carribean, Florida, and all along the Gulf Coast.

In SE Asia, typhoon season brings similar scenes. Not only are trees uprooted, many homes are completely washed away with storm surge and flash floods. Though not unusual, it's still devastating for families to lose homes, livelihoods, and even, for some, the lives of loved ones.

Whether trees or homes or people's lives, a solid foundation is vital for enduring powerful storms. Roots are the foundation of a plant or tree and provide a network for sustenance essential for life.

These two verses referring to the "roots of the righteous" speak of two outcomes—they "cannot be moved" and they "produce fruit." Stability and life.

What's the key to these "roots of the righteous?" Their roots are in solid ground and soil that's nutrient-rich with sufficient water.

An immediate reference to the truth of God can be drawn from the larger context of Proverbs and the figurative lesson in Psalm 1:1-3.

I see another reference in verse 14—

One person enjoys good things as a result of his speaking ability. Another is paid according to what his hands have accomplished.

Families and cultures can produce tremendous pressure on a person to conform to what's most likely to lead to a successful future. But many times it's at the cost of a person's identity and integrity—their internal essence—their spirit.

We're all wired differently. We all have different gifts and skills. Many people are not suited for college but do well with practical training in what they do best and countless university degrees never factor into a person's life work.

Each of us needs to stay grounded in who we are as God created us to be.

Some people are good with words, both learning and teaching in an academic environment, or in other ways of expressing thoughts and ideas through words. Others are good with their hands and actions, they build or create things skillfully and are content with doing things well.

How can a person know for sure what they are best suited to do?

When each of us is well-grounded in our relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of our life—the One who knows us best—it's much easier to know what we were created to do best.

The important thing is being rooted in a personal relationship with the Lord and living our life guided by His truth and wisdom.

Reflection—

If you want to know what your purpose in life is—what you were created to do well—then allow the roots of your life to grow deep in a well-grounded relationship with God.

Prayer Focus—

Pray for discernment and wisdom. Ask God to either clarify or give you fresh insight into what He's equipped you to do mentally and physically—according to what fits you best.

©Word-Strong_2018


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A Master Craftsman

Science isn't as reliable as you might think. Many spurious scientific claims and discoveries are and can be proven false.

For example, Cold Fusion—the 1989 claim of two scientists that energy could be produced via electrolysis of heavy water—could not be replicated nor verified by other scientists.

Recently, the claim of parallel universes being a possibility is making a comeback of sorts on the internet. The operative word is possibility. Since it can't be proven or disproven, people can hold onto this as some hope for life beyond our planet.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving Celebration!

Photo by  Aaron Burden  on  Unsplash

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Thanksgiving 2017

Make this Thanksgiving Day weekend a memorable one, not just another holiday! Here's a couple of encouragements towards a memorable and meaningful time of Thanksgiving—

Be thankful, be gracious, be merciful, for this honors the Lord and will, in turn, bless you. Be a blessing rather than seek to be blessed, for this will cause others to be thankful.

Shout happily to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song.

Realize that the Lord alone is God. He made us, and we are his.

We are his people and the sheep in his care.

Enter his gates with a song of thanksgiving. Come into his courtyards with a song of praise. Give thanks to him; praise his name.

The Lord is good. His mercy endures forever. His faithfulness endures throughout every generation

A psalm of thanksgiving — Psalm 100:1-5 GW


God is our Creator and Redeemer, the One who keeps us and rescues those who trust in Him. If you know this, come, sing praises and worship Him with your mouth and life!

Come, let’s sing for joy to the Lord. Let’s shout praises to the Rock who saves us.

Let’s come to him with thanksgiving. Let’s sing songs to him, because the Lord is the great God, the great King over all gods.

Come, let’s worship him and bow down.

Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us, because he is our God and we are the people he takes care of, the sheep that he tends.

Psalms 95:1-3, 6, 7 NCV

Hallelujah!

Devos & Studies in Psalms.png

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! [vss 1-2]

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! [vss 3-6]

(Psalms 150:1-6 GW)


Hallelujah is universally known as an expression of praise. It literally means—Praise the LORD! The LORD—the Self-Existent and Eternal One. Our human desire and need for praise in some form are also universal. It's connected to the basic need of every soul who cries out for acceptance and approval— pure love.

Our pets demonstrate a similar need for attention and affection. Studies even show people with pets are usually happier because of the mutual care between the pet and their master.

However, an unintended but common consequence of the attention and affection shown to pets is the lack of showing the same to people, especially significant others.

The reason for this is complicated because relationships with people are complicated. Why? Because of the expectations we put on relationships and the inevitable disappointments and hurts resulting from unmet expectations.

Another inherent need is expressing praise not just receiving it. Something comes alive in us when we express genuine and heartfelt praise. It fills us with joy and contentment. As a parent and grandparent, I receive joy and love when I show my joy and love for my children and grandchildren.

Likewise, when I express my love and affection to my wife I enjoy a connection and fulfillment I miss out on when I keep my thoughts and words of love and affection inside, unexpressed.

Psalm 150, the final expression of praise in this collection of prayers and songs is a reminder we are all created for a greater purpose than what typically fills our life.

God breathed life into us. He sustains our life. He provided a means of knowing Him intimately and personally. When we praise Him in a genuine way, we experience a fulfillment and freedom not found anywhere else with anyone else on earth.

Only one word is adequate to express that sense of true fulfillment and freedom—Hallelujah!

Do you know or desire to know true fulfillment and freedom deep within your soul?

God—the Creator and Sustainer of all life—calls us into a universal chorus of praise with all creation to be expressed in many ways. Join in with your own Hallelujah!

©Word-Strong_2017


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I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.

So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!