Here in the UK there is a television program called, The Repair Shop. I find it fascinating. People bring in objects that have meant something to them over the years. Perhaps it was a childhood toy, now broken and in tatters. Perhaps it was a bicycle, spokes now missing and fenders bent. Maybe it’s an alarm clock that no longer ticks or rings. Someone brought in a painting that had survived a WWII labor camp, but was faded and peeling paint in places. All of these objects are repaired by the most skilled craftsmen. When the owners return to see their objects, many of them end up with tears in their eyes, such is the joy of seeing something dear to them, returned to how it was in the beginning.
Watching this amazing program brought the verse in Isaiah 1:18 to mind, “‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.'” Our amazing, loving Heavenly Father, is in the restoration business. When anyone comes to Him, receiving the gift of salvation through trust in His Son, He restores that person to what he or she was originally intended to be.
When people bring their broken down objects to The Repair Shop, their only hope is to put all their trust in the craftsmen. Only then, in the skilled hands of the artisan, will their loved object be restored to its former glory. It’s no different in our spiritual world. When one realizes there is a void in his or her life, that every attempt to fill that emptiness is futile, when one finally reaches out to their Heavenly Father, declaring with a whole heart, “I trust you! Forgive me my sins! I believe Your Son died to save me!” Only then does inner peace come. Only then is that empty space filled, made new, and restored to what God has always intended for each of us to be. It’s like the verse tells us in II Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Isn’t that the most exciting thing?
Whatever has happened in your life. Whatever your past has been. Whatever your present is making of you, restoration is available. The Master Craftsman is ready and so wanting to forgive every wrong, to make you like new, giving you a changed heart, a forgiven life, a path with purpose, a hope for your eternity.
Have you been to God’s Repair Shop? The door is always open. The Master Craftsman is always ready. His love never ceases. I hope you will knock on His door.
There are several Bible verses about sowing and reaping. Most everyone is familiar with the quote, “you reap what you sow.” That comes from Galatians 6:7. Often, and sadly to me, this is said with negative overtones. Someone is misbehaving, blatantly doing something they should not do, when another tells them pointedly, “you reap what you sow.”
Of course, it’s true. When we walk in misdeeds, we reap things that are unpleasant, but when we walk in ways that are honorable, we reap respect and good favor. In our spiritual worlds, we reap personal blessings that overflow onto others.
In last week’s blog I touched on the power of The Word, prayer and worship. These are spiritual tools that keep our enemy, Satan and his demonic influences, running. The use of these tools also helps us to maintain inner peace and joy even in the most dire or grievous of circumstances. It’s all about sowing and reaping.
When a farmer plants apples seeds, then of a certainty, trees bearing apples will grow. It takes time. It won’t happen overnight. The seeds must be watered and fertilized, making the soil rich and ready to produce. It’s no different spiritually speaking. What we reap in The Word, prayer, and worship, depends on the time we spend in watering and fertilizing the soil.
When we, not only read God’s Word, but meditate upon it, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth, then we become, as we are told in Psalm 1, like trees planted by a river, being watered and bringing forth good fruit. When we understand the depth of God’s truth found in His Word, we then reap in the discovery of truths for daily living. What joy to share those truths with others that they, too, may be blessed with The Word’s strength and guidance.
When we sow in prayer, coming before God to talk, and very important, to listen to Him, we then reap in the pleasure of God speaking into the depths of our hearts. We sense Him watering every hurting place, fertilizing our thirst for peace with a quiet satisfaction, as we come to realize, no matter what goes on in our outer world, inside, all is well with our souls.
When we sow in worship, coming before Him with attitudes of trust in Him, we reap in the ecstasy of knowing God Almighty has made a plan for each of our lives, unique to every one of us. His plans are always to give us hope and a future, as we are told in Jeremiah 29:11. When we have sowed in The Word and prayer, then sowing in worship becomes an exercise of will that produces joy that cannot be fully described, such is its richness.
We can sow in things that are opposite God’s plans. We will reap in things that are opposite His perfect joy. We can sow in things that are in keeping with God’s guidance. We will then reap in blessings that overflow from us onto others, also. We all sow and we all reap. God has given us freedom to choose. May we all sow in His perfect ways and reap in His rich blessings.
The other day as our dog, Jack, and I were walking through fields and tree lined pathways, another dog appeared. He and Jack stood staring at each other, not a muscle rippling or an eyelid blinking. Finally, Jack broke into a run, going close to the other dog, then circling wide. The other dog took exception to this, branding it an attack. He retaliated, chasing and growling ferociously. The other dog’s owner called his dog, and I called Jack. We both waved at each other amicably and went in opposite directions. Within minutes, the angry dog appeared through a bush and the growling, from both now, ensued. Once again, dogs were called and we parted in opposite directions. Can you believe these unwanted meetings happened three or four more times in unsuspected places?
As Jack and I finished our adventurous walk, getting in the car to make our way back home, I thought of our arch enemy, Satan, and his demonic army. They are relentless in attack, sometimes sneaking up on us unawares, while at other times jumping out in full view to block our path of walking with God. They are always angry; always lying. Sometimes they sneak attack from behind a bush of seemingly innocent temptation. Often they lurk in trees of doubt, shaking our limbs of faith in attempt to knock us over, shaming us with taunts of our own cowardice and weakness. They boldly charge forward with mind attacks to our beliefs, our skills, our personality and sense of self worth. We don’t always know where they are, but they are there skulking about, seeking ways to “steal, and kill, and destroy,” as we are warned in John 10:10. If the enemy can demolish our joy, peace, and courage found in Jesus, then he feels he has won.
We are human with many frailties; therefore, we sometimes lose a skirmish, but we need never believe the lie that victory is unattainable. Our Heavenly Father has given us the tools we need to overcome the attacks of the enemy. First, He has given us His Word which never fails. It is truth. It provides comfort and guidance. Second, He gives us an open-door policy to communicate with Him. When we are under attack, we may immediately “call upon Him,” knowing of a certainly that He “will answer and show us great and mighty things that we do not yet know.” That wonderful promise is found in Jeremiah 33:3. Third, we may partake in the joyful ecstasy of worship. Our arch enemy and his demonic army quake when they see a child of God studying His Word, praying to Him for strength and guidance, and worshiping before Him.
The Word, prayer, and worship. Powerful tools to send the enemy running. Oh, he will come back. He will plan another sneak attach from behind some bush of worry, but when we use our tools, he must go away again, and again, and again. Remember, don’t leave out even one of your tools. The Word, prayer and worship; one without the other is like food without full flavor. We need all of them to be fully strengthened for any enemy attack.
I was reading in the book of James this week, coming across that familiar verse in 1:19, “Understanding this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” The 17th century theologian John Trapp said, “But hath not Nature taught us the same that the apostle here doth, by giving us two ears, and those open; and but one tongue, and that hedged in with teeth and lips?”
Succumbing to the emotion of anger, speaking before we think, never does any of us any good. It raises blood pressure, induces unhealthy stress, and if not kept under harness, can bring about unwise, even foolish behavior accompanied by words that cannot be taken back. I do like John Trapp’s observation, that God gave us two hears but only one tongue, and that hidden away by teeth and lips, a valuable reminder of the power of our words. Words can be soothing or vexing. They can uplift or tear down. They can be accusing or forgiving. We are often defined by our words.
Achieving the goal of “being slow to get angry,” can only be accomplished when we are first, “quick to listen.” Listening is an art that gets better with practice. When we become angry, and there are righteous reasons for anger, we must be certain to maintain control of that anger rather than allowing anger to control us. When the latter happens, we lose power over ourselves, leaving ourselves open to attack of temptation toward ungodliness. We certainly don’t want that to happen! We are doomed to much regret when we follow any ungodly path.
Our minds are a minefield for the enemy to gain dominance over our words and actions through anger; therefore, it is essential to control all irritation, refusing to allow fury to sit on the throne of untamed emotions. We do this by immediately coming to our heavenly Father, telling Him all about the grievance we have, and then — most important! — listen to Him. Sit or kneel in quietness before Him. Tell Him you want to hear Him speak. He will. In the depths of your heart you will hear His whispers of guidance. You will receive His strength and wisdom. Only when we have first been quick to listen, can we ever accomplish the sometimes daunting task to — be slow to speak and slow to anger.
I was out walking with our dog, Jack, the other day. The air was cool but the sun was shining. I sat on a bench to soak in nature’s warmth while Jack was busy with sniffing pursuits. Nearby a mother and her two small children occupied another bench. The big sister was about five while the little one seemed to be not quite two.
I watched with pleasure as big sister was teaching little sister. “Here, hold my hand,” she directed the younger sibling who was slightly unsteady on her feet. Their mother smiled appreciatively. After a while the mother announced it was time to go back home. “Get your toys,” she directed. The big sister picked up a frisbee and handed it to her mother. She then took her little sister by the hand and led her towards a ball on the ground. “Pick up your ball,” she urged the little one who looked up as if trying to understand, but not quite getting it. “Here, I’ll show you,” said big sister as she picked up the ball, held it before her sister’s face, and then set it down again. “You try now,” she instructed the little one who bent down, picked up the ball, and handed it to big sister who praised her with, “What a big girl you are.” Big sister looked at her mother who beamed her approval. Little sister seemed oblivious to it all but it didn’t matter. Big sister would be there to continue to teach, instruct, and lead her onward.
That’s discipleship, I thought to myself as I watched the happy trio walk away. The very last words of Jesus, as He was ascending to return to His Father in Heaven, is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Sometimes the mistake may be made that going to church makes one a disciple. Disciples will go to church to fellowship, learn God’s Word, and praise God together with others, but going to church in itself does not make one a disciple. The definition of a student is one who learns, but a definition of a disciple is one who learns and copies. Jesus taught His disciples to learn His ways, copy those ways, and then teach others to do the same. It’s the — teaching someone else to do the same — where we often fall short.
There is great joy in leading someone to accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. The joy continues when we take time to teach that someone what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The baby Christian needs to be led and taught. It can be difficult to figure it out on one’s own. We need a teacher who can show us how to walk in God’s ways, how to grow spiritually strong, and how to use God’s Word as a mighty sword, understanding how sharp and powerful it is. (Hebrews 4:12-13) When we teach someone, then watch them do the same with another, it creates a holy domino effect. It’s powerful and full of joy, just like big sister teaching little sister.
I’ve known Tilly Tinker for the whole of her twelve years. She’s a pug, yorkie, poodle cross with sandy colored, tousled fur. A few years ago she had surgery to remove an eye. In recent weeks she has lost sight in her other eye. Tilly Tinker is blind.
The first time I came to see her after knowing of this sad event, I opened the door and called out. Her canine sister, Poppy, can running as usual, but most unusual Tilly Tinker wasn’t there. She was on her human mother’s bed, frightened to jump down. I talked to her, picked her up, and took her to get her harness and leash. Then, as I often have the privilege of doing, I took Tilly and Poppy for an afternoon walk.
Tilly’s uncertainty was obvious. I guided her up and down curbs and along the sidewalks. She was understandably slower than she would have been with eyesight. When we returned home I removed their harnesses and went to get treats. Both Tilly Tinker and Poppy would always be jumping in excitement to get their treats. Poppy was there. Tilly was not. She was in the hallway, frozen in place, confused, scared. As I drove home afterwards, tears sprang to my eyes. Poor Tilly Tinker, I kept thinking.
Within a week’s time I returned to take Tilly Tinker and Poppy for another walk. To my delight, when I opened the door, Poppy was already there, and I caught the glimpse of Tilly Tinker getting off the bed by herself and running towards me! As we set out for our walk, there was a confidence in Tilly Tinker. She walked happily just ahead of me. Sometimes she lagged behind to get a good sniff of something intriguing, while at other times she trotted right next to me. When we returned home, I kept talking so she could hear my voice. When I selected the treats and looked down, there was Poppy — and there was Tilly Tinker, too! Oh, what joy! Instead of tears filling my eyes as I drove home afterwards, I was saying out loud, “Thank you, Father, for helping Tilly Tinker!”
That’s when the verses in Psalm 139:3&5 came to mind. “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.” At times, in our daily affairs, you and I can be blind. We make decisions and can’t guess the outcome. We plan certain directions we will take along life’s journey, when we suddenly feel afraid. We can’t see into tomorrow. What if something horrible happens? It’s the “what ifs” that can make us wobble, causing our feet to stumble and fear to take hold. We stand in frozen dread, confusion refusing to make us move.
Then along comes Jesus. Actually, we realize, He is always there. He watches over our every move. He knows when we’re coming to a curb that could trip us up. He knows when to let us move forward, seemingly on our own, but in fact, He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5). He knows when to keep us close. He sees obstacles that could harm us. He guides us from ahead and behind. He delights as our confidence grows in the dark. He cheers when we happily move on in confidence, knowing that He is our Light to show us the right paths to take, lovingly whispering, “this is the way , walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
Just as I was saddened when I saw Tilly Tinker frightened, scooping her up in my arms, desiring to both protect her and show her the way, our Father in Heaven feels the same towards you and I. We are all blinded at times, frightened and confused, but our Father is never impaired in any manner. He sees the way ahead of us and He knows what is behind. Wherever we go, be assured, we are never alone.
Tilly Tinker’s loving family is there for her. With the greatest of joy, I often get to be there, too. Always know, your loving and gracious Heavenly Father is there for you, too. He goes before you and He follows you. His hand of blessing in always on your head.