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Friday, July 23, 2010

Sticks and stones do hurt......but we must continue on.

Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Luke 4:30

Recommended Reading
Luke 4:20-30

When Yogi Berra started playing in the major leagues, he was subjected to cruel criticism and cutting remarks. Fans and foes called him a Neanderthal man or an ape because of his odd looks and awkward style. An umpire inducted him into the "All Ugly" club. He was compared to a gorilla in flannels. He later wrote, "As the razzes kept coming, I just tried to ignore or play along.... Some of the opposing players would hang from the top of the dugout, like an ape in a jungle. I'd just brush that stuff off and tell anyone it didn't matter if you're ugly in this racket, because all you've got to do is hit the ball and I never saw anybody hit one with his face."1

Jesus was violently criticized after His sermon in Nazareth, but passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

When criticized, we must ask ourselves if the criticism is true. If so, we should change our behavior and learn from the rebuke. If it's not, brush that stuff off, trust God with your reputation, and go your way.

When you throw mud at someone, you're the one who is losing ground.

1Yogi Berra, Ten Rings (NY: Perennial Currents, 2003), 26.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do you have a close friend ?

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Recommended Reading
Psalm 55:12-14

There is no consensus as to the origin of the question, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"--but we all know what it means: Sometimes those we thought were our friends act like we would expect enemies to act. Anyone who has experienced such a reversal of "friendship" knows the pain and perplexity it can cause.

Job experienced such pain. When he was at the worst point of his life, his friends came to accuse and lecture him about his dishonesty before God, his failure to repent of whatever sins caused God to heap suffering upon him. They were not the kind of friends described in Proverbs 18:24--friends who stick closer than a brother. Anyone who has a brother or sister knows that siblings can act like enemies at times. But there is a friend who never does what even a sibling will do, a friend who loves at all times. That's the kind of friend Job needed, the kind of friend we need--and need to be to others in pain.

Jesus declared Himself to be the friend of those who follow Him (John 15:14). If you need a friend today, He is there for you. If you know others who need a friend, be to them one who sticks closer than a brother.

Sinners willfully lose God for a friend.
Matthew Henry

Monday, July 12, 2010


Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:3

Recommended Reading
Romans 5:1-5

In our culture, the concept of "testing" immediately brings school days to mind. From the first grade on, we grow used to the sweaty palms and increased heart rate that accompanies these words: "Clear your desk and take out a pencil...." If we were well prepared, the test was an affirmation. If we were poorly prepared, the test was a rebuke--gentle or severe, depending on the grade.

Tests don't end on graduation day, however. God has tests for us as well, like this one: "Describe nine ways to know if you are filled with the Holy Spirit." The answer is whether we manifest the nine dimensions of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Take patience, for instance. God allows us to experience times that test our patience in order to show us whether we are relying on ourselves or on the Holy Spirit. The more we are tested, the more evidence we have of the kind of power we are relying on--self or the Spirit. And the more opportunities we have to say "Fill me with Your presence, Holy Spirit, that I may manifest patience in this situation."

If you are tested today, don't fail by relying on self. Let tests become affirmations of your reliance on the Holy Spirit in you.

Hope is the foundation of patience.
John Calvin