Shoes of Iron

AHB2017q129605Across time and cultures, people have made shoes from a variety of materials. The wooden shoes of the Dutch, deer skin moccasins of Native Americans, and sandals from old automobiles tires among the Maasi, are a few that come to mind. Traditionally, the material used has been dictated by the type of terrain where the shoes would be worn and the availability of suitable material to produce them. Possibly the most common material used has been leather. However, many synthetic materials have become increasingly popular in the modern era.

One of the most unusual materials for footwear is mentioned is the Bible, “Your sandals shall be iron and bronze” (Deuteronomy 33:25). Asher was one of Jacob’s sons. His family inheritance, it seems, was rugged ground with an abundance of sharp, flinty rocks. Asher’s portions would require more than simple sandals suitable for soft sand and smooth paths. God does not promise sunshine without rain or joy without pain, but His promise to Asher, as it is to you and me, was “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 35:25).

The Lord, in His divine wisdom, has not placed all people on the same type of landscape. Some reside in arid, rough places like Asher, others on well-watered plains. “But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that” (1 Corinthians 7:7). God’s promise is that whatever our portion, He will provide us with suitable ‘shoes’ according to our needs.

  • “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
  • “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isaiah 43:2).

When the Apostle Paul had to walk through a particular hard place, the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul concluded that what seemed to be a bad ‘lot in life’ was not an occasion to complain. It was rather a blessing to be embraced so that “the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b). The Lord will provide us with shoes appropriate for our particular journey. God reminded the Hebrew’s that during their forty years in the wilderness, “your sandals have not worn out on your feet” (Deuteronomy 29:5).

Prayer: May you journey through life “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).

~ Brother Roy

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The Opportunist

seagull opportunistAcross the years my wife and I have often chosen a cruise for our vacation venue. Once on board, you don’t have to think – all your meals are provided, your room is cleaned, your bed is made every day, a variety of activities and entertainment is available, and the ship moves you from location to location.

On our first cruise, I was up early to enjoy our initial port of call. I was excited to collect my breakfast and sit at a table on the open deck just outside the dining room. I thought this was a nearly perfect place for a great breakfast. It had the warm morning sun, beautiful scenery, and the graceful gulls circling just a few feet away. All of a sudden my idyllic breakfast repast was shattered. As quick as lightening, one of the gulls swooped down and snatched my bacon. Before I could react, another thieving gull had grabbed my toast. I had to beat a hasty retreat inside in the midst of a bunch of shrieking, winged opportunists.

There is an intriguing account in the Book of Genesis about a flock of feathered fowl that threatened to steal something much more important than a breakfast. In Genesis 15, Abram (Abraham) had prepared a sacrifice according to God’s directions. The sacrifice was to set a seal on a covenant between Abram and God concerning a promised son and a land of inheritance. Like the gulls mentioned above, opportunistic vultures swooped down to steal the sacrifice. “And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away” (v.11).

There have been times in my life that I’ve placed things on the altar of my heart and promised faithfulness to God in those things. But, it seems the enemy of my soul, the Great Opportunist, comes to steal. We must not let the business of life distract us from our commitments to God. Satan will quickly move in to snatch those things away. Like Abram, we must take action to “drive them away”.

Conclusion: Allow me to paraphrase 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil is an opportunist. He circles about seeking to steal those things we have committed to God.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

~ Brother Roy

Life Boat Drill

life boat drillI was in a state of semi-consciousness on the deck of a cruise ship. The warmth of the sun and the gentle rocking of the ship had lulled me into a state of near oblivion. Then, the blaring and slightly obnoxious voice of the ship’s captain interrupted my peaceful repose. “There will be a mandatory Life Boat Drill in fifteen minutes!”

At first I was mildly irritated, then reason slowly prevailed. The drill was for my own safety and protection. Being unprepared could be disastrous. The same thing may be said of the Lord’s counsel in the spiritual realm. We need to be prepared if an ‘all-out’ emergency besets us; however, it is not mandatory for us to be ready for the eventualities of life. Although a preparedness check is not compulsory, a loving Lord does admonish us to use our free will to check our readiness.

From the Old Testament, I would call your attention to two verses;

  • First, the words from the Book of Lamentations (3:40) expresses God’s urging, “Let us search out and examine our way, and turn back to the Lord.” If we have forgotten His directions, we need to turn back to them.
  • Secondly, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart…” (Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV). Survival instructions are too important to be left to chance.

 Words from the New Testament likewise echo God’s concern that we be prepared for possible future emergencies;

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5 implores us to, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves”.
  • Again in Galatians 6:4, God’s gives these words of caution, “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another”.

The wisdom of Solomon is reflected in the following proverb; “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (Proverbs 27:3, NLT).

Conclusion: From time to time it is a good idea to have a spiritual Life Boat Drill.  Our eternal life could be a stake.

~ Brother Roy

A Broken Clock

broken clockOur discussions over morning coffee at Fitch’s Store cover a host of subjects. The name of a person known to most everybody at the store came up one morning in conversation. One of the fellows said, “You have to hunt for the good in him, but it is there. Remember, even a broken clock is right twice a day.” It reminded me that it is so important for us to look for the good in people, not just the bad.

In our modern world the divide between ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’, between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ stirs deep emotions – so deep that much of the rhetoric becomes myopic and irrational. Campaigns often resort to ‘digging up dirt’ on the other side. People are demonized and portrayed as all bad – evil in intent and action. How sad!

From the political arena, that mindset has infiltrated other areas of our lives. Negativity around us abounds, lowering the moral climate of our culture. I have often heard this truism expressed, ‘There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it behooves us all not to talk about the rest of us.’ An internet search proved inconclusive as to the origin of the quote; nevertheless, it purveys great wisdom. Oh, that we might apply that truth today.

That morning at the store, I was reminded of my personal situation when Jesus Christ found me. I was sin-stained and unworthy, yet He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs. God’s word says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NKJV). That reminder was truly humbling.

May I ask, “What do you think the Lord sees when He looks at you?” It is likely far different than what you see in yourself. Go to Him. Ask Him to show you what He sees as He looks at you. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV). When Christ comes into your life, you see yourself and others differently.

Prayer: Lord, help me to look for the good in people. Even as you looked beyond my flaws and failures, may I look for virtue and worth in others. May I see others as You see them.

~ Brother Roy

Worth Your Salt

salt_of_the_earthSalt has been a valuable commodity across the ages and across cultures. The word salary comes from an ancient word meaning “salt-money”. Part of a Roman soldier’s pay was an allowance for the purchase of salt. I have heard people say about someone who is lethargic and doesn’t earn their pay, “They are not worth their salt.”

To the people of Jesus’ day, salt was an important and precious commodity. So, when Jesus told His disciples that they were “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), He meant that believers have great value in this world and are to have a preserving and enhancing influence.

In light of the value of salt, the words our Lord recorded in Mark 9:50 become most significant: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another.” The words speak primarily of the inward grace, of which the salt is the symbol, that alone makes people what they ought to be – “the salt of the earth”.

The words of Jesus, noted in the second half Matthew 5:13, should claim our attention: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Do you have good salt within yourself? Are you living as the salt of the earth? It is not optional, if we are to be followers of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may we truly be “the salt of the earth”. Our desire is to possess that grace that preserves and enhances the life of those around us.

~ Brother Roy

Sun Screen and Son Screen

sunscreenIn the physical world there are often tangible things that have a counterpart in the spiritual world. There is the bread we eat, and there is the ‘Bread of Life’ (John 6:48). There is the water we drink, and there is the ‘Water of Life’ (John 7:38). Again, there is light, and there is the ‘Light of The World’ (John 8:12). In the same manner, I propose to you that there is ‘Sun’ Screen and then there is ‘Son’ Screen.

In my younger years, I spent many happy hours working, playing, and just hanging out in the bright sun. I tanned easily and seldom got a sunburn. The passing of years has brought about a major change in my time in the sun. Health problems have necessitated a regimen of medication that carries side effects. Now, I must avoid any significant exposure to bright sunlight. When I need to be out and about in the sun, I must wear a protective ‘sun screen’.

There is a spiritual corollary here. Unfortunately, there are things in life that can screen out the the Son of God, the Light of Life. His light is essential to eternal life. The great ‘Son’ blocker is sin. Sin darkens and sickens the soul. Until personal responsibility for sin is acknowledged, confessed, and forgiven, the light of Christ cannot shine into a life. Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).  

The sin that screens out the Light of the Lord manifests itself in many forms. The list I offer is not meant to be exhaustive, but simply illustrative: unbelief, doubt, self-centeredness, pride, bad companions, seeking the pleasures of sin, sexual immorality, covetousness, dishonesty, and the list could go on. Now, for the good news of the gospel, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:9). With our sins forgiven, there is no longer a Son screen. We are free to spend our days working, playing, and hanging out in the ‘Light of the Son’. 

Prayer: Lord, be “my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1). May there be nothing in my life that screens out the Son.

~ Brother Roy

Optional Equipment

spareI was troubled some years ago when car manufacturers quit including a spare tire as standard equipment on a new car. Instead, the true spare was replaced by the so-called ‘donut’ which is a cheap little thing you hope will get you to a service center. If I was upset by the absence of a spare tire, imagine my dismay when I accidentally discovered my newest car didn’t even have a ‘donut’!

I was made aware of my predicament when a man at an auto service center crawled out from under my nearly new car and said, “Did you know you don’t have a spare?” When I responded that I knew my car was only equipped with a donut, he said, “No. No. There is no donut in the holder where it should be.”

I called the dealer where I purchased the car and was basically told, “You should have read the fine print.” My car had been provided with little more than an aerosol can of ‘fix-a-flat’. I was told a ‘donut’ is now considered optional equipment! I asked, “What if I have a blow-out?” Answer: “Guess you are in trouble.”

There are many things in the physical world that have a counterpart in the spiritual realm. There is a term in use in the spiritual domain today called “cheap grace”. It refers to a faux religious experience that costs little, if anything, in terms of commitment, devotion, or service to the Lord and fellowman. These things – including Bible reading, prayer, involvement with a body of believers, and giving financially to help win the lost to God – are considered optional. Everything seems alright until suddenly a dreadful event happens, and you are not prepared to deal with it. It’s like having a blow out at night on a lonely highway. Only then do you discover there is no spare. All that can be said is, “I guess you are in trouble”.

May I suggest to any among us who may be living in a state of ‘cheap grace’ that we check our readiness for the unexpected. Scripture implores us to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV). Hear the words of Jesus: “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:23-25, NKJV). It costs something to be a disciple.

Strong faith is not optional if we want to safely arrive in Heaven.

~ Brother Roy