Monday, July 9, 2012

God's Tools

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)

A dear minister friend called today.
He had a heavy burden.
I was feeling low in spirits.
He's been called upon to complete a challenge that seems insurmountable.
I told him we are praying for him.
That I know God will give him what he needs, when he needs it.
He told me he is praying for us, too.
He reminded me that he knows that I have a full plate.
"I want you to keep encouraged," he said.

As we talked, we discussed some thoughts and Scriptures God has been giving me.

He wrote down some verses that we discussed,
and he said he might end up using some of them in his sermons.

His phone call meant so much today.

It occurred to me that we had encouraged one another.

"Iron sharpeneth iron."

We all need sharpened now and then.
We can become so loaded down with the grief, burdens, and cares of this life, 
that we become very dull, spiritually.

How blessed we are that God puts others in our lives who sharpen us.
Who hold our feet to the fire and will not let us give up.
Who hold us accountable and let us know they are counting on be faithful.
Who are tools of iron in the hands of God.

God has many tools.
Some, such as our friends along the way, are a welcome encouragement.
They pick us up when we are blue,
they cheer us on when we are sad,
and they are always an uplift.

Sometimes the tool he has to help us on our way,
is not as pleasant as the benefit from the sharpening iron I received in today's phone call.

Sometimes, the tool is one that is abrasive and unpleasant to deal with.

I heard someone talking the other day about another person they knew in the body of Christ.
They mentioned that this person was like sandpaper to them.
How they continually worked on them....
but in the process God used that very person to sand off some of their own rough edges.
And they mentioned that it worked the other way around.
The relationship had proven and turned out to be mutually beneficial,
though it was hard to cope with, at times.

I happened to know the other side of the situation,
and I could see that both of them had received spiritual help...from each other.

Sometimes people rub us the wrong way, but instead of looking at them negatively,
perhaps we should change our perspective.
Maybe God has placed that person in our lives to help us.
To be used as a tool in His hands.
To bring our weaknesses to the surface.
To identify our own problem areas.
To allow us to see ourselves, by seeing our reactions to their actions.

Maybe that person who is such a trial in your life and mine,
is actually one of God's valuable tools.
Perhaps they are the iron that God has placed there to keep us sharp, keen, alert, watchful, and encouraged.
Maybe, they are the sandpaper used to rub off our rough edges.
Quite possibly, they could be the chisel sent to chop off some of our own undesirable attributes.
Maybe they are the pruning shears He uses to cut off the unnecessary and detrimental
baggage we are dragging along behind us.

That very person,
could be the tool God is using....
to keep us humble, and on our knees,
calling out to Him....for His help.

Remember Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet?
God wanted to get a valuable lesson across to him,
so he sent him on a mission.
We can read about it in the 18th chapter of Jeremiah.
God said,

"Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words."

Jeremiah wrote,
"Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. 
Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel."

Aren't we all marred vessels of clay?

Imperfect and flawed from the results of our own sins,
hang-ups, issues, and failures?

Yet, God loves us enough to re-make us.
When the potter saw the marred clay,
he didn't pick it up, throw it down, cast it aside, and give up on it.

He went to work to "make it again"....into another vessel.
Into the valuable vessel that he envisioned it to be.

Isn't this just like our Creator?

Has He ever given up on you?

Has anything you have ever done exhausted the measure of His love for you?

We can learn a lot from the clay.
It is pliable and compliant in the potter's hands.
It is submissive and yielding.
It never resists the potter's make it over again.
To make it new.
No matter what has to be cut off, broken, or sanded.
God sees all of us.
He knows we are flawed and marred, 
and He is willing to take the time to do what is necessary
to make us again...into something beautiful and useful and pleasing to Him.

Thus, the need for His tools.
To encourage, sharpen, hone, prune, and to rub off the rough edges.

Usually His tools....the instruments He chooses to use.....are people.

The process is sometimes painful.
Continually being rubbed the wrong way,
are but strokes... 
from the continual sanding back-and-forth-motion 
of the sandpaper in the Potter's hand.

Is someone annoying you?
Rubbing you the wrong way?
Getting on your last nerve?
Causing you to pray for grace....often?

Every person in your life is there for a reason.

Remember, "iron sharpeneth iron".
They are an instrument...a the hand of God.
God is using them to work on you.

Did you ever think that He might be using you to work on them, too?

Perhaps, they feel as frustrated and annoyed and as ready to walk away as you do.
We can bulk and squirm and try to wriggle away...
as He works on us.
We can decide we are going to withdraw...
from the iron, sandpaper, chisel, pruning shears, 
or whatever tool He is using.
But, if we do, 
we will walk away incomplete....
less than He envisions us to be....
and still broken.

How much better it would be for us to just be still.
Like the clay.
To submit ourselves, pliable and willing,
into His capable hands.
And allow Him to make us again.

No matter which tool He decides to use.

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