Beautiful Stone

It is true that most of us as women love gemstones such as rubies, diamonds, and sapphires?  Well, men do too!  But gems hold a special place in a woman’s heart.  We delight in the sparkle and depth of color, turning them in the light to catch their brilliance?

God often speaks of rewards to his people in terms of gems. He says “And your foundations I will lay in sapphires” and “I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal.” (Isaiah 54:11-12) He also has a setting in mind – one that will adequately support our stones.

Here is his promise: “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires(ESV Verse 11) After reading that scripture it didn’t mean too much to me because I didn’t know what antimony was. Ahhh, I finally discovered it refers to the way metals are mixed and weighted for greater power and strength.

We wouldn’t place a beautiful diamond in a tin setting that might cave under the weight and God wouldn’t place our gifts in a weak or unsubstantial mounting either. So in reading Verse 11 we could better understand it this way…. “I will set your stones in a strong setting that has many elements combined to make it stronger and more secure.”

God is building a life for each one of us that is rock solid. He wants our gifts shown brilliantly and with splendor. He wants us to shine and sparkle just like a brilliant stone that  is held up to the light.  Our setting is durable and mighty and it will display God’s faithfulness to us.  Oh yeah!!!! Now THAT is antimony.

Cover to Cover

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4 ESV)

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I am reminded of the quote, “You cannot judge a book by its cover”. Well this is true and untrue.  Many of us will make judgments on a book by its cover.  We will look at the title, the artwork, the endorsements of the book itself, and the author.  But what really determines a book is not the cover, but the content.  The same is true with our Christian lives.  Most of our books [ lives ]are a GOOD read, while some of the pages….if we could…. we would rip them out for a “do-over”.

In Matthew 7:1-5 we are told “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  Ouch!!!!

Here we are told that how we judge others we will ultimately condemn ourselves.  It is so easy for us to look on others with scorn or disdain because they might be guilty of fault/sin, but we must ask ourselves the question “Could I ever do such a thing”? You might answer  Maybe….Maybe not!  OK…do we dare stop and ask ourselves the question of ourselves before we criticize someone else whether intentionally or not?

Romans 2:2 reminds us that the ultimate standard of judgment is truth.   “How can we look down on others for doing what is condemned in Scripture and we are guilty of  some fault/sin ourselves no matter how small?” Sin is Sin. Oh yeah…such a hard question for all of us to answer!  Paul then poses another question in the next verse, “Do you despise the goodness of God as displayed in forbearance and longsuffering?”

We want people to be “patient and kind” when dealing with our “shortcomings” but do we grant the same in dealing with others?  Honestly, most of the time, NO!  Therefore, before we look down on someone else regarding their shortcomings, we must ask ourselves the question, “Are we guilty of the same thing or something that GOD could consider similar for which we are about to condemn someone else ?”

Lets all pause and be more mindful before we criticize or condemn someone else of fault…we should look within ourselves first.  And be mindful to always show others the same concern as we would wish for ourselves.

Because honestly, we all  deserve some sort of criticism.

REFLECT:
How judgmental am I in my relationship with others?
Do I honestly have a standard for other people that I do not have for myself?
How can I help a person with a critical, judgmental and unloving attitude?

PRAYER:
 Dear Lord, open my eyes to any sin [plank] that blocks my very own vision. Help me this day to see others as you do.  And to extend the same love to others that you extend to me time and time again as I daily deal with my own faults.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Pressing On

I think there are some of us out here that are just hanging on by a thread.  Oh so close to giving up.  Don’t.

It might be that you have lived with a situation for what seems like eternity and you don’t think you can do it any longer. Maybe you have a dream that hasn’t come to pass and you figure by now it isn’t going to happen…so why not just forget it? Or you have prayed a prayer that has gone unanswered for what seems like forever and you can hardly stand to pray it one more time. You question if God is saying simply  “NO”, “NOT YET”, or “YES”.  You’re totally confused.

Give up? That would not be God’s voice. God wants to encourage us to press forward and hang in there. Satan, on the other hand, wants us to spiral down into a pool of failure and quit. Once he has gotten us to stop trying, stop dreaming, stop praying – he has won his battle over our mind. He wants to keep us from our destiny in God.

The apostle Paul felt the same way we feel at times and this is what he said; “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me.” (Philippians 3:13-14)  You know what….God has been known to use adversity and long term struggles to give us something better than we could ever even hope for.

Stay with it. Call upon God’s grace and wisdom. Lean on Him even more than you already have. Press into him for a fresh ability to move forward once again.  A good cup of tea among friends always works for me. I’m pretty sure there is someone willing to JUST listen.  But whatever you do, DON’T YOU GIVE UP.

Re-Wind

There is some good advice about the use of our mouth in Ephesians 4:29. The Message Bible paraphrases it this way; “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” We should edify one another, never tearing them down. Oh, don’t you wish you could go back and do a re-wind of certain conversations and comments? I’m sure there are ve…ry few of us who have mastered this scripture 100%. Therefore, do we have any right to get so offended with others when they break that rule and we are on the receiving end? Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 tells it like it is: “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.” Have you ever been in the position where someone complains about what someone else said or has done to them. They were shocked and indignant. That always surprised me because I often saw them do the same thing they were complaining about. They didn’t take it seriously when they spoke badly about others but they took it very seriously when someone spoke badly about them. When we hear that someone has “cursed” us what should we do? I think it would be good to start with our own heart. Can we say we are any better than them if our WHOLE life were examined? And since the words hurt so badly (and now we really know what it feels like) can we resolve to clean up our own mouth? Then let us do a final thing and toughen up our skin a little and let it go. That’s why the scripture says not to take it to heart. Don’t let it sink in; cast it off before it works its way into the deep places where it can cause further trouble. We should stop our mouthes before we speak ill of someone else; and then stop-up our ears before we can hear someone speaking ill of us.