Pure Gold by my mom, Beth Smith

Early prospectors during the gold rush were fooled into thinking they’d found real gold instead of something called iron pyrite, worthless rocks with flecks of shiny material in them. So many were fooled that iron pyrite became known as “fool’s gold.” I want you to know where our real gold is—where we have a neverending supply of genuine gold—in the Word of God.

Remember the crippled beggar to whom Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 KJV). What did the cripple do? He went “walking and leaping and praising God.” He received far more than he asked for. Would he have traded his healing for a truckload of gold coins? Of course not! Here’s a bit more from the Bible regarding gold.

  • The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72 NIV).
  • I love your commandments more than gold, more than pure gold” Psalm 119:127 NIV).
  • Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable that silver and yields better returns than gold” (Proverbs 3: 13-14 NIV).

Are you a bit timid about mining gold from the Bible? If you don’t have a modern or revised version, I recommend that you get one and try it out. That can make a big difference.

Another important thing to remember as we go into our gold mine, the Bible, is that we do not go alone. John 14 says that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. Ask him to help you understand what you are reading! The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is Paraclete, which means “one who is called along side to help.” He will help us if we allow him to.

On more than one occasion, I’ve “just happened” to read a portion of the Bible that was exactly what I needed in that moment. God will do the same for you. The next time you read a verse that makes you think, “That was for me,” you can be sure it was God at work. Our gold mine is filled with power for living in God’s world, in God’s way. “Every Scripture was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well-prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone” 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 (TLB).

It’s time for us to think not “Thar’s gold in them thar hills,” but, “thar’s gold in this here Book.” (It hurts me as an English teacher to write that way.) It’s not fool’s gold, but the real McCoy. So pull out your Bible and read on!

photo credit: @zlataky via Unsplash.com

Stirring Spoons by Beth Smith (My Mom)

When you simmer stew, if you don’t stir the pot, food can stick to the bottom and ruin the dish. Stirring also lets you check on what’s in the pot, culling anything that doesn’t belong.

  • Oops! That carrot got too brown. It must have stuck to the bottom.
  • Too much flour. Look at those lumps! Out they come.
  • My goodness! What’s that tomato stem doing in there?

God often stirs us to keep us from sinking down to, and sticking at, our lowest level. Or he may allow us to be stirred in order to remove what doesn’t belong.

What does God uses as stirring spoons? People and circumstances. A stirring may go like this, in your head, that is:

  • “If she asks me one more time to clean the garage, I’m going to throw something.” What’s in that pot? Anger?
  • “If he doesn’t clean that garage, I’m not going to cook for a week. He’ll starve.” (Hmmm, is that a little revenge floating to the top?)

Try to find what’s being stirred to the surface in the life of this fictional lady:   

“I’m never early, never late. Jane always admires my perfect timing when I pick her up. Ugh! I told those kids to bring in their bikes. I’ll be late now because I have to do it. I’m going to ground them for a week.

“Hi, Jane. Get in the car. No, I’m not late. You must have come out early. Well, good grief! Look at that stupid, careless driver! He didn’t stop at that stop sign, and look at him on his cell phone, thinks he’s so important. Humph! Where’s a cop when you need one? Well, if we just had a good governor, things would be different. Man! Politicians! Lazy bunch of no good…I hate that guy on the City Council, you know the one who…”

Stir. Stir. Stir! What came to the surface, provoked by nearby people and circumstances? Impatience, judgmental attitude, meanness, self-righteousness, pride, covetousness, anger?  We surely don’t want those stuck in us. So…

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV) tells us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God uses stirring spoons, often those irritating people and circumstances to show us our weaknesses and to help us become more like him.

What do we do? Here’s a hefty starter list:

  • Thank God for whoever or whatever brought a sinful reaction to the surface. (We have to see it before we can get rid of it.)
  • Ask God to bless the person he used.
  • Give the reaction to Jesus with open honesty. Hatred, self-righteousness, pride…there’s no need to disguise it or analyze it. Just acknowledge that Jesus died for that sin.
  • Repent, be truly sorry, and desire to change.
  • Ask God to replace what the stirring spoon revealed with the fruit of his Holy Spirit.

This week when a stirring spoon comes along, let’s all follow those steps and rejoice that we aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. We’re getting rid of a lot of junk. God is working on us for our good, and that’s worth the stirring.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Part II: Forgive by Beth Smith

In Matthew 6:14-15(NIV), Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  The longer we harbor unforgiveness, the deeper the root gets, and the more it affects our attitudes and our relationships. Let’s examine our hearts for any unconfessed unforgiveness. Then, finally once and for all, confess it and give the person or situation over to God.

To forgive someone doesn’t mean that we approve of their actions, nor are we excusing what was done. We’re not saying, “Oh, that’s okay. Just forget it.” We’re simply making a choice to forgive the person and leave him in God’s hands. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. This is very serious business and vital to our relationship with God. Don’t let the devil or your mind tell you, “You didn’t really forgive. You don’t feel any different.”

Just say, “Oh yes I did! My feelings are up to God. I choose to forgive.” When we forgive, we become able to plant those seeds of love and reap a harvest.

  • We can sow peace. We don’t have to be right all of the time. We don’t need to argue about everything.
  • We can sow encouragement. We can look for the good in people and tell them about it.
  • We can sow patience. No, “they” do not need to do “it” right this minute.
  • We can sow gentleness. The seeds of a soft answer, a tender word, a pat on the back, or a hug can help overcome an angry situation.

Many years ago, I attended a Bible study that centered on improving marriages. (Deep inside, I felt that my husband Bert should be attending. Certainly, he needed it more than I.) The main points of the three-session seminar were the Triple “A” system. We were to concentrate on: adapting to, admiring, and appreciating our husbands. (Well, phooey, now I knew Bert should be doing it. He always got his way. I was the one who needed to be admired and appreciated.) But I did the Triple “A” system. I planted those three seeds. And guess what! After sixty-five years of marriage, Bert does the Triple A system better than I do. I may have sown the seeds, but, oh, what a healthy harvest God has produced for me!

Sometimes we may wonder if we are capable of planting good seeds. The Bible says we can.

  • Grace abounds to us so that we can abound in good works” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV).
  • For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

What we do might seem as small as little seeds, but our acts of love, sometimes fueled by forgiveness, can produce a joyful harvest. What we sow, we will reap.

Sowin’ Love by my mom, Beth Smith (And that’s not a picture of her.)

Do you know the word comeuppance? The dictionary says it means “deserved punishment.” Where I grew up in the foothills of Western North Carolina, it was a word used to mean “He’s getting back what he sowed.”

  • If a man suffered a heart attack, you might hear someone say, “Well, all he ever did was work and worry. You reap what you sow.”
  • If someone had financial problems, someone might say, “He made his money by overcharging everybody when he owned that furniture store over on Main Street. And, Lordy me, he’d repossess at the first hint of a late payment. He’s just reaping what he sowed.”

I grew up looking only at the negative side of the Biblical truth, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV). But there’s a positive side to that spiritual law.

Here’s what Galatians 6:7-10. “You will always harvest what you plant…So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith”(NLT).

We reap the good harvest of blessings by planting good seeds—not once or twice, but at every opportunity.

What are those seeds? Doing what is good to and for others. We don’t have time to cover all the good seeds that produce great harvests for us, so let’s focus on the one listed as the first fruit of the Spirit, the seed of the greatest commandment, love.

We know that love is something we do, so we start by doing loving things for others, putting aside ourselves and what we want or need.

  • We help with the dishes.
  • We play with the kids.
  • We baby-sit for another couple.
  • We listen to someone else’s problems (even when ours are worse than theirs.)
  • We drive a sick friend to the doctor.

You get the picture. You know how to love.

But…

Maybe we’ve been “doing love” for a long time and don’t see any signs of harvest. We need to examine our hearts for a real crop killer, unforgiveness. Someone, somewhere, sometime has done us wrong. It could be just a small offense that we’ve nurtured until it’s grown into something huge, or it could be something big, something horrible that’s been done to us. There’s only one answer for either situation. We must forgive.

So, while you work on planting seeds of love this week, get ready. Next week you’ll read about forgiveness.

The Greatest Valentine by Beth Smith (My Mom!)

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Almost)

Please remember that God sent us the greatest Valentine, Jesus Christ, because he loves us so much. 1 John 4:15-16 (NIV) says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Love is his nature. It would be terrible to have to strive constantly to make God love us, trying to do enough to be acceptable to him, to be loved by him. That’s not the case! We can rely on his love for us, even though we don’t deserve it.

Romans 8 promises us that nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from his love.God is love. His love is eternal. And he has asked us to love each other.

We can love in thought: If we dwell on someone’s faults or shortcomings, we’ll have a mighty hard time showing them love. It’s better to believe the best of every person.Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (1 Corinthians 13:7 AMP). And since, thankfully, God doesn’t keep a list of our offenses, we aren’t to keep a list either.

We can love in word: After we practice thinking good things about others, it’s time to speak those good things, those words of love and encouragement. “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). The old kid’s chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie. Most of us remember some sort of terrible thing said to us in childhood that still hurts. God wants us to love with our words.

We can love in deed: Once we’re thinking and speaking love, it’s easier to show our love and the love of God in what we do. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18 NIV). For each of us the action we take will be different, but here are a few suggestions.

  • Forgive someone. (God has forgiven us, and we need to do the same.)
  • Show real kindness. (We have the power to be kind to others.)
  • Do for others. (Call a friend, do a chore that isn’t yours, or meet a need even if it’s inconvenient.)
  • Be generous with your compliments.

We need to be extravagant with our love toward others, because God has been extravagant with his love toward us. Let’s do it! Let’s start today.

Chocolate or… By Beth Smith (my mom!!)

I’m partial to chocolate. Not fancy stuff. Just the good ol’ grocery store variety. But I want to love God’s Word more than chocolate, to “eat” it more often than anything else.

Here’s how I want to feel about God’s Word.

  • I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12 AMP).
  •  “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 AMP).

Why is it so hard to make God’s Word a priority in our daily lives?

  •  We decide, “Yes, I’m going to read the Bible. I’m setting aside a special time for study.” The time comes, and we’re ready. Then the phone rings, a neighbor drops in, maybe the toilet overflows… I think that’s the Devil, the one C.S. Lewis called ‘ol Slewfoot.
  • We read the Word, and we remember what we read. Then a problem comes up, or we argue with our spouse. Whatever we read that very morning flies out of our minds, anger or worry taking its place. That’s our sinful self getting in the way, or maybe ‘ol Slewfoot again.

We could all come up with plenty of examples, times when “eating the Word” can be a struggle. Being a Christian isn’t for sissies! It’s a battle. It’s a good fight of faith. We need to recognize the tricks of the Devil, to know our own weaknesses, and to be prepared to defeat them. We can triumph over them, because God is always faithful to make a way for us. And why should we bother?

  •  “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4).
  • If you live in me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will and it will be done for you” (John 15:7 AMP).
  •  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
  • “The word of God is alive and powerful.” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).

What we eat physically matters, but eating God’s Word matters so much more. The Word is God’s power for us. We can’t treat the Bible like snack food—a quick bite here, a quick bite there. Reading the Bible without meditating on what we’ve read is like eating without chewing.

Some people say you are what you eat. That’s good news if we’re on a steady diet of the Word of God. Look back at the verses I’ve just listed. Think on them. Meditate. Let’s let the Holy Spirit use them in our lives.