Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Shaped by Faith and Love

When I was in junior high school many years ago, we were encouraged to try different things. Every six weeks we would do something creative and different. One time I was in a drama class and selected to be the lead actor. It was fun and very exciting to act. Later, I learned how to make a leather wallet and learned to tool leather to create intricate designs. One of the most interesting was a class where we shaped clay and painted clay figurines. In that class, I learned how certain paints and glazes react when heated in a kiln. I learned to shape clay and how to make slip castings. It was fun and very relaxing to create actual pieces of art. One of the items I made was a parrot for my mother. She loved the gift, but it didn’t survive the years.

What I learned is that all things, including our own lives, are shaped by some sort of force. For example, I was talking with a dear friend of mine today. She told me that her husband had passed away earlier this month. He had suffered with many medical problems and life was always a struggle for him. 

Tragic events like that one, as well as those of celebration, shape our lives daily. Our lives are literally and figuratively changed forever. Our perspective on life also changes. We are definitely shaped by external forces. Although those events are difficult to deal with and we wish that we didn’t have to go through them, they are a part of life that we have to endure. Whether we want them or not, those events happen and they teach us a lesson about ourselves and how we can react to stress.

In that class I took, I learned that certain glazes turn clear after they are put in the kiln for heating. They may be applied to a cast and it looks milky white, but when extreme heat is applied, they turn as clear as glass. 

All things react to temperature and pressure. We are no different. If you experience stress and then add a tragic event, a number of things could happen. It could make you stronger or it could cause you to crumble. It just depends on the material and how you are shaped by your faith.

Paul, in chapter one of his first letter to Timothy, writes, “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.

Some of us, like I did, have grown up with the teachings of Christ Jesus. We have had that “pattern of wholesome teaching” instilled in us. We have heard the Good News and embraced it. We have grown stronger on our daily walks with our Lord. Then, one day, our faith is put to the test. We experience a tragedy in our lives and then we are faced with stress. Like the clay, or slip that is used for casting, we are suddenly placed in the “kiln of life” and have to deal with high temperatures.

We can either choose to keep our shape by relying on our faith and love or crumble and fall apart. When we look to our faith, we can make it through the experience and come out of the crucible just a little bit wiser and stronger. 

In chapter seventeen of the Book of Proverbs, the author tells us, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

Some translations use the word, “crucible”. A crucible is defined as “a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.”

We often find ourselves enduring the extreme temperatures of a situation. Those moments truly test our mettle. Each day we face situations that test us. Some are tragic while some are minor. But, we face them nevertheless. It is part of life.

What are you facing today? Do you feel that you are in the “kiln of life” and experiencing those searing temperatures? Do you feel things crumbling?

If you are dealing with those high temperatures, reach out to your Father. God is always there to help you get through those moments. Depend on that pattern of faith that has been shaped ever so lovingly by Christ Jesus. He will never forsake you or leave you to handle things alone. 

All it takes is a small prayer. God listens to His children and will be there to help you. He will put His loving arms around you and shield you. All you have to do is call out to Him and He will be all that you need in that situation and so much more.

When you open your heart to Him, He will fill you with joy and show you a love and peace that this sinful world cannot give you. Begin your daily walk with Jesus and let him show you the way to your Father. When you face tragedy or feel the world closing in on you, you can always depend on Him and stand firmly in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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