February 01, 2006

God's Smoke Alarms

I cooked some nachos for the kids the other day at lunch time. The recipe specifically said to cook them in the broiler for three minutes. I figured there was no way they could be ready in three minutes, so I decided to cook them for four. Somewhere in the middle of that fourth minute, the nachos on the outer edges of the pan started burning into a black crisp... and the smoke alarm went off. Wow, I thought to myself (as I also mentioned in my recipe at gatheringmanna.blogspot.com), "When they say three minutes, they REALLY MEAN three minutes!!!"

It occurred to me after this incident that our heavenly father uses signals to warn us when we are off track also. They may not smell like burning chips or sound like deafening beeps - but they are usually pretty obvious if we are paying attention. We have a recipe for life in His Word. If we stick to his ingredients and instructions, we usually have great results. When we do our own thing, most of the time... we get disastrous ones. The great thing is, though, that He gives us smoke alarms (warning signs) when we are not on track or following directions. Bruce Wilkenson created a helpful chart in his book, "The Secrets of the Vine" that shows us how to know if the hardships (smoke signals) in our life are "pruning" (when god uses trails to change us or teach us - God's "refining fire" because we are doing something right)... or punishments (wrath) to get us back on the right track due to sin in our life that needs to be removed.

The Bible is clear that as sons and daughters of the Lord, we should be glad for the Lord's punishments/discipline so that we can be spared from evil (Hebrews 12:6 - ..."because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son"). Although punishment hurts, it is only for a season, and serves a greater purpose in making us better Christians. After all, God is in the business of saving us (even if it sometimes saving it from ourselves). Pain is one of the tools He uses to get the job done. Just like pain teaches us not to put our hand on the burning stove... it can sometimes teach us larger life lessons as well. Better than an earthly father's discipline, the correction of our Heavenly Father only allows pain when it is for our GOOD (never for selfish reasons). He only allows what will be in our best interest and never pushes us past what he knows we can endure.

Job 33:29-30... "God does all these things to a man— twice, even three times- to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him."

I pray that we are all using our recipe book and following it closely. May you hunger and thirst for God's Word today.

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