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Friday, August 10, 2007

Kittens in planter
Kittens in planter
Brooksyne took this photo several years ago on our deck.
The three kittens were born to a neighborhood stray and hung around our porch till we found homes for them!

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"As Iron Sharpens Iron"
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).
Earlier this week I took a tour of my friend's business in Springfield Missouri. Among the large machines used in his type of business is the water jet, which is a powerful tool that cuts through thick metal with astounding preciseness.  It uses a laser-like stream of high pressured water which results in a sharp clean cut.  I was amazed that water could be used in this way. You sure don't want to get your fingers in this water stream!
I am more familiar with a rather old-fashioned sharpening procedure. I can easily pull from my memory a picture of my dad regularly sharpening his pocket knife that he always carried. He either used a small grinding stone or periodically he would use the grinding wheel in the garage. He would carefully sharpen the knife to a sharp edge. I still have that knife though I don't carry it everyday as he did.
I've always been intrigued by the brief but to the point Proverb in today's text.  As is the case with many of the Proverbs there is nothing in the immediate context to further clarify the author's intended meaning.  The old commentator Adam Clarke expresses that as hard iron will bring a better edge to a knife "so one friend may be the means of exciting another to reflect, dive deeply into, and illustrate a subject, without which whetting or excitement this would have never taken place."
Hebrews 10:24 expresses a similar concept, "let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."  I would like to spur you on today!  The word "spur" translates a very rare Greek word (paroxusmos) found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 15:39 where it is used to describe the contention between Paul and Barnabas regarding John Mark.  Tracing the roots of this word we find it comes from two words with the sense "to sharpen alongside".  The writer of Hebrews uses it here in a positive sense to describe an essential Christian responsibility.  We need to come alongside one another to keep each other sharp!  The NASV uses "stimulate" and the KJV states "to provoke."
Brooksyne and I have often been enriched by the sharpening influence of a thoughtful friend in Christ. The sharpening itself may be thought-provoking and at times even painful, but in the end we are stronger and better for it.  Sadly, for the sake of a surface unity and mushy love we may neglect this sharpening role and seek to avoid it, whether we're the one sharpening or the one being sharpened.  Warren Wiersbe observes, "If we're not disagreeable, we usually learn more by disagreeing than by giving in and refusing to say what we really think, 'speaking the truth in love'."
This sharpening process may take place at work or in church.  It may be in your own home or through an accountability partner.  In fact you just might come up against a sharpening friend today.  How you react is a real test of character as God often uses other people to mold His character into our lives. 
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Today's prayer: Father, I confess that in the process of being molded and fashioned into Your likeness I am often unyielding and struggle in the process of becoming more like You.  Thank You for placing people in my life who model godly character and who courageously speak words of direction and correction when I most need it.  Help me to graciously receive these messengers and promptly respond to the message they bring when it is supported by Scripture and spoken from a wise and loving heart.  Amen.

Info about the water jet
 (the tool mentioned in today's message)

Today's suggested music:
"I thank the Lord for you my friend"  (Listen)

Personal note: We have lots of catching up today including a lawn that really needs mowed, particularly after the wonderful rain we had yesterday!

Bonus perspective: Take a look at these beautiful photos from Doris High's photo blog.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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