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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Photo of firmly embedded nails
Firmly Embedded Nails

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"Firmly Embedded Nails" (Part 2)

Note: This is a follow-up to yesterday's message.

"The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd" (Ecclesiastes 12:11).

Readers who read yesterday's message may recognize that I used the above photo of two rusty nails driven into some rough wood. It's a photo I really like and tends to bring back some memories for me.  Those are concrete sinkers someone nailed many years ago into some gnarly hardwood, perhaps a fence post, such as would have been on my Uncle Gentry's farm near Harwood Missouri when I was a child.  I would imagine the nails were bent at the time they were initially nailed and now, after many years, they show the rust as they've weathered moisture and age. At this point these nails are very firmly embedded in the wood.

What an interesting word picture Solomon uses in our daily text. Yesterday we shared that we believe Solomon is referring to God's Word as he writes of "the words of the wise" and "their collected sayings." 

Photo of goad
"The words of the wise are like goads…" (see 1 Samuel 13:21).  The goad is a traditional farming implement, used to spur or guide livestock, usually oxen, which are pulling a plough or a cart; used also to round up cattle. It is a type of  long stick with a pointed end, also known as the cattle prod. Though many people are unfamiliar with them today, due to our urban or suburban lifestyle, goads have been common throughout the world.

In a spiritual analogy the goad sounds like the conviction of the Holy Spirit and brings to mind Acts 2:37 describing the response of the crowd at Pentecost to Peter's message; "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'"  Later the word actually is used again at Saul's testimony of his conversion, "I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads'" (Acts 26:14).  When God uses His Holy Spirit to convict us of sin or as a means of directing us, it may initially come as a very painful or uncomfortable stirring within our hearts!

"Their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd."  Nails in their crudest form date back to 3,000 BC, some 2,000 years before Solomon lived.  Earlier in this message I shared about literal firmly embedded nails. Our spiritual application is in regard to having the truths of God's Word firmly embedded in our hearts. Ultimately, due to the divine inspiration of Scripture, they are indeed given by one Shepherd, although various human agents were involved.

We have a role in allowing God's Word to be firmly embedded in our hearts. We read, study, listen to godly teaching, memorize and hide God's Word deep in our hearts, and we learn from ours and others mistakes. The Word in time becomes firmly embedded like the nails in the photograph. When Satan's siftings are experienced we might be put through the grinder of fear or doubt, but in Christ we remain steadfast, firm, and immovable!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we recognize the spiritual, emotional, and physical strength that comes from relying on truths and principles established in Your Word.  And yet we still get lax or led astray from the paths You've laid out for us.  Much like the oxen we need the goading of Your Holy Spirit to keep our hearts right and our will submitted to Your leading.  Keep us faithful we pray.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Literal & spiritual meaning of the nail illustration: I consider just looking at today's photo how hard it would be to remove these nails! I would probably need to drive a flat-bladed screw driver in and bend them out enough to get a claw hammer in. Then I would probably need to strike the claw hammer on the handle with another hammer and hope the nail head doesn't break off below the surface. I might have to hit the nail back and forth to loosen it.  I would then hope to hear a creaking sound as the whole nail slowly is removed!  This is gratifying in the literal sense of this illustration, but distressing when I think of the spiritual analogy.  It would describe a person who, when sifted by Satan's strategic weapons, forgot or forsook the bedrock spiritual foundation from which he or she was firmly planted.

Ester's 20th birthday with Pierces
Yesterday Ester celebrated her 20th birthday. She had a busy day with friends and then we met Ken, Nila and David for pizza at Ester's favorite restaurant, Pizza Hut. David had his first stitches this last weekend, visible over his right eye (in our left view)!

This last Lord's Day Ester asked to share her testimony with the congregation.  She didn't just read it but also shared it with deep emotion from her heart.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
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In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"How Sure the Scriptures Are"   Words by Christopher Idle
(I was unable to find an online audio of this hymn but its sung to the same tune as "Rejoice The Lord Is King")

How sure the Scriptures are! God’s vital, urgent word,
As true as steel and far more sharp than any sword!
So deep and fine, at His control they pierce where soul and spirit join.

They test each human thought, refining like a fire;
They measure what we ought to do and to desire:
For God knows all – exposed, it lies before His eyes to whom we call.

Let those who hear His voice confronting them today,
Reject the tempting choice of doubting or delay:
For God speaks still – His word is clear, so let us hear and do His will.

"Ancient Words"
(Video) I also suggested this song yesterday. Each month in our church we are singing a "Song Of The Month" which Brooksyne repeats each Lord's Day, in the hopes that the people will become very familiar with it. This month we are singing this song:

Ancient words, ever true
Changing me, changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart.

The Tremont Nail Company: Cutting nails since 1819. This factory was near where we lived in Massachusetts and had an interesting country store across the street.

Photo of John WesleyFriday's message had this illustration: "When John Wesley, who had been joyous, energetic, and effective even in his 88th year, was dying, he suddenly sat up, looked at the people weeping at his bedside, and said, 'Best of all, God is with us.'"

Ken Wish, a chaplain friend from Maine, makes the following observation: "I had an opportunity to worship in the Wesleyan Methodist church in Epworth (Wesley's birthplace). On the lintel of the door to the Sanctuary is carved this quote, 'Best of all, God is with us.' It is a wonderful blessing for the congregation to look at and reflect upon as they leave to return to their place of Christian service in the world."

Brings to mind a statement made by our very colorful friend Ken Pierce as he prepared to depart last night from the Pizza Hut: "I'm going to do something that Jesus promised he'd never do."  Rather stunned, I looked at Ken and asked, "What would that be?"  "Leave you" he replied!  And then he went on to quote Jesus who said, "Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you."  

Photo of Lyndon RisserFinally, today as we were completing our message we had a visit from Lyndon Risser, a friend with a heart for ministry. We also had phone calls this morning which made for a late message today. Divine appointments don't always line up with our routine appointments, do they!

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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