In yesterday’s patriotic service at our church I participated by reading a monologue as it would be written by the Statue of Liberty. An ending phrase has gone over and over in my mind as I’ve pondered its meaning in my country and my own heart as well. It said, O people, restore me to where I can once again see a land of beautiful homes – A land where homes are never separated – a land where home is viewed more by what is on the inside than what is on the outside – a home where these three gifts will always be: the hearth, the flag, and the place of prayer.
What does it mean to you that you keep alive the gift of the hearth? Wikepdia says that a hearth is “a brick– or stone-lined fireplace or oven used for cooking and/or heating. Because of its nature, in historic times the hearth was considered an integral part of a home, often its central or most important feature: its Latin name is focus. This concept has been generalized to refer to a home place or household, as in the terms “hearth and home” and “keep the home fires burning.” In fireplace design, the hearth is often considered the visible elements of the fireplace, with emphasis upon the floor level extension of masonry associated with the fireplace mantel.
Following this definition I see the hearth as a symbol of the warmth of a family inside a home. It’s not the kind of warmth a real hearth would have brought, but the kind of that comes from being together, spending time talking, sharing in the lives of those that live there with us. I believe this can only be done by the diligence that it took to keep the fire burning in those old- time fireplaces.
One integral part of family warmth is mealtime. I don’t mean the hurry-up and eat and get out of here kind of meal. This is the mealtime where the meal is lingered over, empty plates are pushed back and conversation happens. We have often read a book together after our supper meal. Having Bible reading or devotions works well at this time of day when everyone is gathered together.
The hearth’s warmth can be spread outside to the front porch or the deck. Last weekend we enjoyed having company and spent Friday and Saturday evenings out on the deck talking, sharing dessert and coffee, and also listening to stringed instruments being played and hymns being sung. I could just feel those “home fires burning” during those sweet times of fellowship.
Often the piano in the living room has served as our “hearth.” Because our girls play we have the blessing of being able to gather ’round it and sing together. Game boards have also served in bringing us together in laughter and closeness as games were played with stiff competition and fun.
Each family may interpret the “hearth” in a different way. The important thing is that we do all we can, with the Lord’s strength to keep it burning, and that we each understand that the hearth in the home truly is a gift.
Every Wednesday night in July and August we are doing a study aided by Nancy Leigh DeMoss entitled, How To Deal With the Fools in Your Life. Each Thursday post in these next two months will be the study from the night before.
Is there an example to follow?
Is there an example to avoid?
What can I learn in the passage about the ways and character of my God?
Let’s look at the three main characters for an overview:
His name means fool and that’s what he was (verse 25). As you read through I Samuel 25 make a list of the characteristics of a fool. As you do this you will probably think of someone in your life – perhaps if you’re honest, you may see yourself. We want to learn how to avoid having the characteristics of Nabal in our lives.
David’s initial response to Nabal was one of great anger. He was provoked and lost control. The danger is when you get around a fool you may respond like a fool. Proverbs 13:20 – “A companion of fools will be destroyed.” We look at David’s ungodly response and say, “Is this David, the man after God’s own heart behaving like this?” Even the most godly people will act in foolish, ungodly ways. Your husband may be godly, but he will sometimes behave in foolish ways. Do you ever see yourself acting foolishly? We do! Hence, we have a great need for wise, godly people in our lives to give us counsel. People who will love us enough to get in our face, if necessary, and tell us we are behaving foolishly, as Abigail did to David. Proverbs 8:33 – Hear instruction and refuse it not. Proverbs 24:6 – In a multitude of counselors there is safety. David was willing to listen to Abigail’s wise counsel, admit he was wrong and change his behavior.
This lady models an incredible response when dealing with foolish people. Her wisdom, godliness, discretion and peace-making abilities make her the heroine of this story and she completely changes the outcome.
We would be amiss not recognize that God is in this story – on His throne, ruling, being sovereign, and fulfilling His purposes. He is also at work in your story. He is involved in your life and cares about the fools you live with or work with. Though you do not see Him He is there.
It’s so important that we see God in our circumstances, and that we see Him correctly. If we doubt His concern for our lives and situations, if we question His love, if we think He’s letting evil doers get away with their foolish actions, we are viewing God through googly-eyed glasses. Everything is distorted because we are believing the lies of the Devil. See God in this story and learn Who He is, and that He is just as involved in your circumstances.
Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We read that as a missionary that gave his life in surrender to serve God, but this also applies to dealing with the fools in our lives. We give to God our right to get even. We give Him our anger towards that person, or our right to avenge ourselves. What do we gain that we cannot lose? We gain peace. We gain a proper view of God. We gain a clean heart and innocence.
Who is it that you’ve been thinking of as you’ve read this study of the fool? Remember that God will avenge in the long run. He will judge evil doers. Don’t try to do God’s work. He is in control. What peace that brings.
Stop and consider what you did just this morning. Were you able to throw your legs over the side of the bed and get up? Did your eyes eventually focus so that you could make your way to the coffee pot? Once the coffee had perked were you able to pick up your cup and allow the warm liquid to slide down your throat? Did you greet your family with your words? Are you breathing on your own without the aid of a pipe down your throat? All of these functions are gifts of God that we don’t often consider – unless they are taken from us.
A family friend has recently suffered a stroke and has lost many of the abilities that I just listed. To be able to think a thought but unable to speak it must be so frustrating. Depending on others to move you about is surely a difficult position to be in. How often do we thank the Lord even for the ability to work? It seems that our society is always bemoaning the fact that they have to work. People are always looking to the weekend, or fussing about laundry that has to be finished. Elisabeth Elliot says this about work – “Work is a blessing. [YES! A BLESSING!] God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures. ”
Whatever you find yourself doing today stop and think about the blessing it is do have the ability to do it. We never know when that could be taken from us. Work hard today and thank the Lord for the hunger and thirst that it creates, as well as the ability to eat and drink to satisfy that desire!
I read that quote yesterday and thought of the hike my family took last Friday. We headed up a mountain road that started out kind of gravely. As we continued upward the road bumped more and more. We were looking for the fire tower and were unsure of its exact location. At times the road bumped so much I thought our van’s shocks would never be the same. We climbed and climbed and bumped and jostled our way up the mountain. The question of whether or not we were on the right road was asked more than once. We finally came to a blocked road where we parked the car and got out and walked a mile or more up a rather steep incline. There ahead of us was the fire tower! We climbed up the forsaken steps and when we got to the second and third landings the view was spectacular! It was worth all the bouncing and jolting just to see the sight before us! We indeed had been on the right road. If the bumps had discouraged us and we would’ve turned around we would have missed this sight.
Life gets bumpy, doesn’t it? We begin to question ourselves. We also question God. “Is the Christian life supposed to be this way? Shouldn’t things be much smoother than this? Is my marriage supposed to have this jostling? Why are my children creating such havoc after all my godly instruction?” The temptation is to turn around and go the other way – our own way – a way we feel would be smoother. But the absence of bumps doesn’t mean it’s right. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. I Peter 5:10 The road will smooth out eventually and you’ll find the view is wonderful – it’s called Christ-likeness. Because He is the God of all grace you and I have the grace we need to endure the bumps. Don’t let it doubt you’ve chosen the right road (“why did I trust Christ, anyway? He’s a mean God that’s out to get me.”) Keep traveling on. He’s there with you. He’s not forsaken you. He knows the bumps are there and He’s waiting at the end of the road. Keep on driving.
On Saturday evening I was finishing up the preparations for supper when I learned two good lessons. I was finishing up my Rosemary/lemon potatoes. Everything was done except throwing in the fresh chopped rosemary. I pulled out my nice sharp chopping knife and began making my way through the pile of rosemary when my finger got chopped quickly and precisely. The cut went down into my fingernail cutting a “V” out of the nail below the white (sorry if this is too much information). I got it wrapped up and was able to finish supper preparations, but all night long that finger reminded me of that incident. If I bumped it it hurt. If I tried to use it the other fingers had to help to compensate for its uselessness. I’ve spent the hours since then holding my index finger out away from the rest of my hand. Lesson #1 – Curl your fingers up tightly when chopping food!
As I’ve dealt with my cut finger I couldn’t help but think about what the Bible says about each of us being members of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:14-16 For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
Each member has a unique function in the body, so we each have a unique ministry to fulfill. However, if a member doesn’t take care of the ministry they’ve been given by the Lord, another member will have to step in to make up the deficiencies. If a member doesn’t show up they assume that someone else will take up the slack. While that’s often true, it’s just like when the rest of my hand is trying to make up for what the index finger should be doing – the job gets done eventually, but with much more difficulty and strain, and a little slower than the needed member could’ve done it. Lesson #2 – Each member of the body is necessary and will do their ministry best when they are present to do it.
Where has the Lord placed you as a member? Are you faithfully using your abilities and your presence to serve Him there, or is someone else having to make up for you? Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Since the Lord led you to your church then be faithful. Don’t be touchy and “hurt” so you can’t be effective. Don’t doubt your importance. My knife is tool that wounded me. Satan knows what tools to use to wound the body so they’re useless. You are a needed member. Believe the Truth and be used of God effectively this week.