Encouraging Bruised Reeds & Smoking Flax

 

FLAX -- Ria Algra - PX

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.”  (Matthew 12:20, KJV).

These words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, described Jesus Christ, both in the Old Testament prophecy forecasting His coming, and in the New Testament as He carried out His earthly ministry. The words referred to the fact that Jesus was careful not to put down or belittle people who came to Him, even when they were weak in faith, or because they were lacking in some area of consecration or obedience. Now, to be sure, He did on occasion ask His own disciples, “Why are you fearful, or why did you doubt?” But those words were not intended as reprimands, but as questions to cause them to think and learn. They were in training, after all, and were supposed to be learning from Him and growing in faith and the demonstration of it. They were in a different position from the average person who came to Jesus for ministry.

Throughout His earthly walk, Jesus was kind and compassionate to everyone who had need of Him. If the people He dealt with had even a smoldering bit of faith, or just a heart-felt desire to connect with Him, He welcomed them and spoke and acted in such a way as to encourage them. To the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda, who evidently had some lack of initiative if he’d been supposedly “trying to get to the pool” for 38 years,  Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to be made well?”  And then, even though the man’s only response was to complain about not having any other people to help him, Jesus proceeded to heal him completely. (John 5:1-15).

And look at His treatment of Zacchaeus, who was a first-rank sinner (self-confessed) and who had no obvious faith or obedience going for him. Just the fact that Zacchaeus wanted to know more about Jesus — enough to climb into a tree so that he could see Jesus better as He went through town — was enough for Jesus to call him over and invite Himself to Zacchaeus’ house — showing him both honor and compassion at the same time. (Luke 19:1-10).

When his disciples told him of other ministers who were delivering people in Jesus’ name but were not following Him, Jesus said to leave them alone because if they were not “against” Him, then they were “for” Him. He didn’t rebuke those other ministers or even correct them. (Luke 9:49-50)

Wherever He went, Jesus was looking for ways to lift people up, encourage them, and help them grow in their relationship with their Creator.

Several years ago I read words by another minister that said, in effect, that we should be careful not to destroy someone’s imperfect faith because, at the time we’re interacting with that individual, it’s the only faith that person has. But it’s likely that, given time and encouragement, that imperfect faith will grow into something stronger and purer.

I’ve learned over the years that there’s a good deal of wisdom in those words, and I’ve seen people’s faith grow exceedingly. In fact, my own faith has grown, changed, grown some more, and changed some more over some sixty years of life as a Christian. So I know the potential is there.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this particular subject matter lately, and I believe the reason is that the Lord is showing me it’s really important to encourage people in these areas. I think I’ve always been an encourager in general, but I know, at times, I also tend to hold back when I see that a person has areas of his life or faith that are most definitely unscriptural. I sometimes tend to concentrate more on trying to “help” them get “fixed” in those areas rather than encouraging the little bit of positive in them — that smoking flax of faith or that character trait that is slightly bruised.

But I believe the Lord is saying that I need to refocus and concentrate on encouraging for a while rather than fixing. It may be that enough encouragement of the positive — even if it’s just smoldering or somewhat bruised or damaged — will strengthen those people enough to help them go on and eventually get the other stuff fixed.

And, after all, God is the real “fixer” — not me. And I’m also aware that there are a number of areas in my own life that need “fixing” as well. Certainly, I need to pray for the people in my life where the negative areas are concerned, so that the Lord has an open channel to work in their lives. But I need to let Him take care of the fixing and use my energy and influence to encourage those individuals. Encouragement in the right places can sometimes put us in a stronger position so that we can better receive the help God has for us.

So, in this coming year of 2020, one of my primary spiritual goals is going to be to encourage every positive thing I see in every person I’m with, and to do so in the name of Jesus Christ — who never broke a bruised reed (damaged person) or quenched any smoking flax (smoldering faith.)  I believe if I’ll be faithful to do my part, He will be able to do all the rest of the work necessary to bring them to wholeness and overcoming faith.




photo courtesy of Ria Algra @ pixabay.com



 

Now My Heart Must Sing

I’ve been going through some troubling situations lately and found myself feeling pretty low as a result. But in a time of prayer this morning, the Lord graciously reminded me of a poem He had given me almost two years ago. That poem was the record of another time in my life – many, many years ago – when things seemed very hard and very dark. But at that time, through means of a dream, the Lord showed me that I had nothing to worry about, and that He had worked everything out for me. So this morning, after being reminded of that poem, I sat down and read it again. It encouraged and cheered me so much that I decided perhaps I should share it on here again in case a few of my readers could use that same kind of encouragement today.

WILLOW TREE - credits

NOW MY HEART MUST SING

I woke to face another day,
No glad expectancy,
For heavy disappointments were all
Weighing down on me.

The day before had been so filled
With unsupportive words,
With problems piled four levels high
and everywhere closed doors.

The friends I’d counted on were not:
They came and went like rain:
All so enwrapped in their own lives
They couldn’t feel my pain.

It was just like so many days,
All running wearily,
So sad, with disappointments too,
All weighing down on me.

And though I knew I would survive,
That didn’t soothe my heart,
For sorrow deep and troubles too
Brought a longing to depart.

But then to Jesus I did run;
I saw it in a dream:
I stood below a gentle hill,
All carpeted in green.

When I looked up and saw Him there,
He stood beneath a tree,
And waited, smiling patiently;
He’d been expecting me.

I ran but didn’t feel the strain;
He grabbed me in His arms;
He wrapped them hard around me; held me
Strongly, safe and warm.

I’d never felt so light and free;
Engulfed with joy and rest;
No problem lingered to be weighed;
All I could feel was blessed.

And all the disappointments, though
So heavy they had been,
Took flight, and sadness too was gone,
Ev’ry conflict, ev’ry pain.

All threats and fears and torments sore,
All guilt, defeat, and shame –
In love so glowing and so strong,
All were dissolved away.

Then suddenly I saw a truth –
It caught me by surprise –
That Jesus’ joy exceeded mine;
I saw it in His eyes.

I’d known He would accept me, that
He’d made a place for me,
But never had I even guessed
How happy He would be.

He was so thrilled to have me there;
He laughed so loud and strong,
That all things not of joy and life
Just vanished in joy’s song.

And when I woke to this new day,
His laughter still did ring;
His arms still held me close and warm,
And now my heart must sing!

~~~

 

~~~

Stay in the Game

CROQUETWhen I was a child, I loved playing croquet. My family and I played often during the warm weather, and I’ve found myself wishing I had a set again. Last month I watched some of my nieces and nephews playing the game, and they were having every bit as much fun as I always did.

However, one of my nephews was way behind in the game. It looked for sure as if his younger sister had him beaten. And even his younger brother was pressing him hard for second place. But that boy didn’t give up, didn’t complain, didn’t get all up tight, didn’t make negative statements, didn’t even get discouraged. He just kept focusing on that ball and the direction in which it needed to go. And he kept swinging that mallet, making solid contact, and gradually moving that little wooden ball toward his goal.

A few of his strikes sent the ball askew. And once when he was lined up perfectly to make the final move, his sister’s ball blasted him out of the path and way into the outfield. But he just kept swinging. Every time it was his turn, he quietly and determinedly connected his mallet with his ball, sending it back in the right direction. Ten minutes later, he came out the winner.

Life is like a game. You have to keep moving toward the goal. Don’t let missing a strike now and then – or getting knocked off course by interference – cause you to give up and turn in your mallet and ball. Keep your eyes – and your heart – on your goals and keep swinging that mallet. Don’t focus on the other players or the problems in the way. Focus on the goal and keep swinging. In the wink of an eye, the tide can turn in your favor, and you can find yourself making the winning hit.

And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time, we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”
(Galatians 6:9)

~~~

Songs of Deliverance

Psalms 32:7 — “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

TREBLE CLEF & NOTES

God is singing songs of deliverance over me.
My God is singing songs of deliverance over me.
It matters not how dark the night,
How overwhelming seems the fight;
God is singing songs of deliverance over me.

God is singing songs of deliverance over me.
My God is singing songs of deliverance over me.
It matters not the enemy’s might;
I’ll not give any place to fright;
God is singing songs of deliverance over me.

God is singing songs of deliverance over me.
My God is singing songs of deliverance over me.
I walk by faith and not by sight;
I’ll win and give God great delight,
For He’s singing songs of deliverance over me.

~

© 2013 Sandra Conner