This blog will contain the many popular articles posted on my website at in the early 2000's. It's currently a work in progress as I edit and transfer these articles from the old site to this blog. I hope they continue to bless whosoever will come across them! Rose Murdock

Friday, August 29, 2014

Are You the Sanded or the Sandee?

Are You the Sanded or the Sandee? 
August 25, 2004  
by Rose Murdock

We often cry out to God and say, "Lord use me! I’m a willing vessel! Use me for Your purposes!" And, of course, God will use us for His purposes. However, I think our heart's cry when we say this is that we don't just want God to use us to help build His kingdom, but we want to be used as a vessel of honor, rather than a vessel of dishonor. Do you know that God can ‘use’ a person to bring about His purposes and that person can still be lost?

Look at Judas. He was used for God’s purposes, wasn't he? He was used to betray Jesus into the hands of those who killed Him. It was God’s purpose for Jesus to be killed and bear our sins and sicknesses on the cross and Judas was the vessel used to bring about that purpose.  Since Judas was used to bring about God’s purpose then shouldn't he be honored? No, of course not. He betrayed Jesus. He had a choice. He could have resisted the temptation. God gives us a free will, to choose right or wrong. If it wasn't Judas it would have been someone else. The choice to follow the Lord doesn't come with an obvious question—Do you want to reject God, die and go to hell?  It’s much more subtle than that isn't it? 

The Bible says that in a great house there are many vessels, some to honor and some to dishonor (2 Timothy 2:20). This reminds me of sandpaper. Sandpaper is a tool that can be used to smooth out the rough edges of a sculpture to make it beautiful. The more the sandpaper is used on the sculpture the more beautiful the sculpture becomes (Up until the point when it is finished. Too much and it starts to destroy it). However, the more the sandpaper is used, the less valuable it becomes. Once that sandpaper has lost it’s sandiness then it’s no longer worth anything. Has it been used to accomplish something beautiful? Yes. But it is not something useful anymore.

Are we going to be a vessel that allows the Lord to shape us into what He wants and as a result become a beautiful sculpture, or are we going to be the sandpaper that rubs off the rough spots on others and as a result end up worthless ourselves? We may think we are being used of God when we speak words of truth to others concerning their faults or sin etc. and we may be correct. God may use what we say to bring them closer to Him. It might be painful for them but if they have a willing and humble heart they can use what you said to draw closer to the Lord and allow more rough edges to be sanded off. But what happens to you in the process? You may feel good that ‘God used you’ to ‘minister’ to this person but if it was done contrary to the ways of God—the ways of love and humility—then you are not being ‘used’ but being ‘used up’ and before long you will not be able to be used by the Master.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23,
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." KJV
These people apparently speak for the Lord, take authority over the demonic and do many other things in His name but they are also workers of iniquity. I see these people as the sandpaper. They may be used to do things for the Lord but they themselves are not vessels of honor. They rub other people the wrong way and God will use that to perfect others, just as He can use any trial or tribulation we go through to bring us farther into perfection and maturity. But while they are rubbing others the wrong way they are losing something of themselves. They want to perfect everyone else, but not themselves. They think they are a tool that brings correction and growth to others, and God might use them to do that. But the price they pay for that is that they could come to a place of dishonor and possibly even lost forever. Why? Because they will not allow themselves to be molded by the Master. They are too busy looking at everyone else’s imperfections. Those are tough words but I know that I myself would rather see the truth now rather than later after it’s all said and done, wouldn't you?

Joseph’s brothers were used to put Joseph in a position that was rough for many years but he ended up in a position of honor. Joseph allowed himself to be molded by the Lord to prepare him for his position of honor so he wouldn't be full of pride and arrogance when he got there.  He needed to be able to forgive his brothers so that Israel could be saved. Weren't Joseph’s brothers used to bring about God’s purpose? Joseph said they meant what they did for evil, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the result of saving His people. (Genesis 50:20). His brothers were malicious and selfish. They were the sandpaper, and yes God used it, but no honor goes to them for what they did.

We need to be careful when we have a strong desire for God to use us. We need to make sure we are allowing Him to do the work in us that is necessary first. We need to allow Him to shape us into what He desires us to be. God doesn't want to use us to correct or perfect others by rubbing them the wrong way, irritating them, speaking harsh words—even if words of truth—to them. But He wants us to allow ourselves to be shaped into that vessel of honor and then the vessel we've become can be used properly to build up, edify, strengthen and equip the rest of the body so all of us together can accomplish the purposes of God. Any truth that we speak must be spoken in love, humbly considering that it’s only by the grace of God that we ourselves can even see the truth (See Galatians 6:1 and Ephesians 4:15). Yes, sometimes we will speak the truth, in love, and others will not receive it. They might get offended or accuse us of being narrow-minded or whatever. The attitude of our heart is what is the issue here.

God doesn't need you to perfect others. There are plenty of ways His people can be sanded and matured. Of course we might slip up from time to time causing those around us to be rubbed the wrong way. But rather than looking for opportunities to ‘perfect’ others, we need to be looking at whether our own ways please the Lord first.

Edited 8-29-2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lessons Learned from a Spoiled Rich Kid

Lessons Learned from a
Spoiled Rich Kid
January 24, 2005 
by Rose Murdock

Let’s say you, as a parent, are sitting at the kitchen table reading. Your spouse is across the table from you and your eleven-year-old son walks in the room and says, "Hey Mom, Dad, thanks for getting me a new motorcycle" and walks off into his bedroom. You look at each other and discuss whether either one of you told him he could have a motorcycle. You both say no. He walks out of his bedroom, walks by again and says, "Hey, thanks again for that motorcycle" and walks outside.

Now, if he would have asked for a motorcycle and you said he could have one, and then he thanked you for it, then it wouldn't be a problem. But for him to just start thanking you for this motorcycle that he never asked for, and you never said he could have, is presumptuous to say the least. The son in this scenario is a little mixed up in assuming that his parents will give him whatever he wants--without even discussing it with them. He skipped the ‘asking’ stage and went right to the ‘thanking’ stage. Do we do this to the Lord? 

"…ye have not, because ye ask not." James 4:2

If we're expecting something from the Lord and don't seem to be getting it, could it be because we just assumed He'd give it to us without us even asking Him or discussing it with Him? Are we assuming that we don’t have to ask? If so, then we're thinking that our own wisdom and perspective is at least as good as God’s. When we ask, we're looking for input from Him—His will, His opinion, His direction etc. If we don't do this then, like the spoiled rich kid, we are presumptuous or maybe even arrogant. 

We ask God because He knows more than we do and His wisdom is greater than ours. We ask Him because if we really are interested in serving Him then we will want to please Him above all else. If we truly are a servant of the Lord, our desire will be for every area of our life to be molded into what He wants it to be. This means that we will ask not just for His permission, but for His opinion.

"…no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." Psalms 84:11

A second assumption we might be making that would hinder us from receiving what we are expecting from the Lord, is that we assume what we are asking for is a good thing, and/or that we are walking uprightly when we are not. Might we consider, from God's perspective, if our desires are good? Maybe we need to look at the direction of our walk. Are we walking with Him, uprightly, following His path? What is our motive in where we are heading and in what we are looking to accomplish?

Making the assumption that we are wise and holy apart from God’s influence will get us into trouble. He is our wisdom and He is our righteousness. We don’t have it in ourselves apart from Him. Of course our desire can be to learn to walk in His wisdom and righteousness in a greater way each day. It is something we can do, and the more we do, the more our desires will become His desires. As we mature, we will understand certain things better, just as the eleven year old boy will when he matures. However, the way to get there is not to make arrogant assumptions, but to humbly seek Him out. 

The whole idea of asking is that you are giving the giver the right to say no. You are willing to accept whatever the giver decides. By asking, we admit that God can see the intentions of our heart clearer than we can and if there is an area that needs to be changed we choose to trust His judgment. We admit that God sees and knows all things including what is best for us and the path we are to take. If we deny that God has the right to say no then we are assuming that our wisdom and motives are higher than His. We have to be willing to expose our heart to Him and accept what He shows us as true.

So, we ask and seek the Lord rather than making assumptions that we should have, or do, certain things. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He started off by acknowledging the holiness of the Father’s name. "Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…" (Matthew 6:9). Before we pray, we need to acknowledge the holiness of God and understand and accept the fact that He is above all. Compared to Him our viewpoints and opinions fall far short of His holiness. He is pure love, pure goodness, pure life and pure truth.

Our God is a great God that loves to give to His children, but don’t be like the spoiled rich kid who assumes that he doesn't need God's opinion or perspective. Be a child who is interested in the wisdom and the will of the Father--not one who simply uses the Father to feed his own desires.

Edited August 8, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014

In the Name of Nice

In the Name of Nice
June 26, 2001
by Rose Murdock

Nice: "Pleasing and agreeable in nature; enjoyable. Having a pleasant or attractive appearance. Courteous and polite; considerate. Of good character and reputation; respectable." 1

"Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division."  JesusLuke 12:51 NKJ

I have found there to be a misunderstanding about Christianity by both those who are Christians and those who are not. That is that to be a Christian means you always have to be "nice."  Some people misunderstand what it means to turn the other cheek, love your enemies, do good to those that hate you and pray for those who use and persecute you. (Matthew 5:38-48)

Christians and non-Christians alike have sometimes thought that as a Christian you’re always supposed to be polite and agreeable. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t talk about Jesus and definitely don’t offend anyone. There is a spirit of antichrist in the world today (that’s been around since Jesus’ time), that would like to see Christians unable to live as Christians. To water down their beliefs to such a point that they have a ‘form of godliness but deny the power.’ (2 Timothy 3:5).

Jesus said to turn the other cheek but He also said:
"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  (Matthew 10:32-34 NKJ)

Who do we care more about offending—people or Jesus? Where did the idea come from that Christians have to always be the one to back down from their beliefs for the sake of bringing ‘peace?’ There is a time to be a peacemaker but there’s also a time to bring division. We don't want to compromise our beliefs because of not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings or because we want them to like us. Those who are not Christians may accuse you of not being a "good" Christian because you are not nice. These people have a misunderstanding about Christianity and we as the Church have often agreed with them, apologized and felt guilty for not being ‘nice!’ 

Of course I’m not saying we intentionally go out and offend people for we are to walk in the love of God which is not rude according to 1 Corinthians 13. I’m not saying we should become judgmental and argumentative people. Jesus said He didn't come into the world to condemn the world but to save them (John 3:17). However, when we are secure in our beliefs we can have enough confidence to stand in those beliefs and disagree with others without being rude about it. There may be times we might disagree without even vocalizing our disagreement depending on the situation. I believe that those Christians who are argumentative with those who don’t agree with them are that way because they are not secure in their own beliefs. We don’t have to always try and defend ourselves.

It seems that we either go too far one way or too far the other. On the one hand we think we’re supposed to be nice so we float through life trying to please everyone and make them feel good and happy. On the other hand we become super religious and theological and argue doctrine with people. It might be worthwhile to question ourselves at times and ask ourselves why something makes us so angry. Is it because if it turns out we are wrong about a particular subject then we have to admit that what we've been saying all this time is really not true? if we have to admit we were wrong then we may have to change something in our life. We might have to change our church. We might feel we can’t admit we were wrong because it would be too embarrassing, it would cost too much.

When you know the truth in your heart and are secure in it, then you don’t feel threatened by those who disagree with you. In fact, you will have more compassion on them. There’s a difference between being rude and argumentative and simply taking a stand and not backing down from what you believe. Those who disagree with you may accuse you of being rude, stubborn or closed minded when in fact you are simply taking a stand for your beliefs and not being rude about it at all. Sometimes people are offended by that but that doesn't mean you quit believing the truth because they are offended by it!

Once we as Christians realize that it’s O.K. for us to stand firm in our beliefs and not feel we have to apologize for them, then we will be able to love the unlovable out of a sincere and willing heart, and be able to do so in a way that doesn't offend our Lord but rather brings glory to Him.
What it comes down to is that first of all you have confidence that your beliefs are according to the truth of God’s Word. Do this by examining your own heart to make sure you are ‘in the faith,’ and be open and honest enough before the Lord to admit any errors in your thinking (2 Corinthians 13:5). That honest relationship with Him allows you to walk confidently, full of compassion for others but at the same time not feel shaken, threatened or intimidated when someone disagrees with you causing you to back down and turn into a wimpy Christian who is religious but has no power of God operating.

Much has been done in the name of ‘nice’ which has appeared to be good, peaceful, Christian character on the surface, but in reality it’s deception at it’s best causing Christians to feel they have no right to believe the pure truth of God’s Word. Don’t let this attitude turn you into a watered down, powerless Christian!

 The American Heritage Dictionary. Copyright 1982, 1985 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Edited July 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hannah's Vow

Hannah's Vow
December 18, 2004
by Rose Murdock

"...O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your handmaid and earnestly remember, and not forget Your handmaid but will give me a son, I will give him to the Lord all his life;..." 1 Samuel 1:11 The Amplified Bible

Hannah was barren. As if that wasn't enough to make her feel bad, her husband’s other wife, Peninnah had children. Even that wouldn't be so bad except Peninnah teased Hannah every year about not having any children when they went to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. Hannah was upset over this. Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, was very compassionate towards Hannah and tried to comfort her but she was grieved over Peninnah’s constant ridicule.

It’s interesting that Peninnah’s name comes from a word meaning ‘pearl’ and is translated ‘ruby’ while Hannah’s name means ‘favored.’ Hannah was favored by her husband Elkanah and received a double portion at the yearly sacrifice. What this tells us is that something can be valuable but not necessarily favored. You can have a valuable piece of jewelry like a pearl or a ruby, yet not favor that jewelry. You might have a cheaper piece of jewelry that you like a lot better. In the same way, Peninnah produced children for Elkanah so in that sense she was valuable to him, but yet he favored Hannah. In the same way, God doesn't love us because of what we produce for Him, especially if what we produce for Him is a point of arrogance. He would rather have us be humble in spirit like Hannah, than productive yet without compassion like Peninnah.

One year Hannah cried out to the Lord and was praying, making a vow to Him saying if He would give her a son that she would give the son to Him. Eli, the priest, saw Hannah praying and at first thought she was drunk because he saw her mouth moving but heard no words. Hannah explained that she wasn't drunk but was praying and pouring her heart out to the Lord. Eli told her to go in peace and "may the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." (1 Samuel 1:17). Well, the Lord answered her prayer and by the next year Hannah had a son—Samuel. After Samuel was weaned, Hannah kept her vow to the Lord and brought him to Eli the priest to serve the Lord. As we read about the life of Samuel we see that he became a great prophet of the Lord. 

There are a few things we can learn from Hannah’s vow and from her integrity in keeping her word. First, I think it’s interesting that Samuel became a prophet of the Lord and it says in 1 Samuel 3:19 that "Samuel grew; the Lord was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground." None of Samuel’s words fell to the ground! The Lord Himself watched over the words of Samuel. Samuel was birthed from the vow of a desperate woman. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she kept her vow, and then her son had this sort of favor with the Lord concerning his words. Hannah’s vow was a seed from which was birthed, in Samuel, an integrity that even the Lord honored. The Lord doesn't forget the promises we make to Him when we’re crying out to Him in desperation for a certain thing. Do we? If we remember them, we just may give birth to something very powerful from the Lord.

Hannah felt that she was not fulfilling her purpose because she didn't have a son. If her motive would have been just to have a son around the house then she wouldn't have made a promise to give him to the Lord. What this tells us is that she simply wanted to fulfill her purpose in having a son. It wasn't for a selfish motive on her part. She wanted to fulfill her purpose in life. We can’t fulfill our God-ordained purpose in life without God equipping us. When He calls us to a thing He doesn't expect us to do it in our own strength or ability. He can, and will, equip us to do what is our purpose to do.

When we are in the barren place, unable to birth what is our purpose to birth, we need to cry out to Him, and then give our purpose to Him. We’ll need to care for it and nurture it, but also wean it so it’s not dependent on us. Hannah loved and nurtured Samuel and then weaned him and gave him to the Lord. Whatever God has called us to do, we love and embrace it, yet give it to the Lord for His use. Giving our purpose to the Lord doesn't mean we forget about it. Hannah brought Samuel a coat every year and we also need to ‘clothe’ our purpose in prayer, keeping it covered with the results of our loving labor. Giving our purpose to the Lord means that we keep it prepared and available for His use, not for our own use, but it doesn't mean that we say, "O.K. God, if you want it to work, make it work" and then we sit back and don’t do anything.

It’s encouraging to know that when we give to the Lord He also gives back to us. God blessed Hannah and gave her and Elkanah three more sons and two daughters. He doesn't expect us to give everything to Him and be left with nothing ourselves. He is a great giver Himself and will give to us as well.

How many of us are as desperate as Hannah was to pursue our purpose in life? When we realize we’re not even able to fulfill our call, but are barren and unfruitful in His work, do we cry out to Him? Who would have faulted Hannah for saying, "Oh well, I guess I just can’t have kids, at least it saves me a lot of work?" How many of us are that desperate to find out and pursue the purpose to which we are called? Do we really want to do with our lives what God wants or do we think that if we never find out then we’ll be saving ourselves a lot of work? Do we think we won't have to answer to Him for not pursuing our purpose?

Hannah thanked the Lord and praised Him for answering her prayer. In 1 Samuel 2, she worshiped Him and glorified Him for what He had done. Even though she was preparing to give Samuel to Eli, she was glorifying the Lord for answering her prayer and allowing her to do what she was created to do. Are we willing to release our ministry to the Lord and allow Him to get all the glory and praise for what we have done? Even though we may have put a lot of hard work, prayer and sacrifice into something, God still needs to get the glory, for nothing could have ever been accomplished if it wasn't for Him making it happen.

When we are able to embrace, and yet not control; release, and yet not neglect, that which God entrusts to us then we will have the greatest joy in life, knowing that we are fulfilling what God created us to do. In Samuel’s life, the Word of God was brought to the people at a time when the word of the Lord was ‘rare and precious.’ Samuel became a prophet to whom God spoke the truth. During those desperate times in our lives, when we cry out to God for His purpose to be accomplished, He doesn't forget, He hears our cries, answers us and blesses us for the sacrifices we make for Him. He keeps His Word to us, let’s remember to keep our promises to Him.

edited June 25, 2014