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Today’s Manna – Our Daily Bread
http://bible.com/116/hos.4.4.nlt
Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.

Observation
People are less likely to listen and learn when we point the finger at them in judgement, because when a sword is raised towards us,  we prepare to defend ourselves,  we put up walls and prepare for battle, we run away because we are afraid that we are about to be hurt and plundered.

But when we look at ourselves, when we let down our walls so the world can see the state of our own broken kingdom in need of repairs, if we let them watch as we acknowledge those broken roads and homes and set our sights on fixing them – if they see us following through on the necessary work and repairs to make things new, if they see that we are not building up great piles of wealth for ourselves but that we are sharing and rebuilding hand in hand with our neighbors – won’t they possibly join us as a partner and a friend,  working towards our common goals?

We make enemies with a pointed finger and a raised sword, we gain friends and family by extending open arms.

Hope
We are each to blame. If we forget that we are in danger of pride and a great fall. When we point the finger at others,  we are missing an opportunity to learn and to share truth – instead, we are trading that for an opportunity to play the prostitute and put ourselves on display as something to be desired.

When I put myself on display as the life to follow,  when I pointed my finger at others in condemnation and accusation, I was headed to destruction, and I was trying to kill as many others as I could with my sword before my time came to an end. I was a murderer and a liar then,  just as much as I was when I was leading them into a life of open sin and rebellion against God. And this is because I had a different teacher,  I had a different father,  I was a man of flesh.

But I have a new father, a new teacher, and He calls me into His royal priesthood of believers. He calls me His disciple,  His student,  and He sends me out to share the gospel with the world. You see, He is my Hope. My only hope. That is why I say,  look at the example of my broken city as a warning,  friends.  But look at the healing and repair work that He is doing a message of Hope,  friends.

If we both have our walls up,  we don’t know the real state of the inside,  we can only point fingers and cast stones foolishly at each other’s high walls while our insides waste away under the siege and destruction of war with one another.  But if we make peace with one another, we can build up one another together.

Faith
And what do we do when we want peace,  but the world is still at war with us? What do we do when we claim to have dropped or walls and claim that we have put away our swords and beat them into tools for repairing our own city? When we feel that we are being plundered daily by our enemies and we have no defense to offer against their attacks?

Welcome to the Christian walk along the narrow path,  my friend. If we walk it alone,  we will surely stumble and fall to our deaths. But through Christ,  all things are possible.

This is Faith.

Faith is not faith until tested and proven. So don’t run away from the crashing waves of trial and adversity that will prove stronger than you,  humbling you so that you can only reach out to the Lord to save you. Don’t run away from the roaring flames of suffering and tribulation that will burn away those things in your life that are perishable and temporary,  but that will leave you with eternal treasures.

You see,  it is when we are laid low,  it is when we are reduced to just a stump,  that the Lord can rebuild upon a new foundation. A foundation set upon the rock of Jesus Christ and not upon the sinking sand of death.

It is in the valley that, He is proven faithful. Don’t fear the very place that we must go to know Him closest and truest this side of eternity.

Love
The inevitable consequence of surrender,  the result of His touch, the eternal treasure of His healing refinement,  is Godly love. Not lust or affection or any of the other cheap substitutes,  but the real thing. Love that produces patience,  kindness,  goodness,  faithfulness, integrity, joy,  peace, gentleness and all those things that reflect the light of our Savior,  Jesus Christ.

Loving God is believing,  obeying,  repenting, seeking His will and purpose for our life.

It is serving and loving others.

It is Christ living in us and through us to touch the lives of others around us.

We aren’t meant to pass the blame,  we’re meant to pass the love.

The blame, the conviction,  the judgement – the sword is meant to be pointed at ourselves to cut out the disease in our own lives,  not as a weapon to be used against others.

And when others see the benefits of this self surgery from the Word of God, they might want to pick up the Word of God and do some self surgery themselves. That is how the Sword works – the Word of God. 

And yes, those of us who are using the Sword – sometimes we might spar in order to sharpen each other.  But sparring is a collaborative effort,  it isn’t walking up behind someone and stabbing them in the back with our gossip,  judgement,  condemnation,  or accusations.

If we are pointing fingers, that isn’t collaborative,  nor is it self examination, so I remind myself –

Don’t point. His complaint is with me.