Everyone that knows me very well knows I am not a cook. Everyone knows that my husband does the majority of the baking and cooking in our home. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it; he just thinks he can do better and he enjoys doing it so I let him. That has not always been the case; back in Indiana when the girls were small I did all the cooking and baking. I cooked for my family and then the last few years I cooked not only for my family, but my ailing parents. My dad never complained once. Come to think of it maybe he didn’t feel like he had a choice. No, I believe my dad enjoyed my cooking. I know he loved my home baked pies. My husband loves to try new things and is always adding a spice, or rub, marinade or whatever to his dishes; me? Well, it’s plain old meat and potatoes, vegetables and comfort food. That was what I was raised on. I don’t understand how to use a lot of spices and those things he does. He can add two foods together that I think would taste horrible together and make a really tasty dish. Everyone that has tried Greg’s cooking enjoys it.
Like I said I have cooked in the past and at times I still do. There are a couple of things in the kitchen that intrigued me as a kid. One was the sifter. When I would help my grandma back in the day I would ask her if I could sift for her. In her farm house she had a big bin in the kitchen cabinet that held flour. It had a sifter on the end of it. When she would come home from the grocery store she would store her flour in the bin. Whenever she needed flour she just went to the cabinet sifted what she needed. I loved doing that and grandma being the perfect grandma would let me do it quite often. We don’t sift as often as we did then.
The other one that intrigued me was the strainer. My grandmother would pick vegetables from the garden or get fruit from the store and lay them in the strainer. After placing them in the strainer she would turn on the water to wash away all the nasty stuff and the water just poured from all the little holes in the strainer. I enjoyed doing that also. Although I think it was more of a way to play in the water than anything else but it was fun to watch the water come streaming out from those holes.
I still use a strainer a lot these days. In fact Greg and I are watching our diet and we have been getting green grapes. Instead of candy or things that aren’t good for you we munch on green grapes. I bring them home place them in the strainer, wash them and watch the water drain from them. They are safe to use and ready to eat at a minutes’ notice.
Now I know you are waiting to see how I am going to tie all of this into a devotion aren’t you? Well here it comes. In one of the classes I was taking recently we were talking about our thoughts and how God knows what we are thinking even before we think them. We were also talking about our words that come from our mouths. We say things without thinking or think things we shouldn’t think about.
We who are Christians believe the Holy Spirit is living within each of us. Galatians 2:20 says this, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So here’s what I am thinking. If Christ lives in me then shouldn’t we use Him as a strainer of our words and thoughts? What if we put into practice allowing God to sift or strain our thoughts before we think them? What if we ask God to sift out those words that we shouldn’t be saying to others?
I am sitting here imaging what it would be like to put all my thoughts in a strainer and let God wash over them and get rid of all the dirt and let only those good things remain. Can you imagine getting up of a morning and praying, “Ok God take my words that I will use today and sift through them and allow only those good words to come through me today. Be my bin that holds my words and be my sifter that I may only say things that are good and pure. Amen.” Can you only imagine what would happen if we prayed that daily and meant it? Philippians 4:8 reminds us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” When we wash our food in a strainer we get rid of all the dirt and nasty things and what’s left behind is the good, wholesome food. It nourishes our body and is good for us. Same thing happens when we let God sift our words or wash over our thoughts. He helps us get rid of those bad thoughts and helps us keep the good thoughts; those good thoughts nourish us and help others when we share our thoughts with them.
Easier said than done I know! It takes practice and practice. We also have to listen and be obedient. I have seen things on packages that have said the item is ready for use; no need to sift or wash. That may be true, but I am not sure I want to put my trust into someone I don’t know. So, I am obedient and go ahead and wash or sift whatever needs sifting or washing. That’s what we must do. When the world tells us not to worry about what we say or how we say it, we must remember who we’ve put our trust in and be obedient to His word. Not only does it take practice and obedience, it takes prayer. Every time we respond we can (and should) stop and say breath prayers. Something as simple as, “Be with my words, Lord. Let me say the right thing.” When we begin to realize we have negative thoughts entering our minds we can simply ask God to help us remove those thoughts and turn them into something positive. Finally, reading the word and knowing the word is always a big help. If we are studying His word then our words and thoughts will be much sweeter only because we have read the words Jesus shares with us. If we study and know His words they are more likely to spring forth than words that are harmful or hurtful.
All of this from a sifter and strainer, right? God is good and faithful to teach us how to take things we use every day and be a reminder of how He can be for us. He can be all things to us including a sifter of our words and a strainer for our thoughts. All it takes from us is a commitment to allow Him to do it and be obedient to Him. As I was growing up my grandmother would take the vegetables from the garden and wash them and strain them. If they were very dirty she would do this several times, before they came clean and ready to use. That may be the same with us. It might take several attempts, but once we get there how sweet those words and thoughts will be not only for us but those around us.
Are you ready to let God sift your words and strain your thoughts?
Dear God: I enjoy it when you take every day items and turn them into lessons for me. This is just one more reason to let you deal with me. Help me allow you to sift my words and strain my thoughts so I can only think pure, love and admirable thoughts; thoughts and words that will encourage and help others along the way. As I pray sift my words, strain my thoughts and use them in a way that will help others today. Amen!