Today many friends will gather at a benefit for the medical expenses of a dear friend who is fighting stage 4 ovarian cancer. We are a community praying together for her healing. Being part of a community of believers is one of the most important things we can do for each other and ourselves.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Mental sharpness comes from being around good people. And a meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires discussion partners who can challenge one another and stimulate thought–people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussion; people who know how to attack the thought and not the thinker. Two friends who bring their ideas together can help each other become sharper.

I am truly blessed to be part of a women’s weekly Bible study group. We gather to discuss the week’s Scripture and apply it to our own lives. As a group of women, we bring iron to each gathering. This morning I read the following devotional from Suzanne Davenport Tietjen in Mornings with Jesus 2017 that reminded me of iron sharpening iron — to clean out the gunk of our daily lives and get back to the Lord.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13) To prevent having an unbelieving heart, stay in fellowship with other believers, talk daily about your mutual faith; be aware of the deceitfulness of sin (it attracts but also destroys), and encourage each other with love and concern.

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I just got back inside from tending the outdoor wood boiler that keeps our cabin and bunkhouse wonderfully warm all winter. It isn’t difficult, but it has to be done every day.

When I wake up, I go outside and check the temperature and water level while I wait fifteen seconds until it’s safe to open the door. Before I clear ashes from the vents, I use a tool called a Wonder Bar to remove any gunk or creosote off the edges of the door opening. Jet-black and gooey, the residue sticks to the end of the tool as I scrape, eventually falling like crinkled ribbons into the firebox.

I lost my Wonder Bar last year and couldn’t get the edges clean for a couple of days while I looked frantically through the snow. Nothing else worked, and if I didn’t scrape it down to the bare metal every day, the door wouldn’t seal and the system would break down. In the time it took to order another Wonder Bar, that sticky black stuff baked hard–almost to a point where I couldn’t get it off at all.

Dealing with unhealthy areas of our lives is similar. Following Jesus isn’t weekly; it’s daily. Dailiness is a theme in the Bible, from manna being given and gathered daily; to prayers, sacrifices, and worship being offered; to Jesus teaching the disciples to pray for daily bread.

Coming to Jesus daily is the remedy for anything gunky and black in our lives. And the tool He uses? A community of like-minded people who can encourage us to walk in step with Him.