God Stood Near – Part 1

He Is Always with Us

Our passage today is much longer than usual. The entire passage is very important for today’s devotion but we will be focusing on verse 11. Please take a few of minutes and read the whole passage carefully, so it makes sense.

More Obvious than Usual

Acts 22:30 and 23:1-11 NIV

The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them. 

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’[fn]”
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Phariseesstood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

The Lord Stood Near

Consider Paul’s circumstances. He is desperately trying to Rome to testify about Christ there but things keep happening to keep him away. As you have just read, he has been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees to defend himself. The Roman military leader is not comfortable with what is happening to this Roman citizen so he is staying close by. When the uproar breaks out, he has Paul removed from the situation to preserve Paul’s life.

The prison cell Paul had come from was probably looking pretty good at that point. It was a lot safer than being in the midst of all those emotionally charged leaders, leaders who wanted him dead.

The Tenderness of the Lord

As we go to the verse I hope you will notice the beautiful tenderness of our wonderful loving sovereign God. He could have just intervened and never told Paul that He was going to, but He stood near Paul and told him that he would go on to Rome.

“The following night the Lord stood near to Paul…”

It is not often that we read that the Lord stood near to someone in the New Testament. He did not send an angel this time. He came Himself. With all that was going on its possible that Paul was getting discouraged and feeling like he really was not ever going to get to Rome.

Have you ever felt like if you could just feel God near you, you would be okay?Just to know, really know that He was with you?

How Tender He Is

He is so tender that at times He allows us to feel this special closeness. He is always with us, but in times of deep distress, He lets us know even more clearly that He is right there. When circumstances scream loudly, His presence can whisper loudly. What an awesome beautiful Lord we have!

“…and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem so you must also testify in Rome.’”

God knows His plan and how to carry it out. Sometimes He quietly carries it out and other times He shows His great might and ultimate control in a big, big way! We will see just how He fulfilled what He said to Paul while He stood near to Him.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You, Lord, for showing us that You do see us in our individual circumstances and You are not ignoring us. I thank You for helping us to see Your tenderness in all Your greatness. Help us to live obedient lives and trust that You are with us and making a way for Your will to go forth. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 4:5-8

A Question of God’s Will

Figuring It Out

Some of the most frustrating times in my life have been times when I was trying to figure out what God’s will was in a particular situation.

Romans 12:2b

“…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

This passage of scripture answers the question of how to know what God’s will is. Remember that verses one and two go together. We need to keep everything in the context of the book of Romans but for now, we will just look at these verses.

Let’s go to the verse:

“…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is… “

Is this saying that God wants our approval? Not at all. God wants us to love HIm and be joyful in HIm but He is not going to change His will for us. If He would do that, He would not be sovereign. Think about it, if God was worried about pleasing people, then He would be back and forth with contradictions all the time. God is absolutely and completely stable. He will always show Himself and His will and His plan in line with His character which He has revealed in His Word.

Test and Approve

This passage saying “test and approve” means that we will be able to be in agreement with His will and want what He wants. To do this we must be able to identify His voice. We have to look at what we see to be His direction and make sure it lines up with His Word. His character never changes. You can trust Him to always be who He has always been, and what He has always been is holy, awesome, and wonderful!

“…His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

We are not the center of the universe and our comfort and pleasure are not the issues here. God’s glory is the issue – always is and always has been the issue. With this in mind, we can also know that the very best thing that can happen to us, in the long run, is that God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will goes forth in our lives and in the world around us. Though His will is for He, Himself, to be glorified, it is in our best interest too. According to Jeremiah 29:11 God has good things planned for us, maybe not comfortable but good. That passage goes on to say that He wants us to seek Him so that we can know Him and be close to Him. His will always involves our growing closer to Him.

A Different Way

Our close walk with God – Keeping our mind renewed (minds full of Him and His Word) will help us not be conformed to this world (not being like the world) and our close walk with Him will help us be able to discern what His will is. The frustration can be replaced with trust as we walk closely with Him because the better we know Him the more we will be able to trust Him.

I am amazed at how young children have a sense of direction and location. An alternate route draws out questions like “Where are we going?” and “This is not the way home??” I remember saying “It’s just a different way.”

This applies to God’s will too. Though we may not recognize the route, we can always know that God is propelling us toward His glory.

Let’s Tie It All Together

Over the last 3 days, we have talked about some things that I want you to think about this weekend. Go back and carefully read Romans 12:1 & 2 again.

  • How does a living sacrifice act?
  • What are you worshiping? We are always worshiping something!
  • What is the best way not to conform to this world? (Hint: It is in the 2nd half of the verse.)
  • Does God change His will to please us?
  • Where is the best place to be in any possible situation?

Let’s go to the Lord in prayer:

Lord, I do thank You for loving us and helping us grow in our knowledge and relationships with You. I thank You that You are very clear in Your Word about how we go about building our relationship with You. Please help us seek You to know You and glorify You with our lives. Help us to begin living Romans 12:1-2 in our daily lives.

Go Deeper Today:

John 17

 

 

Transformed

Questions

Are you looking to live a transformed life? Do you struggle with living your life in a way that just blends in with society?

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed any longer to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Today we are going to look at the first sentence of verse 2. Yesterday we looked at verse 1 and we will tie it all together tomorrow after we discuss the second half of verse 2.

Pressure

Our verse for today:

“Do not be conformed any longer to this world… “

I so often feel pressure, even in Christian circles, to fit in and be like everyone else. As Christians, we are supposed to be different but are we? Paul says here, that we are not to be conformed to this world. Peter calls us a peculiar people. Peculiar in our holiness, in how we love each other, in our priorities, etc. This has the potential to be a very long list, huh? We are to strive to look like Christ – looking more and more like Him as we know Him better and better. We are not supposed to blend in and we are supposed to be peculiar – obviously different from an unsaved person.

They Need a Savior, too.

Why? One reason is so that they can see Christ in us and so that He is glorified. We cannot be brazen or act as if we are elite. We are not elite, we have simply realized our desperate need for Christ as our Savior and Lord and they haven’t realized it yet. The differences are huge but the beginning difference is simply that. We realize that we need a Savior.

Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

Poor in spirit – means they are aware that they are so poor they are in spirit that they need a savior to step in and forgive them of their sins and reconcile them to Holy God. Only One could do that and He did. He is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God and He has made a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to God. His way is the only way to get to God. When we put our faith in Him to be saved then the transformation can begin.

Be Transformed

“…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

As we are not conforming and we are seeking to know God in His Word, we will be transformed. As we get to know God He transforms us into what He wants us to be a little at a time. If you rearrange the sentence –  it may shed more light on it:

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and you will not be conformed any longer to this world. (Dell’s rearrangement)

But, what does the word renew mean? God makes us new creations when we surrender our lives to Him. As we seek to know Him, in His Word, He teaches us to think more and more like He thinks. Renewing your mind is a gradual process of changing your mind but a wonderful and amazing process. Only by the power of God could reading a book make someone more like Jesus, but I have found this to be true. in my own life.

Sweet Victory

At a time when I was really struggling with a particular temptation sin in my life, I went into an intense time of study in God’s Word. Though this is a good way to fight temptation, I did not do it to fight the temptation. I just happened to be in a Bible Study that had a lot of homework so I was spending an hour or more daily, five days a week digging and studying in my Bible. After a few weeks of this study, it occurred to me that I was not struggling with that temptation to sin anymore. Without me even trying to get victory over it, I had gotten that victory because God had changed my mind while I spent time in His Word. So beautiful! Don’t you just love HIm!!

When I realized that I was no longer struggling I was amazed. I then understood what I had always heard about not trying to be like Jesus under my own power. That is when I understood that seeking to know Him in His Word would make me different. I do not have to make myself different, I only need to seek God. He will make me different. He is so very good to us!

Coffee Beans to Coffee

Illustrations are supposed to touch your emotions. I can get emotional about coffee. Can you?

We have a cold brew coffee system at our house. It can make great coffee. We buy whole bean coffee because nothing tastes as good as coffee made with freshly ground beans.

If I just throw the beans in the top of the system and add water, then let the water down into carafe immediately we will not get nice rich flavorful coffee. However, if I grind the beans into grounds and fill the tank with the ground coffee and water and let it sit for 24 hours, nice rich flavorful coffee is what we will have.

Kind of like that cold brew – If we glance at a verse while we are running on the treadmill or driving down the road – we are not steeping nearly long enough to get the desired result. We must be in God’s Word in a substantial way. If we are faithful in this, He will be faithful. He loves you and wants this for you!

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You, Lord, for being faithful to who You are! I am so grateful that You walk with us through our days. Help us to bring You glory in all we do! Please help us to know You very well. Help our time in Your Word to be fruitful and thank You for transforming us by Your power! Thank You!

Go Deeper Today:

John 15:1-8

Living Sacrifices

The Key

This passage of scripture is so easily glanced over. It is such a great passage and we should take time to feast on it – feast on it and savor it. Truly, it is a scriptural key to our close walk with Christ.

Romans 12:1-2

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

Today we begin a 3 day series in Romans 12:1-2. I hope you can join us all three days!

Let’s go to the Verse:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy… “

Paul is saying here in verse 1, for us to keep in mind what God has done for us as we think of how we live our lives. As you go through your day, do you keep what God has done for you forefront in your mind? I know I do not, not all the time. Paul tells us very plainly here that we need to.

Let’s back up a little. Take a minute or two to see what the “therefore,” is there for. It wraps up what has already been said and the following verses hang on it. All of Romans is about God’s mercy, The text before this “therefore” is about God’s huge act of mercy toward us. The text after it is about our response to His huge act of mercy.

“…to offer your bodies as living sacrifices… “

Does this mean that God demands human blood sacrifice on some kind of horrid altar? No. It says, “living sacrifices” so what is a living sacrifice?

If I sacrifice something, I give it up for them or to someone else. In this instance, I give it up to God and for God. He wants us to sacrifice our purpose for our lives and take on His purpose. He wants us to be His and His completely. In view of His merciful act upon the cross, it is reasonable that we give up everything for and to Him.

“…holy and pleasing to God… “

As we seek Him to know Him our lives will be effected by His life in us. He will help us to live lives that are holy and pleasing to Him. We give up that control and be living sacrificesand He makes us what He wants us to be.

“… – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Constant Worship

I have heard it said, and know it to be true, that we all worship all the time. It is only what we worship that is in question. 

If we live in obedience to God, we will live sacrificially. Obedience is one form of worship. We do not just worship when we sing praise and worship songs. God wants me and you to worship Him with our entire life. The benefits are huge but the actual reward…

Genesis 15:1

“After this, the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

We will definitely benefit from our obedience – yes – but our reward is to get to walk closely with God in our lives. He is the reward. Let us worship Him with our obedience.

Let’s got to the Lord in Prayer:

May it be so in our lives, Lord! Help us to obey You day in and day out and  please help us, to keep what You did for us forefront in our minds. Help us also to live in response to that knowledge and to  to live out our lives pleasing You alone! In Jesus holy name, I do pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 4:23-24

 

God Works for Good

God Works All Things for Our Good

Romans 8:28 NIV

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes.”

I have heard this taken out of context so often – actually only taking part of the verse and trying to apply it to someone’s life when trying to encourage them.  The misquote would be something like this: “Now you know that God is going to work everything out for your good.”

Who Does This Apply To?

Our God, the God of the Bible is inherently good and He wants to do good things for His children but in situations where the person has rejected Him as Lord and Savior, I am afraid this scripture does not apply. It sounds harsh, but this verse is talking about believers in Christ. No Matter what kind of problem a person has, if they are without Christ, that is their biggest and worst. That they need God to fix their daily problems is peripheral, the fact that they are lost and headed for an eternity separated from God Himself is the real problem. Salvation is the starting place.

When we as Christians apply this verse to our own lives, we may have questions. Bad things definitely happen to Christians, too, so sometimes its hard not to wonder why. It is hard to see this scripture in action unless we really slow down and look at it.

A Disclaimer

Before I go into this next part of today’s devotional, I want to say, that we have been so blessed to be able to have healthy children. God does not choose this for everyone and I am thankful, so please do not let this in any way seem like I am complaining or making our story more than it is.

Private Lesson

When Joseph was eight years old, he was diagnosed with a chronic sinus disease. He periodically had to have surgery to manage it. When facing his very first surgery, the date was set for a month before the actual surgery. I was not and still am not very good at waiting for something that is in the near future – good or bad. For those few days and weeks, we worked to reassure him and talk to him about how he could trust God and how much God loved him. Meanwhile, inside I was on the verge of just losing it. I was in such a knot, I thought at any moment I might just implode. As much as I was trying to help him to trust God, I was really struggling to trust God myself.

2 Days Prior

One of the things we talked about often at our house was how God teaches us things about Him through the hard times. A couple of nights before the surgery he asked me, “Momma, how do I ask God to teach me what He wants to teach me through this?” This question was unprompted.  I realized through him, my precious eight-year-old little boy, asking that question, that God was definitely at work and He was teaching us all what Romans 8:28 means. 

Let’s go to the Verse:

“And we know… “

Not we think – we know. I want to know God, His character, His personality… I want to know where He stands in and on our life experiences. What are His opinions? We can know.

Big Picture

“…God works all for the good… “

God is not limited by time so He can see the whole picture all at once. As a result, He takes all our life experiences and weaves them together for a good outcome – for His glory and for our good. One thing we can always know about God is that He always does things in keeping with His character. He will never do anything that does not ultimately glorify Him and when it glorifies Him it also benefits us.

Do You Love Him?

“…of those who love Him… “

Here is the clincher! According to the verse itself, it only applies to those who love God! That is how most people who apply it wrongly do so. The word love in the Bible is not taken lightly. It does not get thrown around like it does in our society today. Do you love really Him? If we love Him we will put Him first – before ourselves.

His Glory – His Purpose

“…who have been called according to His purpose.”

His purpose, at the very least, is that He be glorified. He knows that His glory will draw people to a saving knowledge of Him! That people see Him rightly (glorifying Him) is the reason we as Christians are still on this earth.

The Crux of the Matter

How about that – our reason for being on this earth, is for God’s glory. That is our main purpose for living. Think about it this way: Do people see the love and goodness of God in your life? Does your life make people want the kind of relationship with God that you have?

So then, everything works together for good for us – good on God’s terms and that will bring Him glory and be good for us. May this be so in all our lives! As we head into our next storm, let’s keep in mind that God knows exactly what is happening in clear detail. He knows how to make it all come together for His glory and our good. We may not be able to see the big picture but we can trust Him because He can see it.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You for loving us, Lord! Thank You that You are in control and You are able to work things out exactly the way they need to work out. Help to simply trust You, knowing that You are truly in control and You love us. I love You, Lord! Help me to love You more. In Jesus wonderful name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

James 1:1-12

Finding Rest

Finding Rest

Matthew 11:28 NIV

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What a tender beautiful God we serve! Finding rest that stays with you – I just breathe a sigh of relief when I read this passage. Jesus does not want us to even attempt going through our lives alone. He knows the challenges we face and the burdens we carry. He wants to carry them for us. Sounds too good to be true, huh? But it is true!

To the Verse:

“Come to Me… “

Coming to Jesus Christ is the starting place. Once we believe in Him as Lord and Savior, we are positionally in Christ. However, I think that our burdens being lightened depends on the closeness of our walk most of the time. I have had times in my life when God, in all His mercy and grace miraculously reached into my situation and lightened my burden before I cried out to Him, but most of the time He has wait for me to give it up to Him, admitting that I cannot handle it myself.

A daily, moment by moment, close walk with Christ makes this so much easier, because the better we know Him the more we realize how desperately dependent we really are on Him.

Weary and Burdened

“…all you who are weary and burdened… “

These days most people are burdened with heavy loads, it seems. Christ is calling us to come to Him.

Ah, Yes! Rest!

“…and I will give you rest.”

When you are burdened with something, do you tend to wrestle with it constantly? I know I do. Every minute that my mind is free from a thoughtful, is full of the burden, and I wrestle with it all day. It is exhausting, isn’t it?

Have you experienced the rest that comes from God? It washes over you like a cool breeze on a hot, humid day. The rest that comes from Christ is real rest; restoring rest. One definition of the word “rest” is –  to cease striving. I love that, especially when I putting it up against the wrestling I have been doing!

His Presence

This kind of rest comes when we learn to spend time seeking to Him in His Word and praying on a daily basis. He calls us to come to Him first, then He will give us rest.

Come to Jesus in a deeper, more intimate relationship. Sit at His feet and lay your burdens down. He does not mean for you to carry the load that weighs so heavy on you. He wants you to know Him and trust Him with the things that make you weary from carrying them.

Let’s take time to sit at His feet – spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. Let’s seek to know Him (Jeremiah 29:13) with all our hearts. Then, we will know that we can trust Him with our burdens.

He Is Waiting

My dear friend, He is waiting for you to come to terms with the fact that you cannot carry the load you bear. He wants you to drop it at His feet and live in the freedom that He bought for you on the cross. As we live out this total freedom that there is in Christ, we will live our lives in gratitude, in worship, and in obedience.

When we hold onto the things that burden us, our focus is not on Christ but on those things. When we give them to Christ, He gives us joy and the strength to focus on Him and in turn, we bring Him glory with our lives. God is so good! What a generous, gracious and loving God He truly is.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank You so much for Your Word and the truth that You give us to help us to walk with You in a way that brings You glory. Thank You for helping us to see how You want us to walk in a way that glorifies You and thank You for helping us to then do just that. Help us to Know You in such a way that we can trust You with our burdens and know that You are so very trustworthy! I pray for each one reading this today. I ask You that You would strengthen all of us for Your glory. Draw us to You and help us know You. In Jesus beautiful name, Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 121:1-8

Prophetic Tapestry

Old Testament Prophecy

Old Testament prophecy ties to the New Testament in tantamount ways. It is a Prophetic Tapestry that from beginning to end, weaves a picture Christ and His coming to set us free from our sin for the glory of God. We will only touch the surface today. There are literally hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Long Before Bethlehem

Matthew 2:4-6

When he(King Herod) had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”

Herod took Old Testament prophecy very seriously when the Magi came in search of the recently born king of the Jews. Because of this verse which is actually a quote from Micah 5:2(written around 700 years before the birth of Christ), He felt that his power was going to be challenged. We see in Matthew 2:16-18 that he had all the male children in the area under two years old killed. He took it very seriously. This horrible act also fulfilled another prophecy – in Jeremiah 31:15(written around 600 years before the birth of Christ).

One of the things this shows us is that God did not just look at our pitiful helpless state one day and say, “Oh, I think I’ll have mercy on these pitiful souls who have rebelled against me at every turn.”

The Original Plan

1 Peter 1:18-21

“For you know that it is not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him.”

The plan that God send His beloved Son to die for us was in place before God even created the earth. This was not Plan B – it was His original plan!

I am so glad that I am not in control of everything because I would have looked at the big picture and said: “Forget it! I’m not hassling with those stupid people for the next several thousand years!”

On the contrary, He did create us, knowing what aggravation we were going to be from day 1. That blows my mind and makes me love Him more! He is such a wonderful loving God and He shows us His mercy and His grace over and over. Despite the hassle, He made us, loves us, and makes a way for us.

Beautiful Ties

Hosea 9:4

“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.”

We talked a little about OT prophets earlier this week. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet(nearly 800 years before the birth of Christ) and this was directed at Israel, but Christians are the New Covenant people of God so we can know that this applies to us as well. This same “language” is used several times by Jesus when He is teaching.

A Shared Yoke

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus’ yoke is a shared yoke. When a farmer has a young ox to train, he will yoke it with an ox that has already been trained. The more experienced ox will do most of the work but the newer ox will be learning from the experience. Similarly, we are yoked with Christ so that He can make us what He wants us to be. The awesome thing is that we need only to cooperate with Him as He does the work.  

True Bread

John 6:32-33, 35

“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'”

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.'”

As important as food and water are for our physical health, so much more important is the food and water that Jesus gives us – food and water for our spirits. He nourishes us and refreshes us as we walk with Him daily.

Rich Vibrant Threads

This is just a taste of how Old Testament prophecy weaves together with the New Testament. The Old Testament is a beautifully woven pre-cursor for the New Testament. It all weaves together to give us a rich, vibrant, intricately detailed picture of our wonderful God and how He has made a beautiful way for us to get back to Him. Never disregard it as outdated. Jesus said in:

Matthew 5:17-18

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

As you are reading your Bible this week, when you see a quote in the New Testament, take a minute and check it out. See where it is in the Old Testament. There are usually references at the bottom or in the side margin to tell you where it is in found. It is really amazing how God has tied them together.

Let’s Go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, thank You so much for loving us and reaching into our world and saving us. Thank You for bending down to feed us. Please, help us to seek You diligently in Your Word to know You better day in day out. Help us to glorify You in all we do. May our lives be always growing toward You. In Jesus beautiful Name, Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 1:1-6

 

 

Just a Clay Pot

Just a Clay Pot

We are going to continue the clay/potter line of thinking today. The more I think about myself as the clay and God as the potter, the more similarities I see. I am no more than a pot among earthen pots.

Isaiah 45:9

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to Him who formed it, ‘What are You making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”

Getting Serious Quickly

I hope this entry does not sound like a scolding in any way. I am simply seeing how seriously we need to take God’s plan and His hand as He molds us. Sometimes, I forget Who I am dealing with… the Maker of the Universe, the Lover of My Soul, the One Who poured out His very blood for me. We can get comfortable in our relationship with Him… far too comfortable! Who am I, to disagree with this One – God Almighty –  who I have just described.

No Pain No Gain

So easy to say. I do not like being uncomfortable and I really do not like pain. When the Potter pulls that spout out of the side of that perfectly round rim, it is uncomfortableWhen the He cuts in the hash marks to attach the handle, it hurts!

But, you know? I do really want to be like Jesus and I know you do too!

Usefulness

So really… how much more useful is a pitcher than a vase? Without the handle and the spout, that is what you have:  A vase. It may be pretty to look at but how useful is it? Give me the hash marks and the spout, thank you! God is making useful vessels not ornaments for the mantle. Don’t you want to be useful in your Master’s hand? Beautiful of course, like Jesus, but He did not just come down here and sit around, did He? Beautiful – like Jesus.

Let’s go to the Verse:

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him… “

How often do we disagree with what God is doing in their lives? Many times I hear people say that they have known that God is calling them to do something and they ran in the other direction… like Jonah, actually. Me? I usually disagree by reminding Him of ALL my inadequacies and then deciding I must be hearing wrong. 

Brazen Audacity

We definitely do need to be sure we are listening to for God’s voice and staying in His Word. Stating inadequacies looks like humility to us, but to God, it looks like sinful pride. That may seem like a very bold thing for me to say, and it is. The reason I can say it so boldly is because I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit about it. The reason it is pride is that I must have some more brazen audacity to think that God would call me to do something that I could do without Him!

Remember in 2 Corinthians 12:9, when Paul asked God to relieve him of the thorn in the flesh that tormented him? What was God’s response? He said that in our weakness, He is strong. If we cannot do the thing He calls us to do, but He does it through us, who gets the glory?? He does not call us because we are able.

Earthen Pots

“…a pot among earthen pots!”

Pottery is made out of clay and that is dirt, right? And God actually formed Adam from the dust of the earth. Yep, also dirt.

In Bible times, broken pottery was thrown in a field called a potter’s field. the potter would go out and collect broken pottery, grind it into a fine powder and make new clay with it.

Nothing more than broken pots – arguing with our Maker and the Maker of the Universe? Pretty ridiculous isn’t it?

Who is Accountable to Who?

“Does the clay say to Him who formed it, ‘What are You making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”

Obviously, real clay does not have the ability or sense to ask questions of its potter. God has given us both, and what we must not do is attempt to hold God accountable for the tools (circumstances) He uses to shape us. We must never forget that God does not answer to us. It is quite the reverse actually, huh?

Even when what is happening does not make any sense to us at all, we must trust God that He knows exactly what He is doing and exactly how to accomplish it in our lives.

What are your goals? Will you have to argue with the Potter to get them?? It won’t be worth it in the end! Easy for me to say; hard for me to do. His best is best! You know it too!

Let’s Go To the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, I do thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for showing us so clearly, how we are to deal with how You work on us. Sharpen the rough places, cut hash marks, pull out spouts, bore holes, whatever You need to do, Lord, please make us like You. Help us to be about Your business and Your glory! In Jesus Name I pray. Amen

Clay in the Hand of the Potter

Clay in the Hand of the Master Potter

Jeremiah 18:5-6

“Then the word of the LORD came to me, ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you what the potter does?’ declares the LORD. ‘Like the clay in the hand of the potter, so you are in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Last time, we talked about verses 3 and 4 of this chapter. Today, we will continue in that vein of thought through verses 5 and 6, putting ourselves in the place of the clay knowing that God is the ultimate potter.

Making a Useful Vessel

If the potter wants to make a pitcher, he takes the prepared lump of clay, when it is pliable and moldable in his hand and smacks it down in the center of the potter’s wheel. He must smack it down firmly so that it makes a good fix to the wheel. Otherwise, it may break loose under the pressure of his hand as the wheel spins. Once it is fixed firmly to the wheel, he begins to spin the wheel and form it with his hands. He drives his thumbs down into the center of the lump and begins raising the sides. When he has the main body of the pitcher made he cuts hash marks in two small areas where he then attaches a handle to the spots he has made ready. He then pulls out a spout on the other side.

Finishing the Vessel

When it is shaped to his satisfaction, he cuts it from the wheel and places it on a shelf to dry. Once it is dry, he puts it in the kiln and fires it at an extremely high temperature. Then he glazes it, allows it to dry, and fires it again.

The Risk of the Potter

At any point, the vessel may crumble, crack or break, but if it holds together through the second firing the potter will be pleased with it and either use it in his house or sell it for someone else to use in their house.

You are Here

Let’s put ourselves in the place of the clay and know that God is Master Potter. Just think about the whole process of the vessel, as described above. If we are pliable and moldable and do not crumble, crack or break as He makes us into what He wants us to be. Then, He will be pleased and use us for His glory. As believers, when we were saved, at that very moment Jesus covered us in His righteousness. The Master Potter now wants to make us useful to Him by changing us (sanctifying us) little by little, through different circumstances, into what He wants us to be for His glory.

The Firing Process

After past trials, with my lessons hopefully learned and my heart hopefully looking a little more like the heart of Christ, I would breathe a big sigh of relief and think, “Whew! Maybe I’m done now.”

That makes me laugh a little. I know now that the trials will not end until I stand before Him face to face. That is when I will be done and that is when you will be done. Then you and I will stand before Him in the glorified bodies He will give us when our lives on earth are done.

Oh, I still have so much that needs to be done by the Master Potter. If He did it all at once, I am sure I would crumble. I am so thankful that it is a slow process, step by step. What a wonderful place to be – in the Hand of the Master Potter!

Our Passage One More Time

Jeremiah 18:1-6

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear My words.” So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer

Thank You so much, Lord, for Your beautiful Word. I am so encouraged by Your loving care and work in our hearts. Help us to be so ready to cooperate with You as You work Your will into our hearts and lives. Help us recognize You at work and help us glorify You in each step. In Jesus holy name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Timothy 2:20-21

 

 

Who is in Charge Here??

Who is in Charge Here?

Who is in charge, do you stop and think about it? Living today in our world, it is very easy to lose sight of the fact that, as Christians, we do not call the shots. Our decisions are to be based solely on God’s will and that alone. How do we know what God’s will is? Most of the time we can find out in His Word. Other times we can ask ourselves, “Is this going to bring me and others closer to God?” If you have been walking with God very long, and have grown in your relationship with Him, you know His character well enough to know when something is not in keeping with His character and therefore, His glory.

Old Testament Prophets

Jeremiah was a prophet of God. He lived in Old Testament times. Presently, in certain denominations, you hear of visiting “prophets” who are coming to preach/speak. In my experience with “prophets” of today, they quite different from the Old Testament prophets. In the Old Testament, prophets were given the word of the LORD directly from Him, usually to correct the people of God or even announce that God’s judgment was imminent. I wanted to set up a little context with verses 1 and 2. Today we will look closely at verses 3 and 4, then tomorrow we will look at verses 5 and 6.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 (focusing on verses 3&4 today)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear My words.” So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Our single purpose for living is to bring glory to God with our lives. We can only do that as He makes us useful vessels for His glory. No matter how hard we try – we cannot do this ourselves. Only God, the Potter, can make us into vessels for His glory.

Let’s go to the Verses:

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and saw him working at his wheel.”

The wheel and the potter’s hands are the circumstances that form the clay into a vessel. Without them, a lump of clay remains just that, a lump of clay – not fillable or useful.

“And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand… “

How the clay responds to its circumstances determines how effective the circumstances are at forming a useful vessel. If the clay is pliable and moldable under the pressure of the potter’s hands working along with the turning of the wheel, then the potter will be able to very quickly get the vessel into the shape he wants. If the clay is stiff, hard and/or resistant to the work of the potter then the potter may find the clay to be marred in his hands. In this case, he will have to start over with the vessel by pounding it back into a smooth lump.

“…and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”

Pliable and Moldable

Just like the clay in the potter’s hands, we are in God’s hands. He knows what He wants us to be and He allows and even uses circumstances in our lives to mold us and shape us into vessels for His glory.

Hard times are going to come in the life of every person – Christian or non-Christian. As Christians, people who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have surrendered our lives to Him, we are not immune to difficulty, in fact, we are promised it will come. (James 1:2-4) It comes for a reason!

When those times come, there are a couple of ways God has shown me to help me be pliable and moldable in His hands:

  1. Stay in God’s Word! Do not let trouble keep you from God’s Word. Then is when you need His strength the most.
  2. Pray. My basic prayer during trouble is something like this:

“Lord, help me to know You better so I can trust You more. Please help me learn what it is You are teaching me here. Help me not to resist as You make me what You want me to be. Make me all Yours, Lord.”

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You so much, Lord, for putting things in terms we can understand. Help us to cooperate with You as You mold us and make us what You want us to be.  Let us be pliable and moldable in His hands.May we bring You great pleasure as You forms us into the image of Christ, ready at You touch to be a vessel for You to fill with Your glory. Help us to know You better and better through Your Word and help us to seek You in every single step we take. Help us to make every step toward You. Be glorified in us! In Jesus beautiful name. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10