Vessels of Honor

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Romans 9:21 (KJV), “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”

Romans 9:21 (NIV), “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”

Do you want to be used for special purposes, or just for common use? God is the Master Potter and we are the work of His hands. His intention for each one of us is to be used for special purposes, to be vessels of honor. He has gifted us and given us talents with this in mind. Not one of us is meant to be the “chamber pot”! Instead we are to be the beautiful vase, or the chalice of a king. Unfortunately we don’t listen, or we listen and don’t obey, or we think we can’t hold water, or are too dirty to hold the kings wine. Sometimes we don’t like the process that it takes to become that vessel of honor. Clay has to go through quite the process to become anything. It is dug out of the ground, uprooted from its comfort zone. Then it is kneaded to get all the air bubble out. Next, it is thrown on the wheel, not carefully placed, thrown. The potter uses his hands and different sharp implements to shape and cut the blob of clay into the shape he wants. Most of the work is done on the inside, invasive, in the beginning and the outer work is finished up last. After all of that work, the final stage is the fire. Only through trials and through trouble can we become solid and usable.

Jeremiah 18:1-4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down at once to the potter’s house; and there I will reveal My words to you.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, working away at the wheel.  But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.”

So maybe we got off track and we became flawed. Don’t fret; we are still in the Potter’s hands. This is the safest place to be! Allow Him to remake us. It isn’t always easy. In pottery class I learned a lot. Any piece can be broken down and crushed into dust. Then it is soaked in water until it is soft and pliable, only then can it be remade. If you have allowed your heart to be hardened, it will take longer and may be more painful. But always, God can start new with us.

II Timothy2:19-26 (NIV), “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Looking at those verses in II Timothy we can see how vessels of honor behave:
1. They name the name of Jesus.
2. They abstain from wickedness.
3. They are prepared for every good work.
4. They flee youthful lusts.
5. They pursue righteousness, faith, peace, and love.
6. They ignore foolish speculations (gossip, assumptions.)
7. They are not quarrelsome.
8. They are kind to all.
9. They are able to teach.
10. They are patient when wronged, gently correcting those in opposition, with the intent of helping them come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil.

So what will it be? Will you surrender your heart to God, The Master Potter, and allow Him to make you into something beautiful?

The Awesomeness of God

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“Sheol (the place of the dead) is naked before God, and Abaddon (the place of destruction) has no covering [from His eyes]. He it is Who spreads out the northern skies over emptiness and hangs the earth upon or over nothing. He holds the waters bound in His clouds [which otherwise would spill on earth all at once], and the cloud is not rent under them. He covers the face of His throne and spreads over it His cloud. He has placed an enclosing limit [the horizon] upon the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. The pillars of the heavens tremble and are astonished at His rebuke. He stills or stirs up the sea by His power, and by His understanding He smites proud Rahab. By His breath the heavens are garnished; His hand pierced the [swiftly] fleeing serpent. Yet these are but [a small part of His doings] the outskirts of His ways or the mere fringes of His force, the faintest whisper of His voice! Who dares contemplate or who can understand the thunders of His full, magnificent power?” Job 26:6-14

Yep, God is awesome. Read Job, He even tells us in His own words how great He is! How can we be anything less than humble when we realize how magnificent He really is. So why do we, at times, think He can’t perform what He promised? Why do we put the God of the Universe in a puny box and say our problems are too big for Him? Abraham was given a promise that could never take place in the natural. He said, “Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?” (Gen 18:14a).

Numbers 23:19
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
God is able and willing to perform what He has promised. Look at Exodus 14. Moses had the people at the edge of the Red Sea, this was part of God’s plan. Pharaoh and his army of chariots were thundering down on the escaped slaves. Naturally they panicked. Moses told them in verse 14, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” How many times have we heard that one quoted as “Be still and see the power of God” and truly He does deliver in His mercy as we sometimes rest, but lets move on to verse 15-16. God corrects what Moses has just told the people. “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” His plan wasn’t for them to be still, but to ACT! Moses knew that God would deliver them, but God wanted them to act on that belief. That’s faith, putting actions to out belief and our hope.

God is awesome! He is also our Father. When your father is God, what can stop you?

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The Foundation of Hope

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We all hope in something. Some of us place it in fate, in our abilities, our jobs, our education, in the government, or maybe our family and friends around us. Maybe all of the above. A lack of hope or hope that doesn’t come to an expected in can get us down and depressed. God says in Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” We have all expected something, hoped for it and then when the outcome was delayed or didn’t come to pass, were heartbroken over it. Maybe you prayed for your marriage, only to see it come to a divorce, or prayed for your child, only to see them walk down the wrong path. There are so many letdowns in this life, not getting that promotion or that raise, no tax return, no weight loss, no publishers sweepstakes, etc. That is why it is so important that we place our hope in God. All the other places aren’t able to give us what we hope for. They will come through part of the time, or part of the way, at best. But they will never give us our hearts desire. (Psalm 37:4).

“But I have placed my hope in God, and I still got passed over for that promotion, my child is still in jail, and the government kept my money and I didn’t get a return.” Sound familiar? I’ve heard it, thought it, and (surprise) even said it.In Hebrews 11, verse one says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We tend to hope, but leave out faith. We hope for it, that is the foundation of our faith. Faith only comes when we first have hope. We hope for better, then we ask God for it, next we stand in faith, in His promises, and believe He will do it. It may not be in our timeframe, or exactly how we envisioned it, but it will come. I waited twenty three years for the miracle in my marriage. I had “hope deferred” and a sick heart. But God came through. I honestly think it would have happened so much faster had we both cooperated more and whined less.

Maybe you are facing the hardest battle in your life up until now, cancer, betrayal, death of a loved one, financial ruin… Let’s take a look at Job. We all know his story. Satan accused God of too much protection and favor, when God pointed out His righteous servant Job. (Yep, God called attention to him.) Satan in his love for suffering asked God to take His hand of protection off of Job and promised God that Job would curse Him. Job lost everything, and I mean everything. All he had left was a wife, who told him to “curse God and die” after Satan was given permission to inflict his body, but not take his life. In Chapter 17 he seemingly loses hope, “where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me?” But later in Chapter 19, versed 25-26 Job responds in hope, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Finally in Chapter 33 Job not only gets more than he started with concerning his possessions, God grants him seven more children. “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” (verses 16-17).

Hope in the wrong source is worthless. Hope in God without faith is useless. Get to know Him, and you will trust Him more. Hope makes us stronger and stronger. Hope is the only foundation for faith. Romans 8:24 says,
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” We hope for things we do not already possess. Then true faith is the evidence that we are hoping for it. If there is no faith, then there isn’t a true hope. No true trust in the one who is able to perform for us. (Hebrews 10:23).

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Prayer

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Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for your promises, that are always “yes” and “Amen”, to your glory. Thank you for your love, which is shed abroad in my heart, and for the shed blood of Jesus, for your Holy Spirit who leads and guides into all truth. Who comforts and encourages us. Who convicts of sin and convinces of righteousness. Thank you for your grace and mercy, and your joy (which is my strength). Help me to treat others as you would, to help and encourage. To esteem others more highly than myself. To not grow weary in well doing, but to persevere and press on in doing good. Strengthen my feeble knees, and fan the flames in my heart. Help me to be bold in my testimony, in my profession of faith. Help me to be humble and teachable. I choose to run the race with patience, not turning to the right or the left, but to fix my face like flint, to keep my eyes on the prize (Jesus), and to stand against all the works of the evil one. I choose to not only defend myself and those around me from the enemy, but to be on the offensive, to attack, to go into the enemies camp and take back what he has stolen. I choose to put off the former ways of the world and my flesh and to put on the robes of righteousness that you gave me through the death and resurrection of your son. I take on life and health and a sound mind. I accept and receive all the blessings you have prepared for me, before the foundation of the world. I choose you, Jesus, again, as my Lord and King. I choose the Kingdom of love and light, and renounce the kingdom of lies and darkness. I choose you, Lord, as my Father, because you first chose me. I thank you for coming humbly to this earth, to experience what we do, as a man. For giving up the your kingly robes and crown, for taking up the role of a servant. I thank you that after fulfilling all that was needful to purchase my redemption, you took back your crown and rule and reign as my King.

Changin the Way We Think

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There are two kinds of thoughts. Godly and ungodly. We, as Christians need to make sure that our thought patterns are Godly. Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

We can’t trust our senses. They lie, and mislead. They may at times give us “facts” but they don’t always give us “TRUTH.”

We can’t trust what we see. For example, Elijah’s servant saw a great army surrounding them. God and Elijah saw the army of the Lord there to defend them. The disciples saw 5 loaves and 2 little fish. Jesus saw a feast, enough to feed 5,000 men plus women and children.

We can’t trust what we can hear. The woman with the issue of blood had heard nothing but bad news from the doctors and had spent every penny she had to hear it. But the TRUTH was that Jesus came to bring healing to her. The Israelites believed the bad report of the 10 spies. Only Joshua and Caleb believed the Lord’s report and were able to pass into the promised land.

Facts-versus-TRUTH. There is a huge difference between facts and TRUTH. Don’t ever get the two confused. The fact was that Elijah was surrounded by an army. But he TRUTH was that there were more warrior for them than were against them.

Satan used ‘facts’ against Jesus. He could have given everything over to Jesus, as he promised on the temple mount, legally Satan owned it all. But the TRUTH was that by doing it God’s way, Jesus not only got it all for Himself, but for us as well. God’s plan is always better than Satan’s schemes.

We can’t let what others say, good or bad, carry more weight than what God says. There are millions of people who have bought into the lies that we all go to heaven, that there is no hell, that there are many roads to heaven, and even that we evolved out of some primordial slime and when we die we become fertilizer for the next evolutionary change. That this life is all there is.

In John 8:44, Jesus tells the religious leaders that Satan is “The father of lies.” In Verse 47 He goes on to say to those stiff-necked, hard-hearted people, “Whoever is of God, listens to God-those who belong to God hear the words of God. This is the reason you do not listen [to them, to me] because you do not belong to and are not of God or in harmony with God.” (AMP)

Jesus spent countless hours trying to dispel the lies that had come into the minds of God’s people. They believed that sickness, accidents and death at the hands of Rome were all due to sin. That they were all some type of divine punishment. They believed that they were the only one’s God loved, that they were better than any other nation because they “have Abraham as our Father.” Their mindset was to love their brother but hate their enemy. That their works earned them God’s favor and kept them righteous. All lies.

We need to line up our thinking with God’s word. Not out of context, not adding to or taking away from. Simple truth. God isn’t trying to trick us. He isn’t hiding from us, or trying to mislead us. Ask Him to show you His TRUTH and the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you there.

John 10:1-5 The Message Bible
“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through he gate, you know he’s up to no good-a sheep rustler! The shepherd walked right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”

Know His voice!

Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Have the mind of Christ.

Perfection

Matthew 5:48 “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect [that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity].

God see’s the end from the beginning. He can see the finish line, the finished product. He sees His children as perfect. As the Master Potter-He designed you just the way He wanted you. The whole time with the picture in His mind of what you will be when you are complete and mature.

But there is work to be done. Molding. Shaping. Kneading. Glazing. Firing. All to get us to the finished, expected end, a vessel of honor. The Master Potter never makes all of His vessels the same. He isn’t a mass-market-producer. He hand crafts each one individually. Some of us may have similar gifts and talents, similar calls on our lives, but we each have a special, individual personality that God uses in a unique way for his purpose. We can’t judge ourselves by what we see in others. We can’t think we are worse (or better) than anyone else. The Master Potter made you the way He saw fit.

God looks at me and sees the finished design. To Him, I have already made it through the fire, without cracking or breaking, with no flaws or blemishes, perfectly formed and beautiful. I may see my flaws, my mistakes and struggles. Or maybe I didn’t let the Potter finish the job, jumping out of the fire, trying to fashion myself in the image of what I want to be, or worse yet, how others see me. I have to place myself, willingly, in His hands, asking Him, “What do you want me to do,” and “Who do you want me to be.” Sometimes we have to start all from scratch and ask Him, “How do you see me,” and if we aren’t even close, ask Him to start over and re-make us again. It’s like looking at a blueprint before the foundation is even laid.

I am being perfected, through trials, test and just plain living. As I stand on His word and build a relationship with Him, connect with other believers and join a church family, I am growing and maturing. Those rough edges are being smoothed over just like river rocks.

I am being perfected by being patient and persevering. One pastor recently put it this way, “Persistence destroys resistance.” Refusing to back down or give up. I can’t grow weary in well doing. I press towards the mark. I run (or walk, sometimes plod) towards the finish line. Like Paul, I will win the prize! God’s strength keeps me going. His joy sustains me. His promises give me hope. There is Light at the end of the tunnel.

I haven’t arrived yet-but I am on my way!

“But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” James 1:4

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8

Who is Your God?

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I was saved at the age of six at a small meeting after school, in the house of a classmate. I don’t remember her at all, not even the school we attended, but I remember the beautiful Mexican woman, her mother, who led me to the Lord. She had lovely long jet black hair and wore a colorful dress from Mexico. Using her perfect storyteller’s voice with a soft accent and a flannel board, she captured my attention that day. She spoke of our shortcomings and failures, how our hearts were black and ugly, putting a black heart up on that board for us all to see. Then she told us of a Father whose love could clean those hearts. She called that Father ‘God’ and explained in a simple way how much he loved us. I have no memory of the cross or of Jesus’ shed blood, just a few simple words about love. Next, out came a blood red heart, cut perfectly without any frays or being lopsided, and covered that ugly black heart up, no longer visible. “God,” she said, “loves you so much, he wants to be your Father and give you a new heart.” Those words are words I will never forget.

A little six year old girl, a skinny freckle-faced, quiet, homely, lonely girl who had always felt unwanted and lost in a family of bright, athletic, beautiful and noisy children, found the love she had been longing for that day. His love called me, drew me and captured me that day. His love kept me and sustained me for years, I held on to that love. Time went on and without the nourishment of His word, I fell away and lost my security and acceptance, He hadn’t left, I had just slowly but surely, wandered away. I turned my back on God and tried to find what only he could give out in the world. Years of ugliness and abuse, drugs and alcohol, bad relationships and wrong choices taking me further from Him, and moving quickly to an early grave…and hell.

Then one glorious day, as I opened my heart to Him, there He was, where I had last left Him, waiting with open arms. His love was still calling me, drawing me and once again capturing me. This time there was Church Family, His Word, encouragement and support, correction and teaching. The cross and the sacrifice of Jesus, the help of the Holy Spirit all linked together with God’s Love. I have learned so much more about Him in the 29 years since returning to him. God to me is and will always be LOVE, all consuming, never ending love and acceptance. I am important to Him, special in my own way. I am beautiful to Him, wondrously made by Him.

So it saddens me when people say God is hard, harsh and distant. That He brings earthquakes, sickness and sorrow. Some have a picture of God as a dictating deity using us for His perverse entertainment, or a judgmental King threatening to punish the smallest infraction. But of all of the false beliefs about Him, the one that hurts me the most is that He is uncaring, that He could stop all suffering, but that He just refuses to do it. All have been deceived. Satan doesn’t want us to know who God truly is, that’s where our power and authority comes from, knowing who He is and who we are in Him. So he slander’s God and people believe it. We live in a fallen world that could only be purchased back by legal means; God is just and will not break His own laws. Jesus as the spotless lamb is the only one who could break the curse. He came and did just that, so now all who will believe and accept His sacrifice can live as children of God. But the world is still under the rule of Satan and under the curse, so bad things happen, some of our own doing, some of God’s doing and some a result of the state of things. Only good and perfect gifts come from the Father.

God has given us, His Children power and authority over this world to bring it under the authority of Heaven. Some cry and bemoan God’s supposed lack of help, when He has clearly told us to help, we are to change the world, accept His love, and stand in His Victory and strength. Take back what Satan was given by Adam when he fell. When we go through all of the hard stuff here on earth, we don’t go alone, and we go through. He is there with us. He gave us weapons to fight, armor to protect and angels to go before us. His love is a banner over us!

My God is LOVE. He’s a Mighty Warrior King who vanquishes my enemies. He is a Strong Tower of protection; His is my place of Refuge. He is my Salvation, my Savior. He is my caring and gentle Father. That is my God.

Who is your God?