Tag Archives: sanctification

August 6; Malleable

Jeremiah 14:1-15:9, 18:1-9:13, 24:1-10

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be malleable clay in the hands of a potter? Those hands pushing and stretching, applying pressure both firm and gentle, shaping and re-shaping toward a finished product only his mind can see?

Sometimes, if there is an imperfection, the potter might take the clay back to a formless clump by squeezing the clay between the palms of his hands. Then, once any trace of the imperfection is gone, the process begins again. The hands begin to knead, the wheel begins to spin, the fingers begin to work, and at just the right moment, a perfect form begins to appear, carefully fashioned by the potter’s hands.

Jeremiah is speaking to dry clay, hardened by drought, that would only break into pieces when the potter tries to form something beautiful. A clump of dry clay is fairly useless on a potter’s wheel.

But the potter, by adding just enough water to that dry clump, can restore it to a pliable form. Oh, it takes some strong hands to work that water through the crusty clay, to break it down, to soften it. But a skilled potter can restore that parched piece of clay, then form it into a beautiful, useful piece of pottery, that he can be proud of.

I want to be that malleable piece of clay in the hands of The Potter, the Creator God. I don’t want there to be any signs of dryness or imperfection, so that He can make me into something beautiful and useful for His purposes.

So I will continue to spend time in God’s Word every day. I’ll continue to let those Words apply pressure, push and stretch me. Because at the end of the day, at the end of my life, I want to look into the eyes of the Potter and see His approval as He looks at the woman He has fashioned from malleable clay.

 

March 29; What’s Stopping You?

Joshua 16:1-19:31; I Chronicles 4:24-33

The Israelites had crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. For some, that was enough. I find it interesting, and a bit sad, that only five of the twelve tribes got busy to take what was their’s. The other seven tribes, for whatever reason, seem to be satisfied with where they were.

Some of Joseph’s descendants complained they’d have to cut down some trees to occupy their portion, and expressed fear concerning the strength of the enemy they’d need to conquer. Joshua, in reply kind of said, “Get over yourselves.”

Some of the other tribes needed Joshua to come up with a detailed plan before they followed through.

So, considering your own spiritual Promised Land, which tribe do you most identify with? Are you one who dives in, who is always learning, and growing, and serving our great God? Is your walk with the Lord everything He wants it to be as you move ahead in faith and defeat the enemy that would prevent you from enjoying God in your life to the fullest?

Do you seem to be more like the tribes who didn’t move ahead, seemingly unsure of what to do, or content with the status quo?

Or maybe you, like Joseph’s clan see the enemy and think it’s too hard to step out in faith, to do the work required to gain the land? Does the thought of disciplining yourself to be in God’s Word every day, to live a life set apart, to resist sin, to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus just too hard?

As a child of God through the blood of Jesus, God wants you to live a vital, blessed, life with Him at the center. It doesn’t just happen. You can live on the outskirts, missing out on the benefits of an active relationship with Him. But He promises to be with you, to guide you, to be your friend and advocate. God wants to bless you with Himself.

What’s stopping you?

 

2 Kings 17-20; Cleaning House

When Hezekiah became king he did some housecleaning. He removed the idols the Jews had been worshiping, including the bronze serpent Moses had made while their ancestors were in the wilderness. Hezekiah didn’t want any trace of any false god in the land.

I never really thought about what that must have looked like to the neighboring nations. They were used to worshiping their “gods” at high places that were everywhere. Now here the Jews were demolishing their high places and limiting themselves to worship only one God, and only in one place. Ridiculous.

The Assyrian king interpreted this as vulnerability (chapter 18), and decided it gave him the means to defeat the Jewish nation. He didn’t understand the action taken by the Jews, because he was interpreting it though blind eyes.

The world is still judging God’s people through blind eyes. They see us obeying God as being judgmental, because they are judgmental. They see our stand against homosexuality as hateful because they are hateful. They see hypocrisy in us because they are hypocritical.

Christian, that’s why we have got to show them through our witness, both verbal and life-style, that they are wrong about us. If we hate homosexuals instead of loving them while hating the sin, we prove them right. If our language is as judgmental as theirs, they are right to call us judgmental. If our lifestyle doesn’t match our profession of faith, we deserve the label hypocrite.

When the Assyrian king tried to bully the Jews into surrender, they didn’t get caught up in a war of words. They didn’t return insult for insult. They kept their mouths shut. Then Hezekiah went to the Lord and allowed God to do His thing.

Non-Christians will continue to misunderstand us Christians until they become believers themselves. May we, as followers of the One True God, remove any visible signs of conformity to the world. May we worship God in Spirit and in Truth, and allow Him to do His thing in and through us. May we love people to the Savior at the same time we are standing on the Truth of Scripture.

In other words, may we do some spiritual housecleaning, and let God remove the world from us, so that the world can see Jesus through us.

Genesis 12&13 – Possess It

If God gave Abram the land, why haven’t they always lived there? Does this prove Scripture can’t be trusted? God even said He was giving Abram the land forever. Is God unable to keep His promises?

Did God fail? The failure lies right smack dab in the lap of His people. God may have given them the land, but they failed to possess it. They got side tracked. They deserted God and worshiped idols. The land was their’s forever, if they’d possess it. But they didn’t possess it.

I see a New Testament parallel here. It’s salvation, bought by Jesus’ blood, a gift we all have at our fingertips. But we need to possess it. God didn’t hold His people captive in Canaan. And He doesn’t force us to accept His grace. Just like the Jews, we have to defeat the enemy, clear the land, till the soil, repent, flee the devil, grow in grace, put on that armor of God.

Then we can live forever in the land.

September 28 – A Worthless Pledge

Nehemiah 6-10

The school where I was guidance counselor celebrated Red Ribbon Week each year. I always tried to make the emphasis fun, informative, and challenging. We’d ask students and staff to take a pledge to be drug-free. They’d sign a banner or a poster, then receive a red ribbon they would wear to show evidence of their pledge.

Student leaders were in charge of sitting at tables in the hallway and asking kids to sign the pledge and receive their ribbons. I’d often have them perform skits or share information during our morning announcements about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. We’d have contests, and try to make it cool to be drug-free.

Years later, I got a call from a young woman who had been one of my student leaders while she was in Middle School. She had recently asked Jesus into her life, and felt the need to confess some past sins to people she felt she had hurt. She told me that she had started using drugs in Middle School, that while she had been one of the more vocal advocates of a drug-free lifestyle, she had been using. She’d signed the pledge every year. She just didn’t keep her pledge and wanted to apologize for lying to me.

I read the list of names of the men who signed a pledge to obey God (Nehemiah 10) and wondered how many of them were able to keep their promises once the ink dried on the paper. Did they sign it like my young friend, not intending to keep their word, but because it seemed like the acceptable thing to do? Or did they sign it with good intentions, only later discovering they couldn’t hold to it? We know the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to obey God. Did any of those men succeed?

Sometimes I think we Christians are guilty of trying to get people to say the right words, raise a hand or kneel at an altar, or promising to change, then we walk away and assume we’ve done our part. But salvation isn’t a name on a ledger. Salvation isn’t even a promise to quit sinning. It isn’t church attendance, or praying for a meal at the restaurant.

The New Testament tells us we can recognize Believers by their fruit, their love for one another. The test isn’t church membership. It’s a life that look’s like Jesus’ life. It’s a person who thinks more highly of others than himself. It’s a heart that belongs to the Savior because that person has asked Jesus to forgive them.

I wish I had paid more attention to that young Middle School girl. Maybe I could have recognized the signs of drug abuse in her. I think because she said what I wanted to hear, I figured she was ok. She wasn’t.

Do you know a person who is young in their faith? Get to know them better. Nurture them. Hold them accountable out of love. Don’t assume because they went forward last Sunday that they will be ok. Those of us who have walked with God for a while now know that accepting Jesus is the first of many steps in this Christian life.

Walk with someone today who is learning to use their faith-legs. Your interest might be exactly what they need to help them keep the promises they’ve made to the Lord.

 

 

September 10 – All Of Me

Ezekiel 42-43

These chapters have me asking myself what it means to be the temple of God in 2016. It occurs to me I was thinking way too small.

I have asked Jesus into my heart. I’ve pictured my repentant heart as the place where God lives on earth. But as vital as my heart is, it’s not everything.

Ezekiel reports that God said, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of my feet…” (43:7)

Have you ever seen the old Steve Martin movie, “All of Me”? I think one of the funniest scenes in the movie is when the “spirit” of Lily Tomlin’s character enters Martin’s character. Watching Martin trying to navigate his steps, while being controlled by that spirit just cracks me up every time. Martin has to learn to walk, and talk, and move as one with that spirit. The challenge comes when Martin tries to take control and move independently of the spirit.

Being God’s temple is kind of like that. If God’s spirit is in me, He not only controls my thoughts and feelings, but my fingers and toes, my voice… all of me! His throne, His dwelling place, reaches down to the soles my feet.

And my life can’t be complete, I can’t maneuver through this life effectively, or be of any use to God, until I learn to move as one with His Spirit.

Father, Take all of me. My heart, my thoughts, down to the soles of my feet. May my arms be Your arms, my feet be Your feet, my elbows and knees and eyes and tongue, be controlled by You alone. I submit myself… all of me… to You.

 

Sept 7 – Breathe On Me

Ezekiel 35-37

As I read about Ezekiel’s experience with the dried up bones in the wilderness, the words of an Edwin Hatch hymn kept going through my mind. This is my prayer today:

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me life anew,
That I may love what Thou doest love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So I shall never die,
But live with Thee 
The perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

                         Amen