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“Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.”

~Amy Carmichael

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Becoming God’s Masterpiece – Part 1

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Jeremiah 18:1-6, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”

When a potter gets clay out of a pit, he cannot use it in it’s present state. It is dirty. The clay is helpless, because it cannot clean itself. The old-fashioned potter, like the potter of Jeremiah’s day, has a way in which he personally and patiently washes the clay. Only then can he use it.

God cannot use us as we are because of our sin. Just as the clay cannot clean itself, neither can we. Only the shed blood of Jesus can cleanse us from sin.

I John 1:7, “…and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

D.L. Moody said, “God doesn’t seek for golden vessels, and does not ask for silver ones, but he must have clean ones.”

quoteAfter the potter has washed the clay, he puts it on his wheel. It is very important for him to place the clay in the center of his wheel as the clay can only be shaped and molded when it is in this position.

In the same way, God can only mold us into a usable vessel when we are living in the center of His will.

Are you currently living in the place that God wants you to be?

Are you choosing daily to walk with Him according to His will?

The potter will then make the clay into whatever type of vessel he chooses. As the potter is forming the clay, he has a vision in his mind of what the clay will become. The potter does not explain this vision to the clay, as that, of course, would seem absurd. The clay does not posses the ability to understand the potter’s vision.

Even though we are all made from the same clay, the Lord has a specific purpose for each us. Every individual is made differently for a distinct purpose. As He is molding and shaping us, He has a specific vision of what we are to become. He brings pressures and trials into our lives to form us into His image. We do not always understand these things, but He knows what the end product is that He is seeking to create.

When the potter is finished shaping the vessel, he places it into the fire. The vessel is then placed into the oven on a stone. This stone has faced the fire before and is a picture of the Lord Jesus. Jesus has already faced the fire. We can trust Him because He has already gone before us and He goes with us into whatever “fires” we may go through. Trials and testing are not pleasant but are needful to make us more useful.

When the potter removes his work from the fire, he examines it. If it has withstood the fire, it becomes rock again. At this point, the potter has something useful but not yet beautiful. With his skillful hands, he paints his pieces and then covers them with a powder prepared from a rock of his own choice. This being completed, the pieces still have no beauty. He puts them back into the fire. The fire brings out the paint’s beauty, and the powder is changed to a beautiful glaze. The beauty covers all that was once clay.

Isaiah 43:2-4, “…when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee:”

God allows more trials to come into our lives as the years pass so that our lives may become beautiful to Him. As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, the beauty of Christ will be displayed in our lives.

Today, we will examine the first way we can become God’s masterpiece:

Becoming God’s Masterpiece: In Our WALK With God

When we are saved, we become a lump of clay in the hands of the Lord. The Potter only works with soft clay. We have to be willing to be molded into a beautiful vessel by the hands of the Lord. With every trial that comes in our lives, He is shaping us into what He would have us to be. God is looking for soft, pliable hearts.

If the clay is hard, the potter will spend days pouring water on it and pounding it thoroughly until it becomes soft. It took God 20 long years of “pouring and pounding” until Jacob’s heart became soft enough. Moses needed 40 years of desert life to become the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3) who could lead Israel out of Egypt.

The Bible warns us not to harden our hearts in Hebrews 3:15, “Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

We need to get in the word of God and allow it to work in us and transform our lives. The more we allow God to mold us and shape us according to His will, the more useful we will be to Him.

Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

God is working all of our trials together for good to shape us into the image or likeness of Jesus Christ. In order for the Lord to mold us, we need to walk close to Him. We need to be abiding in His presence on a daily basis. We need to be communicating with Him through prayer and allowing Him to communicate with us through His Word.

Are you walking close to the Lord so that He can shape you and mold you into a useful vessel? 

Stay tuned for part two of this series! We will take a look at two more areas we need to examine if we are going to become a useful vessel in the hands of the Lord.

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Counting My Blessings

 

The Product of Abiding – Part 4 Conclusion

The Product

The Purpose of Abiding – Part 1

The Pruning of Abiding – Part 2

The Process of Abiding – Part 3

In the final post of this series, we will look at The Product of Abiding.

The first product that we see is Fruit that remains.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:

God wants us to experience the abundance of His blessings. He wants our lives to bear lasting spiritual fruit. When we abide in Him we will experience lasting spiritual fruit in our own lives as well as in the lives of those whom we invest in.

At the judgment seat of Christ we will be rewarded according to the fruit that we have produced during our earthly lives. The key to producing eternal fruit is remaining in Christ.

The second product that we will experience is Joy that remains.

11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

How is your JOY? When we struggle with displaying true joy in our lives, it is a sign that we need to draw closer to Christ. Happiness is based upon our external circumstances, whereas joy is based upon our relationship with Christ. We cannot always control our external circumstances, but we can always find true joy in HIM. He desires for us to be filled with joy to the point of overflowing and being contagious to others.

Lastly, we will experience a Spirit-Filled Life.

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,”

Are these qualities displayed in your life?

We can only produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives if we are connected to the Vine. Others will see Christ-like qualities in us when we are walking in fellowship with Him.

As we conclude, I would like us to ask ourselves – are we truly abiding in the Vine?

If we are all honest, we all have room for improvement in this area.

I would like to challenge you to think of some practical ways that can help you to abide more in the Vine. Here are several that I have thought of and perhaps you can add your own:

  • Start a prayer list
  • Spend more time in prayer
  • Talk to God as you go about your day
  • Get into the Word more
  • Start memorizing and meditating on Scripture throughout the day – write Scripture on an index card
  • Examine your priorities – Is your relationship with God your first priority?
  • If you are struggling in this area, find someone to help keep you accountable

 

Andrew Murray said, “To be occupied with Christ is to abide in Christ.”

Is your life occupied with Christ? Is He first and foremost in your life?

If we want to experience the fruitful and abundant life that God intended for us, we must draw close to Him each and every day of our lives. It is a day by day, moment by moment decision to walk with Him.

James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”

God promises to draw nigh to us, but it first requires action on our part.

May we all be challenged to walk closer with Him!

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The Process of Abiding – Part 3

The Process

We have already looked at The Purpose of Abiding and The Pruning of Abiding. If you missed those posts, click on the titles to check them out.

Today, we are going to take a look at The Process of Abiding.

The first part of this process is that we must Lay Aside Those Things that Keep Us from Abiding.

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The first thing we must Lay Aside is the SIN in Our Lives.

It is important to keep a short account with God. Unfortunately, because of our human nature, we are going to mess up. However, when we are walking in close fellowship with God, we will know quickly when we have displeased Him.

The Lord cannot hear our prayers if we have sin in our lives.

Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”

Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

If we are not seeing answers to our prayers, we need to ask the Lord to search our hearts and show us if there is unconfessed sin.

Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:”

As a child of God, our relationship can never change; however, because of sin, our fellowship can. We cannot be truly abiding if we are harboring known sin in our hearts.

The second thing we must lay aside are the WEIGHTS or Other Distractions in our lives.

A weight is a burden. It is something that hinders our relationship with Christ. It may not necessarily be bad or sinful, but it distracts us from our main priority. We may be “serving” Christ, but if we are too busy to have a relationship with Him, our efforts will be fruitless. If we are not walking with Him, then our service will be done in the flesh rather than in the spirit.

Martha had this problem – she was so busy serving that she neglected the most important thing – her relationship with the Savior.

Luke 10:40-42, “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Sometimes, we can be doing so many different “things”, that we are unable to do even one thing well. Oftentimes in our culture, we equate busyness with productivity. Our life may be filled with many “good” things, while at the same time we are missing the best thing. A fruitful relationship with God requires times of just being still and listening to His still small voice.

We should constantly be evaluating our relationship with Christ, making sure that it is our main priority and that we are not being distracted by other things that may seem good.

The second part of the process is to Fill Our Lives with Things that Draw us Closer to God.

The Christian life is really not that complicated. The problem is that we just don’t do what we know we ought, or we try to add our own ideas, making it more complicated than God intended.

Christ said,

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God wants us find rest and peace in Him, but the key is Him. We can only find peace and rest through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The first thing we need to fill our life with is Prayer.

In a previous post, we saw how God promises to answer our prayers when we are abiding in Him.

Prayer should not be something we  only go to in a crisis situation. It should be a daily part of our lives and should keep us in close contact with the Savior.

Oswald Chambers – “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”

Jesus Himself recognized the power of prayer and stayed in close communication with the Father while here on earth.

If Jesus needed prayer, how much more do we?

The fruit we see in our lives will be in direct proportion to the amount of time we spend praying. We cannot expect to see God at work in our lives when we neglect to ask Him to do so. Jesus said we have not because we ask not. If we want to bear fruit in our lives, we cannot neglect this important aspect of abiding in Christ.

Secondly, we need to fill our lives with the Word of God.

John 15:3, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

We are cleansed by the Word of God. Just as we need a bath daily, we also need to be cleansed daily by the Scriptures.

We need to not only read God’s Word but also memorize and meditate on it. If we have God’s word hidden in our hearts, we are able to carry it with us throughout the day and be meditating upon it.

Thirdly, we need to be Walking in Obedience to His commands.

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

We must apply the truth we learn to our lives. Our love for Christ is shown in our willingness to obey His commands. True obedience is doing it whether or not we feel like it. No matter our age, obeying the Lord will always be a struggle. The only way to bear spiritual fruit is to walk in obedience to the Lord.

Fourth, we need to spend time in Fellowship with Other Believers.

Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

 With more and more stuff going wrong in the world, we need encouragement from other believers now more than ever. We need to be around those who encourage and build us up spiritually. We must be careful that those whom we spend the majority of our time with are drawing us closer to God, and not further away.

What things in your life are distracting you from your relationship with Jesus?

I invite you today to lay those things aside and replace them with what will draw you closer to the Lord. May our prayer be as the hymnist wrote:

“Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.”

The Product of Abiding – Part 4