Thoughts to Ponder

In the Word

“You are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold.”

Howard G. & William D. Hendricks

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Becoming God’s Masterpiece – Part 2

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In the last post, we discussed Becoming God’s Masterpiece: In Our Walk with God

If you missed it, go check it out!

Today, we are going to look at becoming God’s masterpiece in our WORDS with Others and in our WORK for the Lord.

Becoming God’s Masterpiece: In Our WORDS with Others

I think probably one of the easiest ways to bring dishonor to the Lord is in our words.

Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

 A vessel that is filthy and dirty on the inside is unusable because what’s on the inside is what is going to come out. God cannot use us to show love to others if we have bitterness, anger or a critical spirit. We cannot have both love and hate in our hearts.

 One of the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman was that she spoke wise and kind words. Proverbs 31:26, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Our words should not be:

  • Cursing/critical – James 3:10, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
  • Bitter – James 3:11, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”
  • Envious – James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
  • Angry – Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:”

In contrast, our words should be:

  • Uplifting/encouraging – Eph. 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
  • Fitly spoken – Prov. 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
  • Gentle – Titus 3:2, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.”
  • Forgiving – Eph. 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Our words have the power to destroy lives or build lives. They will either build up or tear down.

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

How do you use your words?

Is it to build others up or tear them down?

Becoming God’s Masterpiece: In Our WORK for the Lord

An honorable vessel is one that is useful. If we are to be used by the Lord, we can’t be sitting around not doing anything. No matter what our background may be, no matter our age – young or old, no matter what sins we may have committed in the past, we are still useful to the Lord.

We were each created differently for a different purpose. If you gathered up all the vessels in your house, you would see that they were all different and served different purposes. It is the same way with the body of Christ. Satan will try to convince us that we are not good enough or talented enough to be used, but this is a lie.

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? It is so easy to fall into this trap. The Bible warns against this in II Corinthians 10:12, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

If we look hard enough, we can always find someone who seems to be more or less talented than us. God has made each of us different. We need to focus on what His purpose is for our life, not what He has for someone else.

Teddy Roosevelt said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Are you allowing comparison to steal your joy?

We need to discover our gifts and talents and surrender them to the Lord and His service. When we allow the Lord to transform our lives from the inside out, we become useful in His hands.

As we yield more of our lives to God and become more like Christ, the more He is able to use our unique gifts and character to accomplish His purpose in our lives.

John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”

In closing, I would like to share this short prayer by D. L. Moody and may you make it our own:

Use me then, my Savior,

For whatever purposes and in whatever way you may require.

Here is my poor heart, an empty vessel;

Fill it with your grace.

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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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