Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Gospel’

Vessels of Clay

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you.  ~~  II Corinthians 4:7-12

The metaphor of clay in the life of the Christian has always been a source of comfort for me, but I didn’t fully realize what it meant until I became involved with my daughter’s pottery class.

Clay is malleable. It can be rolled, stretched, incised, imprinted, and watered down and worked again. I love working with clay.

The clay became even more special to me when I took classes in precious metal clay. You see, the “clay” part is just a binder to hold the tiny fragments of the metal together. The clay burns off when you fire the piece to harden the metal clay. If you are working with silver clay, you come out with a product called “fine” silver. It is more nearly pure silver than sterling.

But handling this clay takes special care. First it must be kept moist or wet. If you let it dry out, you cannot work with it as you should.

Then you must oil both your hands and any surface that it touches to keep it from sticking in places where you don’t want it and ruining the piece you are making.

Once the piece is completed, you let it dry – sort of like a desert experience.

When it is dry, you file any rough edges or accidental protrusions.

Then you put it in a kiln – or in the flame of a torch to fire.

Once it is fired, you polish it by putting it in a tumbler with grit or shot.

If you want special effects, you treat it with chemicals to change the color or give it the appearance of age.

Eventually you have a piece of jewelry that is 99% fine silver, a thing of beauty, and a joy to wear.

We have the treasure of the gospel in our jars of clay. But if we keep it watered with the Word and oiled by the Holy Spirit, it is fit for molding by the Lord.

We may go through desert experiences and have abrasives applied to refine our shape. We will most certainly be proved in fire of one kind or another. Then we will be thrust into a world that tumbles us with grit or shot to polish us to a high shine so that we reflect the light of Christ.

Completely yielded, we can be of service to the Lord. It’s not a quick process. It takes time. Let us yield with patience to the Lord’s shaping.

Father, God,

Help us to be soft, malleable clay in Your hands. Give us the grace to endure the process so that we may come out refined and useful to Your kingdom.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Commissioned

And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go:

Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;

And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master’s son.

And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.

And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.

And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.

And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son. ~~  Genesis 24:42-48 (KJV)

We are not told his name, nor anything else about him except that he is Abraham’s servant. But his fidelity to his duty is crucial to God’s plans.

You will note that he doesn’t pray to his own god, but the God of his master. Does he believe in Abraham’s God? We’re not told that. At least he believes God has power – the power to make his journey for Abraham successful.

Can God use an unbeliever to further His kingdom? God can do anything.

We are told the the servant sets out on his journey well-prepared. He comes to the appointed place and gets right to the point with Rebekah, Laban and Bethuel. He was commissioned. He prepared. He journeyed. He prayed. He followed through.

What is our commission, and how do we respond to it? Jesus said “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 – KJV) That is our primary commission.

How do we prepare? We must fill ourselves with the word of God, become intimately acquainted with Him, listening carefully for the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

We pray, always, for the success of this journey. If our works are not bathed in and grown from prayer, they will have no meaning, no matter how successful they look in terms of worldly accomplishment.

Then we journey into the world, prepared to answer all questions, being transparent about our love of God and His presence in our lives. We speak gently, but boldly. And we love – unconditionally.

Father, God,

Keep us ever faithful to our servant-hood and grant us favor in furthering your Kingdom. Help us to remember that prayer is our first and most powerful weapon in this journey. Grant us tender hearts to connect with those we meet and love them unconditionally.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Making Things Right

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness. ~~ Jeremiah 23:1-6

Reading this passage, I am struck by its similarity to our times.  We have preachers and teachers who dilute the scriptures and preach a social gospel which is not the word of God. Many of our traditional congregations are dwindling because our church leaders want to be popular in order to garner the gifts of the congregation.

Other congregations are springing up – some of which are true to the Word and others are true to the quest for money.

When we water down the words of God, we are feeding the flock plastic Easter grass, not the nourishing fresh green shoots of a verdant pasture. The Lord promises to let us reap the consequences of our actions. “…behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.

There are multiple adages that echo this truth. “What goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.” “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” “Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment.”

We know this truth, but we behave as if it weren’t so.

Do not despair. God has promised a faithful remnant. We may have to endure many faithless shepherds and dedicated charlatans, but there is a Redeemer.  We know Him as Jesus Christ. We just celebrated His victory over death and destruction. We have the benefit of the Paraclete that He has sent to dwell with us personally.

If we listen to the whispers of that Comforter, examine everything in the light of God’s word, and obey His directions from the Scriptures, we can be sure that we are in God’s will, doing His work, and reaping His rewards for the faithful.

The word “righteousness” as used in our text for today carries the meanings of justice, virtue and prosperity. Can we be surprised that justice and virtue lead to prosperity?  I think not.

God is clear in His directions. In His world there are no shades of gray. It’s yes or no, right or wrong. Our choice is also clear. But it is our choice to make. Will we be part of His faithful remnant?

Father, God,

Even as You give us clear choices, help us to make the right decisions. We would hear Your voice only. Grant that we may filter out the din and cacophony of this world and enter into your quiet place where we can hear Your words distinctly.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen