Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Potter's Molding Hands

Pottery making is one of the oldest crafts of civilized man. It should not surprise us then that God uses the illustration of the potter and the clay to demonstrate his power in the destinies of men. Like clay, we are made from the dust of the earth. With his hands God formed the first man, Adam. God chose to breathe into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul. God beamed with pride as he looked at Adam and all that he created, and it was very good.

And then came Jacob, whose name means supplanter. He was more deceptive than an advertisement touting before and after photos. He used his cunning tactics to purchase his firstborn brother’s (Esau’s) birthright for the paltry sum of a pot of stew. Back in those days the firstborn’s birthright was quite valuable. It consisted of a double portion of the father’s inheritance, but for Jacob as one of three main patriarchs it meant so much more. For him the birthright embraced chieftainship, rule over the entire family, and the title of the blessing of promise (Genesis 27:4, 27-29). This promise included future possession of Canaan and of covenant fellowship with Jehovah God.

Even though Jacob lived up to his namesake, God said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). This astounds me to no end. Why would God want to be closely associated with liars and deceivers? Author Cecil Murphey put this question in proper perspective when he said, “If I can figure out a reason for God's love, I have the wrong answer.”

But even though Jacob was chosen to rule with God over the nation of Israel, the truth remains that God wants to spend time alone with you and me just as much as he wanted to spend time with Jacob. It doesn’t matter if we rule a nation or just a little house in Georgia, like I do. God loves us and wants a vibrant and growing relationship with each and every one of us. He so wants to speak to us and give us new life. Now that’s nothing short of amazing grace!

Although, most of the time we don’t choose to get alone with God until things get hairy. My grandfather had a saying about those who get into trouble, he said, “She’s done spread her potatoes and got her pan burnt.” We spread our potatoes and when things get burned and Jesus shows up, we wrestle all night long saying things like, “Why am I praying for my addicted loved one when nothing seems to change?” “Why does my child have to suffer with this horrible disease?” Why does every one in the family have to argue about how to care for our Alzheimer’s patient parent? You get the picture. Fill in the blank—“Why___________ ?”

If we would just take some time to spend with Jesus allowing him to mold us as he sees fit, he would answer our questions his way (many times with a question—“Why do you ask my name?” see Jacob's molding in Genesis 32:22-32). He wants us to hold on tight and listen so he can bless us there (Genesis 32:26 & 29).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Listening from Weird Places

Yesterday morning I woke to my husband watching TV out in the living room which is very rare. As I went about my regular morning stuff I couldn't believe my ears. An orchestra on the IFC channel was playing "The Old Rugged Cross." As I peaked out of the kitchen to see who it was on TV playing this old hymn, I saw the camera focused on one member of the orchestra-Woody Allen, a Jew, playing a classic Christian hymn of the faith on a clarinet.

That was really weird so I thought I better pay attention to what God was saying. Ever since, the tune has been stuck in my head so I went to my book shelf and pulled down my hymn book and prayed this hymn (listening hearts often use their hymn books to pray).
The cool thing about listening to God in weird places is that hearing this song answered prayers. As I begin to write the follow-up study to “The Listening Heart,” I ask God which hymns he wants to use for each week of study (each one of my chapters has a hymn of prayer at the end of it). I actually have three follow-up books. Each one deals with listening to a personality of the trinity. The one I am working on now is called, “Hearts Who Listen for the Potter’s Voice: Recognizing the Molding Hands of God the Father.” It is based on Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob’s wrestling with God. This hymn is perfect for Chapter Three: Hands Thoroughly Acquainted with Clay: Clinging to God.

May this old hymn get stuck in your head and heart this week like it did in mine. As we listen to the message from God found in it, we can learn what it means to be ever true to that "Old Rugged Cross."


George Bennard

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
Such a wonderful beauty I see;
For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it someday for a crown.

Clinging to God with You, Susan

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Answer to prayer

I asked God to establish a stronghold of truth in our hearts as I wrote the entry on Monday, April 14th. He answered that prayer by having the following quote right at the top of the page of the journal I wrote in today:

If I can think of myself as loved, I can love and accept others.
If I see myself as forgiven, I can be gracious toward others.
If I see myself as powerful, I can do what I know is right.
If I see myself as full, I can give myself freely to others.
-Kathy Peel

So my sweet friends, live loved, completely forgiven, totally accepted, and as the new creation you are and watch what God can do through you to change the world.

I love you all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Establishing a Stronghold of Truth

I have been inspired by a recent study I have done with my Sunday School class called, "The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes" by Robert S. McGee. I am not the only one inspired by this book, on the cover, Billy Graham wrote, "The Search for Significance should be read by every Christian."

The theme of the book is to teach us how to replace Satan's lie: Your Worth=Your Performance+Others' Opinions with God's Truth: Your Worth=What God Says about You.

Today I would like to share four of the most important things God say about you. Post them on note cards and put them in important places so you can look them over regularly. Allow these truths to renew your mind.

1. Reject the lie Satan wants you to believe that those who fail (including you) are unworthy of love and deserve to be blamed and condemned and replace it with the truth:

I am completely loved by God (1 John 4:9-10).

2. Reject the lie Satan wants you to believe that you must meet certain standards to feel good about yourself with the truth:

I am completely forgiven and am fully pleasing to God (Romans 5:1).

3. Reject the lie Satan wants you to believe that you must be approved (accepted) by certain others to feel good about yourself with the truth:

I am totally accepted by God (Colossians 1:21-22).

4. Reject the lie Satan wants you to believe that you are what you are, you cannot change, you are hopeless with the truth:

I am a new creation, complete in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I pray as we establish a stronghold of truth together we will instantly recognize these false beliefs and replace them with the truth of God's Word. Then we can live victoriously the way God intends for us to live.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Using Our Weapons

Either my eyes have been opened or there is more spiritual warfare against myself and those God puts in my path than ever before. God's word tells us that we are equipped for battle with the full armor of God and that our enemy is invisible (Ephesians 6:10-20). The weapons we fight with are not anything like the weapons of the world. Paul gives us a little more insight into how it all works:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war
as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the
weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine
power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments
every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge
of God, and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
Don't you have people in your life whose walls of resistance in their minds are as high and thick as the walls of Jericho? What are these walls made up of? To name a few, there are hefty doses of pride, bitterness, and unforgiveness. And for some, these walls are strengthened by drugs and alcohol.
While studying this 2 Corinthians passage I read an enlightening commentary by Warren Wiersbe in which he wrote about Paul's attitude towards these walls of resistance:
Paul's attitude of humility (as he wrote 2 Corinthians 10) was actually
one of his strongest weapons, for pride plays right into the hands
of Satan. The meek Son of God had far more power than Pilate
(see John 19:11), and he proved it. Paul used spiritual weapons
to tear down the opposition-
Prayer, the Word of God, Love,
the Power of the Spirit at work in his life.
He did not depend on personality, human abilities, or even the
authority he had as an apostle.
I am asking you to stand in the gap with me for those we love, whose minds are opposed to the truth of God's Word. Let's be alert and use our weapons every day. We also must listen to our Commander, trusting and obeying him so the walls will come tumbling down. He may even ask us to do some weird stuff like he did with the Israelites in Jericho (Joshua 6). Marching around a city wall seven times and shouting doesn't seem like an effective way to tear down a super-thick city wall, but obeying God produces amazing results.
I thought it was very strange that God has recently lead me to be re-baptized, even though I have been walking faithfully with him for over twenty years. I feel strongly led to get my baptism in the proper order. I was baptized at 11 years old but did not fully surrender to the Lord until 1987, at age 27. I also want to announce to the world that I am dead to myself and living for God in this full time writing and prayer ministry. And you know what? I can already see some cracks forming in the walls of those around me.
Use your weapons of prayer, God's Word, love, and allow the Spirit to work through you. Trust in his divine power to tear down the strongholds. I can hear the thunder of the walls crashing down even now. Amen.