The Potter

Scripture: But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?  Romans 9:20,21 NIV

Observation: Paul clearly places God and man into their proper perspectives.

Application: I was talking to my pastor the other night and I was explaining how much of what I read in Romans is confusing to me. Paul says, “if I think this, but not that” or “since I was that but thought like this, I may have once meant to be…”  I don’t mean to be blasphemous I just mean to say that the book is very hard for me to follow and understand most of the time.  That said, today’s passages are very clear to me. Paul asks, “who are we to question God?” There is no misunderstanding in this to me. I get it and I agree with him…who am I?  What right do I have?  I need to know and understand that God is God and he created me. He did it for his pleasure and in his timing. He’s the Potter; I’m the clay and I exist because God wants me to exist. He’s in control and he loves me.

Prayer: Father, thank you for creating and caring for your creation. I know that at times I wonder “why,” but thank you for the passages in Romans that remind me that you are God and you are in charge.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen


He Loves Us Anyway

Scripture: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38,39 NIV

More teaching from Paul to the Romans.

Application: I’m sure I don’t completely understand these passages. The list seems to be all-encompassing but I believe that some could say that there appears that something could be missing.  I’m not saying God’s word is incomplete, I’m saying some people may look at this passages and say “well I can separate myself if I choose.”  I believe that that is true. I believe that a Christian can decide to separate himself from the Lord.  I don’t think that these passages are addressing the Created’s reaction to the Creator, but the Creator’s reaction to the Created. Yes, I think we can choose to remove ourselves from God’s grace; I’m not sure why we would want to, but I think we can.  These passages speak of God’s love for us. God loves us and no matter what we do, no matter how poorly we treat him, no matter how often we forsake him, he will always LOVE us and there’s not a thing we can do about it!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me especially when I don’t deserve it.  Thank you for sticking with me. I love you. Amen


Return to God

Scripture: Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.  2 Samuel 14:14 NIV

Observation: God wants everyone with him.

Application: God does not want any to stay separated from him.  He wants us all so much that he sent Jesus as a sacrifice. By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin we are then able to return to the Father.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Jesus and his sacrifice for me. I don’t deserve it but I accept it. Thank you. Amen


One Repentant Sinner

Scripture: “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety‑nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety‑nine that did not wander off.
Matthew 18:12,13 NIV

Observation: Jesus illustrates how all heaven rejoices when a lost soul repents.

Application: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”  Luke 15:7 NIV

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for caring for the one as much as the many. I thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen


Jesus is the Prize

Scripture: “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:28-30 NIV

Observation: Peter  displayed an unwavering faith in the Lord.  “You say the word Lord and I will walk on water.”  Jesus said the word “come.” Peter had his eyes firmly set on Jesus and he did, in deed, walk on water. That is until he realized what he was doing and he felt the wind.  Peter stopped focusing on Jesus and he sank like a stone.

Application: Oh, how like Peter am I?  I have my eyes fixed on the Lord, I know he is in control of my life, I trust him to protect me from evil…then the car breaks down, my wife becomes ill, I have an unexpected tax bill instead of a refund and my attitude goes to pot.  I lose my focus.  I, like Peter, take my eyes off of the Lord.  When I stop focusing on him I make myself vulnerable to Satan’s schemes. He wants to become a wedge between God and me.  He will have the computer die, the gas tank on the remaining car be dry, and the pockets empty because he knows if he can get me thinking about my woes I won’t be thinking about Jesus. What a creep!  I need to refocus. I need to know that Jesus wants me to succeed and that Satan doesn’t.  I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and not the distractions of this world.

Prayer: Father, I have so many blessings. Help me to stop having pity parties for myself and help me to focus on Jesus. He is the prize. I ask this in his name. Amen


The Reason for Going to Church

I won’t very often put another’s thoughts in this blog, but occasionally a passage stands out and I don’t understand it or that day’s reading just didn’t spark anything in me.  In either case I will seek thoughts elsewhere.  I have borrowed, with permission, a few times from my church’s Community Care Pastor. Today is a bit different.  Matthew 13:10-12 is one of those passages that may seem clear to most but to me it almost seems that Jesus is saying that he wants some to not understand and be changed. I know that’s not the case. So for today’s title and application I copied in total, from the contribution section of my YouVersion bible.  The author is Chaplain406. I really appreciate his explanation. I hope it blesses you too.

Scripture: The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”  He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  Matthew 13:10-12 NIV

Observation: Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven.

Application: “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”
This is why we need to go to church regularly; to listen to the pastor that God has provided for us. We must have the desire to obtain more knowledge to grow in Him and to receive the revelations He has for us. When you lose that desire what you already knew fades away. How many people do you know who years ago were on fire for Jesus and now you never see them any more?
We must stay strong and fellowship with like minded believers. Even the world knows that when you hang around people who have more knowledge than you, you learn more and potentially gain more influence and money. How much more important is the Word of God?

Prayer: Father, thank you so much for wise followers who see and interpret your word. Thank you for giving them to us and giving them the willingness share their thoughts.  Lord, I ask that you bless their day. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen


Lord, I Pray They See You Not Me

Scripture: All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  Matthew 10:22 NIV
“…a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”  Matthew 10:36 NIV

Observation: Jesus is instructing his disciples before sending them out.

Application: As Christ was instructing his disciples on how to evangelize he told them of how they would be mistreated.  In these two verses Jesus clearly states that not only “all men will hate you because of me” but our enemies will be from our own families.  This is because our family members know us and have seen the people that we have been our entire lives.  I believe this is an indictment of our character.  How easy is it for our pre-Christ, selfish, self-centered personalities to speak louder than our witness to our loved-ones?  I don’t know if you have dealt with this but I sure have.  I haven’t been the best son, brother, uncle, dad, or husband.  Why would I expect my unsaved relatives to take my claims of Christ seriously?  My wish is to live a life that proves Christ’s transforming power before my family.  I pray that Christ show more than me, especially when I am around my family.

Prayer: Father, I pray that my earlier character faults not hamper my witness. My family knows me best and I understand how my old self could be a hard thing for some of them to forget. I ask that you remove the scales from their eyes and allow them to see the truly transformed Doug. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen


Pray to Honor God

Scripture: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:5,6 NIV

Observation: Jesus instructs on the proper way to pray.

Application: This can present a bit of a quandary for some Christians, especially new or immature Christians. How do we speak with and honor God in all circumstances if we are to do it secretly?  Am I to pray over my food in front of coworkers or in restaurants?  Am I supposed to close these journal entries with prayer or would that be considered showiness by God?  What am I to do, pray publically or not?  I believe the answer is twofold. First, in these passages I believe that Jesus isn’t speaking of prayer in the context of praying over food. I believe that he isn’t speaking of prayers of thanksgiving and blessings.  I believe he is speaking of quiet time, time alone with God, time in our prayer closet, time of close, intimate conversation.  Thanksgiving and blessings, to be sure, are part of the conversations we have when we are alone with God but when we want to thank him for the provisions he has given and to ask him to bless them, that is different prayer.  Jesus warns us to be careful to have our private conversations with God in private and not make a show of them. Second, our prayers are a matter of heart. If we want to thank God for all that he had provided because we feel that honoring him before we partake of those provisions is important, then we must. If we influence those around us by our reverence for God by doing so then that’s a bonus for the Lord.  If we bow to pray to make coworkers or fellow diners look at us in awe, then we have been served and we have received the entirety of blessing that we are going to get.  We prayed for ourselves and our standing among men and not the Lord.  Public prayer is a matter of where our heart and intentions lie.  When public prayer is proper, we should pray and we should do it to honor God and him only.

Prayer: Father, I pray that when I pray I do it with the purest of motives. I wish to honor you when I pray in both private and public. I ask that you lead and guide me to do so for your sake. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen


Have a Good Life

Scripture: Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  Psalm 34:12-14 NIV

Observation: Good instruction for life.

Application: The Psalmist gives us good instruction for life. Throughout the bible we see how to love the Lord, live an upright life and there-by obtain the prize of eternal life. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that we are earning our way to heaven.  I’m saying that when we love the Lord and claim Jesus we live an upright life, then eternal life is our reward.  The passages in Psalm 34 give us great instruction for how to live a peaceful existence with those around us.  If we want to have a calm existence with our neighbors we must guard our speech and flee from Satan’s influence on our attitude.

Prayer: Father, help me to watch what I say so that I don’t offend others. I want to live peacefully with those around me. Lord, please continue to protect me from any influence Satan tries to exert over me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen


Don’t be a Disappointment

Scripture: But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”  1 Samuel 15:22 NIV
Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:35 NIV

Observation: Samuel tells King Saul that his excuse for why he and his soldiers disobeyed the Lord by not completely and totally obliterating the Amalekites and their possessions didn’t hold water. At the end of that chapter we see probably one of the most horrible statements in the bible. Because of Saul’s selfish disobedience Samuel says, “…And the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.” 1 Samuel 15:35b NIV

Application: Can you imagine anything more terrible than finding out that God was so disappointed in you that he was sorry that ge had blessed you.  To me that statement is the antithesis of Matthew 3:17 NIV, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'”  I want God to be “well pleased” with me, not sorry that he sacrificed his son for my sake!

Prayer: Father, I pray that I never disappoint you like King Saul did. When I meet you face-to-face I want you to tell me well done. I love you. Amen