Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Potter and His Vessels

There is a song we sing from time to time entitled "Have Thine Own Way". The first stanza of the song says "Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me After Thy will, While I am waiting, Yielded and still." What a beautiful song this is and when we as God's creation fully realize and understand that we are simply God's vessels and that He is the Potter (our maker), then we can humble ourselves to the point of doing whatever service we have been molded to do for the Lord!

The Vessels of God
God is truly our Potter. We can read this in the book of Jeremiah 18 verses 1-12, and also in Romans 9:22 where Paul says "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:" Here, Paul likens us to the vessels of God and that is truly what we are. Have you ever noticed a potter working with his clay, molding that clay into a fine vessel? There is a lot of time and patience that is involved in the potter's work. Likewise, God has spent much time and effort in the creation of His vessels, you and I. In the verses pointed out above in Jeremiah and in Romans we can read where God is long-suffering with His vessels and does the very best He can with them. It is through us (His vessels) that we can see the riches of God's glory. "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23).

There are all kinds of vessels out there. There are some vessels of wrath (Romans 9:22), and there are even dishonorable vessels. Paul says "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (Romans 9:21). He echoes those same words in 2 Tim 2:20. But we can see from Romans 9:21 that there are also vessels of honour and of mercy in Romans 9:23.

We Are Individual Vessels Made By God
God has molded each one of us into a vessel. But he has given each of us a mind of our own to either respect our maker (The Potter), or reject Him. The choice is entirely left up to us. That is why it is so important for us to realize that had it not been for “The Potter,” we would not even be here today. Therefore, knowing this, why is it that so many still choose not to honour the very one who allowed us this opportunity to live and enjoy our short time on this beautiful earth that He also created. We can become honorable vessels unto the Lord by heeding the call. Paul says in Romans 9:23-24 "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" One heeds the call of God by simply obeying His commandments (John 14:15).

Characteristics of An Honorable Vessel
The characteristics of an honorable vessel is that one is sanctified, fit for use, and prepared for all good works. This is what the apostle Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:21 "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." One must purge themselves from evil and join himself with doing the things of honour, approved unto God almighty! Then when one proves himself to be a vessel of honour unto the Lord certain glory will result as Paul said in Romans 9:23. What is that glory? The same glory as Paul was sensing when he told Timothy "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). When we prove ourselves a worthy vessel, one that is serving the purpose that God designed for us to do, then we can enjoy a life eternal with God our Potter. But when we decide to do our own thing and rebel against our maker then our end is certain destruction (Romans 9:22). Why not let "The Potter" (God) have His own way with His vessel (you and I)?

Monday, February 3, 2020

"They Have Forsaken the Right Way"

We read in 2 Peter 2:15 “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” How sad it is to see those that once walked in the ways of the Lord to abandon His love and go the way of Satan. Yet there are many that have not forsaken the way of the Lord and remain steadfast in His service. These are the ones that understand that the right way, the way leading to eternal life has been dedicated by Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer wrote: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

Our Duty to the Right Way
The Christian’s duty is not to forsake the right way of the Lord (2 Peter 2:15). Earlier in verse 15 we can learn where we are not to even speak evil of it, and in Acts 13:10, not to pervert the right way of the Lord. We have a responsibility in this life and that is to FIND the right way and then enter into it. Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Failure on our part to find and enter the right way will cost us our very soul! Let us be determined to know the right way (Acts 18:26), teach it (Luke 20:21), and then walk in it (Isaiah 35:8-9). Don’t forsake the right way.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Obeying the Truth

There are thousands of individuals in this country that have not obeyed the truth of God’s Word. Why is it that so many do not want to give their life to God and serve Him? After all, He did create us and expects us to follow the teaching that His Son Jesus came to give us (Matthew 28:18-20). If you are one of those thousands that have not yet obeyed God’s truth, please take a moment and examine your heart and search your soul to see if you can determine why it is that you haven’t.

Could it be that you don’t know the truth? Truth only comes through study (2 Timothy 2:15), and it is only God’s truth that will make you free (John 8:32). Could it be that you don’t believe the truth? If so, this is very serious because God says that the only way one can gain faith is by hearing His Word (Romans 10:17). But only you can make up your mind to believe or not believe. It is a matter of choice. But to go to heaven, you must believe! I encourage you to read God’s Word and believe in His truth today.

When the truth is believed then then you can have access to heaven through obedience to God's teaching. After believing in Him, you need to repent of your sins (Acts 17:30-31; Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as being the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Matthew 10:32-33), and then be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). God created us and gave His only Son to die for us. Therefore, we now need to live for Him -- being faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). What is really keeping you from obeying the truth?

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Pressing on Toward Heaven

All too often we have a tendency to look back and dwell on what we have done or haven’t done instead of concentrating on the future. "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:28-33). Lot’s wife had a longing for that which she had left. Consequently, she was overtaken and consumed. Her trust was not in her God but in the things of the world. She just could not bring herself to let go. Do we have this trouble today? Think about it. Sometimes "looking back" may simply be filling our lives up with "good" things to the degree that we cannot render to our God what is due Him. That is the point that Jesus made in Luke 9:62 when He said "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." So where should we be looking? Obviously not backwards. We should be looking forward and running toward God. Lot’s wife should have felt as if she were in a footrace away from Sodom and we should feel the same way. The Hebrew writer tells us to run with endurance the race that is set "before" us, looking to Jesus...(Hebrews 12:1-2). We must realize that everything we do as we follow Jesus is another step in our race toward our eternal victory. When you feel enticed by the world - remember Lot’s wife. Let’s all strive to keep "pressing on toward heaven!"

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Sting of Death

We can read in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” In verse 56 we learn that the sting of death is sin. Why? Because those that are caught up in sin at the point of death will never be raised to an eternal resurrection with Jesus. That would be the ultimate sting! In addition, when one dies in sin, then there truly is sadness and suffering by others. When one dies in a sinful condition, loved ones are left knowing the fate of the departed. Unpreparedness on our part will result in death’s sting when we die. Paul wrote: “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Many individuals end up in this sad state when they die - but it does not have to be so. The sting of death can be removed if we desire it to be removed.

How Was Death’s Sting Removed?
Jesus Christ came into the world, lived a perfect, sinless life, and died so that we can have forgiveness of sins (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14). Death’s sting has been removed by living righteously in obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:10). We are promised if we obey Jesus and are faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10), then we can have everlasting life with our Lord!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Satan's Many Devices

One thing that we should learn is not to be ignorant of Satan’s many devices. We read in 2 Corinthians 2:11 “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” We need to realize that Satan is constantly trying to find out what it is that can carry us away from God. But if we stay tuned into the Word of God then we will be less susceptible to falling for his devices. Satan prefers to have good company (Job 1:5), and is always ready and willing to tempt the children of God. Remember Eve? Who did she quickly put the blame on when she was tempted? It was Satan, disguised as a serpent! Later, Satan came to tempt the Son of God, asking Him to “command these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus did not succumb to Satan’s temptation as he responded with “it is written”. Jesus, the Son of God, in the form of a man, knew about Satan’s devices and was not about to sin.

Satan is the Prince of the World
Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King, but Satan is the Prince of this world! There is nothing that Satan would like better than to get you and I wrapped up in the materialistic things of his worldly kingdom so that our minds will be made distant of doing those things that will please our Father. Do you think he’s succeeding? Sure he is, and its because man does not think enough about his soul to be concerned about where it will end up! We better make sure we are doing everything possible to ensure that we are going to heaven because Satan certainly will not be there (John 12:31).

All Satan does is cause war. He has the power to just annoy! The apostle Paul wrote: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Man wrestle’s within himself because Satan is doing everything possible to lead us away from God. 

Satan is a Deceiver and a Murderer
We need to recognize who Satan is and what he is all about. The student of God’s Word will know the things that are pleasing to God and then realize that anything contrary to God’s will is something Satan would not only approve of, but try to get us to do! Jesus said: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Satan is nothing but a liar! When someone tries to sweet talk us into doing something that we KNOW is contrary to Bible teaching, it is Satan’s deception at work.

Satan is a Hindrance to Our Salvation
Oh how much easier it would be to stay on that straight and narrow road to heaven if Satan wasn’t in the way! Notice what the Bible says concerning Satan’s hindrance to our salvation: “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He has blinded the minds of many people, keeping them from believing the truth of Jesus Christ who is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus has the truth and it has been revealed to us through His gospel. Satan says he has the truth, but he is a liar! He hinders our salvation! In the parable of the sower Jesus talked about Satan as being the one who takes the word away from the hearts of those who hear the word of God, so that they will not believe the teaching of Christ and be saved (Luke 8:12).

Satan will always try to make God’s Word serve his purpose (Matthew 4:5-6). But we should always strive to resist him (James 4:7). Let us be ready and willing to fight Satan by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Exposing Sin

What is my responsibility toward error and sin? The Bible teaches that we are to expose it. Paul writes, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). When one sins willfully, then one is not in the right relationship (fellowship) with God (Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 5:16-17). It is very important that we are in the proper fellowship with God because if we are not, then we will be condemned. John writes, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:6-7). Christians need to be thinking about this on a daily basis. We must ensure that we are in fact in the proper fellowship with God. There is no room in the Christian’s life for darkness (sin). When we confessed before God that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and then were buried in the watery grave of baptism all of our sins were washed away. We arose from the water free of sin, and determined to live a life devoted in service to God. We now are living a new life dedicated to His service and determined to expose sin! Romans 6:3-11 shows us how we are now changed to live fully and completely for Jesus. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord". Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Christian took their baptism and "new" life seriously, understanding that sin is no longer part of our life in any way? Every Christian should now be devoted to Christ, following in His steps, as evidenced by our every action. We need more Christians to stand up and truly be counted as loyal members of the body of Christ. Can others really see Christ living in us?