Friday, June 27, 2014

Broken to Beautiful



 Broken to Beautiful 

Isaiah 61:3
To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Something Beautiful

Something beautiful, something good,
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife,
But he made something beautiful of my life

If there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble,
They were my dreams at the start.
And hope for life's best were the hopes
That I harbor, down deep in my heart.
But my dreams turned to ashes,
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss.
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life,
And laid it at the cross.   Lyrics by Bill Gaither

I remember hearing the song, “Something Beautiful” for the first time the year I was saved. My life was in shambles and I was filled with despair, disappointment and disgust. I had almost given up on life when my mother, bless her, said to me, “Dianna, you need to go to church!” I didn’t want to go to church but I did go, as my mom had suggested. Upon entering the church, I felt empty, lifeless and very much alone. But, Praise God! When I left church that day I was “Alive in Christ” and blessed with a Friend that would stick closer than a brother.

When we trust Christ as our Savior, and give Him complete control, He will replace the flaws of life with something beautiful, HIS LOVE! When we walk through the hard times of life He is right there with us turning our attitude of the situation into an attitude of thankfulness, building our character into strength, and turning something ugly into something beautiful.

“I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:3,13

Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man in the world, had everything this life could possibly offer and understood it was all in vain if it wasn’t for the glory of God. We can try really hard to make our lives beautiful, but it is like chasing the wind. It’s fleeting and we will never be able to catch it; so the same with trying to make our lives beautiful on our own. It will not happen! The only way our life can become beautiful is if we give our will completely over to the Potter to mold us as He desires. He is the only one who can take a wrecked life and turn it into something absolutely gorgeous! “What profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?Ecclesiastes 5:16b

Remember, God as the Potter NEVER mars His work. Sin is what mars, and we allow it to mar us. When we become stiff and deny God as the Potter in our lives, it causes us to be unusable. We must be tender, soft, pliable, and sensitive, to His hands working in and through us. We must be submissive to His molding hands, to His loving touch, and the slightest conviction of sin.  Without Christ, we are unusable and marred, but when we repent, turn to Christ, and allow Him to have full control of our lives, to mold into His planned design, then He can turn something ugly and awful into something beautiful, honoring, and useful for Him.

“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.” Jeremiah 18:1-6  

This is a picture of God’s absolute authority and ability to form and fashion nations and kingdoms as He pleases, and for His own purposes. It would be absurd for us to dispute or quarrel with the Potter in His sovereignty over us. God formed us out of the clay, and we are still as clay in His hands today. The desired will for the clay is to submit to the Potter’s wisdom and unique purpose for life.


Thoughts:  As “clay” here are some questions to ask yourself: 

Am I saying “NO” to God and “YES” to the dirt in my life? Am I willing to confess my sin to a person I have wronged?  Am I willing to forgive someone I am holding a grudge or bitterness toward? Am I willing to abandon any habit or indulgence that is harmful to me and/or others?  Am I going to quit robbing God of the control of my life and give Him what is rightfully His? 

There is only ONE HAND that can take a marred, unusable life and completely transform it into something new and beautiful, that HAND is Christ’s, our loving, patient Potter.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Disheartened, Discouraged, and Distressed


Disheartened, Discouraged, and Distressed

Romans 8:35
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Drugs, alcohol, substance abuse, those are words that bring heartache and despair. Divorce, death, and being a single parent, all terms that are filled with emotional turmoil and countless hours of loneliness. What does it mean to be a man or woman in distress? Are misery, suffering and agony the characteristics of a discourage person? As we view what the beloved psalmist, David wrote, we will assume the intense emotional distress and deep sorrow that was David’s constant companion.

Psalms 31:9-13 ~ Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble (distressed): mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly (body).  For my life is spent with grief (sorrow), and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed (my body has wasted away).  I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.  I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

It appears that the word, “Distress” means: extreme anxiety, sorrow, and pain. Men and women that have been divorced sometimes have doubts and are occasionally confused because of their fear of failure and complete loss of hope. Some find it hard to make the simplest decisions while being engulfed with anger. Drug and alcohol abusers are at times in a state of delusion, and rarely feel competent enough to survive on their own. Their life is filled with misery and guilt while unhappiness accompanies their emotional state of mind. Single parents struggle with feelings that their lives have been taken from them either by death or divorce. They feel disconnected from life and sometimes are ostracized by others. These are all tragic situations and many are left to wrestle with the question, “What is my purpose in life?”

What do they do and how can they be helped? David, in Psalm 31:10 said, “My strength has failed me because of my iniquity.” This is a reminder of the sin issues that can accompany the  person with a distressed heart. They need to identify any sin that occupies their heart and seek help. The temptations and challenges of life provide the person in despair with circumstances to respond wrongly to the trials of life. They feel trapped, inadequate and hopeless, experiencing a persistent struggle with failure and guilt. Confessing sin is the beginning of help and hope for the discouraged person. The next step is for them to examine their heart, in light of God’s Word and obey.

Here, in Psalm 31:14-16,19, is the answer! “But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” The answer to a life filled with anxiety and distress, is trusting God–––for He has our life and times in His hands. We are not to yield under the load of despair, temptation or stress, but we are to turn our thoughts to the goodness of God and rejoice in the hope of His deliverance. God brings comfort and strength to the believer under affliction and suffering when they trust Him and surrender to His loving care. His contentment through trials will bring encouragement to the heart. It teaches believers how to have patiences in suffering, faith through testings, and a readiness to show gratitude, an extremely important command of God (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Thoughts: What will bring you to the point of disappointment and discouragement in your life? Will you turn away from God or will you let Him embrace you with His love and boundless mercy. Discouragement can breed bitterness and resentment if you are not diligent in guarding your thoughts in devotion to God. You can overcome discouragement and disappointment by confessing the truth of God’s Word and studying His attributes, and personal promises to you. He is the Great Deliverer and Defender and will come to your aid, just as He did David’s. Nothing you go through is ever in vain. The God of all comfort can turn the hardships of life into times of growth and preparation for what He has in store for you.

JEHOVAH-MAGINNENU - The LORD My Defense




  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Turning Away From God (part 2)


Turning Away From God (part 2)

Hebrews 6:4-6
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

If we are Christians, can we turn away from Christ and lose our salvation? Will God lovingly chasten Christians for turning away or backsliding to draw us back to Himself? If we are not true believers in Christ, will God’s judgment fall upon us? In Hebrews 6:4-6, the writer tells us that it will be impossible for those who have once been enlightened by the Word of God, tasted of the heavenly gift, made partakers of the Holy Ghost, tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they fall or turn away, to renew them again unto repentance. 

The phrase, “once enlightened,” is not talking about salvation, but individuals who were once instructed in biblical truth. The people described in Hebrews 6:4-6 were unbelievers who have been exposed to God’s redemptive truth and perhaps have made a profession of faith, but have not exercised genuine saving faith. Tasted of the heavenly gift, does not depict salvation either, but is likened to the second and third soils spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 13:3-23. These were people who receive the truth of the gospel, but were not truly saved. The falling away, references those who have tasted the truth, but, not having come all the way to faith, fall away, deny, turn away from the truth that they have been given. 

The tasting of the truth is not enough to keep them from falling away, and denying the truth. They must come to full acceptance of the revelation of Jesus Christ and have complete repentance and faith or they, in effect, re-crucify Christ and treat Him contemptuously. Those who sin against Christ in such a way have no hope of restoration or forgiveness because they reject Him with full knowledge of what they are doing. The Bible is clear, “It is impossible for those who were once...to renew them again unto repentance.”

This is a very serious warning, and the warning is simply this. You need to come to Christ; for, if you fall away, it will be impossible to renew you again to the point where you've repented. Some people say it proves you can lose your salvation; but it's not talking to Christians at all. If this Scripture teaches, you can lose your salvation, it also teaches you can't get it back again; because it says, "If you fall away, it is impossible to renew you to repentance." 

The Scripture in Hebrews 6:4-6 is talking about the Jews of that time coming all the way up to the edge of faith. They heard it all and received the full revelation of Jesus Christ. They turned their backs on Christ, went back to Judaism, which had been guilty of killing Jesus. They took their stand with those who crucified Christ. They basically said, "That's the same verdict that we give." Consequently, according to them, Jesus should be crucified. They were declaring that they had made a trial of Jesus Christ with all the evidence possible, and found Him no true Messiah, and turned around, going back to Judaism. They were saying, "Jesus is an impostor and deceiver, and He got exactly what was coming." That's what that means. They agreed with those who killed Jesus, that He was a fake, and they put Him to an open shame. The word shame means guilt. They declared openly that Jesus was guilty.

Thought: The writer of Hebrews is setting up a hypothetical statement: IF a Christian was to fall away . . . Could they be renewed to salvation? Christ died once for sin (Hebrews 9:28), and if His sacrifice is insufficient, then there’s no hope at all. To the true believer salvation is eternal. To the lost, there is no hope, if they deny the only True Hope, Jesus Christ. If unbelievers reject Christ, they lose their opportunity for salvation



Some information taken from www.gotquestions.org

Friday, June 6, 2014

Turning Away From God


Turning Away From God

Jeremiah 13:1-11
Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.  So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.  And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,  Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.  So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.  And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.  Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.  Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,  Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.  This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.a  For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

May I take you back in time to a prophet and priest named, Jeremiah? His ministry was extremely difficult and lasted for over forty years. He endured rejection, starvation, prison, dungeons and death threats for one purpose, it was God’s will. He never married, had children, or enjoyed a home life. His Devine calling was to warn the people of Judah that judgment was coming, if they did not obey God. They had turned their hearts away from the truth of the Word of God and from the prophet of God. 

Jeremiah taught by using many object lessons and in chapter 13, God tells Jeremiah to go and put on a linen girdle. This linen girdle was an undergarment, and was not to be taken off or washed. The Lord had Jeremiah take the undergarment 200 miles away, traveling by foot, to the Euphrates River. He was told to bury the girdle in the cleft of a rock and then return to the city of Jerusalem. After an allotted time, God told Jeremiah to return to the rock and dig up the linen girdle. The garment was filthy and over time had begun to rot. God likens Judah to the defiled linen girdle; dirty, marred and totally worthless in the sight of God. 

Judah, God’s beloved people, had denied God and invented false religion. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). When the people of Judah did not heed to the words of Jeremiah, he wept for them and was known as the “Weeping Prophet.” (Could it be that Jeremiah wept the tears of God for the people He loved so much?) Throughout the book of Jeremiah he preaches, begs, pleads and weeps for God’s people to listen. He proclaims that destruction will come upon them and they will be taken into captivity by their enemies. They never take into consideration the words of Jeremiah and consequently, their beloved city is destroyed, the temple left in ruins, and the Babylonian empire takes them captive.

The book of Lamentations, also written by Jeremiah, tells us that God’s mercies and compassions are new every morning and His lovingkindnesses, God’s gracious love, will never cease (Lamentations 3:22-23). How great is His faithfulness toward us, yet, we turn away from Him and go our own way. Jeremiah reminds us of God’s faithfulness in keeping all of His promises according to His truthful and steadfast character. It is God’s justice that is the basis for His judgment against disobedience and unfortunately, Judah did not adhere to God’s Word. The solution to Judah’s judgment was to repent and obey God. The solution to our judgment is the same. We are to look to God for forgiveness with a repentant, contrite heart.

Thought: Jeremiah had a heart for the people of Judah–––mourning and weeping for them in their sinful state. We, too, are to mourn and weep for those who have turned their hearts against God and who are dead in their trespasses and sins. This is a reminder to us of the total sinfulness from which we have been redeemed. We should willingly, prayerfully, and faithfully share the wonderful gospel message of Christ with those who are lost and those who have turned their hearts away from God.