Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Week Seventeen - Just an Old Pot


That morning, as I looked into the mirror, trying to arrange my hair and look presentable, I let forth a deep sigh. It was no use. Age was winning. The grey hairs and the subtle but visible wrinkles told the true story. No amount of fixing and painting could cover up the outward evidence.

Then, after I opened my Bible and filled my heart with God's love and acceptance, my devotion read -

"The contents of the earthen vessels, not the containers themselves, were of great value. The jars would become chipped and broken and would deteriorate over time, but nobody thought of the jar - they were interested in its content...our greatest possession is that which God has placed within us. When people focus on us, they see a frail, imperfect, and deteriorating vessel. Nothing that comes from our flesh is worthy of praise. Our bodies are aging and losing strength (2 Cor 4:16). Only as we allow God to fill us and renew our inner self will people see a treasure of immeasurable worth. Don't focus on outward appearance and physical strength, for these deteriorate. Rather, allow the Holy Spirit to convince you of the infinite treasure that is within you because of God's presence." (Henry Blackaby)

My puny spirit began to revive as I thought of the infinite treasures in my earthen vessel. I have the abiding presence of the Lord and the Spirit of God filling my heart. I have the peace of God that passes understanding. I have the blood of Christ covering my sin, and I have the hope of glory as an anchor for my soul. 

As I ebb closer and closer to another birthday, I know my inner man is the actual estimation of my age. I might be just an old pot on the outside - and growing older every day, chipped, cracked, and somewhat unattractive, but inside is a glorious spirit waiting to burst forth.

If you are a child of God, you have the same glorious Spirit within you. It is our privilege and responsibility to let this precious and beautiful treasure shine through our eyes, words, and being so others can see Christ within us. It reminds me of 1 Peter 3:2-4, "While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

So today, dear old friend, let's allow the beauty of Christ within us to be reflected in all we do and walk worthy of the infinite treasure we hold in our hearts. Then by God's grace, let's do what we can to take good care of our old pots!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Week Sixteen - Wacky Cake

"As I assembled the items needed to make a family favorite, I couldn't help but compare the basic recipe for the chocolate cake I was making to the makeup of common, everyday life.

Begin with bitter chocolate
Stir in some dry, tasteless flour
Add several raw eggs and some sour milk
Mix thoroughly and add several more ingredients
Bake in a hot oven
The end result: a lovely chocolate cake.

Now, think about your life - the bitter, the dry, the raw, the sour, the mixing, and the heat. Sounds bad, doesn't it? And it feels bad when it is happening. But in God's hands, these things - these unpleasant and uncomfortable and unlovely elements and components of life - will result in something good. That's the promise and the hope of Romans 8:28. In God's hands, the ingredients of our lives will always work out ultimately for our good and, even better, for His eternal purposes.

The next time you are facing the bitterness, the sourness, the agitation, or the heat of life, let this promise encourage you to trust in the Lord and to love Him with all your mind. Know that God is in control And that His end will be good. Know that He will work together all things for good. As the saying goes, 'If you are taking a beating, cheer up! God is just stirring the batter to bring you a blessing!'" (Elizabeth George, Loving God with All Your Mind, pages 177-178)

As I thought about this cake story, I remembered an old recipe for a Wacky Cake, and my thoughts took another turn. One of the misnomers in life is that we should all be alike, live the same way, and be a part of the same group. But we are all different in so many ways. God loves variety. Just look at us! The only thing we have in common is sin - we are all sinners, all broken. But God uses our differences and His specific, unique methods to make us well-pleasing to Him. You see, God is beyond the confines of human boundaries. And we - we are His workmanship; unique, peculiar, and individual. 

For all our figuring out, our study of Scripture, and the methods we develop, the God factor remains - He is still the Creator. While we know He always honors His Word and remains faithful to His characteristics, His work in the human heart is beyond our understanding. But because He knows the heart of man, the true motivation of every individual, and the choices we each make, He works with the exact amount of agitation, heat, and ingredients to create a beautiful, individualistic, finished product for His glory.

We grow frustrated when we don't understand or things don't go along with our program. He doesn't. He works according to the purpose of His will. It might look like a mess to us, but if we trust the Maker and His word, He will do the work no matter how broken we are. Trust Him - He wrote the recipe!

Below is the recipe for a wacky cake. There are no eggs or milk, and it is not mixed in a bowl but directly into the ungreased baking pan. Do you think it will turn out even if it isn't done like any cake you have ever made? It will. And so will your life, if you entrust it to the Maker!

Wacky Cake

1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
4 T unsweetened cocoa
1t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Sift the above ingredients into an ungreased 8x8 cake pan. Make three depressions and put one of the following into each depression.

1t vanilla
1T cider vinegar
6T vegetable oil

Gently pour 1 cup of warm water over the ingredients and stir well with a fork.

Bake 350/175 for 30-40 minutes.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Week Fifteen - Randomly Righteous

As we come to the Easter season, many people start acting more righteous. They may attend a church service, give up something for Lent, and even speak of Jesus. But sadly, the rest of the year, except for Christmas, they rarely attend church, talk of Jesus, or behave righteously. More often than not, they cannot be distinguished from every other Joe on the street.

Random righteousness is not the call of sincere Christianity. God wants us to love Him with our whole being, not seasonal affection. What if God's love were like our own? What if He only expressed His love on our birthday or at Christmas? Would we believe His love is genuine? Wouldn't we feel somewhat cheated?

But many times, that is how we express our love to God. We base our love on expressions of religiosity instead of committed faithful benevolence. We are randomly righteous - when it suits us.

It's like those who occasionally pick up their Bible, open it, and point to a verse to read, hoping to get something out of chance selection. Reading random Scriptures won't provide solid biblical growth any more than eating random food provides solid physical growth. You need a steady diet.

And to know the love of God that, according to Ephesians 3:19, passes knowledge and fills us with the fullness of God, you must be actively involved in His love. That means recognizing His presence, praising Him for His mercy through prayer and heartfelt gratitude, and, as Jesus said, showing our love by keeping His commandments. He wasn't talking of the Ten Commandments, but the New Testament commands to love and obey God in all things. Jude 21, 22 encourages us to keep ourselves in the love of God. And as we whole-heartedly participate in the avenues of worship, prayer, and service, we position ourselves to be recipients of God's love in intimate ways.

This Easter, why not take a serious look at your attitude and commitment to righteousness? I'm not talking about putting on airs or wearing a Jesus t-shirt. I'm talking about laying aside half-hearted love and stepping up to sincere devotion to a Saviour who loved you enough to give it all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Week Fourteen - Distress and Glory

Sometimes a little devotion speaks volumes. A few weeks ago, as I was reading from Henry Blackaby's devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day, I had to take time to think and praise. Instead of telling you what he said, I'm just going to share this little three-paragraph devotion, and I believe you, too, will want to take time to think and let praise rise from your heart.

He writes, 

   "Did you know that you bring glory to God by calling upon Him when you are in distress? God promised He would deliver you if you turned to Him. You deny the Lord honor that is rightfully His every time you find yourself in difficulty and you fail to call upon Him for help! There may be times when God allows you to reach a point of need so that you can call upon Him, and thus let Him demonstrate to a watching world the difference He makes in the lives of His children. If God never allowed you to experience need, people around you might never have the opportunity to witness God's provision in the life of a Christan. If you never faced a shortfall, you might be tempted to feel self-sufficient and without any need of God in your daily life.
     Pride will tempt you to think that you do not need to seek God's assistance. Self-regard will seek to convince you that you can handle your dilemma through your own wisdom, resources, and hard work. Pride will also rob glory from God and seek to give it to you. Don't allow your pride to take what rightfully belongs to the Lord. Call upon your Lord and wait exclusively upon Him to rescue you. Then give Him the glory that He deserves.
    Self-sufficiency can greatly hinder our ability to experience God and bring Him honor. The next time you are in distress, turn to Him!"

I had never thought of trials in this way or of the idea that my calling upon the Lord when I was at my wit's end was a way of honoring Him. But in Psalm 50:15, God says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."

Dear friend, maybe we need to lay aside our self-sufficiency and pride and humbly lay our burdens at the cross. Perhaps we need to start thinking more about how our lives, as messy as they are, can be used to glorify God. Maybe we need to see that He loves to deliver! Let's not deny Him that pleasure!