Devotional: We are the Clay

“Yet, O Lord, you  are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Observations: God is our father–not only is He the source of all life, but He has a special relationship with His people as our provider, protector, teacher, etc. Comparing God’s people to clay and God to a potter suggests that God molds and shapes us into the people we become. In one way, God created us with our unique personalities, natural talents and inner desires. But He also molds us by the work of His spirit through our restored relationship with Jesus Christ (sanctification). We are God’s handiwork, created by Him for a purpose and we are dependent upon Him to fulfill our purposes in this life. However, we are not devoid of all responsibility for our behaviors and the shape we take. It is our responsibility to respond to God’s call in our lives and to the work of His spirit, at least as much as we are able to in our broken condition.

Application: I will rest in the arms of my heavenly Father, secured by the blood of Christ, remembering that I am the work of His hand that was created for a specific purpose. I will remember that my responsibility is to respond to God’s leading and continually seek out His will daily, though it is Him who actually accomplished His perfect will.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your tremendous love and grace. Thank you also for creating me the way that You did. God, help me to not lose sight of who I  really am in this ever-changing, crazy world. Help me to look to You alone for my worth and value, seeking after Your will above all else. Guide me and mold me into the image of Christ. Amen. 

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Devotional: Cast your cares on Him

Scripture: “Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6&7

Observations: God cares for His people so fully and completely that we can confidently cast our anxiety on Him and trust Him to take care of all our needs. However, we must also humble ourselves before the Lord, making ourselves lower and being submissive to His authority and power.

Application: I need to continually remember my proper position before my holy God. I need to make myself lowly before Him, so that I can trust and obey His word and be lifted up in due time accoding to His purposes. Whenever I feel the crushing weight of my fears and anxiety, I will remember who God is and who I am to Him. I will remember that I am a deeply loved child of God. I will humble myself before the Lord and trust Him to take care of all my needs. If I fully trust Him and I am growing in that trust, believing that He is all-powerful and the ultimate sovereign authority, then there should be less and less room in my heart for unhealthy fear and anxiety.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being mighty and powerful and worthy of all my trust and hope. Especially in times of stress and anxiety, help me to remember who You are and that I can trust in You for ALL things. Take away my fears and anxious thoughts, and replace them hope, trust, and faith in You and in Your perfect love. Thank you Lord, for your gift of salvation in Jesus. Strengthen me and prepare me to share Your love and Truth with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be content

Scripture: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

Observation: We can trust God to meet all of our needs because He has promised to continually be with us and provide for us. Therefore, we should be content with what we have as we find rest in His promises. Money and possessions can never really fulfill our needs like God can.

Application: I should not love money or put my trust in it, but I should instead love and trust God, who is the source of all good things. I should have confidence in my Lord, remembering that He loves me dearly, knows all my needs and desires, and has promised to never leave or abandon me. Because of this covenant relationship, I am free to be content with my life–my income, my job, my family, my possessions–if everything is kept in the right perspective as gifts from God to be used to serve others and honor Him. I will continually strive to honor God with the money and possessions I’ve been given, handling them wisely and generously.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being my provider in whom I can always trust. Help me to remember who you are and what you have promised. Help me to keep money, possessions, and my entire life in proper perspective before You. Help me to be content with what I have and to honor You with all that I have and all that I am. Thank you Lord for your grace, your provision, and your incredible gift of eternal life through Jesus. Amen. 

God disciplines His children

Scripture: “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10

Observations: Although our fathers discipline us for a short time as children, God disciplines us for life. Because we are disciplined by God, we can be assured that we are His sons and daughters whom He loves. Also, we must be disciplined if we want to share in God’s holiness.

Application: I need to view hardship and difficult life circumstances as discipline from God–looking for opportunities to learn from God even in the most difficult times. I should check my attitude when things don’t go my way and focus my mind on God, remembering that He disciplines those He loves. If I fix my eyes on Jesus (see 12:2) and remember His work on the Cross for me, it will help me to keep my life in proper perspective and see how God may be teaching me.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being good and holy. Thank you that you are a God of tremendous patience and grace. Lord, help me to remember who you are and that I am your child, whom you love. Help me to see you at work even in the worst of circumstances and let me see how you are disciplining me and helping me grow in holiness. Give me patience, Lord, and help me to discern your will in my daily life, honoring you in both good times and bad times. Help me to fix my eyes on my Savior each and every day. Amen. 

“Run Joseph, run!!”

Have you ever been tempted? I mean, has there ever been something that seemed really good that you wanted to do, but knew you shouldn’t? If you are like most people, you have been tempted with doing something wrong, probably on a daily basis. Of course, you have probably given in to some of those temptations throughout your life. I know I have. It can be as simple as eating unhealthy, or as complicated as having an affair. Today I read part of the story of Joseph. (If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll remember that he is one of the sons of Jacob–the guy with all the wife-drama.) The beginning of Joseph’s story is found in Genesis 37, where he is given a “coat of many colors,” makes his older brothers jealous, and is sold into slavery and sent to Egypt. However, in chapter 39 we get a glimpse into how things are going with him in Egypt. He becomes the servant of a wealthy man named Potiphar, who trusts Joseph so much that he leaves “everything he had in Joseph’s charge” (39:6b). But then we are told that Joseph is handsome and Potiphar’s wife gets a huge crush on him. She pursues him and secretly begs him to sleep with her. Here is his response:

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has son concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? (Genesis 39:8&9)

Isn’t that incredible? This young, handsome, slave-boy is given free-reign over a man’s household (everything but the man’s wife) and even she offers herself to him. Most young men in that situation would have given in to that temptation at least once, at least enough to get themselves into a lot of trouble. But Joseph doesn’t. His response communicates his deep respect for his master, his mature understanding of his responsibility, and most importantly, his reverence for God’s holiness. He immediately recognizes that sleeping with another man’s wife, especially his master’s, would be a terrible offense against the man, but also against God. Even with this response proving himself as a man of integrity, Potiphar’s wife still persists. One day she finds herself alone with Joseph in the house and grabs hold of his clothes, trying to persuade him, but he runs away so quickly and with such force that she tears off his clothes. Of course, this really irritates her and she uses his clothing as fake evidence in the lie she tells her husband about Joseph trying to force himself on her. Even though Joseph behaved righteously, his master believed the lie and had him thrown in prison (where he actually prospered as well).

We live in a world full of temptation and for every temptation that exists, there seem to be hundreds of people encouraging others to give in. Certainly, we can watch tv for about 30 seconds and see scores of people whose lives have been seriously messed up as a result of doing the wrong things. However, the number of people whose lives have been ruined by doing the right things is a much smaller number. However, Joseph’s story shares with us at least two truths about fleeing from temptation:

1) fleeing from sin & temptation is always possible (there’s always a way to escape)

2) sometimes the consequences of resisting temptation can seem worse than the consequences of giving in

I hope that you are as encouraged as I am by Joseph’s story and motivated to trust in God to provide a way out when you are tempted. I hope you remember that although doing the right thing may be painful in the short-term, over time you will never regret resisting the temptation. Also remember that sin is often gradual and deceptive by nature; it only takes one tiny, properly placed spark to start a raging wild fire that leaves nothing but destruction in its path. The same principle can also be applied to acts of righteousness and integrity; we all have to start somewhere.

Have any other insights into this topic/Joseph’s story/my conclusions?

Please COMMENT below. God bless!