The Potter & The Clay

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

God is continually, molding and shaping us, so that we will be transformed into the image of the Son of God.

He uses many different methods to transform us. Some of the methods God used in my life are as follows:

1) My Vocation:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

I had to work to help support my family. My education consisted of a GED and some college. I worked in the corporate world, in Human Resources (Health & Welfare and Financial Benefits.) Because of the level of my education, I had to work twice as hard. At times, it really annoyed me, so I would repeat Colossians 3:23-24 over and over to myself, during working hours, until it became a part of me. God blessed me with raises and good reviews. To this day, I keep that scripture close to my heart.

2.)  My Co-workers, Friends and Family:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

3.) Suffering:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

I was nineteen years old, when I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my Life. About six months later, my husband abandoned me. He said, “I don’t want any part of Christianity.” I was devastated! In my early 20’s, I became pregnant, which resulted in a Tubal Pregnancy, which caused me to hemorrhage. I had emergency surgery, just in time to save my life. A few months after surgery, I became ill and I had to have a Hysterectomy. Over the years, I’ve lost almost everything I owned, four times, except for a few personal items, the clothes in my closet and some furniture. When I was in my 40’s, I became very ill and was hospitalized three times. I could no longer work outside the home. I’ve cried many tears in my lifetime, but each painful situation was teaching me patience. God, comforted me, provided my needs and healed my emotional wounds. My suffering changed my heart of stone into a compassionate heart.

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them. ~ John Wesley

4.) Prayer

I was praying in the Spirit…

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26 (NIV)

and an indescribable “Grief” came over me. That experience has forever changed me.

5.) God’s presence in my life and His LOVE that’s wrapped around me.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither 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 8:37-39 (NIV

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Paul wrote that being transformed into the image of the Son of God is a process, and it takes time and is a constant struggle over resisting sin. He wrote,

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV).

So we see that this is an ongoing process throughout our lives. We shouldn’t grow discouraged because it takes time–a lifetime, in fact–and we will never achieve a total transformation into holiness until He appears. Then we shall finally be like Him, or as John wrote,

“We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2 (NIV)

Paul’s words are an enormous encouragement to us:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

Please apply Paul’s words to those things which pertain to the glory of God and our peace and endurance through Christ unto the salvation of our souls.

Because narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14 (AKJV)

PRAYER

Father,

I want to win the race you have marked out for me. I am done with limping along. I will take the steps of faith necessary to strip away everything that has impeded my progress. Speak to me now as I quiet myself before you. With the help of your mighty hand, I will remove the obstacles in my path so I can run with strength, stamina and staying power. And make me a source of encouragement for others as we all follow Jesus together in this great marathon! With faith in You, I will win. Amen.

by Mark and Jill Herringshaw

“…Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

In † Christian Love, Susan Osten

Whatever You Face In Life, God Will Take Care of You!

Update: July 12th, my husband is returning to work at what he considers his dream job, because it’s 5 minutes from home and he will no longer be driving all day. The job came to him at just the right time. I’ve gained strength in my right arm and can handle a lot more things, now. Thank you, God!

PRELUDE: I tripped over a tree root, while running with Taylor.

When I hit the ground, I heard a tearing noise, and a loud crack: I felt no pain. The impact broke my shoulder, knocked out a tooth and I had a bump on the back of my head.

When the paramedics arrived, they brought a gurney in to the Dog Park to pick me up. They had a lot of trouble trying to lift me out of the grass, so they had to go back to the ambulance and get a scooper gurney, and they had trouble getting me on to that one, too. I was in pain by the time I reached the ambulance, and one of the paramedics offered me pain medication, and I accepted. Before they administered the drug, they took 5 minutes to explain the side effects. They kept emphasizing that it could stop my breathing, and then he said, “Don’t worry, we have something available to start your breathing again.” I let them administer it. At the ER, the doctor told me I needed to see a Surgeon within 3 days. He handed me his card.

One day, before my accident, I was thinking to myself, “God has blessed me with a Christian Website, 2 Christian Scleroderma Facebook Pages, and most importantly, I’m reaching people for Jesus. I was begining to wonder when the devil would be prowling around, causing trouble?”

1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV) says, to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

On the morning of Tuesday, April 16th, I woke up late. I had one hour to get my Lab to the Dog Park, come home, shower, dress and go to a 10:30 a.m. doctor’s appointment. I take Taylor to the Dog Park because I live in a retirement community and the weight limit for dogs is 30 pounds. Taylor weighs 114 pounds and she frightens the elderly people when she barks at their dogs. She’s allowed to live in the community because she’s a licensed, Emotional Support Dog.

I felt stuck, so I asked God, “Do you get involved in these types of situations?” Five minutes later, my husband walked through the door: he had lost his job. Because of his unfortunate happenstance, I made it to my doctor’s appointment and Taylor went to the Dog Park.

That afternoon, I was running with my dog at the Dog Park and I tripped over a tree root. When I hit the ground, I landed on my face, shattering a tooth and I heared a tearing noise and a loud crack. I had broken my shoulder. I was taken to the ER by ambulance because I couldn’t move. At the hospital, they took an x-ray of my shoulder. The doctor confirmed that I had broken my right shoulder. I had surgery on April 30th.

Bone is growing over the implant.

June is upon us, and I still do not have full range of motion in my right arm. I am blessed to have physical therapists come into my home twice a week, to assist me in strengthening, and retraining the muscles in my right arm. I still have to have assistance with some things and I cannot lift anything over 10 pounds. I’m so grateful that on the day of my accident, my husband was with me.

Little did I know, my husband was going to be my caregiver for 3 months. I was incapacitated: I had no family or good friends in Florida; therefore, it was a blessing in disguise when my husband lost his job. I experianced one of God’s promises. I experienced God’s care, and how He strategically handled everything. I chose the following Scriptures to encourage you in your relationship with God:

“I will be your God through all your lifetime. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you along and be your Savior.” Isaiah 46:4 (TLB)

Romans 8:28 (NIV) says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 34:19 (NIV) says, “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;”

I’m at peace, despite the circumstances.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

I know I will, at times, face discouragement. But I know to kept my eyes on Jesus and trust His promises. He is our mighty Savior who will sustain us during our difficult times. Nothing compares to the love He has for us. He is our strong tower and our hope in every storm.

Psalm 62:5 (NLT) says, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.”

NO MATTER WHAT DIFFICULTIES YOU MAY ENCOUNTER, GOD WILL BE THERE, WORKING ON YOUR BEHALF.

In † Christian Love, Susan Osten

I Thought It Was Impossible!

Several weeks ago, I was reconciling my checking account, and I said to the Lord, “I need a raise!” I was sort of joking with Him because I knew that because of the type of check I receive, no substantial raises would ever be forthcoming.

But, after I asked the Lord for a raise, He said, “Cancel my YMCA membership.” The next day, I drove to the YMCA and canceled my membership. The receptionist told me that I had arrived just in time to stop next month’s bank draft.

The Lord then told me to create an Income and Expense Form, to help me see the big picture, so I did what He said.

A few days later, I went online to make sure that my was deposited. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had received a substantial raise.

Some of you might be asking yourself, “How did she know it was the Lord’s voice telling her to cancel the gym membership and create the form?” It’s because, when I was a baby Christian, my Pastor taught me how important it was to LEARN to listen for God’s voice.

It is very easy to talk to Jesus. He is our BEST FRIEND! Be yourself when you talk to Him.

God can change impossible situations. He sometimes moves mysteriously, but will provide what you need in miraculous ways. Obey Him and do what you can, and God will successfully execute what you can’t.

Sometimes we forget, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37 (KJV)

Jesus: Our Best Friend

John 15:9-17 (NIV)

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

As believers, we think of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, King, or Master, but rarely do we think of Him as our close friend. We may have difficulty with the concept, but Jesus does not. Once we can grasp what kind of companion He is, we’ll realize that a truly joyful life is possible only through a friendship with Him.

Jesus accepts us. Unconditional acceptance means we can always approach Him, even with our dirty sin baggage. He doesn’t intend to leave us in our present state, and we’re accepted no matter what’s happening in our lives.

Jesus walks through trials with us. God’s promise never to leave or forsake His people is repeated throughout the Scriptures. (See Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5.) That promise is individualized for each believer through Jesus’ companionship. He is our constant encourager and faithful friend during both the good and dark times in our lives.

Jesus is always available. He has no need to sleep, take a dinner break, or go on vacation. Unlike humans, Jesus is never too busy to meet our needs or respond to our prayers.

Jesus listens to us. We can share doubts, tears, and joys with the Lord because He wants to hear from us. Whatever we say—even angry shouts and tears—will be met with His consistent assurance that He loves us, has a plan for us, and will rescue us if necessary. And He goes beyond mere listening: He speaks through the Scriptures. In the Word, we’ll find His answer to every circumstance we face.

As the old hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus!”

Source: InTouch

In Christ’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless?

How Can We Have Hope When Everything Looks Hopeless?

In Romans 5:3-5, Paul says that we can rejoice in our sufferings because we are a people of hope: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5, ESV)

So, how can we have hope when everything looks hopeless? In the midst of suffering, we can rejoice because these challenges cause us to:

1. Rely on God’s presence

Rejoicing in suffering does not mean celebrating when bad news comes. But, it does mean that we can believe that God is doing a redemptive work. This word “redemptive” means that God does not waste a hurt or disappointment. He is using them to shape and build us into the image of Jesus, which is his highest passion.

When we go through suffering, we often pray and seek God more intensely than at other times. My greatest times of growth have been when I’ve reached the end of my resources and all I have left is Jesus. God uses suffering to make us rely on His presence.

In Psalm 23:4, David writes that he does not fear because God is with him. He relies on God’s presence, and it brings him strength and comfort. Remember that for there to be a shadow, there has to be a light. I don’t know what your “valley of the shadow of death” is, but I do know who the Light is that is walking with you in that valley.

In another Psalm, David reveals that one of the reasons for his joy is that he is forgiven. (Ps. 31:1, NIV). We can’t determine God’s love for us based on good or bad circumstances. We determine His love based on the cross and what He did for us on it.

2. Rely on God’s provision

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul reveals that he has suffered from a “thorn in the flesh.” God was so concerned about Paul not becoming proud he allowed this to happen to him to prevent him from becoming conceited.

In our current situations, God is saying to us that His grace is sufficient, and even when we feel weak, He is making us stronger than we have ever been. His grace is not an abstract idea. It is the person of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. The hell you are going through may be the very circumstance God uses to take you to a whole new level.

3. Rely on God’s power

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9b, ESV).

What is your weakness? Maybe it is a son or a daughter that hasn’t quite turned out the way you thought he or she would. A job situation that has gone awry. A medical diagnosis that has scared you. Maybe, like Paul, it is also insults, hardships, or persecutions. Whatever it is, Paul says he will boast in those things because when we are weak, the power of Christ rests on us.

The greater the enemy comes at you, the greater Jesus is in you.
Maybe you hear voices telling you to just quit, give up, and let it go.

DON’T STOP! When you are weak, then He is strong. Remember the greater the attack against you, the greater Christ is in you, but you have to rely on His Presence, His Provision and His Power.

Write down what you are suffering from or struggling with and place it in an envelope. On the outside, write, “God’s got this, and He is transforming me.” Now when that challenge comes to mind remember to rely on Him.

-Derwin L. Gray, Gospel Of Grace