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

How Do We “Live The Abundant Life” Jesus Promised?

Living the abundant life that Jesus promised us includes facing our challenges, overcoming our obstacles, and walking patiently, with hope, through our sufferings and sorrows. Persevering through life’s struggles is vital to our Christian growth. It will not be easy, so we must believe in ourselves, and God’s Word which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

God’s protection is not like a magic force field that keeps us from all adversity. We must keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, and we have a free will. We are capable of creating our own troubles when our decisions do not include God, and they are not well thought out. When we reap the consequences of those decisions, we expect God to bail us out.

On the other hand, accidents will happen, and difficult situations that we have no control over will arise in our lives. During those times, we need to remember God’s promises of protection, provision, and comfort – He is faithful to His Word! Jesus warned that we would have troubles in this World: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God works in ways that we cannot comprehend. I can give you some scenarios of God’s protection, such as: His protection might come in the form of peace and strength in the middle of despair, or it might come as an ending because He sees something more on the horizon that we cannot see.

All we need to understand is that as a believer in Jesus, we are promised a new life covered under the protection of God in which NOTHING can separate us from His love. We can rest knowing that no matter what hardship we face, God is our protector, provider, and comforter!

Why does God allow us to experience suffering and sorrow?

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:6 (NIV), “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same.” Unless we know the personal results of God’s comfort in our tribulations we are not able to comfort others in their trials. To have compassion is to enter in alongside of the other person. Suffering enables us to better understand the needs of others.

Prayer for Fear and Anxiety

Lord Jesus, the stresses in my life often reach a dangerous proportion—or so it seems. My body, mind, and spirit struggle to keep up physically, mentally, and spiritually. Some days anxiety stalks me like a deceitful predator, and the temptation to worry draws me in. I know better, but some days the challenges outweigh the truths buried inside. My trust in You fades into the background, giving fear and concerns permission to discourage me.

In those moments of apprehension, help me remember that I belong to You, and that You are not the author of fear or anxiety, but the giver of love and a sound mind. Teach me Your ways to respond to problems by giving thanks in them. Your Word assures me that You are always there with me. You are the Blessed Controller of all things, and nothing escapes Your attention in my life. You have given me every tool and spiritual blessing to fight against those things that try to steal my peace. You’ve promised that when I’m stressed and burdens are trying to weigh me down, I can come to You. You will give me sweet rest! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan Osten

Was it God’s Vengeance? You Decide.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.”  Romans 12:19RRoman 12:19 (NIV)

The Bible is very clear about seeking revenge. In Romans 12:19, God tells us to never take revenge and to leave it in the Lord’s hands. God is the ultimate judge and when we seek revenge, we are taking His place. When we become overwhelmed with what others have done wrong, we become filled with anger and find ourselves focused on hate.

I was married when I was seventeen years old, and I became a Christian when I was nineteen years old. Shortly, after I became a Christian, my husband divorced me. I was heartbroken, and the pain from losing him was overwhelming.

There were several circumstances that caused our divorce:

1.) After I became a Christian, my ex-husband told me that he didn’t want anything to do with religion, because his mother made him attend church during his adolescence and he hated it.

2.) After I became a Christian, he started a new job, and met a man named:

Jud, my husband’s friend, started to take him out at night drinking. It escalated to the point that my husband didn’t come home at all at nights when he went drinking with Jud. When I did see my husband, there was nothing I could say or do to stop him from leaving the house to party. Jud was a bad influence in my ex-husband’s life, and it ruined our marriage.

One day, I went to the store and Jud pulled up beside me in his Van. I said nothing to him at all; but, I did tell God, “Jud was hurting me.”

Time passed, and we were divorced. The Bible says, “But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15 (NLT)

By the time the divorce was finalized, I had found a job working for a man in a one girl office, typing letters and doing his bookkeeping. I had also moved into my own apartment.

The emotional pain began to subside, and between my families’ support, my churches’ support, and the support of my friends, I felt that my life was returning to some sort of normalcy.

One day, not to many months after my divorce, I went into work as usual. I will never forget this: it was about 10:30 in the morning when all of a sudden, I felt this persistent urge to call my ex-husband. I knew that it was the Lord, and I told Him that I didn’t want to call my ex-husband because it would open up old wounds.
The persistent urge continued. I was so frustrated by it that I picked up the phone and called my ex-husband. As soon as he answered, I said, “WHAT IS THE MATTER?” He replied, “Jud is dead.” My heart almost stopped – I couldn’t believe that this was what God wanted me to know. I offered my condolences and hung up the phone.

You may be wondering if I have ever had an experience like that again: the answer is “No.” That experience shocked me – never would I have ever ask God to take a life.

“God’s blessings are endless. It comes every day and sometimes in different forms. Sometimes it comes so big that we become speechless. God is always faithful and I love Him. Thank you Lord for completing yet another important stage in my educational pursuit. It was tough, yet I made it, and made it out excellently. Glory to Him, the giver of all Blessings!” 

– Terry Mark

In God’s Love and †Grace, Susan

How God Protected Me

“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior – from violent people you save me. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:3-4 (NIV)

The phone call came at about 10 p.m. My husband, son and I were sleeping. My husband was a Locksmith, and it was a call to go and unlock someone’s car. My son, Jeremy and I got out of bed to wait for his return.

While waiting, I left the room to go to into bathroom, when all of a sudden, I ran down that hall, and no sooner than I got to the living room, there came a knock at my door. I went to the door, and said “Who is it?” and there was no answer. I looked through the peep hole in the door, and there was someone standing there wearing a black hoodie with his head down. All of a sudden, the door knob began to turn. I stayed by the door, and told my son to get our gun. After Jeremy gave me the gun, I told him to call the Police. When he had them on the phone, I took the phone, and explained the situation to them. The Police told me to shoot, if that man come through the door, and they were on their way. They arrived about 20 minutes later but, he was gone. Shortly, thereafter, my husband returned.

God protects His children! But when He speaks to you, it is very important to listen and to obey Him.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV) “But the Lord is faithful, and he will stengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

May the PEACE of GOD be with you;
May His LOVE overshadow you;
May His HOPE fill your heart;
And may His JOY be full in your soul.

I Samuel 2:9 (NIV) “He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darknes. It is not by strengh that one prevails;”

In God’s Love and † Grace, Susan