Devotions to Help you Marvel at our God!


God The Potter (Jeremiah 18) by alive2christ
March 30, 2010, 4:34 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

When Scripture wants to teach of God’s compassion, guidance, and care for His people, it uses the familiar metaphor of a shepherd.

And, when Scripture wants to teach of God’s sovereignty and complete authority over His people, it uses the metaphor of a potter (one who fashions clay).

The prophet Jeremiah and the people of his time would have been very familiar with the process of a potter shaping clay.  But, in Jeremiah 18, God commands Jeremiah to go and observe a potter with a fresh set of eyes…to look at the process with new intention.  This time he was going to learn something about God.

So, Jeremiah goes to the potter’s house and observes Him working at his wheel (18:1-3).  Now, we need to pay close attention to 3 characteristics of this potter (along with their analogies to God).

  1. The Potter is always working (v. 3).  A professional potter is always at work fashioning clay.  And, in this life, God as our spiritual Potter, is always at work fashioning you and me.  He never stops, He never rests, and we are never complete until heaven.  I think it is significant that there is no mention in this passage of a furnace.  A furnace certainly would have been a part of the potter’s complex, and it was used to finish the clay/product.  But, you and I are never, in a sense, put in the fire and “finished.”  The process of forming the clay is the heart of this analogy.  And that is what God, as our Potter, is busy doing in our lives.
  2. The Potter is always working…to make a useful vessel (v. 4a).  Often, while shaping the clay, a defect would happen.  Now, in the analogy here, the defect was not due to the potter’s lack of skill.  Rather, the defect was because something was wrong with the clay.  But, the potter did not gather up the clay and throw it outside.  Instead, he patiently rolled the clay back into a lump, started over, and shaped it again until it was useful.  God has no intention of saving you without making you useful for His service. All of His work on you is for a purpose – to fashion you into something of use.  And He is patient with us to make of us a useful vessel (just like He was patient with King David, Peter, and Paul)!  How can this not remind us of the promise in Phil 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
  3. The Potter is always working to make a useful vessel…according to His point of view (v. 4b).  The apostle Paul asked the provocative question in Romans 9:20, “Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?’  Has the potter no right over the clay?”  A potter shapes a lump of clay according to his desires.  He never asks the clay for suggestions.  But, how often are we guilty of ingratitude for the way that God has fashioned us or the path that God has chosen for us? We become resistant and unmoldable…spoiled in the hand of the Potter.  We would do well to accept His hand on our lives and align ourselves with His purposes.  Now, this is not always easy because for some of you God has measured out hardship, or difficulty, or loss.  That is the shape of your vessel. But, we must trust that His hand is good and that He does only what is good for His vessels!  Oh, that we would be a willing clay in the Potter’s good hand!  May we be the kind of clay that invites the hands of the Potter onto our lives.

So, here is a probing question…are there any points of your life right now where you are resisting the hand of the Potter?  Is He nudging or pressing an area of your life (through Scripture, sermons, friend’s counsel, the Spirit’s gentle leading, etc.), but you are unwilling to conform?  Let me exhort you – submit to Him before His hands must rework you.  You don’t want that.  The Potter’s way is good.  Trust Him and let Him fashion you into a useful vessel for His glory and the glory of your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Alive-2-Christ,

Kendall



Measureless by alive2christ
February 15, 2010, 6:45 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

The well-known gospel musician, Bill Gaither, was once asked, “What are the greatest Christian lyrics ever written?”  Without hesitation, he began quoting F. M. Lehman’s song, The Love of God.  The chorus of that great song says:

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

And, it is true.  The love of God has no measure and no comparison.  Today we will take a peak into the psalms and see how the authors of Scripture struggled to find analogies that compared with the greatness of God’s love.

  1. Compared with the size of the earth – Ps 33:5.  The psalmist writes, “The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”  So, how big is the love of God?  Just look around…it’s as big as the earth!
  2. Compared with the span of a day – Ps 52:1.  David writes, “The steadfast love of God endures all the day.”  There is no lapse in the day when God’s love fails you.  It is perfect every moment and endures all the day.
  3. Compared with the value of life – Ps 63:3.  David writes, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”  Life itself is the most precious of things on this earth.  But, David says there is even 1 thing that surpasses it in value.  God’s eternal, steady, and everlasting love!
  4. Compared with the overflow of matter – Ps 86:15.  David writes, “You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”  How much love does God stand ready to dispense to you?  More than you need…He abounds with love, exceeding our needs!
  5. Compared with the height of the heavens – Ps 103:11.  David writes, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.”  How is the greatness of God to be measured?  By a reach of the arms?  By the distance of a mile?  By the height of a mountain?  No.  By the point of a finger to the sky…it is as high as the heavens!
  6. Compared with the duration of time – Ps 136:1.  The psalmist writes, “His steadfast love endures forever.”  There is no time stamp on God’s love.  It outlasts even the greatest of measurements – time!

So, how can we accurately measure the love of God?  We cannot.  It is greater than every point of reference used to measure it.  Is it as high as the heavens?  Higher!  Is it as large as the earth?  Larger!  Is it as long as eternity?  Longer!  The love of God for us truly is immeasurable!

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Alive2Christ,

Kendall



Dealing With Life’s Problems by alive2christ
January 5, 2010, 6:09 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

At times, life can be like a microscope.  When you look through the eyepiece, the tiny (yet magnified) specks of material become all you see.  And, if you linger long enough, the entire world can seemingly shrink down to the specimens on the slide.  The world is larger than the specimens, of course, but it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.

In life, problems tend to magnify themselves so they become all you see.  And, if they linger in your life long enough or become numerous enough, the world seems to be reduced to nothing but problems.  Problems are not all of life, of course, but they seem that way in the moment.  And, when problems consume our view, they inevitably cause us to drift into hopelessness and despair.

So, today I would like to offer a few biblical directives for dealing with life’s problems.  They have helped me in recent times of trouble, and so I hope they can be of some help to you as well.

  1. God will never allow a problem into your life that you cannot endure – 1 Corinthians 10:13.  This verse basically says that God “sizes us up” and knows what we can handle.  Psalm 103:14 reminds us that God “knows our frame” and is acquainted with our fragility.  Because He is faithful and loving, God will never allow something into our lives that we cannot handle.  So, if there is a problem in your life right now, take courage from this passage – you can handle it!
  2. We are instructed to cast our problems on God – 1 Peter 5:7.  And, this is not like a cast when you go fishing.  You do not cast your problems to God and then reel them back to yourself.  You are to cast them and leave them.  Only God can allow a problem into your life, and only God can remove the problem from your life.  So, he invites you to give the problem to Him…to let Him “worry” about it, and to let Him solve it.  In the mean time, you can be free of the worry and the stress and the fretting.
  3. Problems reveal your spiritual condition – Deut 8:2-5.  When pressed with a problem, the real you comes out.  So, problems give us a chance to examine our hearts.  The nation of Israel failed their test, but Job was a success (see Job 1:21-22; 2:9-10).  What have your problems revealed about you?  Anger?  Impatience?  Lack of trust?  Bitterness?  Your problems should not be an occasion for you to fail, but an opportunity to shine for the glory of Christ and the good of others.
  4. Problems have a purpose – James 1:2-4.  Most things in the world become weaker by testing.  When continual pressure is put to them they eventually bend or break.  Case in point, I had a snow shovel break on me last week.  The shovel had not become stronger from all the years of practice, rather it became weaker.  Not so with humans.  James tells us that our testing is designed to make us stronger…to produce new ability within us.  We may not like our tests, but without them we would remain weak.  God tests us, not so that we would fail; but so that we, through the strength of Christ, would emerge the victor.

It is true, problems are a part of life.  But, they are not all of life.  What problems are you encountering right now?  May these words challenge you to guard yourself so that you do not let the temporary destroy the eternal, nor the immediate destroy the ultimate.  Rather, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV).

Alive2Christ,

Kendall C.



Carried by Our Heavenly Father (Deut 1:31) by alive2christ
November 17, 2009, 4:20 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

Tuesday 11.17.09

Every child probably experiences a similar memory – falling asleep in the car during the drive home.  This situation always affords dad the opportunity to become a hero by opening the back door, unfastening the seat belt, and scooping the sleeping child into his arms.  Then, after bumping the car door closed, he somehow manages to open the house door with his forearm.  On the way down the hallway he fumbles to remove shoes, socks, and a jacket.  Dad places the sleeping child into bed and pulls the covers up snug.  It is the perfect picture of a father carrying his helpless child.

In Deuteronomy 1:31, Moses reminds the Israelites that the Lord has been faithful to care for them.  To illustrate his point, he uses the analogy of a father carrying a child.  The verse says it this way: “You have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.”  What a beautiful picture.  God carrying His people.  Weak, inexperienced, and unable to walk on their own strength – God scooped them up and carried them in His unfailing love and unwavering strength.

Christian, you are a child of God.  And, as His child, He watches over you and protects you.  He keeps you.  And, especially during those moments when you cannot walk on your own – He carries you.  Is your spirit tired today?  Are you anxious in your heart?  Are you weary and feeling like you can’t take another step forward?  Then, hope in God.  Let the truth of God’s deep love and care for you settle profoundly into your mind.  Rest in the arms of the Almighty and let your heavenly Father carry you!  He is able, He is strong, and He is willing.

Alive2Christ,

Kendall C.



The Willing Physician (Mark 1:40-41) by alive2christ
November 10, 2009, 9:30 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

Tuesday 11.10.09

drHave you ever been denied a very important request?  It’s a sinking feeling isn’t it?  I remember this feeling once in college when I asked a professor to consider changing my grade.  I was convinced that he had been harsh and unfair in grading my work all semester long.  But, I never said a word to him hoping that, in the end, I would still receive a B and secure my place on the dean’s list.  For me, making the dean’s list meant a hefty “bonus” of a few hundred dollars from my grandmother who graciously placed some incentives on my getting good grades…and so I worked hard to obtain A’s and B’s.

Well, when the final grades came out, I had all A’s and B’s – except this one class.  I missed a B by 2/10’s of a point!  I needed an 84.5%, and I was holding an 84.3%.  I thought that the only reasonable thing to do was go and speak with this professor.  So, I laid out my plan, took my entire course work with me, and pleaded my case.  I thought this was a sure slam-dunk.  He just had to see it my way, right?  No way he would listen to this completely reasonable case and still deny me a B.

But, he did.

He stuck by his guns and didn’t budge an inch.  I still remember walking out of his office and thinking about how unapproachable he was.  Difficult.  Hard to talk to.  Unreasonable.  These were all words that I would use to describe this man.  Can you relate with a situation like this?  Unreasonable people can deflate your spirit and leave you discouraged.

But, not so with Christ.  He is the willing physician.  He is the willing forgiver of sins.  He is the willing request-granter.  In Mark 1:40, a leper came to Christ and simply asked, “Jesus will you heal me?”  What a warm and vulnerable and desperate request.  Jesus responded with three powerful words, “I am willing.”  What an equally warm and calming answer.  And, it was an answer that changed the man’s life.

Let those three words sink into your mind for just a moment.  The desire of Christ is not to hold out on us, tell us no, crush our spirits, and leave us discouraged and despairing.  He lovingly grants our requests so that we might have continual fellowship with Him.  Do not be snared by the lie that He is unwilling.  Do not disbelieve, but believe that He is a ready and eager Savior!  By faith, claim the promise that says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Hear the words of Jesus today when He says to you, “I am willing!”

Alive2Christ,

Kendall C.

 



What God Likes to Smell (Numbers 28-29) by alive2christ
November 3, 2009, 6:14 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

Tuesday 11.3.09

bread There are few smells in the world that compare with fresh-baked bread.   The soothing aroma may find you while standing in line at a bakery or while strolling past a pretzel store in the mall.  Either way, it always seems like the natural response is to take a deep breath and then say, “That smells sooooo good.”

Now, hold on to that feeling for just a moment – the feeling that makes you want to close your eyes and forget about all the stresses in your life – yea, that one.  That is the power of a pleasant smell!

In Numbers 28-29, God shares with us what He likes to smell.  In these 2 chapters He is giving the nation of Israel instructions concerning offerings and sacrifices.  And, many instructions are followed up with the noticeable phrase that it will be “a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”  In fact, this phrase is repeated 11 times to make sure we do not miss the point (28:2, 6, 8, 13, 24, 27; 29:2, 6, 8, 13, 36)!

So, just what is it that makes a pleasant smell to God?  It is the smell of His people acting in faith and it is the smell of pardon from sin.  You see, God instructed the Israelites to offer up sacrifices in confident trust and glad obedience to Him.  And, it was no small amount of resources.  For example, Numbers 29:12-38 describes what was to be sacrificed only at the Feast of Booths:

  • Day 1 – 13 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 2 – 12 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 3 – 11 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 4 – 10 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 5 – 9 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 6 – 8 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 7 – 7 bulls, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat
  • Day 8 – 1 bull, 1 ram, 7 lambs, and 1 goat

Adding up these numbers brings the entire 8-day amount to 71 bulls, 15 rams, 105 lambs, and 8 goats.  Think about this for a moment – that is a lot of animal sacrifices, a lot of burning, and (we even might be tempted to think) a lot of waste.  But, obeying God is never a waste.  In these sacrifices God was teaching a most vital lesson – the reality of redemption, substitution, and pardon.  It was a picture of what was going to take place in the death of Christ.  Therefore, it brought satisfaction to God.  Mercy, forgiveness, and pardon was a sweet smell to Him.

In Romans 12:1, Christians are commanded to, “Present our bodies as a living sacrifice.”  This means offering up our time, our resources, and our obedience to God.  We might be tempted to downplay the importance of these duties with thoughts like:

  • It’s not really a big deal if I “let up” on my Christian walk today.  I can just pick it back up tomorrow.
  • I’m not going to obey God on this issue because I just don’t see the purpose of it.
  • I give up.  I’ve been trying really hard to obey God, but it doesn’t seem to be changing anything in my life.

Let’s not be fooled…we cannot downplay our walk of spiritual sacrifices for this main reason – our life of service brings a pleasing aroma to God. Why?  Because when we present our bodies unto Him, we are magnifying the new life that was given to us through Jesus Christ.  Through faithful obedience, we are living out the reality of the new birth.  We are picturing what took place in the death of Christ.  So, we must in faith, keep this task going even when the purpose or results of it are blurry in our mind’s eye.  We do it because we make it our aim to please the God who delights in mercy, forgiveness, and pardon.

By faith, Christians make spiritual sacrifices unto God, namely we place our lives at His disposal.  In faith we obey and in faith we are pardoned.  When this takes place, God is pleased and a soothing aroma finds Him.

Alive2Christ,

Kendall C.



You’ve Been Adopted (Eph 1:5) by alive2christ
October 27, 2009, 9:57 am
Filed under: Pastor Kendall's Devotions

Tuesday 10.27.09

Sep update blog picYesterday, my wife and I became the legal parents of 2 new children – Addis and Micah.  When we received the news that the Ethiopian court had approved the adoption, my mind kept repeating with hesitant confidence, “I can’t believe they’re ours!”

Throughout the day as my emotions settled down, I began to fixate on some of the spiritual parallels of the moment.  Ephesians 1:4-5 took on fresh and intense meaning, “In love He [God the Father] predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

I want to highlight just a few of the ways that our recent earthly adoption can help us understand a believer’s spiritual adoption by God:

  1. When the judge officially stamped the adoption papers and declared these children to be ours, it became a fixed reality.  It was a settled fact.  These 2 children became our legal and binding joy and responsibility.  They immediately became, in every way possible, our children.  Similarly, when God the Judge declares us to be His children through Christ, the decision becomes a fixed reality. It cannot be reversed.  It is a settled fact.  We are instantly His.  This is the beauty of the doctrine of justification…God makes a legal declaration that in Christ, we have been made righteous.  Therefore, we become His adopted children.  Nothing can separate us from this reality (Rom 8:38-39).  And, when He takes legal possession of us as children, we become heir to all the riches of His eternal blessing.
  2. We are currently working on travel plans to fly to Ethiopia and pick up our children.  To put it another way, we are waiting for the moment when the thing that is true will become a reality.  They are fully/legally our children, but we have not yet taken physical possession of them.  The children are completely ours, but in a sense, not yet.  In the same way, we are fully/legally God’s children.  He has taken possession of us spiritually, but not yet physically.  As Christians and sojourners in this world, we are awaiting the culmination of what is spiritually true.  God will bring us to heaven to be with Him.  We are completely His, but in a sense, not yet.  We have a window of time to wait for our Father’s arrival…and so we do this with great hope and expectation.
  3. We have never seen our children.  Yet, we have great love for them.  We can’t wait to see them and talk with them and be in their presence.  In a similar way, the Apostle Peter commended the believers of his day that, “Though you have not seen Him [Jesus Christ], you love him” (1 Peter 1:8).  Our hearts should leap with excitement at the thought of one day being face-to-face with Christ.  We should long for a conversation with Him, to be in His presence and have a new appreciation for Him – the kind that comes only by sight.  One day, we will see the One whom we love.

I want to encourage you today, Christian, with the reality of your adoption.  Know that once you were lost, impoverished, orphaned, hopeless, and dead in your sins – but, God selected you.  He chose and predestined you for Himself – to be your Father.  He secured legal and binding possession of you by the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ.  There is a place in His heaven prepared for you.  It is real, it is there, and it is yours.  And, at just the right time, God will bring you to your new and eternal home.  All this He did for you in love.  You are His adopted child!

Alive2Christ,

Kendall C.