Saturday, October 6, 2012

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 
2 Corinthians 4:7 
(Read 2 Cor. 4:1-7)

I recently saw a demonstration on pottery where the artist said,
”I like to play with dirt!”
Never really thought of pottery in that term before…
Peter with the pottery restoration.
Today, pottery is so beautifully finished with glazes of different colors and styles.  The pieces can last for many years. But, in ancient times, clay vessels were used much like we use paper plates today.  Used once, then thrown away. Very little value, if any, was put on them.  Today, archaeologist find volumes of pottery shards on their digs. Very rarely they’ll find a clay pot in tact.  My husband participated in a dig where he found 3 Roman pots in tact! He was the star for the day! Everyone stopped their digging and came over to see!  They let him hold it and take pictures with it.  But, they wouldn’t let him keep them!  Shards, on the other hand, were plentiful. After making sure there was no significant inscription on them, he was permitted to take some home. Part of his training was pottery restoration.  It’s like working an ancient jigsaw puzzle with shards to reconstruct the pottery.   Unique pieces got a place in the museum showcase.  All others were stored away, rarely to be seen.
In this passage we are pictured as earthen vessels (clay pots); made of dirt, cracked, humble and ordinary. Not a likely place to store a treasure.  Yet, God, who created the light to shine from the darkness, has chosen to shine the light in our hearts and to use us to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory and the gospel of the Lord Jesus to others who are still in darkness.  What a treasure!
Our human weakness is not a barrier for the power of God.  God uses ordinary people.  It is because we are blessed with this wonderful treasure that we should have boldness and confidence to live for the Glory of God.
Note:  Thoughts inspired by a sermon on “God’s Glory in our Witness” by Dr. Erwin Lutzer of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Being in the Presence of God Brings on a Reaction

I was listening to an inspirational song, where the songwriter tries to imagine what he would do when he sees Jesus face to face in heaven.  Would he stand or would he fall on his knees?  Would he sing Hallelujah or just be silent?... It’s a beautiful song.  It got me thinking; does the Bible give any examples of people’s reaction, when they came into God’s presence?  Here are a few that I found.
In the presence of God:
  • Adam and Eve hid themselves, after they disobeyed God in the Garden (Genesis 3:8).
  • The people were afraid – When Moses went up the Mountain to meet with God and they heard the thunderings and saw the lightning flashes and smoke. (Exodus 20:18)
  • Ezekiel fell on his face (Ezekiel 1:28)
  • All men will shake (Ezekiel 38:20)
  • Jonah fled (Jonah 1:3)
  • People feared (Haggai 1:12)
  • Isaiah saw his own unworthiness and said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
  • The Apostle John fell at his feet as dead (Revelation 1:17)
  • The people, who had rejected the Lord Jesus Christ were standing and waiting to be judged from the books at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-12)

These examples sound like it’s a very scary thing to be in God’s presence.  For sure, we must have reverence before Him.  Yet, there is comfort in knowing that if we know and abide in the Lord, we can feel safe.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High 
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; 
My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1)

We can also experience fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in His presence!
“You will show me the path of life; 
In Your presence is fullness of joy; 
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

How can we “know” Him?  The only way is through The Lord Jesus Christ. 
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6)
Jesus told us that we need not be afraid.  He has prepared a place for us in Heaven.  Not only can we imagine, but with joy look forward to seeing Him face to face!
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lamentations – Finding Hope Out of Sorrow and Grief

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

For most people, when you turn to Lamentations in your Bible, the pages are still stuck together. Right? It’s not enjoyable to read about sorrow – true sorrow. Lamentations tearfully describes the grief experienced when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.

As you read, you can feel the devastating pain from every perspective -the observer, the victim, the city, God, and Jeremiah.

An applicational thought: As a healing process for grief, it may help to see the situation in other perspectives, besides our own.

How could such a thing happen to Jerusalem, where God chose to place His name? The people no longer loved or served God. They turned away to follow other god’s. Prophets warned of the impending judgment. All they had to do was to turn back to God. The warnings were ignored to the very end. Then it was too late. Judgment came.

The main question asked when trouble strikes is, “Why is this happening to me?” There are many reasons for why trouble occurs. But Lamentations zooms in on this one thought. It is God’s way of getting the attention of His own who have gone astray. God means what he says and says what He means. Continual persistent disobedience will end in grief. Make an assessment on how you are living your life. Are your thoughts and actions aliened with God’s will? Is He trying to get your attention? The lesson learned here is not to ignore these warnings. But to humbly submit and return to Him.

This book is dark and gloomy. But, wait… there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel! - It’s called Hope! Our sorrow will not consume us, because of the Lord’s mercies and compassion toward us. Even in the darkest of nights, just as the sun will rise afresh in the morning, so His love and mercies will renew us each day. Morning is coming- He is merciful (3:22-24). The Lord is good to all those who humble themselves, seek and wait patiently for Him. God doesn’t take pleasure in grief.

It’s so wonderful to know that no matter how bad our circumstances are the Lord will help us through it. In the end, we can find hope out of the sorrow. For “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Ahead

As I start this new year, I know that God already knows what will happen. It's wonderful to know that He has it all under control in His will. I will continue on as He leads.

I found this great poem in a simple frame hung on the wall of the Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary classroom, where I attend classes to finish what I started over 40 years ago and get my bachelor's degree in Christian Education. It really spoke to me and I hope that it will be an encouragement to you as well. (The poem is like a prayer to God.)

Looking Ahead
I'm looking ahead to those things that
You will have me to do,
Those places You will have me to go,
Those things You have purposed for me.

I'm looking ahead with power,
and determination
Knowing that the past is behind me,
the present is before me,
and the future awaits me.

You know what's ahead of me
You have prepared the way
You have straightened the crooked paths
and smoothed the rough places
Stumbling blocks will become instruments
in Your hand for my good
and Your purpose
Detours will serve as opportunities to tell
others about You.

I can look ahead
because You are my Guide.

Louvenia Lee Aka Love Lee

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Note: Picture is a photograph I took at Deerfield Beach, FL in the early morning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is Life Worth Living? A Look At Ecclesiastes

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

The book of Ecclesiastes is one of three books written by the wisest man that ever lived, King Solomon. He was gifted by God with great wisdom. By reading this book we have the rare opportunity to, sort of, “sit” under his teaching and learn, first hand, from his Godly wisdom.

Solomon examines the question, “Is life worth living? I think we all have asked this question sometime in our lives. In the beginning of the book, Solomon gave 4 arguments as to why life was not worth living. It was vanity. Life, under the sun (physical life without God in the picture) is monotonous, there is vanity in wisdom, wealth is futile, and death is certain for everyone and all living creatures. Then he reviewed these same arguments, putting God into the picture and found that life is worth living, after all: Instead of a monotonous life, it was adventurous, filled with unexpected challenges, occurring each in their own time and purpose. It was a gift from God and being able to enjoy it was also a gift. Even though man’s wisdom could not explain everything, it was better to follow God’s wisdom than to practice the folly of men, because He has everything in His control. Wealth could also have a purpose for the good of others and could be enjoyed to God’s glory. And, knowing that death is certain for all should motivate us to live life to the fullest and make the most of each day we have.

Solomon’s final conclusion at the end of the book is key to living life to the fullest. He admonishes us to fear God and follow His commandments.

When you bring in the good news of the gospel, life becomes even more meaningful, and it is worth living. If you know Jesus Christ as your savior, you can be satisfied, no matter what circumstances come your way, because “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” 1 John 5:12

God has given us His wisdom, His Word, to follow in our daily walk with Him. This earth is not our home, but we have an eternal home in heaven where all the labor we have done on earth is not in vain in the Lord. (I Cor.15:57-58) We need not fear death because Jesus Christ has conquered death (Rev. 1:17-18). And because He lives, we know that we shall live with Him.

Photograph: Janis sitting at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.
Thoughts taken from the book: "Be Satisfied" by Warren W. Wiersbe
and Dr. Peter Colon's (my husband) class lectures on Ecclesiastes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Proverbs – God’s Wisdom Book

Proverbs 1:7- “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

While driving, I obey the rules very well, but when I know there is someone in authority, like a policeman, watching me, I tend make an extra effort to stay way within the speed limit. It’s the same feeling, but much more when speaking about the fear of the Lord. Just knowing that God is there; that He is the creator, is ever watchful and we will someday have to answer to Him for our lives, should cause us to respect Him for who He is and want to please Him. By studying His word, we can learn how. The Book of Proverbs gives us a good basis to follow.

Proverbs is a Godly wisdom book. We are to use it as a guidepost for our lives. It helps us to follow a wise way to live the Christian life and be a testimony of God’s work in us. It also helps us to make wise choices in our moral life, our relationships and with our responsibilities. The proverbs in this book are not to be used as incantations for selfish gain, but rather as principles for skillful living so that in due course, it will be well with us. It gives us God’s wisdom to maneuver through life’s difficulties and challenges that are ever present.

It isn’t important enough to have knowledge and a good education, it’s more important to have the wisdom to be able to use that education. Computers have an abundance of information but only us humans have the ability to have the wisdom to use that information for good.

Eph 5:15-17 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” As a follower of Christ we are to walk soberly, knowing that God is there. Proverbs helps us to know how to do that.

A “must read” book to understand the book of Proverbs is: “Be Skillful,

Tapping God’s Guidebook to Fulfillment”, by Warren W. Wiersbe

Monday, July 4, 2011

Stepping Out Into the Unknown

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you .When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;..." Isaiah 43:2-3a

We took our little granddaughter to the beach for the first time a couple months ago. Her mom dressed her in a cute pink poka dot swimsuit and covered her head to toe in sunscreen and topped her off with a pretty white hat. She loved it! The water was perfect for a baby- it was calm and at low tide. When she got close, she went straight in to check it out. I tried to imagine what she might have felt as she looked out at the large unending ocean in front of her with brand new eyes. Unknown. Ever moving. Scary. Yet, pretty. Unaware of the dangers, she took that step of faith and found it to be refreshing! She sat down and splashed, picked up sand and threw it back in. What fun! But, we were close behind, watching her every move and ready to step in to help her if she needed it.

As we venture into unknown territories: a new job, moving to new places, graduation, college, decisions on many different things. If you have a relationship with the Lord Jesus and He is your heavenly Father, remember that He is always with you– ready to listen and answer your prayers and help you along. You are not alone. Therefore, sit down, splash, have fun and keep trusting!

"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Note: Picture is an oil painting of my granddaughter that I painted for my Daughter's Birthday.