Vessel For Honor

God’s original design for me was to be a vessel of honor and glory for His name. I was hand carved and painted to reflect the beauty of the Lord. But, I decided to seek my own glory instead, because I wanted a different design for myself. I put clay over top of myself to try and cover the design and reshape myself into what I want, but it just turned ugly as it dried. As my clay hardened I realized I was just coated with sin, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t scrape it off myself. Only the blood of Christ can wash me and bring me back the things I was meant to be before.

“But in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, He will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the master for every good work.” 2nd Timothy 2:20-21

These are vessels in a great house. This isn’t a contrast of the people within and without the church, but those that are a part of it. There are those who are saved and cleansed, and there are those who are saved, cleansed, then scrubbed to be used for Honor. Not everyone is willing to be scrubbed. They aren’t a vessel of honor, but a vessel for honor to be used by the master.

Will I subject myself to be scrubbed clean enough to be filled with the spirit, or will I stay living a life filled with myself?

No Chains Holding Him Back

[The gospel] “For which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ with eternal glory.” – 2nd Timothy 1:9-10

What are my chains? In what ways am I held back, maybe in ways I don’t have the power to fix. My health is a chain for me, my finances, student loans, my anxiety and fears – all of these things are chains that hold me back from the Lord and what He has for me to do. Or, at least, they try. The wonderful thing is that I am living by the power of faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20) which means that the work I do for the Lord, no matter my chains, will never be chained! The power of the gospel is working through what I do for the lord, so that nothing can hold it back or make it useless.

One of the things that blows my mind is that the power of God to work through me, isn’t just at work in my labor for His glory, but also in my mistakes. Because God is also redeemer, He takes my failures and my shame and makes it a tool for eternal glory. And because of this, “therefore I endure all things.” What a better hope for me to endure than the Lord taking everything I do, good or bad, and using it in power to bring salvation to people. Using my wise choices and my failures for eternal glory – what a motive to press on.

Open Hands

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.” – 2nd Tim 1:12

Recently we talked about holding on to the things in our life with open hands – meaning not grasping on to them tightly and letting God do His will with them, even if that means taking them. We were going over Deut. 6:5 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” – and we were challenged to examine whether or not we do that. In some ways and on some days I can say I love the Lord with all my strength, but in the same moment I am clenching that strength with white knuckles.

I don’t have a lot of strength left, and if I’m honest I know my ability to do things could change at any moment. Losing my strength is my worst nightmare. But, the point is, I may be serving the Lord with all the strength I have, but I’m not trusting Him with all the strength I have – and that would bring Him so much more joy and glory. Choosing to give of my resources is easy – allowing the Lord to take it all and have His will in it is another story.

Last night I prayed for the Lord to help me release my grip. This morning I woke up tired, hurting, and comforted in the way only His sweet spirit can do. My open hand was His open invitation to do mighty things in my life – and He took that invitation (even though it looks different than I expected.)

I don’t know what He is doing – maybe He is just asking me yet again if this is going to move me – but I do know who I have believed in. I know, like Paul, the character of God who I labor and strive for (1 Timothy 4:10), and I know that He is good.

I am persuaded – I am completely confident that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him. He is able to keep it all, use it all, and do something perfect in it all. He won’t let anything slip – won’t accidentally forget to renew my strength every day – He will keep it all until the day when I can see the big picture.

I can’t wait to see Him face to face one day and hear Him say “this is how much I love you.” He will point to my life and show me the eternal weight of everything I struggled so much with and none of it will be anything compared to the Glory of Him revealed (Romans 8:28).

My Identity; O Man of God

“But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”

Maybe I’m hard headed, maybe I’m just forgetful, but I forget so much of the truths the Lord gives me in is word. But praise the Lord He knows my frame (Ps 103:14), and He is faithful to remind me.

This verse reminds me of the order I need to live my life based off of. So many times I think I need to be righteous, godly, faithful, loving, patient, or gentle to be a man or woman of God – But that’s not what God says in His word. It says “But you, O man of God, pursue righteousness.” I am a man of God first, and from that I can run after what pleases God.

What do I call myself? A sinner? A failure? Someone who isn’t worthy of how far the Lord has brought me? Chances are I’m judging that based on what I have done, not what I have been called.

I have been called O Man of God.

My First Faith and Love

“But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.” – 1st Timothy 5:11-12

Do my desires condemn me, or do they draw me close to Christ? The ESV says when “their passions draw them away from Christ.” It’s not a bad thing to desire to be married, or have a family – it is another thing in my life I can use to glorify the Lord. But the question is, am I leaving my first faith for the sake of something the Lord will bring into my life in His perfect timing?

What is moving me – my passions, or the Lord? What I focus on is what I strive after, so what are the desires in my heart that I’m not giving to the Lord. Those are what hold me back from focusing on him fully. Is it wanting a relationship, wanting a job in ministry, wanting to see my team knit together? It is when good things become God things that I am condemned for casting off my first faith.

The term “first faith” reminds me of the Ephesus church in Revelations who left their first love in the midst of serving the Lord. The Lord is my first love and if my eyes stay fixed on Him that love will cultivate into something stronger than all my desires.

To Fail in Leading

To fail in leading is better than failing to lead in the first place.

“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed…exercise yourself toward godliness.” 1st Timothy 4:6-7

Leadership has been something the Lord has put on my heart lately. He has placed in me a desire to lead, and in some ways the capacity to as well — but I also have such a fear of it. As I am reading 1st Timothy, and making my way through spiritual leadership, the Lord has been confirming and growing me in the way of leadership, so I know it is Him. Now I have to ask myself how I get myself out of the way.

I’m not the biggest fan of failure — no one really is — but that is the fear that is holding me back from wanting to step into the role God is putting on my heart. In reality it is just putting too much faith in my importance as a leader. I’m always afraid that I will fail people and let them down, or lead them in the wrong path. The Lord is showing me two very important things about this: 1) I may fail people if I lead, but I will fail God if I don’t walk in His will and 2) to think that I can accidentally lead people down the wrong path would not be having faith in the Lord’s ability to keep them as He has kept me over the years. Jesus is stretching out His hand, offering me to go deeper with Him, but I’m too afraid. He is saying to me “ye of little faith.”

Doubting that the Lord can use me beyond myself is doubting God and robbing Him of His glory. How often do I put God in a box and tell Him that He isn’t big enough to do great things in my life? In doing that I’m not making God smaller, just giving Him a smaller hold on my life.

God can and will use me to lead if that is His desire So, what is my part in this? 1st Timothy lays it out simply and clearly — be “nourished in the words of faith and the good doctrine,” “exercising yourself toward godliness.” My responsibility is to seek the Lord, to love Him with everything I am, and to train myself in godliness. The spiritual leadership God wants to work in and through me will flow out of that.

God will show me where my muscles are weak, and  I need to exercise and train them, but everything else I need to bring to the Lord in prayer because it is up to Him. I need spiritual horse blinders focused only on the Lord. Jesus says “no one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). I may not look back, but I always find myself looking to my left and right. Either way I’m not looking at the Lord. I’m in need of spiritual blinders so I can focus on the Lord only. My job is to follow Him faithfully — the Lord’s job is to make it fruitful.

 

 

Stewardship Through Organization

“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’” Luke 19:5

If the voice of the Lord broke through and said “Samantha, my son will knock on your door to visit right now,” would I be ready? If Jesus stood in my bedroom and asked me what I have done or how I have kept His blessing, what would He see wen He looked around? (Notice it is “what would He see” not what would I say.”)

I think in a lot of ways the Lord has grown me in the stewardship of my time. I think if the Lord were to ask me what I’m doing with my time, I’d be confident in knowing the Lord has already started a work in me. But what about inviting Him into my room where my things clutter up my bed so He wouldn’t be able to sit? Or if He opened up my wardrobe and my t-shirts all fell out on Him. From my t-shirts to my coffee mug, everything is a blessing and a deposit from the Lord. When He comes back to my house, will I be paying Him glory for the way I am investing my things, or will I be ashamed when He sees how I have kept them?

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 it says in verse 19 that “after a long time the Lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” There was no due date or deadline – the Lord doesn’t need to give us an ETA for His collection. It is His investment. I should be waiting on Him. Yet, my life doesn’t show it, does it? Would I be ready if Jesus came to my house this hour, or would I need to scramble to put everything in order.

In reality stewardship is just an understanding of who God is and what He has blessed me with. Stewardship is respecting God, and giving Him glory in everything I do. Being a good steward is how you can eat or drink for the glory of God. Am I being a good steward?