Devotions By Jan

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Artistic Hands

IMG_20140623_161520Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:8 “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”

This beautiful painting of a potter fashioning a vase was done by our daughter, Rebekah, in high school.  It hangs proudly in our entryway and reminds me that we are all a work in progress.  The potter looks so involved and attentive to his work.  He seems to be handling the vase with special care.  It looks to be almost completed with just a few finishing touches.

The image of God as our Potter is found throughout Scripture.  We are the clay and He fashions us according to His purposes.  But as with any pottery making process, pressure is needed on that clay to create.  On the wheel, artistic hands press and push to form the shape wanted.  The result is beautiful but the process looks arduous!

In our verse for today, Paul is feeling great pressure.  Troubles in his life were so difficult that he did not know if he could survive.  He feared that they were beyond his ability to endure.  Yet he recognized that there was a purpose behind them.  Paul saw that his Potter was using the pressure to encourage him to rely on God’s strength (verse 9).

I know my Potter uses some of those same methods in fashioning me into a vase He can use.  He allows pressures and difficulties in my life to sculpt and teach me dependence on Him.  It is not at all comfortable, but I know it is necessary.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust the pressure of Your hands to make something beautiful of my life!

Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.

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The Kiln

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…”

I learned so much going through a pottery factory in Poland.  The kiln fascinated me.  In it the clay becomes strong and durable and ready for use.  The first firing is set for about 1400 degrees and there are hotter ones that follow!  These firings harden the clay into a pink bisque, readying it for the paint and decoration.  We, as clay, are not only getting stronger with heat but more beautiful too!  It is in enduring these kiln experiences that we become vessels the Potter can use for His glory.

For some, the heat seems to be more intense.  For others, the time spent in the kiln seems longer.  For still others, the kiln experiences seem to be more frequent.  The Potter deals differently with each of us.  However, NO believer is exempt from pain and suffering on this earth.  But as believers we can be sure that the Lord uses our pain.  It is not wasted.

As we ended our pottery factory tour I saw a large dumpster full of broken pieces of bisque.  This pottery did not survive the firing process.  I asked our guide if they were to be thrown out.  “Oh no,” she answered.  “They are all melted down and used again!”  What wonderful hope we have that the Lord in His GRACE picks up those broken pieces and continues His work in us!!

I am thankful that flawed as I am, I am never beyond hope!  The past and its mistakes never mean that the Potter cannot use me!

Thank you Lord, that You transform even my failures into something to use for Your glory.

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Pottery Seconds

IMG_20140324_150035Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:9  “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

One of the great things about living in Europe is being fairly close to Poland and their wonderful pottery!  I have visited their pottery factories on two occasions.  Their hand stamped blue patterns are my favorites.  Most all of my purchases have been seconds, as they are so much cheaper.  But this particular bowl is technically a “fifth!”  It cannot go in the microwave, the dishwasher, or the oven.  It has one small place where the glazing is not even and one very unnoticeable flaw in the pattern.  Even though it is not of the best quality, at only five dollars it has been worth every penny!

Our verse for today teaches that we honor the Lord by giving Him the best.  Seconds or substandard quality does not honor Him.  He is worthy of the very best we can offer Him.  In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered of the best of the fruit, the vegetables, the grain and the animals.

James 1:8 teaches that we ourselves are a kind of firstfruit of all He has created!  In Him we are the best of His creation!  We are not only to honor Him with the best of what we possess but the best of our very lives.  Leftovers are not worthy of Him.  Giving the Lord a few moments of consideration at the end of a long day, or what we feel we can spare of our money does not honor Him.  He is worthy of our absolute best service!  No seconds for Him!

“Give of your best to the Master, Give Him first place in your heart, Give Him first place in your service, Consecrate every part.”  Lord, help me to honor You with the best!