The Potter and the Play Doh

Do you remember playing with Play-Doh as a child?  I remember that my brother and I had a selection of Play-Doh of various colors, plus a “presser” that allowed you to raise a handle, insert a ball of Play-Doh and press down on the handle to extrude a “rope” of Play-Doh in various shapes, depending upon the type of pattern you had selected.  We had great fun with it…until we forgot to close the Play-Doh container lids tightly!  The Play-Doh dried out and hardened into a lump of colored rock!  Hardened Play-Doh is no fun to a child who isn’t allowed to throw rocks!

 

I was reminded of my childhood experience with Play-Doh when I read from Isaiah, chapter 64 and verse 8, “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” 

 

Isaiah says that God is the potter and we are clay.  The potter is able to shape the clay only if it is pliable.  My response to Isaiah’s words is to consider whether I am pliable clay or an unusable lump.  I suspect that the difference rests in my attitude toward God.  Am I willing to let God change me or do I resist His work in my life?  Am I willing to listen to what God is saying to me and am I willing to do what He tells me to do?  If so, then God is able to create something amazing in my life.  If not, I condemn myself to being an unusable lump. 

 

Being shaped by God is not always comfortable…often He stretches us out of our comfort zone!   But for us to resist God’s work in our live makes as much sense as clay complaining about the potter’s craftsmanship.  So decide today to entrust your life to the hands of the Master Potter!  You will be amazed at what He will create in you!

The Quest – Day 39

This is the devotional for Friday, November 3, 2006 which is the 39th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 39 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 39 – Life in the Spirit of Christ

We live life in the Spirit of Christ every day through a thousand daily choices.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV)

To develop Christlike character we must look to Christ as our example. Then we consecrate ourselves completely to God. Next, we receive His gift of sanctification. Then we move from one growth cycle to another for the rest of our lives.

If you have heard that God quantum-leaps you to Christlike maturity in one moment with one prayer, you have been misled. Yes, our consecration can be accepted and our hearts purified in a moment. But the work of maturity is done in the many choices we make daily.

In our Scripture text for today Paul speaks of God’s incredible freedom that enables you to choose daily the way you think, value, and live. You have the freedom to choose one of two ways of life:

    Two preferences
Life in Christ Jesus, or
Life in the flesh, by which paul means living according to the carnal nature of humanity that prefers self over God

    Two walks
A spiritual walk in step with God’s value system, or
A fleshly walk in step with one’s own value system

    Two laws
The law of the Spirit of life – not a list of dos and don’ts, but the guidance of our deep love for God
The second law is the law of death – the outcome of doing what you please ends in spiritual death.

    Two powers
The power of Christ to forgive and free us from sin, or
The power of the old, condemning law which is powerless to deliver us.

    Two loyalties
Loyalty to the Spirit in which our pleasure is to do His pleasure, or
Loyalty to the flesh in which we become enslaved to our desires, passions and addictions

    Two destinies
Eternal life, or
Eternal death

Each day we have a choice between these two ways of life. You validate your consecration and affirm your sanctification in daily choices as you continue to live out your resolve to make Christ Lord of all!

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by choosing life in the Spirit of Christ.

The Quest – Day 38

This is the devotional for Thursday, November 2, 2006 which is the 38th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 38 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free. 

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 38 – Growing in the Spirit of Christ

 

The Spirit of Christ wants to grow a Christlike character in you.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”   (Colossians 1:9 NIV) 

Character growth doesn’t happen while you sleep or watch television.  God expects you to roll up your sleeves and do your part to exercise, grow and mature.  You and I cannot build a foundation on feeling and emotion.  Growth in wisdom, understanding and good works lead to growth in our knowledge of God as well as growth in Christlike character.

On Days 34 and 35 we reviewed the characteristics of Jesus’ life that offer goals for us to develop Christlike character.  We can’t develop these qualities on our own.  God works in our hearts to create these qualities in us.  God accomplishes decisive, character-building work in us only after we consecrate ourselves totally to Him.  After we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, He fills us with the Spirit of Christ.  We then enter a clear path to a lifetime of growth and development in Christlike character.  So take a moment to review the strategies for growth we mentioned on Day 3

In Ephesians 4 Paul shows us that God’s plan is to enrich our lives personally as well as to enrich the community of faith.  We grow as we minister to one another and the community of faith grows as well.  Christ works like glue holding believers together to form His Body on earth.  The purpose of this plan is to bring us to a common belief, a common Savior, and a common model for our spiritual maturity.  God doesn’t want you to be a spiritual baby, an infant who will never grow out of the “baby stage.”

Right standing with God does not exempt us from the need for further spiritual growth.  We must balance our thinking between satisfaction in what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross and a hunger to press on to a deeper walk with God. 

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.  

Build your faith today by pressing on toward maturity.

The Quest – Day 37

This is the devotional for Wednesday, November 1, 2006 which is the 37th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 37 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 37 – Accepting God’s Gift

 

Our quest will succeed only after we receive God’s gift of sanctification. 

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV)

In Charles Dickens’ classic book Great Expectations, the character Abel Magwitch worked quietly behind the scenes as a secret benefactor to Philip Pirrip, nicknamed Pip, to provide him with resources and opportunities throughout his life that elevated him into high society.  Much later, Pip looked back and saw the unmistakable hand of his secret benefactor in his life.  More often than not, we also succeed because of a team effort or a friend or relative working quietly behind the scenes to assist in our accomplishments. 

The same is true of spiritual success.  God gives us many benefits.  Just as we do not earn or deserve the new birth, we do not earn or deserve sanctification.  In our Scripture focus today Paul shows us that sanctification is not something we do for ourselves; God does it.  We receive God’s gift by faith. 

“To sanctify” means to set apart for God.  In the New Testament, it is believers who are sanctified rather than places or things as was true in the Old Testament.  God sets us apart for himself, but with an added dimension.  He cleanses and purifies our hearts and places His Spirit within us to enable us to live the lives to which He calls us. 

Paul’s description of the work of the Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 and 5:23 shows us that  God accepts our consecration (which was yesterday’s topic) by giving us the gift of sanctification in a moment in time, but that He also places His Spirit in us on an ongoing basis.  So, we experience both a moment-in-time experience and a daily process of growth toward maturity.  This experience affects every part of our being:  spirit, soul, and body. 

So, what is the source of this sanctification?  Paul says God calls us; God is faithful; God will do it.  Yes, my commitment to Him and my self-discipline are important.  However, God’s gift of His Spirit and His sanctification are the real reasons we can live holy lives. 

God’s plan for us to live holy lives calls us to sanctification which is also God’s gift to us.  He sanctifies in a moment and gives us His Spirit each moment for a lifetime of growth in sanctification.

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org. 

Build your faith today by receiving God’s gift of sanctification by faith.

The Quest – Day 35

This is the devotional for Monday, October 30, 2006 which is the 35th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 35 of Frank Moore’s thought-provoking book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 35 – Christ in You, Part 2

You can become like Christ!

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NIV)

Today we continue the study of Christlike character development we began yesterday. Now, remember that this character development does not occur overnight.

13. Jesus was not vindictive and did not retaliate when others treated Him wrongly.
14. Jesus did not need to make a name for himself.
15. Jesus expressed strong emotion and indignation when the occasion called for it.
16. Jesus showed great courage throughout His life.
17. Jesus had a clear mission and purpose for His life.
18. Jesus lived with eternity’s values in view.
19. Jesus realized and accepted His human limitations.
20. Jesus always sought to do the will of His Father.
21.Jesus lived in constant communion with His Father.
22.Jesus depended on the Holy Spirit for constant spiritual strength and encouragement.
23. Jesus lived a life of service.
24. Jesus submitted himself to suffering on our behalf.
25. Jesus submitted himself to death on the Cross to accomplish our salvation.

Look back over the list of qualities and virtues from yesterday and today. God wants to form these in you as you grow in Him. Resist the tendency to make a list of these character qualities and grade your daily performance, or you’ll fall into the trap of bondage to performance. Just live for God and seek His ways. Growth in Christlikeness will follow as naturally as “April showers bring May flowers.”

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 5 of the Quest, which reveals that “You can develop Christlike character,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by asking the Father to make you like His Son.

The Quest – Day 4

This is the devotional for Friday, September 29, 2006 which is the 4th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 4 of Frank Moore’s awesome book, The Power To Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s Kickoff service for the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.

Day 4 – Trouble in River City

We need more than resolve and determination to live the Christian life.

But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same.” (Mark 14:31 NIV)

The usual pattern of growth for new believers follows a similar path. New life in Christ begins with excitement and enthusiasm as God welcomes a new child into His family. Regular church attendance, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship mark the trail of the new believer. Along the way, new believers typically come to a realization that is similar to that of newlyweds: a painful awareness that there is a problem in their relationship. They can’t always put a finger on it. They’re not even willing to call it a problem at first. But over a period of weeks or months, they come to terms with the emerging realization that there’s trouble in River City with their faith walk. They fear that if they do not get to the source of the problem and solve it, their very relationship with Christ could be threatened.

There are several possible sources for this problem:

1. Sometimes you may sense things changing in your spiritual walk as it settles from the new and novel to a life pattern. That’s natural.

2. Sometimes you will sense things changing in your spiritual walk as you go through the normal highs and lows of human life. Remember, everything on earth goes through cycles. The cycles in your spiritual walk do not necessarily signal a problem in your relationship with God.

3. Sometimes you will sense things changing in your spiritual walk as you grow in Christ. Such change signals a good thing as you move from Christian babe to seasoned saint.

4. Sometimes, however, you may sense a change in your spiritual walk that indicated a spiritual problem at a deeper level. Let’s try to diagnosis this problem with a series of questions:

* Do you hunger to return to your old sinful lifestyle and circle of friends?
* Is your love for God, His family, or spiritual things waning?
* Are you slipping in your spiritual disciplines?

If these are not the problem, then you may have the same problem that Peter and Jesus’ other disciples had. They had promised to follow the Master right into the jaws of death. But although Peter may have insisted emphatically, his insistence wasn’t enough. He needed something more in order to maintain his commitment to Christ. But what? Tune in tomorrow for “The Rest of the Story.”

But first, let’s review our memory verse for this week, Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The Quest – Day 3

This is the devotional for Thursday, September 28, 2006, which is the 3rd day of our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 3 of Frank Moore’s book, The Power to Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s Kickoff service for the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.

Day 3 – Got Growth?

Spiritual life brings growth.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, NIV)

It was a sad sight to behold! Every time I looked out the living room window or pushed the lawn mower next to it, I just couldn’t believe it–that poor little oak tree in our front yard. It reminded me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. It stood about 8 feet tall.

One day as I stood under my neighbor’s 40-foot tree, he told me something I couldn’t believe. “You know our trees were planted on the same day?” Impossible!

I’ve since learned that oak trees have taproots that need to drill deep into the ground. My lawn sat on a solid rock shelf that prevented a deep root system. My oak just couldn’t grow on solid rock.

We expect oak trees to grow. We ought to be able to say the same about Christian believers. It is natural for Christians that after we discover our purpose in life we would continue to search for something more.

The Bible outlines some elements necessary for spiritual growth. Here is a partial list.

1. Participate in a variety of means of grace, such as prayer, Bible reading, meditation, worship with a group of believers, the Lord’s Supper, Christian fellowship and fasting. Also add listening to Christian music and reading Christian literature. Organize your life around your faith.

2. Practice the presence of God in your every day life. Talk with Him throughout the day as would you talk with your closest friend. Listen for His voice to direct you and obey Him.

3. Discipline your life to make it consistent with your commitment to Christ. This discipline applies to areas like eating habits, entertainment choices, time usage, choice of friends, responsibility to commitments, keeping your word, honesty in business dealings, responsibility with your money, and attitudes. You may stumble along the way. If you do, talk to the Lord about it, get back up and keep walking with Christ.

4. Learn to cope with life’s daily circumstances. Learn not to gauge your level of spiritual maturity on how well things happen to be going at the time.

5. Commit to the Lord your past failures, appetites, weaknesses, temptations, the failures of others, and situations you cannot change. Becoming a Christian does not solve all of your problems. Get help from trusted Christian friends or counselors if you need it.

6. Open your life to Kingdom priorities in each area of your life. This includes giving time and money to the cause of Christ. Give your life away in service to others.

All spiritual growth centers on Christlikeness. The more time you spend with Him, reading His Word and Christian literature, listening to music about Him, fellowshipping with other believers, the more like Him you will become.

Want to know if you are alive in Christ? Look in the mirror and ask yourself the question, “Got growth?”

Let’s review our memory verse for the week from Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The Quest is Coming

“The Quest” Kickoff Week

My Dear Friends,

I believe that God has a purpose for our lives. In Philippians 2:13 the Bible tells us that God is at work in our lives “to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

It is clear that God has a plan and purpose for us. The question with which many of us wrestle is this: How on earth can I live a life of purpose? Good question!

Beginning next Tuesday, September 26th, we will be on our Quest to find the answer to that question. So let’s roll up our sleeves and set our minds to the task. If you begin to get discouraged along the way, just remember what’s at stake here. We are going to discover the power to be free to do the thing God wants us to do! We welcome this 40 Days of Discovery.

Why on earth would you settle for anything less?

The Quest consists of four commitments for spiritual growth:

Attending our weekend services (or if you can’t attend, listening to the podcast)
Daily readings in the book, The Power to Be Free  (our daily e-mail devotional summarizes the daily reading)
Attending weekly small group meetings (contact us for days, times & locations)
Memorizing one quotation from the Bible each week
This Sunday, September 24th is our Kickoff Sunday! Please plan to join us and receive as our free gift the book which will provide our daily devotional material for our 40 Days of Discovery, The Power to Be Free. Our Sunday School classes will be focusing on the Quest for the next 6 weeks, so make Sunday School a priority, or plan to attend one of the Small Groups meeting during the week.


(Our FaithBuilders Blog and Podcast will accompany us on this journey, so if you want to read or review any of the devotionals during the Quest, or download them as podcasts, visit this site. Check out our church website at www.jaxnaz.org. The Faith Church Podcast site will provide audio recordings of the messages from the Quest series.)