And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
Recently, I became interested in the process a potter goes through to make clay into something useful. I decided to do some research to get a clearer picture of what the clay in fact does go through because it seems to so much parallel what we go through in God’s hands. I came upon an account by an author Phillip Keller who spent some time observing the process as carried out by a potter who lived in Afghanistan.
One of the first things this potter did was to gather some clay so, he went to the riverbank and spent some time carefully choosing the clay he wanted. I found this interesting because he did not simply pick a piece of clay, he was very particular about which piece he wanted. The Bible says that we are chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4). It tells me that God was very particular when He chose us. But that wasn’t all. He had to go through filth to get to the clay. It was a pretty dirty, messy process! God didn’t choose us based on outward appearance – we didn’t have to be pretty enough or clean enough – He chose us based on purpose. Sometimes, we may feel unworthy, not good enough. We may feel that we need to get it right to be chosen and even used by God. But that’s not the case. WE don’t have to have it all together. When God chooses us, it’s HIS job to clean us up and make us fit for His use!
I think of my own life. There was nothing particularly special about me when God chose me. I wasn’t pretty enough, or clean enough, or even good enough. I had a whole lot of things wrong with me and I still have some pretty messy things to deal with. But one of my consolations is that God chose me because He has a plan and purpose for my life. As Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The King James Version says: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” God’s thoughts toward me are thoughts of love and peace. He doesn’t desire to destroy me, but to save me and make me into a precious vessel fit for His use. God is not turned off by my mess. I’m not too messy or too dirty. I’m just right in His eyes and He has the ability to turn me into something beautiful.
So, the next time you feel unworthy, not good enough, not special enough, just remember that God, your Creator, is not turned off by your imperfections, He is not turned off by your mess. He loves you just as you are and is more than able to turn you into a beautiful, priceless, useful piece of art!
For the past two weeks I have shared thoughts around the theme of a “tiny staple.” This week, I found myself reading over those two posts. I sometimes do that to encourage my own self but this week I decided to read them again to see if there was anything else I could glean from the idea. What caught my attention was the issue of fear. We usually look at fear from our standpoint as we try to deal with and even cast it out of us. We know how crippling it can be and the importance therefore of dealing with it so that we can be all that we can for the kingdom of God.
But, here’s something interesting to think about. We know that the enemy uses fear to cripple and hinder us. But why would he want to do that? In the animal kingdom we know that sometimes an animal may attack when it is afraid or feels intimidated by another. It may never attack, when you think about it, if it does not feel fear. I thought of this in the context of the prophet Elijah and the king of Syria (2 Kings 6:8-14). The king of Syria was actually afraid of Elijah. He realized that this man possessed a power he did not have hence the need to send an army to capture one man! He could have sent a few choice men but instead he sent an entire army. In the king of Syria’s eyes, this prophet was a major threat to him and his kingdom and he decided to pull out all the stops to capture him and save his kingdom.
Imagine the devil being just as afraid of us!!! He pulls out all the stops to stop us and, unfortunately, we usually fall for it! He summons his armies and his choicest demons to fight against us. Why? Because he sees how big we are in Christ. He knows we don’t know it so he uses deception and intimidation to scare us and stop us from doing what God has created us to do. He may not know all that God has planned for each of us but he knows that once God is on our side he is indeed defeated. We are the ones who have to KNOW what the devil knows about us. Elijah knew who he was and who his God was so he was not in the least bit intimidated by Syria’s large army (2 Kings 6:16).
As a child of God you have to know who you are and whose you are. You have to remember that your God will fight for you and defend you (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22; 20:4) Romans 8:37 says that you are more than a conqueror through Him who loved you. Know that God’s armies are always there – and they are – watching over you and always ready to defend you and well able to help you fulfill the destiny God has planned for you. And know and accept the reality that you are of a greater threat to the enemy's kingdom than you can imagine!
Last week I spoke about the tiny staple. I looked at the fact that the devil sometimes magnifies a negative situation and makes it appear bigger than it is. We may feel intimidated and discouraged but we need to remember that our God is even bigger than our biggest problem.
Somehow, this week, I feel the need to continue along the same thread and I thought of 2 Kings 6:8-23. In this story, the king of Syria was concerned because someone kept revealing his strategies against the Israelites. In this way, the king of Israel was always forewarned and therefore able to protect his people from their Syrian enemies. He thought it was one of his own men but when he inquired, he found out that Elisha, a prophet of Israel, was responsible. When he found out where Elisha was staying, he decided to send horses and chariots and a great army to take him. Imagine, an entire army for one man! By the time Elisha’s servant awoke the following morning, he saw a great army surrounding the entire city and he became afraid. But Elisha simply said to him: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). He then asked God to open the eyes of his servant who then saw that the mountain was filled with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (v.17).
Let’s face it, we too would have responded in the same way that Elisha’s servant did. It amazes me that the king of Syria would send such a large contingent to take one man but he did. Clearly he was very afraid of him. But what is interesting is how the devil magnified the problem. That entire army was sent to intimidate Elisha yet Elisha knew that they were but a small thing in comparison to his God. Unlike the king of Syria, he was not afraid. He knew that His God was able. What is also interesting is that in the midst of this “magnified” problem, Elisha was able to see that God’s covering and protection were there … and they were more powerful than what the enemy had sent His way. Because he chose to keep his focus on His God, he was able to see a God who is bigger than the biggest problem right in front of him. In fact, God was surrounding what was surrounding him so he was covered!
Maybe like Elisha, we need to ask God to help us to “see,” not the problem and how big it seems but our God and how big He is. Once Elisha got his servant to “see” God in their situation, the fear left. And because Elisha was already seeing God in their midst, he was able to take authority over the situation instead of allowing the situation to take authority over him. We, too, have to understand our authority in Christ so that no matter what comes our way, we won’t allow it to control us, instead we will take authority over it.
So, yes, once again your focus is important. Once your eyes are on your God instead of on that intimidating situation, fear has to flee. You can then take authority – the authority that God has given you over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19) - and nothing and no one will be able to triumph over you!
Last week I found myself in a dilemma. My laptop battery had gone low and so I plugged in my charger to charge it. Nothing happened. The light on the charger wasn’t coming on and it wasn’t even fitting properly into the charger socket on my laptop. I was confused. I finally concluded that my charger was no longer working so I set about trying to acquire a new one. A few days later, while in a session online with some of my students, one of my daughters was trying frantically to get my attention. I was using her laptop to conduct my zoom class while my laptop lay on the table nearby. After the class, I found out why she was trying to get my attention. She had discovered the reason why my charger wasn’t working. It so turned out that because my laptop port is magnetic, a tiny stapler had somehow gotten into the slot so that when I tried to attach my charger it was not fitting properly and therefore could not work. Once she got the staple out, the charger fit perfectly and started charging my laptop again. What amazed me was how in the world she even saw this tiny staple in the first place. I didn’t see a thing. And as a result, what seemed to be a “major” problem turned out to be a very “minor” one.
The thought comes to mind that so many times we make a big deal out of something small and insignificant. I think sometimes the devil magnifies the problem we’re looking at and we happily, without realizing it, take the bait and get ourselves more worked up over something than we ought to. God wants to give us joy and peace. But, the devil finds ways to magnify a problem designed to steal that same joy and peace that God is trying to give us.
As I remember the children of Israel in the Old Testament, how many times did their enemies seem so much bigger and more fearful than they? Oh, their enemies were real AND bigger and better equipped sometimes, but their God was ALWAYS bigger than their biggest enemy. David faced Goliath (1 Samuel 17), bigger than him, but in reality, much tinier from God’s perspective. King Jehoshaphat and his people faced a combined enemy army (2 Chronicles 20), much bigger than their army but from God’s perspective so small and insignificant. And let’s not forget Gideon. He and his army of three hundred men faced a significantly larger army (Judges 7:6-12). The enemy seemed so much larger to them and they were, but from God’s perspective they were but a tiny thing.
I think this is why we really need to keep our eyes on God. When we put our eyes on the problem the devil will always magnify it and make it seem more intimidating, more impossible. But when our eyes are on God, that intimidating, impossible situation becomes smaller and smaller as we are reminded that our God can handle ANYTHING, no matter how big that anything seems in our eyes.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.