From Our Daily Bread
The vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter. —Jeremiah 18:4
When my wife and I were engaged, her dad gave us a special wedding present. As a watchmaker and jeweler, he made our wedding rings. To make my wedding band, Jim used gold scraps left over from resizing other rings—scraps that were seemingly without much value. But in the hands of this craftsman, those pieces became a thing of beauty that I cherish to this day. It is amazing what a master craftsman can do with what others might view as useless.
That is also how God works in our lives. He is the greatest Master Craftsman of all, taking the wasted pieces and broken shards of our lives and restoring them to worth and meaning. The prophet Jeremiah described this when he compared God’s work to that of a potter working clay: “The vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make” (Jer. 18:4).
No matter what messes we have made of our lives, God can remold us into vessels that are good in His eyes. As we confess any sin and submit ourselves in obedience to His Word, we allow the Master to do His redemptive work in our lives (2 Tim. 2:21). That is the only way for the pieces of our brokenness to be made whole and good once again.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still. —Pollard
Broken things can become blessed things if you let God do the mending.
From Our Daily Bread
You shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs. —Exodus 4:17
Conventional wisdom questions how much can be accomplished with little. We tend to believe that a lot more can be done if we have large financial resources, talented manpower, and innovative ideas. But these things don’t matter to God. Consider just a couple of examples:
In Judges 3:31, a relatively unknown man named Shamgar delivered Israel from the Philistines single-handedly. How? He won a great victory by killing 600 Philistines with nothing more than an oxgoad (a stick sharpened on one end to drive slow-moving animals).
In Exodus, when God asked Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses was afraid the people wouldn’t listen to him or follow him. So God said, “What is that in your hand?” (4:2). Moses replied, “A rod.” God went on to use that rod in Moses’ hand to convince the people to follow him, to turn the Nile River into blood, to bring great plagues on Egypt, to part the Red Sea, and to perform miracles in the wilderness.
Moses’ rod and Shamgar’s oxgoad, when dedicated to God, became mighty tools. This helps us see that God can use what little we have, when surrendered to Him, to do great things. God is not looking for people with great abilities, but for those who are dedicated to following and obeying Him.
If you use what little you may have
To serve the Lord with all your heart
You will find that He can do great things
When you begin to do your part. —Sper
Little is much when God is in it.
From Our Daily Bread
They shall be fresh and flourishing. —Psalm 92:14
In Psalm 92, the poet begins with a commendation of praise: “It is good to give thanks to theLord.” Good for what? Good for you and me. It does our soul a world of good to turn from anxious thoughts and fill our days with prayerful praise; good to greet each morning with songs of thanksgiving, for such praise makes us glad. It lifts us out of gloom and replaces our sadness with cheerful songs at the “works of [His] hands” (v.4). And what is that work? The work He is doing in us!
Here’s one of my most cherished metaphors: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” (vv.12-14).
Palms are symbols of towering beauty and cedars of unbending strength. These are the characteristics of those who have been “planted in the house of the Lord” (v.13). Their roots go down into the soil of God’s unquenchable love.
Do you think your usefulness to God is over? Continue in God’s Word, rooted and grounded in Christ, drinking in His love and faithfulness. Then, no matter your age, you will bear fruit and be “fresh and flourishing.”
From your heart give God your praise
For His blessings all your days;
Lift your voice to God above— God of mercy, God of love. —Hess
Praise comes naturally when you count your blessings.
From Our Daily Bread
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. —2 Corinthians 12:9
When a new highway loop was being completed in West Michigan, a real danger was discovered. The bridges had been designed to bear their own weight—but not the traffic they were intended to carry. Before the highway could be opened, several bridges had to be re-engineered and rebuilt.
Engineers have to be especially concerned with the tensile strength of the material in their construction plans for structures that are required to bear large amounts of stress due to weight. Tensile strength is the maximum amount of stretching a material can withstand before it tears. If the engineer miscalculates, the structure may collapse under the pressure.
When we are under the weight of stress and hardship, we may wonder whether our Lord, who engineered us, has miscalculated our personal “tensile strength.” We are certain that we are going to collapse under the weight of the trials, but our Designer knows exactly what we can handle by His grace. He knows our limits and will never permit more than we can bear. As Bible teacher Ron Hutchcraft said, “God may send a load, but He never sends an overload!”
Reinforced by the steel of God’s provision, our tensile strength won’t fail.
Wait on the Lord from day to day,
Strength He provides in His own way;
There’s no need for worry, no need to fear,
He is our God who is always near. —Fortna
Your problems can never exhaust God’s provisions.
From Our Daily Bread
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. —1 Chronicles 4:9
Chinese New Year celebrations are fun for children. When relatives and friends get together, it’s the custom for adults to give children small, red envelopes containing token sums of money. Children often rip open their packets just to get the money, and their parents have to remind them that the giver is more important than the gift.
Similarly, when we study the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, it is important to remember that the Giver, the Lord, is more important than the gift. If we focus solely on the request of Jabez, it could be easy to make the mistake of turning it into a formula for obtaining what we want from God.
We don’t know much about Jabez, except that his mother gave him a name that sounds like the Hebrew word for “distress” or “pain.” We’re also told that when he grew up, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.”
What made Jabez “more honorable”? On the basis of his prayer, we can assume that he took his relationship with God seriously. There was no magic in the words of his prayer. Rather, he knew that God is the giver of all things. Jabez was honorable, I believe, because he honored the Lord.
Our prayer today should be to emulate the character of Jabez, who lived to please God.
We can’t presume to know what’s best
When we begin to pray;
So we must ask, “What honors God?”
And seek His will and way. —Sper
The purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to become what God wants.
Psalm 147:3 WEB
He heals the broken in heart,
and binds up their wounds.
Promise #48: I will heal your broken heart and mend all your wounds.
When we hurt, God’s heart is full of compassion towards us. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, He is called the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. When we are wounded, His desire is to bring healing to us. If you are struggling today with a broken heart, be comforted in knowing that your heavenly Father understands everything that you are going through and wants to heal your broken heart.
In Psalm 103:13-14, the English Standard Version Bible it says… 13As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (ESV)
When Jesus was moved with compassion, He healed the sick. When our Father is moved with compassion, He heals us too. My prayer today is that we would all know that we are not alone in our struggles, for our heavenly Father loves us with all His heart and His compassion will bring healing to every wounded area in our soul.
Photo by Jeff Epp