Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Pliable Heart
This quote may be familiar to you if you’ve seen the movie, Akeelah and the Bee. When I heard her read this I just knew it had be the beginning of this talk.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
~Marianne Williamson

Let's focus on these three main points as we look at the Environment around us.

v 1. The world of people around us needs to be made Christian

v 2. We do this by getting ourselves ready to bring Christ and His message to them

v 3. We do this by working hard to be like Christ and to bring the world to Him

1) First, we’ll look at the world of people around us who need to be made Christian.

WOW- what a mouthful! We may have the overwhelming sense of “How can I make a difference in the life of a non-Christian?”

Well, let me tell you, the answer to that question is unequivocally YOU CAN and do here’s how! Your life influences others everyday – in either negative or positive ways.

The Lord reminded me of the perspective of the 12 spies and the perspective of Rahab who came along a good bit after the 12 spies arrived on the scene. In Numbers 13 we’ll see that these 12 men went out with a directive from God given to Moses, God’s man set in place to lead them. He gave them specific instructions to research and report back to him.

Numbers 13

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders."Notice God said He was GIVING this land to them.

3 So at the LORD's command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.

17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, "Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land." (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)

21 So they went up and explored the land …

they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan."

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

Now I’ll break here and ask you, “Are you like Caleb? Do you see that whenever a challenge in life arises that ‘you are able to take possession of the land God has given you’? OR let’s see what 10 of the spies said:

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

…are you like these guys! Think before you answer and don’t tell me your answer. Just ponder it.

We know that the report spread among the people, that we call gossip & undermining the authority and direction of God and his man, Moses, caused the entire nation of Israel to live daily in the wilderness for forty years. WOW – I don’t know about you but I want stop going around that mountain and go in and possess the Lord’s promises. Won’t that make the greatest witness to the non-Christians as they observe your obedience to God?

Okay, now let’s look at Rahab and the 2 spies.

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Acacia Grove. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute [a] named Rahab and stayed there.

8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea [b] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. [c] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father andmother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death."

Here we see that the one who we’d call ‘of the world’ looking on at the Israelite nation or today’s Christian world, saw them with a much different perspective than the 10 did. She had more the perspective Caleb displayed. Often we can’t see what others see in us as the Body of Christ.

2) Second point. Now let’s look at getting ourselves ready to bring Christ and His message to others.

See this clay? God sees a treasure in us just like these flecks of silver in this clay. 2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

When I was in 3rd grade all 3 classes went on a field trip to the DuPont Plant in MI and what a great day. We toured the ENTIRE plant and were tired and ready to go. Talk about ‘long and boring’, it was. I just was NOT interested in how to make PAINT. Not my idea of fun. Then we had one more thing! 60 plus bored children. The buildup was giving us great anticipation. All the way down in the basement in the back corner in a glass room was a potter. Who would have thought? He began by spinning the wheel and taking a good sized ball of clay, then wet it and spun it forming as he continued to eye us and describe all he was doing. He made the most beautiful vase and was forming the neck and then all of a sudden SPLAT!!! My heart sunk into my gut and I almost burst into tears. But wait, I was 9 years old and with ALL my classmates, I could NOT cry in front of them, what would they think of or say about me? So I held it in. I almost fell down from the emotion welling up in me. But I stood on the outside. Then he asked us if we knew why he did that. Well, we were 9, we had NO CLUE! He showed us a very small piece of a pebble between finger and thumb and let us know that it would eventually cause a place that would destroy the piece if not removed. Then he removed the speck of rock and began again, adding water as he went along and examining the piece extensively as he worked and made the second piece into an even more beautiful vase than he had before. He then showed us on the shelf behind him about what it would look like and assured us that, like a snowflake, no 2 of them would be exactly the same. This was the best field trip ever, bar none!

On my 13th birthday my parents gave me a Bible where I found Jeremiah 18.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message." 3 So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Amazingly that is exactly what the Lord showed me on my field trip. Who knew that this story was already waiting for me in the Bible. God knew how to weave this into my life and since then I’ve heard this chapter preached countless times and always the Lord builds understanding in my heart. I’m sure that every time I read it and/or hear it spoken of for the rest of my life the Lord will build on it.

I know this is one of the great ways God continues to use to get me ready to bring Him and His message to others.

See the finished product6 And the words of the LORD are flawless (pure) words,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay,
purified seven times..


3) Finally, the third point shows how to work hard to be like Christ and to bring the world to Him.

In my Christian life I’ve been blessed by God to be involved in various ministry avenues.

1) God allowed me to be part of a Christian Radio Station, WKOJ in Hattiesburg for a few years where I prayed with others during counseling sessions and the Lord allowed me to minister quite a bit during that time while He ministered to me. Teaching and praying with Jennie was created during what seemed to be a ‘fluke’ but as we know was God orchestrated. Still people will tell me from time to time that they heard me then and that’s been about 25 years ago.

2) I was given an opportunity to live in a women’s shelter as House Manager for 2 years. During that time my eyes and heart were so opened to the basic needs and hurts of ladies who had not had the blessed life I had. Up until that time I really didn’t see my life as so ‘advantaged’ but in reality I was and am blessed beyond measure. Some of these ladies had been so abused, had never had a mother figure and adopted me as their Mom, some of whom were my age and in some cases older. Ladies from the streets, homeless we often say, from jail, from prison prior to getting out on their own and some just without a family or place to go for a time. These were special in His sight and I made the ‘House’ a ‘Home’. I made sure to prepare breakfast and supper for them and serve it at the table where we prayed and shared a devotion daily. They all had to work in some capacity during the day so I wanted them to be able to feel at home when their work day ended. We had lots of required meetings to attend, and rules there were just so many but we made them work well, as well as we could as so many of them NEVER followed rules their entire lives. God taught me so much during that time.

3) The Lord opened a door for me to drive a Missionary lady who really instilled some great things in my heart as she itinerated as a Missionary to Kenya, East Africa. We traveled as far west as Houston and east to Birmingham and lots of places in between for about 1 1/2 months. In one of our discussions she shared that she’d felt for years that God had a great call on her life but felt stuck with caring for her pastor husband and ‘all these children’. One day the Lord stopped her in her tracks and let her know that she was not ‘stuck’ but her current calling was to raise her children to serve Him and learn the ways of the Lord. Today each of her children are currently in or have been in full time ministry in a variety of capacities. She worked for years with one pastor son in Kenya, East Africa training pastors. What an awesome life she has led and a great family legacy.

4) Today as a wife to Carl and mom to Jonathan who we homeschool I often recall what Mrs. Jewel told me about her call. In this age of technology I cannot only ‘stay home’ and homeschool but I can reach out worldwide via the internet. I have a website where I teach God’s Word and am site administrator for a friend who is a Missionary and Bible teacher.

There are many more but these are a brief sampling of the experiences in which the Lord has blessed my life.

I encourage you to look around at your life and see where God placed you. Do you feel like you’re not where you’re supposed to be or doing what you’re supposed to do, ‘stuck’? Think. Pray. Listen. Has He placed you there to be shaped and formed, purified by His words allowing the Holy Spirit to pour the water of the Word over this lump of clay that you are in order to later display you as His treasure in an earthen vessel? Ponder this. Be more aware of your Environment from this moment on. Has God given you a Dream or a Vision? If so, train in your training ground and don’t look on the other side of the fence where the grass looks greener. Maybe it’s turf! Be the real thing as God develops the person of character with the confidence He places in you. Be pliable like clay and don’t try to tell the Potter how to form you. His idea is the very best. Now go and make disciples, continue to be readied for each task given you and work hard while entering into His rest knowing that you are His vessel to bring in the masses.

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