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My God is…to whom I submit James 4:7-8

James 4:7-8 –  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to White flagGod, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Submit yourselves therefore to God

Definition of SUBMIT

transitive verb
1 a: to yield to governance or authority
   b: to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation <the metal was submitted to analysis>
2: to present or propose to another for review, consideration, or decision; also : to deliver formally <submitted my resignation>
3: to put forward as an opinion or contention <we submit that the charge is not proved>
intransitive verb
1 a : to yield oneself to the authority or will of another :surrender
   : to permit oneself to be subjected to something <had to submit to surgery>
2: to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another
What do you think of when you hear the word submit? Is it a positive or negative thing for you? Take a moment to read the definition of submit above. Does it mean what you thought it did?
To yield oneself to the authority or will of another
Do you have a problem with authority? As Americans, we can kind of have a “you’re not going to tell me what to do” kind of attitude. We like to think of ourselves as independent beings. We don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything. As long as we’re not hurting anyone we should be able to do what we want. Do you like it when someone exerts their authority over you? It’s not always enjoyable. Maybe the reason we have such a hard time with those in authority over us is because we think we’re just as good as them, and we want to be the one’s with the authority.
We want to do what we want and not have to worry about what other people want or expect from us. We often put ourselves first, but that’s not what we’re called to do in the verse above from James. We are called to submit ourselves to God.
Surrender!
To some people surrendering means you’ve lost. To others surrendering means to give up. Some might say it means to stop fighting. I want to submit myself to God. I want to surrender to God. I don’t think of it as losing or giving up, but mostly I think of it as stop fighting. I need to stop fighting God. Often I feel myself pulled in one direction or another, like I’m being encouraged by God or other trustworthy Christians to do something. But I often try to ignore such promptings. These moments almost always bring discomfort. They make me afraid that I will not be good at what they’re encouraging me to do. I let fear keep me from doing what God would have me do. I fight Him at every turn. I ignore Him. I need to stop fighting and surrender. I need God to be the one to whom I submit.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How am I to submit to God? The verse goes on to give some examples of what a life submitted to God, surrendered to God might look like. First it says, “Resist the devil.” I don’t always want to resist the devil. Sometimes it looks like a lot more fun to give in to the devil (though I can’t think of a time I felt good after giving in). We fight God and His promptings to do what is right and give in to the devil all the time. We take the opportunity to say something snotty or crude. We drink a little too much. We gossip. We do so many things, and often we never even try to resist the urge. There is a promise at the end of the statement. If we resist the devil (the opposite of surrendering) the devil will flee from us. I don’t know about you, but I may not want to resist the devil, but I also don’t really want the devil hanging around. The more we resist the devil, the easier it becomes to resist the devil (because he is fleeing from us).
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Here is another part of the advice given in James about how to submit to God. We need to draw near to God. We need to seek Him out at every opportunity. Go to God in prayer, read His word and seek out those who know Him as their savior when you have decisions or questions to discuss. Draw near to Him. Put Him at the front of your mind, and you will not be disappointed. He will draw near to you as well. What a blessed promise that is!
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Keep your hands out of trouble. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t dirty your hands with unkind deeds. though we are sinners we need to always be working with the Holy Spirit’s help to purify our minds. To become increasingly more like the one we submit to. We need to stop saying we believe one thing on Sunday and do something completely contrary the rest of the week. We need to stop being double minded. We need to be focused on God. We need to submit to Him and His authority. We need to stop fighting what we know is right.
Have you stopped fighting?
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in James, My God is to whom I submit

 

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My God is…Listening Psalm 66:16

Psalm 66:16-20

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.praying
I cried aloud to him,and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

All you who fear God, that’s an interesting caveat to put on a phrase. Why was the Psalmist wanting to talk to those who fear God, and not others? David was about to witness to them about what the Lord had done for him. That isn’t something that those who don’t trust God readily accept, encourage or understand. They see the work of the Lord’s hand as coincidence or fate. But as Christians, we are free to share, called to witness to the mighty acts of God and give Him the glory in our lives. Usually telling someone about God would come before talking about what He’s done for you. Though sometimes your story might be so compelling that it makes the perfect opportunity to start the conversation about who God is and that He came to save all who would believe in Him.

I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

David cried out to God. What did he say? The second half of that sentence says he extolled God with his tongue. Do you know what extolled means (I looked it up just to be sure)? It means “to praise highly”. Here David is giving us a good example of how to pray. I know many people who say they don’t know how to pray, so here is a tip from David. Praise God for who He is. Basically that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog. I focus on one attribute of God and I praise Him for who He is. In this post it is that I have a God who listens. My prayer may start like this “Dear God, I praise you for being a God who listens, who hears me when I call.”

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

David is giving another example of what we should do in prayer, confession. When we pray, it’s important to get everything that will distract you from God out-of-the-way. Everything that is blocking your relationship with Him should be confessed (don’t worry you don’t have to list them all by name). In my prayers, the next thing I would do is say something like, “Lord, please forgive me for being self-focused and not putting you first while loving others as I love myself.” If you have specific sins you want to confess, of course the Lord wants you to bring those to Him so that He can forgive you so you no longer have to be distracted when you talk with Him. He doesn’t want you thinking about that when you and He have so much more to talk about.

But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

What a beautiful thing to be able to approach our God with our prayers. We are able to talk to the one in charge of everything. We went to Washington D.C., and when we got back the other kids asked my boys if they got to meet the president. Of course we didn’t. But we have something even better. We’re able to talk to the creator of the universe, the one who truly holds my life in His hands, our Lord and Savior. In my prayers, after I praise God and confess my sins, I talk to Him about what is on my mind. Sometimes I focus on a specific verse, but other times I just tell Him what’s troubling me or doesn’t seem to be going the way I think it should. It might sound something like this, “Lord, I’m really struggling with my relationships right now. I know that because it is in more than one relationship it likely has to do with me. Lord help me to see where I need to make changes and how I can be a blessing to those you have put in my life.”

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

David has given us such a great example of prayer here, and I don’t think he’s even praying (though he may have used his poetry and songs as prayers). After praising God, Confessing my sins and making supplication (asking Him for His aid in my life or someone else’s), I try to thank God for answered prayers, blessings etc. Here David Thanks God for not rejecting his prayer and for continuing to love him no matter what David had done (and if you think your sins are bad, you should read about David in 1 and 2 Samuel). For me this part of the prayer might sound like this, “Thank you Lord for all you have done for me and my family. Thank you for providing my boys with opportunities for education and development of their faith life. Thank you for continually providing for our needs even when it seems impossible. Amen.”

God is not rejecting your prayer

Sometimes people think they’ll pray wrong. While I told you that I often like to include Praise, confession, requests and thanks, I just as often leave out parts (maybe everything but my requests). God doesn’t reject our prayers. When we come to Him trusting Him in all things, He will be listening. He will hear your prayer, and He will never remove His steadfast love for you.

 

 

 

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My God is…the potter Romans 9:20-21

Romans 9:20-21 –  But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to thePotter's Hands one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?

We are the clay

To start writing this blog, I decided to research a little bit about how pottery is made on Wikipedia (the most trusted source, I’m sure). There are many stages the potters put the clay through as they create their pieces.

  • Greenware refers to unfired objects. Clay bodies at this stage are in their most plastic form. They are soft and malleable. Hence they can be easily deformed by handling.

When we first learn about Jesus, and come to know Him as our personal savior, we can be like the greenware. We’re a bit soft and malleable. The devil really works on us during that time to try to deform us and make us seem unusable. We haven’t had our faith tested much, but we don’t know a lot yet either. We need us some learnin’! It’s important in those early stages of our faith that we remain in the word of God. We don’t want to be led astray or “deformed” by not knowing the truth about our Lord. People will want to argue, distract you or led you back to a not so great lifestyle. But we’re not only pliable and malleable to people and the devil. It is also often our greatest time of growth in our faith and knowledge. It is as if someone has just turned on the lights. We can start to see our purpose and we can start to understand God’s plan for our future. Plans to include us in His heavenly kingdom.

  • Leather-hard refers to a clay body that has been dried partially. At this stage the clay object has approximately 15% moisture content. Clay bodies at this stage are very firm and only slightly pliable. Trimming and handle attachment often occurs at the leather-hard state.

This is an interesting stage of our faith, maybe we’ve been going to church for a while, we’ve started listening to some Christian music, and we don’t hate it. We like it when one preacher preaches, but not when the other one does. We want things to be routine, comfortable. We’re still a little new in our faith, so change is sometimes confusing. We’re not sure what is allowed and what isn’t, so we struggle with our self concept, and again must turn to scripture to find those answers. This is also the time you start to realize that all your gifts and talents can be used to the Lord’s Glory.

  • Bone-dry refers to clay bodies when they reach a moisture content at or near 0%. It is now ready to be bisque fired.

We’ve become comfortable in our faith. We’re sure that God loves us and that we love Him. Life seems really good during this stage of our faith. The word seems clear to us, we’re not worried about being led astray. We’re even pretty sure we’re ready to talk with our friends and relatives about what we believe. It’s a good time! But there is more coming, and you must arm yourself with the word of God once again.

  • Biscuit [6][7] refers to the clay after the object is shaped to the desired form and fired in the kiln for the first time, known as “biscuit fired”. This firing changes the clay body in several ways. Mineral components of the clay body will undergo chemical changes that will change the colour of the clay.

This stage of our faith may not be much fun. We may be strong in our faith, joined a Bible study or two and may  be growing in knowledge. We try to surround ourselves with like-minded people, and are in the word almost everyday. We remember to spend time in prayer. Then why is this time so hard? Because life is hard. Your mom gets cancer, and suddenly you’re wondering where God is in all of this. Your daughter get’s pregnant, even though you pray for her every day. Your husband has a drinking problem, and you’re feeling neglected and dejected. You still remain in the word. You cling to the Lord with all your might. Almost every moment seems like a prayer. You’re not sure you could make it without the Lord. Actually you’re sure you couldn’t. Your life is hard, but your relationship and dependency on the Lord is growing. You’re starting to see some big changes in your life. You will never be the same. People are going to be able to see the change in you.

  • Glaze fired is the final stage of some pottery making. A glaze may be applied to the bisque form and the object can be decorated in several ways. After this the object is “glazed fired”, which causes the glaze material to melt, then adhere to the object. The glaze firing will also harden the body still more as chemical processes can continue to occur in the body.

After we’ve been through some rough times and found that we can rely on God, our behavior starts to change. We start to do things with God in mind. We put Him first and try to give Him the glory at every turn. You may still go through some hard times. Your health may be failing, your spouse might have died, and your children live far away. But the relationship with you and the Lord continues to grow. He brings you a peace that surpasses all understanding. We’re still being made solid in the Lord, and we’re beginning to reflect the work of the Lord in our everyday life. You might find that more people seem to know you’re a Christian, and they’re not surprised.

I don’t know that we all go through all of these stages or that we don’t go through them a few times, but I liked the definitions of the clay and they helped me to think about God as the Potter.

God is the potter. 

God has a plan for you. Before He formed you He knew how you were going to be useful. He knew in what ways you would reflect His glory. In the very beginning he formed you. He intentionally made you with all the gifts, talents and attributes you need and want. He used the times in your life, the home you were raised in, the schools you went to and the people you met to help mold you into who He intended.

Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 

This part of our verse really gets to me. There have been so many times in my life that I have done a lot of self-loathing. I didn’t like who I was and didn’t think I had much to offer the world. But God does have a plan for us. We are to bring Him glory. Our lives should be lived out as a reflection of Christ in us. Each thing that happens to us, good or bad, is an opportunity for us to glorify God. We can point to Him as the source of all blessings, and the comforter of all pain. God molded you and me to be what He wanted us to be. We’re His workmanship. So whether you feel malleable, in the fire or adorned, remember the one who formed you. He has a plan for you. A plan to prosper you and not to harm you.

Are you malleable?

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in My God is the potter

 

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My God is…with us Psalm 46:10-11

Psalm 46:10-11 – Be still, and know that I am God.Listen
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Being alone can be scary

As a kid did you ever have that moment when you realized you were the last one to be picked up after a game or at school. Did your parents forget? Did they not care? You look around only to see the teacher who was relegated to stay until you were picked up looking at their watch for the 1000th time. When would they show up? Where are they? What was more important than picking me up? Maybe you even got a little panicked. Maybe you worried they wouldn’t show up. (I was good at creating worst case scenarios in my mind – so I’m sure I thought they were in an accident and would never make it back).

Usually my sister or my parents were around, but during my teenage years, there were times when I was the only one in the house. I could really freak myself out. I would sometimes call my grandpa just to feel like someone knew where I was and could talk me down from my fears. (Do I sound neurotic?).

We’re not alone

The truth is, we’re not alone. Never. God is with us. That means no matter where we go, we can reach out for comfort and encouragement. Even when we as adults find ourselves feeling very alone with many people around us. The amount of people in our vicinity doesn’t have much to do with our feeling alone or not. The beauty of God being with us is that He actually has the power to change things. He can make our situation different. He can do it immediately if He wants too, or it might take a little while (probably while I learn patience or endurance or trusting in Him). But He is always there, and always hears our prayers.

Still feel alone

Some of you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Sure, that sounds great, but how do I feel God with me?” That comes in the beginning of our scripture for today. “Be still and know that I am God.” In America, we’re not accustomed to being still. In fact it takes practice, and can feel really uncomfortable at first. But God says in this verse that if we are still we will know He is God. In addition reading scriptures, calling out to Him in your times of need (like I would call my grandpa), or listening to Christian music can all help to remind us of our ever-present God.

Do you know how to be still?

 
 

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