Month: August 2018

  • Treasure in Jars of Clay

    For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

    2 Corinthians 4:6-9

    There are days I feel like I can take on the world, but most days I am caught in the hamster wheel of life, just trying to get from one day to the next. I don’t always feel smart enough or strong enough or worthy of the calling.

    I was encouraged recently when I came across the above scripture. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are like “jars of clay” with a “treasure” inside. Paul used a metaphor of clay jars to symbolize our physical bodies. Elsewhere in scripture we are referred to as being made from clay (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 103:14). Just like the clay jars in ancient times, our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific purpose (Isaiah 45:9; 64:8; Romans 9:21). Our bodies are beautiful, functional, and yet breakable.

    Our “jars of clay” hold a valuable treasure that God has given us. It is “the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4), the knowledge of our Creator through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:26).

    I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a fragile clay jar. I’m reminded every day of my frailness when I say something unkind, when my body doesn’t work like I want it to, or when illness strikes. And then I wonder . . . why would God choose to put His greatest treasure in me? Why does God use fragile earthen jars to carry His greatest treasure?

    Could it be that that is where His light shines the brightest? Sweet sisters, the moment you and I placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, we were given a treasure. Paul defines this treasure in 2 Corinthians 4:6 as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” God sent His Son into this world to shine light into the darkness, to expose people’s sin and to point them to the only answer, Jesus Christ. And now God has left that light shining in our hearts.

    It seems inconceivable that God would choose to use us to carry the spectacular, brilliant, blinding treasure of the Gospel! He’s entrusted it to our weak, broken jars because it’s through our cracks and holes that His light shines through.

    “To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinth 4:7b

    When we are weary and wandering through the valleys of life, that is when in Christ we must live through the power of God and when His light shines brightest. Apostle Paul knew that the treasure within him—the gospel—was the only thing able to give him the power to face the valleys before him.

    Let us not forget that the power to face our valleys comes from the treasure inside and not of ourselves.

    Paul continues to encourage the church with these words: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (4:7). Are you feeling stuck, lost, confused, or lonely right now? Here’s your promise and hope, dear one: whatever valley you are facing, it will not crush you; you will not be driven to a pit of despair that you cannot be delivered from; you will not be forsaken or destroyed.

    Writing these truths on your heart will help you to remember that while you do not possess the power to endure the hard things you face on your own, you have the power of the Holy Spirit working in you on your behalf! This passage reminds us that our times in the valley are an opportunity to witness God’s power, might, mercy, loving-kindness, and sovereignty for His people. We not only have a treasure inside these jars of clay; we also have His life in us–we are living testimonies of God’s deliverance.

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  • The Prince of Peace

    Have you ever found yourself staring down a fight? Facing something so difficult and so daunting that you weren’t even sure how to proceed? I know I have had seasons of my life that gave me a run for my money (and sanity). My instinct is to steel myself and get ready for the fight ahead. There inevitably comes a point when I’ve done all that I can do and my own reserves have run out but there’s more fight to be won. I either grow weary and panic, or sink down, feeling defeated and alone.

    I recently was wading through just such a season when I heard a song by Hillsong United called Prince of Peace. I am a songwriter at heart and love when great lyrics hit me out of nowhere. My breath caught in my lungs when I heard this line: “…staring down the fight, my eyes found yours”. This new picture in my mind’s eye of staring ahead at that impossible thing and suddenly having Jesus meet my eyeline…dear one, it brings me to tears of relief. Before I even begin to fight, He is there, His eyes on me, ready to lead me safely through.

    The lyrics continue “…shining like the sun, striding through my fears, the Prince of Peace met me there, you heard my prayer.”

    I pray with all my heart that if you are facing the difficult, heartbreaking or impossible, that you will look for Jesus. Lock eyes with Him and know you are not alone. When we seek him with all our heart, he promises we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

    You can listen to the song here. Close your eyes and let Jesus stride through your fear, with your hand in his.  Allow Him to lead you through your impossible thing. The Prince of Peace will meet you where you are. He has heard your prayer.

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  • Renewed Vision

    They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

    He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

    Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” – Mark 8:22-25

    Have you ever felt blind to what God is doing in your life and the world around you? Do you ever wish you could put on God-vision glasses and see where God is working around you and see what He sees. I know I want to see the world and others the way He sees them. Many times we just need a renewed vision to be able to see clearly how God is working around us.

    Just like in this story of a blind man, we start to receive this renewed vision by seeking after God. The best way to have God-vision is to spend time with God. Through this time, we are given fresh perspective and a new outlook. God-vision allows us to see our circumstances through the eyes of hope; it helps us see those around us through the eyes of unconditional love.

    Through the vision God gives us, we can always see goodness and hope in even the bleakest situation. As we look at our circumstance or situation through God-vision, it will keep us from being overcome by disappointment, discouragement or negativity. If we can recognize that God is always at work in everyone and everything, then there is always hope to be found.

    As we seek God in every moment of our days, we can ask, “What is it God that you want me to say or do? What should I be aware of in this moment or situation?”

    Whether we are currently spiritually blind or just not seeing clearly, Jesus is the answer! Allow him to restore your spiritual sight as you walk by faith, so that you may clearly see the world through His eyes.

    Lord, give me eyes to see you and how you are working. Help me be willing to respond to your call in each moment and have God-vision. Keep my heart soft and moldable. Renew my vision and help to see myself and others are you see us–your beloved children!

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  • God’s Favorite Ingredient

    Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of walking alongside some truly incredible women as they navigated different crises in their lives. I say privilege because while some of the themes of my own journey may grant me certain insight, the details of my own experience don’t fully mirror theirs. It would be easy for them to say I’m underqualified. Yet they allowed me in to pray with them, to hold and comfort their children, and to hold and comfort them. I witnessed their tenacity and resolve as they would straighten up, wipe the tears from their face and plow ahead because life does not slow down for grief.

    Often, when the hurt seemed to last too long, and there was no clear end in sight, I’d find myself wondering, “How do I speak hope into a situation where I cannot see God working? What can I possibly say that doesn’t fall woefully short of the magnitude of their circumstances? How is God going to redeem this for good?” When someone you love is in the trenches, it can challenge your faith in God’s timing and methodology, just as if you were going through it yourself. I craved reassurance that God was going to come through for my friend like He did for me.

    Recently, one friend in particular was especially on my heart when Revive Ministries had a chance to attend the She Speaks conference in North Carolina. I went with the expectation of learning more about writing and speaking, but did not anticipate finding the answer to these burning questions.

    Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 ministries, was the first main session speaker. She spoke from her new book that’s coming out soon called It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way. She tackles some of the really hard questions about walking a life of faith in a broken world. Lysa knows trial, heartache and pain in a very real way, and by God’s grace has held onto faith and hope, even in the darkest of shadows. I sat in the packed ballroom, on the edge of my seat, ears straining to hear a message of hope that I could relay to my friend, and tuck inside my own heart for when I needed it.

    Midway through her talk, Lysa referenced a phrase that talks about God’s light shining through the places we are broken and cracked. She acknowledged that it really is a lovely sentiment, but also posed the question “What do you do when there aren’t even cracked pieces of your life left to glue back together? What do you do when all that’s left is dust? You can’t glue dust!”

    Time stopped for a moment as her words echoed in my heart and mind. What do you do when all that’s left of your life is dust?

    Lysa gently reminded us that “God’s favorite ingredient is dust.” He breathes life into dust and creates new life. When living water is added to dust, it makes clay, and in the hands of the Potter, we become the work of His hand. Jesus spits into dust, making mud that he places on the eyes of a blind man healing him and giving him sight. (Genesis 2:7, Isaiah 64:8, John 9:1-11)

    Lysa said it beautifully, “Dust does not signify the end, it is often what must be present to begin what is brand new.”

    There is no situation that is so far gone, that our Creator cannot breathe life into it. There is no mess so great that our God cannot redeem it for purpose and beauty. I don’t know about you, but when the journey stretches on just a little longer than I want, when it is hard to discern how God could possibly rebuild from the ashes, remembering God’s favorite ingredient gives me renewed hope. It was the reassurance I had been craving, from God’s own Word, breathing life into me again.  I pray it will bolster your faith and give you hope too, for your own sake or for the sake of a dear friend.

    Note: We are not receiving any compensation for promoting Lysa’s book or Proverbs 31 Ministries-we just really love what they are doing and wanted to share with you! This is one little nugget of Lysa’s awesome talk at She Speaks! She has so much more to share about how God’s love and timing truly are perfect, in her book. You can get a sneak peek of It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way & pre-order your copy here

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  • Light in the Dark

    “Through [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” – John 1:3-5, 9-13

    Have you ever stood in complete darkness? Not just figuratively, but literally in the absence of light. Let me tell you, it is an eye-opening experience! <Pun intended>

    My husband and I are the adventurous types and love to explore new places. When we were first married, we explored the Ape Caves in Washington, an underground lava tube about a mile long. We came prepared with flashlights but what I wasn’t prepared for was how dark darkness can be when no light can be found. I grew up as a kid who was always scared of the dark, but I had never experienced true darkness up until that point.

    Just for fun, we stopped in the middle of the cave and turned off our flashlights. Even though my husband was only inches away from me, I couldn’t see him. I was surrounded by complete and utter blackness. I could not see anything! Once we turned our lights back on, I could see that he was right next to me all along. I could shine the light forward and see what was ahead of me and shine it around so I didn’t stumble on the rocks below my feet. We were completely dependent on our flashlights to get us out of this cave. Without the lights we carried, we would be forever lost in this cave.

    Just like the darkness in this cave, we can find ourselves without light to illuminate our path through this life. Without light, we are vulnerable to stumbling blocks in our path. We need light to see the way through the dark and difficult situations we face. Although the light may only show us one step at a time, we need to know we are on the right path.

    Jesus came to the world and people whom he created and knew well, as the light that shines into the hearts of people and illuminates the way to life. Not just any life, but life as God originally intended: full of love, hope and joy. He is a light that darkness cannot overcome, no matter how dark a cave we find ourselves in. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He is the way to true life.

    If we allow the light of Jesus to illuminate our path, we can continue to put one foot in front of the other, confident that even if we cannot see Him, He is there, showing us the way.

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