At my church, we have an amazing Women’s Bible Study that meets every Thursday. Thursday is one of the highlights of my week! It’s a time that I treasure with the Lord and with some amazing women of God. We’re currently going through Beth Moore’s DVD Study of Revelation*. I have always been scared of the book of Revelation – it was confusing and frightening. But this study has been so eye-opening and such a blessing to me! I praise God for Beth Moore and her faithfulness to bring out the truth in His Word.
Last week’s DVD session was for me. I felt like Beth was speaking right to me – and even more – I felt like God was speaking right to my heart. I walked away with a godly confidence that I belong to God – I am His! I bear His mark; I have a spiritual seal on my forehead – His signature. The homework in our workbook had us review some awesome Scriptures about being sealed (see Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 4:30, and 2 Corinthians 1:22). I encourage you to read these verses in your favorite translation, but also take a look at The Message. The Word came alive to me as I studied these verses in this translation.
For the next part of the homework, we looked at 2 Timothy 2:19-21. Verse 19 talks about how God’s foundation is solid (unshaken), it stands firm, and it’s sealed (engraved) with this inscription: The Lord knows who are His, and those who know Him should turn away from wickedness. It reminded me of something Beth said in a previous session: “Righteousness matters… it does indeed matter how we live our lives.” In light of verse 19, we were to read verses 20-21 and “write the assurance of God in your own words”.
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV84)
And then, I read it in The Message…
“In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets – some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.” – 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (MSG)
Here’s my answer I jotted down in my workbook – the assurance of God in these verses in my own words: ‘I was once wood and clay, used for ignoble purposes. But Jesus’ blood has cleansed me and purified my heart. I am a new creation – the old is gone and the new has come. I am now an instrument for my Master, useful in His hands, precious – gold and silver, with a noble purpose! Prepared for any good work. A pearl, pulled up from the mud, cleaned, and set in gold.’
As you can recall from last week’s blog… I’m not perfect. 🙂 But I know that I belong to God; I’m His. And I want my race, my life, to reflect that truth! I want to be a container, a vessel, that is used to serve a fine meal. I want to bring Jesus to others! I don’t want to be a garbage can that’s used to take out the trash! At our last house we didn’t have a garbage disposal, so we used a compost bucket next to our sink for food waste. We’d take it outside whenever the bucket got full. But it was disgusting! It smelled, juices leaked, it attracted fruit flies… the bucket had to be cleaned everyday or it was repulsive. I don’t want to be like that compost bucket! I want to be like my Mikasa wedding set – it’s beautiful, it’s clean, it sparkles, it holds delicious food – it’s used for noble purposes!
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV84)
We used to be dead in our sin, but God made us alive in Christ. We used to be objects of His wrath, but now we are recipients of His grace and mercy. We have been saved – we’ve been given the gift of eternal life – not because of anything we’ve done but because of everything that Jesus did. And it doesn’t stop there. God has a plan for each of us – to be His containers of love, His conduits of light to this cold, dark world.
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” – Ephesians 2:1-10 (MSG)
(If you only read one translation of the Bible, I want to encourage you again – read multiple translations! I’m most familiar with NIV, but I love The Message and the Amplified Bible, and I also like the NASB when I’m studying Greek and Hebrew definitions. New Living Translation is another great one, and there are so many more! Don’t get stuck on one translation. Different ones will open your eyes and speak to your heart at different times.)
“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV84)
Over the years I’ve heard a few pastors say: “God doesn’t call the equipped – He equips the called.” Praise God! We don’t need to have it all together in order to do something for God. He’s just looking for faithful followers who will do something with their faith. When we respond humbly to His grace and His call, He will give us everything we need to do what He wants us to do. In our weakness, His power and His strength are made perfect (2 Cor 12:9)!
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ‘the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, ‘If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.’” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (MSG)
Once again, I love The Message! We were created to worship God, to bring honor and praise and glory to our Father in Heaven. It’s not about us – it’s all about Him! “Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.” Thank you God!!
C.S. Lewis once said, “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” God doesn’t love me because I’m good. There’s nothing I could do to earn His love. He just loves me! And that love motivates me to love Him, to love others, and to live better. We’re called to be containers of love – not that we put a lid on and hoard His love, keeping it to ourselves. We carry His love and pour it out on others, everywhere we go.
Here are two incredible, inspiring books to help equip you in this life of love we’re called to!
- “Love, Skip, Jump” by Shelene Bryan – http://www.skip1.org/; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gHRewDSOmE
- “Love Does” by Bob Goff – http://bobgoff.com/love-does/; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaPZGM9ksvM
*For more information on Beth Moore’s Revelation Study, go to: http://www.lproof.org/store/search.asp?searchtext=revelation.