Again, the Potters House

This clay has talked back. This clay has questioned. This clay has argued. This clay has attempted to persuade.

Yet the hand of the Potter continued to work against the natural inclination of this clay. Mashed against the wheel, His hand working the lump into a form discomforting this clay.

Pressure of hand and wheel. The will of the Potter working this clay against the circumstance manifest as a potters wheel, shaping this clay into a vessel.

The working of this clay is contrary to the sensibilities and sensitives of today, as the clay must, for once and again, behold the truth that God the Father is Lord, and this clay is not.

The Potters House demonstrates a simple principle: the Lord has the right and authority to work this clay however He wills.

It’s painful. It’s unsettling. It’s not what the clay would want. Yet, in His hand this clay is worked perfectly according to the desire of His heart, according to His plan and purpose for the vessel He is forming for use in His house.

Messiah bought the potters field, so the Potter could rework and refresh the rejected clay (Matt. 27:7-10).

Once rejected, under the pressure of His hand, you are more accepted then you ever imagined; because He purposely and intentionally bought you, and that, at the highest price.

Meditation: Isaiah 64:7; Jeremiah 18:1-4; Romans 8:28-29; 10:8-10.

Be well. Shalom.

Living Poetically

“You are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10).

All too often, as disciples of Messiah we forgot who and what we are to be, when we struggle to be relevant, of importance, or influential.

The word “workmanship” in Greek is a cognate of the English word “poem,” another way, “You are His poem,” created in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus. The written poem cannot say back to the Author, “I don’t like the words You have used to create me, give me better words, even more meaningful, more beautiful words.” After all, the poem comes alive by those words.

God is the poet, you are His poem, and as you are refined by word and breath, you will be read by those around you with the rhythm of His life, provided you stop attempting to erase and substitute the words of His poem, for what is more desirable.

Much like the clay and Potter, the poem of your life in Messiah is a unique expression of He who is in you. You are written to be a representation of the Authors heart for those around you to read, not a critic of your own story.

Be well. Shalom.

(Pictures: Ephesians 2:8-10 in Hebrew.)

Be Still

Psalm 46 is beautiful. A poetic vision of the exalted God of heaven and earth, above, but present in the trauma of life.

In the midst of mountains toppling, roaring seas, and the battles of men, there is, “a river whose streams make glad the city of God,” that is the dwelling place of the Lord (Ps. 46:4).

Twice the author encourages, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Ps. 46:7, 11). Why?

The psalmist paints a chaotic picture at the opening of this psalm, with troubles abounding. Yet, he assures us of the Lord’s ever present help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:2). Life seems to be imploding. The earth seems to be collapsing. But God.

To the repetition. The psalmists use of “hosts” is not only a reference to the angelic hosts of Heaven, but the “heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them,” (Gen. 2:1).

The author is making a simple point: He is the Lord of hosts. Whether of angels or universes, or the life on earth, He is Lord of all.

The “God of Jacob is our refuge,” an unmovable shelter in the midst of dramatic change. Why Jacob?

One would have very little trouble believing they God would be a refuge to limping Israel, Jacob’s new name. But the God of that sneaky, cheating, heel-catching Jacob? Yup.

Psalm 46 is speaking into our humanity. When troubles abound, and the platitudinal decorum of congregational function lacks power to change circumstance, we can find ourselves planning as Jacob, not limping as faithing Israel.

How will we survive our present trouble? As a conniving heel-catcher? Or a God dependent, limping Israel?

The message is simple, even when we’ve tried to make our own escape, find our own peace, and rebuild fallen towers of refuge, the God is Jacob will still be our rescue. He will not leave us to the elements. What does He say?

“Be still, and know that I am God,” (Ps. 46:10). Stop planning your own escape, rescue, and recovery, and be still in the knowledge that the God of Jacob, the Lord of hosts, is your refuge and strength in every season of trouble. He spoke the universe into being, so He can recreate your life as well.

Yeshua/Jesus came to find Jacob’s like us, and thankfully, His grace causes us to be more than conquerors by resting in Him (Ro. 8:37).

Be well. Shalom.

A Door in the Valley

How easily we can be distracted by pressing circumstance. That is not to say that we should make light of the serious matters that are before us; but they can so easily distract us from the One leading us. How does the Lord bring us back to Himself?

The prophet Hosea had an enormously difficult calling; he was directed by the Lord to marry prostitute. The Lord would then use Hosea’s life as a witness to His people – that they had gone astray after another בַּעַל/baal, another “master” or “husband,” perhaps believing that someone else had the answer to their struggle, pain or simply boredom.

In one sense, the book of Hosea is utterly unbelievable; and yet, it is wholly beautiful. The Lord is pursuing His bride, His beloved that He will take to Himself in “righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, mercy and faithfulness,” even though she had gone astray. Yet, after reconciliation He says, וְיָדַעַתְּ אֶת-יְהוָה, “you shall know the Lord” (Hos. 2:20).

As the Lord begins “alluring her,” His bride, she is led into the Valley of Achor, עֵמֶק עָכוֹר, interpreted: the Valley of Trouble or Troubling. With His wooing there seems to be an increase in troubles, the pressure becoming almost unbearable. Where is He taking us?

Almost unbelievably, in the midst of the Valley of Achor, the Valley of Troubling we enter לְפֶתַח תִּקְוָה, “the door of hope.” As we read in Hosea,

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, I will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her back her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hos. 2:14-15).

תִּקְוָה/tiqvah, translated hope, is literally a cord used to attach one thing to another. In the trial, the Lord brings us to the “opening of attachment.” No longer tossed about by the wind and waves, we are attached to, and drawn into, His presence.

When we drift due to life’s turbulence, do not be surprised if you find yourself in a wilderness – the place where He sets in order. In the wilderness, as Hosea writes, He will speak comfort. The vineyards of His people, symbolic of peace and serenity, He will restore. And in the deep Valley of Achor, that valley of troubling, we enter the door of hope, as experienced in the exodus. When all seemed hopeless, He made a miraculous way (Heb. 11:1).

Many of us, naturally, become discouraged as we endure trial, not realizing that in the midst of the trial, the Lord is demonstrating His faithfulness to us. He is calling us in the direction of the greatest difficulty in order to show how He overcomes every difficulty (Jn. 16:33).

When we go astray, and the feeling of emptiness begins to build up, then the Lord begins to woo us – speaking to our hearts, desiring us to return to Him.

There are times when we are in that wilderness, when the silence seems deafening, to the point that we feel completely abandoned; but it is to that point that the Lord brings us, and there He who is the “door of hope” (Jn. 10:7) rescues us from the troubles we find ourselves in. He will demonstrate His faithfulness in those times of silence, not necessarily by words, but through affection and love by the Holy Spirit – remember, He has covenanted Himself to us in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, He will not leave or abandon us (Heb. 13:5).

Meditation: Hosea 2:19-20

Be well. Shalom.

The Heel Catcher: Reformed

When Jacob (יַעֲקֹב) emerged from the womb as the heel-catcher (Gen. 25:26), fixed on living for himself and his own benefit to the detriment of others, God delivered him into the hands of a bigger, wiser, more cunning heel-catcher in the person of Laban.

Having fled from Laban, and now facing Esau, the heel-catcher was caught between Laban behind and Esau ahead; and between the two God appeared (Gen. 32:25).

When the heel-catcher was caught by God, He asked, “What’s your name?” (Gen. 32:28). Jacob answered, but his answer was a confession, “I am the heel-catcher” (Gen. 32:28).

From that confession, God reached out, reformed, and renewed Jacob, and said, “No, you are no longer the heel-catcher, you are Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל). You are now God-governed, a prince with strength from God” (Gen. 32:29, amplifying paraphrase).

The reformation of Jacob happened when he was at his lowest point: alone, afraid, and facing certain death (Gen. 32:25). No one left to swindle, God wrestled him away from his old nature by confession: “Jacob is my name.”

Face to face with God (Gen. 32:31), he confessed, and changed man limped away with a new name, facing certain death by his brothers hand.

Israel, however, is saved from destruction, and he would now limp out, or walk out, the prophetic word given to his mother, “the older will serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23); not from swindling, but the promise of God’s presence in covenant (Gen. 35:10-12).

It is our nature to be the heel-catcher, to live for the benefit of this self; but when God suddenly appears, when all options of self-salvation and self-preservation have vanished, God, in our darkest hour wrestles the old nature away, and speaks a new name to us, one that we walk out in Him by faith (Rev. 2:17), a name of overcoming.

When you walk out to face the uncertainty with your limp, you are not in a position of weakness, but strength. You have overcome by Him, and will not be overcome. Glory to God! For you are now governed by God the Father, in the name of God the Son, by the abiding, empowering presence of God the Holy Spirit.

We all limp differently, but its source and healing is the same: Yeshua/Jesus.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Be well. Shalom.