Monday, July 27, 2009

In the Hands of My Great Potter

The unknown. Am I the only one that sometimes finds this phrase absolutely frightening? Oh, how patient the Lord is with this heart of mine. At moments it seems as if trust flows freely inside my being. Other times it feels as if I'm drowning in anxiety and fear of that unknown future.
I sit here today ashamed at myself and my heart attitude. Over the past week, it seems as if I am constantly struggling to fully lay my future on the altar. It is truly difficult to surrender those "life plans" of which I have made for myself. It is a daily committment...a daily "letting go." Today I was given a special reminder by my Lord Jesus, a reminder that even though my heart attitude wavers, He never loses control.

This morning I flipped in my Bible to the book of Jeremiah. In chapter 18, I read these anointed words, a message from the Lord given to Jeremiah:

"The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 'Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.' So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the Lord gave me this message: 'O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.'"

Jeremiah 18:1-6

First off, I love Jeremiah's obedience. I wonder if he was puzzled about the place of which God desired to speak to him. A potter's shop? Wouldn't a mountaintop or even a quiet stream be a more appropriate setting for such a conversation? But no, Jeremiah obeyed with no question. I am blessed by the picture God spoke to him...that of a potter and his clay. I love the image of God forming us into exactly what He desires. I am also encouraged by this portion of this scripture which claims the Father's ownership over the lives of His own: "You are in my hand." (v. 6)

Within the margins next to these powerful verses, another "potter and clay" portion of scripture in Isaiah was referenced.

"What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’

How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’
This is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:

Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?"

Isaiah 45:9-11

Goodness...this passage really "stepped on my toes." And even though it was not warmly welcomed, the reality of my human nature came to light. For who am I to question my Creator? For, in essence, my lack of trust in Him is almost as if I am saying: "Do You really know what You are doing? Maybe I should help because things sure seem to be out of control." It was after I read these verses that my heart was broken. "Oh God," I prayed, "That's not how I want it to be. I'm so sorry. I want to truly trust You."

Perhaps it is that we feel as if time is running out. The plans we have made for ourselves should be panning out. Yet, for some reason, God has called us to wait. And as I lay those plans on the altar and truly choose to live by faith in my Savior, the great Potter shapes this 'ol lump of clay into something beautiful. He shapes me into exactly what He desires that I be, for He knows what is best. Who am I to question His workings?

Waiting+the unknown= panic, fear, anxiety, discouragement----> Waiting+the unknown+daily trust in our Potter=peace, contentment, rest, and joy.

Today as I sat down at the piano, my eyes fell upon a hymn of which I had never heard before. And even though I had absolutely no idea of the tune, I sang these words to my Potter.

"Have Faith in God" by BB McKinney

Have faith in God when you pathway is lonely
He sees and knows all the way you have trod
Never alone are the least of His children
Have faith in God, have faith in God

Chorus: Have faith in God, Hes on His throne
Have faith in God, He watches oer his own
He cannont fail, He must prevail
Have faith in God, have faith in God

Have faith in God when you pray'rs are unanswered
Your earnest plea He will never forget
Wait on the Lord, trust His Word and be patient
Have faith in God, He'll answer yet

Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow
His heart is touched with your grief and despair
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him
And leave them there, oh, leave them there
Have faith in God tho' all else fail about you
Have faith in God He provides for His own
He cannot fail tho' all kingdoms shall perish
He rules He reigns upon His throne

Surrender to the Potter, you precious lump of clay. Be obedient, just as Jeremiah was. For in His great timing, Almighty God will make something beautiful out of your surrender. For who are we to question our Creator? He is forever in control.

"For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!"

Isaiah 64:4

"I have cared for you since you were born.Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you."

Isaiah 46:3b-4

Hannah Grace

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nothing Can Separate Us From His Love

It seems as if there has suddenly been a whirlwind of death. Several families that I know of, including my own, have recently suffered the loss of loved ones. Such a difficult thing. And while we rejoice with those who believed and are now in the presence of Jesus, how hard it is to imagine life without them.

After losing both of my great grandmothers, almost exactly a month apart, the reality of death has brushed my heart. But as sat during both of these funerals, I began to think of what hope we have...even in something portrayed as hopeless such as a death. As I saw the casket, the flowers, the tombstone, the evidence of such utter loss...somehow peace was displayed. Somehow....hope shone through. For in each of these deaths, God was glorified.

As I said goodbye to both of these Godly women, their lifeless bodies and their countenance of peace gave me hope. For what can separate me from God's love? No, nothing. Not even death. Because of the precious price that Jesus paid on the cross, we can have life....even in death. This scripture was constantly going through my head at each funeral:

“'Death is swallowed up in victory, O death, where is your victory
O death, where is your sting?' For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:54b-57

Praise God that we have hope in the face of death! It was such a beautiful reminder to me that we as believers can rest in the fact that nothing separates us from the Lord. We have victory in Christ Jesus. Another passage that is a comfort is found in Romans 8:35-39:

"Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, 'For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep. No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Amen. It is sometimes a tendency in my life to fret over the future that lies ahead. For many times I fear the unknown road ahead. The great reminder that God has given me over the course of this month is that no matter what lies ahead...nothing will separate me from His great love. As I am given days on this earth, may I truly live in the hope that He so freely offers. May I rest in the fact that neither illness, nor darkness, nor failure, nor pain, nor loneliness, nor discouragement, no nothing......can remove me from the all-surpassing, ever-present, awesome power of my Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

A few weeks ago, I was in Lifeway and purchased a worship cd by Travis Cottrell. Almost every time that I hear this song, I get chills. I've posted a link to this song at the end of the entry. I hope these words encourage you today. For nothing can separate me/you/us from the love of our Father. And each day that we are given breath, may we truly trust that He is in control. He has conquered the grave, given us victory over death, offered life everlasting, and has already provided hope for each day to come. Be blessed in His promises, my friend.

My Rhapsody Playlist

Hannah Grace

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nothing Is Lost

I have started this blog numerous times....but each time I only ended up right back at a blank slate. I had desired to share with you the events of mission camp. Each time I began to write I felt as if God was leading me to write something else.....something that He taught my yearning heart one quiet night last week.

Each morning last week, I had the privilege of helping with a Kid's Camp at my church, Cornerstone. It was such a neat time of seeing young hearts with a desire to learn more about the Lord. What was even more encouraging is that as I poured out love to them, they in turn loved me back. It was a special reminder that my life is an example to a younger generation. Humbling thought.......generating a great calling to live in purity.

By the time evening came each day, most of those staying out at camp were completely exhausted. Before I headed to bed one night, I decided to spend some time alone with God down by the lake. As I walked to the cozy little swing positioned right near the edge of the water, the beautiful night sky caught my attention. Every few seconds the sky would light up....something like an electrical storm, I guess. As I watched this phenomena, the verse that kept going through my head was: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

"Wow, I thought. The Maker of all this really loves me and is interested in my life. Oh Lord," I prayed, "Thank You for being in control."

Even though I knew that the Lord indeed was in heart was still heavy. It was difficult for me to understand how God was working through some difficult circumstances that had arose in my life that week. Although I am not proud of my attitude that night, the prayer of my heart was: "God, I feel trapped and hindered by these circumstances. How can I bring You glory out of this? What is the purpose? I thought I was here to be used by You."

Do you ever feel that way? Have you ever wondered how could God possibly do any good out of a specific situation, physical state, difficult relationship, fill in the blank. Have you ever assumed that God could use you much more efficiently if only He would change certain circumstances?

And as I sat on that swing, God began to impress upon my heart an important lesson. I felt as if He were sitting right next to me, whispering in my ear: "Hannah, look up at the lightening. It seems to have no purpose. It makes no noise, accomplishes no great thing, it comes out of nowhere and then disappears. What is its purpose? It really seems to have none whatsoever. But tonight, precious daughter, it has drawn you nearer to Me. It has reminded you that I am in control. Therefore, nothing is lost."

Tears came into my eyes. Just as the lightening seemed to have no purpose at all, so was it with the difficult circumstances I was facing that week. It was these very circumstances that were drawing me closer to the Father. Therefore, nothing was lost. Can you grab hold of that with me? Nothing, nothing, nothing is lost when the Father is in control. Nothing is lost in pain, death, trouble, loneliness, sickness, rejection, hurt.......all things work together for good in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:28)

In the past few days following that encouraging night, I have been recapping the times in which life was just......hard. I think back to my first semester in college, a time in which I felt as if I had "missed God's direction." Yet, it was during that time that I experienced a drawing near into my Father's warm embrace. It was a time that I experienced a divine rescue by my Lord Jesus. And just as He rescued me then, He has never failed to provide that same rescue in the uncertain times that have followed.

Tonight, I must be's been difficult to put these thoughts down. I feel as if I have so much I want to share with you, but no words to write. I feel like I really want to pray for you. Is that okay? I have no idea who will be reading this entry, but I desire that you know Who is control no matter what circumstance you may be facing. So, this is the prayer of my heart for you today.

Lord Jesus, I thank You and praise You with all that is within me. What a comfort to know that You are truly in control. I am thankful that no hardship, no sickness, no worry, no difficult circumstance of any kind can separate Your precious love from those who are children of God. I pray for the precious heart reading this prayer tonight. I pray for Your divine healing touch over their heart today. I pray that in whatever circumstances present, Lord, that You will bring about a peace within their heart. For You, O Lord, have a purpose in ALL things. Therefore, nothing is lost. May you encourage even the depths of their being today with the promise that "all things work together for good." May you provide Godly encouragement for them this week. Lord God, I pray that you will draw them nearer to Your throne, nearer to Your presence. Help them to know today that You are for them, You love them with an everlasting love, and You will never abandon them. May they find hope in You alone, Father. Thank You for Your love and thank You for hearing us when we pray. I love you, Lord. In Jesus precious name, Amen.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:37-39
Hannah Grace

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Words from our Lord Jesus

Yesterday as I was able to spend some time with the Lord at my church, my devotional for the day led me to these precious words prayed to the Father by our Lord Jesus. Can I ask you a question? How would it feel for the Lord Jesus to pray a prayer over your life today? How would it feel to know that He was speaking on your behalf to the Father? Well, dear one.......He did.

Many of you are familiar with this passage in John 17, but if you are like me, I always thought that Jesus was praying for His twelve disciples. But, there is a powerful statement that Jesus makes within this prayer in verse 20: "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me because of their testimony."

As I read this, my eyes got big. "Wow...Jesus prayed this beautiful prayer for not only His disciples, but for me. Thank you, Jesus." Tears flooded my eyes. Even before I was able to breathe my first breath, the Lord was already praying protection over me.

Nancy Guthrie had an inspiring view on this portion of Scripture. She states: "Jesus has prayed for you, asking His Father to protect you from the evil one. Satan may win a battle or two in your life, but he will never win the war against your soul. Jesus has prayed for you, and you are protected."

Read these words spoken by our Lord Jesus. I hope that it encourages your spirit today. As you read how your Lord has prayed these words over your life, even before the day you were born, may it provide you with a peace that passes all we may fear. May the words of our Great Protector provide you with healing of a broken spirit, joy in the midst of sorrow, and hope for your journey with Him.

"After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.
For you have given Him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one You have given Him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth. I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.
Now, Father, bring Me into the glory we shared before the world began.
I have revealed You
to the ones You gave me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from You, for I have passed on to them the message You gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from You, and they believe You sent Me.

My prayer is not for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You. All who are mine belong to You, and You have given them to Me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given me Your name;
now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as we are. During My time here, I protected them by the power of the name You gave Me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth. Just as you sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth.
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent me.
I have given them the glory You gave me, so they may be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as You love me. Father, I want these whom You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they can see all the glory You gave Me because You loved Me even before the world began!
O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know You, but I do; and these disciples know You sent Me. I have revealed You to them, and I will continue to do so. Then Your love for Me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
John 17

Amen, amen, amen.
Hannah Grace

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Before the Day

I found a CD last night that I had been searching for. I really thought that I had lost it, so I was pretty thankful to have discovered it. It is entitled "Rescue" by Newsong.

One particular song on this CD specifically ministered to me about four years ago. It was during my Mom's cancer journey that I heard this song for the first time. I remember sitting in the waiting room as she was receiving one of her chemo treatments. I remember the sight and feeling of that cold and not-so-inviting room. I also remember the fear that was in my heart that day, seeing her walking through the unpleasant door of chemotherapy. But even greater than that fear, I remember feeling God's peace overtaking my heart and mind as I listened to this song. I played it over and over and over again that day. Last night as I heard it again and as I had the privilege of my mom sitting beside me listening as well, I was able to recap the faithfulness of God during that time and since that day. What a blessing...truly a miracle.

This is what I desire to be my prayer each morning that God gives me breath. "Now another day is waiting/For me to make it through/And there's no way that I could face it without You........I'll just be still and know that You are God."

Worship Him with me this morning. For He is faithful to care for us in whatever situation we may face each morning...both now and each day to come.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trust in the Lord

Today as I was searching for a card at Lifeway for a friend, I came across this beautiful card. I loved it so much that I decided to buy it and save it for someone one day. Who knew that a even just a small card could bring such an encouragement to my heart....almost as if the Lord had spoken the words right into my ears. I wanted to share what I found when I opened it.

Trusting in the Lord

Abraham followed

God's leading without knowing

where it would take him.

Hannah waited

for God's perfect timing

without knowing when.

Mary expected

a miracle

without knowing how.

Joseph trusted

God's purpose

without knowing why

circumstances happened

the way they did.

The Purpose Driven Life

Can you say "Amen" to that? Praise Jesus.
"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He's the one who will keep you on track."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Hannah Grace

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hope In Your Rescue

During a busy and somewhat long week, what a blessing it is to feast on the promises that God so freely gives. One of my favorite radio stations of all time is KLOVE. I listen to this station just about every time I get into my car. One morning on my way to work, one of the daily devotionals that come across the air each morning specifically caught my attention. I would love for you to be encouraged with this truth, as well.

This devotional was centered upon the story of Jonah. Having grown up in Christian family my whole life, I am very much familiar with this story.....perhaps so familiar that when I hear it, I fail to really dig deep into the meaning. Perhaps it is the same with you. However, this devotional shed a whole new light on the account of Jonah's "situation."
Jonah, a man called by God for a specific purpose, a man running from what he had been instructed to do, and a man desperately in need of God's forgiveness mercy......endured a seemingly hopeless situation. From this hopeless situation came: a rescue.
A great storm came at sea....Jonah knew it was because of his disobedience. Jonah told the crew to toss him into the water. I imagine that Jonah realized this act would inevitably be his death sentence. How was he to survive? And as his body crashed into the cold, dark water, I wonder what was resounding through his mind? Perhaps he felt hopeless.....abandoned......fearful. Then, what did our God out of His great mercy and unfailing love do out of this situation? Jonah 1:17 tells us: "But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah..." For me, that wonderful word "provided" shed a whole new light on this scene. God did not "happen" to command a random fish swimming by to take a mouth-full of human...He did not just decide at that moment on how He would handle Jonah's situation. God in His sovereign plan and divinely sequenced events provided that fish at just the right moment. But, was this the rescue that Jonah may have prayed for? Hmmm...surely not.

Can you imagine....I mean really imagine what it must have been like to be inside the belly of a fish? What must Jonah have thought? I'm sure he was thinking that he would surely never make it out alive...literally. I'm sure it was at this moment that feelings of hopelessness, fear, anxiety and doubt surrounded Jonah. He must have wondered why God would allow such a horrific thing to happen. Perhaps he even felt like God had given up on Him....abandoned him to die. How could God possibly use this situation for his benefit? I don't know about you but in my eyes being swallowed alive by a fish would not feel like a providential, ordained event meant for my own good. But here is the foundational truth that touched my heart in this well-known Biblical account: without this tragic event in Jonah's life, he would have surely drowned.

Isn't that so neat to think about? What seemed like a horrible, hopeless, and desperate situation was a providential, all-powerful, God-ordained rescue. What situation in your life do you feel as if no good could possibly result? Perhaps it is the loss of a loved one, the failing of a marriage, the loss of a job, the pangs of loneliness, the pain of illness and disease, the fear that paralyzes in the night, rejection from those dear to our hearts, the death of a dream, the failing of life plans......why are these instances sometimes allowed within our lives. Have you ever thought that God has used this unpleasant, undesirable situation in our lives to bring about a magnificant and holy rescue? We, as believers, have the promise which is found in Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." I know that I am truly thankful for that promise.

This caused me to think of other accounts in Scripture where out of hopeless situations came a divine rescue by God. I thought of the story of Moses. Moses' mother carried this precious little boy in her womb for nine months, only to find out after he was born that he would be sentenced to death by the Egyptians. What a hopeless situation. In her attempts to save her son, she in essence abandoned this precious little one. She secured him within a basket and sent him down the river, a task that would literally break a mother's heart. Little did she know that her attempts to rescue her son would eventually result in God providing for her own rescue through her well as a rescue of her people. Praise Jesus.

I desire that you and I truly be encouraged tonight. Will we always understand the reason for great trials and suffering? Absolutely not. Can we trust God with each situation that comes our way both now and in the future, knowing that it exists and persists for our own good? Praise God, yes we can! Oh, how our Father is forever faithful. We can truly trust Him. How thankful we should be that He indeed rescues His children. How thankful we should be that He has divinely orchestrated each moment of our lives and that He has already provided for our rescue. That blesses my heart so much. I must admit that I do struggle with the fear of an unknown future. I struggle with the act of trusting God with these things of which I cannot see. It is a daily surrender and choice to walk by faith and fall into the arms of my Father, trusting His perfect and holy will.

Tonight I leave you with two portions of God's holy Word. May you cease from viewing the difficult situations in life as dreaded, painful, and fear-stricken moments. As you walk in the will of God, may you see each moment as divinely sequenced by your Creator. For He is the only One Who knows exactly what you need. And just as He divinely "provided" for Jonah's rescue, so He will provide for yours, as well. May these words of God provide you with hope for today....hope for your journey.

"The LORD Almighty has sworn this oath:'It will all happen
as I have planned. It will come about according to my purposes. I have
a plan for the whole earth, for My mighty power reaches throughout the world.
The Lord Almighty has spoken--who can change His plans?
When His hand moves, who can stop Him?'"
Isaiah 14:24, 26-27
"Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches
and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand
His decisions and His methods!
For who can know what the Lord is thinking?
Who knows enough to be His counselor?
For everything comes from Him; everything exists
by His power and is intended for His glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen."
Romans 11: 33-34, 36
Hannah Grace