My Personal Hell

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S (Scripture): Psalm 86

11

Teach me your way, Lord,

so that I can walk in your truth.

Make my heart focused

only on honoring your name.

12

I give thanks to you, my Lord, my God,

with all my heart,

and I will glorify your name forever,

13

because your faithful love toward me is awesome

and because you’ve rescued my life

from the lowest part of hell.

O (Observation): Recognizing God’s hand is a powerful thing. Knowing that the pit / hell can feel all encompassing, the psalmist is relieved to know that God still pulls her out of that situation and into a new way.

A (Application): My personal hell is nothing compared to what many have had to go through in their lives…but I still have a personal hell: self-doubt, feelings of being a failure, lack of self-discipline. And yet, God keeps finding ways to pull me out of my hell. God surrounds me with people who see the beauty in me, the strength in me, the calling of the Spirit in me. And even though I just used the word “me” 4 times in that sentence, I know it’s not about me, but about how God desires to work through me.

Step One, on a daily basis, I seek God to pull me out of my personal hell…to remind me that I have been set free!

Step Two, I wonder how God will wake me up to my purpose every day.

Third, I go out and do my best for God and for neighbor – and some days I get it right and some days I fail. But then, I go back to step One : )

P (Prayer): Lord, make me an instrument, a vessel of your grace…helping to pull others out of their personal hell today…to show them that you have a purpose for every one of us. Amen.

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The Promise of Divine Discipline


S (Scripture): Psalm 3
1b I will praise you, O Lord, for you lifted me up, and did not allow my enemies to gloat over me.

2 O Lord my God, I cried out to you and you healed me.

3 O Lord, you pulled me up from Sheol; you rescued me from among those descending into the grave.

4 Sing to the Lord, you faithful followers of his; give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life.

One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning.

O (Observation):  The study notes that come from the online Bible reader I use (Net.Bible.org):

The author thanks the Lord for delivering him from death and urges others to join him in praise. The psalmist experienced divine discipline for a brief time, but when he cried out for help the Lord intervened and restored his favor.

A (Application): I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like discipline much.  And I don’t like doling out discipline either, which can frustrate my spouse at times : ) (I’m working on this…)

My kids don’t always take heed to my discipline.  Hmm.  Wonder why?  Perhaps my power is limited?   I think my purpose is usually clear: they are moving outside of the boundaries of accepted behavior.  Ok…but then they want to know why that boundary is there.  “Why is that my bedtime?” “What did I do?” “Why?”

Is this testing coming from disrespect?   Or simple curioisity?   Or innocence?  Seems to me to be a bit of all of those possibilities.   With God, however, we have different elements at play. 

Discipline that comes from God is quite a bit different for a faithful Christian believer.   Divine discipline always has the promise that God is bringing us back around to our true and right calling.   As much as we might be experiencing divine discipline, we know that joy comes with the morning (v. 5 above).   My discipline that I give my children can at times be unfair or tainted with personal bias (and therefore may not bring the child into the desired path).

The hard part is that we can’t always see the joy coming down the road – even with divine discipline.  Instead, we rely only on the promise that God will be with us… the promise that all will turn out well.   

What discipline are you dishing out?  For what purpose?   Do you sense that you are receiving divine discipline?  And if so, for what purpose are you receiving that discipline?   

P (Prayer):  Lord, help us to see that joy comes in the morning. Amen. 

Like Clay in the Hands of the Potter

  S (Scripture): Jeremiah 18:3 So I went down to the potter’s house and found him working at his wheel. 4 Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.

5 Then the Lord said to me, 6 “I, the Lord, say: ‘O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.’…”

O (Observation): God uses the image of God’s self as the potter and  God’s people as the clay.  When the clay becomes misshapen (from its original purpose), the potter re-visions the purpose of the clay.  The potter is in control and can re-shape  the clay into something new. 

God proposes to do the same with God’s people, as a potter does with clay (v. 6 above): 

In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.

A (Application): I see Jesus as the ultimate re-shaper of this earthly frame we all carry around.  This  image of God giving vision and purpose to us is comforting.  

When we go astray, we repent and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ.   This is how God re-shapes us, as if we are clay in The Potter’s hand.  

God is never done with us.  We might stray, but God always has a place for us, for me, for you.  Even if that means some re-shaping must take place first.  

Can you name a time when you felt down and out?  Broken?  How did God re-shape you from that experience?

P (Prayer): Lord, we are always in need of your amazing grace.  Use your hands to re-shape us and mold us into your vision.  Amen.