The Incredible Value of Being in God’s Hands
“Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’” (Revelations 19:6-7)
I was recently honored to have performed the wedding of a young couple I’ve come to know and love. It was a wonderful day. The setting was perfect. The wall behind me was made of glass and the fields had round bales strategically scattered here and there.
Everything was just right.
Luke, the groom stood with me, fighting back his tears, as his groomsmen and her bridesmaids came in and took their places.
Then the doors were closed.
Then the music started with the selected song and the doors opened and everyone from the groom to the youngest person there turned….to look at Hannah, the bride.
She was beautiful. She was perfect. She was flawless.
She had made herself ready for her groom.
Now, Hannah is a normal woman and Luke is a normal man. They looked perfect that day but, the truth is….no one on earth is perfect.
And if you asked them – they would agree with that.
They are not only normal people but they are humble, realistic and honest.
They are……..like us!
This is fitting because, as Christians, we are the Bride of the Lamb…the Bride of Christ. Paul uses the image of an earthly husband and wife (genetic man and woman) to represent this heavenly relationship between Jesus and the Church.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
I don’t know for sure why our Father in heaven has chosen to make the preparation of the Church….the Bride of Christ…a gradual process most of the time. I DO have a theory about that, though.
My theory about it is what this teaching is all about. That’s why I named it “The Incredible Value of Being in God’s Hands.”
“Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men…’” (Isaiah 29:13)
This is how we all started. We were born spiritually detached from God. Our hearts were removed from Him by the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
That situation is NEVER good enough for God. He built us to be close to Him. He LOVES us…so He is ALWAYS reaching out to us – desiring something FOR us.
“Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” (Isaiah 29:14)
God NEVER stops trying. Annnnnd He’s done this before, countless times.
“Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, and their works are in the dark; They say, ‘Who sees us?’ and, ‘Who knows us?’” (Isaiah 29:15)
Isaiah speaks to how many….to how even we are sometimes. We hide things in our souls….sometimes we aren’t even aware that impurities are there.
“Surely you have things turned around!” (Isaiah 29:16a)
Isaiah seems so frustrated. He says, “You have everything upside down!” My favorite rendition of this part of verse 16 is in The Message paraphrase version: “You have everything backwards!” – or as a popular saying puts it: “That’s not how this goes! That’s not how any of this goes!”
In other words, Isaiah recognizes that how we instinctively handle the issues of our souls is COMPLETELY opposite God’s intentions for us….and against the way He designed us to function as humans.
Next, the prophet begins to use an interesting image to make his point.
“Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” (Isaiah 29:16b)
Isaiah uses the idea of a potter (an artist who makes pots and plates, etc out of clay) and the clay. He speaks of how the potter works the clay to make something useful to illustrate what God is doing in our lives…..in our souls.
When he says, “Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay” he is asking, “Is the potter equal to the clay?” In other words, is God our equal? Or is God superior to us…all of whom are equally less than God?
There is GOD - above us in every way.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Then there is us….people. As I prepared this teaching I was led to search for the term “we all” and I found a number of times in the Bible where we are reminded that all people are on the same plane.
There is God….and then there is us.
So, is God equal to us? No. He is not. He is greater than are we and He wishes to lift us up to a place closer to Him. In the words of David, speaking prophetically of us
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” (Psalm 40:1-2)
This has happened for all Christians…and God wants to do more of it in our lives.
In fact, this is exactly how it all started for Mankind:
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
The word “dust” means “powdered clay.” God literally lifted us from the clay!
So, in Isaiah 29:16, the prophet introduced an idea: God as the potter and people as his clay.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
In that verse, Isaiah proclaims the truth about all this. God DOES have the right to work us….the clay.
These days someone prepares the clay and sells it. The potter just goes and buys some clay and then can start but originally potters got clay wherever they could. Most found places on the earth with the best clay and used that source.
Before there was a system for purchasing prepared clay the potter would start by picking through the clay and removing small pebbles, lumps or twigs. The clay needed to be pure.
Then he would begin to knead the clay. This would remove another kind of impurity: air bubbles. If air bubbles remained in the clay the vessel would break while in a later part of the process.
We were born into a spiritual battlefield. The war is between God and the devil – between God’s angels and satan’s demons and the object is to get control of human souls.
Satan wages this war by inserting impurities into the souls of people, beginning when we were children – spiritually helpless and vulnerable. Satan is a dirty fighter. He has mercy on no one.
Once we are born again God begins the process of purifying His Bride. That’s why He made this promise to us as Paul speaks of..
“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:6)
God is purifying our souls. Sometimes He describes this as sifting.
“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for
you, that he may sift you as wheat.’” (Luke 22:31)
Sometimes He describes it as “winnowing”.
“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12)
At any rate, both describe basically the same thing. They speak of the removal of aspects of our lives that we think are essential parts of us but are really not. When sifting and winnowing are done, what is left is useful and good. Then it can be made into whatever it is God always intended for us.
These are important things that God does in our lives to bring us to His destiny for us.
They never feel good but they ARE good.
Now, it IS true that the enemy will attack us, attempting to destroy us, but “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Also, we can take hope from Joseph who said in Genesis 50:20 that “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day….” and that no matter what, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Some of the trials that come into our lives are allowed to come because God knows He will use them to remove the pebbles and twigs from the “clay” of our hearts.
Some of them is the kneading of God, the potter, to make us flexible and to remove anything that will cause us to fail as He forms us into something wonderful for His use.
So, if you are in a trial right now why not spend some time asking the Lord to reveal His intentions for allowing it and whether or not He reveals it, praise Him for these trials.
I would like to share a true story about a wonderful Christian man named Lew Schaffer. He’s the reason we live in North Texas as he listened when the Lord told him to give us a place to live at the ministry he and another man had started many years ago.
Lew was the main teaching minister for a group called Sonshine Ministries for many years. His son David runs the ministry now but Lew used to be the main speaker for the various conferences the ministry presents all over the USA and in Europe.
One day they were presenting a conference in Alabama and after a lunch break he stepped out of his car and fell to the ground. He was having a massive stroke.
The stroke left him paralyzed, unable to speak or move at all. In seconds he went from the main speaker for his ministry to an invalid lying in a hospital bed and wearing a diaper. It was bewilderi