Project Description

DOWNLOAD TRANSCRIPT

Pottery 101 – FoT

The Bible tells us that God is the potter and we are the clay. This is an ingenious connection back to creation when Adam was formed from red clay. However, there is more to the picture than just creation. God has given us life. Now he is forming us, molding us, making us the way he wants us to be. The circumstances of our lives are his hands on us. This presentation explores our part in this process.

Help Us Help Others

We give everything we produce away without charge. How is this possible? Someone else has paid for your downloads and orders. If you would like to pay it forward, we will be pleased to accept your contribution so that others may receive our Christian living materials also.

CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION

Access Resource 

There are several ways to access this presentation. You can listen using the audio player at the top of this screen or if you prefer to read the presentation, a transcript has been provided. Feel free to download this audio and/or the transcript. To download the audio, follow the directions below and to download the transcript, click on the button below.

To download this audio, click the download button on the audio player at the top of this screen, as is shown in the picture below.

Example of how to download an audio from the player

Note: This is simply an image showing you how to download the audio. You must click the download button on the audio player at the top of your screen in order to download this presentation.

Transcription

I have a question for you today that’s preparatory to that incredible, much-anticipated time. But it takes a bit of setup. I need you to help me with it. Just for a moment, pretend you’re dead. Now you don’t laugh if you’re dead. So, pretend you’re dead. Can you feel your feet on the floor? 

You’re not doing it right? Just kidding. In death – the kind of death that the Bible calls a sleep of death – we have no metabolism. It’s not like a good night’s sleep. There’s no consciousness at all. You feel nothing. You dream nothing. You know nothing. You’re dead! Okay, you’re asleep. You’re in the sleep of death. All of a sudden, you hear a really loud noise! And your eyes pop open. And you think, “What’s that?! It sounded like a trumpet!” And then it hits you. You’re alive again! You have been resurrected to life, just like Jesus was when He came out of the grave. And you now understand, in a whole new way, what God meant when He called Jesus the firstborn of many brethren. You’re one of them! Right? You’re not alive like you were before. This time you’re really alive! You are now an immortal member of the God family. So once we get used to that idea, what’s next? Well, the millennial reign of Christ starts. Before that, there’s the wedding supper – the Lamb, fine dining, good drinks. Let the party begin! Right? Have you got that picture in your mind? Okay, here comes the question: 

If you are one of those who have fallen asleep in death before Christ returns, when the trumpet sounds, will you hear it? Will you wake up? What if you sleep through it? I mean, what are the chances that you’re going to awaken at that time. That is really an important question for us, because we don’t believe in once-saved, always-saved, do we? If that were true, we wouldn’t have all the dire warnings in the Bible about that. Paul wouldn’t have had to say, “Make your calling an election sure,” because it would already be sure. We wouldn’t read about the need to be alert so that “no root of bitterness” could spring up in our hearts, because it would all be taken care of. Jesus wouldn’t have had to tell the story about Lazarus and the rich man, or the five foolish girls who came to the wedding, but had to go back to find something they should have had with them already. There are lots of warnings about that. Now, I know, Christ forgives all of our sins – all the sins that we will let Him forgive. 

What I hope we can focus on today is not so much about missing out, but on what we can learn so that we don’t. Because, as this festival teaches us, that’s when the party really starts. This life is just a precursor. We wouldn’t want to miss that, would we? I know I wouldn’t. 

Now there are lots of things we can learn to make our calling an election sure, but I’m only going to talk about one of them today – not the entire salvation plan, but on just one thing. And what’s that? Well, God’s plan for you – not God’s plan for all of us, and not God’s plan for all mankind, but God’s plan for you. If you know that, it ups your chances of waking up at the right time. And why would that be?

Well, I was talking to a woman in my counseling office some time back – really, she was the motivation for me to give this sermon today – and she was talking about the suicide of her sixteen-year-old daughter that had occurred ten years prior. And she told me her heart was still broken. Now this woman is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. She’s as kind-hearted as she can be and as dedicated as she can be. But she told me her heart was still broken because of what happened. And whose wouldn’t be? I mean, inconsolable forever – right? Loss of a child – hardest thing for humans to endure. But she also mentioned to me that she had never forgiven God for allowing this to happen. 

Now I talk to so many people who say that – people in my counseling office and people at church. It’s not uncommon for people at church to – like everybody else – to be angry with God for the things that He allows to happen. Now when that happens, we are angry with God because of the losses that we have suffered. And there are so many people that think that way, it’s almost an epidemic. And that observation has moved me to speak to you on this topic. I know not everybody is in that situation, but those of you who are, it’s a problem. 

So, as I talked to this woman, it seemed to me that she was in a dangerous place. It says here in Hebrews 12:15:

Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God – that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. 

Now it’s only a short step from anger to bitterness. When we go there, we can no longer accept Christ’s sacrifice and grace. We don’t want it. Do you think the Bible has anything to tells us about this? Well, it does. We’re looking at part of it right there. Notice that the Bible seems to imply that anger towards God is somewhat contagious. Sometimes, something can be said so often that people begin to think, out of familiarity, that it’s true, rather than critically thinking and proving the truth of an issue. It also seems to me that the solution to this woman’s anger with God is to understand His plan for her. And she clearly doesn’t understand it. Her vision is obscured by the pain that she’s experienced. And that’s not her fault, by the way. But it is her responsibility to listen to God and understand His plan for her. And, if she will do that, she won’t be angry with Him any longer. If she doesn’t see through the pain that she’s gone through – and through the anger – she may not wake up in time for the party. She may not even want to. And that’s a fearful thought. 

So we’re not just talking about this woman today, but all of us here – each one of us. What is God’s plan for this lady? And what is God’s plan for you? He has a plan for each one of us. 

To begin, let’s first get our bearings and recall some context – all the way back to the beginning. We see the first people in a paradise with God. Their job was to take care of a garden. And we learn, amazingly, that that job was much easier then than it is now, because there were less thorns and thistles – maybe not even any at all! And there was perfect weather. Farmers talk about weather, but it’s usually not in the kind of terms that we would like to hear, because weather’s difficult for us. The weather was so great there, there was no need for clothes, if you think about it. So it was really easy to grow things and there were no weeds, so they had a cake job! Tending the Garden was fulfilling and productive, and it was low stress, and they loved each other – Adam and Eve did – and they loved God, and God came and talked to them, and they freely talked with Him. They were all happy and content. Life was good. Okay, we’ve got that picture, right? Life was good. 

Now, rocketing forward toward the end of time, in Revelation 21, we come to the New Heaven and New Earth. What’s that going to be like? New Heaven and New Earth – Revelation 21:3:

Revelation 21:3 – “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people – so God’s going to come live with us – and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more – so we’re past physical life at that point – neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

Isn’t that great? Paradise restored. Luke tells us in Acts about the restitution of all things. It’s not that this is something new. It’s just something that happened before on the earth and God’s getting it back now. Paradise restored. It’s unfathomably great! There’s only one problem. We’re not in either one of those paradises today. We’re not.  

The woman I told you of earlier is thinking as though nothing really bad should happen to her. There’s danger in thinking this way, besides the fact that it’s not true. If we do think that way, then bad things become unexpected. And that makes them more traumatic. And we are repeatedly surprised, disappointed and disillusioned with God. And it easy from there to become bitter towards Him. In our world, as hard as it is, people die. And sometimes, people who are very young die. And that is tragic and it’s sad. 

Of course, our adversary – the deceiver – plays a part in all this, doesn’t he? God allowed him into the Garden, and the very first thing the deceiver did was to convince Adam and Eve that God could not be trusted. “You aren’t really going to die. That’s just God holding the good stuff from you.” So they fell for that. 

So let me ask you this: Do you think the woman that I spoke of trusts God? Well, she really doesn’t. She’s been infected with the same distrust as the first people. In causing Adam and Eve’s distrust, our adversary managed to wreck their faith, and that wrecked their relationship with God. And then they felt guilty and defective and afraid of God. He wasn’t the One who withdrew from them because of what happened. They withdrew from Him. And suddenly, by their own choice, they were on their own. 

So how does all that loss, with the accompanying anger and depression and anxiety, get transferred to you and me? How has the adversary continued through the ages to deceive and blind us to our only source of salvation? Does it have to do with spooky things, or beaming evil waves through the air? Should we all make tin foil hats? No. No, the answer is right there in the story. The Bible is telling us in Genesis – right at the beginning – how it all got messed up, and how it continues to stay that way. 

Satan’s intervention with Adam and Eve caused them to be ejected from the Garden of Eden – not because God disdained them, but to protect them from tree that would have led to their death because of the choices they made. And once out of the Garden, it probably slowly sunk in to them that they had lost a perfect place to live, the perfect relationship with God, the perfect marriage and the perfect job. Lots of losses! We see their oldest son bitter with God, and disrespectful, and vengeful, so as to kill his own brother. And all this happened when they suffered the loss of faith in God and lost the loving relationship that they had with him. Once outside of paradise, that’s what life was like. Suddenly, it was way harder – so hard that depression and anxiety, which are both related to loss…. Do you understand how that works? You know, your dog dies, you get depressed. You buy another dog, and then you become anxious because he might die. Anxiety is about the anticipation of losses in the future, and depression is about losses we’ve experienced in the past. So life became so hard that depression and anxiety, which are both related to loss, became a predictable part of human life. You break the rules, you suffer the penalties. And that gets passed down through the generations. 

How does that work? Well, anxiety makes parenting way more difficult than it already is. And depression the same. And that kind of parenting causes children to become – guess what? – depressed and anxious – like their parents. So anxiety and depression, insecurity and isolation, anger and hurt cause people to make bad choices. And that’s what we’re looking at today – a world that has suffered 6,000 years of bad human choices. And the results of that are absolutely unfathomable.

One of my clients told me that when he was seven, he overheard his stepfather say to his mother, “If you don’t want him, you can get $40,000 for him.” That’s one of the saddest things I have ever heard in my life – especially looking at the person who heard that. He was fifty when I met him, and he was still crushed by what he’d heard that day. And that’s just one small thing out of all the things that have happened in the world. 

Now let’s go back to the lady I was telling you about. Is it possible that the lady I told you about does know that it’s an evil world? Yeah, I think she probably does. But the real issue for those folks is, if that’s true, why does God allow all this horrible evil to continue. Why did God make that part of His plan? Well, there’s an urgent lesson that we must all learn and remember before we will wake up when the trumpet sounds. I believe the point of this 6,000 years of free will that God give us is easy to understand – our way doesn’t work! It doesn’t! Only when we can fleetingly catch a glimpse of what God wants us to do and do it, do things get better. But the rest of the time, we’re on our own, and our way just doesn’t work. 

We learn this every time we hear about some poor child sold into human trafficking, or someone found dead in a restaurant bathroom with a needle stuck in their arm. It’s going to get so bad, in the end, we’re told that we will blow ourselves off the planet, except Jesus will stop it! And, in the meantime, greed, cruelty, selfishness run rampant, proving every day that humans, in our current state, are incapable of self-rule. Only God can save us. That’s what we all believe, right? Or, we think we do anyway. 

Now let’s look at how God is going to do that – save us from ourselves – His plan for me and His plan for you. What is He doing with you? Well, let’s look in Isaiah 64:8. 

Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are our potter. We are all the work of your hand.

So every time there’s a potter and clay, the potter is always doing something with the clay, isn’t he? That’s the point of this. God is doing something with each one of us. He has a plan for us. He’s working on us. 

Have you ever sat at a potter’s wheel? Have you ever done that? I had a chance to do it once – a long time ago. Instantly, when the thing started spinning, I started to develop a plan of what I wanted that stuff to look like – that big gob of wet clay. That’s like God. He has a plan for each one of us. Just as I would start working the clay up into a – I was going to make a cup. I knew I shouldn’t try anything fancy – I was going to make a cup, a hole in it would appear, or it would melt all out of my hands into a globby mess on the wheel. It seemed to have a mind of its own – was contradictory to mine. I think I was, at that time, getting a tiny glimpse of how God must feel about working with me. Why are you laughing? 

God is doing something with each of us – to make us something – to make something of us. We’re His children, and there isn’t anything that we can do that will stop Him from loving us. His effort is to make us perfect, and maybe even more difficult in the short term, useful. It’s good that He’s patient and that He has lovingkindness for us.

Look at the screen. Where are the potter’s hands? Well, they’re on the clay, aren’t they? God is always working with each one of us in a personal way. He’s a hands-on God. Now, just think for a minute. Who else is He working with? Everybody. Were His hands on Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong and Adolf Hitler? Yeah. They were. They might have resisted. The book hasn’t been written there yet, but God loves everybody. He told us that. He loves even the most vile people. So it’s a big plan. But His hands are on you and they’re on me. And He’s molding us. 

Have you ever wondered, “What am I supposed to be learning from this trial?” Ever had that? Something bad is happening and you can’t figure it out. I think most of the time it’s not some lesson that we’re supposed to learn. I think it’s a change of mental and emotional shape, if I can use that word, that we gain from the experience. In other words, the trial itself changes us somehow. It’s called life experience. And it makes us more Godlike. There’s no need to get any point quite often. We’re just different in a good way, somehow, because we went through the negative experience that we had to go through. 

I had a client who had suffered so many migraines that she was severely limited in the things that she could do – very limited. They were terrible headaches. And the only way that I could work with her was to tell her to text me in the morning when she felt up to coming, and I would see if there were any openings that I had for her that day – because she was just so debilitated and it would just come on her. And she didn’t know often what was going to happen next. Well, I noticed that this lady was extremely empathic toward others who couldn’t do what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it. It wasn’t that she had to get any point. It was that her own experience with disabling headaches made her empathic toward others. She didn’t have to read a book or take a course or get any point. She just went through her trial. 

Let’s ask another question. What caused her migraines? Do you think God caused them? Was there a genetic cause? Or, was it environmental? Well, I don’t know. But I do know that being sick all the time changed her heart. So it doesn’t really matter to God where it came from. He got the result He was looking for. And that’s what God wants for us – a change of heart. 

Quite often He gets what He wants for us through the environment that He’s allowed to exist. And that would include all the bad choices we’ve made. Evil and hard, and good part due to our own collective bad choices. As Paul put it – I think I put it up there a minute ago – “…this present evil age.” God is so brilliant He can even use sin to work his plan to make it work out for the best as He molds us. 

Now let’s talk about the clay for a while – that’s you and me. Being clay is hard. The apostle Paul tells us that he faced wild beasts at Ephesus. He was out there with starved animals who were predatory and he was there for entertainment. He was one of those people who were thrown into the arena. And while he was in Asia he despaired of life itself. He was overwhelmed by what happened to him. It was more than he could stand. He said he felt “pressed out of measure.” That’s a quote from the King James Bible. “Pressed out of measure.” To him, it felt like the life was being squeezed out of him, while in reality, it was God’s fingers on him, molding him, and kneading him, pushing him into his final perfect shape. 

Notice the power of this molding process. This is Hebrews 5:8 – Paul is talking about Jesus, and he says:

Hebrews 5:8 – Although He was the Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. 

So here we told that even Jesus, when He was on the stake, learned obedience from the things that He suffered. Even Jesus, who was already perfect, learned something from going through the grinder of this present life. He said to His Father in prayer, “Not my will, but your will be done.” He said that right after He asked God to take it away from Him so He wouldn’t have to do that. So think about that. Are you God’s child? Then God will teach you what He wants you to learn, sometimes by suffering. 

Is there a way to avoid bitterness toward God as we suffer? Probably no easy way, but I think I know of a less difficult one. It’s called the first beatitude. Let’s look at it. We all know about the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus taught His disciples what He wanted them to know. And this is the first thing that He said:

Matthew 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

“Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Do you know what that means? That’s right where we started today with waking up in God’s Kingdom. To wake up at the right time, we need to be poor in spirit. And what exactly is that? Well, if you look this phrase up in the Louw & Nida Lexicon, it tells us that poverty of spirit is the realization that we are helpless and nothing without God. It means, when it comes to understanding the eternal spiritual things of God – like when to keep the Passover, the holy day calendar (I’m just kidding) – the eternal and spiritual things of God and His plan, we are poor beggars – spiritual impoverished. We know nothing about God except He reveals it to us. And it means that we understand that God knows what we need better than we do. That’s what that means. 

So look at this amazing scripture – back to Isaiah. 

Isaiah 29:16 – You turn things upside down! – God says. Shall the potter be regarded as the clay –  that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?”

But we, in our foolishness, do this all the time! We want God to conform to our idea of how things should go for us. And when He doesn’t, we think He’s mean. We think He doesn’t care. We think He doesn’t understand. We think He’s an extremist. And we tell God, when we’re in a trial, “It’s not fair! I know better what I need, so stop it right now!” Good luck with that. 

Now, in contrast to that, I heard a man once pray – I can’t remember for sure where I heard it – I’m pretty sure it was at the Feast, but you know how you have those things that you can just barely pull up – I remember that he was an African-American man. That’s pretty much what I can remember how he looked. But I do remember his prayer. He was praying to close services, and he asked God not to let us think that we can make our will His, but to help us make His will ours, and then to give us the strength to do His will, rather than our own. Now that’s what it means to be poor in spirit. He knew that he didn’t know what he needed and that God did. 

So that is what it takes to wake up at the right time. God knows best! Given that life, by its nature, is hard, isn’t it unrealistic to think that bad things should never happen to us? I mean, what kind of la-la land is that? If God the Father submitted His own Son to a horrible death to save all of us, should it surprise us if He allows us to suffer along with His Son. 

Now, I’m not diminishing, by the way, the pain that we all go through and the trials that we have. It’s awful some of the things that we have to go through in this life. But God promises to help us, to take care of us, and to give us just what we need so that we can be in His Kingdom. 

Notice this one in Romans 8:16:

Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God – Okay? I hope most of us understand that about ourselves – and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ – now what did He inherit, and what are we going to inherit? Everything! That’s what we’re going to inherit – provided – and here’s the kicker (you know, the word in bold here) – provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

So there it says it plain as day – that we will wake up at the right time, provided we suffer with Christ. And there’s no way around that argument. There it is. Black and white. Our suffering is a part of God’s plan for us. In fact, all of us signed on for suffering when we were baptized. If we remember that, we are much less likely to become imbittered with God. I mean, we agreed to it. We agreed to it. 

So, we’re now going to take a more detailed look at how the present age actually works in God’s favor to perfect all of us. So far we’ve said that the lesson for all humanity is that our way doesn’t work. Now let’s talk about the details of why. 

Thinking back in my life, a good bit of the time I have been clueless about what God was doing with me. And I thought the other day, “Wouldn’t it be nice to, at least, have a clue about what was going on?” So look at this first one with me. This is the easiest one to figure out – Our Own Poor Choices.

I had a fifteen-year-old boy come to me once for counseling. He’d been court-ordered, so his mother brought him. I asked him, “Why are you here?” And he said, “Well, I dropped a big rock off a bridge on a moving police car.” And I said, “What can I do to help you with that?” And he said, “Well, you can help me learn how to stop doing dumb stuff.” And I said, “Well, what are you going to do now?” And he said, “I’m not going to do that anymore.” I said, “Well, it sounds to me like you may have already figured out all of that for yourself.” 

Now that’s somewhat of an extreme example. I hope none of us do that when we go home. But I’ve had pretty good success – now, not boasting – but once I know that I have caused my own problem, and then admitted foolishness and a lack of poverty of spirit, and then promised to try to never be stupid in that way again, and then asking God to bail me out when He thinks I’ve had enough, I’ve learned that God actually is a pretty merciful God! Sometimes, once we learned the lesson, He realizes we don’t need any more of that suffering, and He takes it away. 

Now, sometimes, that’s not true. The apostle Paul had this thing he called his “thorn in the flesh.” And he tells us that he asked God three times to remove it, and God pretty much said, “Well, Paul, stop asking. Haven’t I forgiven all your sins? That’s all you need. Just go with it.” So the answer was, “No,” because Paul, apparently, needed to have that to attain salvation. So sometimes, that’s just how it is. We have to suffer along. We have to do the best we can with what happens to us. But either way, we can’t complain, because we signed on for it. 

Now, here’s another one: God’s Direct Intervention. This is sometimes called “the smite button.” In the world, God is seen as vengeful. But we know that He’s doing all of this for our own good. And I think this one is really hard to detect most of the time. And I think that’s probably because God likes it that way. But I think about how God pointed Job out to the devil. Have you ever read that story – about how God pointed Job out to the devil – knowing what the devil was going to do? He was going to afflict Job. And I also think there’s a trap in that, because I think some insecure people like to think a trial is God’s direct intervention, because it means God is giving them attention, and it’s also a way to deflect responsibility. Maybe it’s not really God at all. Maybe it’s our own poor choice. Then again, there’s also “the devil made me do it” argument, which is also another deflection. 

Let’s look at the third one – this is really complicated and hard to understand, I think. I had a client once, who was shot in a robbery while he was at McDonald’s in broad daylight in a good part of town – shot in the leg. It broke his femur. He had to surgery numerous times, and he had lead poisoning from it for a while. He asked me one day if God was punishing him for something that he did. And I told him, “Well, I can’t really say for sure. But I think, probably, it was more likely that you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. The Randomness of Life. 

Solomon tells us that we are sometimes caught in events like a fish is caught in a net – wrong place, wrong time. Do you think the people who hare killed in mass shootings at church were killed because they were evil people? Or, do you think it was just wrong place, wrong time. How could church be the wrong place? Well, maybe not the wrong place then, but certainly the wrong time. Right? 

Jesus even addressed this issue. He asked the people if they thought the people on whom the Tower of Siloam fell were worse sinners than everybody else? And He said, “No, everybody is going to die. And they won’t wake up unless they repent.” That’s what He said about it. 

Sometimes, there’s no way to tell which of these three things has caused the problem. It could be us. It could be others. It could be God. It could be chance. It could be the devil. So what do we do with that? Well we do the best we can. We do the best we can. We are patient through a trial. “In patience, possess you your souls,” Jesus said. Right? So we try to see if we did something to bring it on, and, if you can’t tell, we just go with it. 

Now, this also means that, if we find ourselves in receipt of a blessing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are God’s gift to the world – righteous above all. Rain falls on everybody, right? Or, as we used to say when I lived in the south, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.” Of course, God showers us with blessings all the time. It never hurts to ask God for things. In fact, He tells us to do that. And if the things we’re asking for would help us wake up at the right time, then He’s going to give us those things. Because that’s what His plan is all about. 

I think – thinking about my own life – when trials come, it’s probably more important to ask for strength to endure the trial, so I can learn the lesson and survive it. 

Now, there’s one other thing I want to discuss with you – something that causes many people to become bitter. For a long time, I clung closely to an illusion that might have killed me had I not let go of it. I believed that God never put anything on a person that they couldn’t handle. Do you believe that? It think that idea has started from a misunderstanding about a scripture. Here it is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So, if you just look at the scripture – not what everybody else has said about it – it seems clear that this about the human failure to take a way out when we’re tempted. You know, if you want to stop doing heroin, you should not hang out with people that do it. You should not push a needle into your arm filled with heroin. If you eat too much, you should stop bending your elbow and stop opening your mouth at the same time. There’s always a way out. We just don’t want to take it. And sometimes, not taking the way out, is a trial in itself – or it becomes a trial. But this isn’t talking about trials that God puts on us or even random events. When there’s a random event, or God deliberately puts a trial on us, there’s no way out of those. You just have to go through it till God thinks you’ve have enough. 

Jesus, when facing death, asked God if there was a way out, and then was willing to follow God’s will no matter what. And when we ask God to let us out of a trial and He doesn’t, that just means that He wants us to go through it for our own good. We’re going to learn something we need from it. And then, once we get that issue settled, then we ask God for help to go through it. So I don’t think it’s really true that God never allows more than we can handle. I meet people every day who have become completely overwhelmed by life. So life can and will be overwhelming at times. We do not live in paradise now. If we did, we’d never be ready for God’s Kingdom. Paul said, “It is appointed once to die, then the resurrection. That’s like saying, “Life is hard, then you die,” but there’s another part of the saying for us: “Then you wake up.” 

Okay, today we talked about a lot of hard stuff. If contemplating severe trials frightens you, join the club. It’s natural. But let’s look at all we’ve talked about today another way. Let’s take a new snapshot of this. If we will go back to where we started, and consider what we’ve covered, we will see a plan that God is working out to deliver each of us into His Kingdom, perfect and complete. He’s doing most of it by comparison. In your plan, you’re doing very little of that compared to Him. And that should make all of us really happy, because you and I don’t know what to do or have the power to do it. He’s the Potter. We’re just the clay. He’s the One working the plan. He is the artist that is crafting your salvation. 

So when you boil it all down, all you have to do is to try to be like Jesus – endure the process that will make you like Him and trust God that He’s going to keep His word about that waking up thing. Paul told us that Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness. We can’t be perfectly righteous, but we can all have faith.

I heard a song recently. Some of the words were, “You’re not moving that mountain I need moved. And you’re not parting the waters that I am needing to walk through. But I will trust You.” If you can do that, when the trumpet sounds, your eyes will open and you will feel lighter than air, because as you rise up at that time, all your losses will be a thing of the past. And everything will be yours. And that means all in, trials included. Life is good! It’s a gift from God.