Today, potters make vases using newer technology like automatic thermostats and timers in kilns so a signal lets them know when the vessels are ready to be brought out. A long time ago, potters would use the old-fashioned method of making the fire themselves and fanning the flames with bellows. There was an old potter who did not have the advantage of the newer technology, but his vessels were always most beautiful and glazed to perfection.
When asked how his vessels came out perfect, he said, “Well, I put the vessel in and when I think it is ready, I pull it out and flick it on its lid at the rim. If I hear a thud, then that means water content is still in the clay, so I put it back in. After I wait a while, I pull it back out and flick it again on its rim. If there is a thud again, I know there is still water in there and I keep it in a little longer. I know it is ready when I pull it out, and I flick it on its rim and it sings — Bing!”
God does that with us. Isaiah 48:10 says this:
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Is. 48:10).
God also puts us in the furnace of affliction. We grumble and complain, and when He pulls us out, hits us on the rim and there is a thud, He puts us back in. After a while, He takes us back out and we continue to grumble and complain. Thud! He puts us back in for more. Finally, He pulls us back out of the furnace and He hits us on the head. Bing! Then He says, “You are ready!”
Back to Basics
Even though God gives us great privileges, we have to make sure we always take a step back and check our hearts, the basics and our motives. We cannot miss the basics. We need to take a step back and check the motives of our heart — we need to make sure things are right at home, in our hearts and in our minds.
Missing the Mark
If we do not have hearts that are scrubbed and motives that are clean, God is saying everything we do is worth nothing. It is as if God is saying, “Take a step back.”
“So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:20-23).
We can have people operating at a high level of faith, casting out demons, doing miracles, giving prophetic words, but the Lord may say in the end, “I don’t even know you.” We can operate at high levels of faith and still completely miss it.
Make sure you are doing your devotions daily. This is one of the basics and it allows you to hear from God every day.
The reason it is so important for us to do our daily devotions is because we need our hearts scrubbed. We could be operating at a high level of faith, but God could say, “I never knew you.”
Agreeing vs. Obeying
Remember, there is a big difference between agreeing with God and obeying God. Agreeing with God is when God asks us to do something that we want to do anyway. Obeying God is when God asks us to do something we do not want to do, and we do it. He governs us.
I think God is more concerned about us being grateful than just about anything else. When we stop being grateful, we start looking for an absence of God’s presence rather than the evidence of God’s presence in people, in ourselves, in the church and in others.
What should we do when we start getting cynical? For me, I start speaking to my own heart.
“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity and works righteous and speaks truth in his heart” (Ps. 15:1-2).
Take a look at your heart, your love, your family, your time with God, your time with friends and the motives of your heart, so when God looks at us, He will not only see great things take place in our church. He will look closely at our lives and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”