Earthen Vessels Archives 2010
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  • Refresh Me, Oh Lord (poem) by Ruth Miller
  • When Nobody Notices by Shane Williams
  • For Others (poem)
  • It's In Your Face (poem)
  • Smiles
  • Something to Think About
  • The Heart of a Child
  • The Park Bench (poem)
  • Prayer for Our Enemies by Alan Smith
  • Vessels Unto Honor and Vessels Unto Dishonor by L.A. Stauffer

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I have written a poem that you might could use as “filler space”.  As to how this poem came about . . . Marc Gibson, one of our full-time preachers, preached a sermon recently on “Refreshing Times”.  This was relating to the times when the physical man needed refreshing to regain his strength or vigor and to sustain him, but it also related to the times when the spiritual man was burdened with sin and needed a “refreshing” that only God can give.  After church, we went out with a couple of families to lunch and all the time I was eating and chatting, I had this word “refreshing” on my mind and thoughts were beginning to form.  As soon as I got home, this poem is what came about when putting my thoughts into words.  There are two versions of this . . . the actual poem and the poem with the reasons I wrote what I did.  If you can use it and if it will be of help to you or others, please feel free to do so. --Ruth Miller

 Refresh Me Oh Lord 

Refresh me on my earthly path,

Keep me afar from Satan’s task. 

Refresh me on my heavenly goal,

Remind me of my godly soul. 

Refresh my mind so it will be,

Just on Your word you left for me. 

Refresh my ears so they will hear,

Your word always, be it so dear. 

Refresh my sight, so I will see,

The path You trod for even me. 

Refresh my tongue to teach Your ways,

To those who fall day after day 

Refresh my arms, though tired be,

To love and hug humanity. 

Refresh my feet in every step,

Help me walk aside from the left. 

Refresh my mind to think pure thoughts,

No impure words in it be sought. 

Refresh my heart to love and share,

In others joys and sorrows care. 

Refresh me on my path above,

To live in Your unending love. 

Refresh me Lord at Heaven’s sight,

      And bathe me with Your perfect light. 

Written by Ruth Miller

©November, 2009

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 Refresh Me Oh Lord 

Refresh me on my earthly path, (remind me of my special journey here on earth)

Keep me afar from Satan’s task. (don’t let me fall prey to his tactics to woo me)

Refresh me on my heavenly goal, (keep me focused on living with you Oh Lord)

Remind me of my godly soul. (how does my soul appear to God’s eyes?) 

Refresh my thoughts so they will be, (keep me thinking of You daily)

Just on Your word You left for me. (be ever so thankful we have the written word)

Refresh my ears so they will hear, (let me better understand Your word as I listen)

Your word always, be it so dear. (never let me forget the price paid for Your word) 

Refresh my sight, so I will see, (let my eyes see the beauty and simplicity of You in all things)

The path You trod for even me. (let me better understand your love for my soul)

Refresh my tongue to teach Your ways, (guide me to never teach error or speak ill of others)

To those who fall day after day. (help me to bring others to You) 

Refresh my arms, though tired be, (let me never be too tired to care)

To love and hug humanity. (give me a compassionate heart for others)

Refresh my feet in every step, (keep me on the straight and narrow road of life)

Help me to walk far from the left. (make me strong in Your word and in Your examples) 

Refresh my mind to think pure thoughts, (let me focus on Your purity of life)

No impure words in it be sought. (keep my mind /heart free from worldy thoughts/expressions)

Refresh my heart to love and share, (help me to be more responsive and warmhearted to others)

In others joys and sorrows care. (give me an abundance of love and feelings for others) 

Refresh me on my path above, (bear my soul gently on my way to heaven)

To live in Your unending love. (surround my soul with You)

Refresh me Lord at Heaven’s sight, (let my eyes behold Your majesty and beauty)

And bathe me with Your perfect light. (engulf my soul forever in You) 
 
 
 

Written by Ruth Miller

©November, 2009

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When Nobody Notices

by Shane Williams

Perhaps you've seen the sign that reads, "Housework is something you do that nobody notices unless you don't do it."

The truth behind that statement applies to more than just housework. People seem to have no trouble noticing our failures -- anger, impatience, criticism, or imperfections. Who notices when we "sometimes" get it right? Sometimes we feel that nobody sees or appreciates what we may do. This may be true except for one reassuring reality: God sees and He appreciates.

There are many great and beautiful things in this world that may go unnoticed: A beautiful sunrise that we are not awake to see, the many beauties that lie underwater, etc. These magnificent things are there and those immense things happen, whether we see them or not. God sees.

That reality can also be a source of security or comfort for us. According to the apostle Paul, we are ulitimately serving Jesus Christ.

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (Colossians 3:17).

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Colossians 3:23,24).

We are to serve Him with an attitude of thanksgiving and from the heart. The Lord not only sees and values what we do, but He also will reward us.

"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary" (Galatians 6:9).

http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org

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Because we are "earthen vessels" we will experience fear when faced with trials and the unknown future. Fear can paralyzed us to the point of being socially handicapped when we allow our minds to continually be focused on fears of the unknown. Fear is normal, but in order to allow the power of God to work in us, we must control our fear with the courage and strength we have in love - love of God and man, as well as the knowledge of God's love and care for us. -Pat

Trusting God When Afraid

Wayne S. Walker

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You" (Psalm 56:3). Jesus told us, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). The fact is that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7). Indeed, as John reminds us, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (I John 4:18). In other words, there is really nothing in this life of which the child of God needs to be afraid.

While the Christian knows these things to be true, fear is still a natural human emotion to certain situations. When we are threatened with danger, when economic conditions point to a possible loss of job, when we are stricken with a serious illness, or when other problems arise which might disrupt our normal lives, we are likely to become afraid. What makes us most fearful about all such situations is that we simply do not know what the future holds. As long as things are going reasonably well, we usually assume that they will continue to do so and are not fearful. However, difficulties cause us more to look to the future and remind us that we do not know what will happen, so we feel afraid.

It is certainly true that "you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). John Henry Newman noted, "I was not ever thus, nor ever asked that Thou Shouldst lead me on; I loved to choose and see my path; but now Lead Thou me on." When events occur that darken the way so that I cannot "choose and see my path," I tend to become somewhat frightened. That is why Jesus teaches me, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).

The Psalmist knew that times would arise when he would be afraid. However, his determination was that in such times he would trust the Lord. In fact, he went on to say, "In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust: I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?" (v. 4). The Hebrew writer quotes this statement to remind us that we need to trust God whenever we are afraid. "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org

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Lord, help me to live from day to day
In such a self forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I’ll do for you
Must needs be done for others.

Let self be crucified and slain
And buried deep – and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for others.

Others, Lord, others
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

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It's In Your Face

You don’t have to tell how you live each day,
You don’t have to say if you work or play,
A tried, true barometer serves in the place;
However you live, it will show in your face.

The false, the deceit you bear in your heart
Will not stay inside, where it first got a start.
For sinew and blood are a thin veil of lace;
What you wear in your heart you wear in your face.

If your life is unselfish, if for others you live,
For not what you get, but for how much you can give;
If you live close to God, in His infinite grace,
You don’t have to tell it, it shows in your face.

author unknown

~~~

As in water face reflects face,
      So a man’s heart reveals the man. Prov. 27:19
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
      And the sternness of his face is changed. Eccl. 8:1

Smile.  Have you ever noticed how easily puppies make human friends?  Yet all they do is wag their tails and fall over.  ~Walter Anderson
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A smile confuses an approaching frown.

Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today,
And I started smiling too.

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Something To Think About


Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:

Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account for your use. However, this prize had rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:

Everything that you didnt spend during each day would be taken away from you.

You may not simply transfer money into some other account.

You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:

The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, Its over, the game is over! It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?

Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?

Even for people you dont know, because you couldnt possibly spend it all on yourself, right?

You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

ACTUALLY, this GAME is REALITY!

Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank.We just cant seem to see it.

 
The MAGICAL BANK is TIME!

Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we havent lived up that day is forever lost.

Yesterday is forever gone.

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time....WITHOUT WARNING.

SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?

Arent they worth so much more than the same amount in dollars?

Think about that, and always think of this:

Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.

So take care of yourself, and enjoy life!

Heres wishing you a wonderfully beautiful day!!!


unknown/submitted by Susan Grant

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 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like one of these children is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:4

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The Heart of a Child

When we are children there's a part of us
That is open to love, and faith and trust.
Through a little child's laughter and teary eyes
We grow older and that part of us dies.
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Innocence lost, is so hard to regain.
We get forgiven, but hold on to the pain.
But Jesus said to the crowd roaring wild;
"Come to Me with the heart of a child."
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It's so hard to open ourselves up to others,
We're afraid to trust our sisters and brothers.
But there is a love so costly and dear,
A love strong enough to cast out fear.
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Let's take off our masks and drop the facade,
And live like the children of the Living God.
Take a chance, you may be betrayed if you risk it all
But He'll be there to catch you, when you slip and fall.
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There's a holy laughter, and tears so pure,
There's an innocence that will always endure.
There's a dream and vision, an endless sea,
The tingling of life in a heart set free.
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Nothing to prove, no possessions to hold
But a joy and peace more precious than gold.
It's a beautiful place, fiery and wild
When we return to the heart of the child.
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Remember that our Father to whom we pray
Considers us His children each day;
And like little children we must learn to rely
On the love of our Father who reigns on high.
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So much prejudice to forget and unlearn,
It's the heart of a child for which we yearn.
We can't enter heaven with a heart defiled,
It must change through Jesus to the heart of a child.
unknown

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I love this poem. "Earthen Vessels" can come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

The Park Bench
Poet: Unkown

Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree.
Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown,
For the world was intent on dragging me down.
And if that weren't enough to ruin my day,
A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play.
He stood right before me with his head tilted down
And said with great excitement, "Look what I found!"

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight,
With its petals all worn - not enough rain, or too little light.
Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play,
I faked a smile and then shifted away.
But instead of retreating he sat next to my side
And placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise,
"It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful too.
That's why I picked it; here, it's for you."

The weed before me was dying or dead.
Not vibrant of colors: orange, yellow or red.
But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave.
So I reached for the flower, and replied, "Just what I need."
But instead of him placing the flower in my hand,
He held it mid-air without reason or plan.
It was then that I noticed for the first time
That weed-toting boy could not see he was blind.

I heard my voice quiver; tears shone in the sun
As I thanked him for picking the very best one.
"You're welcome," he smiled, and then ran off to play,
Unaware of the impact he'd had on my day.
I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree.
How did he know of my self-indulged plight?
Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight.

Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see
The problem was not with the world; the problem was me.
And for all of those times I myself had been blind,
I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that's mine.
And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose
And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose
And smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in hand,
About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.

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Prayer For Our Enemies
 

Last week, my wife and I were "window shopping" in a store with a Celtic theme. The Irish are know for their Irish Blessings ("May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back...", for example). However, I saw a decorated banner with a most unusual old Gaelic "blessing":

May those who love us, love us,
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts,
And if he doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping.

As I pointed out in a TFTD message a couple of weeks ago, we all struggle with our attitude toward our enemies. We know what Jesus said:

"Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Matt. 5:44). (and I don't think the prayer above was what Jesus had in mind!)

But, there are, throughout scripture, a number of examples of righteous men calling God to act against their enemies. The Psalms are filled with such pleas. And even in the New Testament,

"...The souls of those who had been slain for the word of God.....cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' " (Rev. 6:9-10)

When we see great evil being carried out, I think there should be a part of us that cries out for justice. We want to see God avenge those who defiantly oppose Him (and we know that He will).

But, as difficult as it may be at times, we also pray that God will help us to respond personally to those who are our "enemies" in such a way that they may eventually be led to be our friends and, more importantly, friends of God.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

http://www.tftd-online.com

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Vessels Unto Honor and Vessels Unto Dishonor

by L.A. Stauffer

Paul writes to the young preacher, Timothy, and urges him to flee immorality so that he might be a "vessel unto honor." His reference is to Timothy's person or body and how he should engage in honorable conduct (II Timothy 2:20,21).

The word "honor" means what is of "value" or "worth." Something that is precious was considered "honorable," whether it was a gold vessel or a life of righteousness. Paul speaks of homes that have gold or silver vessels that are viewed with "honor" and wooden and earthen vessels that are described by the word "dishonor."

He is comparing the two bowls with a life of purity and a life of sin. The first is considered a "vessel" of honor the other a "vessel of dishonor." Vessels of honor are disciples who are sanctified in Christ and have purged themselves of evil. They then are "meet for the master's use," meaning they are suitable to serve in the kingdom of Christ.

Such a one is "prepared unto every good work." When men in Christ forsake sin, they live honorable lives and as vessels of honor God can use them in the good work of His kingdom.

Where Paul speaks of "vessels unto honor," he also writes about "vessels of dishonor." The term "dishonor" suggests that such disciples are of no value in the kingdom. They are not suitable and prepared to be involved in the kingdom business of life in Christ.

He also writes of this matter to the church in Thessalonica. There he speaks of "fornication" and the "passions of lust" that were prominent in the world of Gentiles. Thessalonians, as Corinthians and Gentiles in general, at one time engaged in lusts of the flesh with no regard for moral uprightness.

When these Gentiles obeyed the gospel, they had to learn the "will of God," which Paul describes as "your sanctification." The word "sanctified," as the word "holy," meant to withdraw from or set oneself apart from sin. And it included the dedication of oneself to purity and righteousness.

Purity and righteousness meant for a man to "possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (I Thessalonians 4:3-7). The honorable life meant to put away moral uncleanness so that they were not seen by God in judgment as a vessel unto dishonor.