Here is a continuation of what I started in the last post.
The book of Genesis outlines our beginning: an incredible story of creature and Creator, loved and Lover, a record of a now unfathomable relationship where God Himself walked in the cool of the afternoon in that beautiful garden with man. This is the picture of how God intended things: man hanging out with God in the garden, naming the animals and tending to the flowers and trees, enjoying God Himself and each other.
But God created man with his own free will, and out of that free will he rebelled against God, taking of the fruit of the forbidden tree. That disobedience cost man everything he had. The life he had received from God would come to an end. He was fired from his job, and his privilege to the garden was revoked. He inherited the shame that comes with sin and rebellion. This sin would eventually cost him his son Abel.
But the biggest heartache, the most tragic of all tragedies would be that of the loss in relationship between creature and Creator, loved and Lover, so much so that God omnipresent would call out to him, “Where are you?”  The break in relationship that occurred between God and man on that terrible day is what God has been seeking to restore ever since. To each individual that has sinned against Him he calls out—yes, He’s still calling out, “Where are you?” Jesus does the same thing in our text from Matthew 11: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We should also make careful note of one of the other results:
Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.
The restlessness we feel in our hearts is, no doubt, a result of the tearing of our hearts from His. We are separated from our Father…and I would venture to say that it should be no less frightening than a five-year-old being lost in a mall without his parents. But look at the rest of our curse. We’ve become beasts of burden, sweating and toiling in the noonday sun for our bread…until we get so old we die and return to the very earth we plow. Work, not rest, is our portion. We no longer enjoy tending a restful, peaceful garden where we need only turn our heads and God Himself is there, walking by the petunias and daisies. Instead we work an earth full of thorns and thistles, where some of us are not so sure God even exists.* It’s a pit in our stomachs and in our hearts…it’s the restlessness we feel from day to day—the toiling and separation.
©Bill Sines, 2007
 Genesis 3:9
 Genesis 3:17b, 18, 19
*I'm not talking about myself here! I love Jesus......
Here is a continuation of what I started in the last post.
Here is part of something I'm working on right now. Give it a read and let me know what you think.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~ Matthew 11:28-29
There’s a restlessness in the heart; there’s a shadow of emptiness that follows us around and hangs on us like wet wool. There’s an anxiety in our stomachs that’s not too easily assuaged by the morning coffee. It’s an assertive heaviness that we shoulder from the time our alarms go off in the morning till quitting time. As the afternoon fades, the feeling gives way to the anxiety of tomorrow: we’ll have to do this all over again then.
I describe a condition well known to many—it’s the fundamental human condition of restlessness. We go through life wondering subconsciously, ‘why am I here?’ pining for the answer as we do this thing called life day in and day out. There’s work, family (which does offer a certain level of respite, at least for some; for others it’s a major source of restlessness and stomach acid), TV (a worthless way to waste time rather than redeem it, to be sure), and sleep. We do enough of these cycles and we reach the end—death. Doesn’t sound like much of an existence, does it? I would say a dog has a better life than this (due mostly to the fact that a larger percent of its day can be attributed to sleep—who wouldn’t want to laze around all day on the couch?!).
As we trudge through life, isn’t there more than this? Is the restlessness in our souls an indicator of a deep problem? Could it be inferring to each of us that we ought to set out on a search for something more? Something that satiates, something that brings rest?
Jesus really catches the flavor of our problem as He extends His invitation:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden….”~ Matthew 11:28a
For many, life feels like seriously hard labor. We feel heavy laden, bearing a load that I’m not so sure we were designed to bear. It’s like towing a camper with a compact car; it’s a burden unbearable, sure to break everything in us.
So what gives? Why is life like this? Why is there this weariness, this tiredness? Why is there such an appeal within each of us to answer the invitation of Jesus, “Come to Me…”?
©Bill Sines, 2007
It's obviously just a start....
Posted by Bill Sines at 7:18 PM
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7
The phrase "Empty Clay Pots" is a great phrase to describe how Christian ministry ought to be done.
As I shared in my last post, when Jacob had to face his brother, he crossed over the ford of Jabbok. Oftentimes we also have to cross over the ford of Jabbok, the ford of Emptying, in order to be emptied of ourselves. I'm finding out that oftentimes the Lord will allow us to go through a bit of a tough situation in order to develop a keen sense of helplessness, ultimately driving us to a high level of dependence on the Lord. Jacob faced a harrowing situation: the brother whom he had conned out of his birthright and blessing was coming, and there was nothing Jacob could do about it. Jacob was going to have to face him, and he was going to have to trust the Lord to bring him through it.
From our text in 2 Corinthians, we see that we ought to be empty of ourselves and our own sufficiency, so that the power of God and His sufficiency may reside in us. As the Holy Spirit enables, we minister well beyond our own abilities. We must be empty, so that we may be full of Him. As we offer what little we have to Him, He multiplies it (in much the same way He did with the 5 loaves and 2 fish from the little boy) so that we can reach many (and interestingly enough, the leftovers from the 5 fish and 2 loaves that were taken up were more than what they had started with anyway).
The idea of a clay pot, or an earthen vessel, is interesting to me. I can remember my mom having some of those clay pots sitting around the front porch at home. The thing about those clay pots was that if you knocked them over, they would break very easily. It gives us a picture of how we really are: incredibly fragile, easily broken. Check out the next verses in 2 Corinthians:
"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--" ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9
In engaging in God's work, Paul and his associates were subjected to extreme situations: situations that would break any human being. But these guys recognized Who it was that was carrying them through it all. It was the Lord and no one else...and as such, He was the only one getting the glory.
"--always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:10-12
In their brokenness and despair the Lord was coming through in a mighty way. It's the mystery of the resurrection: through death comes life; that is, the life that Christ Himself provides: true life, life that is no longer subject to weakness, brokenness, and fragility. It's enabling and empowerment beyond human ability.
We ought to recognize that the work to which God calls all of us is spiritual and requires this empowerment beyond human ability. We should never attempt supernatural work through natural means. It's a recipe for disaster.
As I was thinking about this the other day, doing ministry with the mindset that we are empty clay pots, I kind of chuckled at this part of the idea. A lot of times (at least for me) when we see God using us, our tendency is to get all puffed up and arrogant, saying (at least to ourselves), 'Hey, look how great I am. God is blessing my ministry--I must be something special.' We need to be very intentional about keeping in mind that we are just empty clay pots. There's nothing special about a pot. There's nothing glorious, amazing, or awesome about a pot. We go around thinking to ourselves, "Look at what a cool pot I am." That's dumb. Pots aren't cool, they're just pots.
What is the primary function of a pot? It's empty so that it can hold something else. Curiously enough, oftentimes that very thing is dirt. So we go around thinking things like, "Look at what a cool pot I am. Check out how sweet my dirt is." That's really dumb.
We ought to keep in mind that as we hold that dirt, the only way we can ever amount to anything is if something grows out of that dirt. Yep, the coolest part about a pot are the beautiful flowers that grow out of it; and even then, we really have no part in causing that thing to grow. It all comes from the master Planter, Waterer, and Weeder. It's all about what God wants to do with us empty clay pots, what kind of flowers He wants to plant in us. If we look to Him for these things, it's then that our ministries will grow and flourish. What kind of an incredible garden could God grow if we would just be empty clay pots?
Posted by Bill Sines at 6:39 PM