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July 2004 Archives

July 1, 2004

Little By Little

"The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you." Deuteronomy 7:22

God's plan is more often gradual than it is immediate. The Israelites were assured that the promised land would be theirs. The nations before them would be driven out - little by little. God planned this to protect His children. They were not yet large enough to occupy the entire land, and the wild animals would overrun the cities that were to be their inheritance.

Lord, too often I grumble that my desire for righteousness hasn't been met in a more timely fashion. I know You have a plan. Sometimes, I grow weary from waiting. But when I consider Your reasons, I am grateful. Time continues to build into me compassion, understanding - strength of character. Help me to be patient, Lord. I trust You. Help me to honor You in all I do today and in the days to follow.

July 2, 2004

Can it be real?

For the Lord your God is brining you into a good land - a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. Deuteronomy 8:8-9

For a generation that had been raised in the desert, the promised land was a dream come true. Moving from place to place for forty years with only what you could carry and eating manna that miraculously appeared each morning probably made the Israelites wonder if there was ever hope of a place to call home. But here they stood, ready to occupy the land of their dreams.

Lord, a lifetime of wandering in deserts has left me wondering if the promised land can ever be in my future. I know that Your Son offers a life of freedom - of purpose and joy. Yet it doesn't seem real. Help me, Lord, to do what it takes. If it requires facing an unseen enemy or tearing down his city walls, give me the strength and courage to do it. Thank You for the brothers who stand beside me.

How glorious You are! I am not alone.

July 3, 2004

He Goes Ahead of Us

Hear, O Israel. You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall - Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: "Who can stand up against the Anakites?" But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you. Deuteronomy 9:1-3

Lord, I am afraid. My enemies seem too strong. The walls of their cities are too tall. I feel as if I will never conquer them. Will I be trapped on this side of the river forever?

I know that Your Word is true - that You will go before me - that You will be like a devouring fire. But Lord, I am frozen by my fear. What if the ones I love are hurt in the battle? What if I don't survive? I cannot bear the thought of leaving my wife alone. There are times I feel she would be better off. There are times I feel I would be better off. But I know the gift she is. She has loved me unconditionally - through thick and thin. I am afraid of disappointing her - of hurting her so badly that she may never recover. Yet my silence hurts her. My fear keeps me from being the leading husband she desires - the one she requires.

Father, go ahead of me. Tear down the walls that are too tall for me to climb. Chase away the great enemies who would choose to destroy me. I am a stiff-necked man, yet You love me still. Help me to never forget that it is You who is saving me and bringing me into a new land.

July 4, 2004

A Circumcised Heart

Circumcise your hearts therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Deuteronomy 10:16

Righteousness begins in the heart. And every action we take is a reflection of the condition of our hearts.

Lord, my heart is full - full of joy. You have truly blessed me, and I have no regrets. Thank You for such a refreshing week. I have seen You in the hands of my brother.

Help me to circumcise my heart, and help me to continue to walk on the path of righteousness. Oh, there is a long way to go, but what a wonderful journey it is when I am not alone.

July 6, 2004

With Nothing in His Way

If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow - to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him - then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Deuteronomy 11:22-23

Careful observance of God's laws is not enough to save us, for we cannot follow them perfectly. That's why Jesus came. His grace paves the way for our entrance into heaven. But following God's laws - loving Him and holding fast to Him - can sure make life today more complete. When we obey, there is nothing to stand in His way. His full blessing is poured upon us. Our enemies are destroyed by His very hand.

Lord, I want Your full blessing. You are strong enough to help me take hold of the life You intended. Spirit, help me to follow the truth. Help me to cling to Your chest. Hold me tightly as I face the strong enemies in my life.

July 7, 2004

What He Really Meant

See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. Deuteronomy 12:32

Why is God not enough sometimes? He laid out His law. If the Israelites would follow it, all would go well in their new homeland. Moses challenged them to not add to God's law, nor to take away from it.

Yet, in the name of theology, we add and take away. Too often, people seem to be saying, "God really meant to say this." How do we know?

It is in relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the One who completed the law. His blood provided the atonement - once and for all. His Spirit guides us into all truth.

Lord, help me to listen for Your words. Help me to add nothing to them and to take nothing from them. I need to hear your voice today.

July 8, 2004

In Addition or Instead?

... you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 13:3

Everyday is a test sometimes. It seems that the turn of every corner reveals another voice saying, "Follow me instead of Him." And somehow along the way, we are convinced that it's okay to follow these other voices "in addition" rather than "instead."

The truth is: either we follow God completely, or we aren't following Him at all. His grace covers even these times of rebellion, but if we are going to love Him with our whole heart and soul, it will require passing each test - rejecting each contradicting voice.

Lord, too often I fail the tests you send my way. Forgive my wanderings. Thank You for giving me the strength to pass a few from time to time. Help me to love You as I should.

July 12, 2004

Unselfish Giving

At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your town may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 14:28-29

God made provision for the care of His chosen servants, the Levites, and the poor in Israel by requiring the tithe to be stored for them every three years. In this way, God would sustain the needy. He also chose to bless the giver. Giving was to be a part of life.

What is it about giving that brings us blessing? God seems to have special blessing held in reserve that is shared with unselfish givers. So if you seem to have lost His blessing, ask yourself, "When is the last time I unselfishly gave of myself?"

Lord, so much of my life has been filled with giving everything I have - at least all my energy - to my workplace and to my family, but I seem to have forgotten the joy and blessing that comes from giving to those outside of myself. Forgive me for losing focus. My emotions lately seem to be so focused inward. Help me to heal, so I might be able to live and give again with a pure heart.

July 13, 2004

A Fresh Start

...because the Lord's time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. Deuteronomy 15:26

What a blessing it would be to experience a jubilee year - a year when all debts are canceled. Life would be filled with fresh starts.

Lord, I need a fresh start. To experience financial freedom is more than I could ever dream. But this isn't the freedom I most desire. I need full assurance in the depths of my soul that my sin debt has been canceled. I know that Jesus paid the price, but I still seem to carry the weight of my sin everywhere I go. It feels sometimes like my ear has pierced by the enemy - that I belong to him for life. In truth, You were pierced so I might be free.

Help me to walk as a free man. Give me courage to face my sin creditors and say, "You no longer own me." Make me Your own today.

July 14, 2004

Celebrations

Three times a year all of your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed. Deuteronomy 16:16

The heart of a nation is often revealed by its celebrations. For Israel, God established three important feasts that were to be observed: the Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover reminded the people of God's deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The Feasts of Weeks and Tabernacles were intended to celebrate God's provision to the nation.

What do we celebrate? When you think of America, which holidays seem to bring the most celebration, and what does this reveal about the heart of our nation?

Independence Day - since this recently passed - is one that comes to mind. On this day across the country there are celebrations ranging from parades to picnics to fireworks displays. As a nation we are proud. Generally, we are patriotic, at least on this one day of the year.

But what else do we celebrate? I believe two other days rise to the top. They are days when most work stops and families gather: Thanksgiving and Christmas. These celebrations have been a vital part of our nation's history, but what do they represent?

Thanksgiving - a day meant for remembering God's provision - has become a glutonness celebration. Most people merely eat themselves silly while watching college football on television.

Christmas - a day meant for remembering the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ - has become a materialistic nightmare, the very focal point of our nation's economy.

What do these day reveal? I believe we are a nation oftentimes driven by pride, gluttony, and materialism. For many within our borders, our most important days have become a means of celebrating ourselves and what we have accomplished. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten God. We have earned the label, "Post-Christian Society."

Lord, forgive us. Only Your Spirit has the power to touch an entire nation. Some remember You, but too many have never known You. And Father, help my celebrations reflect a heart for You. Do I remember Your provision as I should? If others were to examine the time I take to celebrate, would they see one who remembers his God and his family? Or would they see a selfish man who cares only for himself? Help me, Lord, to become the man I must if I am to make a difference in this world.

July 16, 2004

Punishable by Death

The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 17:12

God takes righteousness pretty seriously. The Israelites were called to be different from the other nations. They were meant to seek the One True God only. Any who worshiped other gods or even showed contempt for God's priests were to be stoned to death.

In this day and age, stoning seems incredibly harsh. I don't know if I could follow through with it.

What God wants is our whole hearts. He knew how easily a nation could be turned from Him. It would take drastic measures to keep the nation from falling away.

Lord, help me to have Your zeal for purging the evil in my life. Help me to stone to death the thoughts and actions that turn me from You. Forgive me for not giving You my whole heart and mind. Make me holy as You are holy today.

July 17, 2004

How do we know?

You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?" Deuteronomy 18:21

How do we know God's voice?

The answer is pretty simple. If it comes true, it was Him. If it never happens, it wasn't.

Lord, I don't know if I like this - waiting to know if it was You speaking. Okay, if something doesn't happen, it wasn't You, but I could wait my whole life to discover I listened to something else. My desire is to clearly hear Your voice and to know beyond all doubt that it is You.

This is where Your Spirit makes the difference. Most real communication occurs within the context of relationship. Through a relationship with Your Son, we no longer need to wonder. I can know it is You because I know Your heart.

Father, I want to know You. I want to hear Your voice. Fill me with Your Spirit. Protect me from the evil one.

July 19, 2004

The Fear of Consequence

The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Deuteronomy 19:20

Why is the fear of consequence not enough to keep us out of trouble? Moses told the people how to treat a malicious witness, expecting that the consequence for lying under oath would keep others from doing it. But how many people ignore the consequence and proceed where they shouldn't?

We live in a world that is plagued with diseases that are transmitted by inappropriate sexual practices, yet many disregard the consequence. One act of pleasure can result in years of torment and eventual death.

We live in a world where marriages and families are destroyed by secret affairs. The infatuation with one person can destroy the lives of many. It may not be worth the consequence, but still divorce is rampant.

Lord, I don't want to live a life in fear of consequence. For too long I have seemed frozen by fear; it keeps me from truly living. Yet what the world presents as life only leads to death. I need Your wisdom to live without this fear of the consequence. If I am walking in Your will, there is nothing to fear.

Father, give me eyes to see. Keep me from those things that would destroy me. Help me to choose rightly because I love you - not only in the fear of death.

July 20, 2004

Reinforcements

Then the officers shall add, "Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too." Deuteronomy 20:8

Attitude make a huge difference when facing the challenges of life. And the attitude of one can make a difference for the entire group. One disheartened person can bring down the whole. It is better to send one away that for all to be destroyed.

But Lord, what if going home isn't an option? How can the whole group be encouraged to stay in the battle? We are in a spiritual battle that never seems to end. Leaving doesn't seem possible. Satan and his henchmen appear to be at every turn. To retreat could bring disaster. What are we to do?

Pray for reinforcements.

Lord, send in Your warriors to fight the battle. Renew my heart, so I might follow You with my whole mind and body.

July 21, 2004

It doesn't make sense!

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. Deuteronomy 21:22-23a

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea - two Pharisees made known to us by their interaction with Jesus. They must have know the Scriptures. Any man hung on a tree is under God's curse. After the death of Jesus, these men hurried to take His body from the cross; they hurried to bury him. The Sabbath was coming. But the curse was already apparent.

I wonder what they thought. This man - this great prophet who spoke with authority, who cast out demons, healing the sick and raising the dead, was now a marked man - cursed by God Himself. How could it be that this man who told Nicodemus that God sent His Son, not to condemn the world but to save it, was now dead - hung on a tree - cursed by God? How awful it must have been. Everything they had come to believe no longer made sense.

The truth was: Jesus would rise again in three days.

Lord, there are times in my life that nothing makes sense. Like Nicodemus and Joseph, my head is left spinning. What is true? What in the world are You thinking? How could it be that Your hand is at work? Will I ever see Your kingdom lived out in my world - in my life?

I don't understand what You have in mind. In my twenties, I thought I knew. In my thirties, I realized I hadn't a clue. In my forties, I just want what You do.

Be glorified Father. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear.

July 22, 2004

Finders Keepers

If you see your brother's ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him. Deuteronomy 22:1

What kind of a world would it be if we could change the "finders keepers" mindset around us? So many people seem to want something for nothing, and they will do anything to get it. Finding something that is lost simply means it can now be yours. Rarely do people seek out its owner anymore.

This is not how God intended it. What happened to common courtesy? What happened to helping someone in need? My wife sometimes rolls her eyes when I go out of my way to return a grocery cart someone else left in the parking lot at the store. But what would happen if everyone did? The store cold better utilize their employees; they could keep costs down rather than paying their workers to chase around a parking lot for stray carts.

Lord, forgive our selfishness. The people of America have forgotten how to be kind. No wonder the lost cannot see You in us. He me to never say "finders keepers."

July 26, 2004

Decency

For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:14

When Moses writes about bodily functions, I often find myself asking, "Why is this here? This is so deeply personal; I can't believe it is in the Bible."

The truth is: the Bible is the most deeply personal book ever written. There is no subject that is off-limits. God created our bodies. He knows exactly how they work. Nothing would surprise Him. Even knowing this, I am left wondering why the subject has been breeched. What purpose does it serve?

Decency. There are certain things about being human that are simply not decent enough to be shown in public.

Lord, we live in a time when the definitions of decency are being rewritten. For the sake of entertainment, violence and sex have become commonplace. Although the human body is a beautiful creation, our society seems to take modesty to the limits. Do we understand what this has done? Not only to ourselves, but to Your place in our culture?

Moses himself said it: You go about in our midst, and indecent things will cause You to turn away. In what ways have would caused Your eyes to turn?

Father, over the years I have filled my mind with indecent things - things that may cause You to turn away. Forgive me for seeking out that which You hate. Help me to purge my thoughts of the indecent things that keep me from You

Help me face the world today.

July 27, 2004

No Room to Judge

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. Deuteronomy 25:18

God calls us to compassion. He expects us to care about and for those who are in need in our midst. For some people, compassion seems to take work. For me, it comes easiest when I remember the ways God has delivered me.

Lord, I have much for which I am grateful. Your grace has carried me through an untold number of deserts. There is no room for judgment - only compassion in my life. Without the amazing love of Your Son, I would remain worthless and hopeless.

Help me to find the ways to serve. Help me to discover the balance between serving others and serving my family. So often I struggle to say no to good things.

Make me more like You.

July 28, 2004

Reputation

The man's line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. Deuteronomy 25:10

Things have certainly changed over the years. According to the law of Moses, in order to carry on family names, a man was required to marry his brother's widow, so she could bear a son for her dead husband. If her brother-in-law refused, she performed an interesting ritual that dealt with his reputation more than anything else. She was to take off his sandal, spit in his face, and proclaim that his line would be know as The Family of the Unsandaled.

So what is the big deal? How does this do anything?

In truth, reputation means a lot. For generations, a man's reputation can be known as one who followed God or rebelled against Him.

Lord, give me a reputation as one who lived His life in the shadow of Your grace.

About July 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in July 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2004 is the previous archive.

August 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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