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August 2004 Archives

August 11, 2004

The Power of Touch

Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses laid his hands on him. Deuteronomy 34:9a

Do we understand the power of touch? Moses laid hands on Joshua, and Joshua received the spirit of wisdom. Jesus took every opportunity to reach out, not just in His words, but with His hands. Do we understand that touch involves more that our physical bodies? Do we understand the impact it can have to hug a lonely man or woman? Do we understand the harm it can cause if it is abused?

Lord, I so often yearn for appropriate touch. I am still that lonely, little boy. Send someone to reach out - to touch me, so my spirit might be touched as well. Let me feel Your touch today.

August 12, 2004

Nothing Special

"I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit." John 1:33

Jesus was ordinary... at least on the outside. There wasn't really anything special about Him. John the Baptist said of Jesus, "I would not have known him." He simply looked like one of us.

So why have so many artists over the centuries depicted Jesus as a man who was bigger than life? Even though he was called the "true light," I don't think he glowed. Rooms did not suddenly light up when He walked into them. He was simply ordinary.

What made the difference? Why were so many drawn to Him? Obviously, it wasn't His appearance.

I believe it was His heart, and how He shared it. His words drew people. He was a carpenter's son from a little place called Nazareth - a nobody from the middle of nowhere, yet He was called Rabbi - teacher. Jesus Himself was proof that circumstances are not always what they appear to be. We must look inside before we know the truth.

Lord, too often I judge based upon the outward appearance of a situation without looking inside. I seem to panic over little things before I get the whole picture. Help me to slow down - to approach this day with wisdom and peace. In You, Rabbi, I will find life.

August 13, 2004

Faith in the Impossible

Then he told them, "How draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. John 2:8-9a

How would it feel if you were asked to do something that seemed impossible?

Jesus told the servant at the wedding in Cana to draw from a jar that he had just filled with water and take it to the master of the banquet. If I were that servant, I would have been more than a little nervous. He must have been thinking, "This is water! The master of the banquet is going to be rather upset, and who do you think will catch the brunt of it? Certainly not this man from Nazareth!"

But we know what happened. The water had miraculously turned into wine. What a relief it must have been. What faith it took to say to the master of the banquet, "Sir, take a drink of this."

Lord, I feel like every day is filled with impossible things. You ask me to live a life that glorifies You. But with my human nature, it is a miracle that I don't ruin Your reputation on a daily basis. The truth of the matter is: turning from sin in our own strength is impossible. The only hope we have is the power - the miracle - of the Holy Spirit.

Help me to have faith, Lord - faith to walk in the truth that every day is a miracle in small, subtle ways. Help me to make the right choices and to say to those who thirst for You, "Take a drink. You will never thirst again!"

August 14, 2004

Afraid of the Light

"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20

When I was a child, there were times I was afraid of the dark. Now, as an adult, there are times I am afraid of the light.

Oh, there are so many things that I have done that are contrary to God's will. I know my sin is no worse than any other man's. But I still fear being exposed.

We all do.

Lord, give me the courage to do what is right, so I can live in the light. The darkness has been my companion for too long. I need to let him go. Inspire me, Lord, so I might find joy again.

August 16, 2004

Will you give me a drink?

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." John 4:10

When was the last time I asked Jesus for a drink of living water? Or have I ever truly done it? If I had, wouldn't it be a flowing spring as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well?

Lord, for so long I have felt like the well is dry. All my attempts to search for water have failed. Yet all I need to do is ask You. You have the water I need. Only You can fill me.

Jesus. Will you give me a drink?

August 17, 2004

Finding the Truth

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

Isn't it interesting how people are drawn to the truth? Yet until they seek a relationship with the One who came to save us, they can never really find it. One can spend his entire life reading the Scriptures and still be lost without Jesus.

I've heard it time and again. It's not about religion; it's about relationship.

Lord, I feel like I've forgotten about You. I have been a miserable, needy friend. Whenever our relationship is distant, I know I've dropped the ball. Forgive me, Jesus. Can we spend the day together?

August 18, 2004

None Lost?

"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." John 6:39

There are times I have felt that I've messed up my life so much that even the blood of Christ couldn't save me. It isn't that I don't know the truth. Salvation cannot be taken from us. But how many Christians doubt sometimes? I am not alone.

Jesus Himself said he would lose none of those the Father had given to Him. Do I believe His words?

Yes, I do.

Lord, today I choose to focus on You. My sins must be left behind. I am Your's. Give me confidence to walk in Your amazing grace.

August 19, 2004

Where would I have been?

Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. John 7:43-44

Jesus.

The mere mention of His name invokes a reaction. When I here His name, I am humbled, excited, happy, maybe even a little afraid. He is the Son of God, and I know it.

But there are many who are offended by the mention of His name. People in our "free" country scream about the separation of church and state if He is honored publicly in any way. Others turn apathetic - unsure of anything but their own desires.

Not a lot has changed in two thousand years. When Jesus walked on the earth, He tended to stir things up. The priests and the Pharisees became outraged by His indignance over their petty laws - trying to acquire holiness in their own strength. Many people didn't know what to make of Him. Even the temple guard acknowledged that no one had ever spoken like Him.

But there were others - those who believed.

Where would I have been if I had been in the crowd that day? Would I side with the priests? Aren't they the keepers of the law? Or would I - against all rational thinking - believe in this man, whom many said couldn't be the Christ. If they had searched for truth, they would have found it. He is Messiah. He is Lord.

Father, save the lost. The world needs You.

I need You.

August 20, 2004

Guilt and Condemnation

Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:10-11

How easy it is to get two feelings confused: guilt and condemnation. For years I seem to have equated the guilt I experience from my failures with condemnation from the Holy Spirit.

This is a lie.

Did Jesus ever condemn those who were caught in their sin and felt the weight of guilt? He condemned those who, in the pride, felt no guilt.

Just like the woman caught in adultery, we have all been found out - whatever our particular sin may be. But Jesus doesn't condemn; He loves.

Father, help me to accept Your grace and leave a life of sin. Make me holy as You are holy.

August 21, 2004

I was blind, but now I see!

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:3

A baby born without eyesight - it must have been devastating! I wonder how his parents felt. Oh, they loved this child, but what kind of a life was he going to have? Blind men in their day normally lived out their lives begging on a street corner. All their hopes, all their dreams were shattered. Maybe it would have been better if their son had never been born. Little did they know that their son would someday be healed by the Messiah - the Christ - the very Son of the Living God.

For over two thousand years, generations have marveled at the story of their son's healing. A man born blind received his sight!

Lord, there are so many circumstances in life that I don't understand. I may not have been born with an infirmity, but I have plenty that I need to overcome. Why did I, as a little boy, feel lost in the crowd? Why do I still feel lost - wandering like a blind man through life? Unlike the blind man, many of my troubles are due to my sin or the sins of my parents. But regardless, the work of God can and will be displayed in my life.

Heal me, Lord. Put mud on my spiritual eyes so I might see and understand. I no longer have to live as a beggar on the street, for I have been touched by the hand of Christ. I worship You, Jesus - the Son of God. I was blind, but now I see!

August 22, 2004

The Voice of a Stranger

"When he has brought out his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." John 10:4-5

Jesus said His sheep would not follow the voice of a stranger. If this is true, it means I am far too familiar with the voices of the world. I am saddened by the voices I have followed.

Lord, I know Your voice, yet I find it difficult at times to run from the voices of my past. Their words are familiar to me, so although they can lead to death, I seem to find comfort in them. Help me to forget the voices that once called me. Make them like the voice of strangers. Help me to flee from them. Help me to follow only You.

August 23, 2004

In the Light of Day

Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." John 11:9-10

Jesus made many statements that provide great meaning and insight to life. However, there are times when His response just doesn't seem to answer the question that was asked.

In this story, Jesus had received word that his friend Lazarus was sick. Rather than leaving for Bethany right away, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days. When the time came for Him to leave for Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead, for he had already died, His disciples questioned His judgment. They were worried about going to Judea because the Jews had recently tried to kill Him. Their question was, "Are you sure you want to go back there?" Jesus answered them by talking about day and night - light and darkness.

Where did this come from? What does walking in the light of the day have to do with going back to Judea?

I think Jesus was giving His disciples words that would soon be encouraging... if they had only heard it. Yes, the Jews wanted to take His life. Jesus knew this. Yet He refused to lurk about in the darkness. Every step He took was taken in the light of His Father's will. Although Jesus understood this, His disciples had not yet learned it. A day was coming very soon when His disciples would choose to hide in the darkness of the night. I believe what Jesus wanted to tell them was, "I know what I am doing. Every moment of my life is spent following the One who sent me. Don't be afraid when the worst appears to happen. Look to the One who gives light, for I am the light."

Lord, there are times that I just don't comprehend Your will. It seems that the worst could happen - that I could lose everything I have if the enemy has his way. But You always know what You are doing. Every step taken in faith brings me closer to Your will. Even if that will is death on a cross, Your plan is to prosper us.

Give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Help me to face Your will - in the light of day.

August 24, 2004

Expectations

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47

Why do I sometimes forget that Jesus came to save me, not judge me? So often, Lord, I struggle to forgive myself when I don't live up to Your expectations... or are they Your expectations?

Jesus said He does not judge those who hear His words but do not keep them.

He knew we would blow it! From the very beginning, He expected us to fail. That's the whole reason He came. The enemy wants us to believe that Jesus stands by us ready to punish us if we fail Him. Yet the truth is: He stands by us ready to hold us when we turn to Him.

Lord, I really need an attitude adjustment. I've had what Joyce Meyer calls "stinkin' thinkin'." The smallest failure seems like the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. When will I get it through my head: You love me - You really do! Feeling any less about myself sells You short. I've had times when I've fallen down that I've stood back up, brushed off the dirt, and kept going. But lately it seems that I feel unworthy to stand again. Maybe I want pity. The words, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" might get a response from someone.

Father, help me to seek Your praise - not the praise of men. I will never live up to man's expectations. Thankfully, Your expectations come with grace. Thank You, Jesus, for Your undying love.

August 25, 2004

And It Was Night

As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. John 13:30

And it was night. What an eerie night it must have been. Jesus, the one the disciples had followed was doing the strangest things. Passover was time for reflection. There is something rather spiritual about it, but this Passover was different. Jesus was talking about leaving them, about betrayal, about servanthood. What was happening?

I wonder how the disciples would have acted if they knew what was coming. Would they have turned on Judas, this traitor of the Christ? Would they have hidden from the guards that would soon be there? Would they have run away into the night?

I guess it was better that they didn't know. Jesus knew the time was at hand. His disciples could have spoiled the plan. Well, maybe not. God's will would soon be done.

Lord, there are times that I wish I could know what lies ahead. Will I ever be in that place of holiness in this lifetime? Will I become the man You designed me to be - confident in You? Will I face a time when, like Peter, in fear I choose to deny You? So many times, I have hidden. So many times, I have betrayed. So many times, I have run away into the night.

Spirit, fill me with peace to accept the Lord's will - to accept a future I cannot see, but I know is in Your hands. If I find myself in the dark of night, come to me; comfort me until the sun rises again.

August 26, 2004

Have I seen Him lately?

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23

There He goes again. Jesus was asked a question, and His answer doesn't seem to match. Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus why He intended to show Himself to His disciples and not to the world. Jesus responded by talking about obedience.

This seems to be one of those passages that requires us to dig deeper in order to understand. Judas asked his question after Jesus spoke of showing Himself to others. Jesus stated that He would show Himself to those that love Him. Just before this He said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me."

There it is! The connection that makes His answer make sense. Judas asked why Jesus wouldn't show Himself to the world, and Jesus answers, "I will show myself to anyone! In order to see me, he must love me; in order to love me, he must obey my commands."

This brings another question to my mind... If I haven't seen Him lately, why not? Have I been loving Him through obedience?

Lord, I would never be able to obey Your commands without Your help, and I can never see You unless I obey. I guess what this says is: It's all about You! Praise Your Name, it's not about me.

Spirit, help me to obey. Help me to love. Show Yourself to me today.

August 27, 2004

Pruning Time Again

"... so that it will be more fruitful." John 15:26

Ouch!

How many times in life have I faced God's pruning shears? It seems that every time He trims me back, an unruly shoot forms that will need to be removed eventually.

I try to remember... God doesn't prune us just to keep us in line - to keep us from getting unruly. His intention is always one thing - fruit. Every place where He clips us back is a place where much fruit will someday grow.

Lord, I fear Your shears because I know pain is involved. Isn't there a painless option? Isn't there another way?

Quiet my heart, Lord Jesus.

August 28, 2004

In the Immediate

”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Life really boils down to two things: Jesus Christ or the world. With Jesus, we find peace. With the world, we find trouble. Understanding this, how could I ever find myself choosing the world over Christ? But I wonder… Is my intention to abandon what I know to be right? Do I actually choose one over the other?

If I am faced with the choice, if I have the time to stand back and weigh the options, if I look at the fork in the road fully knowing that one path leads to pain and the other leads to joy, wouldn’t Christ be my only choice? I would like to think so, but I know that my human nature can be a strong foe.

The truth is that when I am faced with the options, there are times I don’t really want to choose; there are times I hesitate. This indecision – this hesitation, can often be my downfall.

You see, Jesus forces Himself upon no one. He gives us the freedom to choose. The world, on the other hand, will force itself upon us every time. Isn’t it interesting that two of my greatest struggles in life are apathy and procrastination? If I could learn to choose Christ in the immediate, maybe peace would not so often elude me.

Father, make me a decisive man who confidently chooses Christ the moment I am faced with the choice between Your way and the world’s way. Help me to overcome the world. Help me to choose You – in the immediate.

August 29, 2004

I Want You

”Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:34

One of the toughest struggles I have as a stereotypical “lost child” from a dysfunctional family is an insatiable desire to be wanted. This desire often drives me to live a life that is focused on the praise of man rather than the praise of God. Oddly, I don’t feel complete unless someone says, “I want you in my life.” Everything I do doesn’t feel finished unless someone says, “Hey! That’s great. You really did a good job.”

Without this affirmation from others, I can feel rejected, so I too often find myself doing whatever it takes to please. Actions other might call “codependent,” I simply can’t seem to shake; this need to be wanted has taken me places no man should ever go.

But there is One who truly wants me with Him no matter what I do. The only man to live a sinless life, who deserves all the glory, prayed for me to be with Him – to see His glory – to enjoy being in the Presence.

Father, chasing the world over the years has left me confused and lost. Being wanted by man pales in comparison to being wanted by You. Why have I ever wanted more than You? Forgive me for the ways I have pursued worldly affirmation. Forgive me for disregarding the affirmation You so willingly lavish upon me.

Jesus, I want to be with You, too.

August 30, 2004

Putting on the Show

Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphus to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them… John 18:28-29a

I can hardly believe it. The Jews would not enter Pilate’s palace in order to avoid ceremonial uncleanness while their hands were already soiled with innocent blood. How ridiculous that these so-called men of God could be so strict about ritual, and at the same time carry out the greatest atrocity since the creation of the world. How arrogant! Clinging to a god of their own making while rejecting the very God who made them.

Unfortunately, there are many today who continue to put on the show – trying to appear as clean when their hearts are steeped in sin.

In actuality, we have all done it.

What married couple hasn’t fought on the way to church and stopped the moment they walked in the door? What pastor or Sunday School teacher hasn’t stood before others speaking of righteousness when he did God knows what the night before? Will we ever learn? To love God with our whole hearts – this is the ritual He requires.

Lord, forgive me for the ways I have put on the show. Too many times I have worried about my image when I have forgotten the image in which I was made. Help me to live a life that looks the same in the mirror as it does to those around me. Wash me clean for I have not lived the clean life to which I have been called.

August 31, 2004

A Horrible Honor

Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. John 19:40

What would it have been like to prepare the body of Jesus for burial? It must have been awful. The lifeless body of your teacher lay before you, limp and bloodied. How could you do it?

Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus - two men drawn together for this daunting task - must have had quite a story to tell. What did they speak about as they cleaned the dried blood and dirt from His body? Could they even speak at all? Did they separate themselves from their emotions to simply complete the job, or could they see past the tears? What an intimate scene it had to be - washing and wrapping the naked body of their fallen brother, the Messiah - the Christ.

Gently, gently they must have bathed Him - touching Him in ways they never could have imagined. One by one, the strips of linen were wrapped around the wounds of the One who healed so many. What a horrible honor to serve the Master like this - to carefully lay His body in a dark and lonely tomb. This privilege known only by two men is something I'm certain they would rather have missed.

Very soon, these painful memories would fade into the joy of His resurrection. But I wonder... Did the smell of those spices, the sight of blood, or the silence and darkness of night take them back to those awful moments after the cross?

Lord, many times in life I have been beaten by the whips of the enemy. He taunts me; he tears at my spirit telling me I am worthless - I am nothing. But the joy of Your resurrection shines brighter than my sin. One by one, You have wrapped my wounds. You anoint me with Your holy oil. You felt the pain of death, so I can have life eternal.

Come again, Lord Jesus! I await Your return.

About August 2004

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

July 2004 is the previous archive.

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