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November 2004 Archives

November 1, 2004

Still on His Throne

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. Psalm 11:4a

When the wicked are threatened, their natural response is to flee, but a righteous man has nothing to fear. God's hand covers him. Regardless of the circumstance, God remains on His throne.

Lord, the more I consider this passage, the more troubled I am. My natural response has been to flee. It may simply be an emotional escape, but my tendency has always been to run. When the enemy threatens, when he stands at the city gates tempting me to flee the loneliness, my first reaction is to consider the escape route. If the natural response of the wicked is to run, what does that make me?

With each new day, I am finding new strength to face the fear. Rather than running, I am learning to trust. But it troubles me how easily I could slip away. My fear makes me vulnerable. Help me to not be afraid.

Father, this is the day before an important election in our country. Many are afraid of the outcome. But regardless of the victor, You will remain on Your throne. Help us to trust You. You are watching Your children. May Your will be done.

November 2, 2004

Misplaced Honor

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. Psalm 12:8

To be honored among men... Why is it so important? In truth, mankind's opinion doesn't mean much. When one considers the vile things that a man can honor, why would anyone want praise from him? If a man snickers at sin, even praises others for it, how can any of his judgment be trusted?

Man is so trapped by worldly things.

Lord, why do I so often seek the affirmation of men, and I too infrequently turn to You. Do I look to You as much as I do to those around me? Forgive me, Father, for putting Your opinion on the same level - if not below - the opinion of men. I long to be honored in Your eyes. Make me Your servant today.

November 3, 2004

Life is such a gift!

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

What more could man ask that the God of the universe is mindful of him?

Despite the loneliness that often plagues me - despite the never ending struggle for self-control - despite any sense of abandonment I have ever felt, God has always been good to me. When I feel lost and alone. He always finds me.

Father, I am truly blest. You have given me so much, and for too long I have focused on the negative. Yes, I struggle with sin. What Christian doesn't? No, I didn't feel safe as a child. How many in this fallen world have ever really felt safe? You have been so good to me! Make me new. Give me an attitude that reflects hope in Your Son. Thank You, Jesus, for Your unfailing love.

Life is such a gift!

November 4, 2004

Does God exist?

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." Psalm 14:1a

Possibly the most fundamental of all questions is this: Does God exist?

If He doesn't, nothing we say or do matters. Moral values are meaningless. Right and wrong are silly concepts that govern the weak.

But if He does exist, everything matters. There is true meaning to life. For if He is what He says He is, those who believe will enjoy eternity serving in His presence.

What an awesome future!

Lord, I accepted Your existence as a child, but there are times even now that I doubt. Am I speaking to the air when I pray? Am I deranged to believe that anything exists beyond what can be seen or touched?

Some would say I am crazy - to believe that there is a God who created all this AND loves me, too. Despite the times I might wonder, I really do believe. I have no scientific proof of His existence, but the eyes of my heart see God everyday. I feel His touch in the moments I need it most.

O Holy Lord, I would rather be a fool and believe in what is real than to be a wise man who clings to nothing. Do You exist? Of course You do! Without Your intervention, mankind would have destroyed himself long ago. The mere fact that we exist is proof enough for me.

Show Yourself to me, Lord.

November 5, 2004

Even When It Hurts

... who keeps his oath even when it hurts. Psalm 15:4b

An oath - a vow - a commitment... Each one requires resolve. Each one requires diligence. Each one requires sacrifice. Are these merely the same thing?

An oath is something that is taken. "I... do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..." This is said by every man or woman who enters the United States military - from the lowest private to the Command-in-Chief. These words require a soldier to stay the course - to defend our country and its foundation - even to the point of death.

A vow is something that is given. "In token and pledge, I give you this ring as a symbol of my constant faith and abiding love..." Words similar to these are spoken by every man and woman who enter the vow of marriage. They require a spouse to stay the course - to remain side by side - till death do us part.

A commitment is something that is made. It is standing by a friend through thick and thin. It is the embodiment of the same resolve, diligence, and sacrifice required by an oath - by a vow.

What is it that makes these so similar?

An oath is taken, a vow is given, a commitment is made... even when it hurts.

Lord, I don't know if I like this fact; being mature and responsible will cause pain. But it helps me to understand why some people never really grow up - why I still struggle to this day. When everything in life seems to have caused pain, why would I choose more?

Father, help me to see that pain is a part of life, but staying the course - even when it hurts - will bring rewards beyond anything this life can bring. Let me dwell in Your sanctuary today.

November 6, 2004

A Promise of Misery

The sorrow of those will increase who run after other gods. Psalm 15:4a

Ever-increasing sorrow.

Who wants a future that promises misery? Have you ever known anyone who wakes up excitedly each morning saying, "I canít wait. Itís going to be such a rotten day!"? This seems ridiculous, but how many people do you know who live everyday chasing everything the world can offer Ė always in the pursuit of happiness?

Anything that is placed above the Lord God can become a god to me. Good things can consume my every thought. Good relationships can distract me from the most important relationship of all: the one I have with Jesus Christ. Running after other gods will only increase my pain and sorrow. Why do I so easily worship them?

Lord, I want a future that promises fulfillment and joy. Yet so much of my life has involved running after the gods of this world. Good things, fun things, things that I unashamedly do in public. Evil things, fun things, things that are only done in secret. All of these I have worshipped. Like many, I have included You in the long list of pursuits, but chasing anything besides Your glory will end in sorrow. Dr. Phil talks about putting certain things in life on "project status." Help me to understand that You are always the most important project of all.

I am humbled by Your mercy. I am humbled by the joy I feel as You heal my deepest pain. Never let me return to the gods of my past. With You at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

November 7, 2004

A Likeness of HIM

And I - in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. Psalm 17:15

When you look in the mirror every morning, what do you see? What likeness do you see?

Do you see a man who is full of guilt? Maybe you see a man who is broken by his sin, a man who can never seem to get it all together. Maybe you see a man who, despite how hard he tries, constantly falls down, a man ruled by his desires, his habits, his addictions.

Do you see a man trapped by the evil of the world?

Or do you see a man who is free from guilt? Maybe you see a man whose will has been broken by the very hand of God, a man who turns to the Spirit to keep it all together. Maybe you see a man who understands God's grace and has quit trying to do it on his own, a man who no longer hides in the darkness but dances in the light.

Do you see the very likeness of God?

If you don't, maybe you should. We are all created in God's image. Every time we look in the mirror, it is Him we should see. We were not meant to look like the world.

Lord, for so many years it has been painful to look in the mirror. How many times have I stood wondering, "Who is that man? How has he fallen so far away? Will he ever overcome the wounds of the enemy?" But truly, it is Your intention - Your hope - that the likeness we see in the mirror is Yours, for that is how You made us to be.

For most of my life, I have struggled with my self-image; I have struggled to face the man in the mirror. Even God's grace wasn't enough to change my opinion. But something is happening, Lord. You are healing me. You are giving me eyes that can see Your image more clearly each time I look in the mirror. Now, I can see a man who has been set free by the blood of Christ.

How marvelous You are! How wonderful is Your grace! How beautiful is the likeness I see!

November 8, 2004

Mountaintops

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18:33

Oh, how I love mountaintops. To stand above everything - to see farther than the eye could see - to literally experience the presence of God... what a wonderful place to be.

For so long, Lord, I have dwelt in the valley. I haven't been capable of standing on the heights, and the valley has been a safe place. Somehow I forgot how beautiful life can be from Your vantage point. On the mountain the air is thin, but the view is spectacular. You will sustain me.

Be my very breath, Father. Continue to strengthen my feet as we scale the cliffs and mountain paths together. You are my Rock and my salvation. Thank You for this wonderful peace - on top of the mountain.

November 9, 2004

Willful Sin

Keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Psalm 19:13

King David is so real. His words always seem to reveal a man who made mistakes just as I do. His songs beautifully display the joy and the sadness that are merely facts of life. One can plainly see he lived a life that was far from perfect. More than once, David found himself in the middle of predicaments that he caused, and he seemed to fight a lifelong battle to avoid willful sin.

Yet despite his shortcomings, he was God's anointed king. During his reign, Israel experienced peace and prosperity. He chased after the Lord, and the Lord blessed the entire nation. He was a blessed man, but the greatest blessing of all: it from was his bloodline that the Messiah would come.

Lord, like David, I long to be a man after Your heart. How can I ever reach it? How will I ever become the kind of man You would chase after? My heart has so often been filled with pride. Too many times I have chosen rebellion over obedience. Other times I have knowingly walked into dark places.

Yet, even there... I have not been able to escape Your love.

Father, my only hope is You. It is only by Your Spirit that I do not willfully choose rebellion everyday. My heart can be easily deceived. Help me to seek you every morning. Help me to find you every evening.

Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression - by the precious blood of the Lamb.

November 10, 2004

The Desire of Your Heart

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4

What is the desire of your heart?

We all have one, but does anyone really know what it is? Is there something we can do to identify it?

Like the leaves on a tree, the desire of the heart seems to change with the seasons of life. A child longs to live a carefree life. An adult quickly learns that there is no such thing as a carefree life. A child strives for independence - a chance to solve his own problems. An adult would sometimes give anything he could for someone else to solve the problems in life.

How can I ever know if this desire has been met if I cannot name it?

God's ways are not our ways. To be truly free, I must release my grip on freedom - sacrificing my free will for God's will. To be truly independent, I must become fully dependent - trusting in the Lord for the smallest things everyday.

Lord, it seems my whole life has been an expedition - a search to discover the greatest desire of my heart. But I've been looking in the wrong place! I will never find it by looking in my own heart. I will never find it by looking the hearts of those around me. The only way to find it - the only way to give it a name - is to look in Your heart.

Jesus, what is Your greatest desire? When I find it, I will have discovered my own. Give me the desire of my heart, Father. Let Your desire be mine today.

November 11, 2004

From the Outside-In

Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. Psalm 21:5

There are many Psalms that David wrote about the king. He honored the king and his success.

Wait a minute! David IS the king. He was speaking in third person, and he was honoring himself. This seems a little proud to me.

Despite his failures, David had an uncanny knack for seeing himself from the outside-in rather than the inside-out. In truth, this is something we should all do every once in awhile. Can I remember examining my life from the outside? I'm too often stuck on the inside. I can't seem to see the real picture: God is blessing me!

Lord, we should all be living examined lives. Without accountability and support from the outside, I would be in a very different place. Normally, I too often examine my imperfections from the inside without acknowledging what I do well. This has left me with a miserable picture of this man - who was created in Your image.

Spirit, begin to weave into me a new understanding of the ways I have been blessed. If I cannot rejoice in the blessings, how can I ever share them with others? Help me to look at myself and say, "Hey - he's getting it together. God has bestowed splendor and majesty upon him."

November 12, 2004

He Thought of Us

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it. Psalm 22:30-31

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking about when He was on that cross? Although crucifixion is a drawn out form of torture, Jesus died in about three hours. This is a relatively short time. But three hours when your body is wracked with pain can feel like three days! Ask anyone who has waited in an emergency room.

When I think of men who have shared stories of torture, I often remember the prisoners of war in Vietnam. When I was a child, many POW's returned with horrific tales of things no human should ever endure. One of the most amazing aspects of these stories is how God so often met them in their times of greatest need. The Holy Spirit brought to mind scriptures that had long since been forgotten. Many were blessed in the midst of the most excruciating circumstance by the very Word of God.

These men were not like Jesus. He knew the scriptures well enough to rebuke the enemy and humble the proud. He knew the Author. He was the Author. There is no doubt in my mind that He was comforted on the cross by His Father's words - the Holy Scripture.

I believe the 22nd Psalm is most likely the scripture that filled his thoughts on that horrible afternoon. This Messianic song describes the painful horror that He experienced. How could He not think of it?

I am also certain that He clung to the final words: "They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn." This promise - a promise that we, two thousand years later, would still proclaim the sacrifice He made - must have given Him the courage and the stamina to face the most brutal of deaths.

Jesus, thank You for thinking of me on that cross. Help me to live a life that is worthy of Your sacrifice.

November 14, 2004

Quiet Waters

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23:2

Quiet waters...

Have you ever stood by a rushing river? White water races, roaring downstream. Yet only inches away, places can be found along the bank where the water is quiet and peaceful.

Lord, I have spent too much time racing downstream. It has left me confused about where I have been and uncertain about where I am going. But You are opening my eyes to see the quiet places within inches of the rushing water - the places I can find You.

Thank You for bringing peace into my life. Thank You for the loving arms of Your Spirit that wrap around my soul. Help me to soak in the quiet waters. May You be glorified today.

November 15, 2004

A View from the Top

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Psalm 24:3

Ascending a hill takes on new meaning when that hill is a mountain. The effort it takes to push through the discomfort - to sometimes pull yourself through it - is worth every step, worth every gasp for breath. The view from the top cannot be imagined from the bottom. And when one stands at the top, the weariness from walking in the valley and climbing its walls seems like a small price to pay for such a majestic moment.

By comparison, the time it takes to break free from the valley seems so much longer than the time we can spend at the top of the mountain. But the impact from the moments on the ridge overlooking God's wonderful handiwork is life-changing. The valley is no longer a feared place. From God's vantage point, it is beautiful. The weariness of the journey quickly fades in our memory, while the wonder of God's presence remains.

O Lord, my life has been such a climb. Like ascending The Chimneys in the Great Smoky Mountains, I grow weary. But the view is worth it. My life is changing. With every step, I know I am closer to the goal - I am closer to that place of strength and freedom. The path I have taken and the rocks I have climbed have brought me to where I am today. Show me how I can guide others on the path, so more or Your sons can enjoy the view from Your throne.

Life is beautiful. Even the clouds that cloak the valley can bring a smile to Your face, Lord. I love you, Father. How majestic You are!

November 16, 2004

A Confidant

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14

To whom do you tell a secret? Someone who will tell everyone about it? Or someone you can trust to hold it in confidence?

Everyone needs a confidant. There are things of which I am ashamed that I want no one to hear, but I cannot keep them hidden; I need to tell someone. On the other hand, there are dreams that are so precious that I long to share them with a fellow dreamer. I cannot keep them hidden.

Do you have a confidant? Do you have a trustworthy friend? Are you a confidant for someone else? Are you trustworthy enough to protect the heart and reputation of another? I have a best friend in whom I confide my secrets. His love has carried me through many struggles. He has never abused a confidence. I am blessed with a best friend. He has made my life more fruitful.

But even so, we are human and imperfect. God is the only perfect friend, and interestingly, God confides in me. He believes in me enough to share His secrets. He makes Himself intimately known.

Lord, I am unworthy to be Your confidant. Too many times I have disregarded Your wonder. Too many times I have been untrustworthy. Too often I have taken Your secrets lightly. Yet You continue to pour Your Spirit into those who fear You. Through the blood of Your Son, I am made worthy - I am made trustworthy. Continue to teach me Your ways. Continue to tell me Your secrets. Help me to reach out to Your children. Help me to impact the world for Your name's sake.

November 17, 2004

Level Ground

My feet stand on level ground; in the great assembly I will praise the Lord. Psalm 26:12

Life is such a climb. It seems every day is filled with mountains to ascend. The higher you go, the tougher it seems to be. But it is all for a purpose.

There is level ground at the top.

Lord, I'm weary from climbing. I'm afraid I could easily slip and fall down the mountainside. Thank You for sending fellow climbers into my life who encourage me - who keep me from falling - who even carry me when I can go no farther.

Place my feet on level ground today. Help me to honor You in all I do.

November 21, 2004

Wait for Him

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

What is the purpose of healing and wholeness? In the eyes of the world, once something has been repaired, it is time to use it. Even with the human body, we tend to expect that someone who has been injured can jump quickly back into the race - maybe a little bit slower. The reasoning is: if we are strong, shouldn't we use it to our advantage? Shouldn't we get moving?

David says to wait. Be strong - and wait. Wait for the Lord.

Lord, help me to be whole. Strengthen me, so I might serve You. But help me to wait for You. No amount of healing is worth it if I run ahead of You. Teach me to walk beside You today.

November 22, 2004

Make Me Real

Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Psalm 28:3

One of the things I want most in life is to be known as an authentic man. I want to be the kind of man who is unafraid of what others may think because the inside matches the outside. I want to be the kind of man who doesn't put on a smile yet carry hatred in his heart. The Lord Himself is not very fond of hypocrites.

I want to be real.

Father, give me the strength to live a life that is holy, inside and out. Help me to not harbor malice for anyone which I hide behind pleasantries. Help me to be honest with others. Help me to be honest with myself.

Make me real.

November 23, 2004

His Whisper

The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. Psalm 29:4

How often have I prayed, "Lord, let me hear Your voice"? Do I really understand such a request?

God's voice is the most powerful force in the universe. By merely speaking, He brought everything into existence. His voice is often described as roaring thunder. To hear His voice, in truth, would be a terrifying experience.

But isn't it amazing how His whisper brings nothing but peace? There is nothing that quiets the human soul like the soft whisper of God.

Lord, quiet the anxiety of my heart. Bring peace where there has only been turmoil. Let me hear Your soft whisper today.

November 24, 2004

Time to Dance

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

There comes a point when the mourning is over. Tears are more controlled. Anger subsides. Laughter comes without guilt. The mourning clothes are stored away.

With any loss there is grief. When the grief ends, life begins.

A friend of mine has died. His death has been the toughest challenge of my life. He was closer to me than a brother. Every step along the way, he took with me. Every word I spoke, he heard. Every dream I had, he shared. There is nothing that he didn't know about me. I have been grieving his loss. I have tried to deny he is gone, but through the acceptance of his death, I can truly begin to live.

The one who has died is me - the old me, the man who tried to woo the love of the world - the one who, deep down, believed he was unlovable.

He is no longer. Now, I am free.

Father, what has happened to me? For so many years I tried to breathe life into a dead man, but only You can give life. For so many years I mourned - not knowing exactly why, but the mourning is over. It is time to put away the sackcloth. It is time to clothe myself with joy. It is time to dance.

Would You care to dance with me?

November 25, 2004

In the Sight of Others

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. Psalm 31:19

When God is really working in your life, others will see it. The goodness He bestows on us cannot be hidden, and those who know us best will start to say, "You have changed."

What wonderful words to hear! What a wonderful God He is!

Lord, You have bestowed on me good things, and others have noticed. What a blessing You are! What a blessing it is to be free from the pit. Help me to only fear You. Keep me far from the darkness. I never want to return. My greatest desire is to stay in the light where others can see the works of Your hands. Glory be to Your Name!

November 27, 2004

Hidden Secrets

When I kept silent, my bones wasted way through my groaning all day long. Psalm 32:3

Hidden secrets cause us to literally waste away. It is as if our bodies betray us when we betray the One who made them. But confession has power that I may never understand. There is something about it that not only frees us spiritually, but physically.

Lord, there secrets I have hidden that once caused me to waste away. No longer! My secrets are no longer hidden; confession has brought me up from the pit. I have an opportunity before me - an opportunity to live in freedom and wholeness.

Help me to walk in repentance. Help me to never again hide in fear. You are my hiding place. Protect me from the unrighteousness that seeks to harm me.

November 28, 2004

Famine

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. Psalm 33:18-19

Wouldn't it be nice if becoming a Christian made life trouble-free? No more problems, no more fears, no more failures - it would almost be like heaven.

Why didn't God just do it that way? If Christianity made life perfect, there might not be any who would reject Him.

The truth is: if God enticed us with a worry-free life, our free-will would somehow be cheapened. True love - unconditional love - hangs in there even when, especially when, things aren't going as we planned. God did not promise to keep us away from famine. He promised to keep us alive in famine. He is our Sustainer. His love never fails - even when, especially when, life isn't going as we planned.

Lord, most of my life has been lived in famine - not a famine of the body, but of the heart. Somehow as a child I became accustomed to living in a barren place, a place that appeared full from the outside, but in reality was always empty. Through it all, You have sustained me.

Now, as I experience spiritual food I have never known, I can see how Your unfailing love has kept me alive along the ay. Thank You, Father, for Your abundance that sustains us in the most empty places.

November 29, 2004

Lord, I am afraid!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

If there is one particular emotion that has held me back the most in life, it would be fear. It has an amazing power to paralyze me. When it becomes too great, I escape. Rather than facing a challenge, I tend to avoid it. Rather than moving forward, I tend to retreat.

King David was afraid. He fled from Saul's presence and went to Achish king of Gath. While he was there, the people caused a stir because they knew this was the man anointed as the next king of Israel. As David considered their words, he became more and more frightened. I'm sure David thought of what King Achish would do to him. Here he was, the would be king of a neighboring nation, weakened and on the run. Achish could have easily decided to take Israel for himself. Why not kill David? Then he could simply take it.

Rather than allowing the fear to paralyze him, David used it. He pretended to be insane. Achish was flabbergasted. David was sent away.

Psalm 34 was written after this experience. It is obvious by his words, David knew the Source of his strength. It was only God who delivered him from his fear, and he became a stronger man through the experience.

Lord, I am afraid! All my life, I have been afraid. Rather than embracing it, rather than growing from it, I have hidden. I am still that little boy hiding under the covers. Help me to face the fear. Deliver me from it, so I can be the man You intended.

About November 2004

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

October 2004 is the previous archive.

December 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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