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December 2004 Archives

December 1, 2004

One-of-a-kind

O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. Psalm 35:17

There are certain works of art that are priceless - more precious than one could imagine. Consider the Mona Lisa. How much would be paid if she were placed on the auction block? Why is this combination of paint and canvas so priceless?

Any collector will tell you. One-of-a-kind objects are worth the most - especially those bearing the signature of the artist.

With this in mind, why have I taken life for granted? Why have I treated it as worthless when it is one-of-a-kind. Each of us only has one life to live on this earth. We have been uniquely formed by God, and His signature can be found if we are willing to look for it.

What a precious gift He has given us.

Lord, so often I have seen my life as something to be pushed aside and forgotten. I haven't taken care of myself. Too many times, I seem to have left myself vulnerable to the ravages of the enemy.

Forgive me for not understanding how precious life is. There is only one me. You have placed your signature on me, and I am priceless. Help me to never take it for granted again. Thank You for making a masterpiece of each of us. May You be glorified by the works of Your hands today.

December 2, 2004

Do we HAVE to hate it?

An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked. There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters too much to detect or hate his sin. Psalm 36:1-2

God's timing often amazes me. Yesterday, someone asked me, "Do we have to get to the point in life where we hate our sin?" Then today, David's words to me are about how a wicked man flatters himself too much to hate his sin. I guess the Lord wants me to think about this question a little more.

Do we have to hate our sin?

The answer I gave to my friend seems to be contradictory to Scripture. I told him "no," but then I clarified by thoughts. I don't feel we have to hate sin. I think we need to get to the point where our sin doesn't really matter anymore - that our relationship with God is what is important.

Is this "hating" sin?

From an either-or perspective, we must either hate it or we love it. But I don't know if it is that simply. There are certain things about my sin that I think I will always love. If I didn't love it, why would I want it? But if I don't hate my sin, why am I trying to walk from it?

Lord, I don't really know the answer. The light of Your grace always outshines my sin. If I am walking in relationship with You, I "will" hate my sin, but do I "have" to hate?

I guess it's about focus. What is my focus in regards to sin? If a man is so focused on hating sin, most of his thoughts are of the sin. Can one who is obsessed with a certain action muster the strength to avoid it? In a moment of weakness, the focus of his thoughts will become action. One the other hand, if a man is more focused on the Lord and His righteousness, where does he turn in that moment of weakness?

Father, help me to shift my focus. Let my eyes blinded to the sin I desire. Turn my heart to You, so when I am weak, You are strong.

December 3, 2004

In His Grip

If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:28-24

I think I'm an expert at falling down. If it were an olympic sport, I would have won the gold medal by now. Throughout my life I have discovered so many new and creative ways to start something with passion and fail miserably. It is almost an art form.

But through it all, the Lord has chosen to reach out, to grab hold of me, and to set my feet firmly on solid ground. By His amazing grace, He has given me the chance to start again.

Lord, this time is going to be different. Hold me in Your grip like never before. I want to literally be attached to You, so I will no longer lose my footing. Forgive me, Father, for my failures. Quiet the mouth of the enemy. I am not the wicked man he wants me to believe. I am Yours.

December 5, 2004

I'll Be Waiting

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

When I was younger, I prayed for patience not realizing how God normally answers this request. He taught me patience by making me wait. There were tough things - like waiting for the right job. There were exciting things - like waiting for babies to be born. But the story I always tell people is how God taught me patients when I started working with clay.

Clay - like many circumstances - won't be rushed. Moving too quickly on the wheel can result in a pretty big mess. Forcing the clay to drive too quickly can result in unwanted cracks, rendering a piece useless. Like most potters, I learned the hard way - working with clay takes patience.

The truth is though, I may be a more patient man than I once was (ask my wife), but I still hate to wait (ask my wife).

Lord, will I ever really learn this lesson of waiting? I'm always in such a hurry to get to the next step. I so often forget to linger - to slow down enough to notice the little things. I so often forget to savor - to enjoy the pleasures of being alive.

Father, I'm going to try hesitating when my normal response is to hurry. I'm going to try watching for You when my normal response is to go it alone. Help me to slow down today. Come, Lord Jesus.

I'll be waiting.

December 6, 2004

Increased Anguish

But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. Psalm 39:2

Whenever we begin to understand the depth and breadth of God's love, satan has an uncanny way of reminding us about the little things of which we are ashamed - those things we have tried so hard to forget. Increased anguish is his goal, and it is too often his undeserved reward.

Lord, why does the euphoria of Your grace seem so fleeting? How can that wonderful sense of freedom and forgiveness be dashed on the rocks of my memories? The reminder of unconfessed sin has taunted me, and I can no longer bear the weight. Give me the courage to no longer be silent. Protect me from the accusations of the enemy. Make me clean in the deepest parts of my soul - in those places no man has ever seen.

December 7, 2004

Pleasing Him

Be pleased, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me. Psalm 40:13

What is it that pleases God? For some strange reason I sometimes think He takes pleasure in punishing the wicked. Maybe my view is distorted because there are too many fathers who do little more than punish their children. Somehow my perception of God as a punisher has been twisted.

In reality, I believe God takes no pleasure in punishing those He has created. It must break His heart. But as holy and righteous, He cannot disregard sin. If sin is ignored, it will fester. The only solution is atonement.

That's why He died in our place.

He loved mankind so much that He couldn't bear destroying us. By taking the punishment Himself, at least some could be saved.

Lord, thank You for saving us. Thank You for saving me. Be pleased, Father. Make me an instrument of Your love and mercy that brings music to Your ears and to the world.

December 8, 2004

Pleased with Imperfection

I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. Psalm 41:12

If anyone has ever struggled to forgive himself, it is me. For some reason, I seem to have decided that God must not like me very much because I feel so imperfect. How could I ever please Him?

This is foolishness.

If God were not pleased with me, I expect that He would have allowed the enemy to destroy me long ago. Yet, here I am - carrying on, growing in Him. How could one who displeases God ever feel so close to Him?

Lord, help me to put aside my imperfection. Show me that Your love of me is not conditional - nor should mine be. Teach me to walk in Your ways. May I be pleasing to You in all I say and do - no matter how imperfect.

December 9, 2004

Mortal Agony

My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" Psalm 42:10

We have an enemy whose chief desire is to cause us pain. As individuals - as the Body of Christ - he hates us. There is nothing he will not do to harm us. His greatest pleasure is found when we are in mortal agony, so just imagine what he feels when the Body turns on itself. Like a cancer, spiritual pride has been the downfall of many in the church.

Lord, I am easily angered by those who judge me - by those who look down upon me for the splinters in my eyes. Help them to see that Your greatest desire is unity - Your greatest desire is wholeness. Teach me to forgive those who may never seem to understand the power of Your touch. The enemy may be taunting, but I know where You are. Stay beside me, Spirit. Keep me from anger. Keep me from agony.

December 10, 2004

The Only Hope

Rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. Send forth your light and your truth. Psalm 43:1b,3a

It sometimes amazes me how deceitful and wicked men can protect others who are just as deceitful and wicked. The workplace is full of it. When an ungodly man rises to a place of power, he somehow surrounds himself with others who would do anything for themselves - even turning on the one who protected them.

Father, my heart is heavy this morning over a circumstance at work. The only hope is for truth to prevail. One of the most deceitful men I have ever known is being protected by a leader who has proven himself ungodly. Those who seek truth are not heard.

Holy Spirit, intervene. Send forth Your light and Your truth. Rescue us from deceitful and wicked men.

December 12, 2004

Wake Up!

Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Psalm 44:23

Sometimes it feels like God is sleeping on the job. But does He ever sleep?

Sometimes it feels like God has rejected us. But does He reject any who seek His face?

Lord, there have been times in my life when I thought you were sleeping. The circumstances were too much to bear. There have been times in my life when I failed to seek Your face. The weight of Your rejection seemed too heavy.

Yet, here I am - sitting in Your presence - knowing with all my heart that You are real... at least until the next time I doubt. Forgive me for questioning Your sovereign will. The toughest times have made me stronger. The deepest valleys have made me appreciate the mountains. The darkest caves have made me long for the light.

I love You, Jesus. Thank You for saving us from eternal rejection. May You be glorified today.

December 13, 2004

Loving Righteousness

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. Psalm 45:7

Everything the world offers will eventually fade away. Worldly pleasure is short term. Interestingly, the consequences tend to last a very long time.

Loving righteousness, however, sets us apart from the world around us. The great part is: it brings real joy that will never end!

Father, I want to be anointed with the oil of joy. Help me to love righteousness. Help me to hate wickedness. Help me to seek Your face. The busyness of the season has an interesting way of distracting us from what it is all about. Prepare my heart for the coming reminders of the birth of Joy Himself.

December 14, 2004

Ever-present

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 461

Ever-present... Do I really understand what that means? Do I fully understand how much God loves me - even when He has seen absolutely everything? The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly - the holy and the wicked - He has been ever-present; He has seen it all!

And He still loves me.

Lord, Your love is amazing. That You could know every secret and still cherish me is almost beyond comprehension. I know every secret - many of them I have tried hard to forget, yet I haven't been able to love myself. Help me to grasp the reality of Your presence. Fill me with Your love - not only for the world, but for me. If I don't have love, I don't have anything.

December 15, 2004

A Chosen Inheritance

He chose our inheritance for us... Psalm 47:4a

Have you ever considered the importance of a will? A will is a very important document. It generally expresses one's wishes regarding the disbursement of belongings and the care of children. Sadly, it is sometimes powerful enough to separate families. At the death of someone they loved, too many can become selfish and greedy.

But the most powerful aspect of a will is what it represents. It represents one's choices. A will reflects who has been important in one's life, for it describes a chosen inheritance.

God has chosen an inheritance for those who have loved Him. And He left a will.

In an amazing way, His will was written over the course of many centuries through the pen of many different authors. His written will is the Bible. The Bible describes those who have been chosen - those who will receive an inheritance upon His death.

The interesting thing is - the inheritance is the One who died. Jesus is our inheritance. For those who choose to follow Him, an eternal life in Him awaits.

Lord, thank You for choosing my inheritance. Thank You for sending Your Son to live, to die, and to reign forever.

December 17, 2004

For Ever and Ever

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14

Despite the times I have wandered off the path and found myself in the swamps of the unrighteous, God has always found me and brought me safely home. A day cannot pass when He doesn't know where I am and cannot guide me back to His holy city. What a guide He is! Even to the end of my life He will direct my steps.

All I must do is follow.

Lord, forgive me for wandering away from You on this journey. Thank You for hearing my cries for help. Thank You for calling out my name and guiding me back to You. Give me the resolve to decline the enemy's invitations to walk a different path. Give me the strength to deny his claims against me that would cause me to hide along the way.

You are my God for ever and ever!

December 19, 2004

The Grave

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

This life is going to end for all of us. Rich and poor - righteous and wicked, nothing will keep death from us, for everyone who walks the earth has the same destination. Eventually, the grave will welcome each of us into his parlor.

The questions to consider aren't easy. Will we simply stay in the grave? Is there more than just this life? God will redeem the righteous; the poor in spirit will be made rich. But those who chased the world may never see the light of life again.

Lord, so many are lost, and I want to help. Yet I am so afraid of rejection that I would rather condemn someone to hell than to face the embarrassment of sharing the full story of Your grace in my life. Help me to be unafraid. Fill me with a spirit of bold discretion. Use me to draw others back to You.

Redeem my life from the grave.

December 20, 2004

Thanks!

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:14-15

Have you ever struggled to figure out what to give someone? We all have. A time for gift-giving often brings out the question, "What do you want?"

God has told us what He wants from us, but are we really willing to give it? He can always be honored by this gift, but do we give it to Him as much as we should?

This gift is thanks.

Daily, He delivers us. Too often, we take Him for granted. Too many days go by without praise going where it is due.

Father, thank You. Thank You for loving me so much. Help me to show my gratitude in what I do and in what I say. May my words and actions bring honor to Your Name.

December 23, 2004

Broken by Choice

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

People have often told me that I am like David - a man after God's own heart. I'm not sure how I feel about this. What a compliment, but what a challenge!

Like David, my deepest desire is to glorify God. And unfortunately like David, I make lots of mistakes that are far from glorifying to Him. Sometimes I feel like I redefine the phrase, "We are all human."

God has blessed me with many talents, yet I have always struggled with how I see myself. I believe David struggled here as well. Although God's praise is far better that the praise of men, it can be devastating when others point out my faults. This is what happened to David. The prophet Nathan rebuked the king for his adultery, and he was completely devastated. The reality of his imperfection was a heavy burden to bear.

The biggest lesson I have learned from David in this is not about doing the right things - about staying on the path of the law, which would have kept him out of trouble in the first place. The biggest lesson I think I am learning is how to be broken - not by the words or actions of others, but broken by choice. When, in our pride, we cling to our free will choices to sin, death and devastation will result. But coming to God broken and contrite will only lead to life and healing.

Lord, for over forty years I have held on to my rights, my ability to choose what I want. This process of changing my choices - of willingly being broken - has been horrible and wonderful. How awesome it is to know that I will not be despised when I come to You. Put the pieces back together, Father. Teach me Your ways, so I might glorify You.

December 25, 2004

What do others think of me?

The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him saying, "Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!" Psalm 52:6-7

What do others think of me?

Why do I so often ask this question? My worry about meeting everyone else's expectations has been a catalyst that drives me to perfection. Maybe if I can impress them, I will be worth something...

The fallacy with this kind of thinking is that we can never please everyone. In the end, the catalyst - the drive for perfection - becomes a cage that keeps us from true contentment. It becomes a chain that keeps us from the joy God intends.

The lesson I have struggled to learn is not so much worrying about "what" others think, but "who" is thinking it. If I seek to live a life that pleases the world, contentment is forever elusive. But concerning myself with the opinion of the righteous is a good thing. It keeps me from sin; it directs me to the Father.

Lord, when I consider my life, I am often saddened. Have I gained my strength by making You my stronghold? What would the righteous say of me? In my adolescence, I felt an insult directed at another was a good thing. For just a moment, my imperfection could be overshadowed by someone else's. Unfortunately, this practice carried over into adulthood. But we never succeed by tearing down another. You are the only source of real strength.

Be my stronghold. I long to trust in You. Let me be remembered as a man who sought to build and not destroy.

December 26, 2004

Creating Something from Nothing

There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. Psalm 53:5a

It's interesting to me how some people cannot grasp the concept of God creating the universe - making something from nothing.

I seem to do it all the time.

Jesus tells us to be anxious for nothing, but I am such an expert at worry. Very few days go by without me creating something from nothing - worrying about what might happen rather than what is. I am like the fool in David's psalm - overwhelmed with dread where there is nothing to dread.

Lord, why do I struggle to trust You? Everyday, You prove Yourself faithful. Yet so often I am frozen by the fear of being forgotten by You. Will You hold me? Will You give me eyes to see Your plan? Will You help me to leave the creating, the making of something from nothing, up to You.

Be my God. Be my strength today.

December 27, 2004

Birth Pains

For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes. Psalm 54:7

To snatch something signifies physical force, and the Hebrew word translated in this psalm as "delivered" is more akin to saying God "snatched" me from all my troubles. What a comforting thought - to know that the very hand of God can pull us away from the enemy with great force. The Lord fights harder than we can imagine to deliver us from trouble, and all we must do is cry out to Him.

Lord, this morning I am picturing a different kind of "snatching." Yesterday, much of Southeast Asia was devastated by a massive tidal wave. Islands and coastal villages have been literally snatched away by a thirty foot wall of water traveling up to 500 miles an hour. Your Word refers to these things as birth pains. How frightening. The end is nearer than we realize, and everyday the earth testifies to Your awesome power. Each disaster that strikes is a reminder to me that soon Your Son will return.

Come, Lord Jesus. Snatch us away to meet You in the sky.

December 29, 2004

Just Change!

God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them - men who never change their ways and have no fear of God. Psalm 55:19

Have you ever known someone who always seems to be afflicted with something? No matter how great things may be, he always seems to see the negative. Maybe he struggles with depression. Maybe life has dealt him a bad hand. Maybe he is simply a pessimist who likes to steal the attention - if only for a moment.

The surest way for him to remain afflicted is to merely stay where he is. Life will never seem to get better if he never moves - never attempts to change. His ways will always lead to the same dark place.

But there is hope. The affliction need not continue. God can and will meet him. God will heal him. God will bring him into the light. But it will require him to change.

Lord, I am that man who often sees the negative. No matter how much You have blessed me, I tend to get stuck in the dark. Help me to change my ways. Help me to see the hope You bring. Help me to continue on this path of freedom. I no longer want to go my way.

Help me to follow Yours.

About December 2004

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

November 2004 is the previous archive.

January 2005 is the next archive.

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

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