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March 2005 Archives

March 1, 2005

Send Righteous Ahead!

Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. Psalm 85:13

It seems sometimes that the enemy is lurking everywhere we walk. Little temptations - little attacks - await us around every corner. There are times when I am physically exhausted by the spiritual battles I must fight. And the enemy knows - the longer he attacks, the greater the likelihood I will give in.

What is a man to do?

The answer may seem plain... walk a different way. But what if that isn't an option? What then?

The psalmist gives us the clue. Send righteousness ahead! He will prepare the way.

Lord, too often I forget that I have power over the enemy. Your Spirit dwells within me. He will keep me from the enemy's snares.

Holy Spirit, prepare my way today!

March 2, 2005

Life is beautiful!

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. Psalm 86:12-13

I will never forget the contrasts. My father-in-law had died. As I walked into the funeral home to see him for the first time, life was so beautiful. The sun was warmer that I had ever remembered. The flowers were more vibrant than I had ever seen. The sky was such a clear blue - the kind of blue you only see in West Texas. How could it be that the death of someone so dear could make life seem more precious?

Anyone who has faced death would probably tell you: Life is beautiful! It is a precious gift from the Creator, the very Breath of Life.

But it hasn't always seemed that way.

Those who know me well would tell you, I too often forget the beauty of living. Maybe it was years of being invisible - lost in the crowd of a large family. Oh, there were moments when I felt others noticed me, but even today, my mother tells me, "I love all my children." Rarely, do I hear the words, "I love YOU." Me - one child - an individual! I am not merely a part of the crowd.

Too much of my worth in life has come from what others think. At times, the enemy has convinced me that I am worthless - that I am invisible - that I would be better off dead. For years, depression has plagued me. Even with all my achievements, my wife would tell you I have spent many a day in the depths.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

God is all about life. His greatest desire is to deliver me from the depths of the grave. He has been there. He knows firsthand what death looks like. He doesn't want that for me. Great is His love toward me. Never have I felt that He has lost me in the crowd.

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. You are worthy of all praise. You make life beautiful!

Yet, when I forget, O Lord, deliver me from the depths of the grave.

March 3, 2005

That Wonderful Taste

As they make music they will sing, "All my fountains are in you." Psalm 87:7

Do you remember when you were a kid... that wonderful taste of water from a garden hose after playing in the hot sun?

Today, people buy bottled water everywhere you turn. Who would have thought you could get people to pay for something that is normally free. (Well, relatively free, I guess...)

I guess it's human nature. We are often willing to pay more than we should for what we really want. But what we really need is free. The Living Water we receive through a relationship with Jesus Christ costs us nothing. It cost Him everything; yet He willingly paid it.

Lord, may all my fountains be in You. You are the Source. Flow through me today.

March 4, 2005

Wonders for the Dead

Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Psalm 88:10

This psalm is unusual. It lacks something that is commonly found in almost all the Psalms.

It lacks hope.

How sad the writer must have been. To feel cut off - to call darkness his closest friend - to only know God's wrath... he suffered pain that few can really understand.

I understand.

For I have been in that dark place. I have felt that my friends are repulsed by me. I have experienced the pain of feeling forgotten.

Yet even now... those feelings are becoming memories. In His amazing way, God is bringing me to life.

If I could speak to this psalmist, I would say, "Yes, God shows wonders to the dead! For while I was dean in sin, He gave me life." Each new day the darkness becomes less attractive. It is merely dark. The light is where I want to be.

Lord, there was a day - not very long ago - when the words of this psalm were my own. Can it be real? Can I really be alive? You really do love me, don't You. How wonderful You are . You have raised the dead.

I long to praise You. What an awesome God You are!

March 6, 2005

Acclaim Him!

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. Psalm 89:15

Will we ever learn everything we need to know? Of course not. Every day is an opportunity for learning. One of the toughest lessons in life is how to acclaim God - to praise Him - in all things. Sometimes, He is hard to see.

How can He be there when the innocent are harmed? When the wicked seem to escape? When His children make choices that will lead to their demise? He's God! Why doesn't He protect the innocent all the time? Immediately punish the wicked? Keep us from sin?

The truth is: we will never really understand His plan - not in this lifetime anyway. Somehow, He brings glory from unfair circumstance. We learn of His healing power when there is sickness - His comfort when there is death - His mercy when there should be none.

Lord, I want to learn to acclaim You in each and every circumstance. Make me a man of spiritual strength. Protect me from the arrows of the enemy. Protect me from the very desires of my heart.

May You be glorified today!

March 7, 2005

A Heart of Wisdom

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Foolishness comes naturally. It takes no special training - no special preparation. It just happens. A fool learns nothing from the consequence, and his sin forever weighs him down.

Yet wisdom is learned over time. It takes practice. A wise man can do foolish things, but it is what he does afterwards that makes the difference. For a wise man remembers the consequence of his foolishness, and he understands how to avoid it.

Lord, for years I lived in regret over the foolish choices I have made in life. But it is interesting... As I learn to choose wisely, my regret seems to lessen. The man I am is the sum of all my choices - good and bad, and as I gain wisdom, I have also gained something unexpected: forgiveness - not so much from You, but from myself. Father, help me to choose wisely, and when I don't, help me to forgive, to learn, and to grow from it.

March 15, 2005

To Know His Name

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name." Psalm 91:14

It is amazing to think - the Creator of the universe knows my name. But do I know His?

God promises to rescue and protect those who acknowledge His name. A truer interpretation may be those who "know" His name - in the most intimate sense.

Lord, I want to be real. I want You to know me deeply, but more than that, I want to know You - to know Your very name. Will you teach it to me? Whisper it to me. Be my refuge today.

March 19, 2005

Will I make it?

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him." Psalm 92:14-15

I hope I never stop bearing fruit.

Yet, sometimes I wonder.

Will I make it? Do I have what it takes to finish this race? When I am old, will I still be serving the One who made me? Or will I be alone - forsaken because I grew weary in this search for holiness and walked away from the truth?

Lord, I'm tired. I'm weak. With my mouth I proclaim You, but my spirit is silent. My sin nature is whispering, "Come away with me." Help me to find rest in Your arms. Save me, Jesus. Forgive my failures.

March 22, 2005

Mighty is the Lord

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the Lord on high is mighty. Psalm 93:4

Nothing can knock God down - not the waves of the ocean, not the strongest storm, nor the greatest wind. Our only hope is to cling to Him - to literally attach ourselves to Him, so when we are faced with falling, we will stand strong.

Lord, I have been detached from You lately. The weariness of my body has kept me from our quiet times together, and I feel the strain. I cannot fight the pull of the tide alone. Reach out to save me. Lift me up above the waters, so I might breathe Your holiness.

Wash me clean once again.

March 23, 2005

Slipping

When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. Psalm 94:18

If I am honest about my feelings, there are times in life that I have resented God for the lessons He teaches me. Too often I wonder why He allowed me to fall down.

If He really loved me, wouldn't He protect me from it?

The truth is - I fall down because I don't ask for His help. Even so, God's love doesn't always make sense to me.

I know it is more loving to allow someone to grow than it is to keep him from it, even when it is painful. How loving is it for a parent to carry a toddler everywhere - never allowing him to walk? His growth would be stunted. He would be forever dependent on his parent and could never fully enjoy life. A loving parent stands back - watches - prays - and stays posed and ready to reach out the moment his child cries for help.

But sometimes I wish growing didn't hurt so much.

Lord, help me to ask for help. Forgive my arrogance and pride. So many times I refuse to say, "My foot is slipping!" Protect me. When I begin to slip, come to my rescue.

March 24, 2005

Goobers

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. Psalm 95:7b-8

A friend recently described all human beings as goobers. I think I have to agree.

Sometimes, we are so stupid. God has given us so much. He proves Himself time and time again, but so often when we hear His voice, we harden our hearts.

God had shown Himself to the Israelites in the desert. He literally opened the Red Sea to save them. He sent manna from heaven to feed them. He was the daytime cloud and the nighttime fire that led them. Yet when the people grew thirsty, they abandoned their trust of Him. They longed to return to Egypt - a place of bondage and slavery.

The Israelites were goobers.

We are still goobers.

How often do we discount the work God has done in us? How many times do we abandon Him? How many times do we harden our hearts to His voice?

I am learning this trust thing is tough. Every day I am faced with the challenge of believing His will is best for me. But I try to remember, slavery on the most fertile plain without God is no match for freedom in the desert with Him. I may grow weary in the desert, but returning isn't an option. Seeking life away from God always leads to death.

Can a recovering alcoholic return to his drunkenness without causing harm? Can a recovering drug addict return to a chemical fix without the threat of death? Can a recovering sex addict return to the worship of images and compulsions without eventually destroying himself?

Returning to slavery isn't an option.

Lord, help me to trust You when I am weary. This Christian walk can be tiring, but I know You provide a place to rest - a place of refreshment and life. Help me to find that place today. Help me to not harden my heart to Your voice.

Help me to not be a goober.

March 25, 2005

Judged with Equity

Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Psalm 96:10

What makes you mad? Is there one thing that infuriates you every time it happens? Most of us have a button that is easily pushed. We all have at least one thing that will cause our eyes to burn with passion and anger.

For me, it is inequity. If I sense unfairness in someone's treatment, either of me or someone else, my anger will flare. Maybe it stems from growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.

Oh, my family wasn't poor. Even with a family of eight, we always had food, clothing, and a warm bed, but so often I felt others looked down on me. Living in the enlisted housing rather than where the officers lived. Living in a trailer instead of a house. (Now, they call them "manufactured homes.") Living on the north side of town rather than the south. Living on the west side of the street and not the east.

Someone else always had more. Sometimes I forget how many had less.

But today, if I sense someone's opinion of me is unfair, it's usually best for me to keep my mouth shut.

Interestingly, when it comes to really being judged with equity, I plead for mercy. Everyone should treat me fairly... except God. If He did, I would have been a pile of ashes long ago.

Lord, thank You for Your wonderful mercy. Thank You for making the way for this undeserving man to spend eternity with You. Help me remember on this day, this Good Friday, the depth of Your mercy and love. Jesus, You gave everything You had - Your very body. Forgive me for the times I treat You unfairly. All glory and honor belong to You.

March 27, 2005

Upright in Heart

Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11

Encouraging someone to draw closer to God may not always be a pleasant suggestion, for being in His presence may not always be a wonderful experience.

It all depends on the condition of one's heart. For the righteous, His presence brings the utmost joy, but for one whose heart is plagued by guilt, to be near Him brings the deepest gloom.

Lord, there are times in life that all I want is to be in Your presence. Other times, I want as far away as possible. My only hope is in the blood of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice took away the guilt and shame of all our sin. I've seen darkness, and I've seen light. I prefer life in the light.

Make me upright in heart.

March 28, 2005

We have to say it!

He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:3

I heard a radio program the other day that has had me thinking... Have we in the church fallen down in sharing Jesus Christ with our Jewish brothers? Throughout the Bible, we are reminded of the covenant God made with Abraham. God does not forget His covenants, so what are we to make of it? Is there some alternate form of salvation for the Jews?

Of course not! Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He died for the Jews - not just the Gentiles. In our Judeo-Christian thinking, we sometimes get that turned around.

For me, it is often easier to share the truth of Christ with someone of no faith. To share with someone who believes in the same God but not Jesus, or someone who believes in a distortion of the One True God, is tough - I seem to freeze. The truth is: I am intimidated, and my silence is a reflection of my own faith - or lack of it - not someone else's. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us - to give us the words to say. It seems I simply don't believe He will speak through me in a pinch.

How many times have I had the opportunity to share the truth with someone, who is a person of a faith, but completely lost? How many times has someone knocked on my door to tell me of some "new" revelation - something I fully believe is a lie, and I politely sent them on their way? How many times has my fear kept me from saying what I should? I know I am not confident in my ability to debate matters of faith, but what hurts the most... I am not confident in the Spirit who could speak through me.

Lord, forgive me for not sharing the gospel as I should. Give me the courage and the opportunity to share the truth with my Jewish friends and to my Mormon and Muslim co-workers. Your Spirit could evangelize through a rock - or a pile of garbage. I'm certain You could use me if I am willing. Help me to be aware. Help me to be willing. Live in me - speak through me - today.

March 29, 2005

A Forgiving God

O Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. Psalm 99:8

Unfortunately, some people believe God lives to punish us. They think He watches us closely, waiting for us to make a mistake, just so He can zap us.

How did they ever come to see Him that way?

My guess is these people have never sought God's forgiveness. If they had, He would have given it. He is a God of fairness and equity. He always counters punishment with forgiveness. It is merely our place to receive it.

I am so glad He is forgiving. Without His forgiveness, life would be very sad indeed.

Lord, there are so many who live sad lives. They don't know Your love and forgiveness. At times, I struggle to receive it. Help me to find the balance. Help me to walk in righteousness. Help me to forgive myself for my misdeeds.

March 30, 2005

He really does love us forever!

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

There aren't many things that one can't endure for a short period of time.

A claustrophobic can endure an elevator ride to attend an important meeting on the 19th floor if he must - or he can endure walking nineteen flights of stairs. A woman can endure many hours of labor in order to bring a new life into the world - or she can endure the discomfort of recovery following a c-section. An addict can endure the temptation to fall off the wagon - at least one minute at a time - or he can endure the challenge of climbing back on again.

There are times, however, when I feel like I won't be able to endure long enough. Will I make it through today? Will I ever complete the projects on my desk? Will I be able to face disappointment and failure without slipping over the emotional edge?

Lord, I can barely imagine... Your love endures forever. Forever! Forever is a long time. What an amazing fact. Help me to hold onto this truth. Help me to endure. I want to someday look back from the other side of eternity and say, "You were right. You really do love us forever!"

March 31, 2005

Quit Scratching!

My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. Psalm 101:6

Have you ever heard the saying, "If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas"? Associating with the wrong crowd has a great deal to do with who we become.

Any parent will tell you; there are certain friends you simply don't want around your children. But there's more to it than staying away from the troublemakers. It's about surrounding ourselves with others who seek righteousness. For the paths we walk alone tend to lead to the wrong destinations.

Lord, I have grown tired of the lonely paths. I have spent too much time scratching the fleas. Thank You for surrounding me with those who are seeking You. I am so blessed! Help me to keep my eyes on the faithful. Help me to honor You in all I do.

About March 2005

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in March 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2005 is the previous archive.

April 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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