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July 2005 Archives

July 1, 2005

Incomparable Splendor

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. Psalm 148:13

God's splendor is greater than anything man can ever see or imagine. Even in modern times with high-powered telescopes, we cannot discover anything more magnificent than Him. Nothing compares to Him.

Nothing except us.

For we were made in His image.

Oh, we will never be greater. We cannot come close. He is God. He alone is worthy of all honor. But consider this: This God, this Creator of everything seen and unseen, loves us! He loves us so much that He became one of us, then He died for us.

Lord, if You love me so much, why do I struggle to love myself? If You have forgiven every sin, why do I struggle to forgive? Help me to see that I am a new creation because of Your choosing - not by any action of my own. You alone are worthy!

July 2, 2005

The Power of Words

For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

The other day, I saw a rerun of Oprah that featured contemporary playwright, Tyler Perry. He said something I hope I never forget: "A positive word is always more powerful than a negative word." There is great power in words. Unfortunately, I have never understood this well.

Take the word "delight." For me, the mere sound of it - not just in my head, but out loud, seems to warm my spirit. It may seem a little odd, but that's what it does for me. Hearing it spoken doesn't cause me to grin, but in some strange way, my heart smiles.

Oh, how I wish I could have grasped this years ago. There are far too many negative words in my vocabulary. My son could probably attest to this. When a man struggles with his self-esteem, when he struggles with the way he sees himself, and he sees too much of himself in another, his words to that person tend to reflect it. They are negative much of the time. My wife asked me the other day what it is that makes me so angry with my son. Despite the fact that he is twenty, and God seems to have set a timer in every father's heart that signifies the time to push his young from the nest, I believe I see too much of myself in him. Sadly, my harsh words aren't meant for him; they are meant for me. Father, forgive me. Help me to change this. Help me to speak words of love to my son more often.

Lord, I believe the sound of Your children's voices - even the mere mention of their names - makes Your heart smile. You find such delight in those who love You. Help me to change my words. Help me to take delight in my children. Help me to take delight in life. How great Your blessings are to us!

July 3, 2005

Surpassing Greatness

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Psalm 150:2

His surpassing greatness...

God is so much more than we can imagine. He created us, and we failed Him. But He planned for it. From the very beginning, He knew that we could never become like Him, so He chose to become like us.

He loves us that much!

He knew we could never touch Him on our own, so He became touchable. He knew we could never approach Him on our own, so He made Himself approachable. He knew we could never comprehend Him on our own, so He helps us to comprehend.

God became a man.

Jesus, thank You for becoming one of us, so we can know the Father as He intended. Your love is so amazing. Your grace is so undeserved. But I'll take it. Thank You for all You have done in me.

July 4, 2005

Firsthand Accounts

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 1 John 1:1

A firsthand account... That's what the apostles tell us. It wasn't hearsay. It wasn't something they witnessed from afar. Their stories of Jesus were firsthand. They walked with Him. They talked with Him. They touched Him. With their own eyes they saw Him die; their hands touched His lifeless body.

Those same eyes, in three days time, saw Him again - alive! Those same hands felt the warmth of His skin. He was no longer dead. He was - and is - alive!

So many doubt, yet some believe.

That's why sharing your story is important - not someone else's story, but your own. For some will believe.

How have you encountered Jesus firsthand?

For me, I met Him in the darkest of pits. He gave me the courage to be real with those around me. He stood with me when I told of the ways I had fallen deeper than I ever dreamed possible. Then He held me - sometimes through the arms of another, but I knew it was Him. Someday, He will give me the words to share that story. Then it is my hope that some will believe.

Lord, I wish I had the words to say already, but the story is not yet complete. My journey is not yet finished, so until it is, help me to be patient. While I wait, give me more firsthand accounts to tell. Let me see You. Let me hear You. Let me touch You. Father, use me someday like You used the apostles. Help me to impact the Body for Your glory. Come, Lord Jesus!

July 7, 2005

I'm Stuck!

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever felt like nothing will ever change? Like you will always be weak? Always be trapped by the world?

Eventually, it will all be gone. A day will come when the silly temptations of this world are a faint memory. They are mere threads in the fabric of eternity.

So why is it so easy to be overwhelmed by the world?

It is so easy because we forget who we are!

In Christ, we are new. In Christ, we have overcome the world. In Christ, we find our hope and our future.

Lord, remind me that nothing from the world will last. All of it will pass away. Give me the courage to step into Your will. Give me the story to tell. Help me to walk with You forever.

July 8, 2005

A Condemning Heart

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:18-20

Whenever our hearts condemn us...

These are John's words. He doesn't say, "if" our hearts condemn us, for condemnation is a foregone conclusion. But we don't have to stay there! We can choose to continue sinning, or we can choose to obey.

Too often, I choose to sin, so what does that make me? Am I not one of God's children? Is salvation something outside my grasp? These are the lies which the enemy wants me to believe. Always, he whispers, "You can't be saved if you would sin like that! Why don't you give up? Follow me instead..." When I hear these words, my heart condemns me. He knows my doubt: "Maybe he's right. May I should just quit."

In truth, the mere fact that my heart condemns me is a good sign. If I were not God's child, I wouldn't care about what I have done.

Lord, help me to see the truth. I put too much stock in feelings, and I almost always feel condemned. Help me to see the condemnation as a gauge. Without it, I would know I am lost. You know everything... EVERYTHING, and You choose to love me. Help me to choose love. Help me to choose righteousness. Help me to choose You!

July 12, 2005

You already have it!

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Have you ever gone searching for something and realize that you already have it? Like searching for sunglasses that are on the top of your head, or car keys that are in your hand. These things make me laugh.

My father-in-law always laughed about the number of tape measures he owned. He could never seem to find one when he needed it, so he bought another. If I ever get his tools completely sorted, I know I will find seven or eight. Isn't it ridiculous to think of how much we accumulate simply because we aren't organized?

How silly it is to search for something you are holding or to buy something you already own.

So why, as a Christian, do I keep pursuing righteousness? Why do I keep trying to overcome the world? By the blood of Jesus Christ, I am made righteous. His Spirit dwells within me, so I have already overcome the world. I waste so much time and effort trying to acquire that which I already have!

Lord, this constant pursuit needs to stop. I need to quit chasing a dream and start living in reality. Righteousness is not something I can achieve. It is a path upon which I simply need to walk. Help me to stop trying to overcome and realize that You have already done it for me. All I must do is allow Your Spirit, who dwells within me, to take charge. There is nothing He cannot do. Praise the Lord. He has overcome!

July 15, 2005

Tugging Strings

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

Sometimes, I have a distorted view of God - a distorted view of myself. He is not a puppet who responds to the tug of a string as some would like to believe.

The Apostle John stated that we can have anything for which we ask. Doesn't this seem to make me the one in charge? Like I can control my destiny by simply asking for it? By tugging a string?

There is a key to getting the things I want. Four simple words: "according to His will." His will is what I must understand.

Father, I don't even know what to want. Do I really know Your will? The only way I can know it is if You reveal it to me. Give me eyes to see. Help me to walk in a supernatural confidence. Help me to know Your plan, so I can ask and receive.

Spirit, will you take charge today?

July 17, 2005

Running Ahead

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 9

Why do I always try to run ahead? I seem to approach most of life like it is a big race, and if I don't cross the finish line first, I shouldn't even be running.

Lord, I am so impatient with Your plan sometimes. Help me to wait for You. Help me to quit trying to please everyone else so much that I forget who I am - who I am becoming. Walk with me. Walk in front of me. I want to follow Your lead.

July 18, 2005

The Whole Truth

Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone - and even by the truth itself. 3 John 12a

What does the truth say of me? Is what others see who I really am? When they speak of me, am I worthy of the nice things some might say? Have I earned the disdain some might hold?

The truth knows that I am not always what others think I am.

Who is?

My problem is that I have never really given much thought to the fact that no one else has it all together either. If I could truly believe that every man is messed up, then maybe I wouldn't feel like a freak sometimes. Why do I somehow believe that perfection is possible, and it is my job to get there?

Lord, You know I am far from perfect, yet You love me still. Help me to stop striving for perfection and to start thriving in You!

I love You, Lord.

July 19, 2005

Poor Joshua!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Poor Joshua! Here he was, facing the greatest challenge of his life. Moses was dead. God had hand-picked him to lead the Israelites into the land promised so long ago. He must have been terrified! How could he, a mere man, face an entire country of enemies?

God knew how Joshua must have felt. Three times He told him, "Be strong and courageous." And God promised to be with him wherever he went.

I once had someone ask me to describe what it is to be whole. My answer was quick: "To be strong and courageous." I actually think I used the word confidence rather than courage, but to me, the primary attributes of wholeness - the things which I have seemed to lack the most, were the very things that Joshua was lacking. If he didn't lack strength and courage, why did God tell him three times?

Lord, if there is one thing besides sin that plagues me, it is fear. I have lived most of my life afraid of something. Most people around me would be surprised, for I have learned the fine art of wearing a mask of courage. In truth, I am afraid. Not a day goes by when I do not struggle with it. But just as You could see Joshua's heart, You see mine. There is no mask I can wear that hides the truth from You.

Help me to remember Your words: "for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Help me to be strong and courageous. I have no reason to fear, for You are always here!

July 20, 2005

What's your focus?

They said to Joshua, "The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us." Joshua 2:24

Isn't it amazing how forty years in the desert could change the heart of a nation? Desert experiences tend to do that.

The Israelites were now facing the greatest challenge of their lives - to cross the Jordan and seize God's promise. This same challenge was their parents' downfall. Forty years earlier, a group of cowardly men brought back stories of giants. Now, the stories told by those who returned were filled with hope. Their focus was completely different. Not once did the spies refer to the difficulty before them. Their entire focus was on the Lord, on His power, and on His ability to keep His promises.

So, what will be my focus?

Will I focus on the giants of my past - the very giants that were my parents' downfall? Or will I focus on the giants of the faith? Will I put my trust in the God of promises? Can I fully believe that He will never break His promise - even if all I seem to understand is promises broken?

Lord, the desert experiences make me stronger, yet I am weary of them. My heart longs to live in the lushness of Your promise. Help me to understand how the enemy melts in fear every time He hears of Your plan for me. The attacks I face are indications of the enemy's weakness. If he didn't fear losing, he would have nothing to do with me. Help me to cross over into Your will, to destroy the giants, and to take hold of Your promise. Help me to trust you. Be the focus of my heart today!

July 21, 2005

Stand in the River

"Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'" Joshua 3:8

"You want me to do what!?"

How many times have I thought that? That's what the priests must have been thinking. God simply said, "Go stand in the river." This wasn't a tiny stream. This was the Jordan River at flood stage.

Have you ever seen a river at flood stage?

A few years ago, I joined my daughter for a school trip on the banks of the Frio River. Thankfully, we weren't there to see the river in the same condition as the Jordan was when the priests stepped into it. But as I walked along the edges of a canyon carved out of the Texas countryside, it wasn't hard to imagine what it must be like. At the top of a canyon that was about twenty feet deep and forty feet across, there were remnants of previous flood waters. Trees and grass were filled with debris left there by a fast flowing current. If I had seen the river that day and heard the Lord say, "Go stand in it," I wonder if I could have been so brave.

Lord, sometimes I feel like You are asking me to stand in a raging river. We live in a society that races past us. Debris is everywhere. Wherever we turn, there are temptations. Sex is used to sell anything and everything. Materialism is highly honored. And as a Christian, I am called to go against the flow - to be still and know that You are God. Help me to have the strength and courage it takes to step into the raging current of the world. Hold me up so I might stand. Help me to see the truth: the river is piled in a heap, and You are with me - on dry ground.

July 22, 2005

God's Choice

That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses. Joshua 4:14

It isn't easy to step into someone else's shoes.

Moses led the people through some very troubling times, yet despite their grumbling, the Israelites knew he was the leader of God's choice. For Joshua to take the reins, it would require something pretty dramatic - almost as dramatic as crossing the Red Sea.

And that's what God did.

God again held back raging waters and dried up the land for the people, allowing them safe passage. Keeping His promise to Joshua, the people would never question God's choice.

Lord, I want to be a man of Your choice. When the day comes for me to lead, help me to trust that You will do whatever is necessary to establish my position in the Body. Prepare me - just as You prepared Joshua. Teach me Your ways, so others might follow.

July 23, 2005

First Person?

Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites. Joshua 5:1

The Bible is fascinating. There is no other book like it. This amazing collection of books written over the span of so many years is the inspired Word of God. Although many different men put pen to paper, the Spirit guided each and every stroke. Knowing this, I am stuck this morning on one word.

So far in the Book of Joshua, the writer has shared an amazing account of how God paved the way for the Israelites to enter the promised land. The story has been told in the third person - by someone reflecting upon the experiences of someone else.

All of a sudden, one word is used that changes the story. It is the word "we."

"Until we had crossed over..."

The author used a first person pronoun. Later in the chapter, he writes, "For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us..." There! He did it again.

"We" and "us" both indicate the author is in the story. He must be experiencing what is being read.

Lord, You Word is such a gift. Where else can one find a first hand account of history? I'm not quite sure what You want me to learn from the Word today, but this I know: it is real. These are not fairly tales. Thank You for the reminder. Help me to continue on this journey with courage - knowing that the God who melted the hearts of Joshua's enemies will melt the hearts of mine when the time comes for me to seize Your promise. Thank You for giving me eyes to see what is written between the lines. Thank You for living with me beneath the surface.

July 24, 2005

Living in the Real World

"March around the city with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets." Joshua 6:3-4

Despite my struggle with perfectionism, I have real trouble with legalistic beliefs. Observing the Sabbath is one of those issues that I feel is easily distorted. No, it shouldn't be treated like any other day, but considering how Jesus stood up to the legalism of the Pharisees, I think we need to keep a balanced approach to it. The Sabbath was made for man - not man for the Sabbath.

The story of Jericho makes me question such a staunch approach to the Sabbath. For six days, the people were to march around Jericho. On the seventh day, God did not command them to rest. He commanded that they march even more - to shout - and to devote the city to God.

Devoting a city to God was not a restful proposition. It required killing every man, woman, child, and animal and taking all things of value, placing them in the Lord's treasury. If remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy required everything some say it does, how could God be causing His people to sin?

I believe God lives in the real world. He is much less worried about my every action than I am. Am I saying He doesn't care about my sin? By no means! But I think we sometimes make Him out to be something the world cannot understand.

Lord, help me to seek a relationship and to stop pursuing holiness in my own ability. Soften my heart. Make me forgiving of my shortcomings. Make me more like Christ. I want to live in the real world with You.

July 26, 2005

Undeserved Shame

Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel." Joshua 7:20a

Achan made a stupid choice. He allowed his greed to take control, and the entire community was defiled. The Lord withdrew Himself, and the tiny town of Ai routed the Israelites. Thirty-six men lost their lives due to the actions of one.

Have you ever felt like the weight of the entire world is on your shoulders? I can barely imagine how awful it must have been to have your sin revealed by God Himself. The terror Achan must have felt as the lots were cast selecting first his clan - his family - then himself. He knew what he had done. He could no longer hide.

Have you ever felt like Achan? Have you ever felt so ashamed that you truly believed every horrible thing in the world is your fault?

I have.

It isn't deserved. The entire world hasn't been defiled by my choices. My sin does not stand alone. Every man has fallen short of God's glory, so why do I try to carry the weight? The truth is - carrying the weight of the world was left to one man, and my attempts to carry the burden for the sins of others only reveals my arrogance.

Jesus died for Achan. Jesus died for me. He paid the price, so I could live. He established a covenant of life eternal.

Isn't it time I start living it?

Lord, forgive my pride. Forgive me for trying to carry crosses that are not my own. Only Jesus can carry them. Help me to receive the wonderful gift of Your grace. Help me to put down the weight of my sin. Help me to discover that amazing joy that come from You alone.

July 27, 2005

To Pick and Choose

Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law - the blessings and the curses - just as it is written in the Book of the Law. Joshua 8:34

The Word of God is sometimes difficult to accept, for it contains both blessings and curses. We cannot pick and choose. If God says something is wrong, it is wrong, regardless of the societal norm. Too many in the church today seem to water down the Word. They try to make right what God said is not.

At the same time, there are many who water down the Gospel of Christ. He came to save the lost. His grace covers all who will receive it - even those who accept the norms of society.

A few weeks ago, I went with my wife and daughter to our local 4th of July parade. There were floats from various organizations, businesses, and churches. The crowd cheered as groups scurried past. It was like any other celebration - vibrant and exciting.

Interestingly, when one float passed by, there was an odd hush that washed over the crowd enjoying the festivities. A nicely decorated trailer rolled down the street with a big sign on the front displaying a name: Metropolitan Community Church. Several young ladies ran through the crowd passing out tracks to share what they believed. Those on the float carried signs with phrases like "Child of God" and "Gay Christian." This was one of those awkward "in your face" moments when those who accept the gay lifestyle demand to be noticed.

But it raises a question.

Can a Christian be gay?

My response is another question. Can a Christian be a sinner? Every sinner deserves hell, regardless of the sin. Can we pick and choose who receives God's grace?

Lord, help me to stand up for what is right without disregarding Your grace. Thank You for dying so all might live. If Your grace cannot cover the sins of the MCC, I would be lost. Give me a heart that loves sinners.

Help me to not pick and choose.

July 30, 2005

Ask Him First!

The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Joshua 9:14

It seems that one of the biggest lessons to learn in life is to turn to God first. We should inquire of Him early and often. But we seem to go from decision to decision thinking we can do it on our own.

The Israelites should have learned after Ai that they didn't know enough by themselves. Achan's sin defiled the community, and a little town pushed back an army. If they had asked beforehand, thirty-six men would not have died. Weren't the casualties enough to teach them to ask the Lord before moving forward?

Obviously not. The Gibeonites deceived them.

The Israelite leaders listened to tales of a long journey to meet with them. They even took the time to sample dry and moldy bread. But not once did anyone think to say, "Maybe we should pray about this."

Sometimes I don't turn to the Lord as I should. You would think I might have learned by now: the times I ask for help, I always receive it. Yet, there are times when I think I know enough, and I race ahead of Him. All the signs indicate what I believe to be the correct choice, but have I inquired of the One who knows?

Father, help me to hear Your voice. Help me to not simply taste the provisions before deciding my next move, but draw me into that secret place where truth is revealed. From little things to big, help me to know You way. Show me the path, so I might walk it with You.

Will You pick me up and carry me for awhile?

July 31, 2005

Let Him Do the Fighting

All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. Joshua 10:42

When the Lord fights for us, nothing can stand in our way!

Joshua subdued an entire region of the promised land in one campaign. He was clearly a great military strategist, but his best strategy wasn't what he knew, it was Who.

The God of Israel fought for them.

From giant hailstones to interrupting the earth's orbit for a day, God would do whatever it took to see His children succeed with His plans for them. If I had lived in Canaan, I think I would have packed up my family and left!

Lord, why do I not trust You as I should? You plans will succeed. There is nothing You won't do to make them happen. Give me strength and courage to pursue Your will. Help me to remember the day the sun stood still simply because Joshua asked for it.

About July 2005

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

June 2005 is the previous archive.

August 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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