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October 2005 Archives

October 1, 2005

God is Watching Us

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10

I have always loved the story of how God called Samuel in the middle of the night. It is a story I can remember reading as a boy hoping He would call me too. As a boy, I imagined hearing God's voice. I couldn't tell you how many times I have read this story.

How could I miss the most important detail?

In my mind, I have always pictured God calling down to Samuel. There he was, a young boy sleeping in the room with the ark of the covenant, and God's voice can be heard from above calling to him: "Samuel! Samuel!" But the picture I have in my mind is wrong. God was not some amazing voice that strangely came from the ceiling.

The detail I have missed so many times is this: "The Lord came and stood there." God was not some mystical voice. He was standing there in the room, calling out to Samuel.

How many times, Lord, have You stood at the foot of my bed calling out my name? You are not some distant entity who calls to Your children from afar. It excites me and terrifies me to consider how many times You have stood watching me sleep. Give me ears to hear You. Give me the courage to say, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."

October 6, 2005

Honoring God

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. "A god has come into the camp," they said, "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert." 1 Samuel 4:6b-8

The Israelites had the opportunity to be a witness of the One True God, and they blew it.

The Philistines gave credit for the plagues in Egypt to some unknown group of gods; the truth of God's deliverance for His children had been lost somewhere along the way. My guess is that the Israelites were not living in a way that the world would know of God's intervention. Every man did as he saw fit, and God received no glory.

I wonder if the world would have been drawn to a place of repentance - if only Israel had honored God. Their lives didn't reflect God, so how could the world have seen Him?

Lord, we so easily forget the impact we could have on the world if we were to honor You. There is no way the lost can be saved unless they are drawn to Your feet. Help me to live a life that causes others to say, "Look at the work of God's hands. Only the One True God could have done this!" Help me to show others the way.

May You be glorified today.

October 9, 2005

Proof

When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, "The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god." 1 Samuel 5:7

The men of Ashdod were smart enough to see what God was doing to them, yet they were blind where it really counts. Why didn't anyone stop and question the fact that they had never before seen a god bow down to their own god Dagon. Two nights in a row, the idol they worshipped fell prostrate before the ark of the covenant. The second night, Dagon's hands and head had been placed on the threshold of the temple. Why didn't they ask, "Could it be that the god of the Israelites is the One True God?"

How is it that the truth of God's existence so easily eludes those who belong to the world? A great disaster can befall our country, and many will call it an act of God. Their own words betray them, yet the existence of God is still debated.

Lord, heal our blindness. The proof of Your presence in the world stands before us, and still many are lost. What can I do to spread the truth? How can I share the stories of Your grace and mercy? Continue to build in me a testimony of Your great and wonderful love. Take my head and my hands - my thoughts and my actions, and bring glory to Your name. Help me to fall prostrate before You.

You are real! The world needs to know!

October 11, 2005

Curiosity Killed the Cat

But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. 1 Samuel 6:19a

Who hasn't heard the saying: "Curiosity killed the cat."? We know better, but sometimes we just have to see what we have been told to avoid.

Since they were little boys, every man in Israel must have wondered about the ark of the covenant. Who wouldn't? This amazing box was built by Bezalel himself, the great craftsman chosen by God to oversee the building of the tabernacle.

Seven months after the ark had been stolen by the Philistines, it miraculously appeared. There was great excitement, yet the elation soon turned to grief. Seventy men from Beth Shemesh let their curiosity take control, and it cost their very lives.

They must have known what could happen. The was God's mercy seat! And they treated it with contempt.

Since they were little boys, every man in American has wondered about it. The human body, the intrigue of a salacious picture... Unfortunately, too many little boys in our day are pulled into secrets that can someday leave them empty and alone. Ask any sex addict. Most can remember finding some hidden "stash" around the age of seven.

We need to protect our children! We need to protect ourselves! God will not withhold His wrath from those who treat His dwelling place with contempt.

Now, He dwells in the hearts of man.

Lord, curiosity can be a good thing if it motivates us to seek You. Too often, I am curious about those things that I know to be off-limits. Help me to treat Your dwelling place with respect.

October 13, 2005

Put Away?

So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashteroths, and served the Lord only. 1 Samuel 7:4

Israel had finally grown weary. The people decided that seeking after the Lord was better than living as each one saw fit. Samuel challenged the people to rid themselves of the foreign gods they had worshipped for so long; the people turned back to God and served Him only.

Interestingly, this passage does not say the people destroyed the foreign gods. It merely says they "put away their Baals and Ashteroths."

Now, wait a minute.

"Put away"?

When I hear these words, my mind thinks of putting something in its proper storage place. Why didn't the writer say they "rid themselves of" or they "destroyed" the Baals and Ashteroths? To simply say they "put away" these things tells me that these gods were tucked away in some closet somewhere. To serve God only, aren't we supposed to purge the sinful things that we worship?

This raises an interesting question. Should an idol be destroyed, or can it merely be put away? Inanimate objects are not inherently evil. The only thing that makes them sinful is the value we place upon them. An individual may spend all his time worshipping a television set; does it mean he should remove it from his house altogether? Can a person who worships food stop eating? Should a person who struggles with sex become a celibate? God doesn't usually call us to ascetic lives. He calls us to follow Him - to place our highest value on our relationship with His Son.

Jesus, help me to put away the things that keep me from You. Some things should be destroyed. Some things can be put in their proper place. Help me to serve You only. Be real to me today.

October 14, 2005

A Son's Way

But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 1 Samuel 7:17

What is a father to do if his son chooses a wrong path? Every son will forge his own way, but what can a father do if that path leads to the sad emptiness of a worldly life?

Samuel witnessed the sadness Eli the priest experienced when his sons didn't walk in their father's way - the ways of the Lord. Eventually, his sons died in a battle with the Philistines in which the ark of the covenant was stolen. Samuel saw all this, yet his own sons followed suit - pursuing the ways of the world.

If I am honest, I sometimes question the character of a man based upon the actions of his son. I might wonder what kind of a man he is if his son has wandered so far from the truth.

The fact is: Every man possesses a free will. The most any father can do is to reach out in love and pray for the Spirit's intervention.

Lord, my heart is heavy this morning. I have a friend whose son has not followed Your way. My friend knows mistakes were made, and now he would do anything to make amends. Unfortunately, his son is now a man who must make his own choices. And now, as a man, he refuses to hear his father's attempts to speak to love him. How do I help him? What do I need to say that will bring healing to this broken relationship? What can be done to bring this son back to You?

Holy Spirit, intervene in the lives of sons where fathers may have failed them. Entire generations have been lost because fathers haven't sought Your solution. You are the only answer. Help ours sons to see You - to turn to You - to live for You.

October 15, 2005

Enough to Make Your Head Spin

So the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, "Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion, from the time I said, 'I have invited guests.'" And Saul dined with Samuel that day. 1 Samuel 9:24

Saul's head must have been spinning. Here he was, probably a bit dirty and tired from searching for his father's donkeys for three days. He had run out of food and was unsure about what he should do next. Out of the blue, Samuel the seer invited him to lunch, seated him at the head of the table, and gave him the choicest meat from the sacrifice. He must have thought, "What in the world is happening?"

Saul didn't know what would happen the very next day. He didn't know that within twenty-four hours he would be anointed as the first king of Israel. Samuel knew. And Samuel prepared a place for Saul.

We may not know what God has in store for us. Tomorrow, He could make me a king if He would so choose. None of us really knows what He might do next. The thing I do know, however, is that He has prepared a place for me.

Jesus, to think that You have not only invited me to sit at Your table - but that You have prepared the choicest of meats for me, the finest of blessings - it makes my head spin. How could You love me so? Help me to live a life that is worthy of Your preparation - worthy of Your sacrifice. I long to serve You in the way You choose. Give me the strength and courage to get there.

October 16, 2005

A Different Person

"The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person." 1 Samuel 10:6

Overnight, Saul became a different person. He went from being insignificant - a Benjamite, a mere man from the smallest tribe of Israel, to being the first king of God's choosing. He couldn't see it. He couldn't understand it. He didn't know what it would require. Yet his entire being had changed.

What man doesn't wish he could change who he is? Every man has failed at becoming the man he thought he should be. The problem is: every man has his own picture in mind. Without God's vision - without God's action, no man will become what was intended.

Lord, I am becoming a different person. Every day, I feel as if I am not the man I once was, but I don't understand the person I have become. Like Saul, I fear I will simply go about my business as if nothing had changed.

Send Your Spirit. Come upon me with power, so I can be made new. Give me Your vision for the future. Open the doors for a joint ministry with my wife that will change the world.

October 17, 2005

I Give Up!

But Nahash the Ammonite replied, "I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on Israel." 1 Samuel 11:2

The men of Jabesh Gilead proposed the easy solution. They were willing to simply surrender their city when Nahash the Ammonite besieged them. They felt that serving him would be better than fighting for their freedom. The truth was: surrendering would bring great disgrace upon all of Israel. Nahash planned to gouge out the right eye of everyone who lived there.

Surrendering to the enemy - giving in when he presses in upon us, may seem like the simple solution at times, but the price he asks is far too great.

Lord, I have somehow convinced myself that sometimes surrendering to the enemy - giving in to his temptations - would be better than fighting him. But the price is too high! He knows the distance I have traveled. He knows the success that lies ahead of me, and he can't stand it. Is there anyone who will fight for me? Hurry to save me. I need Your Spirit. I need Your Body.

I surrender to You, Lord Jesus.

October 18, 2005

For the Sake of His Name

"For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own." 1 Samuel 12:22

I am so thankful that God is faithful. For the sake of His own name, He will not reject me. If His faithfulness were based upon mine, there would be no hope, for I am too often fickle. My heart chases momentary pleasures that will never fully satisfy.

Lord, lately I have longed to be where I used to be. I feel like a reformed smoker who wanders by the smoking section - just to smell the tobacco. My heart has been downcast, and I have contemplated the shortcuts to happiness.

Yet failing isn't an option. Returning to where I was isn't possible, for what I was, I am no longer.

You were pleased to make me Your own. You will never reject me - even if I were to fail You. But the pain that failure would cause - to You - to me - to those who love me - isn't worth the temporary escape from reality. Raise me up, so I can see the city beyond the horizon. Give me hope - not in my faithfulness, but in Your's alone.

You are great and mighty, Father. Hurry to meet me.

October 19, 2005

Stand Against the Fear

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 1 Samuel 13:7b

The true test of a leader isn't necessarily how he responds to a stressful situation, but how his followers react.

Saul's leadership as king of Israel seems rather questionable. When they were hard pressed by the Philistines, the men who had been hand picked to fight began to desert. Those who remained were paralyzed by fear.

A strong leader has an unusual ability to embrace the fear and encourage his men to stand strong - to trust in One greater than themselves. Saul's men could only see the Philistine's chariots and soldiers. What Saul failed to help them see was the God who would deliver them.

Father, I want to be a leader who helps others see You. Send Your Spirit so I can stand against the fear.

October 20, 2005

Step Out into the Open

Jonathan said, "Come, then; we will cross over toward the men and let them see us." 1 Samuel 14:8

Feeling compelled to face the enemy, Jonathan took his armor-bearer and headed to the Philistine outpost. Here he was, the oldest son of the king, the man who would have been king had his father not dishonored God, and he chose to leave the protection of the camp. It quickly became apparent that the Lord was guiding Jonathan, for he and his young armor-bearer killed some twenty Philistines who had taunted them. Their small effort to engage the enemy sparked a great confusion, and turmoil broke out within the Philistine army. God used the actions of two to bring about deliverance for Israel.

Although Jonathan knew God was with him, he did something that I'm not sure I could have done. He stepped out into the open. He could have chosen to secretly creep up on the enemy, staying hidden however possible. But the quickest way to reach the enemy was through the middle of a ravine; with a cliff on both sides, he would have been completely vulnerable, yet he didn't let that stop him. The Philistines could have easily killed these two tiny men who stepped into their sites.

If they had know what was going to happen, the Philistines would have been wise to take advantage of their position. But in their arrogance, they taunted Jonathan, and Jonathan knew the Lord had given them into his hand.

Father, why is it that the greatest victories come through making ourselves the most vulnerable? In order to heal, a cancer patient must face death by allowing medicine or radiation to kill good cells along with the bad. In order to heal, a broken man must allow his brokenness to be seen by those who can help. Help me to embrace my vulnerability. Help me to courageously step out into the open - to put myself in the enemy's sites. Then give me the strength to fight. Strengthen my armor-bearer, so he can kill the enemies who fall before me. Deliver us from this enemy who seems too great to conquer. No army can stand against You.

October 21, 2005

A Change of Plans

"But I did obey the Lord," Saul said. "I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal." 1 Samuel 15:20-21

Why do we ever try to reason our way out of disobedience? God knows. He knows exactly what He asked of us. He knows exactly what we did and didn't do. Yet somehow we believe He won't remember what He said.

God is not a man. When He sets an expectation, it will not be changed. Our attempts to change the plans are worthless. Our disobedience cannot be hidden from Him.

Lord, give me ears to hear Your commands and the strength to obey them completely. I have lived so much of my life in fear of others that I too often forget to fear You. Forgive my attempts to pursue Your will in my own way and not the way You planned.

Show me today what You plan. Help me to obey.

October 22, 2005

Seeing Inside

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Why are we so hung up on appearance? On the outside of a man? Do we take the time to look inside?

Looking inside is a frightening proposition. Inside a man, there is pain, confusion, uncontrolled desire. Do these things make him unworthy? How could it be that God sees beneath the surface and continues to think so much of us? The truth is: He was there when the pain was formed. He understands the confusion - how we were never taught appropriate responses by the adults in our life. No matter what we look like on the inside, He sees what He intended.

Lord, thank You for seeing what is inside of me and loving me still.

October 24, 2005

Racing into Battle

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 1 Samuel 17:48

David, a young shepherd boy, had more faith than any man in Israel's army, and he wasn't afraid to prove it. Goliath had been taunting Israel's army to fight him. Day after day, he laughed at the entire army. Day after day, the army cowered before him. But on this day, David entered the camp. He carried with him food for his brothers and a passion in his heart - a passion for the Most High God.

Upon hearing how Goliath mocked the armies of the living God, David could not stand back in silence. He pressed those in leadership to act, and they did nothing. He then volunteered for the assignment himself because he knew God would either fight for him or give him the strength he needed.

First, David dressed in Saul's armor. He could barely move. How could he fight the giant this way? Then David took a risk. He stripped off the armor, left his sword behind him, and hurried out to fight - just as he was. Plain old, ordinary David against a man who carried a spear with a tip the weight of a bowling ball... How could this work?

David knew something that we so often forget. God can use us more in battle when we strip away our protective gear - the secrets we keep, the guilt we carry, the shame we hide. He likes to use us just the way we are! The weight of these things only binds us and keeps us in the camp.

With complete freedom to simply be himself, David stepped up to the challenge. And with this freedom, he didn't merely enter the fight, he ran towards it. Why should he delay? He knew the result before the fight began.

Lord, I want the faith of David. I want the courage to strip off all my protections and to race into battle. Protect me from the spears of the enemy. Take the mere stones in my hand and slay the giant, so he can no longer taunt me.

October 25, 2005

I Could Never Afford It

They repeated these words to David. But David said, "Do you think it is a small matter to become the king's son-in-law? I'm only a poor man and little known." 1 Samuel 18:23

David was an amazingly talented, gifted, and well-known young man, yet he didn't seem to see it. Saul wanted David as his son-in-law. Of course, it was for the wrong reasons. Saul believed that the Philistines would try all the more to kill David if he was the son-in-law of the king. But David denied his fame. He denied his successes, and he seemed to focus only on what he lacked - money. How could he afford the price of the king's daughter?

It wasn't until Saul named the price, the foreskins of one hundred Philistines, that David felt he could pay what it would take. Battles, he understood. He had seen God provide the strength to slay tens of thousands. Why didn't he trust God would pay the price for the king's daughter, regardless of the cost?

Lord, like David, I know that I deny the man I am because of the things I lack. You have given me so much, yet I seem to lack the faith that You will pay the price. Help me to receive the position You bestow upon me. Give me the eloquence that is worthy of a son of the King.

October 30, 2005

We Can't Return

So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him back to Saul, and David was with Saul as before. 1 Samuel 19:7

Saul was out to kill David, and David knew it. Logic told him that it was time to flee, but his friend Jonathan convinced him to stay. Everything seemed alright. All seemed as it was before. David even played the harp for Saul as he once did, but in truth, Saul had become his enemy. David could not return to the way things were. Before long, Saul was again seeking to kill him.

Why do we think we can go back to the way things were when we know the enemy is out to kill us? God calls us out of a life of sin. He offers us a life of freedom and joy, but sometimes we long to return to how it once was. We would rather face the threat of the enemy, as long as we can live in our old, comfortable ways.

Lord, I know the enemy hates me, yet sometimes I long to let him pamper me. I long for my old life. It was known and comfortable. Yet, I know You have called me to more. Help me to flee the enemy. Help me to never return to his household. Protect me from his spears.

About October 2005

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

September 2005 is the previous archive.

November 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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