« November 2005 | Main | January 2006 »

December 2005 Archives

December 9, 2005

The Only Way to Remain

Now all this has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Why is it that one spends an entire lifetime chasing what cannot be grasped when all he really needs is at his fingertips?

Happiness, success, achievement, growth, love, acceptance... These are the things for which every man longs. Can he hold them in such a way that they will never be stripped away from him? Eventually, whatever happiness he feels will fade. Success and achievement will be forgotten. Growth will cease. Love and acceptance will become conditional. There is nothing in this life that will remain.

So what is it that lies within reach? What is it that is always available, yet so often disregarded?

That which lies before us is the very One who made us. He is all that will last beyond all tomorrows. We will only remain at His command.

Lord, lately I have been so caught up in the moments of today that it seems I have lost sight of what is important for tomorrow. All my striving to make a difference isn't going to mean much someday. The only way that the work of my hands will last is if it is done for You - for You are the only One who transcends time. Something placed in Your hand will never rust or decay, for what You hold is timeless. Following Your will is the only way I can make a lasting difference. Help me to know the steps to take - the mountains to climb and the valleys to plant. There is purpose for all that we do. Others can and will be blessed by what we do here.

Make me a blessing.

December 13, 2005

Misguided Loyalty

Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, "For some time you have wanted to make David your king. Now do it! For the Lord promised David, 'By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'" 2 Samuel 3:17

Abner is an interesting Biblical character. The cousin of Saul, the commander of the king's army - he was a strong warrior who commanded attention. When he spoke, others listened.

But did he?

Did he listen when the One who commands the most attention spoke?

The Lord made it clear: David was His choice as Saul's successor. Abner knew this. Yet he fought for the house of Saul. Unwavered, he stood against David's rule until it was apparent that Ish-Bosheth, Saul's son, was too weak to rule.

Why did he hang on for so long? Why was Abner so loyal to a cause that he knew was not the will of God?

Lord, help me to listen and follow. I don't want to be like Abner who knew the truth and stood against it. Let my loyalties be to You and You alone.

December 20, 2005

Who's on your side?

They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and Baanah slipped away. 2 Samuel 4:6

Saul's kingdom was gone.

His son Ish-Bosheth had been made king at the behest of Saul's cousin Abner. But Abner lay dead at the hand of David's nephew Joab, who had avenged the death of his younger brother Asahel. Now, Ish-Bosheth was dead - killed by two men from his own tribe - two men he trusted.

What a miserable scene!

Interestingly, these two brothers, Recab and Baanah, felt they could benefit from their handiwork. Taking the head of Ish-Bosheth to David, I'm sure they expected great accolade. Instead, they met a man whose heart for Saul and his family remained unchanged. David loved Saul; he was God's first anointed king. Saul's son Jonathan was his dearest friend. Despite the years of hiding from Saul's rage, David respected the king - the position and the person. These brothers, so proud of their accomplishment, quickly met their death by David's command.

This story says a lot to me about the character of two men - not the brothers Recab and Baanah, but about the brothers-in-law, Ish-Bosheth and David.

David surrounded himself with men who would die for him. Ish-Bosheth chose leaders who turned against him at the first sign of trouble. Ish-Bosheth ruled a kingdom given to him by his father's cousin, the leader of the king's army. David ruled a kingdom given to him by the very King Himself. Ish-Bosheth trusted in his own name. David trusted in the Name of Another.

In the end, the only hope we have is in God's choice. No position, no title, no lineage will remain.

Lord, help me to be like David. Place me where You want me to be, then give me the wisdom to surround myself with men who Love You.

December 21, 2005

Listen and Move!

"As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army." 2 Samuel 5:24

David was finally the king of all Israel. For almost eight years, he had ruled over the tribe of Judah, and for the first time in years, God's children were united. No longer could the people do as they each saw fit. Under one king, Israel would soon experience what has been called their "golden age" - a time of unprecedented growth and prosperity.

One of David's first encounters as king of Israel was with an old enemy, the Philistines. His actions in this battle provide a good indication of why Israel would succeed. Their king was fully committed to God, and there is much we could learn from him.

First, David inquired of the Lord. He asked the questions, "Should I fight this battle? If so, when and how?" The key to David's victory in this matter was in the Lord's response.

God commanded two things: to listen and to move quickly. Once God's army could be heard in the rustling of the balsam trees, it was time to act.

The only sure way of victory is to hear and to obey.

Lord, life in recent weeks hasn't felt victorious. Oh, I don't feel defeated. But I don't really feel successful either. Have I been inquiring of You? Not as much as I should have. More than that, I don't think I have been listening to the balsam trees, and I don't know if I have been ready to act.

Give me ears to hear and feet to respond.

December 22, 2005

Mere Furniture

When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 2 Samuel 6:6

Uzzah's death is somewhat perplexing. Why would God strike him dead for reaching out his hand to keep the ark of the covenant from falling to the ground? Would it be more reverent to witness the ark as it smashed to bits?

The ark of the covenant had been in the home of Uzzah's father for nearly a century. He had to knew better. No one was to touch it!. God sees the heart; He knew Uzzah's thoughts. Could it be that Uzzah had grown to see the ark as a mere piece of furniture in his father's household?

More perplexing than Uzzah's death is something that isn't as obvious at first glance: Why was the ark being moved on a new cart drawn by oxen? The is the manner in which the Philistines sent it back to Israel. Is this how the Israelites should treat it?

The ark was designed to be carried by the priests. Every time it went before the nation of Israel - either through the desert, across the Jordan River, or into some great battle - the ark was carried. Why now had David decided to move the ark as one would move a piece of furniture?

David was angered by Uzzah's death. Then he grew afraid. I wonder if he came to realize his part in this untimely incident. Obviously, he learned something from this. When he commanded that the ark be moved again on the final leg of its journey to Jerusalem, it was carried by men - not by oxen.

Lord, help me to always show proper reverence for the articles of Your temple. Today, You dwell within the hearts of men. The articles of worship are our very bodies. Do I take care of myself as I should? Do I honor others? We are more than mere furniture! Teach me Your ways, so I might follow.

December 26, 2005

Undeserved Blessing

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?" 2 Samuel 7:18

God promised David that he had a future. There would be rest from his enemies. His family would hold onto the throne. Eventually, One from David's bloodline would establish a lasting kingdom.

Did David deserve this?

Hardly!

He was far from perfect. Yet God loved him - just as he was. The truth is: no one deserves to go very far in this life. If I had received what I am due, I would have been struck down long ago.

Lord, who am I that You have brought me this far? There are so many ways that I have fallen short, but there is no distance I could fall that cannot be spanned by Your grace. Pour out blessing on my children and my children's children. Establish a mighty work for Your kingdom through my descendants. Shine Your light for generations to come. Bring them far, so You may be glorified.

December 27, 2005

The Finest Spoils

King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued. 2 Samuel 8:11

Do we give credit where credit is due?

David knew from where his strength and power came. It was only by God's choice that David subdued the nations formerly at war with Israel. In some instances, entire armies were killed. In others, some were allowed to live. They quickly chose to serve David, for death was their only other option.

In all instances, David dedicated the finest spoils to the Lord. God's hand delivered riches to David, and David felt it would be best for them to stay there.

Lord, there are many enemies in my life that have been subdued during the past year. Fear, doubt, depression, uncontrolled lust, self-hatred - these are but a few of the enemies that have crossed the borders and attacked me for so many years. Yet in their place, You have handed me courage, belief, joy, self-control, and self-acceptance. The finest spoils are the strength and confidence I now feel more often than weakness and uncertainty. There are still enemy factions that hate me; they will never leave me alone in this life. With Your help, I can subdue them. Make them my servants.

To You, O Lord, I want to dedicate the most precious treasures. Take my heart. Hold it in Your hand. Make me a man fully dedicated to You.

December 28, 2005

The Secret of Success

The Ziba said to the king, "Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons. 2 Samuel 9:11

Is there a secret to success?

Ziba is an interesting character in the Bible who seemed to learn a secret: It is sometimes better to live as a humble servant than as a conquering king.

Ziba was a servant in King Saul's household. After the death of his master, he seemed to be doing pretty well for himself. He had fifteen sons and twenty servants of his own. Yet one day, the new king summoned him and gave him a new job. He was now given the responsibility, along with his sons, to serve Mephibosheth, the grandson of his former master, King Saul.

If I had been in Ziba's shoes, I might have been a tad resentful. Here I am, succeeding on my own, and the new boss assigns me to take care of my old boss' grandson! Yet Ziba didn't hesitate. He accepted the assignment willingly, without complaint.

Eventually, Ziba's humility paid off. The land that King David gave back to Mephibosheth, the land that Ziba was now charged to work, would one day be given to Ziba and his sons. Ziba's faithfulness as a servant was awarded with an inheritance for future generations.

Lord, help me to faithfully accept the tasks I am assigned. Make me a servant who willingly carries out my job - knowing that someday it might be rewarded. Chasing success is never as successful as quietly achieving it. Let me be seen as one who succeeded by serving You.

December 29, 2005

Bad Advice

So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments in the middle of the buttocks and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:4

New leaders should always be careful about the advice they choose to follow. Hanun was the new king of the Ammonites, and he had a great deal to learn about who he should trust and who he shouldn't. His father and David apparently had a cordial relationship. His own relationship with Israel, however, wouldn't be as nice.

Following the death of Hanun's father, David sent an entourage to pay his respects. Unfortunately, those David sent as an act of kindness, returned humiliated as suspected spies. Hanun had listened to the advice of his nobles who suggested that David's men were there under false pretense - that their real intention was to spy out the land in order to overthrow it.

There is an important lesson here. If a mighty king sends a group of men to you to express kindness, be careful about questioning his motive. Regardless of his original intent, treating his delegation with contempt will most certainly determine his future treatment of you.

Lord, help me to make wise choices when I am given opportunities for new alliances. Give me the ability to weed out the bad advice, so I don't bring a bad situation from good.

About December 2005

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

November 2005 is the previous archive.

January 2006 is the next archive.

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

Powered by
Movable Type 3.31