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March 2006 Archives

March 1, 2006

Faithless

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I have so many dreams. I have hopes for a future filled with amazing things - the chance to see God reveal Himself on a daily basis through changed lives, through a full pursuit of Him, through a world that has been changed by compassion.

But will this ever happen?

Lately, I've questioned my passion. I've questioned my strength. I've questioned my ability. Truthfully, these are important issues, but they don't come close to addressing the problem. The thing I lack is...

Faith.

Lord, I confess that my fear about the future too often gets in the way. I don't trust You. No matter how often You have proven Yourself faithful, I seem to prove myself faithless. From money to time to the support of those around me - so often I falter. Help me to reach out to You when I have no faith. Quiet my spirit. Send peace. Help me to pass the test.

March 12, 2006

The Greatest Joy

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:17

Sometimes, I am guilty of trying to use the Spirit for my own purposes. When I feel in way over my head - when I don't think I can accomplish the tasks before me, my most common prayer (and likely the shortest of all) is: "Help!"

Oh, the Spirit takes great joy in helping the saints. He is all about bringing strength for weakness, wisdom for ignorance, and peace for fear. But the greatest joy He gets is helping us to know the Father. Besides redemption, the greatest gift Jesus gave us was a glimpse of the Father. Living a life in the Father's presence, we are enveloped in His light. All the things of this world with which we struggle are nothing when we truly know Him.

Father, I have been walking through my days wondering where I am going. All I want is to be with You. Spirit, help me to know the Father better than I do. Thank You for Your wonderful provision. I love you, Lord.

March 13, 2006

The Wrong Side of the Tracks

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

I hate feeling like an outsider. If there is anything I resent, it is feeling that someone looks down upon me because I don't measure up to their standard - to their status in society. Being born on one side of the tracks versus the other has nothing to do with one's value and worth.

Who is admired more? The man who succeeds despite his meager upbringing or the one who is given every privilege that wealth and position can offer?

The truth is: we are all born on the wrong side of the tracks. And nothing we do can buy us a home on the other side! The only way to live in the mansion is to be adopted by the owner. No man can pick himself up by his own boot straps. No amount of effort can establish his place. Only the work of the Master can let him live on the inside. Only the blood of Christ paves the way.

Lord, help me to fully understand that I am no longer an outsider. Help me live as an insider does. Help me to show others how to get across the tracks. I want to enjoy You. I want to bring joy to You.

March 14, 2006

"You are going to do WHAT?!"

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10-11

It must have been amazing!

Since the beginning of time, God's rules had been fairly plain: Sin leads to death.

Lucifer started a battle, and the Father cast him out of heaven. Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, and they were banished from Eden. The Israelites rebelled time and time again, and eventually the promised land was taken from them.

Those is heaven thought they understood what God had in mind.

Then He became a man.

He entered the fallen place and redeemed it.

He became nothing, and He chose the very ones who had rebelled against Him to tell the world about His plan. It would have been interesting to hear the questions in heaven. "You are going to do WHAT?!"

How amazing it must have been!

Lord, Your grace is worthy of sharing. Help me to tell the story of Your redemption - not so much in words, but by the way I live. Let others be amazed by Your eternal purposes in me. Give me the strength to endure.

March 16, 2006

Futility of Thinking

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. Ephesians 4:17

There is a great difference between friendly counsel and insistence. With counsel, freedom is granted to decide as one sees fit. Insistence, however, brings with it an expectation. If any other choice is made, disappointment will most certainly result.

In his letters, the Apostle Paul urges many things. Rarely does he say, "I insist!" In this passage, however, his friendly counsel is replaced with insistence. Interestingly, his insistence isn't about any type of physical action. There are plenty of times he said, "Stop gossiping! Stop stealing! Stop fighting! Stop chasing after your lusts!" But did he insist upon these things?

Paul had a knack for hating the sin and loving the sinner. Perhaps, it is due to his own sin. He considered himself the worst of all sinners because he persecuted the church. At the center of Paul's theology is a primary theme: God's grace. God's grace covers all our choices - even the bad ones. It wasn't like Paul to say, "Do this because I said so!" This time was unique, and his insistence wasn't about what one "does" but what one "thinks."

Futility of thinking won't get us anywhere.

Will I ever overcome my sin if I continue to think I will never overcome it?

Will I ever realize the calling on my life if I cannot comprehend the hope of what God has given me?

How I think controls who I am. How I think controls who I become.

Lord, my whole life has been plagued by futility of thinking. How did I become such a pessimist about myself when I am so often optimistic about others? I can see a wonderful future for so many other people, but I struggle to believe it for me. You have great plans. Help me to see it. Help me to believe it. Help me to think it.

March 17, 2006

Not even a hint...

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Ephesians 5:3

"Not even a hint..." This passage makes me feel ashamed over my imperfection. There is no way I can say there is not even a hint of impurity in my life. What I hear Paul saying is: the smallest blemish spoils the whole batch, and I so long to be acceptable in God's eyes. I shudder at the thought of trying to be completely pure. My only hope is in the blood of Christ.

Lord, I will never be pure without You. Until the day I die, I will struggle to stay away from the darkness. But that doesn't mean I should quit trying. Every day the sun sets and it is night. Yet every morning the light comes again. Help me to walk in holiness. Give me an understanding of Your grace that covers every impurity.

March 25, 2006

Becoming a Target

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

Faith not only strengthens us, it protects us. No matter what the enemy might throw at us, it is faith that keeps us safe.

Isn't it interesting, however, that oftentimes our faith is what draws the attention of the enemy?

Paul challenges us to take up the shield of faith. It stands to reason that the greater the faith, the larger the shield. So like a huge banner, great faith makes us a target!

Think about it. A soldier can easily hide from the enemy if he is camoflauged, but how long would he last on the battlefield if he were to carry around a bright yellow sign? How ridiculous!

Yet this is what faith does for us. We are protected, but we are no longer hidden. The moment we drop the shield of faith, we are vulnerable to the enemy's attack. Once we pick up this shield, we have no option; we cannot put it down.

Lord, I made a decision recently to take up a shield of faith. My fears over money have deep roots. You and I both know that I don't give as I should. But I am trying to lay down my fear and give to You - first. Am I giving ten percent? Not yet. Like a daily devotion, sometimes it takes a little step at a time. Five minutes can become fifteen, which can become an hour. Help me to be consistent in my giving, despite the financial arrows - the financial missiles - that keep coming my way. Giving would be easy if my finances were completely under control, but would it require much faith? Help me to carry this bright yellow shield without fear. When the enemy sees me, give me the courage to stand.

(Oh... and it wouldn't hurt to send the financial blessings You promise... Okay?)

March 26, 2006

My Greatest Regret

And they praised God because of me. Galatians 1:24

The Apostle Paul's story isn't a nice one. He persecuted the church. When Stephen, the first martyr for the church, was murdered, Paul was there. He traveled from town to town searching for the early Christians simply to turn them over to the authorities. Paul was a zealot for his faith but an enemy of the One True God. Yet he became a man who embraced the gospel of Christ - even to the point of death. When others heard his story, they praised God because of him.

I wonder how Paul felt. Did he experience regret over the man he was before? Did he feel proud of the man he had now become?

In truth, we all have stories that bring praise to God. The question is: how will we respond? Will we live our days weighed down with regret over our past? Or will we grab hold of the new man in Christ - living for today and tomorrow?

Lord, I know there are many who would praise You because of me. The stories of the man I was before, like Paul's, are not very nice. Did I persecute the church? No. But my actions made me Your enemy.

I think my greatest regret isn't so much the story, but the timing. Others have amazing testimonies of redemption from worldly lives - of how You reached into their pit of sin and saved them from a life of spiritual ignorance. Having been raised in the church and accepting the gospel as a child, my greatest sins have been with full knowledge of Your grace. How many times have I played the hypocrite - standing up in church on Sunday morning after a week of sinful failure? I fear that if some were to hear my story, their reaction would be disgust and anger rather than praise.

The fact is - my story is all too common.

Every Christian struggles with sin. Every Christian needs to understand the depth of Your grace - especially for willful sin committed with full knowledge of the gospel. Give me the chance, Father, to bring praise to You. Help me to be the new man You have created me to be, so others can find hope for themselves.

March 27, 2006

Boldness

"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:21

If I knew that a famous Christian leader was in the wrong, would I have the courage to tell him? The Apostle Paul did.

No matter how many times I have read this passage in Galatians, I haven't captured the full weight of Paul's words. My view changed when I noticed one simple thing that is easy to overlook, a quotation mark.

The last eight verses in this chapter are Paul's recollection of a public conversation he had with the Apostle Peter. For some reason, I have always felt Paul was simply sharing his theology with the early church, but he was recounting his words to Peter, one who had walked with Christ.

Could I tell Peter that he was acting in such a way that negated Jesus' death on the cross? I wonder how Peter responded. It must have been quite a conversation!

Lord, I want to have the boldness of Paul. I want to have the courage to stand up for truth. Make me a righteous man, worthy of speaking the truth without concern of judgment.

March 28, 2006

It'll Never Be Enough!

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Galatians 3:5

I know a man who is constantly defeated by his sin. Though he claims to have a belief in God's grace, he tends to put too much emphasis on his personal righteousness. The smallest infraction can devastate him for weeks at a time.

As an outside observer, it is easy to see that he keeps forgetting God's promise. This man has somehow learned that his faith isn't enough - that God doesn't really come through for those who believe. It truly breaks my heart.

What breaks my heart the most is how much my friend is a reflection of who I was. For so many years, I lived in that amusement park. Life was one up-and-down ride after another. God's grace was never enough to save me. Only by observing the law perfectly could I ever be worthy of His love.

Lord, the Law could save me if I could follow it. Yet I am a man in need of grace. Help my friend to see the truth. Help him to see how much You love him. Christ died so we would not. Thank You for changing my heart.

March 29, 2006

The Highest Bidder

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7

Slavery is not something to which middle class Americans can relate. Oh, we can watch scenes in a movie and be appalled by the treatment of a slave, but can we perceive the terror of standing on the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder?

Consider a man, stolen from his home, standing on the auction block, shackeled in chains, awaiting his fate, and unsure of his future. How crazy would it be to ask this man, "Which master will you choose?"

One master is known for beating his slaves. Another, for starving his - even to the point of death. Still another is famous for working his slaves relentlessly.

What if another master paraded before the block. He himself is bound in chains and bloodied by whips. This master offers something different. He promises to care for the man. He promises to not only set him free but to adopt him as a son.

Which master would the man choose?

We have the same opportunity - to choose our Master. Will we choose slavery to the world, which promises abuse, starvation, and death? Or will we choose to serve the One who has promised to set us free - to adopt us and care for us eternally?

Lord, it is so easy to believe that freedom can only come through our own attempts to escape. But all it takes is choosing You. You paid the greatest price. You are the Highest Bidder. Thank You for choosing me.

March 30, 2006

Living Above the Rules

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16

"It's too hard! I just can't do it! There is no way I can do this on my own!"

How many times do we say these things? Trying to follow all of God's rules will always end in defeat. There is no way we can achieve righteousness in our own strength. Our only hope is living by the Spirit. He is not under the law; the rules simply don't apply to Him.

In some mystical and supernatural way, He IS the perfect law. He IS perfect love. He IS perfect righteousness. Living our lives in Him means that we no longer need the rules.

We simply want Him!

Lord, I'm going to quit trying and start living. The stress of this world - of living up to the rules and expectations of others is so overwhelming. Help me to become a man who doesn't need the rules because I simply live above them.

March 31, 2006

Ridiculous Expectations

Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

Would a farmer plant soy beans and expect to harvest corn?

How ridiculous is that?!

So why do we expect that we can plant seeds of evil, yet reap good results? If I spend all my time focused on worldly things, how can I expect the Holy Spirit to guide my every step?

Lord, thank You for being patient with me. For the past few months I've been so caught up in the demands of life that I haven't been sowing as I should. It's not that I am planting wrong seeds. Sometimes, I'm just not planting at all. Help me to sow for Your pleasure. Help me to tend the fields, then let's enjoy the harvest together.

About March 2006

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in March 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2006 is the previous archive.

April 2006 is the next archive.

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

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