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July 2006 Archives

July 1, 2006

One of the Sick

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17

Jesus calls sinners. He calls the broken people, the outcasts, the ones that society despises.

Thankfully, He doesn't leave them in their brokenness. He offers them the healing that is needed - the renewal, the acceptance. He calls us to change. He calls us to grow. He calls us to help others heal.

Lord, thank You for coming to call me, one of the sick ones. But I cannot remain in my sickness. You will not allow it. Help me to be healthy. Help me to be the man You have made me to be. Help me to be the husband You have called me to be.

I need You.

July 2, 2006

Stand Up in Front!

Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone." Mark 3:2-3

The church leaders took great care to scrutinize every move Jesus made. It was their hope that they could find some small infraction in order to disrupt His work. They obviously majored in the minors! So much effort was placed on little things - nitpicky details that could destroy Jesus. It's sad to think that the religious community was so caught up in the details that they missed the Truth staring them in the face.

Jesus was not afraid of the details. I can almost imagine Him walking by the lead instigator and whispering, "Just watch this!" Before the leaders knew it, Jesus stood the man in the front of the entire group and healed him. It was as if He said, "Hey! You don't need to scrutinize every move I make. When I am doing My Father's work, you will know it!"

So why do we hide the Father's greatest healing work from public view? Ministries to those strugging with sin are hidden away in the basements of so many churches. Alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, and homosexuals are all relegated to the secret places in the church - far from the eyes of the "good" Christians - far from the eyes of those who need to see them the most. When are we going to wake up to the truth: Jesus came for every sinner, not just those who fit our preconceived ideas of who is worth saving.

What would Jesus do in the church today if a gay man came to Him for help? My guess is that He would stand him in front of the church, embrace him, and heal his wounded heart.

Lord, I don't know what You have in mind. How can the Truth be revealed to a body that is trapped by details? Give us compassion for the lost. Give us compassion for those who suffer. Give us a bold love that can change the world.

July 3, 2006

The Inner Circle

He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark 4:34

Jesus spoke in parables. To the outsider, His words probably seemed irrelevant - a collection of interesting stories that left the listener puzzled and confused.

But those in His inner circle were given the meaning. Whenever they were alone, Jesus explained everything to them.

Lord, I long to be in Your inner circle. Too often Your Word seems like no more than stories. Draw me into a relationship with the One who shares the meaning. Help me to understand Your heart. Help me apply the true meaning to my life, so You might be glorified.

July 6, 2006

One of Them!

Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." Mark 5:22-23

Jesus will respond to any who reach out to Him.

If there were any about which He might have had second thoughts, my guess is it would have been the religious leaders. He shared many harsh words with them regarding their legalistic approach to the law and their complete lack of grace. Yet here He was, faced with a synagogue leader pleading for His help.

What would most of us do? This man was "one of them." This situation provided an opportunity to put him in his place - to treat him how he might have treated others. But Jesus revealed His true nature. He responded as His Father would - with love, compassion, and grace.

Lord, we all deserve to be shunned by You, but You will never forsake those who cry out to You. I have little patience with those who treat me poorly. Help me to reflect Your heart. Fill me with Your compassion.

July 7, 2006

Uncomfortable Oaths

The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. Mark 6:26

King Herod immediately ordered the death of John the Baptist because he had made a promise to a young girl. How is it that an ungodly king was quick to follow an uncomfortable oath, yet godly men are slow to respond to the gospel of Christ?

Many are uncomfortable with the stories of Jesus. How can anyone discount Him? He is truly amazing! Everywhere He went, people swarmed around Him. He taught them. He fed them. He healed them. He even defied natural laws by walking on water. Yet people refused - people still refuse - to follow Him. His message was the same as John the Baptist's had been. Repent! Turn from the ways of the world to the ways of heaven.

This is our only hope.

Father, why am I so slow to respond at times? I will act when I am uncomfortable with disappointing complete strangers, but I hesitate to step out in faith for You. Place me in Your will. Give me the willingness to quickly respond - despite the comfort level.

July 10, 2006

The Ways of the Pharisees

"You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." Mark 7:8

What would Jesus say to us if He were to visit our churches today? Would He find a people who follow His Father's commands? Or would He discover that His chosen bride - His very Body - has returned to the ways of the Pharisees, holding to the traditions of men?

If we are going to be the Body of Christ, we need to start acting like it. Too many churches are focused on their own traditions rather than being a source of unity and hope for a dying world.

Lord, the need for truth is great, yet the world cannot hear it over the bickering. Forgive us for the hypocrisy that thrives in the church. Open the eyes of Your children to see how we worship tradition rather than You. Draw me close to You.

July 11, 2006

Preconceived Ideas

They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread." Mark 8:16

Jesus challenged the disciples to live a life free from hypocrisy and sin. As He usually did, He used an analogy. He spoke of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod, whose wickedness permiated all they had become. The Pharisees sacrificed the truth for legalism, and Herod indulged in the ways of the world - even murdering John the Baptist to save face.

The amazing thing is: all the disciples could talk about was bread. Jesus mentioned yeast, and they jumped to the conclusion that He was discussing their failure to pack a lunch. They had witnessed two recent incidents where Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves of bread. Why would Jesus care about bread?! So what that the disciples didn't have any! Jesus was concerned about souls, and they were preoccupied with their stomachs.

Why do we so often do the same?

The Word of God is truth, but some people transform it into lies simply to fit their preconceived ideas of what it means. Like challah bread on the Sabbath, scripture is twisted to become something it was never intended to be. It was never meant to be a political commentary or a justification for some sinful lifestyle. It is God's message to the world: Repent! Turn from sin to the One who saves. His grace is enough!

If only the church wasn't so preoccupied. Maybe the world would hear the truth. It's all about freedom - to live in Christ. He is the yeast that permiates the life of those who follow Him.

Lord, help me to know the truth of Your Word. Help me to never approach it with a preconceived idea of what it says. Let Your truth permiate my whole being. Make me a light that shines on the darkness around me.

July 15, 2006

Hiding from the Truth

But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Mark 9:34

Jesus' disciples amaze me sometimes. They had just been humbled by their inability to cast out a demon, and now they are arguing about who is the greatest disciple! Even more amazing, they believe they can hide the argument from Jesus. Although no one answered Him, Jesus knew what was happening. Again, He humbled them with the truth. He simply reminded them, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

How did they ever think they could hide their argument from Him? On more than one occasion, He challenged the Pharisees about what they were thinking - much less saying. Did they really think He wouldn't know the truth?

Do we?

Lord, there are times that I try to hide the truth from You. My heart deceives me. Help me to be a man of authenticity. Help me to lay everything I am at Your feet.

July 16, 2006

Nothing for Everything?

Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!" Mark 10:28

Following Jesus has never been an easy proposition.

Though they saw Him every day, it was no easier for His disciples. One day, He spoke some very difficult truths to a rich young man about how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God, and His disciples seemed to question the wisdom of following Him. I can practically hear Peter shouting, "Now, wait just a minute! We have given up everything to follow You - our family businesses, our reputations, our futures, and now You start saying we might not see Your kingdom!"

Jesus assured them that they would receive what was promised. The problem was: they didn't understand the promise. The Kingdom comes with great joy - along with persecution and heartache. Nothing that is worthwhile is obtained without sacrifice. Eternal life was only made available by death. It stands to reason that they only way to live for Christ is to die to ourselves.

Lord, like Your disciples, I sometimes question if this is all worth it. Will I sacrifice everything to gain nothing in return? My human nature is selfish. In truth, I want to grab it all - to fulfill my earthly desires - AND receive Your Kingdom. But I cannot have both. I long to see Your glory, but I know I cannot see if if my eyes are closed. Help me to trust You - to empty myself - and to wait upon You.

Rabbi, I want to see.

July 17, 2006

Are you in season?

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Mark 11:13

The story of Jesus and the fig tree has always bothered me. Why did He curse it, causing it to wither from the roots? The tree was merely doing what trees do? It wasn't the season for figs. If Jesus had wanted fruit so badly, why didn't He miraculously cause it to grow on this tree? Why did He speak a curse? Now the tree would never bear fruit again.

I think this bothers me so much because I fear what He would say if He were to see me from a distance. Would He make the trip to only find leaves? Or when He arrived, would He discover plenty of fruit?

First, it was just a tree. The Lord spoke them into existence. He can certainly choose to speak one out of existence if He wants.

Second, we are not trees. Once the grace of God has entered a life, it will bear fruit. There is no way it won't. For the Spirit of God always bears fruit through one in whom He is planted.

The ones who should be worried by this story are those who do not know the salvation that comes through the blood of Christ. The day is coming when He will make the journey from Heaven to gather those who bear fruit. Those without salvation will be out of season, and their curse will be eternal.

Lord, thank You for bearing fruit in me. When You arrive, there will be plenty to harvest because Your Spirit will have grown it. It needn't worry about the curse. The fruit will never depart from me. You never leave those whom You have called.

Come, Lord Jesus. Enjoy the fruit You find.

July 18, 2006

Skeptics

"To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:33

Not every teacher Jesus met was a skeptic. There were a few who started to get it. Oh, there were plenty who missed it. The temple was full of good Jewish men, Pharisees and Saducees, who refused to believe anything Jesus said. But there were some who saw the truth in His words.

I think I sometimes feel that Jesus was surrounded by disagreement everywhere He went. He was, but there were believers in their midst. Jesus saw them. He knew they were there, and I believe they brought Him strength to follow through with His Father's plan.

Lord, sometimes I feel like the whole world is a skeptic - that there is no hope for positive change in my workplace. Help me to see those who believe. Help me to understand the plan that can bring joy to what we do. Give me the courage and the insight to bring it to life.

July 19, 2006

The Long and Short of It

"I tell you the truth, this generation will certain not pass away until all these things have happened." Mark 13:30

Jesus spoke of the end times, and I think every generation since His death and resurrection has felt the end was near.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, two thousand years is short. The end is very close when one considers it through the eyes of an eternal God.

But it sure feels long to me!

Lord, I really hate to wait. I know You have great plans - eternal plans, yet I often wonder if it will ever come to pass. How could the world get much worse before the end? Every day the enemy seems to gain more and more control. How much longer must we wait to see You coming in the clouds? Help us to save as many as we can, for the time is short.

I'm watching.

Come, Lord Jesus!

July 23, 2006

Pray It Over and Over

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. Mark 14:39

I spoke with a man the other day who told me how he had once turned his back on God. After years of praying and not receiving the healing for which he had hoped, he gave up. He felt God would never answer his prayer, and he decided to face the world on his own. Thankfully, he has returned to the One who can heal him.

If anyone were going to receive an immediate response to prayer, I would think it would be Jesus. But the night He was betrayed, He prayed the exact same thing over and over, "not what I will, but what You will."

Why do we so easily turn our backs on God when He doesn't give us the things for which we ask? He knows what is best for us in order to accomplish His purpose. Sometimes it involves frustration, pain, and even death. If we stay with Him when we face these things, we find the strength to endure. Running away only prolongs the pain.

Father, forgive me for running from Your will. Help me to embrace Your plan. Help me to continue praying. Not my will, but Yours, O Lord.

July 24, 2006

The Unnoticed

Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. Mark 15:41b

In fear, the disciples abandoned Jesus the moment He was arrested. Peter stayed close by until he was recognized. The others disappeared into the darkness of the night. Only John remained nearby.

Yet the women who had cared for Him stayed and watched.

Women in that day were obscure and unnoticed.

Isn't it interesting how God so often uses the obscure and unnoticed to complete His greatest work? The women watched to see where Jesus was laid, so they could attend to Him in death as they had in life.

Three days later, it was the women who discovered Him alive and told His disciples.

Lord, help me to notice the obscure and unnoticed. It is likely that they are accomplishing Your greatest work, and I want to be a part of it. Forgive me for ever overlooking those You have called.

About July 2006

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

June 2006 is the previous archive.

August 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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