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January 20, 2004

When Dreams Come True

Then he remembered his dreams about them... Genesis 42:9a

It must have been surreal. Joseph had seen dreams played out before his eyes. The baker was killed; the cupbearer was restored. The land experienced abundance, then famine. But to have his own dreams come true - to see his brothers bowing before him... he must have pinched himself to see if he was still awake or if it was yet another dream. He must have experienced such emotion.

Lord, I have been full of emotion as I see Your will played out before my eyes. I am overwhelmed. My marriage is more vibrant than it has been in years. My work is more exciting - and more stressful! Just as Joseph needed Your Spirit to guide him, I need You to place Your hand upon me. Give me patience as I work to establish a new place for myself. Help me to walk in Your strength.

Thank You for Your blessing!

February 21, 2004

Forcing Him Out

"All those officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, 'Go, you and all the people who follow you!' After that I will leave." Exodus 11:8a

Who would ever think we could chase out the God of the universe. We can ask Him to leave, and He will go. Pharaoh did. His heart was so hard that God finally said, "...I will leave."

He gave us the freedom to live our lives free from His interference if we choose. What love He has displayed!

Yet, life without Him is impossible. Everything exists because of Him. What would it be to force Him out of the everyday affairs of life?

Lord, I am amazed how I push You out at times. The choices I make apart from You only lead to disillusionment, for I soon discover that I cannot affect the outcome. Only You have that power. In the end, I am discouraged and depressed.

Help me, Lord, to choose correctly today. I have the power of choice. I choose You!

March 16, 2004

Clean Underwear

"Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die." Exodus 28:43a

Most of us have heard the joke about mothers reminding children to put on clean underwear in case they are in an accident, but how many have actually been told that? How do you think you would feel, however, if someone said, "Oh, by the way. Make sure you put on clean underwear, or you might die."?

This is what Aaron and his sons were told when God detailed His plans for them as priests. Each ordinance God gave was to be followed strictly - even down to wearing the proper undergarments, or they could die. Entering God's presence was not to be taken lightly. The priests needed to understand the truth. If they disregarded God in their ritual, the people would disregard Him in their every day.

Lord, have we forgotten how special it is to enter Your presence? Your Holy Spirit dwells within us, so You are always present. But do we take You for granted? Do we understand what it is to be consecrated or face death? Do we understand the great gift You have given us - the ability to freely approach You clothed in the garments of salvation - covered by the blood of Christ?

Father, thank You for paving the way for common man to enter the Holiest Place. You have made us clean - all the way down to our underwear, so we might spend eternity by Your side.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!

April 20, 2004

The Blessing No Man Wants

"In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean." Leviticus 12:8b

God has blessed women with the awesome ability to have children. As a man, I cannot fully comprehend what it would be like to have a new life so completely dependent upon you. I cannot comprehend the challenge of living with a body that was made for such a purpose.

Lord, You made women special. As a man, my first thought is, "Thank You for not blessing men like that!" I don't say this with pride - like I am better than a woman. I know the truth. It would drive me over the edge to face what a woman does. Her body may be more fragile, but her resolve is so much stronger than mine - probably stronger than any man's.

Father, I celebrate the differences. Thank You for blessing mankind with the amazing ability to procreate. Help me to honor my wife as the blessing she is.

May 18, 2004

Uniquely Identical

His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering. Numbers 7:79

Twelve plates, twelve bowls, twelve bulls, twelve rams, twelve male lambs, twelve goats, twenty-four oxen, sixty more rams, and sixty more male lambs - the people's complete offering consisted of these. Yet there is an individual and identical accounting of each leader's gift.

Now, my first thought in reading the same account twelve times is: How redundant! Why didn't Moses simply write it one time and say, "This is what each leader gave"? But as I consider the fact that all Scripture is directly inspired by the Spirit of God, there must be a reason for the redundancy.

The fact is: each account may seem identical, but they are not. Each leader is different. Each leader represented a tribe of Israel that was unique. Simply lumping them together discounts the truth - God sees each one of us as unique and special. Our gifts and offerings may seem just like someone else's, but God loves our uniqueness. He won't leave out any detail.

Lord, thank You for seeing ME - individually - when You look my way. You don't see one of many. You see each of us, uniquely, in amazing and loving detail. Lately, I have felt like merely one of the crowd in Your eyes. It is my perception, for sure, and not reality. The busyness - never feeling like I will accomplish anything of real purpose has left me feeling lonely and lost. Father, help me spend the day enjoying the most unique relationship of all. Help me to feel Your presence every moment today.

June 26, 2004

Never Alone

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey though this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. Deuteronomy 2:7

There are times that life seems like a vast desert. Spiritual dryness overwhelms one's heart, and loneliness becomes commonplace.

The truth is: we are never alone in the desert. No matter how lonely we may feel, God is always there.

Lord, last night I met a man who saw right through me. He stepped into my life to remind me - I am not alone. Thank You for loving me enough to provide all I need. Truly, I do not lack anything. Forgive my ingratitude. Help me to acknowledge You. Give me the courage to proclaim it from the housetops. I love You, Lord.

August 27, 2004

Pruning Time Again

"... so that it will be more fruitful." John 15:26

Ouch!

How many times in life have I faced God's pruning shears? It seems that every time He trims me back, an unruly shoot forms that will need to be removed eventually.

I try to remember... God doesn't prune us just to keep us in line - to keep us from getting unruly. His intention is always one thing - fruit. Every place where He clips us back is a place where much fruit will someday grow.

Lord, I fear Your shears because I know pain is involved. Isn't there a painless option? Isn't there another way?

Quiet my heart, Lord Jesus.

October 15, 2004

All Day Long

But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." Romans 10:21

What would God say of me? Would He say that He has been waiting all day long with His arms open-wide, but I am too stubborn to place myself in His hands?

Lord, I confess. At times I am disobedient and obstinate. I cling to worldly things in full understanding of the pain it might cause. Like the Pharisees who challenged Christ, I forget that true righteousness comes from You.

Won't the good I do negate the evil? Of course not! A little yeast causes the whole loaf to rise.

Father, help me to let go of anything that might keep me from You. Let me be stubborn in my faith. May You be glorified today.

October 24, 2004

A Shield Around Me

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. Psalm 3:3

I am my own worst enemy. Somehow along the way, I learned that in order to be of any value, perfection is required. This continual struggle with perfectionism is deeply rooted in my attempts to be noticed - in my attempts to no longer be the invisible man in the room.

Unfortunately, there is another lesson that has plagued me. After all this time, after recognizing God's protection and love, I am still afraid. The lesson I learned - right or wrong - is that safety is an illusion - that even the hand of God cannot keep me safe. I somehow believed the enemy's words. This lie, more than any other, has probably been my greatest hindrance. Since I was a child, voices have taunted me making me hide in fear.

Interestingly, there is one voice I hear most clearly as he cries out: "God will not deliver you!" This voice hasn't been that of a stranger. It has been my own.

Lord, You are a shield around me. Help me to see this truth with new clarity. Restore the years that have been stolen by fear. Help me to relearn this lesson from childhood. In Your miraculous mercy, help the little boy I was to no longer cower in fear. Give him eyes to see Your protecting hand, so the man I am can face the future with confidence. Protect me, Father. Shield me from things that harm. Lift up my head. Lift up my downcast soul, so You will be glorified.

October 26, 2004

Expectation

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

Waiting in expectation... How exciting that sounds.

Do you remember when you were a child, and Christmas was coming, or your birthday was around the corner? It was always so exciting - the anticipation - seeing wrapped boxes that contained childhood dreams.

That same expectation - that same excitement is how we can wait upon the Lord. He loves to give us gifts! By seeking His will, walking in His will, and asking for His blessing, there isn't anything we could want that He won't give.

Lord, I too often forget to wait in expectation. I am too easily discouraged by waiting. Change my heart. Help me to see that Your best is yet to come. Give me hope and a future. Help me walk in Your way.

October 27, 2004

Unfailing

Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6:4

What would happen if God's love were to ever fail?

I believe there would be absolutely no hope for any of us. Nothing I do or don't do will ever make me worthy enough, for my actions do not always reflect the man God has called me to be. Only perfection would make me worthy. It is only by His action - by His grace - by His perfection - that I am made worthy.

Thankfully, His love is unfailing. Every time I look in the mirror, what I see is less than perfect. The truest reflection of His love that I will ever see is the gift of salvation - the gift of His Son.

Lord, help me to always remember that my worthiness is not contingent on my action. My happiness... yes. My worthiness... no. Doing the right things sure makes life a lot easier, but doing them does not determine Your love and forgiveness. You will always love. You will always forgive. Even Your wrath is based in love. Without it, we would destroy ourselves.

Rescue me, Lord. Not because I'm such a great person, but because You are such a great God. May You be glorified today.

October 29, 2004

On His Mind

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

How could it be that I am forever on God's mind? Why would He even care about me? It seems He has more important things to do, but not a moment goes by that He doesn't think of me.

I sure don't deserve His attention; no man deserves it. Yet that is what He does. That is who He is. Every moment of every day, He is thinking of every man who will ever be conceived. He knew each of us by name before the earth was formed. Since He is eternal, there has never been a time when He wasn't thinking of us; there has never been a time when He was thinking of me.

When I consider how amazing it is that God has a personal interest in every human being, He seems unreal. How could it be possible? How could any One being be intimately involved and concerned with billions of people - not to mention the billions of stars, plants, trees, and animals that are a part of His creation? How could One so enormous be so small?

Lord, You really are amazing. You are deserving of all glory and honor. My mind cannot begin to perceive Your greatness. One so great as You could choose anyone, and You chose me. I guess if the God of the universe could choose me, I must be worth something after all.

Father, where did this low opinion of myself come from? Why should I ever care about what others might think when You think enough of me to send Your Son? Help me, Lord, to give You the glory. Help me to remember that I am but a man. And help me to understand that You don't make junk. I long to follow You.

How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

November 3, 2004

Life is such a gift!

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

What more could man ask that the God of the universe is mindful of him?

Despite the loneliness that often plagues me - despite the never ending struggle for self-control - despite any sense of abandonment I have ever felt, God has always been good to me. When I feel lost and alone. He always finds me.

Father, I am truly blest. You have given me so much, and for too long I have focused on the negative. Yes, I struggle with sin. What Christian doesn't? No, I didn't feel safe as a child. How many in this fallen world have ever really felt safe? You have been so good to me! Make me new. Give me an attitude that reflects hope in Your Son. Thank You, Jesus, for Your unfailing love.

Life is such a gift!

November 12, 2004

He Thought of Us

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it. Psalm 22:30-31

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking about when He was on that cross? Although crucifixion is a drawn out form of torture, Jesus died in about three hours. This is a relatively short time. But three hours when your body is wracked with pain can feel like three days! Ask anyone who has waited in an emergency room.

When I think of men who have shared stories of torture, I often remember the prisoners of war in Vietnam. When I was a child, many POW's returned with horrific tales of things no human should ever endure. One of the most amazing aspects of these stories is how God so often met them in their times of greatest need. The Holy Spirit brought to mind scriptures that had long since been forgotten. Many were blessed in the midst of the most excruciating circumstance by the very Word of God.

These men were not like Jesus. He knew the scriptures well enough to rebuke the enemy and humble the proud. He knew the Author. He was the Author. There is no doubt in my mind that He was comforted on the cross by His Father's words - the Holy Scripture.

I believe the 22nd Psalm is most likely the scripture that filled his thoughts on that horrible afternoon. This Messianic song describes the painful horror that He experienced. How could He not think of it?

I am also certain that He clung to the final words: "They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn." This promise - a promise that we, two thousand years later, would still proclaim the sacrifice He made - must have given Him the courage and the stamina to face the most brutal of deaths.

Jesus, thank You for thinking of me on that cross. Help me to live a life that is worthy of Your sacrifice.

November 15, 2004

A View from the Top

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Psalm 24:3

Ascending a hill takes on new meaning when that hill is a mountain. The effort it takes to push through the discomfort - to sometimes pull yourself through it - is worth every step, worth every gasp for breath. The view from the top cannot be imagined from the bottom. And when one stands at the top, the weariness from walking in the valley and climbing its walls seems like a small price to pay for such a majestic moment.

By comparison, the time it takes to break free from the valley seems so much longer than the time we can spend at the top of the mountain. But the impact from the moments on the ridge overlooking God's wonderful handiwork is life-changing. The valley is no longer a feared place. From God's vantage point, it is beautiful. The weariness of the journey quickly fades in our memory, while the wonder of God's presence remains.

O Lord, my life has been such a climb. Like ascending The Chimneys in the Great Smoky Mountains, I grow weary. But the view is worth it. My life is changing. With every step, I know I am closer to the goal - I am closer to that place of strength and freedom. The path I have taken and the rocks I have climbed have brought me to where I am today. Show me how I can guide others on the path, so more or Your sons can enjoy the view from Your throne.

Life is beautiful. Even the clouds that cloak the valley can bring a smile to Your face, Lord. I love you, Father. How majestic You are!

November 28, 2004

Famine

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. Psalm 33:18-19

Wouldn't it be nice if becoming a Christian made life trouble-free? No more problems, no more fears, no more failures - it would almost be like heaven.

Why didn't God just do it that way? If Christianity made life perfect, there might not be any who would reject Him.

The truth is: if God enticed us with a worry-free life, our free-will would somehow be cheapened. True love - unconditional love - hangs in there even when, especially when, things aren't going as we planned. God did not promise to keep us away from famine. He promised to keep us alive in famine. He is our Sustainer. His love never fails - even when, especially when, life isn't going as we planned.

Lord, most of my life has been lived in famine - not a famine of the body, but of the heart. Somehow as a child I became accustomed to living in a barren place, a place that appeared full from the outside, but in reality was always empty. Through it all, You have sustained me.

Now, as I experience spiritual food I have never known, I can see how Your unfailing love has kept me alive along the ay. Thank You, Father, for Your abundance that sustains us in the most empty places.

December 1, 2004

One-of-a-kind

O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. Psalm 35:17

There are certain works of art that are priceless - more precious than one could imagine. Consider the Mona Lisa. How much would be paid if she were placed on the auction block? Why is this combination of paint and canvas so priceless?

Any collector will tell you. One-of-a-kind objects are worth the most - especially those bearing the signature of the artist.

With this in mind, why have I taken life for granted? Why have I treated it as worthless when it is one-of-a-kind. Each of us only has one life to live on this earth. We have been uniquely formed by God, and His signature can be found if we are willing to look for it.

What a precious gift He has given us.

Lord, so often I have seen my life as something to be pushed aside and forgotten. I haven't taken care of myself. Too many times, I seem to have left myself vulnerable to the ravages of the enemy.

Forgive me for not understanding how precious life is. There is only one me. You have placed your signature on me, and I am priceless. Help me to never take it for granted again. Thank You for making a masterpiece of each of us. May You be glorified by the works of Your hands today.

December 14, 2004

Ever-present

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 461

Ever-present... Do I really understand what that means? Do I fully understand how much God loves me - even when He has seen absolutely everything? The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly - the holy and the wicked - He has been ever-present; He has seen it all!

And He still loves me.

Lord, Your love is amazing. That You could know every secret and still cherish me is almost beyond comprehension. I know every secret - many of them I have tried hard to forget, yet I haven't been able to love myself. Help me to grasp the reality of Your presence. Fill me with Your love - not only for the world, but for me. If I don't have love, I don't have anything.

January 1, 2005

Recorded Tears

Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll - are they not in your record? Psalm 56:16

There isn't a single tear that has been shed that God has not recorded. Every time I've felt abandoned by those who loved me, He knew it. Every time I have been the cause of my own pain, He watched me. I may not fully comprehend why I react as I do to certain things in life today, but God understands. He was there standing beside me when I was hurt each time. And He was crying with me.

Lord, I am often surprised at how sad or angry little circumstances can make me. Tiny offenses are mountainous. Am I too sensitive? Or am I merely afraid that I will eventually drown in the ocean that has formed by my tears? Life can be painful, but You are the Healer. Thank You for the ways I have been healed. Turn the tears of pain from my youth into tears of joy. Thank You for all Your blessings!

January 31, 2005

Seek Him

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be exalted!" Psalm 70:14

Seek Him in everything.

Exalt Him in everything.

Oh, if we could so easily learn. Whenever we need help, God is there waiting to reach out to us. Whenever we need understanding, He stands ready to speak to us. Whenever we feel that all is lost, He is quick to save us.

Why do I ever try to face life without Him?

Lord, everyday You prove Yourself to me. If ever I seek Your face, I always find You. But sometimes I forget to seek. It isn't that I push You away. I simply forget to grab hold of Your hand. Thank You for being here every time I need You.

May You be exalted today!

February 1, 2005

I Don't Get It!

My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. Psalm 71:15

Though I know not its measure...

Even the psalmist couldn't comprehend the full nature of God. How is it that He loves His children as He does? How is it that He love me? I am so unworthy. I used to think the cartoon character Charlie Brown was modeled after me - wishy-washy - indecisive. Most of my life I've been on that proverbial fence - too afraid to jump fully into God's arms. I've spent so much time in the middle of the road, it's a wonder I am not road kill by now.

Yet He loves me still.

Nothing I have done wrong has made Him love me any less. Nothing I have done right has made Him love me any more. His love is so great that none could be added to it - none could be taken away from it.

Lord, I say it with my mouth and I think it with my brain, but I simply don't get it. Unconditional love is such a foreign concept to me. Oh, I can feel it for my children - they are a part of me, but to receive it... Why is it so difficult for me?

All You have ever done is love me. Even in the midst of trouble when I might have blamed You the most, Your loving hand held me. The times that I have been proud of my accomplishments, You have stood beside me - beaming like a loving parent over his child.

Thank You for your incomprehensible - Your inconceivable love. Help me to understand it more and more each day. Give me the courage to proclaim it to those around me.

I don't get it, but I sure know it's real.

February 7, 2005

What does He think?

No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. Psalm 75:6

Ever since I was in high school, my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) has been telling me I worry too much about what others think of me.

Oh, there is a healthy level of concern we should have about our reputations. I believe as Christians we should be mindful of how God is represented. How many times have you seen an Ichthus on the back of the vehicle that cut you off on the freeway? Don't you just want to pull over and jerk that thing right off their car? But that wouldn't be a very Christian thing to do, would it? I guess my mother was right: two wrongs don't make a right.

The truth is - the only opinion that truly matters is God's. He is the only One worthy of judging a man or exalting him. Our concern should be about what He thinks in all we say and do.

Even though I know this, for most of my life I have been seeking the praise of other men. As an adult, people are always telling me how wonderful I am. But as a child - like most children I guess - life was full of ridicule. Unfortunately, I didn't have an environment at home that countered what the world said to me. Before long, I believed their words. Now, as a man, I am still confused about who I really am sometimes.

But God knows. And He likes me just the way I am. He wouldn't change a thing - despite what others might think. He is the only One who knows it all, and He still loves me. He doesn't accept my sin, but He always accepts me - no matter what.

Wow! How cool is that? The God of the universe thinks I'm special! I'll bet He thinks the same of you.

Thanks, Lord, for loving me - just as I am.

February 14, 2005

A Place of Honor

Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Psalm 80:17

To be at God's right hand... What a place of honor. What a greater honor to have Him rest His hand upon you. What more could anyone ask?

Lord, rest your hand upon me. I long to feel the warmth of Your embrace, to feel the strength of Your grip. Hold me close, so I may know Your love today.

March 15, 2005

To Know His Name

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name." Psalm 91:14

It is amazing to think - the Creator of the universe knows my name. But do I know His?

God promises to rescue and protect those who acknowledge His name. A truer interpretation may be those who "know" His name - in the most intimate sense.

Lord, I want to be real. I want You to know me deeply, but more than that, I want to know You - to know Your very name. Will you teach it to me? Whisper it to me. Be my refuge today.

March 30, 2005

He really does love us forever!

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

There aren't many things that one can't endure for a short period of time.

A claustrophobic can endure an elevator ride to attend an important meeting on the 19th floor if he must - or he can endure walking nineteen flights of stairs. A woman can endure many hours of labor in order to bring a new life into the world - or she can endure the discomfort of recovery following a c-section. An addict can endure the temptation to fall off the wagon - at least one minute at a time - or he can endure the challenge of climbing back on again.

There are times, however, when I feel like I won't be able to endure long enough. Will I make it through today? Will I ever complete the projects on my desk? Will I be able to face disappointment and failure without slipping over the emotional edge?

Lord, I can barely imagine... Your love endures forever. Forever! Forever is a long time. What an amazing fact. Help me to hold onto this truth. Help me to endure. I want to someday look back from the other side of eternity and say, "You were right. You really do love us forever!"

April 1, 2005

Thrown Aside

... for you have taken me up and thrown me aside. Psalm 102:10b

Oh, how our hearts deceive us. How many times, like the psalmist, have I felt that God has merely thrown me aside?

Has He ever really done this? Of course not. Even in the most estranged relationships, a parent cannot completely toss aside a child. I believe despite the appearances, a parent will ache for a child, even if he doesn't see him. And God loves His children more than we could ever imagine. He would not be Himself if He could simply discard us. In truth, He is always there with His arms outstretched, waiting for our return.

Lord, defeat the lies that I have believed - that You have thrown me aside because of my sin. Continue to hold me near to Your chest. Let me heart Your very heart beat today.

May 26, 2005

Tested Promises

Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them. Psalm 119:140

No matter how they are tested, God's promises are always proven to be the real deal. Like 24 karat gold, God's promises are pure; not a single impurity can be found in them. If He said it - if He raised His right hand to take an oath - it is going to happen. He would not be God otherwise.

Then why do I doubt?

Lord, too many times I don't believe Your promises are true. If I believed them, why do I so easily forget them? When I am in a pinch - when the enemy seems to be winning the battle, do I trust You will rush to save me? Or do I try to fight alone? Or worse, do I surrender to him? Open my eyes to see the promises in Your Word. Open my heart to receive them. Give me the confidence to proclaim them. I love You, Lord.

June 27, 2005

Don't Look that Way!

O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Psalm 144:3

It's the age-old question. Why does God love us? We most certainly don't deserve it. We have all sinned and deserve death.

My pastor posed a question yesterday. How do you know who you really are? Where can you look to find out? When you look closely at yourself, you forget. But when you look to God, it becomes clear.

The answer to God's love for me has nothing to do with me! It has everything to do with Him.

So what is man?

Who cares?

Who is God? That's all that matters.

Lord, in You I find my identity. You are filled with so much love that my shortcomings seem to disappear. Forgive me for being distracted from You. Help me to focus my eyes on You today.

June 29, 2005

The Sustainer

The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the way of the wicked. Psalm 146:9

It seems there have been generations of men in recent history who would consider themselves fatherless. For many, he may have been physically present but emotionally absent. Being a father is more than providing food, shelter, and clothing. It is about nurturing, encouraging, instilling hope in the future.

God is that kind of Father. He is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider. He is Jehovah-Rohi, our Shepherd. He not only feeds and clothes, but He holds us close to protect us. He is El-Shaddai, the Almighty God and Sustainer. He sustains us like no earthly father can.

Lord, I never want my children to say I was absent. Make me a father who reflects You. Sustain me, so You might be glorified.

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 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 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.

September 8, 2005

Well-deserved Misery

Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer. Judges 10:16

There's something about God's love. He cannot bear to withhold it from those who serve Him.

The Israelites were on the edge of destruction. Time after time, they abandoned God, and He was growing weary. Had it not been for a promise He made to Abraham, it is likely that Israel would have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Despite their abandonment to other gods, the Israelites were never forgotten. When they got rid of the foreign gods and served the Lord, He couldn't ignore them. Their well-deserved misery didn't seem as well-deserved anymore, and God revealed His true nature: mercy, forgiveness, and love. Regardless of the frustration He felt over Israel's unfaithfulness, when they turned to Him, He always opened His arms.

Lord, more often than I like to accept, I have turned to other gods. You have given me the freedom to do so, but it always comes with a price. Oh, how much it costs to hear Your words: "Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" But every time I turn back, You have been there. You have received me - You have rescued me. No misery can stand in Your presence for very long. Help me to stand next to You, so I might taste of Your mercy. I love You, Father. I choose to serve You. Be my only God, and keep me from my well-deserved misery.

September 23, 2005

Empty?

"Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortunes upon me." Ruth 1:20-21

Things are not always what they appear to be. Naomi believed her life was empty. In her grief over the loss of not only her husband but both her sons, she could not see how God had filled her life. There she was, living in a foreign land, and the three most important men in her life were gone. She could have been completely alone, yet God had given her two daughters-in-law who stood by her.

In truth, she was never empty. She simply couldn't see it, and normally when someone can't see God's goodness, he will do whatever he can to live up to his own expectations.

Naomi tried it. She tried to send away those closest to her. It was as if she was attempting to create the life she thought she had. But it wasn't what she had! She wasn't empty. Ruth stood by her - even to the point of leaving everything behind.

Lord, give me eyes that see Your fullness. I am so blinded at times by my own perceptions that I find myself creating misfortune. For years I seemed to believe my life was empty. Despite a wonderful helpmate and two fabulous children, I could only see what was missing. Forgive me for the ways I have disregarded Your blessing. Help me to redefine "empty." Help me to see how full life really is. Help me to teach others to see it, too.

September 25, 2005

Stay in His Field

As it turned out, she found herself working in the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech. Ruth 2:3b

What a coincidence.

As it turned out, Ruth found herself working in the field of Boaz. Some might believe in coincidence, but I have come to see that God's hand is in every circumstance, every encounter, every turn of the road. There is nothing that escapes His notice. There is nowhere we could go where He hasn't been there ahead of us preparing the way. Every blessing we glean, He has pulled from the stalk and left for us to find.

Lord, just as Ruth stayed in Boaz's field, I want to stay in Yours. Why have You taken notice of me that You would give order to leave so much blessing? I am only worthy by Your choice. Thank You, Father. Provide for my family. Show me where to glean.

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 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.

November 6, 2005

He Always Knows Where to Find Me

And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

Saul was out of control. His greatest desire was to find David and to kill him. No matter what God had said, Saul did not want the kingdom to pass to this worthless shepherd from a tiny town in Judah. Everywhere he looked was a dead end; Saul couldn't find David anywhere.

David was on the run. Six hundred men were with him, but still he felt alone. Finding a place to hide for the day was the norm. How could he continue to elude Saul and his army? Again and again he questioned God's will. This wasn't what David expected.

Out of the blue in the middle of this story with David hiding and Saul seeking, Jonathan appears on the scene. I find it interesting that Saul cannot find David anywhere, but Jonathan when straight to him. David needed encouragement, and God knew it. Although He had hidden David from Saul, the Lord showed Jonathan exactly where to find him.

Isn't that just like God? When we are walking in His will, there will be enemies who would seek to harm us. But if we are truly walking with Him, those would harm us will not find us. And those who will encourage us know exactly where we are.

Lord, no matter how alone I feel, there is nowhere I can go where You and Your encouragers will not find me. Thank You for keeping me hidden from the enemy. Thank You for showing those who love me exactly where I am. I am never alone when I walk in Your will. Help me to walk on Your path today.

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.

January 14, 2006

Even More

"And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more." 2 Samuel 12:8b

The Lord provides for His children. He finds great pleasure in pouring out blessing, and if it is too little, He easily gives more.

David knew this. He had experienced it firsthand. Yet he took Bathsheba and ordered the murder of Uriah. God's blessing wasn't enough for him. He wanted more.

Lord, I confess that too many times, I want more. You have blessed me beyond measure, yet there are times when even that isn't enough.

Why is it so difficult to be content? Why do I want to call all the shots?

Father, give me eyes to see the fullness of Your blessing and a heart that is content with it. You have given much, and You will give more when I need it.

Your love is amazing.

February 5, 2006

Set Me Free!

So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. Mark 5:20

I've had a song on my mind for days, Set Me Free, on the Lifesong CD by Casting Crowns. The first time I heard it, I was easily caught up in the powerful instrumentation. There is something about an electric guitar and bass that can tap into some primeval part of us. Like a tribesman lost in the music dancing around a fire, this song carries me somewhere else.

However, no matter how many times I have heard it, the depth of the story Mark Hall is telling in this song has escaped me until this week.

I have always connected with the main theme of this song, to be set free from the dark ones, but this week I felt it. I could literally feel myself standing next to a man once plagued by a legion of demons begging Jesus to set him free. This song seems to be written from the perspective of man we read about in the book of Mark. He was set free from a life among the tombs - a life where others literally chained him like a wild animal - a life where he cut himself in hopes of releasing the pressure built up inside.

Sadly, I can relate to this man.

Have I ever lived in a cemetery? Or been chained hand and foot? Or cut myself?

No. But I have felt like I lived among the dead. I have felt bound by the chains of addiction to sin that wrapped around my very soul. I have longed to somehow release the pressure of a spirit that felt it might burst from the strangulation hold of the enemy.

From these, Jesus can free me. All I must do is ask.

The tough part about freedom, though, is what to do next.

The man freed from the legion of demons seemed to be unsure. And others who saw him were frightened. They knew the man as he once was. They knew he had been a mad man. But now, he was whole. He was sane. And they were frightened. Maybe he reminded them of themselves. If he could now be one of them, could they somehow become like the mad man he was?

This man begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to stay - to go home and tell his story.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story isn't so much the fear people had for the man set free but the fear they had for Jesus Himself. They pleaded with Him to leave the region. A man with His power was more frightening than they could handle.

There are times that I wonder why Jesus doesn't simply show Himself to the lost. The truth is: the lost are often frightened by Him. A man with such power - to heal the sick and raise the dead - would also have the power to destroy. The lost, in truth, feel worthy of destruction.

Yet, the lost can understand the story of a man set free. There is hope in his words. If he can be freed from a legion of demons, so might I.

So the next time I feel like I would rather leave this world for the next - to be with Jesus Himself, I need to heed His words: "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." We all have a story to tell. It is a story of hope that can bring life to the lost.

Lord, help me to know what to say and when to say it. Help me to share my story of hope with a frightened world. You are so awesome. Help me to reflect Your glory in all that I do.

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 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.

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.

September 11, 2006

God's Timing

Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. Acts 3:2

In the name of Jesus, Peter healed a crippled beggar. This man was the first to be healed after the coming of the Holy Spirit. All the people were amazed, for they recognized him as the man who begged at the Beautiful gate.

Wait!

How noticeable is a beggar? How many times does it take to see someone on the street before he is easily recognized? Yet the people recognized this man. He had been crippled from birth. He had been sitting at the Beautiful gate for a long time. He must have been; otherwise, he wouldn't have been recognized by them.

Not very long before this, it was the custom of another man to visit the temple. Jesus frequented the temple whenever He was in Jerusalem. And it is quite possible that Jesus could have seen this man - this beggar sitting at the Beautiful gate.

Why wasn't he healed before now? Jesus healed many, many sick and affirmed. Yet this man was not among them. Could it have been that their paths never crossed? Could it have been that the man was new to Jerusalem?

But the people recognized him!

The Lord's timing isn't always our timing. In fact, it is rarely our timing! If Jesus had seen this man, He may have decided to wait. This man's healing would stand as proof that the kingdom of God had come. A new age had dawned - an age where common man would be used in uncommon ways.

Lord, help me to be patient with Your timing. Help me to understand what I am to do during the wait. Heal me from the affirmities of this world - from the wicked ways that keep me from walking, from jumping, on the path to which You have called me.

June 11, 2007

A Father's Approval

And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17

Why do so many fathers miss the mark? Sons don't expect their dads to be perfect. They simply hope to be loved. Many a man wanders aimlessly through life trying to gain his father's approval; many will grab hold of anything that resembles love and acceptance - even to the point of sacrificing all he has.

Jesus knew that His Father loved Him. It was His Father's love that kept him going. He knew that the world would reject Him, and for a time His Father would abandon Him. But He never doubted His Father's love.

Father, I have sought love and approval my entire life, yet it so often eludes me. Help me to grab hold of You. You are the Source. You are the Approver. You are the Accepting One. Make me a whole man. Forgive me for sacrificing my best in attempts to gain what my father cannot and will not give. Let my son know that my love never ceases. Love him as I long to be loved.

About God's Love

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in the God's Love category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Forgiveness is the previous category.

Holiness is the next category.

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

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