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March 18, 2004

On the Big Toe?

"Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then sprinkle blood against the altar on all sides." Exodus 29:20

In a modern world, the concept of animal sacrifice is rather gruesome. Killing animals doesn't just happen every day in American households. Oh, I'm sure there are some rural homes that set the table with freshly slaughtered meat, but most of us have never witnessed the death of an animal.

But for the Israelites, slaughtering animals was an every day occurrence. Either for food or for sacrifice, the animals served a purpose. The instructions Moses received for consecrating the priests involved the sacrifice of animals - so much of what God calls us to do involves sacrifice. Today it might be our time, our money, or our effort that God requires.

Interestingly, Moses was told to place blood on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe of each priest. At first glance, it may seem odd. But when you consider it further... what a message! God requires those in His service to be careful about what they hear, what they do, and where they go. Each of these three things can affect a person's heart and mind, his ministry, and his reputation. What a man hears, he considers and takes to heart. What a man does reflects his capacity for compassion. Where a man goes affects what others believe of him.

So are you listening to wholesome things? Are you serving with the hands of Christ? Are you careful to avoid places that could bring ruin to your reputation?

Lord, help me to be consecrated for Your service. Make me holy as You are holy, so You may be glorified.

March 19, 2004

What's that smell?

"Do not pour it on men's bodies and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred." Exodus 30:32

Last night I remembered one of the downsides of West Texas in the spring. The moment I stepped outside, it hit me, that pungent odor that reminds me of the importance of cattle to our local economy. Although it is over ten miles away, the area feed lot was making its presence known. Maybe it's the amount of rain we've had this year, or maybe the wind was just right, but my eyes literally began to water.

The first words that came to mind were the words of a friend who frequently joked with me: "Hey! It smells like money!" He has since moved across the country and we've lost touch, but every time I smell that unique odor (not always as powerfully as last night I might add), I think of him.

What is it about smells? The sense of smell is the strongest stimulator for recalling memories. Somehow, it takes us back to places we have long since forgotten.

God knows that. When He set forth the ingredients for the anointing oil to be used by the priests, He was very clear. "Do not make any oil with the same formula." He wanted the priests to be unique - to be set apart from the world. Whenever the priests were nearby, those around them would know it. They were unique; they even smelled special.

Lord, help me to be set apart. May the fragrance of my actions and intentions remind others that I have been anointed by the atoning blood of Your Son. Let others smell Your fragrance when I pass by, and when some ask, "What's that smell?", give me the words to share the love of Christ with them.

April 5, 2004

Everywhere We Turn

So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels. Exodus 40:38

Could you imagine what it would be like to see a cloud with God in it every time you stepped out your front door? And at night the cloud was filled with fire? There is nowhere you could go without seeing Him. I would like to say that if I could see God like that, I would find it easier to live a life of righteousness rather than doubt.

But would I?

All around us, everyday, God is present. In the sunrises, in the new life of spring, everywhere we turn, He can be seen. Yet we so easily turn our eyes from Him.

Father, forgive my forgetfulness - my short-sighted vision that can only see the problems I encounter rather than the work of Your hands. Help me to be a blessing to someone today, so You might be glorified.

June 28, 2004

All Consuming Fire

But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are. Deuteronomy 4:20

It is important to remember the place from whence we came. Israel was brought out of Egypt - out of the iron-smelting furnace. God proved Himself by showing His might - by freeing His people from slavery.

Lord, there are times I would like to forget the furnace. The pain was so great in those placed I once lived. Yet event today, I find myself longing to reach into the flames. Why is it that we are so fascinated with the fire? We find momentary comfort in the searing of our conscience.

But Your fire is holy. Your fire consumes all unrighteousness.

Holy Spirit, be my consuming fire today. Burn away all those things that would destroy. Help me to reach out to You in my pain. Heal me, so I might be used for Your wonderful works.

June 30, 2004

The Righteousness of the Law

And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. Deuteronomy 6:25

To achieve righteousness through following the law - this is what Moses asked of the people. If they didn't follow God's laws, they would lose the land promised to their fathers, but if they followed God alone, they would prosper.

History proved that the Israelites failed. This blessed nation would become a nation filled with idols, and eventually the Assyrians and the Babylonians would occupy the land. Oh, they would have the temple of the living God in their midst, yet their hearts would stray. God would punish them for not following His laws, and the land would be lost. Later, upon their return to the land, they would never again become a nation that worshiped idols.

As God commanded, the nation of Israel became a nation that followed the law, but like most things in human hands, it became an extreme distortion of God's intent. Following the law was a legalistic means of achieving righteousness. Jesus was born into a nation where Pharisees and Sadducees bickered over the tiniest detail. Although there were no graven images to be found, their hearts were far from God.

Lord, I seem to live my life in the extreme. Highs or lows - there doesn't seem to be much in between. Help me to find the balance. I long to follow You. Quiet my heart. Bring me back to a place of righteousness - not by my own strength, but by the blood of Jesus.

November 22, 2004

Make Me Real

Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Psalm 28:3

One of the things I want most in life is to be known as an authentic man. I want to be the kind of man who is unafraid of what others may think because the inside matches the outside. I want to be the kind of man who doesn't put on a smile yet carry hatred in his heart. The Lord Himself is not very fond of hypocrites.

I want to be real.

Father, give me the strength to live a life that is holy, inside and out. Help me to not harbor malice for anyone which I hide behind pleasantries. Help me to be honest with others. Help me to be honest with myself.

Make me real.

November 27, 2004

Hidden Secrets

When I kept silent, my bones wasted way through my groaning all day long. Psalm 32:3

Hidden secrets cause us to literally waste away. It is as if our bodies betray us when we betray the One who made them. But confession has power that I may never understand. There is something about it that not only frees us spiritually, but physically.

Lord, there secrets I have hidden that once caused me to waste away. No longer! My secrets are no longer hidden; confession has brought me up from the pit. I have an opportunity before me - an opportunity to live in freedom and wholeness.

Help me to walk in repentance. Help me to never again hide in fear. You are my hiding place. Protect me from the unrighteousness that seeks to harm me.

December 2, 2004

Do we HAVE to hate it?

An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked. There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters too much to detect or hate his sin. Psalm 36:1-2

God's timing often amazes me. Yesterday, someone asked me, "Do we have to get to the point in life where we hate our sin?" Then today, David's words to me are about how a wicked man flatters himself too much to hate his sin. I guess the Lord wants me to think about this question a little more.

Do we have to hate our sin?

The answer I gave to my friend seems to be contradictory to Scripture. I told him "no," but then I clarified by thoughts. I don't feel we have to hate sin. I think we need to get to the point where our sin doesn't really matter anymore - that our relationship with God is what is important.

Is this "hating" sin?

From an either-or perspective, we must either hate it or we love it. But I don't know if it is that simply. There are certain things about my sin that I think I will always love. If I didn't love it, why would I want it? But if I don't hate my sin, why am I trying to walk from it?

Lord, I don't really know the answer. The light of Your grace always outshines my sin. If I am walking in relationship with You, I "will" hate my sin, but do I "have" to hate?

I guess it's about focus. What is my focus in regards to sin? If a man is so focused on hating sin, most of his thoughts are of the sin. Can one who is obsessed with a certain action muster the strength to avoid it? In a moment of weakness, the focus of his thoughts will become action. One the other hand, if a man is more focused on the Lord and His righteousness, where does he turn in that moment of weakness?

Father, help me to shift my focus. Let my eyes blinded to the sin I desire. Turn my heart to You, so when I am weak, You are strong.

August 23, 2005

Got Religion?

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

How many times have I said it? "It's about relationship, not religion." I truly believe that Christianity is all about a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ. Yet James, the half-brother of Jesus, speaks of religion as something God accepts. It isn't a religion of following a long list of do's and don'ts. It is a religion of caring for those who are most needy and caring enough for oneself to stay clean - to not be polluted by the world.

Interestingly, the Greek word in this passage that refers to not being polluted is also translated as "without blemish or defect." This same description is used in the Levitical law for any animal that is to be given as an offering. The animal was to be perfect - without blemish or defect. Isn't that what Jesus is? The sacrificial Lamb without blemish or defect? So... what I hear James saying is that Jesus is the most religious person who ever walked the face of the earth, and we should strive to become like Him - blameless, perfect, without defect.

Will I ever get there? Will I ever be "religious" enough to say I am not polluted by the world?

Not in this lifetime!

My only hope is to be made clean by the blood of the Perfect Lamb. Only He can wash me white as snow. So what does religion require? Relationship with the most religious One of all.

Lord, Jesus, wash me clean for I have been polluted by the world. You are the only man who can help me. Make me holy as You are holy. Make me religious as You are religious.

November 14, 2005

To Become What You Despise

He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her." 1 Samuel 28:6-7

Left to our own devices, we can easily become like the very ones we despise.

Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. This was a good thing. A nation committed to the One True God would trust in Him, not the words of the dead. But when the going got tough - when God was silent - to whom did Saul turn? The very ones he had expelled became his source of hope.

It is interesting that Saul's men, men who obviously knew about Saul's expulsion of the mediums and spiritists, could so easily take him to one. If they had truly been committed to Saul, wouldn't they have ensured she was run out a long time ago?

It is also interesting to me that Saul called up the spirit of Samuel. Did he seriously think Samuel would say something he wanted to hear? The last time they had seen each other, Samuel's words were quite harsh. Did Saul think Samuel would be so excited to see him that he would joyfully proclaim, "It's wonderful to see you! Don't worry. The battle will end just like you want!"

Regardless of how Saul and Samuel had parted, Samuel had always been a source of strength when Saul was troubled. We always seem to be drawn to what once brought us hope long after we have lost it. What Saul needed was a word from the living God, yet he sought out the words of the dead. Saul had become like what he despised.

Lord, sometimes turning to the old ways of dealing with life is the simplest path to take. Somehow it seems comfortable - even if we know in our hearts that we will not like the end result. Help me too seek only You, for we become like what we seek. I want to be strong rather than weak, courageous rather than frightened, pure rather than impure. I want to be like You.

May You be glorified today. Help me to turn from the old ways.

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 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.

About Holiness

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

God's Love is the previous category.

Hope is the next category.

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

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