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November 2, 2003

It's What We Learn in Between

The neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Luke 1:65

Oh, there must have been quite a stir!

Over nine months earlier, the priest Zechariah had gone into the temple and come out unable to speak, and his wife, Elizabeth, who had been barren, was blessed with a baby. On the day of his birth, Elizabeth declared her son's name to be John. Those with her complained that she should pick a family name, so they turned to Zechariah for the answer, although he was still unable to speak. Upon writing the words, "His name is John," Zechariah's speech returned. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied and proclaimed the mighty works of God. Oh, there must have been quite a stir!

But, what happened in between?

During the time of Zechariah's silence, what was going on in his heart and mind? How humbling it must have been - to have seen and heard the angel Gabriel and to have doubted his words. Everything Gabriel told him came to pass.

How humbling it must have been.

Lord, too often I doubt the messages You give me. Like Zechariah, You could probably send an angel from Your throne room, and I would question, "How can I be sure of this?" You long to bless, and I choose to doubt. Forgive me, Father. Make me like Mary, who questioned how the miracle would take place but never doubted it would happen. I waste so much time and energy worrying about whether the blessings will be real that I miss out on the joy of receiving them.

Make me humble like Zechariah. It is no small thing to raise the man who would one day be called the greatest prophet ever to walk the face of the earth. Zechariah must have been special; God chose him for a reason. I want to be like him. He probably learned a great deal in those months of silence. Teach me to be humble and to believe - with my whole heart - that Your promises are true.

Mighty are You, O great and merciful God! You are worthy of all praise!

November 11, 2003

On Whose Terms?

But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him. Luke 9:9

Herod the tetrarch was a powerful man. It was at his command that John the Baptist was thrown into prison. It was again his words that sentenced John to death. When Herod heard about Jesus, he was intrigued. Luke writes that Herod tried to see Jesus, but I have a question: If Herod was so powerful, why do we not read stories about Herod arranging a meeting with Jesus? If he really wanted to see Him, wouldn't it have happened? (Luke later writes of their meeting on the day of Jesus' death, and we see Herod's motive. He had hoped to see a miracle performed. Interestingly, the greatest miracle of all time was performed that day: the redemption for all mankind. And Herod missed it.)

My guess is that Herod wanted to see Jesus - but on his own terms. He probably tried to have Jesus brought to him rather than going to where He was. Everywhere Jesus went, there were crowds. He was, and still is, a very public figure. But to see Him - to spend time with Him - requires us to go on His terms - to set aside our pride - to place ourselves under His authority. Herod wouldn't do that. He wouldn't let go of his pride to have an audience with the Son of God.

Lord, my pride gets in the way sometimes. Just as I'm sure Herod did, I demand to see You on my own terms. But You won't be manipulated. To see You requires humility. It requires that I set aside my agenda to follow Yours.

Help me, Jesus, to pick up my cross today and to follow You. I long to see You, but more than that, I long for others to see You in me.

December 19, 2003

Confirming Moments

I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. Genesis 17:2

Confirming moments!

Lord, today is a confirming moment. I am so humbled at the way You are confirming Your call upon me. Help me, Father, to bless Your Body. How amazing You are!

Your grace Your face is what I long for.

March 24, 2004

To See His Face

"When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by." Exodus 33:22

Do we fully comprehend that no man can look God in the face and live?

Although Moses often spoke to God as one would speak with another man, God's face was hidden in the pillar of cloud. The one time God allowed His full glory to be shown, He covered Moses with His hand in order to protect him. But this protection was not from something evil - it was from God Himself.

There are times that I long to see the face of God, but I don't think I understand how terrifying it would be if I did. God is pure and holy. The difference between His heart and mine is so great. To see His face would not only reveal His glory, but it would reveal the darkness within me.

Lord, I long for Your Presence. I long to be clean. I long for the day when I can see Your face and live.

Dwell in me today.

June 25, 2004

A Deaf Ear

"You came back and wept before the Lord, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you." Deuteronomy 1:45

The time had come. Moses began his farewell to those he had led through the desert for so long. In his parting words, he seemed to say: "Let me remind you where you have been."

The tough thing about memories is that they are not always good. As the people of Israel finally stood ready to enter the promised land, Moses reminded them why their fathers hadn't entered the land forty years earlier. Their fathers had sinned, and God withdrew. To make matters worse, their fathers disregarded their sin and were determined to take the land without God's help. Without God's blessing, they pushed toward the goal, and they were driven back - defeated and broken. Crying out in their defeat, the Israelites found themselves in a place no man wants to be; God had turned a deaf ear to them.

After King David's most public failure he penned the words, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." The Israelites who had been defeated by the Amorites were far from contrite. They were prideful, and God refused to listen.

Lord, my heart is broken; my spirit is contrite. Will You hear me? Or will I discover that you have turned away and are refusing to listen? Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned - I have failed You. Where I go from here will be determined by You - and my willingness to repent. I refuse to be defined by my failure. Give me the courage to confess, and the strength to move forward. I am disappointed, but I am not destroyed. In my pride, I chose wrongly. Through my contrition, You will hear me.

Thank You for hearing my cries, Lord. Thank You for Jesus and the grace He brings.

September 2, 2004

What about him?

When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21:21-22

"Lord, what about him?"

After all the arguing, all the attempts to vie for His attention, the hopes of getting a place next to Jesus, Peter seems to ask, "Did you pick John over me? Is he going to have it better than I am?" The response Peter got was to the point: "Peter. John, is not your concern. Follow me!"

How many times have I been distracted from the Lord's will by worrying about others? Either they seem to receive blessing that, in my opinion, they shouldn't have. Or they don't experience the consequence that, in my opinion, they so justly deserve.

The truth is: my concern should be about me - and no one else. Following Jesus is an individual responsibility. If He chooses to bless one over another, it is not my place to question Him. It is not my affair. My eyes should be on Him, and Him alone.

Lord, I have wasted so much time and energy pointing the finger at others. Selfishly, I want more than they have - either by giving me more or them less. I too often want to be the winner. In the end, it will be You and me. When I stand before Your throne, the only question I will here is, "Did you follow me?" You won't be asking me about anyone else.

Humble me, Lord. Break me then make me again. Help me keep my eyes on You.

September 6, 2004

He Lifts Us Up

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:9b

Humility. There are times in life when that's all I have left. The reality of my fallen nature stares back at me every time I look in the mirror. There is no pride, for there is nothing about which I can be proud. Oh, my friends tell me how much they respect my courage to face the demons, but how can I respect one whose heart has been so soiled, who has lived two lives - one seen, another hidden?

Lord, Your Word says You will lift up the humble. I'm going to hold You to that. Meet me here on my knees; I feel like I'm stuck in the mud. Lift me up. Wash me off. Make me new, so You will be glorified.

October 3, 2004

Something to Boast About

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30

Jesus came and lowered Himself, so we could be raised up. Our hearts should be like His - humble, compassionate, and accepting. The moment we elevate ourselves is the moment the gospel is dishonored.

The Apostle Paul knew this. He lived in a time when the church was young. Christians were experiencing the Holy Spirit's work and enjoying their newfound community with Christ. But they were vulnerable. False teachers could easily sway them. Men of words often entered their midst touting a new gospel - one that always seemed to elevate themselves.

The truth is normally evident in humility - not a false humility that is intended to manipulate for personal gain, but a humility that is revealed through love, kindness, and good works.

Paul had the right to be praised. He had earned it. His body showed the scars of his work for the gospel. Yet he acknowledged that the only thing in which he could boast was his weakness. Our weaknesses are like holes in the clouds that allow sunrays to burst forth. It is through them that others can see the light of Christ. Any other thing about which we might boast is worthless. These things keep Him from being seen.

Lord, I confess there are times I am proud. Little areas of growth become objects of pride. In the end, You receive no glory, for I have taken it for myself. Help me, Lord, to rejoice in my weaknesses - and there are many. Through them You are revealed. They are reminders of what You can do. Save us, Lord. May Your Name be praised.

February 5, 2005

A Lost Foothold

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:1-3

Worldly prosperity can be so deceiving. The promises it makes of freedom - of joy - of acceptance are nothing more than shadows. Eventually, we will feel trapped, depressed, and rejected, for everything the world offers will fade. Only the glory of the Lord will remain.

So why do I envy those who seem to be enjoying all the world offers them?

Too many times, I covet the lives of the wicked. They seem to have it all. Anything they want, they take. Their wildest desires, they fulfill. Nothing is off-limits. Here I am, denying myself for the sake of righteousness, and those of this world seem to be so happy. But their happiness is an illusion. The image that is seen from the outside cannot reveal the truth.

Would I envy their loneliness on sleepless nights, their agony on the morning after, or their anxiety from waiting for some test result that could reveal an uncertain fate? The ways of the righteous bring true freedom, joy, and acceptance.

But as for me, there are times I have slipped; there are times I have lost my foothold.

Lord, help me to stand in firm places. Too often I have turned my eyes from Your salvation to gaze at the world. Nothing it offers can compare to You, but envy is my constant companion. Help me to remember - the wicked will perish. Today's illusion will be tomorrow's terror. Save the lost, Father.

Oh, how the world needs You.

August 25, 2005

It isn't about me!

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:12

Have you ever noticed that the wisest people are also the most humble? Someone who has seen and learned much usually understands one main point: it is not about me!

So the next time you see a learned man, watch how he acts. Is he prideful and arrogant? Despite his knowledge, he may be a fool. But the next time you see one who is wise, you will know it. He will be more concerned with others than himself.

Lord, make me a man of wisdom. My pride too often reveals that I don't really understand the things about which I speak. It isn't about me! Make me a humble vessel. Use me how You choose.

August 27, 2005

Weird Truth

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

I think I have always equated humility with misery - that to be humble is to be torn down. Maybe if I'm miserable enough, I can remember my low place. Maybe if I feel badly enough about myself, then I won't succumb to the sin of pride.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

True humility is rewarded. True humility brings joy. True humility is exalted by God Himself.

How can it be that through the honest acceptance of my low position I can be lifted to the highest place of all? It's one of those weird truths. In order to live, I must die. In order to receive, I must give. In order to be first, I must be last.

Somehow along the way, I've twisted my thinking - that if I feel rotten, I must be on the right track.

Lord, You are all about joy. How did I get it in my head that You want me to be miserable? in truth, You long to lift me up. You want to fill me with inexplicable peace and contentment. You love to see me smile. Forgive me for chasing the sadness in hopes of finding humility - for knocking myself down because I thought You wanted me there. Make me a man of humility who understands his place - standing at the top next to the Greatest One of all.

September 21, 2005

Do you want this, or not?

They asked, "Shall we go up again to battle with Benjamin our brother, or not? The Lord responded, "Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands." Judges 20:28b

A cancer had begun to grow in Israel. Gibeah had become a wicked city, and if the Israelites had allowed the sin to continue in their midst, the whole nation could have been lost. It took the hideous act of one Levite to get their attention, but finally the men of Israel awoke from their complacency. Gathering together, they made plans to remove the evil; Benjamin, their brother, must be destroyed.

From all appearances, they did things right. They inquired of God about what to do, and He said to first send the men of Judah to fight against the Benjamites. The first day of battle, twenty-two thousand Israelites died. Again, they inquired of God about what to do. Again, He said to fight.

On the second day, eighteen thousand Israelites lost their lives. Forty thousand men had died! I'm certain Israel was questioning, "Did we really hear God correctly? If we are supposed to fight, why are we losing?"

A third time, Israel inquired of God. This time, their frustration is obvious. "Shall we go up again to battle with Benjamin our brother, or not?"

How many times do we start down the path upon which God tells us to travel, and we fail? How many battles do we seem to lose - even when God is clearly saying to fight? The third day of battle changed the course for Israel, but it took two days of heavy losses before they saw success.

Why did God's plan involve the loss of so many? There were times before when Israel routed an enemy and not one man was lost. What was different about this time?

I don't know the answers, but I can see the lessons.

This time, Israel was not attacking a foreign people. Benjamin was a brother. Attacking a brother is painful - for everyone involved. But regardless of the pain, the battle must sometimes be fought.

Sometimes, God calls us to break the bonds of blood, so His purpose can be fulfilled.

Another important lesson I see can only come from experiencing loss: humility. The pride of Israel was fairly apparent. They were the chosen people of the One True God; He even resided in their tabernacle. But they still lived as each one saw fit.

Sometimes, God calls us to be broken, so His purpose can be fulfilled.

Lord, do You want me to again battle the enemy, or not? Sometimes, it seems I lose more than I gain, but I know the battle cannot be abandoned - Your purpose is yet to be fulfilled. There is always more to be broken, but (I am afraid to ask) break me in the way of Your choosing. Make me a man who wins, yet give me patience for the loss.

November 7, 2005

Respect for Authority

He said to his men, "The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord." 1 Samuel 24:16

The day finally came. David could have taken Saul's life and assumed his rightful place as king of Israel. Instead, David cut off a corner of Saul's robe in the darkness of the cave. This simple act brought great conviction to David. How could he show such disrespect to God's anointed?

Wait! David was God's anointed! HE was God's chosen king! Saul had blown it. The kingdom was no longer his to pass to his sons. Yet David chose to respect Saul, not for the man he had become, but for the man God had intended him to be.

For most of my life, people have compared me to David. He was a sensitive, creative, deep-thinking musician. No matter how much I want to appear humble, I really like the comparison. Who wouldn't want to be likened to "a man after God's own heart." But the truth is: I am not as much like David as I would like to be. If I had been given the opportunity to rise above those who had been trying to harm me, could I have exhibited such self-control? Do I display respect for others, not for who they have become but for the people God intended them to be?

The humility I oftentimes wear is a false one. One of my greatest struggles in life has been respect for authority. I don't do well when I am mistreated - or perceive myself to be. The man underneath is prideful and arrogant. Sometimes I feel God has given me many gifts, and others need to simply recognize it. Are these the thoughts of a humble man?

Lord, I know how You sometimes work. You have taught me patience by making me wait. (If only I could remember that lesson more often.) I fear that You will teach me humility by humiliating me. Should I be humiliated? Probably so. I have done little to earn respect in life - especially when I consider the things committed in my heart. So I am afraid to ask. Make me a humble man, but please don't humiliate me. I've done enough of that to myself. Make me a man after Your own heart.

About Humility

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

Hope is the previous category.

Mercy is the next category.

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

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