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November 8, 2003

Where do you draw the line?

Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35b-36

Where do you draw the line between enabling poor behavior and showing mercy? Jesus gave a long list of merciful things to the people: Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you. My human eyes look at His list, and in my mind I hear, “Allow yourself to be swindled – to be trampled – to literally be destroyed.” Is that what He meant? Is that what being a Christian is about?

Well… yes. The Christian life is about giving more than you get. Jesus modeled it on the cross. He gave Himself, so we might receive redemption. The Father only asks for ten percent, and we cheat Him while asking for more. His response is to bless us beyond our just deserve.

Lord, I really struggle with this. There are times I feel so cheated and underpaid for all my efforts. Teach me to show mercy and to trust Your provision. Make me a man of mercy. Make me more like You.

December 4, 2003

God Drew a Line

Then the Lord said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3

Does God grow tired of us? In the days of Noah, He sure did. His beautiful creation was tainted by sin. It was damaged by man's attempt to be more than he was - to be like God, and God was ready to destroy every bit of what He had created.

Do we realize how close we came to the complete annihilation of the human race? His love for us, however, kept Him from completely destroying all He had made.

But God will not be walked on. He may have given mankind another chance, but that chance came with limits. Man's life would be shorter. God decided that His Spirit should not contend with man forever - that His Spirit should not plead throughout all eternity for men to again walk with God.

God drew a line. We cannot live as if He doesn't exist - without His notice.

Lord, help me to live a life that brings You joy rather than grief and pain. I believe You truly love each one of Your children. You chose to redeem us - to give us another chance, yet that chance requires much of us. That chance demands our attention. That chance asks, "Will you walk with Me?"

When I walk with You, sometimes we talk; sometimes we just walk. But always we are together. Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity Jesus has given to defy the limits of this life. Choosing to follow Him gives me the ability to hold Your hand when I reach that line, to step over it, and to continue our walk together.

I love you, Lord. Forgive the ways I grieve You. I hope to make You smile today.

December 7, 2003

He Reached Out

But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. Genesis 8:9

Noah had a plan. First, he sent a raven outside the ark. He had hoped the raven would bring back a sign of life. The raven never returned.

Then Noah sent out a dove. The dove returned with no sign that the water had receded. After a week, the dove was again released. This time, it returned with an olive leaf. Noah knew the time to leave the ark was near. Another week passed. The dove was released and never returned.

Lord, I want to be like the dove. I want to be part of Your plan. But I need You to reach out Your hand - to draw me back into Your arms. I long to be safely by Your side. I don't want to be like the raven - going it alone, searching for a place without You. Set me free, so I might return.

Free me from the darkness. I long for the day when I will dwell with You forever.

December 8, 2003

God Remembers

"Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God an all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:16

God made a covenant with Noah. Never again would He destroy all life on the earth with a flood. As a sign of the covenant, God placed a rainbow in the clouds. He told Noah, "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember..." He didn't tell Noah to remember; He stated that He Himself would be the One to remember.

Isn't that just like God. "I want to you to be righteous. Let Me make you righteous." He doesn't say, "Do it by yourself." He is always providing the means to accomplish the purpose He has laid before us. That's why Jesus came - to be the Means of our salvation and righteousness.

Lord, thank You for being the Means. The busyness and stress as of late are wearing me down, and I fear that I could abandon this pursuit of righteousness for the temporary pleasures of my flesh. Keep me from the idols that I have worshiped for too many years. Remember me, lest I forget who I am in You.

December 11, 2003

Stupid Choices

He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels. Genesis 12:16

Abram made a choice to lie about Sarai's identity, and it seemed to pay off. Because of her, he was treated very well by the Egyptians. He acquired a great deal in Egypt.

But I wonder how it felt for him. He had a lot of "stuff," but lost his wife in the process; Sarai was living in Pharaoh's harem. Abram actually caused more of a threat by lying about her identity than the truth would have ever caused him. If he had planned a secret rendezvous with Sarai while she lived in Pharaoh's household, he assuredly would have been killed. And what did God think of him for prostituting his beautiful wife? He had the opportunity to reveal the truth when Sarai was taken to Pharaoh's palace. It was only by God's grace that Abram wasn't struck down for his sin.

Lord, even knowing the truth - knowing Your blessing, I choose stupid things. It is only by Your grace that I have not been struck down for my sin. Thank You for looking beyond my choices to the cross of Christ. Thank You for loving me still.

January 16, 2004

An Unworthy Judge

About three months later Judah was told, "Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result, she is now pregnant." Judah said, "Bring her out and have her burned to death." Genesis 38:24

There is little worse than the unrighteous passing judgment on another. Judah declared that his daughter-in-law Tamar should be killed for her promiscuity. All along, Judah knew he wasn't qualified to pass judgment on anyone in this regard. Three months earlier, he had solicited a prostitute. Several years earlier, he made a promise to Tamar that he would have his son Shelah fulfill the role of kinsman redeemer, to carry on the name of Er, the husband she lost, yet he never intended to keep his promise. Some time before that, Judah participated in a plot to kill his brother Joseph, and it was his idea to sell Joseph into slavery.

Judah had no room to pass judgment on anyone. Nor do I.

Lord, I have been wicked in Your sight more times than I can imagine. Thankfully, You have been merciful. Er and Onan were wicked, and You took their lives. I deserve the same.

So why do I sometimes judge the actions of others? I am not worthy to judge them. If I got what I deserved, I would no longer be alive. But You have loved me enough to forgive. Thank You, Father, for Your mercy.

Help me, Lord, to be filled with mercy. Help me to see the wrongs of others and understand: they need Your mercy and redemption just as I do. Make me a man of compassion. Make me a man who stands up for what is right - without condemnation. It is not my place. It is Yours. And You chose to send Your Son. Thank You, Jesus, for the gift of eternal life.

January 28, 2004

Unforgotten Things

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him. Genesis 49:28

To receive an appropriate blessing is not necessarily something I want. Jacob blessed each of his sons, but as the blessings are given, some aren't very pleasant. They contain reminders of adultery, murder, and greed. At the end of his life, Jacob remembered things that I'm sure his sons wished he had forgotten.

There are things in my life I would rather forget. But they are there nonetheless. Will I someday be remembered for the beds I have defiled - for the cities I have plundered?

Lord, I beg for mercy. I know Your saving grace, yet there are times I still feel unworthy; I feel wretched as I remember where I have been. The enemy wants me to remember these things only, so he can hold me down. Pick me up from the bottom, Lord. Honor me, so You might be honored all the more.

When others think of me someday, let them remember You.

March 3, 2004

Heeded Warnings

Moses said to the Lord, "The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us. 'Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.' " Exodus 19:23

I don't get it. God warned Moses three times that the people should not go near Mount Sinai while He was there. Moses himself seemed to question God's continued warning: "You yourself warned us."

Why three times? Are we so untrustworthy that we must be told and retold or we will run into danger?

Well... YES!

Spirit, on more than one occasion, You have warned me, and I ignored Your warning. It is only by Your mercy, Lord, that I have not been completely destroyed. Help me to heed Your warnings. Consecrate me, so I may approach Your throne. Make me clean, so I might be invited into Your awesome presence. Make me holy as You are holy. Amen!

March 23, 2004

Prone To Evil

"Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil." Exodus 32:22

Moses had been on the mountain for forty days. The people very quickly abandoned the One True God to worship a calf made of gold that Aaron fashioned for them. Upon Moses' return, Aaron quickly reminded Moses that the people were prone to evil - as if their sin should be disregarded.

How outrageous! It seems as silly as saying, "The devil made me do it." Maybe God will simply look the other way.

But is it just a silly response? Many today would have us believe the same lie: "Oh, we are simply prone to this, so it must not be wrong."

The biggest problem I have with many movements today is this notion that people are simply prone to a certain behavior; therefore, it must be okay. Some scientists attempt to show genetic dispositions for behavior, as if to say the individual is not to blame. Accountability doesn't exist in today's world.

What does it matter if an individual's brain has more of a certain chemical! Can science prove how the change occurred? Was someone truly born this way? Did the balance change due to the environment in which the person lived? For whatever reason, some are prone to see something as natural that God did not intend. Just because it feels right doesn't make it right. Only God determines what is right and what is wrong.

Lord, we are a race that is prone to evil. Forgive us! Draw us back to You and away from our sinful ways. It is nice to know that although I am prone to evil, the sacrifice Jesus made is great enough to make me clean. Regardless of my sin, there is hope through Your saving blood.

Come, Lord Jesus! Have mercy on us.

April 22, 2004

More Than Words

"The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for him, and he will be clean." Leviticus 14:18

To be made clean - it takes more than words. A priest didn't simply say, "Okay, you are clean," when a healed person appeared before him. Like most things required of the priests, there was ritual to be followed. Sacrifices were made, and the individual was consecrated. Like the consecration of a priest, blood was placed on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe of the one being cleansed. God is to be God over what we hear, what we do, and where we go. In addition to the blood, anointing oil was placed on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe, and the remainder of the oil was placed on top of the head. The words, "He anoints my head with oil," later prayed by King David take on a whole new meaning. Anointing the head was associated with complete and total healing.

Lord, You didn't just say the words to make us clean; You took action. The heavens and the earth, You spoke into existence. Yet when it came to saving Your children, You didn't stand idly by. You sent Your Son to be the sacrifice - to be the hyssop dipped in blood - to be the priest who anoints us with oil.

Anoint my head with oil, Holy Father. Make me clean. Make me holy. Lead me beside still waters today.

April 29, 2004

A New Future

"Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy." Leviticus 20:8

Do we really understand what Jesus did on the cross? Any who have seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ" might have a clearer image of the suffering. But do we really get it? Can we comprehend the freedom - the life - that He gave us?

The old covenant required strict adherence to the law, and the punishments were harsh. Like many, I would not be alive if God commanded the stoning of certain lawbreakers! The new covenant in Jesus Christ shines mercy and grace on those who deserve only death, which in truth is every man.

Lord, Your mercy is astounding. When I read of the punishment that I am due, my heart is sick. The enemy wants me to believe that death is my future. But Your action changed my future. Your mercy gives me life. Help me to walk in Your strength. Thank You for blessing us with Your Holy Spirit.

May 5, 2004

The Context of Mercy

Then Moses spoke to the Israelites, and they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The Israelites did as the Lord commanded Moses. Leviticus 24:23

Out of context, the stories of God's judgment make Him seem harsh and merciless. Blasphemers were stoned by the community, and no one seemed to give it a second thought. The blasphemer's guilt was upon his own head. If his life was cut short, it was his own doing.

It was into this environment that Jesus was born. This was the mindset of those who cried out to have Him crucified. In their opinion, He was a blasphemer. To them, there was no other option.

Praise the Lord! God is all about options. His judgment, in the context of mercy, is all about protecting His children from everlasting death. He took the judgment upon Himself. He died in order to save us. Because of Him, we will live forever in His presence.

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me as You do.

June 1, 2004

Undeserved Honor

So Moses took the staff from the Lord's presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" Numbers 20:9-10

I don't think I have ever fully understood why it was such a big deal for Moses to strike the rock instead of speaking to it. The water came anyway. God still met the need of His people. Yet Moses and Aaron were not allowed to enter the promised land due to this incident. I have always wondered what they did that was so wrong.

In truth, it wasn't striking the rock that did it. Their sin was pride. In their anger over the people's grumbling, they dishonored God. They took the credit for what was God's doing and God's alone. Not once did Moses or Aaron say, "Watch, and the Lord will provide!" Essentially, their words added up to: "Fine! If you won't be quiet, we'll give you water!"

Others had been struck dead for less, but God continued to honor them in spite of their actions. Oh, Aaron died soon after this, but he was mourned for thirty days. Only honorable men are remembered in such a way. And although Moses never stepped foot in the promised land, God let him see it from afar.

Lord, there are many ways I have dishonored You in my life. The consequences must still be faced at some point. But in truth, You honor me still. The blood of Your Son is honor enough for any man.

Thank You for Your undeserved grace. The day will come when I stand ready to enter Your promised land, and despite my actions of dishonor, the action of Jesus will cover me. I long for that day. I long to be by Your side. Stay near me today.

July 27, 2004

No Room to Judge

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. Deuteronomy 25:18

God calls us to compassion. He expects us to care about and for those who are in need in our midst. For some people, compassion seems to take work. For me, it comes easiest when I remember the ways God has delivered me.

Lord, I have much for which I am grateful. Your grace has carried me through an untold number of deserts. There is no room for judgment - only compassion in my life. Without the amazing love of Your Son, I would remain worthless and hopeless.

Help me to find the ways to serve. Help me to discover the balance between serving others and serving my family. So often I struggle to say no to good things.

Make me more like You.

August 24, 2004

Expectations

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47

Why do I sometimes forget that Jesus came to save me, not judge me? So often, Lord, I struggle to forgive myself when I don't live up to Your expectations... or are they Your expectations?

Jesus said He does not judge those who hear His words but do not keep them.

He knew we would blow it! From the very beginning, He expected us to fail. That's the whole reason He came. The enemy wants us to believe that Jesus stands by us ready to punish us if we fail Him. Yet the truth is: He stands by us ready to hold us when we turn to Him.

Lord, I really need an attitude adjustment. I've had what Joyce Meyer calls "stinkin' thinkin'." The smallest failure seems like the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. When will I get it through my head: You love me - You really do! Feeling any less about myself sells You short. I've had times when I've fallen down that I've stood back up, brushed off the dirt, and kept going. But lately it seems that I feel unworthy to stand again. Maybe I want pity. The words, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" might get a response from someone.

Father, help me to seek Your praise - not the praise of men. I will never live up to man's expectations. Thankfully, Your expectations come with grace. Thank You, Jesus, for Your undying love.

February 6, 2005

Defiling His Dwelling Place

They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. Psalm 74:4

Defiling the dwelling place of God is no small crime. God doesn't take lightly those who disregard His house. Although He allowed the destruction of the temple, the attackers probably faced His terrifying wrath. If He took the life of a priest whose heart was impure, what fate would these men have?

Lord, if it were not for Your amazing grace, there would be no hope. Every man who has received Your Spirit has, at one time or another, defiled Your dwelling place. The sin in our lives is like a wielded axe - smashing the beauty of Your temple; it is like burning tar splashed on the walls of the heart.

Remember Your everlasting covenant. Rebuild what the enemy has destroyed. Make my heart Your dwelling place again.

March 25, 2005

Judged with Equity

Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Psalm 96:10

What makes you mad? Is there one thing that infuriates you every time it happens? Most of us have a button that is easily pushed. We all have at least one thing that will cause our eyes to burn with passion and anger.

For me, it is inequity. If I sense unfairness in someone's treatment, either of me or someone else, my anger will flare. Maybe it stems from growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.

Oh, my family wasn't poor. Even with a family of eight, we always had food, clothing, and a warm bed, but so often I felt others looked down on me. Living in the enlisted housing rather than where the officers lived. Living in a trailer instead of a house. (Now, they call them "manufactured homes.") Living on the north side of town rather than the south. Living on the west side of the street and not the east.

Someone else always had more. Sometimes I forget how many had less.

But today, if I sense someone's opinion of me is unfair, it's usually best for me to keep my mouth shut.

Interestingly, when it comes to really being judged with equity, I plead for mercy. Everyone should treat me fairly... except God. If He did, I would have been a pile of ashes long ago.

Lord, thank You for Your wonderful mercy. Thank You for making the way for this undeserving man to spend eternity with You. Help me remember on this day, this Good Friday, the depth of Your mercy and love. Jesus, You gave everything You had - Your very body. Forgive me for the times I treat You unfairly. All glory and honor belong to You.

About Mercy

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

Humility is the previous category.

Obedience is the next category.

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

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