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November 12, 2003

Living with Tomorrow in Mind

"However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

Sometimes the successes of today seem like they are enough, but we must remember: our future in heaven will be greater than we ever dreamed on this earth. No matter how satisfied we are with this life, nothing can compare to an eternity in God's presence.

So why do I get so caught up in temporary things?

To seek success and happiness in godly ways is not a bad thing; God wants us to experience joy. But am I living today with tomorrow in mind? Am I concerned more about the number of friends I have in my address book, or do I consider the number of them who will be worshiping with me in heaven? Do I do enough to share Christ - not so the world will be blessed, but so heaven will be blessed instead? We can never bring too many lost souls to Christ!

Lord, help me to live my life in such a way that success will be determined by the number who follow You for eternity, and not the number who follow me for today. Help me lead as You call, but help me to bring glory to Your name by leading them to You.

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

November 13, 2003

A Kingdom Divided

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." Luke 11:17

Thoughts of a divided kingdom... Is that what is keeping me awake? Jesus spoke the truth: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." We cannot expect to see great things in life - in marriage - in ministry - if there is disunity.

I was asked an interesting question yesterday about a music ministry in which I am currently involved. A newspaper columnist asked, "Where do you see all this going?" How could I answer? Could I be honest? There isn't really disunity... okay, there is. We don't see eye to eye on where all this is headed. My partner says it's about "ministry," but all indications are that it's about chasing dreams. There is no real direction. It has all been about grabbing whatever comes our way. In addition, it has been about putting all the proceeds of CD sales into funding the "ministry" without expecting the Body of Christ to share in the expenses. Just because it is ministry doesn't mean it is supposed to be given away completely. My time is worth something. My talent is worth something. Why is my portion being used to fund their "ministry"? What about my own?

So, how did I answer? My partner didn't know exactly what to say. "Well... we (she and her husband) are working towards full-time ministry." I'm not really in their equation. They are going to chase the dream - using my portion of the dime, I might add. I took control of the conversation for a moment and said, "We are trying to seek what the Lord wants a step at a time. We are both working towards full-time ministry, but we realize that God may have called us together for a season. Eventually, we may be in separate ministries. The key is seeking the Lord's will with every new opportunity."

Was I wrong? The world doesn't look kindly at businesses that say, "Oh, eventually we are going to split up." But how could we say anything else?

Lord, I am really in turmoil over this. The opportunities that are before us are immense! But will the expectation be to do more and more without compensation? Maybe I wouldn't mind if it were more about saving souls and touching lives than it is about being noticed. The ministry side of all this has been exhilarating. The business side of this has been miserable.

I want to be used by You, Lord - not by someone else. How do I change things? How do I stop the train? Eventually, my music partner's kingdom will be ruined because there is no real unity - no common purpose that includes me. In the mean time, help me to be used to touch the Body of Christ - to draw others closer to You. Help me to fight the bitterness that could destroy me. Shape me in Your image.

Come, Lord Jesus!

January 25, 2004

New Places

"I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph's own hand will close your eyes." Genesis 46:4

Jacob was leaving Canaan, and he would never see it again. How sad it must have been. The land that was promised to him and his descendants would be a memory for him. God promised that Jacob would return, but I'm sure Jacob knew it wouldn't be in his own strength; he would die in Egypt.

Lord, sometimes You call us away from where we thought we would be. Your plans are not always what we had hoped and dreamed. But even when we are called away, You promise to be with us.

Help me, Lord, to hear You. If You are leading me to new places, give me the strength to say goodbye to the old. I want to be with You - wherever that is.

May 28, 2004

Authority

The Lord said to Moses, "Put back Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will no die." Numbers 17:10

The Lord clearly established Aaron's authority as the priest. His staff literally came to life. It sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced almonds. There was to no longer be any question over whom God had chosen.

Father, clear authority and accountability are vital to any workplace. How can this clear line be established around me? The grumbling and dissension keep chipping away.

Just as You did with Aaron, Lord, I ask for supernatural intervention. Reveal the lines of authority in such a way that the grumbling will subside. Come, Lord Jesus. We need You.

October 18, 2004

Armor of Light

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

We no longer life in a time when knights roam the countryside on horses in gleaming armor. The armor of old can be seen in museums or in reenactments of days long since past.

Today, the body armor worn by soldiers is not so obvious; it doesn't shine in the sun. Although it is almost disguised, it still has a distinct purpose.

What is this purpose? What does armor do for those who wear it?

For the wearer, armor first EQUIPS. A good soldier is always equipped - ready to move at a moment's notice. Without his armor, a soldier it not fully ready. Armor equips a soldier for the battles ahead.

Next, armor PROTECTS. In the heat of a battle, armor stops the blows of the enemy; it saves a soldier from certain harm. Armor protects a soldier so he can fight again another day.

Finally, armor DISTINGUISHES. From medieval knights to modern day Marines, the duty of fighting for a greater purpose, for one's homeland, for the protection of life, sometimes requires that life be lost. This higher calling is apparent when armor is worn; there is little question about his profession. He stands out in the crowd. Armor makes a soldier distinguishable among his peers.

Paul challenges us to put on the armor of light - to clothe ourselves in Christ. By doing so, we too can experience the benefits that armor brings. We can be equipped and ready to respond when the Father calls us into action. We can be protected from any weapons the enemy might use against us. We can be distinguishable; those around us know who we are and what we are called to do.

Lord, there are some days when I forget my armor. Like a foolish soldier, I am prepared to fail. Forgive me for not trusting You. Help me to become a man of Your calling - a man who is equipped by Your Word, protected by Your Spirit, and known for Your love. Holy Spirit, be my armor today.

January 2, 2005

Let Him Do It!

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalm 57:2

If you are like me, one of your greatest desires is to fulfill a purpose in life. I don't want to get to the end of my life and discover that I missed the boat. I want others to say, "He made a mark on this world. Because of him, things are a little better."

Anyone who has read "The Purpose Driven Life" has asked the question, "What is my purpose?" The most important purpose for us is the one God has in mind. Once we understand it, we can work to fulfill it.

But have I ever considered that God has a purpose? He is the One working to fulfill this purpose - not me! So much of my life, I have been chasing this purpose. I have been trying to make it happen. But have I ever taken the time to stop running? To simply allow Him to do the work? To let Him be the One who fulfills the purpose?

Lord, teach me to let go. It seems I always have to be in the middle of everything making things happen. Too often I deny others the opportunity of succeeding on their own because I have to do the work. Too often I deny myself of the blessing of allowing You to do the work for me. Sometimes I am like a toddler who needs assistance with a task but refuses to let anyone help him. We've all seen it. A box won't open or a toy won't work, and our offers to help are met with an emphatic "NO!" Quickly, tears follow because he can't do it on his own.

Forgive me, Lord, for being frustrated with You when I feel You aren't helping. In truth, I won't let You. Help me to receive Your love. I can't wait to see what You are going to do for me.

July 31, 2005

Let Him Do the Fighting

All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. Joshua 10:42

When the Lord fights for us, nothing can stand in our way!

Joshua subdued an entire region of the promised land in one campaign. He was clearly a great military strategist, but his best strategy wasn't what he knew, it was Who.

The God of Israel fought for them.

From giant hailstones to interrupting the earth's orbit for a day, God would do whatever it took to see His children succeed with His plans for them. If I had lived in Canaan, I think I would have packed up my family and left!

Lord, why do I not trust You as I should? You plans will succeed. There is nothing You won't do to make them happen. Give me strength and courage to pursue Your will. Help me to remember the day the sun stood still simply because Joshua asked for it.

August 2, 2005

How I Want to Be Remembered

These are the kings of the land that Joshua and the Israelites conquered... Joshua 12:7a

No matter who you are, most people strive to be remembered.

But would you like to be remembered throughout history as one who was conquered? Would you like to be a tick mark in someone's list of men who tried to make it and failed? The kings in the promised land must have wanted more, yet here they are - thirty-one in all, who are merely remembered for their failure.

Lord, I want to be on a list of conquerors. I don't want to be seen as one of many men who failed in life. Oh, I have failed plenty, but will I one day be seen as a man who succeeded? Will my children and grandchildren someday be proud of their heritage? All my successes are meaningless if I am remembered as a disgrace and a failure. Forgive my failings, Father. Help me to reach out and grab hold of Your victory. Reign in me, so I might be remembered as a man of success.

August 12, 2005

The Heart of the Matter

(But the Danites had difficulty taking possession of their territory, so they went up and attacked Leshem, took it, put it to the sword and occupied it. They settled in Leshem and named it Dan after their forefather.) Joshua 19:47

Isn't it sad how there are always those who lack faith in God, despite all they have seen Him do?

The Danites obviously had problems. They could not take possession of the territory God had given them by the casting of lots. Many times before, God's people were met with resistance, but never was there resistance too much for the Lord God. Yet the Danites, when faced with a challenge, decided it was easier to take a city far north of their chosen home. They never seemed to occupy the territory given to them, and interestingly, the city they took and named after their forefather was later a site chosen by king Jeroboam for his own form of worship - something the Israelites had known before, honoring a calf of gold. The town the Danites stole became a blemish in Israel's history.

At the heart of the matter was a lack of faith. If they had believed God completely, He would have made a way for them. But instead, their failure became the failure of a nation.

Lord, forgive my struggles to trust You. Forgive my lack of faith. Build in me a faith that will become a shining success in the history of my descendants. May the lands I conquer be a place where You are known for generation upon generation. No longer will there be stolen legacy.

Make me a man after Your heart.

September 5, 2005

Unique Trust

Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. Judges 7:6

It is hard to believe that out of ten thousand men only three hundred knelt beside the water and used their hands to drink. Gideon must have thought, "You've got to be kidding! Have You seen how many Midianites there are in the valley? What in the world will I do with three hundred men?!"

Despite Gideon's lack of courage, God was gracious.

First, God gave Gideon two signs that he was hearing Him correctly. Twice, fleece was laid on the ground. Dry one time and wet the other, that fleece confirmed for Gideon that God was going to deliver Israel.

Then, God gave Gideon the final confirmation through a Midianite's dream and its interpretation. God was going to deliver them, and Gideon knew it.

Every time I have read this story, I think of how afraid Gideon must have been. But there is something I have never considered. What must it have been like for the three hundred? They didn't have confirmation. There was no fleece for them. Their ears didn't hear a dream and how it was interpreted. Yet they followed.

Were these men filled with an extra measure of courage? Possibly. My guess is that they might not have felt as brave at three hundred as they did at ten thousand. More than courage, however, these men were filled with trust. They trusted that the God who delivered them from Egypt would deliver them from Midian. Those three hundred knew that more could be accomplished by one man who trusts in God than an entire army without Him.

Lord, we are in a battle, and I feel outnumbered. Am I one of the three hundred? Do I trust You enough to win the battle for me? I have always felt different and out of place - like a man who doesn't fit into the crowd - like a man who drinks differently from the river. What I haven't understood is that my uniqueness doesn't make me strange; it makes me special. So what if I don't fit the mold. You love unique!

Father, I choose to trust You. Am I afraid? You bet. But will I stay and fight? I have no other choice. Help me to carry the torch. Help me to call out the truth in the night. The battle is won!

October 19, 2005

Stand Against the Fear

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 1 Samuel 13:7b

The true test of a leader isn't necessarily how he responds to a stressful situation, but how his followers react.

Saul's leadership as king of Israel seems rather questionable. When they were hard pressed by the Philistines, the men who had been hand picked to fight began to desert. Those who remained were paralyzed by fear.

A strong leader has an unusual ability to embrace the fear and encourage his men to stand strong - to trust in One greater than themselves. Saul's men could only see the Philistine's chariots and soldiers. What Saul failed to help them see was the God who would deliver them.

Father, I want to be a leader who helps others see You. Send Your Spirit so I can stand against the fear.

October 24, 2005

Racing into Battle

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 1 Samuel 17:48

David, a young shepherd boy, had more faith than any man in Israel's army, and he wasn't afraid to prove it. Goliath had been taunting Israel's army to fight him. Day after day, he laughed at the entire army. Day after day, the army cowered before him. But on this day, David entered the camp. He carried with him food for his brothers and a passion in his heart - a passion for the Most High God.

Upon hearing how Goliath mocked the armies of the living God, David could not stand back in silence. He pressed those in leadership to act, and they did nothing. He then volunteered for the assignment himself because he knew God would either fight for him or give him the strength he needed.

First, David dressed in Saul's armor. He could barely move. How could he fight the giant this way? Then David took a risk. He stripped off the armor, left his sword behind him, and hurried out to fight - just as he was. Plain old, ordinary David against a man who carried a spear with a tip the weight of a bowling ball... How could this work?

David knew something that we so often forget. God can use us more in battle when we strip away our protective gear - the secrets we keep, the guilt we carry, the shame we hide. He likes to use us just the way we are! The weight of these things only binds us and keeps us in the camp.

With complete freedom to simply be himself, David stepped up to the challenge. And with this freedom, he didn't merely enter the fight, he ran towards it. Why should he delay? He knew the result before the fight began.

Lord, I want the faith of David. I want the courage to strip off all my protections and to race into battle. Protect me from the spears of the enemy. Take the mere stones in my hand and slay the giant, so he can no longer taunt me.

November 3, 2005

The Enemy's Weapons

The priest replied, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is now sword here but that one." David said, "There is none like it; give it to me." 1 Samuel 21:19

With one stone, David knocked the giant to the ground. Yet the weapon that sealed Goliath's fate wasn't David's. It was Goliath's own sword that was used against him.

Isn't it interesting that the very sword the enemy uses to try and kill us can sometimes become a source of protection - a means of success? There are so many weapons the enemy has used over the years. Yet so much good can come if a weapon is placed in the right hands - in the hands of the Healer. By taking a weapon from the enemy, we gain understanding of it. We can use what we learn to heal, not harm.

A man who has struggled with honesty can oftentimes easily identify what isn't true. A man once trapped by lust can see the sadness in another man's eyes that comes from feeding them for hours on end. A man who has lost his loved ones over his rage can usually sense the deep anger another man tries to hide. The very things that once threatened us can be used to save those who are in the clutches of the enemy. And strengthening a brother gives us someone else to watch our backs.

We are in a battle, and too many men are afraid to reveal their greatest wounds. Yet banding together with those who understand the pain can keep us on the battlefield.

Lord, I know there are many good things that can result from the wounds I carry - if only I would let You use them. Help me to pick up the enemy's weapons then to use them against him. Give me eyes to see others who carry the same wounds. Thank You for sending men into my life who are not afraid to defend me.

December 9, 2005

The Only Way to Remain

Now all this has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Why is it that one spends an entire lifetime chasing what cannot be grasped when all he really needs is at his fingertips?

Happiness, success, achievement, growth, love, acceptance... These are the things for which every man longs. Can he hold them in such a way that they will never be stripped away from him? Eventually, whatever happiness he feels will fade. Success and achievement will be forgotten. Growth will cease. Love and acceptance will become conditional. There is nothing in this life that will remain.

So what is it that lies within reach? What is it that is always available, yet so often disregarded?

That which lies before us is the very One who made us. He is all that will last beyond all tomorrows. We will only remain at His command.

Lord, lately I have been so caught up in the moments of today that it seems I have lost sight of what is important for tomorrow. All my striving to make a difference isn't going to mean much someday. The only way that the work of my hands will last is if it is done for You - for You are the only One who transcends time. Something placed in Your hand will never rust or decay, for what You hold is timeless. Following Your will is the only way I can make a lasting difference. Help me to know the steps to take - the mountains to climb and the valleys to plant. There is purpose for all that we do. Others can and will be blessed by what we do here.

Make me a blessing.

December 21, 2005

Listen and Move!

"As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army." 2 Samuel 5:24

David was finally the king of all Israel. For almost eight years, he had ruled over the tribe of Judah, and for the first time in years, God's children were united. No longer could the people do as they each saw fit. Under one king, Israel would soon experience what has been called their "golden age" - a time of unprecedented growth and prosperity.

One of David's first encounters as king of Israel was with an old enemy, the Philistines. His actions in this battle provide a good indication of why Israel would succeed. Their king was fully committed to God, and there is much we could learn from him.

First, David inquired of the Lord. He asked the questions, "Should I fight this battle? If so, when and how?" The key to David's victory in this matter was in the Lord's response.

God commanded two things: to listen and to move quickly. Once God's army could be heard in the rustling of the balsam trees, it was time to act.

The only sure way of victory is to hear and to obey.

Lord, life in recent weeks hasn't felt victorious. Oh, I don't feel defeated. But I don't really feel successful either. Have I been inquiring of You? Not as much as I should have. More than that, I don't think I have been listening to the balsam trees, and I don't know if I have been ready to act.

Give me ears to hear and feet to respond.

December 28, 2005

The Secret of Success

The Ziba said to the king, "Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do." So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons. 2 Samuel 9:11

Is there a secret to success?

Ziba is an interesting character in the Bible who seemed to learn a secret: It is sometimes better to live as a humble servant than as a conquering king.

Ziba was a servant in King Saul's household. After the death of his master, he seemed to be doing pretty well for himself. He had fifteen sons and twenty servants of his own. Yet one day, the new king summoned him and gave him a new job. He was now given the responsibility, along with his sons, to serve Mephibosheth, the grandson of his former master, King Saul.

If I had been in Ziba's shoes, I might have been a tad resentful. Here I am, succeeding on my own, and the new boss assigns me to take care of my old boss' grandson! Yet Ziba didn't hesitate. He accepted the assignment willingly, without complaint.

Eventually, Ziba's humility paid off. The land that King David gave back to Mephibosheth, the land that Ziba was now charged to work, would one day be given to Ziba and his sons. Ziba's faithfulness as a servant was awarded with an inheritance for future generations.

Lord, help me to faithfully accept the tasks I am assigned. Make me a servant who willingly carries out my job - knowing that someday it might be rewarded. Chasing success is never as successful as quietly achieving it. Let me be seen as one who succeeded by serving You.

March 13, 2006

The Wrong Side of the Tracks

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

I hate feeling like an outsider. If there is anything I resent, it is feeling that someone looks down upon me because I don't measure up to their standard - to their status in society. Being born on one side of the tracks versus the other has nothing to do with one's value and worth.

Who is admired more? The man who succeeds despite his meager upbringing or the one who is given every privilege that wealth and position can offer?

The truth is: we are all born on the wrong side of the tracks. And nothing we do can buy us a home on the other side! The only way to live in the mansion is to be adopted by the owner. No man can pick himself up by his own boot straps. No amount of effort can establish his place. Only the work of the Master can let him live on the inside. Only the blood of Christ paves the way.

Lord, help me to fully understand that I am no longer an outsider. Help me live as an insider does. Help me to show others how to get across the tracks. I want to enjoy You. I want to bring joy to You.

About Success

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

Spiritual Growth is the previous category.

Temptation is the next category.

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

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