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November 3, 2003

How can I forget?

But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:50

At the age of twelve, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem as his parents traveled home after Passover. Oh, the panic Mary and Joseph must have felt! Every parent panics when a child is lost. When they found him, He very plainly told them that it was necessary to be in His Father's house, but they didn't understand.

How could they not?

Since before He was born, they had been told who He was. Jesus was the Christ. The shepherds knew it on the day of His birth. Simeon and Anna knew it at the temple when He was eight days old. There was such a buzz around Jesus. How could they forget that He was the Son of God?

Lord, how do I so easily forget as well?

I know that Jesus is the Christ, for Your Spirit has confirmed it within my heart. Yet I often choose to follow the world rather than the One sent to save it. Forgive me for not depending on You every moment of the day. Help me to understand Your words. Help me to walk with You today.

November 17, 2003

Without a Second Thought

"He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything." Luke 15:16

There's a part of the Prodigal Son story that I have never understood. The lost son squandered all he had, there was a famine in the land, and he hired himself out in order to survive. He longed to eat what the pigs were eating - but... Wasn't he getting paid?

The story says, "no one gave him anything."

Isn't that the way of the world? "Go ahead. You can work for me." We expect that we can survive on our own - away from God - because we have been told we will be paid. In reality, the way of the world will use us up without a second thought.

Lord, why do I so often chase those who would use me up? Why do I think I can survive without You? I know that feasts await me in the comfort of Your arms. Help me to flee the distant lands. Help me to come home.

November 18, 2003

Modern Inventions

"It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." Luke 16:17

Manipulating the Word of God for our own purposes is not a modern invention. So many in our day have attempted to replace the requirements of the Law with the gift of grace. Yet grace doesn't release us from the pursuit of righteousness. In fact, it requires more of us.

Now... we know better.

Jesus faced the issues of the people picking and choosing which laws to follow as He dealt with the Pharisees. Although they were strict in their tithing, they loved money - just as we do. Like today, divorce had apparently become commonplace; otherwise, Jesus may not have stated that a man who divorces and remarries commits adultery. Materialism and selfish greed left no room for generosity. He walked among a people who were corrupt - despite all appearances of propriety. They didn't learn the truth from Him - even after seeing Him rise from the dead.

When will we?

Lord, we live in a country that continues its shrewd distortion of the truth for personal gain. What You have always said to be wrong is being made right in the eyes of the people. Protect me - protect my family from the distortions of the enemy.

Give me compassion for the lost.

November 20, 2003

SHOUT All the More!

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Luke 18:39

What do you do when the whole world seems to hold you back? In truth, the world system is unjust. The law doesn't always seem to protect the innocent. The rich always seem to get richer. The poor always seem to feel helpless. Those who govern seem to lose sight of more than a few special interests.

What is a man to do?

A little persistence goes a long way, so SHOUT all the more!

The blind man on the road to Jericho was pushed aside. Those who led the way tried to stop him from bothering Jesus, but he wanted to see more than anything. So - he shouted all the more, and it paid off! Like the persistent widow who received justice from an unjust judge - like the tax collector who received mercy for his humility - like the children whose parents brought them to Jesus against the wishes of the disciples - the blind man received that for which he longed. He received his sight. Nothing held him back. What did he have to lose?

Father, my entire life has seemed like a battle to overcome the world. I know I am not alone in this conflict, but why do I so often feel pushed aside, pressed down, and quieted by others - by my own heart? As a child, I felt lost in the crowd. As an adult, I feel trapped by the expectations of others and the shortcomings of my flesh. Will I ever get there? Will I ever get to that place of confidence where I don't care what others think? To that place of self-control where I don't fear toppling off the pedestals I build? In reality, what do I have to lose?

Help me, Lord, to never give up. Help me to be persistent. Help me to shout all the more, so I might see Your purpose fulfilled through me!

November 24, 2003

Decide Ahead of Time

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. Luke 21:14

How much time do we waste worrying about how can defend our faith? I hear it all the time: "I'm so afraid I won't know what to say!" In our anxiety, opportunities are missed to share the truth of Jesus with those around us. We shut down any chance of being a witness by avoiding those situations that may require us to testify.

So what can I do? How can I overcome fear and anxiety to become salt and light to the world?

Jesus said to decide ahead of time not to worry. He didn't say to decide how we might avoid awkward situations; He expects us to face them.

Lord, help me to set my heart on You and not on the worries of this world. I may not know what to say if I am challenged, but You do. You promise that You will give me the words I need.

Be glorified in all I say and do!

December 12, 2003

Altars

So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees at Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord. Genesis 13:18

We are all in the altar building business. At one time or another, we find ourselves kneeling before an altar worshiping the god of our choice. The real question is: Are we worshiping the real God?

Abram built altars. Even when he traveled to Egypt to avoid the famine in Canaan, he built them; although, there is no mention of them in Scripture. The altars he built may not have been seen by human eyes, but they were very real indeed.

One might question this statement since there is no mention in the Biblical account of Abram's time in Egypt when he called on the name of the Lord. However, while in Egypt, Abram called on the gods of deceit and materialism.

What was the result? Abram was asked to leave the country.

In Canaan, on the other hand, Abram built altars to the One True God, and he was blessed. Rather than using deceit for personal gain, Abram gave his nephew Lot permission to select the land he wanted; he was willing to give away the very best. Lot chose the green, fertile plain. Abram moved north, reflecting a change of his heart. God promised Abram that all the land belonged to him and his offspring. Lot's choice made no difference in the grand scheme of God's will.

Okay, I have a problem. I think it's great that Abram was blessed when he called upon the name of the Lord. Finally, he was worshiping the God he should have been all along. But what about all the "stuff" he acquired when he was building unseen altars in Egypt? He just kept it all, then he was given more. What does all this mean? Was it okay that Abram had gone his own way, deceiving Pharaoh about Sarai's identity and receiving blessing because of her? No. I don't believe God rewarded Abram for his lack of faith in Egypt, but the fact that he got to keep everything makes me wonder.

The truth is: God wants to bless us, and He is sovereign. He makes the rules. And even when we have acquired worldly things in worldly ways, He wants the best for us. Just because Abram didn't call on the Lord didn't mean that God lost interest in Abram. He loved him.

He loves me.

Lord, forgive my worldly pursuits - the ones I chase in my own way. Thank You for not taking away all that I may have gained without You. Help me to see that it all belongs to You. Forgive me for judging others. Bless me, but give me a heart that desires to give it all away. Help me build altars to You and You alone.

January 4, 2004

The Real Problem

Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalat, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had. Genesis 28:8-9

Why do people think that marriage will solve all their problems? Many of my single friends express what I once did: "If only I could get married, things would be better."

Any married couple can tell you - marriage doesn't solve anything. It only makes life tougher.

Any why is it that many people who are married say, "If only I could marry someone else..."? Unfortunately, we live in a society that easily throws away one marriage to start another. The other day, I spoke with a friend about the upcoming celebration of her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We both commented that it is difficult to find many people who have been married to their first husband or wife for twenty-five years. Somehow, marriage has lost its value.

Esau thought marriage would fix his problems. He had two Canaanite wives that brought nothing but displeasure to his parents. After losing the blessing from Isaac, Esau seemed to be searching for a way to regain his father's favor. He took another wife who was not from Canaan, a daughter of Ishmael.

The real problem was: Esau needed to work on Esau. He had problems that had nothing to do with who he married. Esau disregarded the importance of his birthright. His relationship with Jacob was obviously strained. How could Jacob have taken so much from a brother he loved? No. Marriage wouldn't solve anything for Esau. My guess is, it would only make his life tougher.

Father, I confess that I do not always value my marriage as I should. Sometimes I consider throwing it away because it seems too difficult. Yet I know that marriage or divorce would never meet my greatest need. I need You!

Continue to make me the man You have called me to be. Help me to be the husband I should be to the wife of my youth.

January 26, 2004

Used Up

Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. Genesis 47:27

All of Egypt was wasting away. The Egyptians sold everything they had, including their bodies, to Pharaoh. Joseph is credited with reducing the people to servitude. Interestingly, Joseph's family prospered. God's chosen increased in number, while the Egyptians lost all they had.

Things haven't changed much over the years. The world will use us up completely. God will bless and protect. So why do we ever chase after what the world offers? It will only destroy us - make us slaves to the sadness - and take everything we have.

Lord, I am one of Your chosen only by Your grace and mercy. Help me to continue in this struggle to throw off the chains of the enemy. I long to serve You and You alone.

February 5, 2004

More With Less

"Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks." Exodus 5:18

"Do more with less!"

The modern business world did not invent the concept of doing more with less. Pharaoh punished the Israelites by refusing to supply them with the straw needed to make bricks. He did this without changing the quote.

How often does this happen today? In every job I have ever held, I have faced this same dilemma. Budgets are cut. Resources are reduced, and management generally says, "work harder." The workload only increases.

Lord, the unfairness needs to stop. I don't ever want others to look at me and call me unfair. Provide the means, so my staff isn't simply faced with working harder - with less. Forgive me for not praying enough for Your blessing in my workplace. We can't do it without You. Help me to be a servant to those around me today.

March 5, 2004

Relativism

"If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property." Exodus 21:20-21

How can we stand up to a world that embraces relativism when the Bible itself seems to embrace it?

Slavery is an evil thing. Buying and selling human beings in our society is not an acceptable practice. Yet it was the common practice in Moses' day. God gave Moses laws governing the treatment of slaves. Does His mention of it make it right?

God addressed the treatment of a first wife if a man marries a second. Does this make the practice of polygamy acceptable? It was also the norm.

Lord, these are tough questions. Examined out of context, these issues could rock my faith. They easily bring into question the modern day concerns about marriage, homosexuality, and abortion.

Many men and women - even in the church - are choosing to live together outside of marriage. It is common. Does it make it right?

Across our country and the world, mainstream churches are struggling with the full acceptance of the gay lifestyle. It is common. Does it make it right?

Abortion is a legal practice in our country. Unfortunately, it is common. Does it make it right?

I guess the only response I could have is: Now we know better! We have been given the gift of Your Spirit, who leads us in Your ways. We have at our disposal the wisdom of God. Embracing modern day practices that are clearly contradictory to Your Word negates Your Spirit's role in guiding us, in teaching us, in aiding us in a quest for righteousness. Embracing modern day practices that are clearly contradictory to Your Word negates the sacrifice of Your Son.

These questions are tough. But Your Spirit is tough enough to deal with the answers.

Father, I leave the answers to You. Help me to walk in Your ways. Help me to be salt and light in a world that embraces relativism. Show me the Truth, for without it, there would be no hope.

March 30, 2004

Whoa!

And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. Exodus 36:6b-7

Could you imagine a pastor today saying, "Whoa! We have enough. Please don't give any more because we have plenty."? Just the thought of it is outrageous.

But this is what Moses had to do when the tabernacle was being made. The skilled craftsman came to him to say, "Please, no more!"

We could learn a lesson from this group of homeless people, who lived in tents and wandered in the desert. When God called them, they responded. We live in the wealthiest nation on earth, and we have become so selfish that pastors are almost required to beg for more when needs are apparent.

Lord, forgive our selfishness. Forgive me for not giving as I should. Provide what our churches need to reach the lost, for we won't do it of our own accord. Draw us back to You.

June 15, 2004

The Weight of Responsibility

"Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself." Numbers 30:13

The Lord established a man's authority and responsibility in relation to his wife and daughter. God said, a man had the authority to nullify a vow when he heard about it. He was also responsible for her guilt if he confirmed it in silence and later nullified it.

Isn't it interesting how gender alone brings unique stresses and strains? How can a man carry the weight? How especially can he carry it in a society that no longer equips him for the responsibility?

We live in a world where gender roles have been confused. Little boys are raised to see that women are not just partners, but co-breadwinners and oftentimes the head of the house. No wonder too many man check out of marriage. No wonder more and more men and women feel they don't need the opposite sex.

Lord, we need Your help. Help us to understand what You intended - not to disrespect the role of either a man or a woman, but to equip us as only You can.

Father, help me to carry the weight.

June 21, 2004

Life without a Map

The Lord said to Moses, "Command the Israelites and say to them, 'When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance will have these boundaries.'" Numbers 34:1-2

I wonder if Moses had a map.

He was a well educated man. Through him, God wrote the first five books of the Bible. Did he also have the ability to draw maps? There must have been someone who learned cartography, the fine art of map making, while in Egypt. Although they didn't have the luxury of electricity or combustion engines, the Egyptians were a fairly civilized people. There must have been someone who could put it on paper.

What would life be like without maps? How would we ever know which direction to go? How would be ever know that we have reached the boundaries? Unfortunately, there are so many people who wander about in this life without a map. Every day is lived aimlessly wandering from place to place. Every day is lived with no boundaries.

Lord, thank You for the roadmap of Your Word. Americans so often take for granted that Bibles can be owned and read publicly... as long as it isn't done in the name of the government. This is one place where the enemy seems to be winning.

Yet, there are places in our world where Bibles are completely against the law. It is hard to believe the Word of God is contraband that must be smuggled and hidden to avoid persecution. And so many in this free nation ignore it!

Help me to cherish Your Word, Father. Help me to follow the instructions laid out in this amazing Masterpiece. Show me Your direction, so I can lead others as You would have me. Keep my life within the boundaries, so You may be glorified.

July 14, 2004

Celebrations

Three times a year all of your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed. Deuteronomy 16:16

The heart of a nation is often revealed by its celebrations. For Israel, God established three important feasts that were to be observed: the Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover reminded the people of God's deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The Feasts of Weeks and Tabernacles were intended to celebrate God's provision to the nation.

What do we celebrate? When you think of America, which holidays seem to bring the most celebration, and what does this reveal about the heart of our nation?

Independence Day - since this recently passed - is one that comes to mind. On this day across the country there are celebrations ranging from parades to picnics to fireworks displays. As a nation we are proud. Generally, we are patriotic, at least on this one day of the year.

But what else do we celebrate? I believe two other days rise to the top. They are days when most work stops and families gather: Thanksgiving and Christmas. These celebrations have been a vital part of our nation's history, but what do they represent?

Thanksgiving - a day meant for remembering God's provision - has become a glutonness celebration. Most people merely eat themselves silly while watching college football on television.

Christmas - a day meant for remembering the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ - has become a materialistic nightmare, the very focal point of our nation's economy.

What do these day reveal? I believe we are a nation oftentimes driven by pride, gluttony, and materialism. For many within our borders, our most important days have become a means of celebrating ourselves and what we have accomplished. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten God. We have earned the label, "Post-Christian Society."

Lord, forgive us. Only Your Spirit has the power to touch an entire nation. Some remember You, but too many have never known You. And Father, help my celebrations reflect a heart for You. Do I remember Your provision as I should? If others were to examine the time I take to celebrate, would they see one who remembers his God and his family? Or would they see a selfish man who cares only for himself? Help me, Lord, to become the man I must if I am to make a difference in this world.

July 19, 2004

The Fear of Consequence

The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Deuteronomy 19:20

Why is the fear of consequence not enough to keep us out of trouble? Moses told the people how to treat a malicious witness, expecting that the consequence for lying under oath would keep others from doing it. But how many people ignore the consequence and proceed where they shouldn't?

We live in a world that is plagued with diseases that are transmitted by inappropriate sexual practices, yet many disregard the consequence. One act of pleasure can result in years of torment and eventual death.

We live in a world where marriages and families are destroyed by secret affairs. The infatuation with one person can destroy the lives of many. It may not be worth the consequence, but still divorce is rampant.

Lord, I don't want to live a life in fear of consequence. For too long I have seemed frozen by fear; it keeps me from truly living. Yet what the world presents as life only leads to death. I need Your wisdom to live without this fear of the consequence. If I am walking in Your will, there is nothing to fear.

Father, give me eyes to see. Keep me from those things that would destroy me. Help me to choose rightly because I love you - not only in the fear of death.

July 22, 2004

Finders Keepers

If you see your brother's ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him. Deuteronomy 22:1

What kind of a world would it be if we could change the "finders keepers" mindset around us? So many people seem to want something for nothing, and they will do anything to get it. Finding something that is lost simply means it can now be yours. Rarely do people seek out its owner anymore.

This is not how God intended it. What happened to common courtesy? What happened to helping someone in need? My wife sometimes rolls her eyes when I go out of my way to return a grocery cart someone else left in the parking lot at the store. But what would happen if everyone did? The store cold better utilize their employees; they could keep costs down rather than paying their workers to chase around a parking lot for stray carts.

Lord, forgive our selfishness. The people of America have forgotten how to be kind. No wonder the lost cannot see You in us. He me to never say "finders keepers."

July 26, 2004

Decency

For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:14

When Moses writes about bodily functions, I often find myself asking, "Why is this here? This is so deeply personal; I can't believe it is in the Bible."

The truth is: the Bible is the most deeply personal book ever written. There is no subject that is off-limits. God created our bodies. He knows exactly how they work. Nothing would surprise Him. Even knowing this, I am left wondering why the subject has been breeched. What purpose does it serve?

Decency. There are certain things about being human that are simply not decent enough to be shown in public.

Lord, we live in a time when the definitions of decency are being rewritten. For the sake of entertainment, violence and sex have become commonplace. Although the human body is a beautiful creation, our society seems to take modesty to the limits. Do we understand what this has done? Not only to ourselves, but to Your place in our culture?

Moses himself said it: You go about in our midst, and indecent things will cause You to turn away. In what ways have would caused Your eyes to turn?

Father, over the years I have filled my mind with indecent things - things that may cause You to turn away. Forgive me for seeking out that which You hate. Help me to purge my thoughts of the indecent things that keep me from You

Help me face the world today.

August 19, 2004

Where would I have been?

Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. John 7:43-44

Jesus.

The mere mention of His name invokes a reaction. When I here His name, I am humbled, excited, happy, maybe even a little afraid. He is the Son of God, and I know it.

But there are many who are offended by the mention of His name. People in our "free" country scream about the separation of church and state if He is honored publicly in any way. Others turn apathetic - unsure of anything but their own desires.

Not a lot has changed in two thousand years. When Jesus walked on the earth, He tended to stir things up. The priests and the Pharisees became outraged by His indignance over their petty laws - trying to acquire holiness in their own strength. Many people didn't know what to make of Him. Even the temple guard acknowledged that no one had ever spoken like Him.

But there were others - those who believed.

Where would I have been if I had been in the crowd that day? Would I side with the priests? Aren't they the keepers of the law? Or would I - against all rational thinking - believe in this man, whom many said couldn't be the Christ. If they had searched for truth, they would have found it. He is Messiah. He is Lord.

Father, save the lost. The world needs You.

I need You.

August 22, 2004

The Voice of a Stranger

"When he has brought out his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." John 10:4-5

Jesus said His sheep would not follow the voice of a stranger. If this is true, it means I am far too familiar with the voices of the world. I am saddened by the voices I have followed.

Lord, I know Your voice, yet I find it difficult at times to run from the voices of my past. Their words are familiar to me, so although they can lead to death, I seem to find comfort in them. Help me to forget the voices that once called me. Make them like the voice of strangers. Help me to flee from them. Help me to follow only You.

August 29, 2004

I Want You

”Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:34

One of the toughest struggles I have as a stereotypical “lost child” from a dysfunctional family is an insatiable desire to be wanted. This desire often drives me to live a life that is focused on the praise of man rather than the praise of God. Oddly, I don’t feel complete unless someone says, “I want you in my life.” Everything I do doesn’t feel finished unless someone says, “Hey! That’s great. You really did a good job.”

Without this affirmation from others, I can feel rejected, so I too often find myself doing whatever it takes to please. Actions other might call “codependent,” I simply can’t seem to shake; this need to be wanted has taken me places no man should ever go.

But there is One who truly wants me with Him no matter what I do. The only man to live a sinless life, who deserves all the glory, prayed for me to be with Him – to see His glory – to enjoy being in the Presence.

Father, chasing the world over the years has left me confused and lost. Being wanted by man pales in comparison to being wanted by You. Why have I ever wanted more than You? Forgive me for the ways I have pursued worldly affirmation. Forgive me for disregarding the affirmation You so willingly lavish upon me.

Jesus, I want to be with You, too.

September 13, 2004

Get Out Now!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were brought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The world would have us believe that certain things are okay because in their thinking, "It doesn't hurt anybody." In truth, the body it hurts is your own. And for those who have accepted Jesus Christ, our bodies are indwelt with the same Spirit that hovered over the waters when the earth was formed. No matter what we do with our bodies, no matter what we take into them through our ears, our eyes, or our mouths, the Spirit is present to hear it, to see it, and to taste it. In an unusual and mysterious way, we a bringing sin into the presence of One who can never be present in the place of sin.

How is it, Lord, that You remain in us experiencing what we experience when You are holy - separate from sin? When I consider the things I have done to my body, I am amazed that You could still be here with me. I am amazed by the moments of realization that You are whispering to me from within the depths of my spirit to flee - even after the sin has pulled me to the bottom.

"Get out now!" How many times have I heard that? How many times have I fled? Unfortunately, not enough.

"Get out now!" How many times have I stayed? Unfortunately, far too many. Every moment I have remained is another wound to the One within me.

Father, forgive me for the times I have disregarded Your presence. Help me to be mindful of You. Help me to be ever aware of the damage I cause when my actions are less than holy. Restore me. Rebuild this temple. Make my body a place of honor, a place where You would dwell, a place You can call home.

September 18, 2004

Dependence

In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 1 Corinthians 11:11

We live in a time when much emphasis is placed on equality, the equality of the races, the equality of the sexes. I don't have a single problem with this. But in a fallen world, the quest for equality is so often distorted. In the world's way, to lift one up we must knock down another.

As an example that could get me in trouble for not being politically correct, consider the Women's Liberation movement. In theory it is a good thing, but what has it done to our society to raise the place of women by lowering the place of men? In my opinion, this is the real agenda. Has it done much to break through the glass ceiling? Has it done more harm than good?

The truth is: we can never improve the life of one by tearing down another. In the end, both will suffer.

Some may disagree, but I believe these attempts to knock down the men in our society have actually been successful. Look around. What has it done? Women's Lib has resulted in a generation of men who don't know how to be men. Everywhere you turn, boys are physically growing into men, but they haven't a clue of the role God intended. Everyday, children and wives are being abandoned. Everyday, it becomes more acceptable for men and women to reject the other - to raise families and live separate lives in a "tolerant" culture.

God intended for us to be dependent on each other. Black, white, hispanic, male, female - we need to give and receive. The only solution - our only hope - is to turn to the One beyond ourselves. God's ways are not our ways. He lifts us up by lifting up His Son, by unifying us in the blood of Christ.

Lord, help us to see Your truth. Dependence on one another builds; it does not destroy. Save the boys, Father. Help them to become men who lead. Help them to honor the women in their lives. Turn our hearts to You.

November 2, 2004

Misplaced Honor

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. Psalm 12:8

To be honored among men... Why is it so important? In truth, mankind's opinion doesn't mean much. When one considers the vile things that a man can honor, why would anyone want praise from him? If a man snickers at sin, even praises others for it, how can any of his judgment be trusted?

Man is so trapped by worldly things.

Lord, why do I so often seek the affirmation of men, and I too infrequently turn to You. Do I look to You as much as I do to those around me? Forgive me, Father, for putting Your opinion on the same level - if not below - the opinion of men. I long to be honored in Your eyes. Make me Your servant today.

November 6, 2004

A Promise of Misery

The sorrow of those will increase who run after other gods. Psalm 15:4a

Ever-increasing sorrow.

Who wants a future that promises misery? Have you ever known anyone who wakes up excitedly each morning saying, "I can’t wait. It’s going to be such a rotten day!"? This seems ridiculous, but how many people do you know who live everyday chasing everything the world can offer – always in the pursuit of happiness?

Anything that is placed above the Lord God can become a god to me. Good things can consume my every thought. Good relationships can distract me from the most important relationship of all: the one I have with Jesus Christ. Running after other gods will only increase my pain and sorrow. Why do I so easily worship them?

Lord, I want a future that promises fulfillment and joy. Yet so much of my life has involved running after the gods of this world. Good things, fun things, things that I unashamedly do in public. Evil things, fun things, things that are only done in secret. All of these I have worshipped. Like many, I have included You in the long list of pursuits, but chasing anything besides Your glory will end in sorrow. Dr. Phil talks about putting certain things in life on "project status." Help me to understand that You are always the most important project of all.

I am humbled by Your mercy. I am humbled by the joy I feel as You heal my deepest pain. Never let me return to the gods of my past. With You at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

December 10, 2004

The Only Hope

Rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. Send forth your light and your truth. Psalm 43:1b,3a

It sometimes amazes me how deceitful and wicked men can protect others who are just as deceitful and wicked. The workplace is full of it. When an ungodly man rises to a place of power, he somehow surrounds himself with others who would do anything for themselves - even turning on the one who protected them.

Father, my heart is heavy this morning over a circumstance at work. The only hope is for truth to prevail. One of the most deceitful men I have ever known is being protected by a leader who has proven himself ungodly. Those who seek truth are not heard.

Holy Spirit, intervene. Send forth Your light and Your truth. Rescue us from deceitful and wicked men.

December 13, 2004

Loving Righteousness

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. Psalm 45:7

Everything the world offers will eventually fade away. Worldly pleasure is short term. Interestingly, the consequences tend to last a very long time.

Loving righteousness, however, sets us apart from the world around us. The great part is: it brings real joy that will never end!

Father, I want to be anointed with the oil of joy. Help me to love righteousness. Help me to hate wickedness. Help me to seek Your face. The busyness of the season has an interesting way of distracting us from what it is all about. Prepare my heart for the coming reminders of the birth of Joy Himself.

December 27, 2004

Birth Pains

For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes. Psalm 54:7

To snatch something signifies physical force, and the Hebrew word translated in this psalm as "delivered" is more akin to saying God "snatched" me from all my troubles. What a comforting thought - to know that the very hand of God can pull us away from the enemy with great force. The Lord fights harder than we can imagine to deliver us from trouble, and all we must do is cry out to Him.

Lord, this morning I am picturing a different kind of "snatching." Yesterday, much of Southeast Asia was devastated by a massive tidal wave. Islands and coastal villages have been literally snatched away by a thirty foot wall of water traveling up to 500 miles an hour. Your Word refers to these things as birth pains. How frightening. The end is nearer than we realize, and everyday the earth testifies to Your awesome power. Each disaster that strikes is a reminder to me that soon Your Son will return.

Come, Lord Jesus. Snatch us away to meet You in the sky.

January 13, 2005

Our Only Hope

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

There are times that God is the only One who can help us. The empty places within us cannot be filled by any man. Nothing we hold can ever fill the void. God alone is our hope - our resting place - our refuge.

There is comfort in the words of the song, "Jesus is the answer for the world today..." But if I am honest, there are times this truth is very frustrating. Just once I wish my attempts to find true fulfillment outside of Him would work, but I know better. Nothing from this world can satisfy our real need. He is sometimes all we have left. All our human attempts will continue to fail.

Lord, there are so many things to which I have turned, but in You alone will I find rest. My hope comes from You. Show Yourself today. I long to stand before kings to worship You.

February 13, 2005

The Fourth Generation

Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Psalm 79:8

There are many sins committed by fathers that affect their children. But the sin that brings a curse on the third and fourth generation is the sin of idol worship. Israel learned this lesson. They had become a nation of idols. Eventually, the land was overrun, and the people were taken into captivity. The idols they worshipped at their high places weren't worth the pain they suffered.

Unfortunately, we live in a country that hasn't yet learned the lesson. Everywhere you turn there are signs of idol worship. Tabloids display the faces of the worshipped ones. In public, the magazines taut to know the "sexiest man alive." In private, the magazines - and now most home computers - show idols of any kind. Unimaginable acts can now be watched through the turn of a page - the click of a button.

What are we doing to our children?

Lord, I want to be the fourth generation, and I want my children to be the first of a thousand. The sins of my father, my grandfather, and I expect my great-grandfather have plagued me for too long. Have mercy on me. Help me to turn from the idol worship of this age. I know that forgiven sin is forgotten sin, so help me to forget the sins of my fathers. Help me to seek You - to worship You alone.

Come quickly to meet me, for I am in desperate need of You.

April 13, 2005

Worthless Help

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. Psalm 108:12

There is an enemy who is common to each of us. He has been called many things since the beginning of time - Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness. These names immediately bring to mind pictures of the evil one, the one who hates us because we were created in God's image. He is the most envious of God's creations. He wants to be God, and we are reminders to him that he isn't and never will be. There isn't anything he wouldn't do to harm us.

Our only hope is Jesus Christ, the Son of God - God in human form - the Messiah.

Turning to man and his ways will never defeat the enemy. Only God is able to save us.

Lord, I know the truth, yet man's ways are sometimes all I depend upon to save myself. There was a time, not so very long ago, when the enemy was winning more than he was losing. Turning to man for help, escaping by means of the world's way, left me empty - afraid - lost in despair. Only the work of Your amazing grace has saved me. By Your feet, the enemy has been trampled. Your unfailing love is the source of all life. Help me to cry out to You.

The help of man is worthless.

May 4, 2005

Uncatchable Righteousness

Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. Psalm 119:5-6

If I were a Jew in the time of Jesus, I'm sure I would have been a Pharisee. In their own strength, they chased righteousness. But there is no one who can consider all God's commands without feeling a bit ashamed. Truly, our hearts deceive us to think we can do it without Him. Every man has fallen short of God's glory.

So why do I keep feeling like I have to do all the work?

Lord, I want to start a recovery group. It will be called "Perfectionists Anonymous." The only problem is that anyone who showed up for meetings would probably complain because the group didn't live up to his own vision of perfection. And worse, the group's motto would probably be, "I did it my way!" No one would stick around for long.

The sad thing is... This describes many churches in America today.

Father, open our eyes to Your grace. Your decrees are precious, yet on our own, they are completely unattainable. Chasing the righteousness that comes with the law will run us in circles; it can never be caught. Our only hope is Jesus. The world needs to know that. Help us to be accepting as You are accepting. Forgive us as we fall short.

Make me more like You.

May 12, 2005

Which way does your heart face?

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:36-37

The direction of your eyes has a lot to do with the direction of your heart. If your heart is facing the Lord, the idols of this world are much less appealing.

We live in an age where men are visually assaulted thousands of times each day. There really isn't any place that is safe anymore. In the 1950's it was often joked that boys would peruse through National Geographic in hopes of seeing some indigenous, topless tribe. Today, hardcore images are merely clicks away. No longer does a man have to seek glimpses of flesh in places of darkness. All he must do is open his eyes and watch for it. One need not wait for long till the darkest desires and lusts can be seen - sometimes on a television screen - sometimes walking down the street.

Lord, what are we doing to our children? Entire generations have been bombarded with images that could make a sailor blush. Unfortunately, it seems blushing is a thing of the past. Help me to face my heart in Your direction, so my eyes can pass over those things that might desensitize me to the enemy's ways. Protect my son, so as a man he will be strong enough to walk in ways of righteousness.

June 4, 2005

Peace and Security

May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. Psalm 122:7

Peace and security... Where do we find them?

I believe that in a fallen world they do not exist. There is nowhere one can go to find them, and any place that promises them is lying. The only truth is that a fallen world will take everything you have.

Lord, I have a friend who believed the lies of the enemy. He believed that the world could satisfy the emptiness in his heart. Now, he is broken from the battle. I am afraid for his very life. Intervene in this situation, Father. Shine Your light of hope. Draw him back to the place of peace and security in Your arms. You are the only Source.

June 10, 2005

Prosperity

You will eat of the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Psalm 128:2

Prosperity in and of itself is not evil. It's how we view it - how we pursue it - that causes problems. Material things have always been a sign of status, but having them or not having them has nothing to do with one's value. The value of a man is often determined by what he gives rather than what he keeps, but giving for the wrong reasons has its consequence as well.

One will never be satisfied by things.

God looks on the heart. He knows what a man worships. If he is seeking status through wealth or philanthropy, God knows. His insatiable desire for recognition will be dashed when one day he stands before the judgment seat and hears the devastating words, "I never knew you."

O Lord, we live in a time when it seems new definitions are given to the meaning of "fallen world." Technology, although a wonderful gift, has elevated man to places where he feels You are no longer necessary. There are few things that cannot be bought in this day.

I would never wish it again, but I learned many lessons about life and love through times of unemployment. There's something about complete dependence on You, Father, that helps us to reevaluate what is really important. The love of those dear to us is the greatest blessing of all.

Help me to hold nothing in my heart that I can hold in my hand. Let my heart overflow with love and compassion for Your children. Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing provision - for prosperity of character - for eternal and abundant life.

June 26, 2005

Hide-and-Seek

Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Psalm 143:9

Who didn't love to play hide-and-seek as a child? To be hidden mere inches away from the one who is "it" and not be found - what a sense of power and achievement. Then to hear the words, "Ally, ally in come free!" - to know that you are a winner... How cool is that?

I think I've spent much of my life still playing the game. I think most men probably do. To know I am hidden mere inches away - that I can have secrets others don't know - seems to bring an odd sense of strength and success. The truth is, however, every man may hide to win, but deep inside he longs to be caught. He knows that the world rarely gives up the game. Hearing those words of freedom is rare, and no man wants to go through life alone.

Lord, I don't want to hide anymore. The hiding places I have chosen only lead to loneliness and despair. I want to be seen. I want to be caught. I want to be "it."

If I must hide, let it be in You.

July 21, 2005

Stand in the River

"Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'" Joshua 3:8

"You want me to do what!?"

How many times have I thought that? That's what the priests must have been thinking. God simply said, "Go stand in the river." This wasn't a tiny stream. This was the Jordan River at flood stage.

Have you ever seen a river at flood stage?

A few years ago, I joined my daughter for a school trip on the banks of the Frio River. Thankfully, we weren't there to see the river in the same condition as the Jordan was when the priests stepped into it. But as I walked along the edges of a canyon carved out of the Texas countryside, it wasn't hard to imagine what it must be like. At the top of a canyon that was about twenty feet deep and forty feet across, there were remnants of previous flood waters. Trees and grass were filled with debris left there by a fast flowing current. If I had seen the river that day and heard the Lord say, "Go stand in it," I wonder if I could have been so brave.

Lord, sometimes I feel like You are asking me to stand in a raging river. We live in a society that races past us. Debris is everywhere. Wherever we turn, there are temptations. Sex is used to sell anything and everything. Materialism is highly honored. And as a Christian, I am called to go against the flow - to be still and know that You are God. Help me to have the strength and courage it takes to step into the raging current of the world. Hold me up so I might stand. Help me to see the truth: the river is piled in a heap, and You are with me - on dry ground.

July 24, 2005

Living in the Real World

"March around the city with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets." Joshua 6:3-4

Despite my struggle with perfectionism, I have real trouble with legalistic beliefs. Observing the Sabbath is one of those issues that I feel is easily distorted. No, it shouldn't be treated like any other day, but considering how Jesus stood up to the legalism of the Pharisees, I think we need to keep a balanced approach to it. The Sabbath was made for man - not man for the Sabbath.

The story of Jericho makes me question such a staunch approach to the Sabbath. For six days, the people were to march around Jericho. On the seventh day, God did not command them to rest. He commanded that they march even more - to shout - and to devote the city to God.

Devoting a city to God was not a restful proposition. It required killing every man, woman, child, and animal and taking all things of value, placing them in the Lord's treasury. If remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy required everything some say it does, how could God be causing His people to sin?

I believe God lives in the real world. He is much less worried about my every action than I am. Am I saying He doesn't care about my sin? By no means! But I think we sometimes make Him out to be something the world cannot understand.

Lord, help me to seek a relationship and to stop pursuing holiness in my own ability. Soften my heart. Make me forgiving of my shortcomings. Make me more like Christ. I want to live in the real world with You.

August 1, 2005

Limited Mercy

For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses. Joshua 11:20

God commanded that the people of Canaan were to be exterminated. This is what Joshua did. All but Gaza was captured, and the only people who remained were the Hivites living in Gibeon, for they had deceived Israel.

Where was God's mercy?

Is this the same God I know? The God who shows mercy to me freely?

Are there limits to His mercy?

I believe the truth is: God's mercy is unending for those who would receive it, but for those who will not listen, there is justice.

The story of Joshua's campaign to take the promised land seems so harsh. Upon first glance, it appears that God is cruel - commanding the annihilation of the people. What we don't seem to remember is the forty years when Israel wandered in the desert. The Canaanites knew of God's plan. The Gibeonites had heard it; they used the truth of it to deceive Israel, saying they had been told of the things God had done for them. The people of Canaan had ample opportunity to leave, but they stayed. They continued the worship of their gods, and eventually God Himself hardened their hearts.

Have you quit listening?

We live in a world that shuts its ears to the truth. There are limits! Not to God's love, but to His mercy. The day is coming. Our only hope it to prepare to leave.

Father, forgive me for testing the limits of Your mercy. Give me ears to hear Your voice and the wisdom to follow Your will.

August 11, 2005

The Best Inheritance

"The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you, because the priestly service of the Lord is their inheritance. Joshua 18:7

Something that frustrates me to no end is working day-in and day-out and having nothing to show for it. Many days it seems that all my effort is wasted because it feels like the paychecks last a little less each month. Much of this feeling is natural. Children are expensive! The older they get, the more they cost. (They are well worth the expense, I might add.) And if you are like most middle-class Americans, more and more money is paid on debt every day.

Even so, we have so much more than most of the world. A middle-class American is considered wealthy by the standard of a vast majority of people. At the end of our lives, we at least have something for our children to divide. Many children across the planet get nothing more than a funeral bill.

I wonder if the Levites resented their inheritance. They worked day-in and day-out in the Lord's service, and what did they have to show for it? They had cities in which to live and pastures upon which their flocks could graze, but nothing else. No land was considered theirs. Their children had no place they could call their own.

The truth is: the Levites had the better deal. Serving God for a lifetime is greater than owning a piece of property for all eternity. He is our whole reason for being. What a privilege it is to glorify Him.

Father, help me to seek a proper inheritance. Help me to reach the end of my life and pass along a legacy of relationship with the Living God. You are so much more than anything the world offers. Show me Your glory today.

September 1, 2005

Punishment with Purpose

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience). Judges 3:1-2

There is purpose in everything, even in - especially in God's discipline. He is not a God who finds pleasure in punishing His children. Yet He understands that children raised in privilege often grow up with few coping skills for real life.

The Israelites were in the land promised to Abraham, and they quickly turned away from God to the gods around them. As discipline, the Lord did not remove all the peoples of the land. He knew that a nation that did not completely follow Him would disappear into the annals of history. Future generations would learn warfare by fighting the enemies in their midst.

Lord, there are enemies that I cannot seem to overcome. My heart cries out: "Why won't You deliver me completely?" Yet I think I understand. You know that if I cannot follow You alone, I will not survive the pull of the world. The presence of the enemy actually makes me stronger. His presence reminds me that I need You. His taunts and temptations teach me how to say "no." The weapons he uses against me teach me how to fight. Give me the strength to use what I have learned to defeat him. Help me to teach others the ways of warfare. Deliver me completely when I am ready to receive it. Help me to follow only You.

September 3, 2005

Where is God?

"When they chose new gods, war came to the city gates, and not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel." Judges 5:8

Deborah's words are very astute. She knew the truth: When Israel turned to other gods, they were left defenseless. When the enemy arrived at the gates of the city, which he assuredly would, the Lord was not there to fight for them because they had sent Him away.

This has been an interesting week in the history of our nation. A storm of epic proportions has devastated hundreds of thousands, and the effects are being felt by millions. The city of New Orleans may never recover from Hurricane Katrina. The beautiful Mississippi coast has been stripped. Coastal towns lie in ruins. The people are in an uproar because the federal government hasn't responded as quickly as many think they should. Unrest is visiting our country like never before.

Among all the cries for help, the questions about preparedness, and the anger over a response that has been crippled by rescues and violence, I haven't heard the right question: "Where is God?"

The enemy doesn't stand at the city gates. He has torn them down. He has already invaded. And where is God?

Has He been sent away?

Of all the cities, it doesn't surprise me that New Orleans would be defenseless against the enemy. I mean no disrespect. They are facing a horrible situation that few can comprehend. But one visit to Bourbon Street would have told you that other gods are being worshipped. Nowhere else have I seen debauchery so openly celebrated. Where else can you find sex toys in a t-shirt shop, and no one is surprised by it? Where else can you find prostitutes on every corner, and no one even starts to blush? San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami... the list is long of those who should take heed. When people turn to other gods, why would God defend them?

Lord, I confess that I have been far too anxious about the state of our country. With all my being, I am trying to trust in You. Am I prepared for a major depression? Can I financially withstand a devastated economy? Probably not. But this I know - my God has not been sent away. No enemy can take away what is really important. Father, protect my family in this time of trouble. Draw us closer to you. Bring hope in the aftermath of the storm.

September 7, 2005

Thornbushes

"Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come and be our king.'" Judges 9:14

After Gideon's death, there was great turmoil in Israel. As I read the story of Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal (aka Gideon), one question keeps coming to mind: "Who are these people?"

These cannot be the same people who worshipped the One True God in the desert. Most certainly they are not the children of a people who built a tabernacle to honor the One True God. How could they be? God's chosen people would follow Him - not some man who killed his brothers and said, "Let me be your king." These people look nothing like God's chosen!

But they are.

How far we fall when we settle for thornbushes.

Lord, I'm tired of being scratched by the thorns. Help me to turn away from the things of this world to You. Let my heart follow only You. Help me to look like one of Your children. Be my King today!

September 12, 2005

Part of His Plan

(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) Judges 14:4

Samson was raised to be a Nazirite, a reminder to the people of God's calling to be set apart - to be different from the nations around them. Yet here he is chasing after a Philistine woman. His parents were dumbfounded. How could their son so blatantly seek something contrary to God's law?

What they didn't realize was that God had a plan. Did He cause Samson to sin? By no means. God cannot do that. Did He allow Samson to sin? He allows a great deal in order to accomplish His purposes. In Samson's case, God allowed Samson's lust so He might confront the Philistines.

If only He hadn't allowed so much sin in my own life. Sometimes I am dumbfounded that He could be so forgiving, but in truth, I realize He has a plan. The very things that I believe could have destroyed me, God can use to confront a fallen world in need of Him.

Has He caused me to sin? That is contrary to His nature. But He has certainly allowed it. The real question is: Will I have the courage to step out - to reach for those blinded by the darkness - to lead them to the Light?

Father, use everything in my life for Your purpose. Am I proud of my sin? Of course not! Can I accept that it is part of Your plan? Give me the strength to face the world and speak the truth. Send Your Spirit upon me in power so others might be saved.

September 16, 2005

Subtle Changes

There the Danites set up for themselves idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity. Judges 18:30

The story of the Danites perplexes me. This tribe set up their own system of idol worship, which was directly in contrast to God's law, yet the people of Israel had grown so complacent that no one seemed to notice.

Several generations before, all of Israel gathered together to rise up against the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh simply because they had built an altar. When they learned the altar was a reminder for future generations of their commitment to God, the Israelites turned back. But now, the descendants of those who were once so passionate about serving God didn't even notice when gods were established in their midst.

How is it that we become desensitized to evil? The change from one generation to the next is subtle, yet as generations pass, the subtleties disappear. Blatant disregard for God becomes completely acceptable.

America is in a dangerous place, for the passions of our forefathers have been lost. Evil is completely acceptable. Idols are worshipped. Priests are established.

And we do nothing.

Lord, the change in our country is not so subtle anymore, and we still do nothing. In the name of freedom, we have forgotten You. Worshipping the gods of money, power, and sex is rampant in our midst, and we accept it. How tolerant will we be when our land is in captivity? Forgive us, Lord Jesus. Our founding fathers fought the reign of a king, and we disregard Your reign as THE King. Forgive my complacencies. Protect my grandchildren's grandchildren from the not-so subtle gods that will be in their midst.

September 19, 2005

Think about it!

Everyone who saw it said, "Such a thing has never been done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!" Judges 19:30

The story of the Levite and his concubine is likely one of the most disturbing in the entire Bible. What a testament to the depravity of man without God. Everyone was living as he saw fit, and they had fallen further than one can imagine.

Anyone reading this story will see the comparison to another place and time in Israel's past. Gibeah, an Israelite city, had become like Sodom, a city seen as one of the worst in the history of the world.

The Levite in this story refused to stay the night in the city of the Jebusites. He probably would have been better off! My guess is he may have been greeted with hospitality similar to what Abraham received from its most famous resident, the king-priest Melchizedek. Instead, the Levite stayed the night in Gibeah, an Israelite city in Benjamin.

Just as the men of Sodom pounded at the door of Lot's house demanding to have their way with the men he had taken in for the night, the men of Gibeah demanded the Levite. This city, like Sodom, deserved destruction, for it had become truly wicked.

Another element of this story that distresses me is how the Levite could so easily disregard the life of his concubine. When the men of the city would not relent, the Levite sent his concubine out to them. How could he so easily hand her over to be abused and raped? We know she had been unfaithful to him, but did she deserve to die like this? And the next morning it appears he was readying to leave without giving her a second thought. If she hadn't died in the doorway, I wonder if he would have remembered she was with him.

How far we fall when we seek our own way without God!

Lord, Gibeah was a wake up call for the Israelites. They had become like the most wicked city in history. If only America could hear the call. Like the dismembered body of the concubine, the people of New Orleans have been sent throughout our nation. Yet rather than recognizing the depravity of a city destroyed by an act of God, we make plans to continue the revelry once it can be rebuilt. Forgive us, Father, for the ways we have fallen. I don't stand in judgment; I have no room to judge the sins of another. But if we do not hear Your warnings and heed them, our fate is clear.

Save us, Lord Jesus. You are the only hope for our nation.

September 22, 2005

Absolutely Insane!

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 21:25

A world without God is a pretty mixed up place!

The Israelites nearly destroyed the tribe of Benjamin, for they had supported the wickedness of Gibeah, a place as evil as Sodom. Yet before the fighting was finished, the men of Israel began to grieve the loss of their brother. In order to keep the tribe of Benjamin alive, the leaders devised a plan that uses the strangest logic I have ever seen. They planned to attack one city that stayed out of the fight, to kill everyone except the virgins, and to give these young women to the surviving Benjamites who were hiding in the hills. When that wasn't enough, they determined that it would be okay for the Benjamites who didn't receive a wife to kidnap one.

This is absolutely insane!

The Israelites determined that kidnapping and murder were better solutions than breaking their own oath. This commitment is commendable, but golly - it is so mixed up!

Did they once ask God to take care of Benjamin? God once told Moses that He would raise up descendants from the rocks of the ground. He could have fixed this situation without all the insanity. But that is what happens when we simply do as we see fit. It's every man for himself.

Lord, keep me from this insanity. Help me to trust You to solve the problems that are too big for me. I am just as prone to the strange logic of Israel when I am doing as I see fit. Help me to do as You see fit. Bring sanity into this crazy world!

October 6, 2005

Honoring God

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. "A god has come into the camp," they said, "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert." 1 Samuel 4:6b-8

The Israelites had the opportunity to be a witness of the One True God, and they blew it.

The Philistines gave credit for the plagues in Egypt to some unknown group of gods; the truth of God's deliverance for His children had been lost somewhere along the way. My guess is that the Israelites were not living in a way that the world would know of God's intervention. Every man did as he saw fit, and God received no glory.

I wonder if the world would have been drawn to a place of repentance - if only Israel had honored God. Their lives didn't reflect God, so how could the world have seen Him?

Lord, we so easily forget the impact we could have on the world if we were to honor You. There is no way the lost can be saved unless they are drawn to Your feet. Help me to live a life that causes others to say, "Look at the work of God's hands. Only the One True God could have done this!" Help me to show others the way.

May You be glorified today.

October 9, 2005

Proof

When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, "The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god." 1 Samuel 5:7

The men of Ashdod were smart enough to see what God was doing to them, yet they were blind where it really counts. Why didn't anyone stop and question the fact that they had never before seen a god bow down to their own god Dagon. Two nights in a row, the idol they worshipped fell prostrate before the ark of the covenant. The second night, Dagon's hands and head had been placed on the threshold of the temple. Why didn't they ask, "Could it be that the god of the Israelites is the One True God?"

How is it that the truth of God's existence so easily eludes those who belong to the world? A great disaster can befall our country, and many will call it an act of God. Their own words betray them, yet the existence of God is still debated.

Lord, heal our blindness. The proof of Your presence in the world stands before us, and still many are lost. What can I do to spread the truth? How can I share the stories of Your grace and mercy? Continue to build in me a testimony of Your great and wonderful love. Take my head and my hands - my thoughts and my actions, and bring glory to Your name. Help me to fall prostrate before You.

You are real! The world needs to know!

April 11, 2006

Self-Condemnation

You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:11

Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it.

As for condemning the world - we do enough of that on our own. Our own actions condemn us.

I am perplexed this morning. Yesterday, there was a big story in the local news about a young man who plead guilty on child pornography charges. The story claimed he had almost 13,000 images on his home computer, making his the largest case ever investigated by the State Attorney General's Office. This young man's actions have condemned him. Ten years in prison and a lifetime of scorn as a registered sex offender await him.

My heart breaks for him. He is a product of an overly sexualized society.

Generally, the first question I ask is: "Where were his parents when he needed them?"

Well, I know his parents. They are members of my Sunday School class. This young man and his father were in the first group at my church to participate in a father-son event to talk about sex over eleven years ago. I know his father tried to lay a foundation of knowledge and open communication.

What happened?

Somehow along the way, he ran off track. He made choices that were disastrous.

Lord, what is happening? The enemy seems to be winning an awful lot lately. Our own actions are condemning us. So much seems out of control. Christian kids are making choices that have opened the door to worldly addictions. There has been so much talk about this generation - about the moral choices many of them are making. There have been hopes that this generation could help lead a spiritual renewal in our country. The truth is: You are the Leader of any spiritual renewal. This generation is vulnerable to the enemy's attack - just as we all are. Father, hold my friends close to Your heart. Bring renewal to their son. Only Your grace can cover our self-condemnation. Pour it out today.

Make me clean.

April 22, 2006

Drifting to the One Percent

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1

Why is it so easy to drift away from what is really important? There is so much more to life than material things, but we find ourselves easily drawn to them. Time with family and friends is so easily replaced by commitments and the pursuit of more.

I heard an interesting statistic - that forty percent of the wealth in America belongs to one percent of the population. One percent! Yet we are raising up a generation of children who find personal worth in things!

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of us have the opportunity to live eternal life with the Creator of all things, but most people pursue what is only available to one percent. What will become of the one percent when life is finished? In truth, things give us the illusion that we don't need God. No wonder it is so easy to drift away. Most cannot see God in anything, so what draws them? Only what is seen.

Lord, help me to see You. Help me to put my trust in You. Save the lost.

July 10, 2006

The Ways of the Pharisees

"You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." Mark 7:8

What would Jesus say to us if He were to visit our churches today? Would He find a people who follow His Father's commands? Or would He discover that His chosen bride - His very Body - has returned to the ways of the Pharisees, holding to the traditions of men?

If we are going to be the Body of Christ, we need to start acting like it. Too many churches are focused on their own traditions rather than being a source of unity and hope for a dying world.

Lord, the need for truth is great, yet the world cannot hear it over the bickering. Forgive us for the hypocrisy that thrives in the church. Open the eyes of Your children to see how we worship tradition rather than You. Draw me close to You.

July 17, 2006

Are you in season?

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Mark 11:13

The story of Jesus and the fig tree has always bothered me. Why did He curse it, causing it to wither from the roots? The tree was merely doing what trees do? It wasn't the season for figs. If Jesus had wanted fruit so badly, why didn't He miraculously cause it to grow on this tree? Why did He speak a curse? Now the tree would never bear fruit again.

I think this bothers me so much because I fear what He would say if He were to see me from a distance. Would He make the trip to only find leaves? Or when He arrived, would He discover plenty of fruit?

First, it was just a tree. The Lord spoke them into existence. He can certainly choose to speak one out of existence if He wants.

Second, we are not trees. Once the grace of God has entered a life, it will bear fruit. There is no way it won't. For the Spirit of God always bears fruit through one in whom He is planted.

The ones who should be worried by this story are those who do not know the salvation that comes through the blood of Christ. The day is coming when He will make the journey from Heaven to gather those who bear fruit. Those without salvation will be out of season, and their curse will be eternal.

Lord, thank You for bearing fruit in me. When You arrive, there will be plenty to harvest because Your Spirit will have grown it. It needn't worry about the curse. The fruit will never depart from me. You never leave those whom You have called.

Come, Lord Jesus. Enjoy the fruit You find.

July 19, 2006

The Long and Short of It

"I tell you the truth, this generation will certain not pass away until all these things have happened." Mark 13:30

Jesus spoke of the end times, and I think every generation since His death and resurrection has felt the end was near.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, two thousand years is short. The end is very close when one considers it through the eyes of an eternal God.

But it sure feels long to me!

Lord, I really hate to wait. I know You have great plans - eternal plans, yet I often wonder if it will ever come to pass. How could the world get much worse before the end? Every day the enemy seems to gain more and more control. How much longer must we wait to see You coming in the clouds? Help us to save as many as we can, for the time is short.

I'm watching.

Come, Lord Jesus!

August 23, 2006

Guilt by Association

Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. 2 John 11

Guilt by association... A get-away driver may not have actually robbed a bank, but he is just as guilty. An accomplice to a murder may not have actually pulled the trigger, but he is just as guilty.

There are some who claim to be Christian, but their words associate them with the enemy. In my eyes, they are guilty of sin and will stand before the Father some day to explain why they thought they were right.

Some speak words of acceptance - not of people, but of sinful lifestyles. Their words lead many away from the truth.

Some speak words of disunity. Members from a Kansas church were recently in town to protest at a soldier's funeral. To protest! To raise banners claiming "God hates fags!" What a witness these people are - witness for hatred.

I hope that others only associate me with the truth. I want no part in the enemy's work. He wins far too often, and I long for the day of his final demise.

Lord, help me to be a witness to what is right - to love one another - to love ourselves - to love You.

September 6, 2006

I'll have what they are having!

Some however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." Acts 2:13

The day had finally come. Those who followed Jesus were gathered together waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. He came! With the sound of a might wind that was heard throughout the city, He came to rest on each believer. Each of them began to speak in languages he didn't know. Those who were visiting Jeruslem for Pentecost were amazed at how these Galileans could be speaking their native tongues.

Well... many of them were amazed. Some thought they were drunk.

At 9:00 in the morning, a group of Galileans began speaking in your native language, and you think they are drunk?! Oh, that what I would think, I'm sure! My main question is: Who was drinking? How could someone see and hear something like this and not believe that God was in it?

Some people are so hardened that all they know is skepticism. All they understand is what the world tell them - that there is only today - that life should be lived with no consequence - that God doesn't even exist.

I would hope that if I witnessed a group of believers acting as these were that my reaction wouldn't be one of skepticism. Too often, I question humans - at the expense of the Spirit. I would hope that my response: "I'll have what they are having!"

Lord, so what if the world thinks we are drunk! You are more important than what anyone thinks. Give me the courage to stand up and speak the words You place in my mouth. Do not make them my own. Make them what the world needs to hear in order to know You. Fill me anew today. Holy Spirit, rest on me.

About The World

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

Temptation is the previous category.

Weakness is the next category.

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