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November 15, 2003

The Danger of Bearing Fruit

"'Sir, ' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'" Luke 13:8-9

Bearing fruit is a dangerous venture. It requires great effort. However, with the appropriate pruning and care, fruit may come in abundance.

But what if the fruit never comes?

We risk being cut down! That is why bearing fruit is a dangerous venture, for failing to produce may result in the loss of everything we have.

Lord, am I bearing fruit for You to enjoy? Or am I facing destruction for holding back - for not doing what it takes? You are the God of second chances. You send others into our lives to fertilize and care for us. Bearing fruit isn't really an option. It is what You expect of us.

Father, forgive me for the many ways I disappoint You. There could be fruit on every branch, yet I am still too weak. Help me to bear fruit that blesses the Body of Christ this day and everyday!

January 5, 2004

Praise - Despite the Misery

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the Lord." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. Genesis 29:35

Leah must have been miserable. She was married to a man who didn't love her. Jacob had worked for seven years, and then, in his eyes, he got stuck with Leah. I'm sure that didn't help her esteem one bit. To make matters worse, her husband loved her sister Rachel, who happened to be "lovely in form." (That's the Bible's way of saying she was a real knockout in the body department.)

After one week - Leah's bridal week, which was probably not the happiest week of her life, Jacob was given Rachel as his wife also. I'm certain Leah felt this deal was rotten. Jacob worked for seven years before she married him. And now he was getting Rachel on credit!

Leah must have been miserable.

But Leah had something Rachel didn't. Leah could have children. Rachel was barren. So have children is what she did! With each son, she thought, "Now, he will love me!" After three sons, it didn't appear Jacob's heart would change. However, with the birth of her fourth son, it wasn't Jacob who changed. It was Leah. She praised the Lord.

Leah learned an important lesson. Despite the misery that often comes with life, we should continue to praise the Lord. That is why we were made - for His glory - not our own.

I've spent most of my life trying to gain the attention of those around me. God has given me many talents, and for a long time, I saw them as my opportunity. Maybe, I could get noticed... then I wouldn't be so miserable. Like Leah, I finally learned the lesson. It's not about my glory; it's about His!

But Lord, sometimes I fall back into the misery trap. This morning I feel depressed, and I don't know why. I am physically weary and emotionally exhausted and can't determine the cause. I have nothing to complain about. You have done nothing but bless me. I haven't fallen into the sinful patterns that have so often depressed me in the past. Where did this come from? If I did what I wanted today, I would crawl back in bed.

Father, help me to praise You - despite this misery. I have no reason for feeling the way I do, so I feel worse. I feel selfish because Your blessing hasn't been enough to satisfy me.

Walk with me, Lord. I feel that I could easily seek attention in unholy ways. I am vulnerable to the enemy, but the enemy is rendered ineffective my our praise. So I will praise You, Lord. May You be glorified by all I say and do today.

February 6, 2004

How does He put up with us?

But Moses said to the Lord, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips." Exodus 6:12

Moses became a great man, but he didn't seem to start out that way. He lacked confidence. He was a pessimist. He seemed to whine about everything.

How did God put up with him?

God never promised Moses that leading the people out of Egypt would be easy, and it was proving to be the greatest challenge of Moses' life. The people rejoiced when they first heard God's plan to free them, but when Pharaoh retaliated, the people complained. When Moses went to the people again, they wouldn't even listen. Now God commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh about God's plan, and Moses complained. The only thing Moses could see was his own ability - or the lack of it.

Lord, like Moses, I am stuck on my lack of ability. How do you put up with me?

The greatest challenge of my life is before me, and I don't feel up to the task. Every day has been overwhelming, but I trust that You have a plan. Help me, Father, to trust You with every decision - with every challenge. Be the God of my workplace. Be the God of my home.

February 9, 2004

Worrying for Nothing!

"But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you." Exodus 7:3-4a

Moses was so worried about his speaking ability that he moaned and groaned when God told him to tell Pharaoh to free the people of Israel. He feared Pharaoh wouldn't listen to him.

The truth was: Pharaoh wasn't going to listen - no matter how eloquent the speaker might have been! It didn't matter that Moses couldn't speak well. God already had a plan. He would harden Pharaoh's heart, so any man's words would fall on deaf ears. Moses worried for nothing!

Lord, forgive me for the time I have faltered because I feel weak and unworthy. You have plans that I don't understand. Many times Your plan is to show Your strength through my weakness. Continue to pour Your Spirit through me, so others might be blessed.

May 24, 2004

They Are Stronger!

But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." Numbers 13:31

Too often I am a dissenter. My enemies always seem stronger than I am. Although the land to which God has called me flows with milk and honey, I may never see it, for like the Israelites, I feel like a grasshopper in my own eyes.

The land to which I have been called is named "righteousness." This is a place where God is first, and I am last. The fruit of this land is worth any battle, but so many times, I find myself saying, "I can't do it! I will never win... they are stronger than I am!"

Lord, the enemies are too great; I am too small. I need Your courage to grasp the life You have planned for me. Help me, lest I fall dead in the desert before I get to the promised land.

September 8, 2004

Always He Can

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 1 Corinthians 1:25

Wisdom and strength. Foolishness and weakness. Which pair describes me? No question! Hands down! I am the weakest fool I know.

Lord, in my weakness, I have made some of the most foolish decisions. On impulse, I have harmed others; I have harmed myself. What am I to do? When I've really stepped in it, when I've made the biggest mess I could, how am I to fix it?

Sometimes, I can't.

Always, You can.

Father, I give up. I just can't do it anymore. If only I would listen before I act sometimes. Forgive my foolishness. Help me to know the next steps to take - in Your wisdom - in Your strength.

You are great, Lord. Please, save me!

October 4, 2004

Embracing Weakness

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Paul learned a valuable lesson. To embrace weakness is to allow Christ the ability to take up residence in us. Our weaknesses are reminders of our humanity Although we have the power of God at our disposal, we will never be equal to Him. He is always greater. We will always be lesser.

Then why is it that I spend so much time and effort trying to overcome my weaknesses - trying to simply be strong - rather than embracing them? I am not saying that I should give into weakness - acknowledging a weakness does not give me the freedom to sin. It gives the Spirit the room to dwell - the space to heal - the power to strengthen me. When will I learn that to embrace a weakness is to give it to Christ?

Lord, my whole life seems to be filled with escape routes. I'm weary from running away. We are called to flee temptation, but somehow running has become my solution for most things. I cannot hide from my weaknesses. Eventually, they always find me. Isn't it interesting how the heart is made stronger by running, yet the body is strengthened by resistance. Any athlete will tell you. A balanced training regiment requires both aerobic exercise and weight training.

Help me, Spirit, to flee temptation but to push against weakness - to face it - to give You freedom to carry it for me.

I am made stronger when I let You do the work.

January 29, 2005

Pain and Distress

I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me. I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:29-30

When we are in pain - when we are distressed, what is our response? So often my tendency is to complain, to cry out to God, to feel sorry for myself.

In many of the Psalms, David expressed his pain and distress, but he also did the right thing with it. Rather than moping - rather than escaping the pain or going on some big pity party, he did what pleased God more than any sacrifice. He praised God's name.

Have you ever seen a parent beam with pride when his child sings? His child may be the loudest and most off-key in the whole choir, but what joy it brings to hear his voice!

God loves to hear His children sing!

Lord, too often I forget the importance of praising You. Forgive me for being so self-absorbed, for withholding what is rightfully Yours, the true worship of my heart. I've been weary lately. I haven't been able to find the energy to arise early - to spend time in Your Word as I would like. Even so, I could praise You. But the distraction of the day seem to be overwhelming me.

Father, help me to sing praises to You. When my lips are too tired to sing, may songs pour from my heart. In my pain and distress, I will praise You!

May 31, 2005

To Deceive Oneself

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176

Too often, I seem to be asking the question, "How did I get here?" Like a little lamb, that may be very cute but very stupid, I chased a butterfly - something enticingly beautiful that caught my eye, and before I know it, I am in dangerous places where the wolves roam freely. I find myself alone - far from the protection of the flock.

Interestingly, the word "strayed" in the Hebrew is also translated to mean "to deceive oneself." I believe that many times when I am lost, it has very little to do with ignorance and a great deal to do with deception. Either by myself or by the enemy, I have been deceived into believing I am in complete control. With this kind of thinking, I easily wander into these dangerous pastures with full knowledge and (I might add) an inflated sense of my ability to fight the enemy.

Lord, forgive me for believing the lies. I can't do it without You. I am powerless to fight the wolves who would harm me. Why do I choose to walk among them? Help me to put my trust in Your Word. Help me to distinguish the lies from the truth. Help me to stay near. Protect me from the darkness. Protect me from myself.

August 9, 2005

Chariots

The people of Joseph replied, "The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those of Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel." Joshua 17:16

What a contrast.

When Caleb was offered Hebron, he knew God would clear the way for him. He wasn't intimidated by the giants and their fortified cities. Yet the descendants of Joseph, who were quite numerous, could only see the iron chariots owned by the Canaanites. They lacked the faith that God would keep His promise. Consequently, the Canaanites were never fully driven out of the land.

Lord, I confess that too often I am concerned about the enemy's chariots. Regardless of the many promises You have kept, my doubts allow the enemy to remain. Give me the courage to drive him out completely. Give me the faith of Caleb, who could only see You and Your plan. No fortress is too big for You.

September 4, 2005

Silly Excuses

"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family." Judges 6:15

Gideon amazes me. He thought so little of himself, but he was chosen by God Himself to save the Israelites from the oppression of Midian. In Gideon's eyes, he saw himself as small - not only small, but the smallest of the small.

His clan was the weakest.

He was the least of his family.

These excuses seem rather silly when one considers to whom Gideon gave them. Any excuses we may give God are silly because no man is limited when God stands with him.

It appears that Gideon was from a family of influence. The altar to Baal he destroyed and the Asherah pole he cut down belonged to his father, yet the men of the town were enraged. Obviously, these gods were central to the community, and since they belonged to Gideon's father, one could assume he was a key figure among them. Despite the position of his family, Gideon saw himself as nothing. Despite Gideon's opinion, God saw him as great. The angel of the Lord called him "mighty warrior." God saw Gideon's future, and history proved His words to be true. If only Gideon could have heard it.

Lord, what is it that You call me that I can't even hear? You see my future, yet like Gideon, I see myself as so little. If I had eyes to see, I would be surprised. I think every man would be surprised by the things that could be accomplished if we would only hear what You say to us. Help me, Father, to make a difference. Help me to see the man You have made me to be. Help me to quit making excuses.

September 14, 2005

This time...

Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Judges 16:20

Samson grew complacent, and it cost him dearly. If only he had learned from the catastrophe of his wedding feast. His new bride begged him to explain a riddle, then she revealed the secret to his enemies.

Time after time, Delilah asked him to reveal the secret of his strength. Time after time, Samson gave her some silly story. Each time Delilah did to Samson what he had said. This time, the final time, it worked. Samson was captured, tortured, blinded, and alone. The Spirit of God had left him. Wouldn't he have known that Delilah would cut his hair if he told her? How could he expect anything else?

How do we expect anything else? Like Delilah, Satan doesn't hide his intentions. If he attempts to harm us once, he will attempt every time. Yet we sometimes think we can get away with it. It is as if we think God won't see us this time. We feel that if we can hide our sin, He will continue to protect us.

Sin only does one thing: it pulls us away from the God of Life. Eventually, God allows us to experience the worst.

Lord, keep me from complacency. Help me to recognize the lies of the enemy. His words may seem sweet, but his intentions are to destroy me. Hold me close today.

October 17, 2005

I Give Up!

But Nahash the Ammonite replied, "I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on Israel." 1 Samuel 11:2

The men of Jabesh Gilead proposed the easy solution. They were willing to simply surrender their city when Nahash the Ammonite besieged them. They felt that serving him would be better than fighting for their freedom. The truth was: surrendering would bring great disgrace upon all of Israel. Nahash planned to gouge out the right eye of everyone who lived there.

Surrendering to the enemy - giving in when he presses in upon us, may seem like the simple solution at times, but the price he asks is far too great.

Lord, I have somehow convinced myself that sometimes surrendering to the enemy - giving in to his temptations - would be better than fighting him. But the price is too high! He knows the distance I have traveled. He knows the success that lies ahead of me, and he can't stand it. Is there anyone who will fight for me? Hurry to save me. I need Your Spirit. I need Your Body.

I surrender to You, Lord Jesus.

November 1, 2005

Weakness?

After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together - but David wept the most. 1 Samuel 20:41

David was the chosen one - the man who would be king. Interestingly, if he were to face a trial of human opinion today, he would probably be seen as weak, a man who cannot control his emotions.

How is it that tears became a sign of weakness? How is it that affection between men is now looked upon with scorn? The truth is: the strongest of men are unafraid to love, unafraid to cry, unafraid of popular opinion. Have you ever seen soldiers after a battle? There is little as authentic and strong as the love of men who have fought beside one another.

Father, thank You for the brothers You have placed beside me in this battle. Without them, the enemy would have taken my life a long time ago. Help me to be unafraid of emotion. Help me to be a real man, one who can unashamedly display anger, fear, and sadness. Help me to share the joy of knowing and being known.

March 1, 2006

Faithless

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I have so many dreams. I have hopes for a future filled with amazing things - the chance to see God reveal Himself on a daily basis through changed lives, through a full pursuit of Him, through a world that has been changed by compassion.

But will this ever happen?

Lately, I've questioned my passion. I've questioned my strength. I've questioned my ability. Truthfully, these are important issues, but they don't come close to addressing the problem. The thing I lack is...

Faith.

Lord, I confess that my fear about the future too often gets in the way. I don't trust You. No matter how often You have proven Yourself faithful, I seem to prove myself faithless. From money to time to the support of those around me - so often I falter. Help me to reach out to You when I have no faith. Quiet my spirit. Send peace. Help me to pass the test.

May 31, 2006

Strengthened by Grace

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of now value to those who eat them. Hebrews 13:9

The Christian life seems to be plagued with one thing over any other: weakness. We do the wrong thing. We say the wrong thing. We think the wrong thing.

Why?

Because we are weak. We do not live out the strength that dwells within us. We do not call upon the Spirit when we are in a bind.

So how can we overcome this weakness? Are there spiritual exercises that will make us strong? The truth is: there are many things that seem to help - prayer, meditation, fasting, time in the Word. But at our core, we are human. We will always be trapped in weakness.

Our only hope is grace. God's grace gives us the strength to carry the heaviest of burdens.

Lord, thank You for making the way for me. Nothing I do can make me stronger. You have already done it for me. Help me to be strengthened by Your grace.

About Weakness

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

The World is the previous category.

Weariness is the next category.

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

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