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THE LITTLE FOXES

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom,” Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV). I generally do better in a big crisis than when faced with relentless small annoyances. It seems that the size of a difficulty elicits different responses within me. In the case of giant problems, I quickly realize that I must turn them over to God. But with small problems I usually feel confident to handle them on my own. Bad decision. As the volume of issues increase, I soon find my boat overloaded, leaking and slowly sinking. A raging bull charging toward us is an obvious threat, but we are warned it is the “little foxes” that ruin the harvest God has for us. Lord, forgive my stubborn self-reliance and lethargic surrender. LORD, in Your Mercy, help me entrust all things both large and small into Your Mighty Hands, and to do it swiftly.
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THE MIRACULOUS LIFE

Jesus’ first miracle turned 120 gallons of water into wine. “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’" John 2:5 (ESV). Profound advice! The typical water jar of that era held about twenty gallons. Six, 20-gallon jars filled with drinkable water...that’s a lot of trips to the town well! But Mary’s sound counsel was a key element of the miracle, as was the obedience and hard work of the servants. Miracles are often lying just behind a curtain of doubt, confusion or unwillingness to be blindly obedient. There were multiple people in this story, but each person’s willingness to obey was critical to the manifestation of the blessing. The miraculous life is not a singular event or moment, it is a daily walk of navigating unclear commands from the Commander of Our Souls. LORD, grant me fresh grace to face this day’s needed miracles with simple obedience to Your every Word.

OTHERS

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” James 1:12 (ESV). Over a lifetime I’ve received a few awards, earned a few titles and have been blessed with great opportunities. Most of them now live stacked in drawers and closets or only have meaning as a part of some story that comes up from time to time. In the end they have little enduring value. One of my spiritual fathers, Costa Deir, would say: “A great life can be summed up in one word: ‘others’”. This leads to the question of life that matter, “have I been a blessing to others.” Father, the only prize I now seek is to remain steadfast by helping, strengthening and lifting others. May my hands not be empty as I join the gathering before Your thrown in heaven and we joyfully cast our crowns at your feet.

TRANSFORMATION

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit,” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV). Transformational change requires more than simply wishing for it. Ultimately, spiritual transformation is a work of God’s grace but we each play a vital role in the change process. I must learn to take direct, prompt action, yet remain willing to be halted at any moment by the One who commanded me to move ahead. “Wait for it”…“wait for it”…“okay, move now!”; this is the rhythm of the spirit-guided life. Like manna in the wilderness, lessons are present each day to be taken. And like manna, yesterday’s gathered provisions are not for today, they must be gathered each and every day afresh, no cheating allowed. Lord, I thank You for Your holy work in me. I do not resent Your pace nor do I doubt Your choices are the best path.

TO KNOW AND BELIEVE

“So, we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us,” 1 John 4:16 (ESV).There is a huge distinction between “knowing” something is possible and “acting” upon that knowledge. Most people who believe in God think He loves them but are not sure enough to act upon that love toward Him or others. But like faith, true love requires actions, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” John 14:15 (ESV). The failure to act upon God’s love is what most often sets us back in our spiritual growth. For instance, to give something up we treasure or to offer help to someone else when we ourselves have needs both require BELIEVING God loves us and KNOWING God loves us; it means believing His love toward us is genuine and has endless supply. LORD thank You for pushing me deeper into acting upon Your love. Use me to be Your helping and comforting hand to those I encounter each day.

PERILOUS SHORTCUTS

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” Matthew 7:14 (ESV). Long before satellite navigation was possible in a car our family was traveling in the Smokey Mountains. After unfolding and studying a map, I took a road that looked like a good shortcut for us. As the road narrowed and became a curvy, steep plunge I doubted my decision and stopped to ask a man if the road we were on would lead to where I was trying to go. He answered “yep!” with a nod. Then he slowly surveyed our soccer mom van filled with four young children and said: “Mister, you don’t want to go that way.” We turned around and thankfully missed whatever peril he knew awaited us. Father keep me from taking perilous shortcuts as I journey this day. Guide me to what is best. May my choices please You and always lead to Your perfect will.

PRESUMPTION

The last part of 1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) states: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” At age thirteen I began driving boats, spending endless hours on a large lake. Those years of experience did little to prepare me for the complications of navigating tidal waters since lakes rarely require navigational buoys. On my first boating adventure as a young adult in unfamiliar tidal waters we headed to shore without paying attention to channel markers and ran aground at nearly full speed. No injuries thankfully, but we were seriously grounded on a sand bar until the tide rose. Thankfully, the only real harm was to my bruised ego. Father in Your mercy please grant me a teachable heart and awaken my discernment to thenavigation signals You place along my path. Deliver me from presumption and teach me to be alert to Your guidance and that of others wiser than I.