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Showing posts from January, 2013

A THOUGHTFUL GIFT

Recently, an elder brother pulled me aside to encourage me. This was not garden variety flattery; he planned it for days and presented clear, precise, well-thought-out points. What a truly kind, thoughtful gift. Today, I will have fresh opportunities to promote, encourage, lift, love and appreciate others. Lord, in Your Goodness, endow me with authentic love; make me a source of blessing to those around me.

ROD AND STAFF

My wandering heart often strays into perilous terrain. Only God can safely guard my steps, only He will release my feet from the snare. While I have matured over the years, I continue to require daily supervision and assistance from the Shepherd of My Soul. I am humbled and filled with gratitude that all the ways of God are loving and faithful. Lord of Love, I stand amazed in Your Presence, lead me in Your path, I love both Your Rod and Staff.

CHOICES

A recent visit to a thrift store was overwhelming. A huge warehouse jammed with stuff old and new offers many opportunities.  However, an abundance of unexpected opportunities requires time, thoughtfulness and honesty about the true long-term value and use of things encountered. One of the most complicated puzzles in this life is to sort out the right responses to doors of opportunity.  Ambitions must be surrendered in submission to God's will and purpose. Father, lead me through the maze of my ambitions and help me choose only Your choices.

NEVER WALK ALONE

I can never walk alone, there is no place where God is not. While in moments of foolishness I may ignore His Presence, He will never ignore mine. What may seem beyond my reach is safely held in the palm of His hand. What is incalculable for me is already tallied by the One Who Was, and Is, and Is To Come. There is no cry He cannot hear, no pain beyond His healing, no enemy beyond His victorious power, no darkness greater than His radiance. Father of Mercy, Lord of Grace, You are worthy of all praise and majesty forever!

THE IMAGE OF GOD

The image of God most often portrayed is one of an angry, disappointed Creator who waits for mankind to get its act together. I see a very different image in Scripture: a Father gleefully running toward the returning prodigal son, the Shepherd who briefly leaves the ninety nine to search the wilderness for the lost one,  the Loving Lord who sweetly looks down from heaven upon all my peril and brokenness, giving comfort and instruction, while slaying my enemies both internal and external. Oh the depths of goodness and unmerited favor of our Lord. My Father, Sustainer, Teacher, Protector and Savior!

FAILURES

I feel bad for my failures, but that is neither helpful nor necessary. Repentance is not simply a matter of remorse, as if God were exacting punishment by making me feel bad. Repentance is the belief that God has so fully redeemed and reconciled us that we can actually change. Repentance is faith in God's work, not our own. My Lord and Redeemer, hope springs alive in my heart, knowing that You will finish Your work in me by Your transforming love.

ANGER

I saw unrestrained anger in an airport recently. It was ugly, painful. I am eternally thankful that God has expunged vitriol from my soul. Even the slightest ripple of hatred grieves the surrendered heart. I still get angry more than I should, but realize now more than ever what a protective gift the love of God truly is. Lord of Love, thank You for the powerful force of forgiveness. Strengthen my resolve to walk in love.

NAVIGATION

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. On my first outing in a boat as a young adult we headed to shore without paying attention to channel markers and ran aground at full speed. No harm, no foul, but it was a sobering lesson. Father, forgive my arrogance when I ignore the navigation signals You place along my path.

THE PATH TO PROMISE

Angry pursuit to the rear, an opening sea ahead, empty desert beyond, when your back is against the wall you can only move forward. The journey through the desert opened the way to the Land of Promise for God’s people. The story of the Hebrews reveals the ways of God. I get it. Most of my significant progress has been forced. The goodness of God doesn’t always look so good at first glance, but in the end, He works His will IN us and THROUGH us. Glorious Lord, I praise and exalt you. You formed me for Your will and You guide me into truth.

FEELINGS

Feelings come and go, often without rhyme or reason. Thankfully, I’ve learned that feelings are not dependable for guidance. Emotional fervor is no substitute for the rock solid combination of biblically informed, spirit-guided and humbly surrendered discernment. God protects and directs the submitted heart like a watercourse. Father, break every stronghold of prideful stubbornness in me. Make my heart pliable and my path sure.

MOVE OVER HOLLYWOOD

How God must love the world! It is a canvas onto which He dips His finger daily, painting and repainting backdrops for every forthcoming scene. He writes the scripts, chooses and trains every actor and then outperforms them. He builds the stage, provides the lighting, all the while being both the producer and director. He takes joy in the comedy, sorrows in every pain and patiently awaits a happy ending that He Himself performs. And for whom does He do this exquisite work? A mostly ambivalent audience! Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! I marvel at You!

CHILLY AIR AND PALM TREES

Chilly air and palm trees do not seem compatible. Then again, God assembles things that are far more complex. Friendships, marriages, families, congregations, causes, peoples, nations; God brings the diverse together for the benefit of each. When His love prevails it works. Lord, You rock! I stand in awe of Your wisdom, attention to detail and persistent goodness. Fill me with love for others.

RESTRAINT AND RELEASE

Every day requires new restraint and fresh release. As a jellyfish moves through the water, expanding and contracting, so we move through life. This process is disconcerting to the uninformed, but to the spiritually awakened, this routine becomes a welcomed process, and a sign of breakthrough. Lord I love Your ways and praise You that You do not leave me trapped in stagnation. Open, close, I’m good with that.

GOD'S FINGERPRINTS

Lanky silhouettes of palm trees against a backdrop of soft pinks and light blue sky, wisps of moss dangling quietly from massive oaks. It is morning and God's fingerprints are already all over this day. The Magnificent One has previously passed this way. Whatever awaits me, God has erstwhile touched each moment. I am at peace. Holy and Mighty One, help me fix my eyes upon Your glorious handiwork today.

A HARDENING HEART

What are the signs of a hardening heart? There are many: indifference to spiritual issues, prayerlessness, refusal to listen to God or obey His promptings. Perhaps the most ominous sign is when we cut ourselves off from passionate believers, seeking rather to associate with those of little or no genuine faith. Lord, keep me stirred. Thank you for the power of fellowship and the witness of burning hearts.

HE TOWERS

No matter how determined my inward lawlessness remains, God’s grace is far greater. Internal rebellion stubbornly resists, but will ultimately be defeated by His immense love. He towers over my weaknesses and sweeps me up into His victorious goodness; helplessness turns to strength, fears into boldness. Oh Lord my God, my strength and my redeemer, Your loving kindness is better than life.

PASSIONATE FOLLOWING

The soul of man is easily pulled into the gravity field of worldly distractions. The pressure of living for eternity while bound to earthly activity can empty the heart of passionate following. This day’s challenge? To faithfully fulfill my earthly duties without ignoring celestial directives. O Lord Almighty, only a heart that lingers before You will find the right balance. In Your mercy, guide my steps this day.

STILL

“Be still and know.” It is not necessary that EVERYTHING be still, just that I am INWARDLY still. Today I must again cast off thoughts, cares and emotions that suppress God's Presence within me. Yesterday’s peace means nothing today; only daily stillness will do. Prince of Peace, in You my soul finds rest. In the swirl of a new day’s turbulence, keep me settled down.

TRUE LIBERTY

The oft quoted: “It’s a free country man,” reveals that freedom is generally misunderstood. It is true that I am free, free to obligate myself to do the right thing. There is no bondage in obedience to the will and ways of God. What often initially seems like freedom is actually a path to enslavement. Father, I thank You that You do not leave me without guidance. Your command is my path to true liberty.

DAYBREAK

Daybreak is very quiet. God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world awakens and the still of dawn is lost in the cacophony of life. An indispensable characteristic of the God-directed life is hearing and obeying the voice of God. Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of silence. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly.

CREAKINESS

Several doors in my life are creaking; front door, back door, car door. Lubricant should clear this up. When it comes to maintenance I seem to respond better to crisis; okay, it’s a crisis now. My inner life is no different; I allow creakiness to become a crisis before taking action. Father, grant me grace to act. May dryness of soul have no place in me. Thank You for the oil of joy, which penetrates each part, offered to You.

SEED IN SOIL

Everything we do or say is seed. The people around us, family, friends, co-workers, even passing strangers are soil. We rarely know the full story of how our life impacts others, but it is sobering to realize there is a harvest, both good and bad, from the seeds I have sown. Lord, forgive me for forgetting how significant each action is. Help me display Your goodness to those You place in my path.

FRESH START

Darkness fades, morning approaches; yesterday’s passing offers a fresh start. New beginnings, what a gift! A brand new day is ready to unfold. The foundation I now lay establishes firm footing no matter what the day contains. The Word, prayer, praise, surrender, resolve, forgive, thank, bless, believe, love; okay, I’m ready now. Lord, thank You for another day, Very cool indeed.

JOY

Happiness is a makeshift imitation of JOY. Divine Joy cannot abide amidst a divided heart. The joy I seek is already mine in Christ, yet is experienced only in full surrender. I must not fear it, squelch it, and most importantly, not substitute it with something inferior. My Lord, my God, You first, no excuses. Your Joy is my strength. I can run through a troop and leap over a wall, joyfully.

A LOSS FOR WORDS

If I had the words of ten thousand languages I would still be at a loss for words to sufficiently declare the praises of God. Human language is inadequate, our lips incapable of expressing the unbounded greatness of Person and Works of Him Whom we seek acknowledge. So we join our voices with angel and archangels and all the company of heaven as we proclaim, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the LORD ALMIGHTY, worthy of all praise and glory forever and forever amen!

COMMENDABLE FRATERNITY

Much of what we learn is accomplished by imitating others. Since we are predisposed to this, it is vital that we choose carefully those to whom we cast more than a glance. Covenant friendship, godly fellowship, spiritual brotherhood; all these provide needed guidance to our associations. Lord, You direct my steps; lead me into commendable fraternity. Use me to rightly influence others.

GREATER THINGS

I am more determined than ever to press into God’s purposes. While some of the unbridled enthusiasm that characterized my youth has waned, disappointments are of less concern, patience has grown and trust in God’s work through me has increased. I now understand that what matters most is not what I do, but what I help others do. Lord, thank You for the joy set before me. Greater things yet await.

RESOLVED

As it was for Abraham, it is for us. Every step of faith holds the promise of inheritance: eyes lifted, steps taken, territory added.Will I depend upon my known resources alone, or will I hear and obey; trusting, advancing, and inheriting? I choose the latter. Freezing fear and doubt have never worked. Stepping forward in yielded obedience is the only way. O Lord my Rock, strengthen my resolve to fling myself forward into Your will.

A GOOD MYSTERY THRILLER

Today I turn another page. Like any good mystery thriller, the next chapter is impossible to predict. While the past chapters are not the roadmap for the future I have already learned a few things to carry forward: “the Author is in complete control, the journey will all make sense in the end, as main character, I must evolve, there are lessons along the way, there is an evil villain with plans of destruction, the Author will assure this story ends well.” Lord God, Author of Life, I await. Happy New Year everyone.