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Showing posts from March, 2013

VERY GOOD FRIDAY

Surrender amid sleepy disciples. Bloody perspiration. Betrayed by the disillusioned. Taken captive by the powerless. Judged by the ignorant. Abandoned by the lonely. Stripped by the unclothed. Crucified by the lifeless. Redeeming wounds suspended between heaven and earth. Forgiveness freely granted. Profound solemnity in heaven and on earth. A curtain torn top-to-bottom. The earth is shaken, the sun eclipsed. Darkness defeated. A stunned soldier. What majestic Mystery. What Love Divine. Good Friday? Yes, very good; indescribably good. Glorious Lord, You are forever praised by those You have redeemed!

O JERUSALEM

Nested atop Judean mountains the “City of Peace” knows little of it. On many occasions I have walked the Via Dolorosa through the streets of Old Jerusalem; a city where religious cultures collide and hats and head coverings are political statements as much as they are symbols of spiritual commitments; tensions are ever present. As both Passover and Resurrection Sunday approach, Lord I pray with more intensity than ever for the peace of Jerusalem.

NO PLUNGE, NO POWER!

Zeal without knowledge can be brutal, but Christianity without fervor is awaste. The life of faith cannot be lived with feet dangling in the water while safely perched on the dock. No, water walkers must step out. No plunge, no power. Lord, grant me ardor, determination, devotion, diligence, drive, eagerness, earnestness, enterprise, fire, gusto, hustle, inclination, initiative, intensity, passion, perseverance, readiness, sincerity, spirit, stick-to-itiveness, urgency and wisdom this day.

MERCY ON DISPLAY

To openly live a life of faith is not a proclamation of personal perfection. Actually, the opposite is true; my imperfections become the stage upon which the amazing grace and relentless love of God are displayed. In my weaknesses, His awesome strength is discovered and brought to the forefront. My brokenness spotlights God’s Mercy. The Love of God is drawn to the needy as surely as a mother to her child’s cry. Lord, You are my Fortress and Deliverer, reveal Yourself in me. May my failings spotlight Your exquisiteness.

GOD'S OFFSPRING

Children provide immense joy: bright faces, quirky questions, simple solutions, boundless energy, missing teeth and so many curiosities. It is, at once, comforting and humbling that God sees me as His child. When I offer my lips in praise, does He see cupcake icing on the perimeter? Does He grin when I ask “are we there yet”? Does He delight in my clumsy attempts to imitate Him. Lord, You are my Father and I desire to be like You in every way. Your Creative Power and Redemptive Mercy I have made me like You in essence, now may I be like you in knowledge and practice.

GIVE SPACE

Two words came to mind while in prayer: ”give space.” The Presence of God can occupy any space, but may not be recognizable in the junk pile of an overstuffed life. Russian winters are long, grey and cold. It’s capital Moscow has little greenery at any time, but winter’s brutal effect leaves almost none. I once entered a simple greenhouse surrounded by Moscow’s late winter ice and snow. Inside were beautiful green herbs and vegetables, beautiful life in the midst of frozen tundra. Lord, I wish to yield every space in my life to You. May Your life-giving Presence burst forth in me.

STORM ON THE HORIZON

Ominous clouds are building on the horizon this morning. Approaching storms can be harbingers of calamity, but not this time. We are in a drought and the clouds are a sign of potential blessings. The same is true of my interior life. What may seem as a frightful circumstance building may turn out to be the source of blessings. I accept the biblical admonition: “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Even storms. Especially storms. Thank You Father for daily turning what appears to be doom into fountains of benefit.

ANOTHER DAY UNFOLDS

The table is set for a new day. Only God knows exactly what is prepared and ready to be put before me. Like someone slowly opening his hand to reveal something hidden within it, God is unfolding this day before me. I must now leave behind my simple-minded ways and ready myself for new insight, higher life and greater things. Am I ready for today? Only the day will tell, but the One who provides it will also carry me through it. Lord, today is the day You have made, I rejoice and am glad it is here. Lift me in Your arms as I pass through it.

LOVE SOURCE

The past few weeks has provided opportunities to be with people I don’t see often but for whom I have deep love. Relationships that lead to genuine love often seem to come from nowhere. I don’t really choose who I will love, it seems almost unstoppable. I can only conclude that we are divinely wired for it. God is love. Mankind was made in the image of God, therefore we long to love and to be loved. That our soul longs for deep love proclaims the reality of our longing for God. Father, Mighty Creator of Love, help me be faithful in love for You and others.

O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES

My heart is filled with Praise. Oh God of Truth and Love, Your most simple command breaks down prison walls and opens the way to freedom, a dew drop of your grace brings life to the dry and thirsty, Your lightest breath blows away the clouds of gloom and doom, a glimpse of Your face lifts the pain of grief and turns our sighs into laughter. My words fall short of the praise You deserve so my prayer is that of the great hymnist Charles Welsley: “O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise, The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!

THE GRIP

I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond my reach was put there by God. In some cases what is placed just beyond touch to is done so to urge me forward, in others, the extra distance is for my protection. Ultimately, the One who places things beyond my grasp can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will and is for my good. Distance may be expanded or abbreviated by the Him who keeps all things in place for their appointed times. Blessed Lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

BEHOLDING PRAYER

Over a lifetime I have developed a practice of prayerfully speaking to God throughout the day. Yet I struggle with consistently taking time to behold Him. There is prayer and then there is “beholding prayer.” The differences? In beholding prayer there is heartfelt praise with no accompanying panic. Beholding prayer has its attention on God’s Ways, Promises and Person, not on temporary needs or solutions. Beholding prayer’s focus is to change me rather than my circumstances. Glorious God, in Your unlimited Goodness have mercy on me and transform me into the man You desire.

THE VOICE

I must hear from God daily; thankfully His voice of wisdom, knowledge, truth and discretion cries out by many means. Everything I hear with my ears, behold with my eyes, touch with my hands, or think in my mind can be used by the Ancient of Days to bring understanding. Enlightenment awaits the attentive heart. Lord God Almighty, blessed is the man who listens for Your voice, watching daily, camping at Your doorway. Clothe me this day with the garment of praise and the armor of Your Word.

AN ENGRAVED MAN

It is like a lush oasis in the desert to be with someone of noble character. Instead of pulling you down, their presence lifts you higher, provoking godliness, inspiring greater things. I wish to be such a person. The effect of Christ on the disciples caused their judges to note: “these men had been with Jesus”. Would anyone be able to discern if I had been with Him if didn’t say? Lord, make me into an engraved man; Your image on constant display. Imprint my life so thoroughly that You may be seen through and through.

BOTHERSOME COMFORT

While it is absolutely true that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, God’s comfort zone nearly always makes me uncomfortable. Since complacency is my constant nemesis, His love continually prods me to move forward. Herein lies a fundamental spiritual principle: convenience is rarely the path to spiritual growth. Father, Your love propels me. I welcome Your holy nudges, even when it is bothersome. Deliver me from the constant drumbeat of the worldly illusion of comfort and bring me to that place where acceptance of Your will and ways reigns supreme.

FRAGRANCE

It is a delightful mystery how an aroma can transport me to a different place. Fragrances bind with events, places and people. A passing scent can return me to my great grandmother’s home or a market in Costa Rica; awakening a lost memory or activating an emotion. Biblically, fragrances are attached to many events from the smoke and incense of the Tabernacle to our intercessory prayers, to gifts to the Newborn King, to our daily witness before the world. God has bequeathed unlimited ways for us to learn, grow and experience fullness of life. O Lord my Creator and Sustainer, I stand in awe of You, I marvel at Your ways.

DAILY CLEANSING

I begin each new day with prayers for forgiveness for previous failures. This daily routine is at times accompanied with genuine sorrow and deep repentance, but often I feel nothing. Then there is the issue of where to focus. No doubt there are sins I consider small, but which God considers huge. Lack of sincerity and misguidance plague my repentance. Blessed Trinity, direct my prayers by Your Holy Spirit. I confess my inability to truly repent without Your help. Pardon me, cleanse me and cure my straying heart.

BEGINNING TO END

Morning light is springing up earlier each day now. Earth spinning, tilting, hurtling through space, day, night, seasons, all in the palm of His hand, every last detail considered. Beginning and end are equally available to the Alpha and Omega, Maker of Heaven and Earth. "O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hand has made!" Today should work out just fine, my soul is already singing!

GRACE TO GROW

Difficult times bring many valuable lessons; most of the important changes I have made came as a direct result of a crisis.As the pressure rises, so does the intensity of seeking God’s face for the necessary grace to deal with the pain. Therefore, difficulties often lead to greater grace. While I do not intentionally seek more problems, there seems to be no shortage. Gracious Father, I can honestly praise You and thank You for each opportunity to know You better. Thank you for EVERY chance to learn and grow.

WORDS

We feel compelled to “have the last word” in a conversation, but having the right words is far more important. Life and death proceed from our lips, therefore they must be bathed in love and truth before being spoken. A Biblical, Spirit-informed filter between the mind and the mouth serves everyone’s best interest. Slowing the velocity of my reply increases the effectiveness of the filter. Lord, let Your words percolate through mine. May only what is guided by You ever leave my lips.

MANIPULATION

God cannot be manipulated by my obedience; doing His will must be an act of love and abandon, not a form of leverage. Self-righteousness dangerously postures us as feeling worthy of His favor and is the enemy of the true believer. It is the humble acceptance of His single act of Redemption and His Sovereign Grace that invite blessing. My Father and Redeemer, teach me to trust in Your work and not my own.

STEPS

Walking is simply a series of steps. Each stride distances me from something behind and propels me toward what is ahead. Giant ones, tiny ones, fast ones, slow ones, intense ones, easy ones; each step matters, with each step progress is made. The walk of faith is no different; one foot in front of the other. Lord, help me keep each footstep firmly centered in Your will. Even if I should stumble I am safe, knowing I am still in Your capable hands. You go before me and You are my rearguard. No step I take is outside of Your superintendence.

RELENTLESS INTERFERENCE

I do not resent the Lord’s rebuke. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it at the time, but I realize that His discipline is a necessary expression of His unfailing love. I would surely settle for less than His best were it not for His relentless interference with my contentment with the mediocre; He will have none of that. The Love of God chases us wherever we stray and pulls us back from ruin. He never lets go, never gives up, never turns away. Lord, You ARE my Father. Your hand of discipline proclaims Your delight in us as Your children. It hurts so good.

SPINNING WHEELS

We are spun round and round by the everyday swirl of life. It feels as if I am a lump of clay spinning on a potter’s wheel. As a matter of fact, I AM. The Master’s touch gently presses in, reshaping me for His envisioned purpose. A poke here and there will bring texture and reveal the masterful skill of the Potter. Why do I resist? My failed attempts at shaping myself should be evidence enough to gladly yield to the Potter’s hands. Have Your own way Lord, I am waiting yielded and still. Mold me, make me after Your will.

ACURATE SCALES

God cannot be fooled. It seems ridiculous to say it, but I have acted as if He could while knowing He cannot. Self-justification is such a part of the human condition that we are blind to its techniques. Strangely, we can see it so clearly in others, however, as Scripture reveals: “all a man's own ways seem right to him.” The triple punch of Scripture, Spirit and covenant fellowship with serious believers can purge us of self-deception. Lord, weigh my heart on Your perfectly accurate scales.