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TEARS

While raising our children we became accustomed to tears; each day offered many. Most of the tearful moments were a result of minor disappointments or injuries, but occasionally there was genuine heartache. A single tear poised on the cheek of a sorrowful little face was riveting. Everything else stopped while full household attention was given to that one anguished soul. It is the same with God. Lord of All Comfort, one small teardrop of true repentance unleashes angels, archangels and the company of heaven to my troubles. You turn my tears of sorrow to tears of joy!

OCEANS OF BLESSING

Looking at the ocean is full of life lessons. What you see on the surface tells very little of its true volume and hidden abundance, while significant activity can be seen on top the real action is only discovered by going deeper. There is always much more over the horizon headed your way. Every wave deposits treasures on the shore but effort must be made to find them. Eternal God and Maker of All things, You made the seas as but a token of Your Wonder. You are the Well that Never Runs Dry, the Dawn that Never Dims and the depths of Your Love may never be exhausted.

TRANSFORMATION

Transformational change requires more than simply wishing for it. Ultimately, transformation is a work of God’s grace, but our part in the process is vital. I must learn to take direct and prompt action, yet remain willing to be halted by the very One who has commanded me to move ahead. “Wait”, “wait”, “wait”, “okay now”; such is the spirit-guided life. Like manna in the wilderness, lessons are present each day to be taken. And also like manna, yesterday’s gathered provision is not tomorrow’s.  Lord, I thank You for Your daily work in me. I do not resent Your pace or doubt Your choices.

LIFE SOURCE

Like pure, refreshing water hidden underground in a desert cavern, our created purpose lies deep within us. The value and benefit of drinking from its waters far exceeds the strenuousness of finding it. Whenever I stray too far from His plan the Goodness of God pulls me back to my only enduring source of life. He formed me to do His will and no other aspiration can be substituted for it. Every earthly desire must align with His divinely engineered plan. Father You created me with purpose and an innate capacity to fulfill it. I so need Your daily grace. Help me to drink from Your still waters.

JOY TO THE WORLD!

To the brokenhearted, joy. To the falsely accused, joy. To the misunderstood, joy. To the disappointed, joy. To the repentant sinner, joy. To the imprisoned or condemned, joy. To the lonely, joy. To the rejected, joy. To the abandoned, joy. To the widow and widower, joy. To the newborn or elderly, joy. To the calloused heart, joy. To those proclaimed terminally ill, joy. To those trapped in darkness, joy. To those with waning hope, joy. To the cowardly or brave, joy. To the guilty or just, joy. To rich or poor, joy. JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!

HIDDEN TREASURES

A stroll on a sandy beach provides hidden treasures placed there by the creative forethought of God. The ebb and flow of tides opens the treasury of the seas for those who stroll along the shore. God sees to it that each day offers the same to all mankind, wherever we are on earth; hidden treasures carefully placed by the Hand of God. The angels had it right: "Glory to God in the Highest, good will toward men." Lord of Constant Wonders, teach me to slow my pace and pay greater attention to Your quiet handiwork. Open the eyes of my heart to Your daily divine deposits.

CLAY

I enjoyed playing with modeling clay as a child since I could take shapeless material and mold whatever my imagination and childhood skills could conceive. Working with clay is messy and very time consuming. Learning the texture and feel is a significant part of the process. Life is different now; I am no longer the sculptor, I am now the clay. The Master is continually shaping my life and character. My role is simple; I must remain pliable, sinking deeply into the Potter’s hands. Father, Creator of All Things, mold me and make me after Your will. Teach me to welcome the texture and feel of Your mighty hand.

THE WORK OF FAITH

As the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry drew near he warned them of impending testing, especially for Peter. He revealed Peter would need to “turn back” and “strengthen the others". Most interesting is the prayer for Peter’s faith to “not fail”, yet it seems he DID FAIL by denying the Lord. This Biblical incident reveals a secret; the work of faith is as much repentance and testimony as it is resistance of the forces of darkness. Peter could have hated himself, but unlike Judas, his faith turned his collapse into success. Majestic Father, I marvel at Your Wisdom and Ways.

FALSEHOOD GONE WILD

My heart is the lens through which I view myself. If allowed to run wild, pride will prevent me from ever seeing things as they truly are. Once false realities crystalize we pray with the mindset of a Pharisee: “Thank God I am not like other sinners.” Prideful comparisons such as “I am better than him” or “I deserve better than her” are a steep, slippery decent into the abyss. Freedom from arrogant falsehood demands leaving human comparisons behind by beholding the Lamb of God. Lord, make me like You. Forgive my self-deception and strengthen my embrace of the Cross. May truth and love run freely within me.

FACE TO FACE

I enjoy strolling through art galleries, and especially like meeting the artists. In those moments, the artist becomes more appealing than the art. In like manner, each day offers yet more reason to turn away from this world and lift my eyes to the next. It is not that I don’t have affection for this life and the cornucopia of wonders, peoples, joys, tastes, experiences, challenges and blessings it provides; it’s just that I increasingly see God behind what I behold and long to meet the Master who creates the masterpieces. Holy Father, I see You through the veil, but one day I will see You face to face.

MY DAILY BREAD

Modern day marketing has turned buying things we want into a seemingly necessary part of developing healthy self-esteem; the problem is it doesn’t work. Filling our lives with more stuff makes us happy for a while, but then we are forced to clean out drawers, closets, attics, garages and storage units just to make additional room for new things, which, in turn, makes us unhappy. King Solomon could acquire anything he wanted, and in fact did. He later stated: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul”. Lord God, help me keep my head by giving You my whole heart. Make wisdom my daily bread.

MARCHING FORWARD

Faith, that joyful certitude that unlocks heaven’s rewards is never bound to earthly circumstances. Faith unleashes divine promises, matchless wisdom, clarity of vision and a steady walk through the unseen. If a mustard seed’s portion can toss a mountain into the sea, then it can certainly clear our way forward. Through faith I find refuge in blessed assurance, triumphant peace in the midst of storms and laughter in the face of adversity. Lord of Hope, Your Words are the fountainhead of faith, therefore I will meditate daily on Your Holy Declarations. By faith, in faith and through faith I will march forward.

SPECIAL REPORT FROM EARTH

I sometimes find myself praying with the intensity of a frontline news reporter, informing God of earthly events as if He is hearing about them for the first time. Prayer should never be an attempt to enlighten the Greater One who already knows everything that can be known. Rather than pointing to circumstances, my prayers should allow circumstances to point to me, to what needs to change in my heart and actions. Lord of All Things, shine the Light of Your Presence upon that which You desire to transfigure. Make me a point of light to others and grant me strength, wisdom and endurance to take my position in the transforming work to which you call me.

WHERE AND WHEN

Our whereabouts are not our choice alone. The Patriarch Abraham recognized the importance of hearing and obeying God’s directive voice. He was called to a faraway place where his inheritance awaited his arrival. While it was unknown to Abraham, God had already chosen and made holy the ground where he was being sent. Obedience without hesitation meant Abraham ended up WHERE he was supposed to be, WHEN he was supposed to be there. Lord, may I never miss Your Voice calling me to a new place of trust and obedience. And may I never delay arrival to Your chosen moment.

LEASHED TO HIS HAND

While I prefer to see myself as strong and steady in my pursuit of God’s will and ways, the reality is I am easily distracted. Like a dog being walked on a leash, passing interests cause me to pull against the safety and needed guidance His handhold provides. I do not resent the Lord’s firm grip, but in moments of preoccupation with temporary emotional satisfaction I forget He is actually taking me somewhere. So I must again begin a new day reminding myself to yield to the Master’s touch. Glorious God and Father, bind me to Your Presence and Purpose. Lead me in the way of everlasting.

BREAKTHROUGH

How many more steps to breakthrough? I don’t know. I never know until after the final step, so I keep walking. In confident persistence, I walk. Through valleys of doom, I walk. Past shadows of fear, I walk. Over mountains of doubt, I walk. Through jungles of entanglements, I walk. The journey of faith does not end when we want it to end; it ends when it is over. That is God’s call, not mine. Shepherd of my soul You are with me each step. Your rod and staff cheer me up, relieve my weariness and give me grit to finish. My cup overflows and Goodness and Mercy are right behind me. So I walk.

NEVER ALONE

I can never walk alone; there simply is no place where God is not present. While in moments of foolishness I may ignore His Presence or attempt to hide from His Presence, He will never ignore mine. All that seems far 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!!

SURE FOUNDATION

A large oak tree is a majestic sight, its branches spreading high into the sky and reaching out all around. But that is only half of the story. Its root system is as large underground as its girth above ground. As with a huge building, the visible structure is only as strong as its foundation. So it is with life on this earth. What is visible to others is only half the story. If we are rooted in shallow ground our future is weak and unsteady. If our foundation is God’s Word and Will we are positioned for eternity. Father, You are the one and only Sure Foundation, keep me rooted in You alone. All other ground is sinking sand.

VIEW FROM THE TOP

Catastrophes have a way of being all consuming; the worse the situation, the more absorbing it is. The beginning point for moving forward is to enthrone God in our praise. As we behold and magnify Him the circumstances of life come into proper perspective. Praise validates the sovereignty of God in our own soul, arresting fear and releasing faith. The effect of praise provokes us to proclaim His greatness to others. Lord, You are High and Lifted Up and greatly to be praised! From the heavenlies even the largest mountain is small. I glorify and adore You O Lord My Shepherd and Keeper!

MIRROR, MIRROR

As a child it was fascinating to stare into mirrors, each reflection revealing details I previously missed. I soon learned that the quality of the mirror and lighting made a huge impact on what I saw. As I’ve aged this experience has grown increasingly less pleasant, so I now prefer dim reflections. When it comes to the inner man the opposite has occurred. Having paid the price of human deceptions I yearn for authenticity within, no matter the consequence. Lord of Truth and Light, while there is pain in the discovery, I want the transforming power of truth to transform my falsehood into Your image.

OPEN, CLOSE

Every day requires additional constraint 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 since it is a sign of forward progress. Unwillingness to accept necessary shrinkage or fear of expansion leaves us to just drift along with the surrounding current, casting us onto the dry shore. Lord I love Your ways and praise You that You do not leave me trapped in stagnation. Open, close, I’m good with that.

THE ROADSIDE STAND

There is nothing fancy about a roadside fruit stand, its treasures there for the taking. But its bounty will never belong to those whose rush by without pause. So it is with wisdom. On the hilltop, along the road, at the crossroads, she takes her stand crying out to all who will hear. Daily wisdom is not a luxury; it is absolutely essential. Each morning my mind is still half-filled with yesterday’s leftovers with more pouring in upon awakening. It is then I must brake hard and seek God’s voice. Father, teach me to watch and listen. I seek Your Face and hungrily await Your divine instruction.

CHURNING CHALLENGES

I marvel at the skill of professional whitewater kayakers, perhaps because they demonstrate that extreme dangers and incredible adventures inhabit the same space. To simply follow human instinct apart from divine purpose and guidance is like being thrown into cascading rapids. To navigate the churning challenges of relationships, health, prosperity, ambition and mission I need God’s constant help. Seeking Him should never be a last resort. Father in Heaven, Giver of Life, I realize skillful living requires Your will, Your way, Your timing, Your path and Your choices. I yield this day to Your Hands.

CURIOSITY CONTROL

It can be very dangerous to stroll through the wrong neighborhood. There is plenty of evil in this world that finds us even when we are making wise choices, so why make ourselves easy targets? The answer is curiosity. The wonderful gift of inquisitiveness, which motivates a child to learn, leads to medical discoveries, and motivates space exploration, can also be perilous. Curiosity, under the guidance of godly wisdom is a benefit, but influenced by spirits of darkness, can be deadly. Almighty Father of Wisdom and Blessing, keep my curiosity under Your control. Guide my steps in the path of life.

ZEAL!!

Zeal without knowledge can be brutal, but Christianity without fervor is a   waste. Fervency must be first bathed in love before applied. However, zealousness, like expired food left abandoned in the back the refrigerator will expire, sadly lost down the disposal for lack of use. God is zealous, yet with the perfect counterbalance of wisdom. 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.

FINAL VICTORY ASSURRED

I live in a moment-by-moment spiritual battle. I wish I could say it was solely a five-star, gallant fight against dark forces in high places, but frankly, it is much less noble than that. While it is, in fact, a spiritual battle, mostly it is a constant internal resistance of self-centeredness, self-indulgence and self-interest. Though I am sincerely God’s servant, the enemy’s minions are always insidiously present, lurking within the shadows, pulling at me. Shepherd of My Soul, thank You for sending relentless conviction and unending Mercy; by Your Grace and constant help, final victory is assured.

STOP, LISTEN, OBEY

I have spent far too much time looking for things I myself placed but can’t remember the location. Panic and frustration never help. In seeking important answers and direction for life the same is true; I may actually know the answer, but anxiety and selfishness freezes my hearing. There is an order of discovery for spiritual and material guidance: listen for God’s voice, treasure His commands, tune out confusion and tune in wisdom. Finally, concentrate on understanding how to act on what you hear. Lord of Wisdom and Guidance, teach me calm myself, to listen carefully and to obey swiftly.

ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

Many seem to feel it necessary to wear their faith like armor against the surrounding world. Taking the Biblical example of the apostle Paul to heart, I prefer to make a thoughtful effort to fit in with those around me wherever I go. Paul’s strategy of becoming “all things to all people” was not an effort to hide his faith, but rather, an intentional commitment to offer bridges of love to those he encountered. It doesn’t take long for others to notice the effects of God’s Presence in our lives. Holy Lord, we are grateful Your Presence shelters us while empowering us to effectively share Your Grace with others.

THE GREATEST GIVER OF ALL

The Biblical maxim “it is more blessed to give than to receive” is not just good advice for us; it is a revelation of God’s nature. He doesn’t need a thing, but has everything to give. And He wants to. It blesses our Heavenly Father when we align our lives in such a way for Him to be able to open the windows of heaven to us. We never need to beg God but must meet His conditions to receive. They are, in short: belief, humility, generosity, obedience, stewardship and compassion. Great and Glorious Giver of All Things, clear away all greed, selfishness, fear or any other hindrance that I may be an open channel of Your blessings to others.

DIAMONDS ON MY DRIVEWAY

Passing by the front window at daybreak I looked on the driveway and received a wonderful surprise, there were diamonds everywhere; beautiful sparkles were spread across the otherwise dull concrete. Upon further examination, it was dew on small leaves reflecting a combination of moonlight and dawning sunlight. Again, God had transformed the ordinary into something resplendent with beauty. King of Majesty, I stand amazed in Your Presence. As surely as you spread momentary treasures on the ground you spread eternal treasures throughout my life. I am very grateful.

THE VOICE

When we encounter barriers to doing what we want we attempt to reconfigure truth to fit our desires, placing our feelings as the highest level of authority. God designed us to live with certain inward and outward restraints. When we consciously abandon the safety of Scriptural values and accountability for a path of self-determined constraint it is a sure path to destruction. To reject truth-molded principles as our inner compass is to align ourselves with the forces of darkness. Lord God, I desperately need Your Voice, THE VOICE. Corral me in to a life of love where I may run freely and safely.

THANKSGIVING

Ten lepers were cured, but only one returned to express gratitude. King David found it necessary to remind himself of his many blessings. Our tendency to focus on what we lack in life robs us of enduring gratefulness. Giving thanks need not be corralled into moments when we feel obliged; gratefulness and praise must become our lifestyle, thankfulness and praise a forethought, not an afterthought. God of all Blessings, Sustainer of All Life, Giver of all Grace, I thank You and praise you for Your Unceasing Goodness.  You are my Light and Salvation. To You be glory forever and ever, amen.

SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS

Like sand slipping through the hourglass, each moment appears and quickly slips into the past. I often feel the sting of lost opportunities, mistakes and unchangeable past events. An eternal perspective rotates the impulse of our lives; instead of dwelling on the past, we are pulled toward an unlimited future filled with hope. What is behind becomes a footnote as eternal purpose unfolds and God’s beckoning calls us higher. Glorious Father, compared to Your Everlasting Greatness, everything else is trivial. Nothing of this world has value unless it brings You glory. I joyfully move forward.

INHERITANCE

As the firstborn son of Isaac, Esau had the inheritance and authority of his father. But he showed contempt for his birthright when he traded it away for a bowl of soup.  How foolish. Yet, I too, show contempt for my Heavenly Father each time I shrug off my rights as a child of God for temporary things. Over-attachment to momentary needs or desires can plunder my spiritual inheritance and corrupt my sense of purpose and destiny. Blessed Lord, You are my Strength and my Portion. Forgive my inclinations to trade-off heavenly heritage for makeshift satisfaction. Preserve my heart for You Alone

THE RIGHT THING

Dong the right thing is never done in a vacuum; there are always other things pulling on us in that moment. Personal interests must be conceded each time good is chosen over evil. The confusing fog of self-justification can be an amazingly powerful elixir, but the love walk sobers us faster than a dip in in an icy spring. Letting love be our guide not only makes good choices desirable, walking in love makes doing the right thing consistently achievable. Failures remind me I am still a rookie. Loving Father, Your love never fails. Dispel the darkness of self-centeredness and fortify me with Your Grace.

I BOW THE KNEE

God’s Presence is intimate and welcoming.  He greets us with open arms and grants us acceptance on the basis of what our Redeemer has accomplished for us. We must never take for granted the high privilege of worship; it is only by mercy and grace we enter in. Presumptuousness is a vile tag along that can accompany the liberty we feel in His Presence; however, a nonchalant casualness should never appear in my approach to God. Holy and Almighty Father, forgive my recklessness. May I never show contempt for your kindness by inappropriate brazenness. I bow the knee to Your Majesty

A MIGHTY FORTRESS

It is perfectly normal to believe that if we gather enough fame and fortune we will be protected from calamity. However, when life falls apart there is no enduring safety for the self-dependent. Only those with principled character, a biblical worldview and a genuine relationship with the Almighty will withstand the onslaught life brings.  No one can be insulated from disaster, but the God-seeker knows where to turn and finds peace and prosperity within the tempest. A Mighty Fortress is our God! O Lord My Strength and Deliverer, in Your Divine Care I run freely through the darkest valley.

EARLY MORNING BRIEFING

The human mind is governed by earthly needs, desires and fears and is hostile to trusting in the unseen. The concept of a Sovereign, Caring and Attentive Shepherd of our souls is appealing, but our minds must be trained to live under a new order of life, giving first place to the Lordship and Authority of God. Understanding the true situation is a critical first step; He is Lord, I am NOT. Each day must begin with an early morning briefing with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Lord of All, I submit this day to Your plans and cast my concerns before You. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

CUTS BOTH WAYS

Potiphar's wife accused Joseph with an absolute lie and he was imprisoned. Once anger is aroused truth becomes irrelevant. Two years later, Joseph is miraculously put into the second most powerful role in Egypt. Sadly, Potiphar, who had been so blessed, nor his wife are mentioned again. The lessons here are many. Lying and believing unsubstantiated lies strip away our blessings and set us aside from usefulness in the Kingdom. Steady faithfulness delivers us from traps of the enemy and qualifies us for greater things. LORD OF TRUTH, in Your Mercy, put Your coals of fire to my ears and mouth.

THE FINISH

There are those who are convinced they have run their course just before the final leg. A good start and a strong race doesn’t matter in the end, it is only the finish that truly matters. The Apostle Paul’s words ring as powerfully today as they did two millennia ago, “I fought a good fight, I kept the faith!” Keeping the faith in spite of what appears as certain defeat is the pathway to the supernatural. Finishers are overcomers. Lord Above, You open the windows of heaven to those who do not quit. My passionate aim is to fight the good fight and finish the race till at last I fall into Your Arms.

GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY

I woke up thankful today. Thankfulness usually floats close to the surface for me, but ordinarily it is not my first morning reaction. Constant, auto-response gratefulness requires a level of surrender that still mostly eludes me. Typically I must first navigate through a maze of my own thoughts and emotions before I reach the bliss of thankfulness. A strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation is not rooted in circumstances; it flows from a deeper understanding of God’s goodness and love. Today, I am there quickly and without conditions. Thank You Father for the early gift. You are so very Good.

MINUSCULE

One glance upward into a starry night immediately puts things into perspective; our troubles and achievements, no matter how massive, are minuscule in comparison. While engulfed in the daily grind true perspective can be easily lost. I must remind myself throughout each day to take regular glances toward the heavens in prayerful thought and praise of the Almighty. Even a moment in meditation of God’s promises, a twinkling of soulful surrender, lifts my heart to the heights. Lord, To You, glory in all things! Grant divine perspective to my diurnal march as I turn my eyes toward You.

PURSUIT OF PURPOSE

Purposeful living is not as courageous as many suppose, it is more a matter of surrender; acknowledging that God has designed and placed each of us in this life according to His aspirations. I cannot fulfill His created purpose for me while trying to copy someone else, nor can I force anyone else to adopt my own. While others may be called to similar paths to which I am called, the things that rivet my attention and fuel passionate, personal response are as unique as fingerprints. O Lord, My God and King, help me this day step boldly into Your will without fear or useless attempts to modify Your plans.

HOLD THE LINE

A common cry in the midst of battle is the command: “Hold the line!” From our earliest records of warfare, keeping a strong line is a critical element for supremacy over the enemy. Though I remain temporary captive to human frailty, I am never alone in this fight for spiritual advance. My Commander and Chief does not simply pass orders from above, but is also with me each day to my left and right, never, ever abandoning His position. Lord God Almighty, when I am weak Your strength brings victory. Human anxieties are put into retreat by Your all-surpassing power and unfailing love.

SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

Everything we do or say is seed in the ground; the people we meet, family, friends, co-workers, even strangers passing by 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. In the case of the good seeds sown I pray for a bumper harvest. As for the bad seed, I pray for crop failure. Lord of Seedtime and Harvest, forgive me for forgetting how significant each action is. Help me display Your goodness to those You place in my path. May only good seed be spread from my life.

ASSOCIATIONS VERSUS BROTHERHOOD

I approach people with belief that they are created in God’s image and so I look for the God-imprint within them, even in those who refute His existence or contort it into some vain philosophy. This method has been mostly successful but has its downsides. It requires keeping my own internal compass accurately calibrated to God’s Word and Spirit. It also demands that I chose carefully how closely I walk with someone, or how far. With wisdom, I may associate those with whom I cannot have brotherhood. Lord, give me increasing discernment. Help me choose comradeship wisely.

STOKING THE FIRE

On a camping trip, the night’s roaring fire becomes the next morning’s bed of coals. Lack of attention will eventually extinguish its potential for revival. Like a fire, love must be fed. If not regularly fueled, passion will eventually grow cold. Sadly, a heart cools so gradually that it is not easily recognized until it is nearly frigid. Life devoid of affection, life with no eagerness, life with no passionate mission is no life at all. Lord of Love, fill my heart with passion for You and help me love others purely. Blow upon the coldest embers within my heart and set me ablaze for Your will and ways.

THE MASTER'S TOUCH

Today's sunrise looked as if God dipped His finger in florescent paint and stroked a soft orange, backlit ribbon across a silvery blue background. A beautiful mosaic of white to grey and tan to blue clouds thinly weaved like giant ropes, quickly scrolls north to south. WOW! What else has the Master crafted into this day? I will watch for His work. Perhaps He will stroke the canvas of my soul, covering over useless space only to delicately create something exquisite in its place. Lord, I desire Your Holy craftsmanship. May my heart be a ready landscape; I welcome the touch of Your holy brush.

BEYOND THE VEIL

I decided to write down thoughts drifting through my mind as I contemplate the passing of another friend. Last week I said goodbye to my last living spiritual father, and this week, a spiritual brother.
These recent passings caused me to cast off from the shallows into deeper waters. As I review my life I can hardly remember the things we all work so so hard to obtain. I remember with some fondness a few, but how many cars have I owned? How many pairs of shoes? How many great meals? I frankly cannot remember, nor does it matter. These things come and go, never to return.
Then it broke through like sunbeams through the clouds: what matters most is slowly being removed from this life and sent to the next. Nothing marks life like family, friends, spiritual mentors and the people we meet. No material thing has formed my character, or held my hand in a crisis. A favorite shirt or vacation spot cannot give wise counsel or offer a listening ear. What has mattered most and has lasting impact …

SKULKING PRIDE

Even after years of God’s dealings with me, far too much human pride still remains. While increasingly pushed out of the spotlight, it still stubbornly skulks around in the shadows, giving way only in forced increments. Though sometimes diagnosed and stopped before popping out in words or actions, far too often, it leaps back on center-stage in full-blossom. God’s Goodness will not leave me in this unreliable state. Thank You Father, Son and Holy Spirit for Your holy work of deliverance from swaggering pretentiousness. Blessed riddance. I must decrease, You must increase.

HUNGERING PILGRIM

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 my focus and intensity of seeking God’s face. Fresh grace is granted to the hungering pilgrim to deal with unplanned circumstances. While I do not intentionally seek more problems, there seems to be no shortage. Nor, however, is there ever a shortage of God’s Mercy and Goodness. Glory to You Lord God Almighty, thank You for each opportunity to know You better. In my darkest hour You sweetly lead me toward your heavenly light.

NOTHING WASTED

Much of our human effort produces little of measurable earthly value. I have poured my emotions, energy, time and resources into things only to later realize that what I expected from my enterprise came to nothing. Yet, it is the effort itself that has great value. Faithfulness, stewardship, passionate pursuit; these are divine treasures produced by effort.  Time and energy is never wasted when expended in pursuit of God’s will. Lord, may I never grow weary in doing good. In Your mercy, help me keep my shoulder to the plow. Use me to encourage others to stay the course.

BITTER CUP

I am not a very picky eater, but have faced things difficult to mouth and swallow. It is said, “you are what you eat” and there are things I just don’t want to take in or become. Thank God Our Redeemer is not so choosy. Upon facing the bitter cup of Gethsemane He readily drank it down. God swallowed our death-marked souls whole and for a moment, He too, became what He drank. But what He became could not remain. Glorious God and Savior, in rising from the dead You overcame sin. Rather than us permanently turning You into sin, You have now eternally turned us into righteousness children.

UNDER THE KNIFE

I am in the debt of those who have touched my life. Like surgical instruments in the hands of the Great Physician, God has pressed people into my daily pilgrimage to cut away what harms me from within. I have often resented those used for the deepest cuts, only later to realize that they have done me great good, even if they intended otherwise. There are some who I simply must have nearby because of what radiates from them to me, each exposure granting life, love, laughter and learning. Father, keep me under the knife and thank You for all whom You choose to use.

SO LOVED

I feel sad for the child of God who knows so little of God’s Love only their own needs can be seen. The biblical narrative “God so loved the world” is on my mind. “So loved.” These words prick my heart a thousand ways. Even one drop of God’s pure love upon the heart changes everything; reordering priorities, provoking a sense of purpose and opening our eyes to the needs around us. Once love enters it comes with such conviction it releases effusive joy and faith to act. Blessed Father, God of Glory, Your Love demands so much, yet offers everything. Make me a channel of Your love.

MAKE ALL OF ME ALL FOR YOU

Jerusalem is one of the world’s most ancient cities. Thousands of years of building and rebuilding has left its oldest sections buried deep underground. Almost constant excavation guarantees new treasures are unearthed daily. The work of God’s Spirit has the same effect within me. He exposes and removes the rubble and residue of the past. His Holy Work surfaces deeply imbedded treasures; divine attributes implanted long ago that are designed for God’s purpose for my life today. Lord God, Worker of Miracles, Grantor of Good, expose every part of my heart to Your Light and make all of me all for You.

ANOTHER LAP

Every second is precious, each moment being an irreplaceable gift of time. He that holds time in His grasp pours it forth like grains of sand. I desire to make wise and effective use of this day as it unfolds. Without God’s help this would be Impossible, but the gift of new opportunities to act is accompanied with a daily allotment of grace, wisdom and faith. There is no lack in our Heavenly Father’s supply and He withholds no good thing from His children, so I will have all I need to step ahead. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Teach me Your ways and thank You for another lap.

SLIPPERY SLOPE

It is a common malady to confuse exercising biblically granted divine authority with being an authority on the divine; confidently condemning those who differ in their beliefs or practices. From there it is a slippery slope, which drops us into the pit of judgmentalism. Discernment has great value, but we easily slip into unfair conclusions and declarative pronouncements that are careless and hurtful rather than helpful. Lord, help me to discern in a highborn manner. Teach me to think and speak things bathed in Your love. Protect me from the earthly habit of categorizing those different than me.

ABANDON

Doing God’s will does not depend upon perfect conditions. In fact, negative circumstances are practically a requirement for things done in faith. If something is easily within grasp faith is not essential, but seeing and doing the impossible requires taking action on what is not yet seen. As I step forward in faith I usually have only fragments of clarity, not the whole picture. Trusting God to pull the pieces together while navigating through obstacles is both cleansing and exhilarating. Father, thank You for the unique joy faith brings. Grant me grace to live in full abandon to Your will.

SAY LESS, DO MORE

We live in an era when there is a growing chasm between words and actions. It seems the proliferation of so many gadgets for 24/7 communications has worsened the problem. The sheer volume of things said so easily to so many contributes to falsehood. There is no duplicity in God, what He says, He does. He ”watches over His Word to perform it.” It is time to say less and do more. Lord of Truth and Action, help me to live by deeds rather than mere words. Purge from me all that is false. May my love for others be honest and my words bathed in wisdom, grace and truth.

ANGER DANGER

There is no progress made by stirring up acrimony and outrage. Mild anger can move us into action and needed change, but it can easily metastasize into animosity, infuriation and hatred. The Biblical admonition is “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” It goes on to admonish us to deal with anger swiftly. All to often we interpret that to mean we should hurry to the source and change the circumstance or person making us angry, but the starting point is to let God work in our heart first. Lord of Unfailing love, I confess a quick temper as sin. Help me first examine my heart before reacting to circumstances.

LEANING IN

We each spend countless hours planning for things that never happen. In fact, most of what has actually occurred in my life I never planned for at all.  I am at peace with that, having mostly accepted the fact that God establishes my steps. He is working me into His plan, not the other way around. I will not cease making new plans, but will do my best to hold them loosely, knowing that God is in control and that whatever He does is perfect. Father, I trust Your infinite wisdom. What comfort there is in leaning into Your everlasting arms. You work all things for our good and grant us joy divine.

ANOTHER GIFT

The quietness of early morning is a daily gift from God. As the world awakens around me so does my soul. Light appears on the horizon and exposes what was previously shrouded in darkness. In the same manner, the Lord’s Light penetrates the deepest darkness of my heart and brings forth repentance, cleansing and joy. New faith is released to walk in His unfailing love and fresh resolve to steer clear of known traps arises. O Lord My Maker and Redeemer, I welcome Your truth. May faithfulness replace my unwillingness. Heal my self-inflicted wounds and use me to heal others.

A CLEAN SLATE

Considering my constant bent toward lawlessness, I am eternally grateful for God’s forgiveness, which bears no grudges. Though I deserve judgment and rejection, His unmerited kindness redeems my worst ways with no lingering resentment, antipathy or malice. True repentance brings cleansing so pure no stains remain; no record of our wrongs kept. My daily sorrow and confession to the Savior offers a clean slate.  How may I thank him? By extending this very same grace to others. Blessed Redeemer, I bow before Your indescribable benevolence. You are my Rescue and Relief.

BITING THE TONGUE

So many problems are rooted in reckless thoughts that tumble from our lips as reckless words. Only fools believe that we should say whatever we think. Every thought must first be brought under obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Everlasting One. Unfiltered speculations must not be allowed to roam freely in our minds and should never exit our mouths. Things spoken become life or death to the speaker and hearer; therefore they require God’s constant guidance.  Lord of Love and Truth, may all my thoughts be surrendered to You. Help me guard my tongue and let love rule my heart.

HIGH AS A KITE

Watching a kite soaring high while still bound to earth put me to thinking, the disciplines that at times tie me down are actually designed by God to lift me higher. Left to the wind alone a kite will fly but soon crash. The string that holds it back actually gives it lift as it is let out slowly, the wind carrying it to dizzying heights. In the same manner, left to my own devices I too will crash. It is both the wisdom of God and the goodness of God to tie me to certain restraints. Father, thank you for the commitments I sometimes resent. With Your binding hand and lifting breath, there are no limits.

OUCH!

It is no bother at all to simply categorize someone we don’t like under a cherished prejudice and ignore or even revile them. To mistreat, disregard or malign others is to show contempt for their Maker. I must never forget that the differences I sometimes resent have God’s fingerprints on them. When I was once complaining to God in prayer about someone I heard a very clear message in my heart: “The way you treat My children reveals the depth of Your love for Me.” Ouch! Father, help me to love as You love. Thank You for confronting my preconceived notions and leading me to deeper devotion.

KIDS R US

I am continually amazed at how little I actually know about God. Each new discovery opens another universe of more to know. Children seem to have the advantage in divine discovery since they are not encumbered with a need to know how it all works. Interestingly, as I grow older I seem to be reverting back to a childlike approach. It is reassuring to realize that this whole process of spiritual growth is in God’s hands and not my own. He initiates the divine spark in us, then guides the process of learning; His Word and Spirit navigating us through inexplicable mystery. Father, You have brought me thus far, I hunger for more. Teach me Your ways.

GOOSE ON THE LOOSE

People have a natural tendency to simply follow the herd. It is easier to go with the flow of whatever is popular, faddish or commonly admired. The steep price of a drift along lifestyle is failure to find your divinely created purpose. We are each carefully knit together for God’s specific will and can never rise to God’s best going along with the crowd. I must continually find that sweet spot of being IN the crowd but not OF the crowd, Lord, protect me from wandering aimlessly. Keep my pace in cadence with Yours. Teach me to be comfortable in the gaggle but to be willing to fly at the front.

MANIPILATION

God cannot be manipulated by my obedience; no amount of clever posturing succeeds in reshaping His will or ways. The Almighty sees right through every attempt I make to take control of circumstances that He alone must govern. Doing the will of God must be an act of love and abandon, not a contrived form of leverage. Self-dependence is not only unnecessary; it is renunciation of His Grace and Lordship. It is the humble acceptance of His Sovereign Authority that invites unrestricted blessing. Father, cleanse my soul of every smidgen of poisonous pride and feigned innocence.

WELL DONE

The walk of faith is no skip through the park. Each step is defiance of the comfortably understood, easily taken or popularly accepted. Those who choose this path turn their face to the wall and cry out to God as the distance between this world and the next increases. Soon they breathe the rarified air of the summit, where only those who dare to have their own ways vanquished abide. But not for long, there are more mountains to traverse until this earthly trek is complete and we hear His Divine Declaration: “Well done faithful servants." Father, where You lead I WILL FOLLOW!

SACRED STEPS

The table is set for a new day. As Creator and Host, only God knows exactly what is prepared to be set before me. I must now leave behind simple-minded ways and ready myself for new insight, higher life and greater things. Am I up for what today will bring? Only the day will tell, but the One who provides it will also carry me through it. This day I will walk on sacred steps, the Alpha and Omega has already trod this moment in advance. Lord, today is the day You have made; I am good with that and already rejoicing. Lift me in Your arms and carry me through with faith and joy.

STREAMS IN THE DESERT

The Hebrew people’s biblically recorded journey from Egypt to the Promise Land offers many lessons. It was in the desert where the idolatrous influence of Egypt and the deep scars of enslavement were confronted. While wandering through open wilderness God’s people learned to chase after the cloud and trust God’s daily provision. Climatic moments brought the Ten Commandments, deliverance from enemies, cleansing from cultivators of sedition and most importantly, learning to do God’s will God’s way. Lord, thank You for streams of life that only the desert can reveal.

PATHWAY TO POWER

Our true measure of strength is best discovered in times of deep trouble or in times of great accomplishment. Should we falter in either we discover what we had previously imagined as strength is revealed as something far less. The tests of life are not our enemies; they are our instructors, our healers.  Metal is forged in the furnace and so are we. The journey of moving from human muscle to divine fortitude is the pathway to God’s unlimited power. Dearest Father, You are The Lord Our Strength, Our Rock, Our Fortress and Our Deliverer. Forgive my attempts to make it on my own.

PATCH REMOVAL

The lawns around our neighborhood are summer green but a few spots are brown. Stubborn, hardened patches where the grass will not grow must be removed before new growth will appear. Nutrition will not make a difference; only penetrating digging will make the patches green again. My soul is no different; spiritual nutrition will not have lasting effect on what only repentance can transform. Father, tear away the crusty surfaces of my heart. Where dried patches lie in my soul, grant me grace to truly repent. Plow my heart with Your Word and sow in me that which You desire.

KEEP SMILING

I am often unaware that I am smiling; then a stranger smiles back and I notice. While I have my moments of sorrow and disappointment, I am thankful that God has gifted me with a happy heart. There is an unquenchable, irrepressible joy nested in the heart of the willingly submitted. Plenty of troubles drop by and attempt to establish permanent residence, but where the Word and Spirit abide hope abounds, outlasts and overcomes every infestation. Lord of Everlasting Joy, my heart is filled. There it is; joy has come in the morning and I’m already smiling.

ANOTHER ROUND

I fully intend to have a good day. God has carefully placed me into the circumstances of this sparkling new sunrise, providing every resource and opportunity for it to be a day of destiny and fulfilled purpose. My good intentions must now become action empowered by surrendered obedience. I can dwell no longer in the back alleys of yesterday, but must step boldly into this new day with fresh faith and expectant joy. Almighty Lord, my objective is clear, help me with my follow through. Keep me tightly in Your guiding hand and provoke me to finish well. Thank you for another round.

UNWRAPPED

The pursuit of the Perfect One while still wrapped in the imperfection of this life is our daily conundrum. Like Lazarus, we are made alive inwardly by the mighty words of our Savior: “Come forth!” And like Lazarus, we too must be unwrapped from the lingering linens of death. Others assisted his freedom as they also followed the Master’s command: “Loose him and let him go”. The freedom to which God calls us is accomplished in the same manner. Lord of the Free Indeed, help me not resist being unwrapped. Incline my heart to obey Your Word without hesitation and use me to help others be free.

HUNGRY

Hunger is a mystery to me; sometimes I try to be hungry but cannot, other times I am famished and thankful for even the smallest morsel. Spiritual hunger is no less a mystery. Today I awake with inward readiness. Even the smallest thing can inspire me when I’m ready to receive. This day is brimming with everything I need for life and godliness. God has saturated every moment beforehand; what noble things await discovery? This is Your day Lord! I am rejoicing in it already. Grant to me good discernment. May Your will dominate every desire, Your presence every step. I am hungry.

A NOMADIC HEART

Exploring new possibilities is a part of the human construct that is a direct attribute of our Creator. Every person is born with an inward passion for learning, problem solving and adventure. The command to “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it” is a central part of our internal operating system. If these characteristics never fall under the daily guidance of Divine Superintendence, we will waste our lives wandering around in a personal wilderness. Lord God My Shepherd, bind my expeditions to Your perfect will. Keep my nomadic heart fixed on You alone.

FROM DUTY TO DELIGHT

A sense of Christian duty drives much of what I do, so each day I dutifully recommit myself to do the right things. This seems fine on the surface as a child of God but there is a more noble way. While a sense of duty is appropriate, God seeks those who delight to do His will. His eyes move to and fro over the earth searching for those who with grateful, love-filled hearts turn toward Him and make His will their first priority. Father, I desire to permanently join the ranks of those who move from duty to delight. At the end of my course may I be found faithfully marching in cadence with the truly God-enamored.

CARRY ON

Complacency is a trap that we set for ourselves; we give ourselves permission to fail by yielding to its appeal. Truth be known, standing still is actually backsliding. In battle, disobeying your commanding officer by retreating without orders is a punishable offense. On the other hand, obedient, purposeful living produces a powerful momentum that pushes us through deserts, floods, storms, peaks and valleys. Lord God, You are my King and Commander, help me to “set my face like flint” toward Your will. Quicken my whole being to Your plan. Give me strength to carry on without complaint.