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Showing posts from January, 2014

THE ETERNAL CONSTANT

I replaced an old pair of shoes recently. Strangely, though they had lost their maximum contribution to my life long ago, there was a last moment of indecision. I sometimes have a difficult time letting familiar things go. Our souls were created for eternity, but everything of this world is temporary. Only in heaven will our hearts find full equilibrium. Everlasting Father, you have all things in Your grasp; nothing is lost, nothing forgotten. You are my Eternal Constant. You never change. In You there is no lack. You are immutable, perpetual, timeless, relentless, boundless and never-ending.

PLIABLE

What are the signs of a hardening heart? There are many such as indifference to spiritual issues, prayerlessness or refusal to listen to God or obey His promptings. A heart beginning to crust over is far more comfortable around spiritual cynicism or unbelief. 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. O Lord My Creator, You formed me for Your will. Keep me stirred and pliable; work me over like moldable clay. Thank you for the power of fellowship and the witness of burning hearts.

A STRONG FINISH

A cemetery is not only a place of honoring those who have passed; it is also a depository of unspent potential. The apostle Paul predetermined he would not leave anything unfinished when he departed this life. I was with my spiritual father, Costa Deir just before his earthly race was completed. Though dying, he was still writing, preaching, counseling, praying and mentoring, all from his in-home hospital bed. I was enlightened in his death as I had been in his life. Eternal Lord, help me finish strong, leaving no potential unspent. May advancing Your Kingdom consume my last reserves.

THE REAL THING

It is difficult to believe a society has ever been as pretentious as our own. Living by pretense is no life at all. God created mankind to bear His image, not exist in a culture of exaggeration, falsehood and fakery. Thankfully, the raw, straightforward simplicity of the Gospel begins ripping away pretentiousness upon arrival. Christ’s example of love, humility, obedience, truth and power awakens virtue and makes a clean sweep of all fraud. Lord God Almighty, shine Your blazing Light of Truth in me today. Illuminate the darkest corners of my soul with Your brightness and tear down every veneer.

LIPS SEALED

Each of us has been falsely maligned at one time or another. It is equally true that each of us has wrongly judged others. We must take great care in offering our opinions before our thoughts have been bathed in love and truth. The moment we vocalize our unfiltered assessments to those around us our misjudgments become malicious and dangerous. It is foolish to carelessly say whatever we think; loose talk starts wars and destroys relationships. Glorious God, forgive my indiscretions and brutish ways. Cleanse my mind of vain imaginations and seal my lips with wisdom and discretion.

BAMBOOZLED

Generally speaking, I am not easily bamboozled. The great exception to this is my self-generated excuses to not do something I should but really don’t want to. Sadly, I often find my internal arguments for non-action quite impressive. Thanks be to the Spirit of the Living God who will not let me have my way without a fight. His constant and compelling promptings counter my self-deception and provoke me to action. Lord of Truth and Light, I am earnestly listening, fall afresh upon me. Reverse the work of selfishness in me and push me forward into those things that please You.

SLIP & SLIDE

Growing up in Florida did not prepare me for ice. On my first winter trip to the mountains I was filled with thirteen-year-old hubris. As I was again being warned of its slippery danger, I walked onto the ice. At the exact moment I smilingly said “no problem” both of my feet lost footing and I fell flat on my back. Ignorance, arrogance and stubbornness are a very dangerous brew indeed. Lord, You are my Faithful Instructor. Overconfidence and bullheadedness still remain in my soul; purge from me all indifference to Your voice and keep me safely within the boundaries of Your counsel.

DUE HONOR

One of the lynchpins of human society is giving proper honor and respect to others. When respectful behavior breaks down, so does civilized behavior on every level. We live in a culture and age where dishonoring others is equated with making oneself more important and popular. As believers we must keep in mind that Satan’s fall from heaven began as seeds of dishonor in his thoughts toward God. An attitude of disrespect is a sign of a broken relationship with the Almighty. Holy Father, forgive my brazen insolence toward You or toward those You created in Your glorious image.

GOD'S STIRRINGS

As of late, I am being drawn into a deeper place. This newest spiritual progress requires little outward action, however, a lot is happening inwardly. Past growth means little in this moment; this is a new day, only the present counts here. Attitudes, commitments and practices are being put to the test; fresh excitement and passion is gurgling and the level of anticipation is rising. In the same manner wind announces weather changes, God’s stirring of the soul announces spiritual advance. Shepherd of My Soul, thank You for fresh winds. Help me to not take shortcuts. Be magnified in me.

WHEELS ON THE PAVEMENT

Another day has arrived. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow remains beyond the horizon. What I have is now. It is time to ignore what should have been or what is to come; the prevailing question is “what does the Lord require of me THIS day?” I need my mind and heart in the game. The careless ease of self-confident fools destroys them. Too often, I drift over the line or drop a wheel off the pavement for lack of proper attention to the moment. Lord, I commit my ways to You. With Your help I will pay better attention. Prompt me in things both large and small and keep me centered in Your Will.

MORNING GLORY

Pain is personal; each heart knows its own bitterness. Smiles and laughter often masks inward grief. To the one who truly knows God as Father, those times become uniquely precious. In times of intimacy with the Great Shepherd sorrows turn to joy that no one else can share, mourning becomes dancing, grief becomes gladness and pouting becomes praise! Just the mention of His name declared in bedrock belief shatters the darkness and opens the heavens! My Lord, my God, You are Awesome, Powerful and Beautiful! All Glory and Majesty are Yours forever and ever amen!

HEART SOFTENER

A wise heart accepts God’s commands without much fuss, but a stubborn heart is a fool’s heart. Constant disobedience hardens us, making it difficult for us to ever significantly change for the good. So how do we develop a tender heart? A heart is softened one step of obedience at a time. Foolishness can be easily overthrown with steady effort. Each successive surrender tenderizes us more and more and soon His will becomes our daily bread. Lord, help me to lay aside rationalizations and cover-ups. Soften my heart to Your promptings and transform me into a true servant.

EARTHLY OBSESSIONS

The Lord deals straightforwardly with my many failings yet bears no grudge against my weaknesses.  Though I stray from the boundaries of His will He never tires of searching for his wandering lambs. When I scamper away from His Presence He finds me wherever I have roamed. Though His rod of discipline is rightfully applied it is never done in disgust. When I stray into danger, He lifts me to safety with His staff and does not abandon me as I deserve. O Lord My Great Shepherd and Keeper, hallowed be Your Name! Deliver me from the earthly obsessions and draw me near to Your side.

THE PLUMB LINE

Family, friends, current culture and even sincere Christians around us are only relative measures.  I may feel justified in my actions yet be completely off course in the eyes of God or I may be right on target, but wrongly judged or guided by others. What I need is a precise plumb line by which I can see whether I measure up to God’s will and ways; human opinions will not do. Lord of Righteousness and Wisdom, Your Spirit and Word accurately expose my pretenses and shortcomings. Deliver me from falsehood from any source and establish my steps according to Your ways.

HANDRAILS

I have stumbled on stairs plenty of times over a lifetime. Finally, I discovered the value of handrails. It’s not that I had never been instructed, I just thought they were for others, not me. I still forget sometimes but it only takes the slightest slip to send me reaching for safety. Actually, my whole life requires stabilizing support and safety boundaries. God, in His Immense Goodness, provides handrails of discipline, work, family, friends, commandments and His ever-present Spirit to keep me safe from my own foolhardy ways. Father of All Mercies, I welcome Your constant supervision.

DIVINE BREATH

Adam’s first breath came directly from the mouth of God. In an instant a pile of gathered dust was made a living soul, bearing the image of the Immortal One. To this day, the Lord declares mastery over death, imparting life by what proceeds from His mouth. Every last corner of darkness in me will be filled with the Light of His love as His Words of Life are spoken. He sweeps together into piles the dust and ashes of my failures, only to transform them into living memorials of redemption by His divine breath. Oh Lord my Creator, You own every part of me. Breathe upon me afresh this day.

OUR BLESSED HOPE

While I like to see circumstantial evidence that God’s favor rests upon His people, our hope is not dependent on our current status. In fact, measuring our blessings is more a distraction than help. Our hope must not be based on anything less than God’s promises. His holy declarations are solid rock; all other ground is sinking sand. Even a casual stroll through Scripture awakens faith for reckoning upon the unseen. Lord God, You are my Blessed Hope. Deliver me from my human frailty that constantly seeks visual confirmation. Help me walk confidently in trust and obedience.

AN ENGRAVED MAN

It is like stumbling into 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 tell if I didn’t say? We live and work side by side with worldly souls; can they see the heavenly imprint upon my life? Lord, make me into an engraved man; Your image on constant display. Arise within me that others may know Your great love.

GARBAGE DISPOSAL DAY

The garbage collection begins very early in my neighborhood; waiting until the designated morning to take it to the street is risky indeed. So is waiting to deal with internal garbage. Inappropriate thoughts, bad attitudes pridefulness, small or large sins; all these must be sent curbside as soon as possible. If I ignore the debris and just let it pile up it will soon transform my heart into a place where anything can be dumped. Holy and Righteous One, cleanse my soul from worldly rubbish. Forgive me for delaying removal of those things that pollute. Help me cast to the curb all that displeases You.

BRASS TO GOLD

On a whim I signed up for metal shop in eighth-grade. I learned that iron, a relatively soft metal, is turned into hardened steel by heat, pressure and temperature change. The iron is repeatedly heated and pressured, then placed in water to cool it quickly. This tempering process presses the ore’s molecules tightly together. Character is built the same way. No one enjoys the conflicts that forge us, yet it is in the furnace where we are made strong. Lord God, I marvel at Your wisdom and power to transform. You deliver me from the furnace of much affliction and turn iron to silver and brass to gold.

INTRUSIONS

The scriptures lay it out very clearly, one wrong should not be returned for another. Forgiveness is not an optional “add-on” to the believer’s life; it is the very core of our faith. We throw ourselves back into the abyss by clinging to offenses, all the while being wholly dependent upon God’s constant mercy. How I handle these intrusions of unforgiveness is a predictor of my own future relationship with the Redeemer since He warns: “Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” Heavenly Father, I release all my offenses into Your hands. Cleanse my heart from all acrimony toward others.

FRESH MANNA

I am dependent on fresh manna each and every day. Like the people of Israel traveling through the desert, I too, must have constant nutrition provided by God; imagination, entertainment or self-driven efforts are inferior, even dangerous substitutes. The eternal impulse only God can give brings lifeblood to every moment. Religious devotion has its place, but an active relationship that leads to daily obedience to my created purpose is vital. Father Above, take my life and let it be all for you. Clothe me with Your Presence and guide my thoughts and desires into Your perfect plan.

UNMASKING THE UNKNOWN

Many years ago we awoke to a swarm of termites in our bedroom. It is very unsettling to discover that something so destructive can be all around yet unseen. Experiences such as this feed paranoia and undermine confidence. Like termites in the wall, fear of the unknown can quietly gnaw away our stability. But, while I can easily be fooled, nothing is unknown to God; there is no abstract, unseen knowledge for Him. Father, You are the only reliable source for unmasking the unknown. Grant me Your wisdom, increase my discernment, uncover harmful deceptions and let truth and light guide my way.

FEAR FACTOR

My work requires that I stay informed on world issues. There is no shortage of media outlets available, so each day is filled with news of calamities and dire needs from around the world. I refuse to live my life in a fear-fueled rage against circumstances. While there are many things I would like changed, I accept that I don’t understand what is best for each moment on this earth. What I do know that God is generous, loving, meticulous, and wise. He is ultimately in control and I’m very good with that. Trustworthy Lord, all things are in your perfect hands; I safely advance in blessed assurance.

WHATEVER

Gladness is easier to embrace than letdowns; yet, both have enduring value if I have the right perspective. Frankly, the multitude of unrelenting challenges life brings has done more to strengthen my character and soften my heart than the many joys I have known. The magnitude, multitude and frequency of problems press me deeply into God’s hands. While I certainly do not prefer additional difficulties, I realize that they come invited or not, but God turns everything into good for those who trust Him. Father, keep me from the snare of my own preferences. Whatever comes, You make all things well.

AUTHORIZED INTERRUPTION

Another day is at hand. Family, work, sick friends, urgent needs, the future, world news, weather, past mistakes, dirty car; my mind is already racing. The human soul can be more crowded than the Los Angeles freeway. King David found it necessary to command his own soul to “Bless the Lord.” Seeking God first thing in the morning and listening to His voice throughout the day lifts the anxiety of constant pressures and sets my heart on the right path. Father, infiltrate my every thought today. You Lord, are the authorized interruption in every moment. May Your Presence percolate through me.

DEFEATED BROKENNESS

God, who created everything from nothing, is never put off by the size of my needs. Words such as unbearable, unapproachable, incomprehensible, inconceivable, invisible, untouchable, unsearchable, unchangeable are earthly concepts; they do not exist in His celestial vocabulary. By one breath life came to all mankind, by one word darkness is replaced with light, by one act of love, redemption was wrought for the whole world for all time. Gracious and Majestic Lord, the more I learn of Your greatness the more my brokenness is defeated. I will praise Your name forever and ever!

IRRESISTIBLE PASSION

Everything we see and touch in this life is earthbound; no material thing from this world may be carried into eternity. So why spend so much time each day in pursuit of temporary things? A shift of focus is in order. How we learn and grow, the good that we do, and most importantly, the love we express to God and others are eternal things. Whatever I do in obedience to God and whatever I do to help others is immediately transferred forward. Eternal Lord, help me live with my heart beyond the veil. Keep my eye on the ball and awaken in me an irresistible passion for the everlasting.

MANIFEST PRESENCE

God is always present whether we invoke, acknowledge, welcome, believe-in or desire His Presence or not. I am not entirely comfortable with this since I don’t always want it, preferring at times to turn away in pursuit of my selfish desires. How sad. The proximity of the Almighty is a promise, not a threat. He is continually transforming me into His image and nudging me into my divine purpose. Father, forgive me and draw me to the sweetness of simple obedience. Help me to never ignore the potential of Your Manifest Presence. Revive my heart and awaken within me deeper passion for You.

GOD'S HOLY GRIP

I am well acquainted with God’s Holy Grip. When I press in it is gentle but powerful, soft but firm. In moments when I’m pulled away or straining against it, I feel His heavenly grasp tighten, His divine clench stiffen. There are those startling moments of feet dangling over a precipice, yet I am held firmly in the Savior’s clutch with no fear of being plucked from His hand. Father, thank You for Your Mighty Handhold upon me. With Your loving embrace You uphold me, guide me, prod me, restrain me and comfort me. Though I sometimes try to pull away I do not resent Your holy restraint.

NOISY BIRD

An exceptionally noisy goose has been dropping by each morning, broadcasting a cacophony of honks, cackles and wails to all within range. My reaction varies. I have admired him, reviled him, envied him, ignored him, shooed him, but never once understood him. It is obvious this does not matter to him at all. I suppose he expects me to figure it out on my own. So I began to wonder; how often do I come across this way to others? Lord, help me to never be a noisy bird. Let Your message of love, truth, joy and hope broadcast through me with clarity and sensitivity to the hearers.