Posts

Showing posts from March, 2015

OPEN SEWAGE

One of the discomforts of traveling in many places is the common use of open sewage lines in otherwise modern cities. While not as terrible as one might think, still, the unpleasant odors become a constant nuisance. Over time you get somewhat acclimated to it and only occasionally notice its presence.  The same is true of our spiritual life. Allowing sewage to run openly through our lives will dull our senses to its presence. High and Lofty One, lift me from the squalor of worldliness and cleanse the polluting stream of immorality from my soul. Make my life a sweet savor before You.

SURROUNDED

I awoke with Jerusalem on my mind this morning. I remember well my first ascent into the Holy City. It surprised me how she is spread over valleys and atop peaks and ridges. Then I remembered the biblical declaration: “as surely as the mountains surround Jerusalem, the LORD surrounds His people”. Though the proud and deceived wish to divide her, control her or destroy her, she will forever be held in God’s hands. Lord God Almighty, Lover of My Soul, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the safety of its hallowed streets. I pray that Your people everywhere will trust Your promises and surrounding love.

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

The human condition can be quite confusing with sand between our toes and eternity in our hearts, living in this world but belonging to another. Every moment demands that we draw upon the resources of each, but only under God’s supervision can we find the needed balance between being “in the world” but not “of the world”. While living among the earthly kingdoms we must allow the Kingdom above to shape our lives. Blessed are You, King of the Universe, Who grants us life and meaning. Show me today how to walk faithfully to my earthly call while drawing Living Water from the well of heaven.

OPEN HEART, OPEN HANDS

Generosity is not dependent upon our level of material resources. In fact, the more abundance someone possesses, the harder it is to live with open hands. We easily become so focused on managing what we have or don’t have we forget why God blesses us with abundance in the first place. The key to generous living is to stop calculating the value of the gift by recognizing the value of being a giver. As God’s instruments of blessing we are to be a resource not a reservoir. Giver of Life, time, talents and treasure are gifts from You. Open and cleanse my heart so my hands will not be sticky.

THE SQUALOR OF JEALOUSY

Coveting someone else’s life is not only wrong; it is a dangerous. While chasing after the lifestyle, worldly goods, popularity or power of others I cannot accurately and passionately pursue the plan God has for me. Besides, we tend to cherry pick, wanting the good things we see others enjoy all the while ignoring or minimizing the problems and difficulties they endure. It simply doesn’t work that way. Great Shepherd of my Soul, forgive my momentary excursions into the squalor of jealousy. Your plan for me is perfectly calibrated with all things necessary to fulfill my divinely designed purpose.

INFLAMED DESIRE

God could never be impressed by my most ardent efforts since it is only with His unending help that I achieve even the smallest thing. Yet, like an adoring father holding his infant son, He treats me as if each simple thing I do is unique and truly special. His unconditional, fatherly delight inflames my deepest desire to please Him. His Goodness leads me to repentance and obedience. Dearest Father, You hear my slightest sighs and are patient with my blood-curdling cries. I am equally blessed by Your voice of discipline and Your comforting hand. You, O Lord, are my Great Salvation.

EYES UP

Having been raised in the flatlands of the Florida coast, my first trip into the mountains as a twelve-year old was a grand surprise. As we climbed into the Appalachian foothills the first discovery was how far I could see behind us, then vistas began to open all around. While living in the past is useless, learning from where we have journeyed imparts wisdom and discretion for now and the future. When we rise above where we have been; where we now are and where we are headed come into better focus. Father, teach me to see from the highest place. I will lift up my eyes to You first that I may rightly see all else.

MARVELS IN OUR MIDST

Even in the midst of the most violent of storms there is beauty within it. Each and every day has marvels sprinkled into it by the Hand of God. Like eyes adjusting to a dimly lit room, our heart must attune itself to see what can be easily missed.  Opportunities to both give and receive can happen on a crowded plane or in a busy grocery checkout line. New friendships can emerge from nowhere and patch up gaping losses. Blessed Lord, Your Holy Finger dabs beautifying touches onto the canvas of my life. May I never miss the chance to acknowledge the wonders You deposit all around.

LOVING THE IMPERFECT PERFECTLY

It is a common deception to fall in love with false images. We imagine only the good about something, someplace or someone, only to subsequently discover we have successfully ignored the truth. Human love is delusional because it is selfish at its core; we naturally look for what makes us feel happy, not what makes us challenged, strengthened or better people. Only a godly worldview can prepare us to properly love people or things. Father in Heaven, You love the imperfect perfectly. Grant me Your brand of love, deliver me from my own. Let Your perfecting love in me shape the world around me.

TENDING THE TULIPS

As far back as I can remember my mother has loved to work with plants. She has a gift therefore beautiful flowers and greenery always surrounded our homes. Solomon states: “He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit.” The lesson here is simple: God provides the seed and ecosystem for life and beauty, but things must be tended to for maximum value and fruitfulness. Though I am dependent upon God’s care and provision I must do my part. Lord of All Creation, Help me to recognize priorities and faithfully tend to those things, both material and spiritual that require my full attention and effort.

TRUTH IN LOVE

As light cuts through darkness, so truth cuts through deception. The simple reason we run from truth, hide the truth, bend the truth or even deny the truth is that truth is so powerfully efficient. Yet, truth is useless unless delivered in love; like a glove without a hand inserted, truth cannot successfully operate apart from love. Since truth originates and emanates from God it must be embodied in His nature. Heavenly Father, to walk in Your Truth is to walk in Your Love. Help me navigate the complexities of human weaknesses and find that perfect balance only You can supply.

THE FOG OF WAR

The battlefield presents constant dangers that accelerate disorientation and fear in its participants. This confusing uncertainty is known as the “fog of war”. The complexity of life can make a home, neighborhood, school, office or even a house of worship seem like a combat zone. When cherished places become battlegrounds the fog of war can cause allies to attack one another. These moments require calm confidence and good communication. Father, help me recognize that You are my Trusted Commander and Your people are not the enemy. Keep me rightly focused in battle.

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.

WHY WAIT?

Difficult times inflame my determination for things to change more quickly; unfortunately, patience is not my strongest attribute. I know that I need patience, I just don't like waiting for it. There is no reliable evidence that I am capable of controlling anything beyond what God allows, but I still attempt to do so. The inconvenient truth is that I show contempt for the riches of God's kindness and mercy when I am impatient with His processes. Father, I truly do need patience and the lessons it brings. Help me to accept Your pace, to not miss anything, and trust Your ways. Lord Eternal, I await.

FUTURE FORECAST

Everything I do or don’t do today affects my future. The person who doesn’t look ahead ends up blindly staggering down a crooked trail without realizing it. The future cannot be controlled, nor should it be feared, however, the seed I put in the ground now is the best forecast of what is coming. He who has given me this moment also holds all my tomorrows in His Mighty Hands. Lord of All, You are rightly praised by all creation. Grant me grace to confidently trust Your daily superintendence, guidance, provision and sheltering right arm. You are my refuge today and hope for all eternity.

PAINFUL SNARLS

Once, while I was driving along, an Irish Setter ran into the street from between two parked cars. I didn’t see him quickly enough to avoid contact but I hit the brakes hard and fast. I jumped out to check and he was under my van, alive but dazed. When I reached toward him he snarled, crawled from underneath my van and ran away. His refusal of help was not personal; he reacted from his pain and confusion. People do the same. Father, forgive my snarling resistances to Your loving touch. When others react to me as I do to You, grant me the same patient mercy for them You extend to me.

HOPE FLOATS

There seems to be no shortage of those willing to add weights to those struggling to stay afloat. Even well meaning comfort of friends and family is limited by human knowledge and often leaves us additionally burdened. When God speaks, even in discipline, there is lifting of the soul. Every Word from God imparts life, blessing and hope; its sharpness surgical, not blunt, its effect liberty, not incarceration. Anxiety weighs down one’s soul, but things spoken by the Lord of Hope causes my soul to float above the storm. Gracious Father, Your Word pronounces ascent. My cup overflows, it is well with my soul.

TRANSFORMED

Big cities can become drab, grey and unwelcoming in the deep cold of winter. Recently, I looked out the window of my hotel room at such a dreary sight. Closing the curtains felt good as I put behind a day I would rather not repeat. The next morning, upon opening the curtains, I was surprised to see everything transformed. The formerly unsightly image was now a winter wonderland of beauty; clean, fresh and inviting. How much more so does the Spirit of God transform my life, often without me knowing it? Blessed Father, You continually renew all that is within me, covering, transforming and bestowing Your Glory.

CHOICES

A friend from an impoverished nation was visiting and wanted to buy hair shampoo. In his home country, he had limited choices, so when faced with shelf after shelf displaying dozens of brands, it was overwhelming. He left the store confused and without shampoo. Navigating through affluence can be as distressing as dealing with poverty, since an increase of choices does nothing to teach us to choose wisely. Lord God, deliver me from the constant pursuit of more choices. Teach me the joys of simplicity, discernment and humility. Help me to choose what is right over what is available.

LEARNING STATIONS

Since divine correction and instruction are the way to true life, God places learning stations throughout each new day. My tendency is to arrogantly brush past each lesson too quickly, confident of what I think I know. But God’s goodness wins out, and despite my attempts to move on too quickly, I find myself back at the same learning station again and again until the lesson is complete. Dear Father, thank You for Your persistent tutelage. Forgive my impatience and insolence. Awaken within me daily expectation and willingness to learn.

A NEW DAY DAWNING

Awake in darkness, yet light approaches. Whether I recognize it or not, daybreak is steadily marching toward me. Soon the world around me will be bathed in brilliant light, a new day is dawning. This is the continual work of our Creator: darkness turned to light, prisoners released to freedom, death swallowed in victory. His unconstrained love is new every morning. Lord God, You are good, so very good. Help me to recognize Your approach in my darkest moments. May I seize new beginnings, divine opportunities, a fresh start. Awaken my heart with readiness and fervor.

HARNESSED

An ox will not walk straight without a harness holding him in place. With needed constraints, great power is released for the good of others. I too, need a yoke to stay on course. When we desert the law of love, depravity and chaos rule. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not a helpful hint for being a nicer person, it is the royal command of our Creator and the only path to a life filled with divine purpose. I must be continually harnessed to the needs of others to accomplish God’s will. Father, You are Love. I love poorly, but I am willing to learn to let love govern my heart and ways.

NO PANIC

To act with due caution is wise, but timidity is never a prudent course of action. Fear-governed thoughts and actions rarely lead us to the right conclusions; panic is not a reliable strategy. Trusting God is the only sensible response to crisis. The peace God grants to those who learn to lean on Him in the midst of a raging storm is the perfect environment for understanding and wisdom to emerge. Lord of Perfect Love, this day, as all days, is in Your hands. I am at peace in Your Holy Presence, knowing Your light will uncover the unseen and reveal the shape of what is hidden.

A WISE CHOICE

Wisdom is like an open air broadcast in the sense that it is out there for anyone whose hearing is tuned in. Wisdom is not selective, not choosy nor restricted to a chosen few. Whoever is willing to receive wisdom is deemed worthy of it, the only disqualifier being resistance to apply the wisdom received. Wisdom is not discovered in the accumulation and use of knowledge, it is spiritual, and comes from God Himself. To acknowledge His supremacy is the first step to unlimited wisdom. Father, make me a man of wisdom and deliver me from leaning on my own understanding.

STONE IN MY SHOE

I picked up a small stone in my shoe while walking. It was so tiny I could hardly see it, but could go no farther until it was removed. Little things are often our demise. To God, everything is small in comparison, yet He scrutinizes even the tiniest details. There is a lesson here: It is harmful to ignore lingering issues that need attention. Once I get into a rhythm I don’t like to stop, but minimizing things can lead to much bigger disasters. Father, nothing is hidden from Your eyes, help me to recognize hidden, debilitating issues. Sit me down at Your feet that I may learn to walk in full freedom.

A STEADY HEART

Early spring weather can be very confusing with temperatures swinging wildly from one day to the next. A day can begin with frigid ferocity then provide a toasty afternoon, only to transform into a windy, frosty evening. God does not want our heart to be as unpredictable as the weather; the heart conditioned by God stays steadily fixed on His will, ways and character. Fervency will not turn to coldness in a genuinely surrendered heart. King of Glory, fill my heart afresh with Your Presence. May I consistently burn white hot with passion for what pleases and honors You.

EARLY LIGHT

As the sun rises it softly transforms any scenery.  From cityscape, to countryside, from suburban sprawl, to rolling tide every nook and cranny, every tree, every surface is gently painted. Each second of daybreak is transformative. In my soul it is the same. Darkness does its best to obscure and conceal, spreading confusion, fear and enigma, but even the slightest dawning of early light brings immediate transformation; hope rises and dullness turns to resplendent glory. Lord, You are My Light and Glory. Bathe my soul with Your metamorphic supremacy. Leave nothing untouched.

GUARDED AFFECTIONS

From time to time I hear on the news a bag of money falls from the open door of an armored vehicle. Everything is wrong about stories such as this; the entire purpose of an armored car is to protect valuable things, leaving the door unlocked is self-defeating. The same can be said of my affections. I cannot motor around life with my heart openly exposed. No, my affections must be managed. To guard one’s heart is not to close it, rather, it is to protect it with God’s Word and infilling Spirit. Lord God, You are My Fortress and Deliverer. In Your Mercy, Guard my affections with Your Mighty Hand.

FRESH FIRE

I often struggle with the contradictions of carrying such wondrous eternal treasures in an earthen jar of human weakness. Tiredness or boredom suppresses faithfulness. Weariness awakens selfishness and drains away kindness and consideration for others. Heart fatigue also indicates self-dependence as opposed to full surrender to God’s strengthening power. When love languishes, God faithfully reminds me why I serve in the first place. Father, I owe You everything and I owe others Your love and kindness on which I necessarily depend. Revive my heart with fresh fire from above.

MIND MATTERS

Faith is not merely an emotional response to truth; it is enabled by a divinely orchestrated combination of God’s Word, His enlightening Spirit and the submissive response of the believer. The mind, however, is an integral part of faith and is essential to good judgment, obedience and creativity. Since I only “know in part”, every thought must be brought under the guidance, cleansing and dominion of the One who knows everything. Father, may my thoughts only be those which reflect Your will. Help me keep my mind set on the right things, guided and empowered by Your Word and Spirit.