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Showing posts from June, 2015

FONDLY FORCED FORWARD

Even after miraculous deliverance, Israel’s final escape from 400 years of slavery in Egypt was fraught with complications. Angry pursuit to the rear, an opening sea ahead and empty desert beyond, when your back is against the wall the only choice is forward. I get it. Most of my significant progress has been forced. The goodness of God doesn’t always look so good at first glance, but in the end, He works His will in us and through us, often using circumstances we would never choose. Glorious Lord, I praise and exalt you. You formed me for Your will and lovingly press me into it.

KEEPING IT REAL

As a child I spent much of my time pretending, creating elaborately detailed scenarios in my mind where I was the central character to everything that was happening. While these imagined adventures are fine for children, as adults, pretending we are superheroes does us no good at all. Maturity requires humility; an overstated opinion of one’s importance is not only foolish, it is dangerous. Blessed Father, help me keep it real. Thank You for the honest mirror Scripture provides. Though I can do all things through Your strength, I can do nothing of eternal value absent Your constant guidance, nourishment and remedy.

BEYOND THE COMMON COURSE

The salt marshes along the southeastern coast can be tricky to navigate. Many perils await such as hidden, oyster-covered sand bars or the maze-like waterways that easily confuse the inexperienced. However, leaving the safety of the marked channels opens endless rewards of beautiful wildlife, a kaleidoscope of colors and a serene sense of quiet privacy. In those exquisite moments it all seems divinely composed. It is. Lord, remind me today to seek the unseen beyond the common course. Nudge me toward those divine moments just beyond the channel where Your Glory awaits the seeker.

BEDROCK OF JOY

Annoyances constantly bombard my soul. Thankfully, they don’t seem to stick around as much as they used to, but I must not allow resentment to settle in my heart. Like water secretly eating away the ground underneath a foundation, irritations undermine the bedrock of joy that should characterize a believer’s life. Gratitude and praise are powerful weapons against the subtle entry of unhappiness. Heavenly Father, I know that I annoy You. Like the people of Israel in the wilderness, I too, forget the amazing deliverance from slavery You have granted. Forgive my brazen self-centeredness. You are my Joy and Crown.

DUMP THE DROSS

Dross is a mass of impurities floating or dispersed in molten metal. Metals cannot be improved without removing the dross; remove it and the silversmith can produce a fine vessel. So it is in any enterprise. Those with impure motives, immaturity or insincere hearts often want to be a part or even lead, but they are dangerous and must be removed. When the heat is on, silver grows purer, dross masses and becomes even more impure. It must be removed. Lord, You are the Great Craftsman. Cleanse all dross from my soul and deliver me from wicked pretenders.

VANQUISHING TRIUMPH

Great Britain suffered defeat in the first battles of World War II, retreating back to the Island nation in “The Miracle at Dunkirk.” To keep the enemy confused, road signs were removed in preparation for a Nazi invasion. Even the simplest conveniences of life must be sacrificed when war is impending. There should be no doubt that people of faith are under siege at this very moment. Spiritual forces of darkness are using culture, technology and hedonism as weapons. O Lord Our Victor, show me where in my life I am placing personal conveniences over preparations for vanquishing triumph over darkness.

MY DAILY CHALLENGE

My daily challenge is to glorify the greatness of God while still imbedded in human frailty. Each new sunrise presents both opportunities and dilemmas. Will I now move farther away from wrongdoing and commit to greater devotion to godliness? Will I cut loose the many tethers to earthliness to embrace heavenly freedom? As Joshua commanded the people, so must I “choose this day” who I will serve. Father, I praise You for Your grace that delivers me from the thick darkness of doubt. I choose You. Grant me fresh faith to walk more perfectly in Your promises. In Your mercy, hear my prayer.

POTENTIAL

The slightest touch of a rudder can change the course of a vessel. The same is true of my soul. While I often seek something colossal to shift my course, God mostly uses small things to guide me into His best. Scripture warns us to not despise “the day of small things.” Every great oak begins as an acorn. How can something with the potential to populate the entire planet with trees fit in the palm of my hand? Yet, it can. Father, remind me to pay attention to Your smallest touch. Guide me today into the center of Your will. May the full potential You designed me for be thoroughly realized.

THE WAIT

While dropping seeds in the ground there is always anticipation of harvest. Roots slowly emerge and begin their descent, digging their way through the soil. It simply takes time for this to happen and it all occurs unseen, underground. Above ground, there is disappointment at the lengthy process. Much of what we do as people of faith requires sowing, weeding, fertilizing and waiting. And waiting. Disappointment with the pace often discourages further sowing. Lord of the Harvest, keep me calm and steady in the delays. Harvest is safely in Your trusted Hand. I wait with delight and joy.

MY LAST NERVE

Every time I start believing I’ve made significant spiritual progress I find someone standing squarely on my last nerve. A flash of frustration can happen so fast and is usually entirely out of proportion to the situation. I cannot afford to miss the lesson here; “dead men feel no pain”. The Apostle Paul revealed the key: “I Die Daily”. Dying to selfishness must happen each and every day. Patience with others is a sign of the depth of our progress. Father, I am rightly shaken with the reality of my lingering weaknesses, yet I know preoccupation with self is not incurable. Thank You for confronting what is not pleasing to You.

NEEDLESS QUESTIONS

I have experienced a new grace lately. The question "why now?" comes to mind, but why ask? Does the Almighty, All-knowing One need to explain the things He does in His own Sovereign Power and Eternal Wisdom to me? Would I understand if He did? Grace is an undeserved gift; would not the demand or need for His explanation contradict the very nature of grace? Will I never learn? Yes, I am learning even now. So I will leave the questions behind and just breathe it in as deeply as I can. There, that is better already. Glorious God of All Grace and Mercy, thank You, thank You, thank You.

THE GRASP OF GOD

When guiding children across busy traffic we tell our small children to grab our hand tightly, but wise parents do not depend upon their handhold; no, we grab them with a vice grip. It is incredibly comforting to know that I live in the firm grasp of God. His grip on me is much firmer than my grip on Him. His Word clutches the strings of my heart, His Will clings to my own; I cannot simply pull way.  At times I struggle against His embrace, only to be pulled tighter by His Holy Hand. Father, You are the “The Lord my Keeper”, thank You for Your encircling Love. Your love has no limit and Your care has no measure.

STILL

The words of the Psalmist proclaim: “Be still and know that I am God.” It is not necessary that everything around me be still, I must inwardly be still. This is no cakewalk with pressures already rising with the sun. I must again cast off thoughts, cares and emotions that suppress God's Presence within me. Yesterday’s peace means nothing today; only heavenly focused stillness throughout my tasks will do. Prince of Peace, all earthly attempts at respite leave me wanting, my soul finds rest only in You. In the swirl of a new day’s turbulence, keep me settled down and listening for Your whisperings.

THE HOURGLASS

Each day the sands of time seem to be pouring through the hourglass faster and faster. Perhaps it is simply because I am getting older, or it could be that we are in the climax of God’s eternal plan in the earth. Scripture reminds us to “redeem the time.” Talents, treasures and time are gifts from the Almighty to be invested wisely, I want to live and act in a manner that is most effective. To live with divine purpose is to truly live. Heavenly Father, Giver of Life, thrust me full speed into the race. Open doors of opportunity for me to make a difference and give me courage to steward my life accordingly.

THE DEEP

Tidal waters can be tricky for boaters, I have run aground a few times thinking I had sufficient draft. Surface appearances can be deceiving, covering over serious problems and giving the appearance of depth and safety. In similar manner, shallow love is also very dangerous; love must run deep. Every attitude that is contrary to true love for our fellow man must be exposed and replaced with God’s awesome love. Commingling of motives must cease. Father, teach me to love authentically, faithfully, consistently and tenderly. Let Your love flow through me without restriction.

HEART SOFTENER

It is nearly impossible to face truth with a hardened heart. Past pain, prejudices and disappointments pile up and become a barricade against sincere seeking. Though walls around the heart are invisible they are easily seen by everyone else. Since we are partly or entirely deceived until truth arrives, we form a narrative that seems airtight but is constructed on a foundation of falsehood. A fortress of thought must be defeated before truth can enter. Father, in Your love tear down all strongholds of deception in me. Most Merciful Lord, make my heart soft, pliable and discerning.

COMMENDABLE FRATERNITY

Much of what we learn is accomplished by imitating others. Since we are predisposed to this, it is vital that we choose carefully those to whom we cast more than a glance. Covenant friendships, godly fellowship, spiritual brotherhood, missional commitments; all these provide needed guidance to our associations. While I am naturally inclined to like people and appreciate their uniqueness, I must be wise in my choice of comrades. Lord, You direct my steps; lead me into commendable fraternity. Use me to rightly influence others.

WORLD ON MY SHOULDERS

The development of technology and communication has produced a world where distance offers few barriers. I may now add to my daily personal concerns those of the entire planet; a super typhoon and nuclear negotiations combine with the woes of a leaking pipe and troubled transmission. A casual approach to prayerfulness and godliness will not do in this hour. I must rise to the increased challenges by developing greater character and deeper spirituality. Holy Father, nothing is too big for You to handle. Bridle my earthly impulses and speak Your peace to my storms.

DEFIANT DELAY

Politeness is a sign of maturity and culture, but there is no such thing as polite disobedience. If it is in my power to act on God’s directives, but I choose to delay, then I am rightly held accountable. It is very simple really; we promptly serve the one we love the most. The test of love is not so much the size of our response as much as it is the speed of our love. Unrequited love is painful to the human heart, how selfish it is to inconsiderately grieve God by resisting His will. Father, You deserve my immediate surrender and obedience. Forgive me and deliver me from my defiant delay.

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.

USELESS KNOWLEDGE

The proliferation of information does little to actually change things. All the knowledge in the world accomplishes nothing without understanding and proper application. What I need more than information is the moral clarity and courage to apply what I know. This comes only from God. I can blink my eye when I know to do it, but more importantly, my eyes are genetically coded to function; I must not let my knowledge get in the way of their created purpose. Oh God, My Creator, without Your Divine Spark, without Your Wisdom, knowledge is useless. Awaken my heart to Your Hand, Your Will and Your Ways in all things.

CELESTIAL INTERVENTION

Many things may temporarily stir emotions, but the soul cannot be awakened to God without Divine Initiative. It is the spark of the Lord Almighty that instigates deep searching or gnawing spiritual hunger. A horse will not walk straight without a hand on the reigns and I will do no better. We must never forget the constant need for God’s guiding touch upon our souls. Lord of Glory and All Wisdom, You stir my heart and steady my steps. You O Lord Who are capable of all things will order my steps and lead me to secret places of the Most High. I gratefully welcome Your celestial intervention.

THE GREAT I AM

Huge storms throughout the dark of night are now superseded by the soft, warmth of the light of sunrise. This morning prompts my remembrance of God's pattern: dark to light, storms to calm, “mourning to dancing”; “joy comes in the morning”. Yesterday now fades and slips away, a new day is dawning and it is already prepared for my arrival. Almighty Father, I have never been here before, but You My God, “Everlasting Father,” King Eternal, the Great “I Am”, “Alpha and Omega”, “Beginning and End”, have already trod these moments. Cause my steps to land only in Your footprints.

SAFE DOCKING

The International Space Station must be supplied regularly. No matter how capable the cadre of aerospace scientists, astronauts and ground control personnel, the docking is so complex it must be turned over to autopilot, giving full control to navigation and control computers. A conversation with someone who had just recently experienced the inward transformation of his initial spiritual surrender transported me back to my own. I recall with pristine wonder of that holy moment when every attempt to intellectually grasp is finally exhausted and the heart, surrendered to heaven’s navigation and control system takes you in. Lord, after all our failed attempts at self-improvement, at last, You say the word and we are spotless.