Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2015

THE CROWN OF LIFE

Needs are easily overestimated and blessings underestimated. Family, laughter, opportunities, vision, mission, challenges, friends, servanthood, children, sunsets, music: considering the multitude of blessings I enjoy, I realize how truly prosperous I am. Keeping count of trials and needs brings no crown, but faithfulness in spite of perceived lack brings the Crown of Life for the steadfast believer. Forgive me Lord in those moments when I abandon the splendor of thankfulness, to roam the squalor of cravings. Strengthen my resolve to ignore the temporary and take hold of the eternal.

ONE STEP AT A TIME

When headed on a road trip I like an accurate ground plan before departing. But in chasing after godliness, I am not capable of mapping out God's incredible will in advance; I must trust Him to reveal it in each step of obedience. He has promised to “guide the steps of the righteous.” Frankly, I prefer more foreknowledge than just one step or two. Advanced guidance seems reasonable, yet faith must be developed God’s way rather than my own. Lord, I am pleased to do it Your way. Deliver me from the terror of imagined perils to come and teach me the daily walk of faith and cheerful trust.

BEDROCK OF THE BELIEVER

Both gnawing regret and unruly desires tear away at the fabric of our faith. These human flaws each share the same diabolical lie, that our right standing with God is based on our works and not that of our Redeemer and Champion. One doubts the power of the Almighty to forgive and the other cuts the thread of hope. Justification by faith is not some abstract theological rabbit trail; it is the very bedrock upon which every aspect of Christian life rightfully depends. Lord of Unending Hope, You are my Unshakable Foundation. Nurture my mustard seed faith into a Giant Sequoia.

GUIDED ZEAL

There truly is a perfect time and way for everything. I am impetuous by nature and in haste have often moved too quickly. It is much better to let things unfold before rushing ahead. A furled sail is of little use. We sometimes confuse faith-based zeal and emotion-based zeal. But what blessing it is when zealousness and knowledge combine within a divinely appointed moment. Lord of all Wisdom, thank You for guiding my zeal. I am zealous for Your work in the earth but desperately need Your steadying hand. Grant me submissive, composed, Holy Spirit guided zealousness.

OUT OF MY DEPTH

Traveling with a friend in his new boat a few years ago brought us to unfamiliar waters while using unfamiliar equipment. We panicked when the depth finder suddenly registered very shallow water. Though we were just off shore, we were actually sitting over one of the Atlantic’s deepest ocean troughs and our sounding setting was set too shallow. Where God has taken me in life I have often been out of my depth, so I must continually reset my heart for deeper places. Yesterday’s settings will not suffice for tomorrow’s journey. Captain of my Soul, prepare me now for where You are taking me.

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.

RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION

Selective outrage is a common human malady. Why do we fight so hard for justice in one area while ignoring other injustices that may be equally bad or worse? The Bible commands: “be angry and sin not”. Personal opinions, prejudices, pride, ignorance or our own past hurts ruin the value of focused anger by inserting our own pain or fears into a righteous cause. Once it moves from righteous anger to personal offense it is no longer bathed in the Love of God and becomes ineffective and dangerous. Great and Mighty Lord, cleanse my heart from the sins of anger that I may fight for good with righteous indignation.

GREAT THINGS

Jeremiah the prophet posed a heart wrenching question: “Should you seek great things for yourself?” There is a God-deposited desire in each of us to make a difference in this world. I often face a delicate path of stepping into significant opportunities where God places me, only to be pulled toward thoughts of how advantaged I may become from it. How sad and foolish; self-consciousness is the archenemy of true servanthood. Lord, help me step boldly into the doors You open and deliver me from every vestige of self-promotion. May I boast only of You and Your Goodness and Grace.

BEYOND THE POSSIBLE

What do we do when God’s will calls us to move forward, but an obstacle stands in our way? How do we cross over when we can’t see a way to get there, or when the path is so unclear that we can’t be sure? The Hebrews faced this dilemma multiple times in their journey from Egypt to the Promise Land. We must first be willing to leave something behind to take hold of the unseen. When the path is blocked we must take steps of faith; sometimes the waters do not part until our toes are in the water. O Lord my Deliverer, thank You for taking me beyond the possible! I can do all things in Your Will and Strength.

REIGN ME IN

The lessons of God are imbedded in every moment, however development of deeper understanding requires patience and sharp-eyed, determined, searching. This is not the spiritless pursuit that often plagues the soul; rather, it is hunger-driven yearning to discover deeper truth. Each life circumstance, both good and bad, offers treasure troves easily missed by the impatient. We must learn to take it all in and not miss a thing. Lord of Wisdom, calm me down when I rush past concealed, but discernible insights. Reign in my futile striving and point me to those hidden treasures that truly matter.

AN UPWARD GLANCE

A rocky mountainside, a bush on fire, these are seemingly unremarkable things, but on a fateful day on Mount Sinai the ordinary was transfigured into the miraculous. God’s Manifest Presence transformed run-of-the-mill dirt into sacred ground, a fugitive into a deliverer, a shepherd into a prophet. Moses was simply fulfilling his daily duties as a sheepherder when an upward glance radically changed everything. Majestic Lord and Father, nothing is ordinary when infused with Your Presence and Power. Help me to turn aside in the midst of the commonplace and see Your Glory today.

BITING MY TONGUE

Somehow, my tongue knows how to keep away from my teeth, but occasionally they painfully meet. Actually, my tongue does much better staying away from being chomped than it does avoiding the wrong words. I don’t like it when I bite my tongue, but in retrospect, I should do it more often. The tongue is biblically identified as being like a rudder, a wildfire, a horse’s bit and a source of life and death. Salvation of the soul must be accompanied by a taming of the tongue. Gracious God and Father, may the words of my mouth be governed by Your wondrous work of grace in my heart.

BATTLE LINE

My heart is easily drawn to noble causes. God creates each of us with enormous power to do good, but even with our whole heart engaged, we need His grace and blessing to stay the course. Life surrounds us with many opportunities to make a difference, but like wise generals, we must choose our battles wisely.  Concentration of forces is a key to battlefield victory, so I must focus on following the specific orders of my Commander and Chief. Father, guide me each day to my spot in the battle line. Protect me from my impulse to wander and keep me in the position You choose.

WOW!

That God is a Master Artist and Architect is beyond dispute. The incredible beauty of nature, the combinations of colors and textures with which He strokes the sky and earth, the use of light, shadows and darkness; there are not enough words to describe His exquisite work. He spins the worlds in His hands and slings the stars in their places, yet misses not one single detail, no matter the size. How comforting it is to know it is the very same Grand Master who created the world is working in me and through me! Lord, I trust Your brilliant creativity and steady hand. I humbly offer my life as Your canvas.

BOUNDLESS AFFECTION

One of the most uncomplicated, yet transformational descriptions of God’s nature is the Biblical statement: “God is love.” In this simple phrase we learn a lot about ourselves. Since we are created in the image of God, we are created with the capacity and desire to both give and receive love. When disappointment in human love sets in it shuts down something deep in our soul. Unrequited love can steal away our created purpose. Only God’s pure love can heal us. Lord of Love, restore my soul. Let me drink deeply from Your Sea of Boundless Affection and make me whole that I too may love without limits.

PERSPECTIVE

What looks like a life-ending boulder tumbling and rumbling down the mountain toward me is no more than a harmless granule of sand to the Lord Almighty. What looks like a measly kernel of corn to me is in God’s eyes a never-ending supply of harvest after harvest. It is abundantly clear, I must face life with God’s perspective and not my own. Father, what is heavy for me is light as a feather for You and what is beyond my reach is centered in the palm of Your mighty hand. Open the eyes of my understanding to see the greatness of Your power and the depth of Your unending love.

RECOVERING FROM A LEAKING HEART

A spirit-filled life is my goal, but my heart leaks. It fills then leaks, therefore, yesterday’s infilling means nothing for today. Each and every day my heart must be turned toward God afresh, guarded, replenished with truth and made a tabernacle of praise. It must be searched, cleansed, inclined to hear, willing, contrite, circumcised, turned from stone to flesh, thankful, freed from deceit and chasing after God. Well, it sounds as if my heart will have a busy day. Lord, my heart belongs to You. You have created it to hear from You and follow after Your will. May the Lamp of Your Love shine within me today.

WELCOME AS A TOOTHACHE

Some relationships are as welcome as a toothache, yet a painful tooth is itself a vital message that something is wrong and needs immediate attention. Unseen cracks, hidden decay, gum disease or root fractures are all reasons for pain and all reasons to get help. It occurs to me that God uses people to expose my cracks, decay, fractures and root issues. While I like neither the diagnosis nor the healing procedures, I am genuinely thankful for the necessary fixes. Father, thank You for sending people into my life to uncover my need for Your help and healing.

GIFTS GONE WILD

Purpose, opportunities, spiritual enablements and natural abilities are God’s gifts to each of us. Unless practiced in genuine love for God and the people He loves, the exercise of these heavenly endowments can degrade into prideful showmanship, judgmental arrogance or disorderly conduct. I easily slip into pride, so I must carefully practice these divine endowments with the humility they require. Dearest Lord, forgive my misuse of bestowed giftings. Deliver me from the need to claim ownership of the right to exercise them and help me practice them with kindness and humility.

OH JOY!

Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a creative piece of music with a seemingly good message. Sheryl Crow weighed in with "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad”. The problem? Attempts at self-planned happiness are utterly useless. My past is littered with failed attempts to make life more pleasant. Humanly engineered enjoyment is a short-lived, pitiful substitute for the Joy of the Lord. God’s joy is strength giving, shout-invoking, song-releasing gladness of heart. Father, how great is the joy of Your Presence; You are my Blessed Delight. Forgive my failed attempts to find fulfillment anywhere but in You.

STUMBLING STEPS

While living in the Andes Mountains our family would often camp just below the snow line on Cotopoxi, an Ecuadorian volcanic mountain of over 19,000 feet. Air was thin, there was no artificial light for miles and the nights were ink black. It is difficult and perilous to walk on uneven ground shrouded in darkness, but this is how it often feels in this world for the person trudging the “narrow way”. Thankfully, we are not alone. Father of Light, I would fall into the abyss were it not for your care. Shine upon my stumbling steps. True Light of My Eyes and Heart, guide me to Your perfect will.

AN OILY START

My calendar stays full, but the real issue is whether my lamp is full; when the Bridegroom arrives will any oil be found? I cannot depend upon past spirituality as this day approaches already filled to the brim, so early will I seek Him, now will I praise Him. The first tear of repentance floods the soul with grace, the first word of praise uncaps the well of joy, a single Promise proclaimed sends demon hoards scattering! Lord God of Mercy and Goodness, I praise you afresh. May Your oil of gladness flood my soul and ignite full flamed. Darkness now scampers away as Your Light dawns!

COVETOUSNESS

Coveting is a pernicious and deceptive sin. It may begin as innocent attraction, interest or admiration but it leads to destruction. Covetousness is rejection of God’s divine care and leads us to believe no desire should ever be denied, no matter how selfish. A covetous heart cannot love purely. Thankfulness on the other hand leads us to the light. A grateful heart opens the way to unlimited peace and inexhaustible love since it focuses on the Provider, not the perceived provision. O Lord My Shepherd, cleanse my heart from earthly entanglements. Grant me true love for You and others.

SOVEREIGN HOPE

Hope is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day appears. The kind of hope of which I speak is not rooted in this world. This hope is voiced by way of promises from above and is firmly grounded where translucent gold is pavement, the Son illuminates the city and background music is angelic chorus. God promises, hope springs alive, faith is awakened and everything changes. Circumstances are no match for heaven breathed, hope generated faith. Father of Sovereign Hope, You are the only source of eternal hope, teach me to abide in Your words and put them to practice.

GOD BLESS AMERICA

On this day which Americans celebrate the birth of a nation my heart is at once thankful and troubled. The very foundation of our freedom is being shaken by our unguided and undisciplined pursuit of it. In the steady hands of the Almighty hearts can rightly balance one’s own freedom with that of others. Only authentic, divinely navigated love will suffice. Never in our history have we been at this specific moment; our future is now hanging in the balance. Lord God, show us with Your light and truth. Grant us wisdom and Grace. Dearest Lord, please bless America afresh.

GET BUSY

As with muscles, my spiritual giftings and God-given abilities grow stronger as I use them, so my best strategy is to get busy and put them to the test. I can ignore today’s opportunities that God opens or I can step into the challenge and man up. I could just drift along in meaningless survival or I can grow stronger this new day, make a difference, become more effective. I choose the latter. Father, help me move farther in, deeper down, higher up and farther out. Awaken my soul to Your will, ways and means. Grant me eyes to see, ears to hear and ever-increasing fortitude of commitment.

CHILDLIKENESS

Nothing clears the mind of clutter quite like a conversation with a three-year-old: innocent curiosity, unrestrained laughter, cute grammatical stumbles, humble openness, clunky attempts at philosophical and technical concepts. I cherish these conversations. God must view mankind in this way. Even our most sophisticated attempts to impress Him must seem a bit silly at best; yet He does not revile our shortcomings, rather, He bends low to converse with us. Father in Heaven please forgive my outlandish pretense. I am Your child, teach me Your ways. Make me more like You.