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Showing posts from October, 2015

FOLLOWING THE FIRSTBORN

Love must be both the impulse and trajectory of all we do. Any other motivation will fall short of the purpose for which God places us on the earth in the first place. We are to be His hands, His face and instruments of His amazing love to all around us. “God so loved the world” did not cease with the giving of His Firstborn; we too, are to imitate our Elder Brother in like manner, offering ourselves as manifestations of His passion for His creation. My God and Maker, You are Love. Make me a faithful follower of the example Your Beloved Son. Glorify Yourself in me and through me.

REST STOPS & DEAD ZONES

Rest and comfort seem similar but are actually quite different. Rest prepares me for what is next; comfort settles me into what has been. Everyone needs comfort, but too much of it feeds selfishness and feelings of entitlement, leaving us maladjusted for sacrifice. Rest stops are for those going somewhere; comfort zones become dead zones. The flesh defines rest as relaxation; Biblical rest is rooted in inward peace from God, and ceasing from doing things our way instead of God’s way. Father, teach me to enter Your rest and to esteem your Spirit’s comfort above all other comforts.

UNWASHED HANDS

As surely as eating with unwashed hands can lead to sickness, spiritual ignorance leaves us susceptible to infection within our soul. Unfiltered pursuits and self-indulgence belong to the perishing, but wisdom and discernment are provided by knowledge of God. These powerful gifts furnish us with protection from both external and internal corruption. The disciplines of servanthood and faithfulness create a barrier against falling away. O Lord My Protector, grant Your Wisdom this day. Guard my heart and actions with Your Word and Spirit. Make me a source of life to others.

GOING FOR GREEN

Why does grass always seem greener at a distance? Too much time is wasted thinking of distant pastures beyond where God plants us. How much of what we desire is merely imitating what others desire? The aspirations of those around us influence us to want what they want. While this can be a positive motivator, more often than not, it is the fountainhead of sorrow. Far better is a relentless pursuit of what pleases God. Shepherd of My Soul, Wellspring of True Joy, teach me to surrender every earthly appetite to You alone. Teach me to drink deeply from still waters.

THIN ICE

The call of God on my life has always exceeded my known resources, proven capabilities and personal character. I have come to understand this is the way it must be; otherwise, I would foolishly lean too heavily upon myself. It is the daily walk on thin ice that keeps me alert and dependent upon divine intervention. My weakness invites God’s grace. So I begin another day shrouded in frailty but anticipating a new measure of grace and victory. O Lord my God and Father, You are not put off by my shortcomings. When I am weak You are strong. Blessed Master, use me this day for Your glory.

OUT OF DARKNESS...AGAIN

Most of my morning prayers have the same starting point: seeking forgiveness and additional grace. Today’s requests are eerily similar to every other day. Each sunrise to sunset is filled with hacking my way through twisted vines of self-absorption to return to the path of obedience to God’s ways. It still surprises me how easily I get off track, the slightest turn plunging me into a ravine of darkness. Yet even from the bottom there is always light above and God’s help is constant. Father, thank You for Your lifting hand, Your love pulls me through the steep climb again and again.

NOT HOME YET

Material things and personal benefits are easily taken for granted. I know this because when something to which I am accustomed is no longer is available, I always feel surprised and disappointed. Presumption, it seems, is a constant nemesis and a headlong path to exaggerated self-importance. God’s answer? Shifting sand, inconstant circumstances, tidal changes, bizarre weather; nothing in this world endures exactly the way it is right now. In this way He reminds us this world is not our home. Lord, upon You the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. You alone are the forever constant. Thank You for the reminders.

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.

FROM FAKERY TO FAITH

As a child I spent a lot of time dreaming up impressive scenarios where I was a heroic character doing great things; usually fighting some powerful foe. The life of faith is not one of ineffectual daydreaming of imagined outcomes. Biblically formed faith reaches for concrete, yet unseen reality; each step ignited by a divine spark. Only actions first bathed in Holy Promises will be sufficiently purged of silly desires or the darkness of doubt. Father, teach me to rest assured in Your Providence while straining toward Your will. You alone kindle true belief and You alone can carry me safely to triumph.

TOES IN THE WATER

It is said: “opportunity knocks”, but I would add: “it doesn’t stand at the door knocking very long”. While maturity and experience offer the potential of more accurate discernment, they can also make us increasingly adverse to risk. Too much over-thinking, calculation and caution can keep us from moving forward. Love requires risk, faith demands bravery. There is no escape from Egypt’s hold without stepping into the Red Sea’s waters; there is no inheritance of The Promise Land until our toes touch the Jordan’s sands. Father, help me make the most of the opportunities You bring. O Lord My Guide, keep me moving forward.

SALT AND LIGHT

I never lived on a farm but have tilled a lot of soil and sown a lot of seeds. I have never been a rancher but have rounded up and cared for a lot of sheep. Farmers and ranchers are often described as “salt of the earth” people, reliable, trustworthy, hard-working folks. Our lives as believers should be carried out in like manner. We don’t need a big stage to do our greatest work; it is in the trenches of daily sowing, caring, loving and serving where our lives shine brightest. Glorious Caretaker of My Soul, make me a faithful instrument of Your work. Help me be salt and light to others.

JUST ONE

The walk of faith carries us down many solitary paths. Daily, personal obedience can often seem lonely since it is custom designed by God specifically for each of us. Even those closest to us may not be able to follow along. The human soul can feel secluded and abandoned, even while surrounded by throngs of others. Yet, it can also be fully satisfied solely in the presence of just one; “THE ONE.” Heavenly Father, help me today to walk in private fidelity.  Keep my eyes upon You and my heart free from disappointment when others cannot tread hallowed ground where only I am called to stand.

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.

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 and undetected. 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 there is good news; while I can easily be fooled, nothing is unknown to God. There is no such thing as 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.

UNBRIDLED MOCKERY

I notice an increase of coarse talk everywhere. Justified criticisms that should be delivered with a coating of humility are now expressed with swift mocking and harsh judgment of motives. Unbridled tongues are harmful and dangerous for both the speaker and hearer. Love grows when a fault is exposed and forgiven, but dwelling on it destroys any chance of reconciliation; a floodgate is difficult to shut once opened. Gracious God, forgive my loose talk. I do not want to become a fool through unchecked mockery of others, nor gain Your wrath for unfairly judging those You made in Your image.

THE AROMA OF HEAVEN

It is a delightful mystery how an aroma can transport me to a different place. Fragrances bind with events, places and people. A passing scent can return me to my great grandmother’s home, awaken a lost memory or activate an emotion. Interestingly, in both the Old and New Testaments our prayers are likened to incense before God. What seem like feeble earthly prayers are received as a heavenly fragrance before the throne. O Lord my Creator and Sustainer, I marvel at Your ways. May my daily prayer offerings combine with those of all Your saints, filling heaven with sweet fragrance.

SURE FOUNDATION

You never know how strong someone is until they are seriously tested under heavy pressure. I have often been amazed at the fortitude of some when the really difficult tests come and equally amazed at the weakness of others who seemed so powerful until tested. Like buildings, the visible structure of someone’s life can seem outwardly beautiful, but it is the foundation that will determine its survival in upheavals and storms. Lord of All, You are my Rock and Sure Foundation. All that has been built on sinking sand within me must go. On the bedrock of Your Word I dwell safely.

DAILY INTRUDER

What divine protection and transformational power belongs to the generous heart! Greed is a daily intruder, a bothersome and dangerous squatter. Long ago, I committed my heart to live to give, to live to lift, to live to bless, yet earthly cravings’ relentless pursuits still attempt to throw me off track. Time, talent and treasure are gifts placed into our hands by the Almighty. We are to be His hands extended to the needs around us. I am deeply thankful that this world is losing its grip on my soul. Lord, grant me a generous spirit today and deliver me from every vestige of selfishness. Help me open my heart and hands to others.

EYES UP

I have only seen parts of the Leonids meteor shower; over 500 meteors per hour can be seen during its annual passage. What a great reminder that there are powerful things hurtling by every day that are easily missed. How often do I simply slumber through amazing opportunities? Keeping our noses to the grindstone without so much as a glance above can rob us of God’s greatest wonders. Lord of All Creation, awaken my senses. Help me to be more observant and responsive to what You send by. Holy Spirit of God, prompt me to lift up my eyes from my daily toils to see My Maker’s Glory and Power.

FRIENDS

I am blessed with many friendships. I have close friends, distant friends, common interest friends and spontaneous friendships. Friendship is as beautiful as a dazzling sunrise or sunset, constantly transforming.  There are difficult ones, easy ones, life-long friends, covenant friends and the list goes on. Friendships are uplifting, challenging, provoking, inspiring, demanding and instructive. If friendships are enriching, then I am rich beyond measure. Lord, thank you for my friends. Thank You that like our father Abraham, we too, can even be a “friend of God”. Help me today to be a better friend.

GOD OF WONDERS

Nehemiah states: “They were not mindful of Your wonders.” While waiting for a flight I noticed three young boys poised at the window watching all the runway activity. The wonder of their new experience prompted me to think: “Have become indifferent to the wonder of modern flight?” Frankly, I have. Sadly, I often do the same with wonders of God. How dare I. Having seen so many blessings, miracles and wonders, at times, I take them for granted. Mighty Father, God of Wonders, forgive my inattentiveness to the wonders you bring past me daily. Help me see with eyes of innocence, expectation and fascination.

HEART EXAM

A heart demarcated by God cannot ignore the helpless or persecuted; the Lord Himself takes up the cause of the needy and broken. If I do not speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves or work for the good of those being unfairly crushed then I deny the very essence of the Shepherd of Our Souls. God is holy and just, but He is equally kind, caring and gentle; all these are necessary characteristics for a child of God. Lord, You are Good and Merciful; release Your benevolence and goodwill through me to others. You have my heart, give me wisdom to act fairly and a voice devoid of selfish motives.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

There are no surprises for the Alpha and Omega; He who was, and is and is to come is fully prepared to handle whatever happens. So often I confidently act on what I think I know only to be tripped up by ignorance or deception. God alone is completely devoid of the blinding fog of falsehood, there is nothing hidden or unknown to the Almighty. I am therefore utterly dependent upon His wisdom and amazing grace. O My Great Physician, I welcome Your daily examinations and treatments. Deliver me from my many appeasements of human frailty. My surprises are divinely managed in Your Sovereign Care.

TRUTH MAGNET

What a joy it is to discuss the ways and will of God with someone who has spiritual hunger; they will have already been sprinkled with divinely planted seed ready to be nourished. A humble heart is a magnet for truth and according to God’s Promise a “seeker” is a “finder”. While each of us struggles at times with understanding and wisdom, God not only assures treasures to seekers, but also opens doors to knockers and bestows gifts to those who ask. Lord, we may seek and find precisely because in Your Great Love You seek us first. You withhold no good thing from a heart following after You.

FIXED

At times it seems I give myself permission to fail before beginning, inwardly bracing for a negative outcome from the start. I wonder how much more could be accomplished if I did not waste so much time inventing excuses? The person whose heart is truly yielded to God should not behave in a manner such as this.  This provides more evidence that my journey of authentic surrender is yet incomplete, but today is another chance to climb higher. O Lord, My Lord, another day, another embrace of the Cross; cover-ups and excuses end here. My eyes and heart are fixed on a strong finish.

GLIMPSE OF HIS GLORY

The mighty works of God are beyond comprehension, measurement or telling. My very best attempts to give voice to His Greatness fall wildly short, barely passing as inadequate introduction to a prologue of a divine narrative yet to be fully written. It is best, then, to utilize words proclaimed in Holy Writ: “Lord You are great and greatly to be praised!” My soul sings, the chords of my heart fiercely vibrating, my mind swirling as I catch  a glimpse of His Glory, Majesty, Wisdom and Power. O Lord Our Lord, You have set Your Glory in the heavens and Your Majesty in all the earth.

FRESH LIGHT

It is dark outside, but light is crawling over the face of the earth headed straight for me. I cannot live in yesterday’s light, I must now turn my thoughts from past things and step into the brightness of this new day. I am one day wiser than ever before. I have never known more nor been more experienced than at this very moment. This fresh start, offered by God Himself, comes loaded with potential for me to be further transformed into His image. Lord God Almighty, thank You for a brand new opportunity to know You better and to do Your bidding. You are sending fresh light, my heart is prepared with joyful anticipation.

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 of the formation.

KUDOS AND CRITIQUES

Over a lifetime I have received a steady supply of accolades and criticisms. Both are needed in life, the first granting encouragement and relief, the second bringing needed perspective and potential to be better. In either case, it is wise to not breathe in too deeply when kudos or critiques are in the air. It is far better to allow the Holy Spirit and Holy Writ to filter commendations, condemnations or anything in between. Lord Almighty, Your voice speaks in so many ways yet always brings life and hope. Help me hear You always in everything. I long to hear Your Words of Life Everlasting.

INSIDE OUT

A serious pursuit of godliness requires an equally serious avoidance of worldliness. We too often measure spirituality with false scales. While being wisely selective with our public vices we are less so with our private attitudes and perspectives. In reality, it is the thoughts and intents of the heart where the greatest battles must be waged; our actions will ultimately align with the condition of our heart. Lord God, You know me inside out, You are not fooled by human facades. Plow my heart with Your Word and Spirit and leave nothing unturned. Refresh my inward man That I may outwardly glorify You!