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Showing posts from December, 2015

UNZIPPED

At times, life accelerates so quickly we get unzipped; at that point, even the simplest things are bewildering. The first step to recovering equilibrium is always the same; above all else I must trust the sovereignty, oversight and goodness of God. While I may get confused about who I am or what I must do, the Lord of Heaven and Earth is never disoriented or perplexed. Circumstances may make me feel trapped, but the Alpha and Omega is never boxed in by the temporal. Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, in Your Mighty Hands my soul safely rests. May Your peace rule my heart at all times.

HIDDEN TREASURES

A stroll on a sandy beach provides hidden treasures placed there by the creative forethought of God. The ebb and flow of tides opens the treasury of the seas for those who stroll along the shore. God sees to it that each day offers the same to all mankind, wherever we are on earth; hidden treasures carefully placed by the Hand of God. The angels had it right: "Glory to God in the Highest, good will toward men." Lord of Constant Wonders, teach me to slow my pace and pay greater attention to Your quiet handiwork. Open the eyes of my heart to Your daily divine deposits.

A FAST FINISH

Junkyards, with their messy spread of old or wrecked cars can be eerily fascinating; so many stories are connected to the rusting heaps as they sit in inert silence. People often end up in the same condition, inanimate objects wasting away as a result of past wrecks or inattention. God created us with the capacity to finish our race with the same potential we start with. Will I finish as a decrepit rust-bucket or an antique classic? I choose the latter. O Lord My Creator, help me run well to the finish line. Infuse me with Your power that I may charge ahead till my last breath. May the full extent of my purpose here be completed.

SPEED BUMPS

I really do loathe speed bumps, so I avoid them as much as possible. Understanding their purpose and safety value doesn’t seem to help my attitude toward them whatsoever. Over time I have devised numerous workarounds to circumvent them or limit wheel contact. Commentary on their size, placement, justification and frequency is seemingly obligatory. Slowing down when I’m ready to roll just bothers me. Father, I think I understand; thank You for the necessary slowdowns of life. While I may never come to appreciate earthly speed bumps, I will not resent Your placement of required pauses.

VANQUISHED FEARS

God is never limited by my circumstances. The same Sovereign Lord who hung the stars like ornaments is more than able to deal with my issues. The biggest mountains look miniscule from a few miles above the earth’s surface; I must trust the Almighty One who looks down upon my needs from heaven while holding the universe in the palm of His hand. Father, You tower over every lack and rule over all things. When I consider Your Awesomeness and the smallness of my problems my fears are vanquished. I am so grateful for Your long-suffering forbearance with my sagging heart.

CHURNING CHALLENGES

I marvel at the skill of professional whitewater kayakers, perhaps because they demonstrate that extreme dangers and incredible adventures inhabit the same space. To simply follow human instinct apart from divine purpose and guidance is like being thrown into cascading rapids. To navigate the churning challenges of relationships, health, prosperity, ambition and mission, I need God’s constant help. Seeking Him should never be a last resort. Father in Heaven, Giver of Life, I realize skillful living requires Your will, Your way, Your timing, Your path and Your choices. I yield this day to Your Hands.

JOY TO THE WORLD!

To the brokenhearted…JOY! To the falsely accused…JOY! To the misunderstood…JOY! To the disappointed…JOY! To the repentant sinner…JOY! To the imprisoned or condemned…JOY! To the lonely…JOY! To the rejected…JOY! To the abandoned…JOY! To the widow and widower…JOY! To the newborn or elderly…JOY! To the calloused heart…JOY! To those proclaimed terminally ill…JOY! To those trapped in darkness…JOY! To those with waning hope…JOY! To the cowardly or brave…JOY! To the guilty or just…JOY! To the rich or poor…JOY! JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!

O NIGHT DIVINE

Shadowy figures slowly come into focus as a weary young couple stares into the darkness of early nightfall, searching for a place to stay. Their long, dusty journey has brought them to the hills of Judea, to the small town where King David had been born so many years before.Empty, uninviting streets belie the importance of this glorious moment. All the company of heaven peers down as the hordes of hell shrink back in disoriented confusion; what child is this who is to be born this miraculous eventide? Soon, blazing light will rip away the shroud of darkness and the Savior of the world will be revealed. O holy night, O night divine.

DIVINE DISCERNMENT

Making well-informed and thought-through decisions is wise, but there is no dependable substitute for divinely guided discernment. We need good judgment to distinguish between inspired thoughts and selfish fantasies since they often appear the same at first glance. The immature mind, driven by personal desire, can be easily confused. Imagination is a gift from God, but it, like everything else, must be brought under surrendered obedience to God. Lord of Creation, teach me to truly submit my thoughts to You today. Help me calibrate my silent meditations to Your perfect path.

WORDS

The words we speak cause life to spring forth or inflict painful withering. It is true, “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. We cannot walk back careless words once they are spoken, nor can we reconstruct the timely moments we miss. Therefore, our mouth must be bridled, trained and guided by God’s Word and Spirit. As did the angels in their yuletide announcement long ago, our words should bring good tidings of great joy to all. O Lord My Master and Teacher, make my mouth an instrument of Your Love. Atune my heart, and the words that proceed from it with the Word of Life.

GREATER STILL

The troubles of this life can pile up quickly, temporarily blocking my view of the greatness of God. Yet, just one speck of tearful surrender to the Lord Almighty sends towering troubles tumbling down, for no matter the fierceness of invading darkness, the Lord our Light is greater still. Though armies of hatred surround us from the heights, the weakest cry to the heavens scatters our foes to the four winds, for our God is greater still. My Lord and King, I now face this new day with renewed strength for the battle. In Your Relentless Mercy, You have again poured out Your love, for you are always, and forever, greater still.

OPEN MY EYES

The invention of lenses, magnifying glasses, spectacles, telescopes and microscopes changed mankind’s perception of life on earth. Seeing something previously unseen can radically change our perspective. The promises of God contained in Scripture are a lens through which we peer into the unseen, activating a divine perspective of life. Nothing can transform the ordinary into something truly remarkable like the eye of faith. Father of Light, I do not want spiritual eyes that cannot see. Open my eyes to even the smallest detail of Your will. Show me Your Glory and turn my darkness into Your resplendent Light.

THE FAST LIFE

As a child I neither liked nor disliked road trips. They were simply different than my normal routines and required dealing with loads of new information. Many hours were spent assimilating quickly passing scenery into my little world. Life can come at you very fast; things change, that’s it. Sometimes it feels like I am still a five-year old with my arm out the window of a car trying to grasp the wind, a lot of action and movement, but little to show for it. Having a Solomon moment here, so the conclusion: ”Fear God and keep His commandments.” Lord, that is enough. I am ready for another day.

THE TEST

Cultivating relationships with others is one of God’s principle means of developing divine qualities in us.  As we learn to be truly grateful for this process we make huge spiritual strides. After all, how would God provoke me to change without others? Raw truth, without the test of practical application, would leave me fundamentally unchanged. So the many obstacles of loving interrelationships are no accident. Actually, these challenges have God’s fingerprints all over them. Lord, thank you for the relentless test of walking in love. Guide me through the maze of forgiving, blessing and lifting others.

CHALK IN HAND

A new day has arrived and I stand at an empty slate board with chalk in my hand. Shall I simply rewrite yesterday’s leftovers or do I should I seek a fresh start? I choose to turn a new leaf; the past is never the roadmap for the future. Nothing may be taken for granted when facing new opportunities. God’s will and ways must be sought afresh. Only fresh manna can sustain us in the wilderness of life, only the “cloud by day and the fire by night” can point us in the right direction. Lord of New Beginnings, I am willing and ready. Speak to my heart this day. Strength will rise as I wait before You and miracles will manifest as I step forth in Your power.

MY RESCUE

Upon being cast into an angry sea the only hope is to cleave to whatever floats and hope for rescue. It may be the sea itself that ultimately deposits the lost soul on shore or perhaps the timely kindness of a passing stranger that brings relief. Most likely, however, rescue will be at the hands of those who have long before, made it their heroic mission. Life can be a terrible tempest, but the Lord declares: “Call on me in the day of trouble and I will rescue you”. O Lord, my Champion and My Rescue, by whatever means You choose, I cleave to Your Grace, Mercy and Providence; You never leave nor forsake the objects of Your love.

STIRRED AND PLIABLE

What are the signs of a hardening heart? There are many, such as indifference to spiritual issues, prayerlessness and 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.

DEATHBLOW TO DARKNESS

It is unsettling to think about the wickedness is in this world. At the very same moment I am striving to do good, someone is seeking to do harm. This would lead to fear if I did not know that in spite of the dark forces of evil I am not unarmed. The heaven-sent weapons of our warfare are mighty. When the enemy rises to attack me, thinking there are no troops on guard, the One Who Never Sleeps Nor Slumbers rises to my defense. O Lord My Victor, with You on my side the battle is checked and eternal victory is sure. To call upon Your Name is to bring a deathblow to every work of darkness!

THE VOICE

While having dinner at an unusually loud restaurant, I noticed a young couple seated in a corner booth. It was obvious they were on a first date, but the surrounding cacophony didn’t seem to bother them one bit; it was as if they were all alone. The lesson is simple; we hear what we are dialed-in to hear. Life can be very noisy at times, but with desire and concentration I can hear God’s voice. If I treasure His words more than all others I will have a steady stream of His wisdom. Lord God, You do not hide truth from Your children. You store up wisdom for those who seek Your voice and guidance for those who follow Your ways.

SOLID ROCK

“On Christ the solid rock I stand”; words from the great hymn are resounding in my heart today. While living in Costa Rica many years ago we experienced a significant earthquake. After the first violent jolts, the aftershocks lasted for weeks. It is deeply unsettling when the earth shifts, and that which has always been stable heaves beneath. These are moments of authentication. When everything is shaken in our lives, in whom will we trust? Lord God, Rock of Ages, You are the only Firm Foundation; no weapon formed against us can prosper. Your Hand of Protection will never loosen its grip.

PULL AWAY

I waste a significant portion of every day, not by lack of activity, but by pursuits doomed to failure. I can speak from experience; rabbit trails are exhausting. Only truth, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, can reliably reveal those things that truly matter. This is why contemplative prayer and study is so necessary. It is there, in those quiet moments of listening, seeking and prayerful self-examination where true progress is made. Lord of Life, it seems I am still a rookie, but You patiently instruct me nonetheless. Help me pull away from needless treks into the wastelands. Lead me beside still waters.

AGAINST THE CURRENT

At times it is as if I am swimming in a steady current. I can swim with it and move faster or I can swim against, but I soon fatigue and the current slowly moves me again in the direction I had struggled against. The goodness of the Lord remains intact in spite of my resistance, God is working in me and moving me toward my created purpose. This is at once comforting and exasperating. But why would I go any direction other than that which He desires? Father, I get it, yielding is the only solution. Thank You for keeping me on course and not giving way to my foolish meanderings. Grant me grace to yield.

CHASING THE WIND

The seemingly universal mantra “Follow your dream” is constantly declared from kindergartens to Ivory League classrooms, from kitchen tables to pulpits, from boardrooms to backyards; but is it sound advice? Dreams can become nightmares. For the person of faith, dreams, like every other human desire, must be bathed in holy surrender to the Giver of Life. I refuse to substitute an earthly dream for my heavenly calling. God’s dream for my life must become my relentless, singular pursuit. Lord God, Your will does not diminish my life. Pull me this day deeper into Your purpose and plans.

SWEET SPOT

My heart is far too easily pulled into the gravity field of worldly distractions and daily responsibilities. The pressures of living for eternity while constantly tethered to earthly activity can empty the soul of the kind of passionate following that God deserves. As a new dawn approaches my challenge is to faithfully fulfill my earthly duties without ignoring celestial directives. Almighty Lord, only a heart that lingers before You will find the right balance. In Your mercy, guide my steps this day. Help me find that perfectly positioned sweet spot of feet on the ground and heaven on the mind.

HEAVEN AWAITS

Yesterday’s quota of bricks dutifully met, its residue is still with me. Mud and straw are again before me, but I am ready. I am no slave to the things I must do, for I am a son of promise, as are all who faithfully serve our Lord and Savior. I remain in this world, yet not of it. Though my feet still trod the foreign soil of this earthly trek, greater things are yet ahead, prompted by the inexhaustible benevolence of the Greater One. Heaven awaits. Lord, teach me faithfulness through daily obedience, each moment submitted to Your care. Grant me grace this day to build an enduring legacy of submission to Your pleasure.

MIXTURE

My love for God and the people He loves is authentic, but still contains a polluting mixture of conditional, self-centered, human love. While at times I genuinely wish to be entirely free of this mixture, I know it is still only a half-hearted aspiration. Yet, progress is being made, and for every millimeter forward I am grateful. So today is an additional workout day, another round on the treadmill of life for training my heart to be in tune with God’s heart. My Lord, My God, again I ask You to forgive my reckless treatment of Your Divine Affection. Help me to be vigilant to not mix selfishness into Your Perfect Love.

PRAYER

I truly admire the ease with which some people pray. I generally require an impulse; circumstantial prompting is almost always the cause of my most sincere prayers. Thankfully, as I have matured the impulses need not be as intense and they seem to arrive with greater frequency. The biblical charge is that we “pray without ceasing.” The disciples were so aware of the difference between the Savior’s prayerfulness and their own that they asked for instruction on it. Lord, I too, need continual instruction. Guide me to a place of constant praise, surrender, thankfulness and invocation.

CARRY ON

Complacency is a trap that we set for our own selves; we give ourselves permission to fail by yielding to its appeal. While there are times to hold fast, in spiritual matters, standing still too long soon becomes backsliding. In battle, disobeying your commanding officer by retreating without orders is a punishable offense. On the other hand, obedient, purposeful living produces a powerful momentum that pushes us through deserts, floods, storms, peaks and valleys. Lord God, You are my King and Commander, help me to “set my face like flint” toward Your will. Quicken my whole being to Your plan. Give me strength to carry on without complaint.

TRUTHFUL LOVE

While wisdom and gentleness with others who disagree is a good approach to resolution, truth must be spoken and advanced in spite of resistance. Love demands truthfulness. Fearing what people think above the fear of them being harmed by ignorance or deception is evil and a dangerous trap. No matter how delicately delivered, truth is, at once, freeing and offensive. I welcome the truth only when I am prepared to receive both its benefits and its discomforting demand that I respond with change. Sovereign Lord of Love and Truth, help me know Your life-giving truth and boldly declare it to others. Let kindness rooted in Your Unquenchable Love always be my motivation and method for proclaiming truth to others.

THE BATTLEFIELD

Over my lifetime things have clearly changed in society when it comes to spiritual things. I grew up in a neighborhood wherebelief in God was pretty much the only reality. Our collective worldview left little room for spiritual choices other than personal devoutness or denominational identity. But, even in such a pro-belief atmosphere, choosing moment-by-moment surrender was just as intense as now. In the final analysis, it is not our external environment that makes the difference. Father, deliver me from failed excuses and strengthen me for the daily inward battlefield.