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Showing posts from January, 2016

ENDURING JOY

Nothing of this world can add value to my soul; only God can make that happen. While emotions may be stirred, even temporarily lifted by new things or experiences, soon the exhilarated feelings drift away and we are left in the same sad condition as before. The person who constantly pursues something to make them happy will never find enduring joy. The strength giving, life lifting, heart filling “Joy of the Lord” may only be found in a vital relationship with our Maker and a realignment of our priorities to His. My Lord and King, You are the Fountain of eternal blessing! Take my whole heart, I am Yours.

IN THE MIDST OF THE MIRACULOUS

Walking is merely a series of steps. Each stride distances me from something behind and propels me toward what is ahead. Giant ones, tiny ones, fast ones, slow ones, intense ones, easy ones; each step counts since no matter the size, progress is made. The walk of faith is no different. Every act of faith, whatever its size, draws us deeper into holy space where everything is possible. Lord, keep my steps firmly centered in Your will. If I should stumble, still I am safe, knowing I remain in Your capable hands. Teach me to walk boldly in the midst of the miraculous as You guide my steps.

FRESH INSIGHT

The soul must have a continual flow of fresh insight from God; we are not designed to go it alone. Spending too much time circling in our own thoughts leaves us confused and frustrated, yet, a moment of revelation brings clarity and direction. Each new day demands dipping our cup deeply into the well of God’s life-lifting Word, laying bare our heart before Him and praising the Lover of our Soul without regard to circumstances. Blessed God and Father, Your Love and Light bring Joy and Peace to my heart. Instruct my ways this new day with fresh insight. Grant me grace that I may hear accurately and obey swiftly.

GOOD JUDGEMENT

Increased knowledge does not guarantee good judgment. Life is very complicated and unpredictable. Like sand bars in a fast running inlet, the ground underneath us constantly shifts, yet dangers just under the surface are not easily seen until it is too late. Skillful living requires nonstop contact with the Giver of Life. Knowing God and receiving His wisdom and guidance increases good judgment and safety as we face the unknown. All-Knowing Father of Wisdom and Truth, deliver me from deeply imbedded folly in my heart. Grant me understanding and a clean heart bathed in light.

DAILY REPLENISHING

Things in life must be replenished. Clothes must be washed, pets must be fed again and again, homes must be repaired; so why do we think we must be filled with God’s Spirit or surrender to His Sovereignty only once? Many seem surprised to learn that daily replenishing is necessary for the people of God. Like manna in the desert, yesterday’s blessings perish quickly. Today I must again dig deep, remind my heart of God’s faithfulness and recommit to His will and ways. Lord Almighty, I renew my vows to You. Fill me afresh with Your Presence. I again put my hand to the plow and resolve to finish my course with fervor.

ITSY BITSY

What size is required for something to catch God’s attention? Consider that the Almighty designs beautifully intricate designs into every single snowflake. He frames the universe, yet does so with atoms, each of which is composed of various subatomic particles that are themselves composed of even smaller particles. It is safe to say there is nothing too small for His consideration. Many believe a problem requires a certain size for God to intervene, but creation itself teaches us differently. Lord of All Creation, forgive me for not submitting even the smallest of things to you. You are Father and King of my inmost being.

MANIPULATION

God cannot be manipulated by my obedience; no amount of clever posturing succeeds in reshaping His will or ways. The Almighty sees right through every attempt I make to take control of circumstances that He alone must govern. Doing the will of God must be an act of love and abandon, not a contrived form of leverage. Self-dependence is not only unnecessary; it is renunciation of His Grace and Lordship. It is the humble acceptance of His Sovereign Authority that invites unrestricted blessing. Father, cleanse my soul of every smidgen of poisonous pride and feigned innocence.

MASKED MALICE

Betrayal, deceitfulness and treachery hurt the people targeted by them, but in fact, even greater harm is done to those who perpetrate such hatred. To attempt to seize control of others through lies or disinformation is an attempt to position one’s self as the sole proprietor of truth. Those who engage in these things often believe they are doing God’s bidding, but sadly, these behaviors are contrary to His ways and are a denial of His Lordship. Father, keep me bound to Your truth alone and grant me grace to conduct myself accordingly. Root out all masked malice or ill will toward others from my soul.

LOW HANGING FRUIT

Every sunrise God provides new opportunities to grab low hanging fruit; incredible moments unfold to the person who learns to pay attention. How many times have I rushed by, missing a divinely arranged circumstance? Yesterday’s harvest is has now passed, some fruit made it into the barn, some was missed and left to rot on the ground. Yet, the goodness of God provides me another shot at ingathering throughout this new day. Father of New Beginnings, help me to see Your daily provision. Awaken my soul; I do not want to miss a thing from dawn-to-dusk. May I never again brush by a divine appointment.

TRASH COLLECTION

The garbage collection begins very early in my neighborhood; waiting until the designated morning to take it to the street is risky indeed. So is waiting to deal with internal garbage. Inappropriate thoughts, bad attitudes pridefulness, small or large sins; all these must be sent curbside as soon as possible. If I ignore the debris and just let it pile up it will soon transform my heart into a place where anything can be dumped. Holy and Righteous One, cleanse my soul from worldly rubbish. Forgive me for delaying removal of those things that pollute. Help me cast to the curb all that displeases You.

THE ETERNAL CONSTANT

Life seems very random. A bright summer day can quickly turn dark and dangerous. A thunderous storm can linger for days or clear away in mere minutes. An infant’s arrival means the entire family must adjust to new realities, new challenges, new possibilities. The lesson? Be ready. A heart that is prepared for transition remains at peace. While everything in this life changes, God never does. Unchanging Lord, grant me a right spirit and unwavering willingness to trust You as change approaches. You are the Eternal Constant, my immutable compass point. I am at peace in Your care.

DETOURS TO DESTINY

I am almost always in a hurry to arrive at the destination so I usually plan my route well in advance. Forced detours rarely make me happy at first, but some of my most pleasant moments of travel came as a result of going off the beaten path. Every part of my soul needs refreshing and retooling. Doing the same things the same way over and over may be comforting on the surface, but my heart longs for greater heights. To seriously follow after the things of God is to guarantee constant detours and new ground covered. Father, You created me for divine destinations. Grant me grace to take the path of Your choosing.

BLISSFULLY SHACKLED

Feeling bulletproof as a thirteen-year-old and standing on black ice for the first time I was sternly warned to be careful. Of course I ignored multiple warnings and let go of the handrail foolishly declaring: “I can do this, I have good balance!” Over the next few seconds I fell hard several times. I sheepishly crawled back over to the handrail and pulled myself upright. Lesson learned; I need good counsel and guardrails for life. Father of Light, my actions must rest on truth and my lawless judgments held in check. My wrongdoings know no limits, therefore I am blissfully shackled to Your Word and Spirit.

MAKE SPACE

I am hard-wired for incessant enterprise, my mind requiring almost constant occupation. In prayer, I heard two words: “make space.” Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, a cluttered mind is functional, but not beneficial. Many whisperings of the Almighty are lost in the din of mental noise. Inactivity is not the answer; I must instead tune my heart to constant communion with God. Father, help me to align my thoughts to Yours. Deliver me from relentless mental activity that impedes Your Voice. Teach me to be still and listen as I pursue the purposes for which You designed me.

SILENT TRANSFORMATION

Though I have never lived where it snows regularly, I’ve seen plenty of it in my travels. More times than I can remember I have been surprised to awake to a city blanketed with snow, having quietly covered over everything while I slept undisturbed. Silent transformation also happens in my soul. Nagging hurts, troubling circumstances, catastrophic losses, even painful betrayals can be completely covered by God’s love. The moment we surrender our troubles to Him, the Holy Spirit goes to work unannounced, quietly healing our hearts. Glorious God, I am eternally grateful for Your life-giving Love.

NOTHING WASTED

Much of our human effort produces little of measurable earthly value. I have poured my emotions, energy, time and resources into things only to later realize that what I expected from my enterprise came to nothing. Yet, it is the effort itself that has great value. Faithfulness, stewardship, passionate pursuit; these are divine treasures produced by effort.  Time and energy is never wasted when expended in pursuit of God’s will. Lord, may I never grow weary in doing good. In Your mercy, help me keep my shoulder to the plow. Use me to encourage others to stay the course.

DIVINE BREATH

Adam’s first breath came directly from God. In an instant a pile of gathered dust was made a living soul, bearing the image of the Immortal One. To this day, the Lord declares mastery over death, imparting life by what proceeds from His mouth. Every last corner of darkness in me will be filled with the Light of His love as His Words of Life are spoken. He sweeps together into piles the dust and ashes of my failures, only to transform them into living memorials of redemption by His divine breath. Oh Lord my Creator, You own every part of me. Breathe upon me afresh this day.

EFECTIVE PRAYER

All too often, my sincere attempts at praying devolve into another session of uneasy appeals sprinkled with moments of praise, casual quotes of Scripture, requests for forgiveness and a few obligatory promises to change something. While I sincerely want to stay focused, I easily slip into thinking, planning and speculating. This sort of prayer is basically powerless. Effective prayer is bathed in grateful trust, empowered by faith, rooted in the Promises of God and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Father of Boundless Greatness, guide my prayers and deliver me from the terror of my own imagined perils and fruitless attempts at self-planned deliverance.

THE WAY OF LIFE

Living among this generation’s constant quest for immediate gratification makes constant self-indulgence seem normal, but this is not the way of life for the children of God. Each time I turn to any life-source other than those provided by the Lord My Keeper, I pawn a portion of my soul as collateral. Like Jacob’s brother Esau, we can foolishly sell out our birthright for something that gives only temporary relief. Why surrender even a portion of our eternal blessings for fleeting satisfaction? Heavenly Father, give me strength to stand against the surrounding tide of narcissism. In Your Great Mercy, keep me safely by Your side.

GRUDGING OBEDIENCE

Since God sees into our souls as easily as looking into a fishbowl, grudging obedience will not suffice. While others may be fooled, the Lord Almighty knows the underlying thoughts and intentions of every person’s actions. We know joyful compliance puts a smile on our Heavenly Father’s face since Scripture reveals: “God loves a cheerful giver.” Resentful servitude leaves us empty and does not produce in us the purpose God intends. Willing submission releases copious fruitfulness and enduring peace. Oh Lord, Keeper of My Soul, teach me to love You without reserve in all that I do.

REACTION TO RECOVERY

Everyone makes missteps. By definition, a mistake is not intentional, but we inwardly realize that most could have been avoided by taking greater care in the first place. How we react to the consequences of our foibles is the key to learning from them. We can sink into a swamp of condemnation in reaction to the results of our gaffes, living constantly in our failures, or we can find recovery by making needed changes and letting God heal us and teach us. Moving from reaction to recovery is the only sane path for God’s children. Father, grant me grace to take heed when I am admonished. Take my hand and lead me forward.

UNSEEN POWER

Our family lived in Costa Rica for a few years and on several occasions we visited Mt. Poas, a very active volcano, having erupted dozens of times in recorded history. We were always dazzled by the spectacular view of the huge, steaming crater. On a couple of visits we never saw more than clouds; its incredible power and girth shrouded by something as fleeting and inert as vapor. In like manner, passing clouds of needs and desires often obscure my view of God’s greatness and might. Father Almighty, forgive me for allowing temporary things to cloud my view of Your Awesomeness; Lord I am assured, whether seen or unseen, Your power is always present.

WELL DONE

The walk of faith is no skip through the park. Each step is taken in open defiance of the status quo, the easily attained or what is popularly accepted. Those who choose this path will turn their face to the wall daily and cry out to God for strength as the distance between this world and the next increases. Soon they breathe the rarified air of the summit, where only those who dare to have their own ways vanquished abide. But still there remains valleys to traverse, more heights to ascend, until this earthly trek is complete and we hear His Divine Declaration: “Well done faithful servants." Father, where You lead I will follow!

FREEDOM FROM HATRED

Hatred held in the heart cannot hide forever. Like molten lava underground, its pressure builds and seeks release on the surface. Bitterness will eventually break through unannounced with devastating results. We sometimes believe hatred is justified and has some useful purpose, but its tyranny cannot be contained nor equitably distributed; it must be expunged entirely from our soul. Spiritual freedom and unbounded joy belong to the one delivered from its grasp. Blessed Father, heal every wound of offense within me and uproot every trace of acrimony. Fill my heart with Your unfailing love.

BELOW THE SURFACE

On the surface, there is little difference between a spring fed lake and a retention pond. The sky reflects beautifully over both, but in one abides healthy aquatic life and a welcoming attraction for all to enter. However, the other is polluted with the runoff of streets and lawns; even its aquatic life is dangerous to consume and no one with good sense would swim in its contaminated waters. Lord of Life, I do not want my soul to be filled with the tainted runoff of the world around me. In Your Mercy, make my heart like a pristine mountain lake, teeming with life and welcoming all to safely enjoy its bounty.

BOW THE KNEE

God’s Presence is intimate and welcoming.  He greets us with open arms and grants us acceptance on the basis of what our Redeemer has accomplished for us. We must never take for granted the high privilege of worship; it is only by mercy and grace we enter in. Presumptuousness is a vile tag along that can accompany the liberty we feel in His Presence. Nonchalant casualness should never appear in my approach to God. Holy and Almighty Father, forgive my recklessness. May I never show contempt for your kindness by inappropriate brazenness. I acknowledge the privilege of worship and I bow the knee to Your Majesty

EARTHLY INFECTIONS

Like unwashed hands carrying viruses, the soul can be laden with unseen but deadly dangers. Strangely, we are far more careful to wash our hands after touching potentially contaminated objects than even to consider the perils of contamination of the heart by unfettered exposure to wrong-spirited people. We drink bottled water to protect our bodies, but drink from the cesspools of unfiltered conversations or unbridled self-indulgence. High and Lofty One, cleanse my heart of all earthly infections and keep me from mindless over-exposure among those who love discord, debauchery and darkness.

JUST BEYOND REACH

Having raised a houseful of children we learned a few things about the challenges and blessings of childhood curiosity. We often kept things just out of their reach. As a child of God I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond my reach was put there by Him. In some cases, things are just beyond touch to urge me forward, in other situations the extra distance is for my protection. It is comforting to know, the Holy One, who places things beyond my grasp, can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will. Blessed Lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

HEART SOFTENER

A wise heart accepts God’s commands without much fuss, but a stubborn heart is a fool’s heart. Constant disobedience hardens us, making it difficult to ever significantly change for the good. So how do we develop a tender heart? A heart is softened one step of obedience at a time. Foolishness can be easily overthrown with steady effort. Each successive step of surrender tenderizes us more and more, and soon, His will becomes our daily bread. Lord, help me to lay aside rationalizations and cover-ups. Soften my heart to Your promptings and transform me into a true servant.

THE SEEDBED OF MIRACLES

A wedding celebration seems an unlikely place for a miracle, but a sidebar conversation between a mother and her son invoked a great one. Water was turned to wine as compliant servants obeyed the simple but life-transforming command: “Whatever he says, do it.” Human need, recognition of God’s authority, a personal request and obedience are the raw materials of miracles. The seedbed of miracles is straightforward; we must turn every circumstance of life over to the King of Kings and then do what He says. Blessed Savior, I place myself and all I survey into Your capable hands.