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Showing posts from February, 2016

WORD

Like sunshine breaking forth on a gloomy day, the Word of the LORD brings unquenchable joy to a sad heart. Just one syllable from the lips of the Almighty sends the hordes of hell scampering for cover. Truth not only delivers us from evil, it destroys the foundation upon which deception is assembled. For these reasons and innumerable more, drinking from the Fountain of Life is not an option; it is vital to our spiritual lives. Framing our thoughts, words and deeds by Scripture provides both safety and power. LORD of Truth and Light, may Your Word fall down like summer rain upon the dryness of my heart and fill me to overflowing.

VERY PRESENT

I get rattled, but rarely shaken. Reaction turns to recovery quickly as I remember the words of the psalmist: “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Not just present, He is “very present”, not just somewhere near, but “very present”. The LORD is present with Wisdom in the maze of confusion, our Strength when we are weak, our Peace in the midst of storms and our exceedingly Great Reward in the midst of and at the finish of every trial. Ever Present LORD of All, take my life and let it be for Your glory. Leave nothing untouched. Leave nothing unchanged. Leave nothing unfinished.

A SLIPPERY SLOPE

It is a common malady to confuse exercising biblically granted divine authority with being an authority on the divine, confidently condemning those who differ in their beliefs or practices. From there, it is a slippery slope that drops us into the pit of judgmentalism. Discernment has great value, but we can easily slip into unfair conclusions and declarative pronouncements that are careless and hurtful rather than helpful. Lord, help me to discern in a highborn manner. Teach me to think and speak things bathed in Your love. Protect me from the earthly habit of categorizing those different than me.

FOOLS RUSH IN

The difference between heroes and fools is clear. When others are running from danger, heroes such as first responders, those who have been fully prepared for these moments, follow their calling and rush in. Heroes rush in and make a difference! Fools, on the other hand, rush blindly toward things that elicit thrill, only to be destroyed by their pursuits. Fools rush in and make a mess! The pursuit of Kingdom purpose must be done heroically, not foolishly. We must take seriously the discipleship and training God prepares us with to do His Will. Lord, Your daily discipline is my greatest ally. Prepare me today for Your highest and best.

VALIDATION

Every person struggles with a yearning for validation; we each need to know our life matters. Yet, in the end, recognition, popularity, accomplishment and adoration can never satisfy our deepest longings, only faith can validate our existence. We are created to live in right relationship with our Heavenly Father. Trust in God as Creator, Redeemer and Sovereign aligns us with our divine purpose and is essential to lasting assurance; it is the validation we inwardly seek. Gracious Father, forgive my failed attempts at self-validation. Willing obedience to You authenticates my sonship and assures my place among Your people.

THE BITTER TRUTH

King Saul’s bitterness ultimately destroyed him. Many people seem to delight in sowing discord. Like wounded animals, their own pain gives impulse to attacking others randomly; the slightest inconvenience, misunderstanding or disagreement detonating rage. Hatred attempts to establish permanent residence in the hearts of God's children, but He will have none of that. The heart surrendered to the Lover of Our Souls is more than a match for bitter indignation. Gracious Father, expunge all lingering vitriol within me. Rip away every root of bitterness and fill my heart with Your unquenchable love and mercy.

FRIENDLINESS AND FRIENDSHIP

A life deeply marked by God has the same characteristics as our Savior’s; He never considered anyone too low for His kindness and attention. If fact, He was often criticized for associating with those others considered unworthy or unclean. However, He did not choose fools as His companions. There is a huge difference between friendliness and friendship. Our committed friendships must be chosen carefully, we do not want to be led astray into unfaithfulness. Lord, help me keep Your Will and Ways in the center of every relationship. Safeguard my heart with discretion and guard my steps with wisdom.

HOUSE OF MIRORS

Children have a fascination with mirrors and I was no exception. Few mirrors got by me without at least a passing glance. I was quite young the first time I visited a House of Mirrors, what an interesting, funny and creepy experience. I quickly realized a false image is entertaining but useless. As we mature we use status, relationships, accomplishments and popularity to reveal who we are, but this too, is merely a house of mirrors. Lord of Truth, only You can accurately reveal the man I am. I thank You for the power of Your Word and Spirit to reveal the unvarnished truth. Transform every part of me into a son who pleases you.

IT IS WELL!

“Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul”; poignant words penned by Horatio Spafford as his ship passed where his four daughters died in a tragic shipwreck just days before. “It is well” are words spoken to the prophet by the Shunamite woman, erstwhile her child laid dead at her home. No one can declare such things while mired in earthly obsessions. These are divinely inspired words, spiritually informed words; faith infused words spoken from consecrated hearts. My Lord Almighty, Healer of the Broken Hearted, may my lips bear witness to Your Glory and Power.

SKULKING PRIDE

Even after years of God’s dealings with me, far too much human pride still remains. While increasingly pushed out of the spotlight, it still stubbornly skulks around in the shadows, giving way only in forced increments. Though sometimes diagnosed and stopped before popping out in words or actions, far too often, it leaps back on center-stage in full-blossom. God’s Goodness will not leave me in this unreliable state. Thank You Father, Son and Holy Spirit for Your holy work of deliverance from swaggering pretentiousness. Blessed riddance. I must decrease, You must increase.

OPEN HANDS, OPEN HEARTS

God is mercifully generous, pouring out His blessings on both the deserving and underserving. Giving activates part of the godlike nature imprinted on every human heart by its Creator that cannot be activated otherwise. Benevolence without authentic love is possible, but genuine love devoid of giving is utterly impossible. Generosity with strings attached is the earthly way, giving unconditionally is divine. Many of the issues of the heart are caused by selfish resistance to giving; generosity is a cure for many of our ills. Simply stated, open hands, open heart, closed hands, closed heart. Lord, teach me Your ways. Thank You for every opportunity to be more like You.

HONEST LOVE

We are commanded to “speak the truth in Love” but much of what we try to pass off as honesty is actually grounded in fear and selfishness. We typically tell the truth only when we are reluctantly exposed, or feel it necessary to protect something we value. This fare of “honesty” rooted in selfishness, bears almost no resemblance to honesty motivated by love. Pure truth makes us free, but when it is delivered in a vessel polluted with mixed motives it loses much of its transforming power. Lord of Love and Truth, You never mix truth with manipulation. Your love is pure and Your words bring life eternal.

PANIC ATTACK

The storm on the lake that prompted the disciples to wake Jesus from sound sleep had the disciples in mortal fear; their panic made them feel he didn’t care. He awoke and spoke peace to the storm. The size of our crisis causes no panic on His part; God has no panic attacks, instead, He attacks our panic. Since He is not bound by time nor limited in capacity, He cannot be confounded or set back by earthly resistance. He is the Eternal Sovereign, the Almighty, the Lord of All and the Lord our Peace. Heavenly Father, Your timing, Your way, Your will, that’s it! My storms are in Your hands; I rest assured.

POLITE DISOBEDIENCE

Obedience to the voice of God must not be put off. We often justify our slow response by desiring to act when conditions are perfect. The problem with this course of action is obvious, conditions are rarely perfect. Fear and doubt are fueled by delay, growing stronger with each passing moment. Unless obedience is prompt, it is nothing more than polite disobedience. Swift compliance, however, has the opposite effect; immediate embrace of God’s will fuels our faith and invites His blessings. O Lord My Peace, not my will, not my ways, but Your will and ways must prevail. Ignite my heart and order my steps.

BEHOLDING THE UNSEEN

Life would seem pretty hopeless if it were restricted to earthly ways alone. To limit God’s promises and power to what we can now see or conceive is foolish indeed. The person of faith does not ignore facts, they simply see beyond them, beholding the unseen things God has promised. I cannot glimpse forward with my eyes on the past. I cannot look ahead with my eyes fixed on where I am. I can only peer beyond the horizon by lifting my eyes to heaven. Oh Lord My Helper and Redeemer, You are at once, the Beginning and the End. Beholding You is to see what truly matters. I lift my eyes to You.

LADEN WITH GOD'S PRESENCE

As a young man, traveling through Florida orange country revealed miles and miles of fruit laden trees. The branches were so full of citrus that the lower ones touched the ground. In similar fashion, each day, each moment is laden with God’s Presence. It is as if I were standing next to a tree filled with ripened fruit; I can simply reach out and grasp its bounty. What will God offer me today that could change someone’s life? Will I even notice? Lord, thank You for Your bountiful blessings. Help me to see and take hold of Your provision. Let me not consume Your Goodness for myself without sharing it with others.

CHOOSE WISELY

I am ignorant about many things, yet I am good with that; a curious mind has not always served me well. While there is blessedness in knowledge, there is an equal blessing in not knowing. The entrance of inappropriate information can bring lifelong torment to the soul. Eve’s curiosity about forbidden fruit opened her to horrible consequences. The Information Age has opened a wonderful bounty of knowledge, but the God seeker must choose wisely. O Lord My Maker, help me to know only those things that bring life. Surround me with Your Presence and teach me to distinguish between the knowledge of good and evil.

SUPREMACY OF CHRIST

There is no substitute for the supremacy of Christ. He alone must be enthroned in my heart. Most of my troubles are rooted in my own stubborn attempts to pull away from His dominion over the length and breadth of my life. Until all that is mine is conceded, all that is His will elude me. Tidbits of knowledge will not due. Sprinkles of heaven will not suffice when showers are needed, so I must put away every vestige of childish attitudes and behaviors. Oh God my King, I acknowledge Your lordship, help me to relinquish every portion of my life to You. Grant me grace to knuckle under to Your Fatherly discipline and instruction.

THE TRAIL OF TRUST

Why give in to the convenience of discouragement? Despair offers no rewards, but since it is so readily available, we take its downhill path. The trail of trust is much steeper, but grants unseen vistas, still waters, a restored soul. The Lord is always our Great Shepherd, even when we are wholly unaware of it or when we run and hide from His care. In the most dangerous places where no one else may come along, I never trod alone, for He never, ever abandons His own. Shepherd of my soul, from sinking sand, You lift me, With tender hand, You lift me, from stormy gale, You lift me. All is well.

HEART TENDERIZER

The human soul is deeply affected living in a world where cruelty, pride and hatred run so freely; exposure to constant disappointments hardens the heart. Yet, deep pain in our soul can lead us toward God, reversing the hardened condition. As I have grown spiritually, a softness of heart has steadily increased and is easier to access. Like an uncapped spring, compassion bubbles to the surface of a life touched by the Ancient of Days. Blessed Father, tear down every wall of ambivalence toward others that remains within my heart. Let childlike tenderness toward you and the people You love dominate my soul.

NEVER ALONE

A walk of faith is at times a solitary, private path, yet I am never truly alone. While others are willing to join in, inevitably there are places within my journey where there is only single-space passage. When we feel desolate in our sojourn of faith we must remember, it is not a desertion by others, but an invitation to walk closer to God. Rather than sorrow, these defining moments release great joy as we take the Master’s hand and trust His guidance through secret places. Ever-Present Lord, open my eyes to see Your omnipotence. Though fears may still lurk in the shadows, where You lead, I will safely and gladly follow.

AN ENGRAVED MAN

It is like stumbling into a lush oasis in the desert to be with someone of noble character. Instead of pulling you down, their presence lifts you higher, provoking godliness, inspiring greater things. I wish to be such a person. The effect of Christ on His disciples caused their judges to note: “these men had been with Jesus”. Their lives had been so engraved by His life that it was obvious to all. Lord, make me into an engraved man; Your image on constant display. Arise within me that others may know Your great love.

DISMANTLED FAKERY

Honesty seems to be a disappearing characteristic in modern culture. I find that the closer I am to God, the more easily truth prevails, but diminished respect for godliness releases anarchy, rebellion and falsehood. Imbibing Scripture and times spent in private prayer are great cleansers of the heart; dishonesty does not easily reside in a soul permeated with truth. True and Living God, You dismantle fakery and demand straight plumb lines. Cleanse me of all deception and make divinely imposed accuracy my only standard for life.

PURSUIT OF PURPOSE

Purposeful living is not as courageous as many suppose, it is more a matter of surrender; acknowledging that God has designed and placed each of us in this life according to His aspirations. I cannot fulfill His created purpose for me while trying to copy someone else, nor can I force anyone else to adopt my own. While others may be called to paths similar to which I am called, the things that rivet my attention and fuel passionate, personal response are as unique as fingerprints. O Lord, My God and King, help me this day step boldly into Your will without fear or useless attempts to modify Your plans.

THE EXQUISITENESS OF OBEDIENCE

A heart too tied to this world knows little of the exquisiteness of obedience to Him who rules both heaven and earth. To do the will of God in ways large and small uncaps a wellspring of joy within, releasing a sense of purpose that nothing else can offer. Short-lived happy feelings may accompany bargain-basement choices, but joy eternal fills the hearts of those who know extravagant surrender and who embrace God’s choices. Lord of Glory and Irrepressible Peace, deliver me from earthly sorrow of my own making and align my heart and will to Your own.

THE NAME

In the bible there are many names for God, but why so many? The Lord Our God’s greatness is simply beyond the capacity of one name to characterize His Majesty and Awesomeness. Like individual facets on a diamond, each name reflects the light of His Glory a little differently. His Name is not merely a moniker, when we speak His name in any biblical form, we are reckoning upon His very nature and power to transform. Not to be used like a magical incantation, one’s heart must seek the Lord Himself as we call on His Name. El Shaddai, Elohim, to declare Your Name releases unquenchable joy and unmatchable power! It is well with my soul.

VANQUISHED FEAR

My work requires that I stay informed on world issues. There is no shortage of media outlets available, so each day is filled with news of calamities and dire needs from around the world. I refuse to live my life in a fear-fueled rage against circumstances. While there are many things I would like changed, I accept that I don’t understand what is best for each moment on this earth. What I do know that God is generous, loving, meticulous, and wise. He is ultimately in control and I’m very good with that. Trustworthy Lord, all things are in your perfect hands; I safely advance in blessed assurance. Your Perfect Love vanquishes every fear.

HUMBLE AUTHENTICITY

As people of faith, we hope that unbelievers will admire us for our fine character, our family values or our lower number of vices. Instead, they immediately see beyond our words to our personal failings and consider it all as hypocrisy. The answer? Humble authenticity. Faith in Christ must be genuine, unwavering and most importantly, contrite. Pride must never be permitted to free range in our hearts. Arrogance will quickly turn blessings into curses, friends into enemies and godliness into uselessness. Lord, grant me grace for walking humbly before You and others. Help me accurately discern my own heart and actions.