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Showing posts from April, 2016

'TIS SO SWEET

Most of the calamities in my life have been situations that I never worried about or even thought about before they happened. On the contrary, the majority of circumstances I did worry about subsequently never manifested. The lesson? What a waste of time it is to try to think my way through life! The journey of listening to God’s Word and Spirit while serving, trusting and giving thanks is a far superior path. Good Shepherd of my soul, I praise & thank You today for Your superintendence, guidance, protection and love. Today I will take You at Your Word, casting my cares upon You. ‘Tis so sweet.

INFLAMED DESIRE

God could never be impressed by my most ardent efforts since it is only with His unending help that I achieve even the smallest thing. Yet, like an adoring father holding his infant son, He treats me as if each simple thing I do is unique and truly special. His unconditional, fatherly delight inflames my deepest desire to please Him. His Goodness leads me to repentance and obedience. Dearest Father, You hear my slightest sighs and are patient with my desperate cries. I am equally blessed by Your voice of discipline and Your comforting hand. You, O Lord, are my Great Salvation.

IRON TO STEEL

On a whim I signed up for metal shop in eighth-grade. I learned that iron, a relatively soft metal, is turned into hardened steel by heat, pressure and temperature change. The iron is repeatedly heated red-hot, pressured, then placed in water to cool it quickly. This tempering process presses the ore’s molecules tightly together. Character is built the same way. No one enjoys the conflicts that forge us, yet it is in the furnace where we are made strong. Lord God, I marvel at Your wisdom and power to transform. Make and mold me strong for the battles ahead. Refine my heart and shape my life to do Your will.

LIGHT AND GLORY

As the sun rises it softly transforms every scenery it touches.  From cityscape, to countryside, from suburban sprawl, to rolling tide, each surface is gently painted with increasing light. Every second of daybreak is transformative. In my soul it is the same. Darkness does its best to obscure and conceal, spreading confusion, fear and enigma, but even the slightest dawning of spiritual enlightenment brings immediate transformation; hope rises and obscurity turns to resplendent glory. Lord, You are My Light and Glory. Bathe my soul with Your metamorphic supremacy. Leave nothing untouched. Early will I seek You.

GROUNDED

At age thirteen I began driving boats, spending endless hours on a large lake. Those years of experience did little to prepare me for the complications of navigating tidal waters since lakes rarely require navigational buoys. On my first boating adventure as a young adult we headed to shore without paying attention to channel markers and ran aground at full speed. We were seriously grounded for a while. Thankfully, the only real harm was to my bruised ego. Father, forgive my arrogance when I ignore the navigation signals You place along my path. Deliver me from presumption and teach me to be alert to Your guidance.

OUR ROYAL RESCUE

In times of emergency we count on first responders to show up with the needed equipment and ability to save us. While others rush out, these brave souls rush in. Prince Harry of the British Royal Family is a helicopter rescue pilot; it seems unthinkable that royalty would ever come to our rescue, but that is precisely what we experience as believers. The Bible reveals the King of the Universe is our Rescue! In the crushing moments when life is a crumbling catastrophe, the Lord of Lords rushes in with all that we would ever need. O Lord my God and King, thank You for never leaving nor forsaking those who cry out to You.

MORNING HAS BROKEN

Morning has broken and it is a beauty. Today begins with golden hues hovering over deep green grass. Soft shades of pink are layered under cool blues above. Silhouettes of lanky palms and majestic oaks are gently swaying. God's immortal fingerprints are all over this sunrise. The Master’s touch brings exquisite comeliness to the commonplace as the kiss of heaven quietly sets this new beginning into motion. Help me Lord to see Your majesty in all that I behold. May Your divine hand move my heart toward Your celestial touch; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

AWESOME WONDER

What does God have in store for those who seek Him? The Scriptures reveal a lot: protection, wisdom, success, eternal salvation, daily bread, hope, light to our path, still waters, peace, joy, unconditional love, discipline, inexhaustible forgiveness, redemption, a restored soul, purpose, and best of all, when we see Him, we will be like Him. And yet, this is but a sampling of His promises since “eye has not seen nor ears heard” the full array of His blessings. O Lord my God, again here I am in awesome wonder, joyfully considering Your Goodness and Mercy. My heart is singing, Your Greatness steadily unfolding.

LITTLE FACES

As I walked past the church nursery I noticed two little faces above a baby gate and squatted down to their level. These two I knew, having seen them often, but we were still at the “I know you” stage. It was mostly silent stares, clunky questions and growing acceptance. Then another face appeared and there was another round of introductions, lot’s of smiles, offers of slobber covered toys and conversation with a cute lisp. It was difficult to walk away. The hunger for connection we each feel proclaims our longing for God. Blessed Father, we are Your children. You created us to love and to be loved. Thank You Lord, for squatting down to our level.

WHERE AND WHEN

Our whereabouts are not our choice alone. The Patriarch Abraham recognized the importance of hearing and obeying God’s directive voice. He was called to a faraway place where his inheritance awaited his arrival. While it was unknown to Abraham, God had already chosen and made holy the ground where he was being sent. Obedience without hesitation meant Abraham ended up WHERE he was supposed to be, WHEN he was supposed to be there. Lord, may I never miss Your Voice calling me to a new place of trust and obedience. And may I never delay arrival to Your chosen moment.

MARCHING FORWARD

Faith, that joyful certitude that unlocks heaven’s rewards, is never bound to earthly circumstances. Faith unleashes divine promises, matchless wisdom, clarity of vision and a steady walk through the unseen. If a mustard seed’s portion can toss a mountain into the sea, then it can certainly clear our way forward. Through faith I find refuge in blessed assurance, triumphant peace in the midst of storms and laughter in the face of adversity. Lord of Hope, Your Words are the fountainhead of faith, therefore I will meditate daily on Your Holy Declarations. By faith, in faith and through faith I will march forward.

GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!

I woke up thankful today. Thankfulness usually floats close to the surface for me, but ordinarily it is not my first morning reaction; constant, auto-response gratefulness requires a level of surrender that still mostly eludes me. Typically, I must first navigate through a maze of my own thoughts and emotions before I reach the bliss of thankfulness. A strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation is not rooted in circumstances; it flows from a deeper understanding of God’s goodness and love. Today, I am there quickly and without conditions. Thank You Father for the early gift. You are so very Good.

RIGHTLY ROOTED

A trip to East Texas a few years ago was both surprising and sad. I looked out the window of the commuter plane I was on and in place of the hilly, green vistas I normally saw, drought and an unrelenting heat wave was killing thousands of trees. As we passed over, I noticed that around a large lake the trees stood tall and green, even those growing a relatively long distance from the shoreline; their roots provided salvation. The biblical promise to all who delight in God’s Word comes to mind: “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.” Father, You lead me beside still waters, Your Word nourishes my soul, Your Spirit continually pours forth life and peace.

NO TOWER NECESSARY

I can hardly remember what it was like to search for information without pushing the “find” button on a device. However, the wisdom of God remains unsearchable by earthly means. No amount of human effort can forcibly open the treasures of heaven; the Tower of Babel in modern form still will not reach high enough. Yet, God pours out limitless insight to the ones who humbly approach Him with humility and sincerity. Father, Creator and Caretaker, You withhold no good thing from Your people. Your promises are “yes and amen”, Heaven’s blessings await the fervent seeker, its doors wide open to the humble of heart.

LITTLE FOXES

I generally do better in a big crisis than when faced with relentless small annoyances. It seems that the size of a difficulty elicits different responses within me. With really big problems I quickly realize that I must, of necessity, turn it over to God. With small problems I feel confident to handle them on my own, but as the volume of issues arises I soon find my boat overloaded and sinking. A raging bull is an obvious threat, but we are biblically warned it is the “little foxes that ruin the vineyard”. Lord, forgive my stubborn self-reliance. Help me entrust to Your Mighty Hands all things, both large and small.

CHILDLIKE NOT CHILDISH

All that I do is in the full sight of God. My only certain hope of pleasing Him is that He views me as His child. As Scripture proclaims: “What great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” My role? I must be childlike, but not childish, innocent but not imprudent, happy hearted but not foolish, curious, but not meddlesome. I must put away behaviors unworthy of the family of God and freely pass along to others the blessings I so openly enjoy. Thank You Father that I am Your child. I yearn to please You today. I welcome Your guiding hand and desire to hear and obey.

DUPLICITY EXPOSED

Not that He needs my personal endorsement, but I can certify that God is truthful; there is nothing false in Him. What a contrast to the unyielded human heart where pretense runs deep and lurks in the bottom of hidden pools. While God passionately loves those He created in His Glorious Image, He hates all falsehood and is continually exposing in me every element of duplicity. Blessed riddance! Almighty Father of TRUTH and LIGHT, do Your divine work in me today. Overhaul every corner of my heart that truth may prevail and that pretense be put to flight. Thank You that Your Truth arrives embodied in Your Perfect Love.

COMFORT ZONE

While it is absolutely true that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, God’s comfort zone nearly always makes me uncomfortable. Since complacency is my constant nemesis, His love continually prods me to move forward. Like the lame man at the well of Bethseda, I sometimes camp out on the edge of hope but feel incapable of moving when the water is stirred. Herein lies a fundamental spiritual principle: convenience is rarely the path to spiritual growth. Father, Your love propels me. I welcome Your holy nudges, even when it is bothersome. Help me stand to my feet and walk forward in faith.

I CAN CHOOSE

Today I can choose whom and how I serve. I could surrender to things that alarm or seem unchangeable. I could resent, despair or obsess over what has passed me by. I could dream of what could have been or should have been. Then again, I can put each moment, each desire, every person, hope, fear or dream into the nail-scarred Hands. I can declare that God is great and greatly to be praised! I can leave behind the squalor of doubt and fear and join the company of heaven in eternal praise. Lord God Almighty, Giver of Choice, I thank You that today I can choose, and I gladly, gratefully, eternally choose to serve You!

TOO EASILY IRKED

Generally speaking I have grown much more patient through the years, but I am still far too easily irked. This is one of the sinister ways the kingdom of darkness attempts to maintain a foothold in my soul. When annoyances are permitted to hang around without constraint they huddle together and increase in number. In this undisciplined condition of self-indulgence, problems seem huge and God seems small; then full-fledged anger pops up like burnt toast. How foolish. Father, forgive my imprudence and help me keep my bearings. I am aware of how annoying I must be to You, yet You are eternally patient with my deficiencies. Make me more like You LORD.

MY ANCHOR HOLDS

An approaching storm may come so fast that there is no way to avoid it. Both Captain and crew grow weary in the fight against these unrelenting tempests. They can often last for days on end. Hopeless exhaustion is just as hazardous as the gale; making bad decisions a dangerous potential. Dropping anchor to get some rest can be the only wise course of action. For the child of God there is rest in the storm that only our Heavenly Father can provide. I must cease from my own works to allow Him to do His Divine Work. Dearest Lord, my anchor holds within the veil, through the battering of the storm I rest in you.

DEEPER INTO SURRENDER

I am quite proficient at making up excuses to avoid doing something I do not want to do. Yet, I am equally adept at constructing convincing arguments for what I want. Neither of these skills is helpful to the person who wants to please God. In fact, there is grave danger of talking myself right over a cliff into a sea of selfishness and disobedience. Even the Savior faced this struggle in the heat of battle. His self-denying garden prayer must become my own: “not as I will, but as you will.” Father, help me pull away from human desire and push deeper into surrender. Your will first and always.

LOVING THE IMPERFECT PERFECTLY

It is a common deception to fall in love with false images. We imagine only the good about something, someplace or someone, only to subsequently discover we have successfully ignored the truth. Human love is delusional because it is selfish at its core; we naturally look for what makes us feel happy, not what challenges us, strengthens us or makes us better people. Only a godly worldview can prepare us to properly love people or things. Father in Heaven, You love the imperfect perfectly. Grant me Your brand of love and deliver me from my own. Let Your perfecting love in me shape the world around me.

ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

Many seem to feel it necessary to wear their faith as if it is armor against the surrounding world. Taking the Biblical example of the apostle Paul to heart, I prefer to make a thoughtful effort to get along with those around me wherever I go. Paul’s strategy of becoming “all things to all people” was not an effort to hide his faith, but rather, an intentional commitment to offer bridges of love to those he encountered. It doesn’t take long for others to notice the effects of God’s Presence in our lives. Holy Lord, we are grateful Your Presence shelters us while empowering us to effectively share Your Grace with others.

FERVENT READINESS

Miracles occur somewhere every day, so I must consecrate myself in preparation for the amazing things God will do this new day. Should I wait for signs of something happening before making necessary changes? Absolutely not! With God, all things are possible, so I must stop and consider whether I am ready for a Divine Encounter now. Consecration anticipates the wondrous works of God. Lord God of Wonders and Might, I yield to Your will, Your ways and Your timing. May my heart and mind expectantly prepare for Your Glory. Teach me to live with fervent readiness and expectation of Your works.

HOLD THE LINE

A common cry in the midst of battle is the command: “Hold the line!” From our earliest records of warfare, keeping a strong line is a critical element for supremacy over the enemy. Though I remain temporary captive to human frailty, I am never alone in this fight for spiritual advance. My Commander and Chief doesn’t simply pass orders from above, but is also with me each day to my left and right, never, ever abandoning His position. Lord God Almighty, when I am weak Your strength brings victory. Human anxieties are put into retreat by Your all-surpassing power and unfailing love.  In Your Grace, I too, will remain at my station and hold the line.

CLAY

I enjoyed playing with modeling clay as a child since I could take shapeless material and mold whatever my imagination and childhood skills could conceive. Working with clay is messy and very time consuming. Learning the texture and feel is a significant part of the process. Life is different now; I am no longer the sculptor, I am now the clay. The Master is continually shaping my life and character. My role is simple; I must remain pliable, sinking deeply into the Potter’s hands. Father, Creator of All Things, mold me and make me after Your will. Teach me to welcome the texture and feel of Your mighty hand.

SEAMLESS

An element of the Biblical narrative of the crucifixion is the “seamless garment” Jesus wore. The Roman soldiers thought it of such value they gambled each other for it. I suggest that a “seamless life” is of even greater value. I long for seamlessness, where there is no distinction between one part of my life from the other. Where God’s imprint on my heart can flow freely between friendships, worship, work and play. Where His ways become my ways. Where His love dominates every action. Father, pour over me like a flood. Saturate every corner of my life with Your Presence and make me a man of consistent character and actions.

STAINED GLASS MASQUERADE

I love the architecture and beauty of ancient cathedrals and I have visited scores of them from Jerusalem to Rome. I deeply appreciate the dedication, piety and sacrifice these edifices represent from believers long ago. Yet even the simplest gathering place for worship can become a stained glass masquerade, where we think our personal spiritual experience somehow impacts the world around us. Frankly, nothing much can be seen through stained glass windows. Too often, pious people believe others will be transformed by the quality of our worship experiences, but transformational revival always happens face to face at the water cooler, at the game, by the bedside, in the café. Lord, let your light shine through my life both in the sanctuary and in the streets.

WAITING FOR VALIDATION

While waiting for a software update to install, the screen read: “Waiting for validation”. It occurred to me that I have done the same, waiting to be validated by people, things, awards, titles and practically everything else. The only thing that can validate the human soul is right standing with God. In Scripture, the Lord Almighty proclaims: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” My waiting need not continue, the unshakable love of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s is my eternal validation. My Lord, My God, I am Yours. You have chosen me, redeemed me, called me, empowered me and sent me forth with Your love. It is well with my soul.