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Showing posts from June, 2016

ANGER DANGER

There is no progress made by stirring up acrimony and outrage. Mild anger can move us into action and needed change, but it can easily metastasize into animosity, infuriation and hatred. The Biblical admonition is “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” It goes on to admonish us to deal with anger swiftly. All too often we interpret this to mean we should hurry to the source and change the circumstance or person making us angry, but the starting point is to let God work in our heart first. Lord of Unfailing Love, I confess a quick temper as sin. Help me first examine my heart before reacting to circumstances. May Your Love always guide my actions.

TREASURED FRIENDS

Friendships bring pleasantness to one’s life, but the greatest treasure is the earnest counsel that springs from a true comrade. While all advice must be properly weighed and measured, even the wounds of a trusted friend lifts and blesses our soul. Earthly love always comes laden with human imperfections, but when authentically offered, it has flashes of God’s amazing, perfect love. Heavenly Father, thank You for my many friends. Each one offers a facet of Your face. I especially thank You for those who love so deeply they offer honest counsel. Help me be that kind of friend to others.

HIS WILL, HIS TERMS

God created mankind “in His image,” but listening to a deceptive voice changed everything. Adam’s attempt to improve upon his blissful condition resulted in inward conflict for us all. One of the characteristics of the fallen nature is that we still have the same genetic code of our created purpose, but continually seek to fulfill it with our own stipulations. I counteract the inward advantage God gives me to achieve His best by dishonest surrender. Therefore, I must cast off the old ways and be clothed with the “new man”, the nature of the redeemed. Dearest Lord, abandonment to Your will on Your terms is the only legitimate path. Help me to obey authentically and consistently.

ENVY

Envy is a doorway to deep darkness. In the first place, wishing for someone else’s good fortune is to question God’s wisdom and goodness. We wonder: “Why them and not me?” and by doing so, judge God as unfair. Secondly, to cherry pick from another person’s life is foolish because we choose what we would like, but ignore their sorrows and pain. Finally, to feel that we deserve better is an insidious form of pride. The Bible declares: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Father, in You I have all things in One, therefore I lack for nothing. You withhold no good thing from Your children.

DAYBREAK

The light of early dawn reminds me of my spiritual condition in this world. There is a noticeable but slow change emerging; darkness is slipping away as light is softly increasing. I am no longer in darkness, nor am I fully in the light, yet it is clear, light will win. I gratefully welcome the daybreak manifesting within my soul, but I desire to speed this process. There is no possibility of hastening the sunrise, but stepping clear of all that shadows accelerates the brightening. Lord God, Light of the World, chase away all gloominess of dark with Your resplendent Presence. Rip down the curtains of doubt and self-will within me that obscure Your blazing Glory.

DELIVERED FROM ME

I am increasingly aware of how little actual control I have over life’s circumstances. This continuously unfolding revelation is a bit unsettling, but in reality it is good since I do not warrant unmitigated control of my life; my record is littered with the debris of failures where I attempted to be my own final authority. The goodness of God delivers me from me. My role should be faithful obedience rather than undertaking the role of Commander and Chief. Master, I am at peace with surrendering to Your control. Do Your holy work of divine purging today that my soul can more easily yield to your primacy. My life is Yours alone.

THE CURTAIN RISES

I’m standing just offstage and the curtain is rising on a brand new day. Past performance informs the moment, but this hour has never been. Only God has trod here, this moment is uncontaminated with the past. What is the full potential of this uncharted opportunity? Will I confidently step forward in fresh grace and faith in God, or will I drag yesterday’s shortcomings, misgivings and calamities into this unspoiled moment? Lord of New Beginnings, You have given me this new day. Let Your light wash over me. This new day is Your gift of life. May the glory of Your brightness be seen in me.

HEARTBREAKS

Every soul experiences heartbreaks. Heartaches accumulate and develop tentacles that reach deep into our whole being. Particularly painful is the regret associated with perceived failures. Heartbreaks, failures and the remorse they foster do us no good unless they become motivation for learning, change and growth. People often let heartbreaks simmer too long which leads to hardening of the heart, but heartaches placed into the Master’s hands become pathways for spiritual progress. Lord, You make all things new. I’m joyfully growing, one heartache at a time. Use me as healing balm to others whose hearts are broken.

ROCK MY WORLD

God is never taken in by my words, no matter how sincere they seem. Frankly, nor am I, for I too must see follow-through in my actions to genuinely believe in what I say. Often, I have been at that divine tipping point where intent teetered toward sincerity, then rocked back toward selfish contentment, only to again settle for spiritual complacency. But God’s Persistent Love will not abandon me to begging from a barren heart. My Lord, My God, You lovingly rock me forward till I cast my eyes onto Your fullness, then nothing else will do. May I completely fall firmly and permanently into Your arms.

DIVINE RYTHYM

Daybreak, and the beat goes on. I often fail to appreciate the full value of the gift of another day. Over-thinking past or future events diminishes the value of this day, this fresh start. There is a divine rhythm within every moment, a holy mystery in each twinkling of an eye that is easily missed if ignored. Only sensitivity to the Spirit of God can unlock the constantly present treasury of wisdom, insight, power and comfort. Blessed Father, settle me down. Deliver me from attempting to turn mysteries into formulas. Teach me to patiently take it all in and not miss a thing. Grant me entrance to Your secret place in each instant, day by day.

GREATER THINGS

The journey of faith leads us higher and higher. The pathway to greater things is not a superhighway; it is a steep, perilous climb requiring back-to-the-wall inching along the edge, casting away everything but the absolutely essential, squeezing through single-space passages and pushing far beyond what seems possible. Frankly, the path to greater things is not all that great, but the rarified air of the spiritual heights of obedience makes the journey worthwhile. You, O Lord are the High and Lofty One, lead me to higher ground. I cast aside the lesser that I may take hold of the greater.

UNBECOMING AMBITIONS

I am sometimes surprised how quickly my mind attempts to take a blessed moment and turn it into a point of pride or personal advantage. A lifetime of divine dealings has not rid me of unbecoming ambitions. While progress has certainly been made, selfish desires still lurk within, rising to the surface when stirred. Only by the charitableness and longsuffering of God, combined with unrelenting truth, can every vestige of unsurrendered soul be overcome. Father, I know that You will finish what You have begun in me. When I mix my earthly desires with Your heavenly ones, You faithfully call me out to keep me in check. Thank You Glorious One.

BONA FIDE

The Bible commands: “In everything give thanks”. The level of our gratitude is a proving ground for the depth of our faith. Thankfulness comes to mind fairly easily for me, but all too often, it is my second response instead of first. A battle I regularly face when it comes to gratitude is that even when I feel it, it can easily morph into another version of my incessant need to be happy. But today I awake with authentic thankfulness; for my amazing wife and family, friends-old-and-new, powerful victories, redeemed defeats, needed lessons, still waters, tall mountains, blue skies and stormy passages alike. Bona fide thankfulness glorifies God. Father, You are good beyond eartlhy comprehension and Your mercies endure forever!

OPEN SEWAGE

One of the discomforts of traveling in many Third-World nations is the common use of open sewage lines in otherwise modern cities. While not as terrible as one might think, still, the unpleasant odors become a constant nuisance. Over time you get somewhat acclimated to it and only occasionally notice its presence.  The same is true of our spiritual walk; allowing sewage to run openly through our lives will dull our senses to its presence. High and Lofty One, lift me from the squalor of worldliness and cleanse the polluting stream of immorality from my soul. Make my life a sweet savor before You and others.

A HAPPY HEART

I am often unaware when I am smiling, then a passing stranger smiles back. While I have my moments of sorrow and disappointment, a happy expression gurgles up from within. I am deeply thankful that God has gifted me with a happy heart. There is an unquenchable, irrepressible joy nested in the heart of the willingly submitted. Plenty of troubles drop by and attempt to establish permanent residence, but where the Word and Spirit abide, irrepressible hope abounds, outlasts and overcomes every infestation. Lord of Everlasting Joy, my heart is filled. There it is; joy has come in the morning…and I’m already smiling.

THE ENVY TRAP

There is a razor thin line between admiration and envy, making it dangerously easy to slip from one to the other. Respect and esteem can inspire us and provoke us to reach for greater heights, but when we cross over into personal comparisons, jealousy or judgmentalism, we become trapped in envy and resentment settles in. In the final analysis, envy is unbelief; rooted in lack of trust in God’s shepherding care and fed by pouting pride. To be jealous is to repudiate the Goodness of our Heavenly Father. LORD, You are the Way, the Truth and the Giver of Life. Deliver me from mortal traps and help me trust Your work, ways and means implicitly.

CRUSTY NO MORE

A large patch of dead grass in our yard had become rock hard on the surface; the destructive work of moles. No new grass would grow in that spot until the crusty remains of past greenery-gone-bad was removed. The same process is necessary within my soul. Relationships can be very life giving, but sometimes go south quickly. The hardness of heart that past disappointments or betrayals create must be plowed under and removed or the crusty leftovers can prevent new life from emerging. Glorious God, in Your Loving Mercy, break up hardness within my heart. Make my soul pliable, ready to receive new seeds and new growth.

INSIDE OUT

A serious pursuit of godliness requires an equally serious renunciation of worldliness. Too often, we 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 hearts. 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 in all places at all times.

HOW FAR?

How high must I climb to be healed? How wide is the chasm between my transgressions and God’s forgiveness? The rewards of each of these quests appear far away, however, they are much closer than we can humanly conceive. The ascent to my healing is merely the length from pierced feet to a crown of thorns. The journey from my sin to redemption is only the distance between a nail in each of my Savior’s hands. Holy Redeemer, my mind struggles with the simplicity of Your grace. Grant me childlike humility to believe what You have accomplished without equivocation or dispute.

BRIDLED

Panic is not a reliable strategy. A life bridled by fear is easily turned in the wrong direction, plunging those driven by it into unrelenting darkness. Fearfulness shuts down our sense of purpose, power and direction, leaving us to roam aimlessly in desolate places. In contrast, a life bridled by the Word of God will always turn us in the right direction, filling us with God’s perfect love and expunging fear from soul. Lord of Life, You set the captive free and set our feet dancing on the hilltops. Make Your Love my constant guide and use me for Your purposes. May my choices be wise and pleasing to You.

HIDDEN PERILS

I once I saw a large log silently float by in the middle of the river I was standing next to. Most of its bulk was suspended silently below the surface. It struck me that something as docile and inert as a fallen tree can be deadly in certain circumstances. I offered a prayer for passing boaters. The question came to mind: “How many seemingly harmless things float just below the surface in my life that I cannot see?” So I offered another prayer for me. Lord God, Captain of My Soul, expose in me those things that are harmful and clear them away. Remove from my heart every hidden peril and use me to bring safe passage and blessing others.

MANIFEST PRESENCE

God is always present whether we invoke, acknowledge, welcome, believe-in or desire His Presence or not. I am not entirely comfortable with this since I don’t always want it, preferring at times to turn away in pursuit of my selfish desires. How sad, the proximity of the Almighty is a promise, not a threat. He continually transforms me into His image and nudges me deeper into my divine purpose. Father, forgive me for my moments of insane resistance and draw me to the sweetness of simple obedience. Help me to never ignore the potential of Your Manifest Presence. Tear away callousness and revive my heart with my heart with ever-deepening passion for You.

DAYBREAK

Daybreak has a sweet quietness that feeds the soul. God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world awakens and the still of dawn is lost in the cacophony of life. An indispensable characteristic of the God-directed life is hearing and obeying the voice of God. Before charging ahead into battle I must confer with my Commander In Chief and prepare for what is ahead. Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of morning’s soft embrace. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly. Clear my heart from earthly entanglements and help me maintain a listening ear.

NIGHT VISION

At times, searching out the right path can feel like being led along through a pitch-dark place. These moments involve creeping along slowly and bumping into unexpected obstacles while looking for the exit. I must always remember that God has night vision. He knows exactly where I am at all times. How often He removes or places something in the path I’ll not know in this life, but I can trust His steady guidance. Lord, Your ways and means are wonderful. Only You can work the necessary miracles to make life possible for a soul bombarded with ignorance and doubt. By Your Mighty Hand I progress safely.

LIP FILTER

We feel compelled to have the last word in conversations, but having the right words is far more important. Life and death proceed from our lips. We have no control over words after they depart our lips so necessary care must be given before we speak. A Biblical and Spirit-informed filter between the mind and the mouth serves everyone’s best interest. Slowing the velocity of my replies to others increases the effectiveness of the filter. Lord, let Your words saturate my thoughts, and transform my words into instruments of life. May only what is bathed in Your love and filled with Your truth leave my lips.

YOU MAKE ME BRAVE

I saw a huge deer step out of the brush and stand erect, his towering rack aloft. A mix of curiosity and fear was in his eyes; he was clearly ready to bolt for safety at a moment's notice. I've seen that very same look many times while at the side of a hospital bed, or across my desk as a couple shared their dire circumstances, or in the mirror as I faced my own fears. God did not create mankind as instinctual animals, but rather, He made us "in His image". He gave us the capacity to change our circumstances, not just react to them. LORD God, You make me brave; Your rod and staff giving comfort, guidance and protection through every valley.

THE LORD IS ONE

Usage of the phrases “My God” and “Our God” in songs and conversations among believers has gone far afield from the Biblical context in which they were used. These seemingly innocent attempts to describe our relationship with Elohim must only be spoken with keen Scriptural understanding: “I am the Lord, there is no other, apart from me there is no God.” Plain and simple, to even imply that He is but one choice among many is fundamentally false. In a world of increasing polytheism we must be clear, the LORD is One, He stands alone as King of the Universe, Creator of All Things. Holy LORD, let my life declare boldly, You Alone are Almighty God.