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Showing posts from August, 2016

SHINE

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” This Sunday School ditty’s message is as relevant as ever. I don’t think the world is actually getting darker; there is simply less light shining into it. We are biblically chastened to not put our “lamp under a bowl.” Simply stated, the light God has shined upon us must be displayed to the people around us; the darker the environment the more easily even the smallest light is seen. One reason we shade our lamp is the embarrassment we feel for the flaws we still have, but our message is about His perfection, not our own. Father of Light and Love, blow away the clouds of doubt and shine through me to the world around me today and always.

EARTHQUAKE

I have been through many small tremors, but only once through a genuine earthquake. Having already lived in Costa Rica for a couple of years I had become so accustomed to small tremors that I didn’t even notice the big one until the ground began to truly heave. It is disorienting to discover that everything can be shaken at once and it can last for such a long time. We don’t expect the very ground on which we live to convulse, but sometimes it does. In those bewildering moments, on what will I stand? Father, You have proclaimed: “The Lord will be your confidence”. Lover of my Soul, You set my feet on solid rock. My life is safely nestled in Your Mighty Hands.

WORD OF GOD, SPEAK

The Word of the Lord surrounds us; the universe itself is formed and held in place by God’s declaration. He spoke and there was light. He spoke again and there was mankind. There is no language, no place, no creation and no heart where His voice is not heard. The Word of God is always active, imparting life and power to all who will take notice, purifying the unclean heart and tearing down the most stubborn strongholds. Praise to You, O Lord my Maker, my Healer, my Deliverer and my Defender! Eternal God and Father, teach me to hear and to promptly obey your decrees. May Your Word have full access to the far reaches of my soul. Word of God, speak.

DUELING IMPULSES

My efforts to control myself by willpower alone have generally been disastrous. I usually start out like gangbusters, but far too soon I am again at full stop. My dilemma is dueling impulses. On the one hand, I truly want to “let go and let God,” trusting His timing and ways without any attempts to manage how it unfolds. But each time I commit to authentic surrender another impulse arises; the temptation to rush ahead and force results is very compelling. Father, Your Spirit alone can navigate me through internal resistances to Your chosen methods. Pour out Your grace within my soul and arrest every impulse that is not of Your making.

LETHAL LIP TRAPS

I was a young child the first time I was coerced to stick my index fingers into a Chinese finger trap. My reaction, of course, was to try to quickly yank my fingers out, but this only tightens the trap. Lesson learned. Getting pulled into ungodly conversation is much harder to escape; my lips have trapped me far worse than my fingers ever have. Rumors, accusations and unfair criticisms are dainty morsels that easily sink deep into one’s heart; repeating them is a deadly trap. Why do so many people feel it necessary to take someone else apart to feel whole themselves? Father, put coals of fire to my lips. Let kindness rule my ears, heart, mind and mouth. Deliver me from lethal lip traps.

THE LIGHT OF TRUTH

I love the unique sense of hope and anticipation my heart feels as dawn approaches. When morning light breaks, previously obscured details are openly exposed. Light, like truth, reveals the formerly unseeable. It is commonly said: “truth hurts.” Yes it does, but not as much as deception. I cannot honestly say that I always welcome the truth easily, but ultimately, I love truth. I need truth. I want truth. When truth bathed in love arrives to the tormented heart, it cleanses the soul and lifts our spirit like nothing else. You, O Lord, are Truth and Love Incarnate. May Your Light fill me afresh this day.

THE SQUALOR OF JEALOSY

Coveting someone else’s life is not only wrong; it is a dangerous. While chasing after the lifestyle, worldly goods, popularity or power of others, I cannot accurately and passionately pursue the plan God has for me. Besides, when coveting what others have that we would like, we tend to “cherry pick”; wanting the good things we see others enjoy, all the while ignoring or minimizing the problems and difficulties they endure. It simply doesn’t work that way. Great Shepherd of my Soul, forgive my momentary excursions into the squalor of jealousy. Your plan for me is perfectly calibrated with all things necessary to fulfill my divinely designed purpose.

DOOM AND BLESSINGS

Both doom and blessings always seem to be just ahead and coming my way. At times, one appears more imminent than the other, but one or the other always seems on final approach. As it turns out, neither have ever actually arrived exactly the way I had previously imagined, nor had the impact I envisioned. In fact, what appears as doom often comes laden with hidden blessings upon arrival; “blessings” often contain unexpected encumbrances. Blessed Father, come what may, I am more than a conqueror because You love me and are working everything for my good. I get it. Baruk ha Shem Adonai!!

SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

Understanding seedtime and harvest is a powerful motivator for wise planting. Everything we do or say is seed in the ground; the people we meet, family, friends, co-workers, even strangers passing by are soil. We rarely know the full story of how our life impacts others, but it is sobering to realize there is a harvest, both good and bad from the seeds I have scattered. In the case of the good seeds sown, I pray for a bumper harvest; as for the bad seed, I pray for permanent crop failure. Lord of All, forgive me for forgetting how significant each action is. Help me display Your goodness to those You place in my path. May only good seed be spread from my life.

SURE FOUNDATION

You never know how strong someone is until they are seriously tested under heavy pressure. I have often been amazed at the fortitude of some when the really difficult tests come, and equally amazed at the weakness of others who seemed so powerful until they were tested. Like buildings, the visible structure of someone’s life can seem outwardly beautiful, but it is the foundation that will determine its survival in upheavals and storms. Lord of All, You are my Rock and Sure Foundation. All that has been built on sinking sand within me must go. On the bedrock of Your Word I dwell safe and secure.

FRESH FIRE

I often struggle with the contradictions of carrying such wondrous eternal treasures in an earthen jar of human frailty. Tiredness or boredom suppresses faithfulness. Weariness awakens selfishness and drains away kindness and consideration for others. Soul fatigue indicates self-dependence as opposed to full surrender to God’s strengthening power. He will have none of that, so when love languishes, My LORD faithfully reminds me why I serve in the first place and who I am “in Him”. Father, I owe You everything and I owe others Your love and kindness on which I necessarily depend. Revive my heart with fresh fire from above.

THE DAILY GRIND

I prefer things to be easy, will I never learn? Effortless, carefree subsistence for anything more than a short respite ultimately leaves me empty, shallow, selfish and without purpose. It is the daily grind of keeping a steadfast heart that produces the genuine joy found only in faithful obedience to God. Mountaintops are delightful, but little life can really happen there. No, the valley is where life really happens. Lord God, Fountain of Truth and Wisdom, another day, another lesson…oh joy! No really, OH JOY ETERNAL! Dearest Father, my heart is inclined to Your ways.

SAFELY STORED AWAY

Everything we see and touch in this life is earthbound; no material thing from this world may be carried into eternity. So why spend so much time each day in pursuit of temporary things? A shift of focus is in order. Spiritual growth, the good that we do, and most importantly, the love we express to God and others are eternal things. Whatever I do in obedience to God and whatever I do to help others is immediately transferred forward. No earthly thief can steal what is safely stored away in heaven. Eternal Lord, help me live with my heart beyond the veil. Keep my eye on the ball and awaken in me an irresistible passion for the everlasting.

DUE HONOR

One of the lynchpins of human society is giving proper honor and respect to others. When respectful comportment breaks down, so does civilized behavior on every level. We live in a culture and generation where dishonoring others is equated with making oneself more important and popular. As believers, we must keep in mind that Satan’s fall from heaven began as seeds of dishonor in his thoughts toward God. An attitude of disrespect is a sign of a broken relationship with the Almighty. Holy Father, forgive my brazen insolence toward You or toward those You created in Your glorious image.

AN EFFECTIVE LIFE

Pursuit of self-pleasing imaginations launches us into a seductive world of speculative fantasies that are empty and dangerous. I do not merely want to live, drifting aimlessly each day; I sincerely desire an effective life. A purposeless focus leads to long walkabouts in barren lands, but earnest pursuit of godliness positions us for heavenly empowered accomplishment. Dearest Father, to You belongs wisdom and power; exquisite counsel and limitless understanding are Yours. Grant me good discernment and divine resolve in my daily quest to make a lasting difference for Your Kingdom.

OUR BLESSED HOPE

While I like to see circumstantial evidence that God’s favor rests upon His people, our hope is not dependent on our current situation. In fact, measuring our blessings is more a distraction than help. Our hope must not be based on anything less than God’s divine promises. His holy declarations are solid rock; all other ground is sinking sand. Even a casual stroll through Scripture awakens faith for reckoning upon the unseen. Lord God, You are my Blessed Hope. Deliver me from my human frailty that constantly seeks visual confirmation. Help me walk confidently in trust and obedience.

PLANTED IN THE PERFECT PLACE

I am not much of a gardener, but I know a little about roots and soil. Deep, extensive roots provide water, nutrition and stability; bad soil produces weak plants. Rocky, dry soil or dirt with little nutrition is no place for abundant growth. There are many lessons here, not the least of which is the importance of being planted in the right place. For Abraham, that meant an act of faith and obedience, abandoning the soil with which he was familiar, to obediently embrace a distant place, unknown yet promised by God. Father, deliver me from wasted efforts in fallow ground and continually guide me to fertile soil, no matter the distance or how difficult the journey.

EVERLASTING ARMS

Having an infant nestled in your arms provides a cornucopia of delightful experiences. The first time a swaddled babe actually recognizes your face and reaches for it brings unique pleasure, and when a small child settles down and falls asleep on your chest, it grants peace and value to the soul. To make a little one smile or laugh releases joy all around. It may seem strange, but God seeks these things from each of us. He is not only our Creator; He is our Father. Blessed Lord, You made me and hold me safely in Your everlasting arms; Your loving embrace providing, protecting and transporting me to where I should be. Teach me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

JUDGMENT DAY

I will one day stand before the All-Powerful Supreme Judge, whose judgments are perfectly accurate; this is not a comforting thought. But alas, each of His names reveals another facet of His character. He is the Great Physician, the Savior, the Good Shepherd, Our Mediator, Advocate and Redeemer. Suddenly, I am feeling much better about this. A journey through The Lord’s biblical monikers lifts us from the valley of the shadow of death and places us in the company of The Most High God! Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Great I Am, I march toward the Day of Judgment both with trembling knees and a heart brimming with blessed assurance.

CARELESSNESS KILLS

Road signs can only help those who read them and make necessary adjustments to the messages they carry. God places warnings, instructions and navigational help in our daily walk, not to restrict us from success, but to defeat our earthly tendencies toward lawlessness. Carelessness kills; obedience offers life and safety. A wise person passionately seeks to be wiser still, always searching to improve discernment, fairness and guidance. Holy Father, may Your unrestricted Wisdom defeat my moments of irresponsible insensitivity to Your Guidance. Lord, make me a wise man.

SACRED STEPS

The table is set for a new day. As Creator and Host only God knows exactly what is prepared to be set before me. I must now leave behind simple-minded ways and ready myself for new insight, higher life and greater things. Am I up for what today will bring? Only the day will tell, but the One who provides it will also carry me through it. This day I will walk on sacred steps, the Alpha and Omega has already trod this moment in advance. Lord, today is the day You have made; I am good with that and already rejoicing. Lift me in Your arms and carry me through with faith and joy.

THE STICKY WEBB

Alertness to God at all times is my daily battle. I must not only escape the sticky web of self-centeredness, but also the twisted theology of our day. Many consider personal fulfillment as being on the same level as obedience to the will of God. Incessant desire for self-fulfillment not only comes in forms of obvious selfishness, but also masquerades as false forms of spirituality. Genuine spiritual hunger never has self-indulgent motives, but seeks to lose sight of oneself in God’s Glory. King of Ages, arouse my heart to obedient following. Free me from egocentric intent. You alone are our Joy and Crown.

DARK TO LIGHT

I love the early sunrise and late sunset of summer. Light was the Creator’s first gift to creation, it is still a wonderful gift. Each new daybreak brings all that is obscured by the darkness of night back into full view. It is so natural, so repetitive, so normal, we lose sight of the miraculous blessing it is. Dark to light: God’s daily gift. As it is with the earth so it is with my soul. My darkest moments are transformed to resplendent beauty, my mourning to laughter and my sorrows to gladness. Lord of Light, drive all darkness from my soul. Give light and divine insight to my spiritual eyes and keep my lamp burning. May others see Your radiance in me today.

SUPREME MOMENTS

The difference between something good and something great is perfect timing. Sunrises and sunsets have characteristic beauty, but there is an exquisite moment in each that sets it uniquely apart from all others. A joke, a new product or the opening of the heart to God’s call, require precise timing. The Greeks had a special word for this: “Kairos”, which means “a supreme moment”. I like to think of kairos as “a God Moment”. Has not the Lord Almighty sprinkled supreme moments, God moments, throughout all creation? Lord of All, You indeed have placed perfection within imperfection. Lead me to those perfect junctures where You are fully present.

TRIUMPH IN THE TRASH COMPACTOR

Life often seems like a rugby scrum. While I know full well that God is always present and all His ways are loving and faithful, still, at times it feels as if I’m dwelling in a trash compactor. Each time I am tempted to complain I must remember that there are much more powerful options; Instead of complaining about the pressures, I can glorify God in my distress. I can confess His Promises and shout for joy, giving grateful praise to Him who is ever faithful. I can put on a garment of praise and anoint my head with the oil of joy. Glorious Father, You are my Keeper; Your presence sustains me in the midst of chaos. I lift my eyes to You, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Peace.

FORGIVENESS

God is perfect in all His ways therefore nothing can measure up to Him. Without His pardon, no one could enter His Presence, nor be worthy of His Holy Gaze. Forgiveness is a central element of His nature therefore it is impossible for me to be a godly person while withholding forgiveness from others. Godliness is godlikeness; to refuse to forgive is repudiation of His nature and ways. Hatred is a powerful force, but forgiveness is even more so. O Lord of Mercy and Grace, thank You forgiving me. Cleanse my heart of every vestige of unforgiveness toward others that I may be more like You.

PASSING SQUALLS

Blessings and disappointments arrive frequently to every person’s life, but it seems much easier to remember the letdowns. Today’s disappointments often overshadow a lifetime of blessings. Clouds may temporarily block the rays of light the sun provides, but even in the darkest storm, sunlight still shines brightly above the blanketed sky. I must remind myself to rise above the tempest of temporary letdowns and remember God’s Goodness and Mercy. Father, forgive my fickle feelings. May your extended Hand of Blessing always be met with my hands lifted in praise, especially while engulfed in passing squalls.

PERILOUS SHORTCUTS

Before satellite navigation was possible in a car our family was traveling in the Smokey Mountains. After unfolding and studying a map, I took what looked like a good shortcut. As the road narrowed and became a curvy, steep plunge, I doubted my decision and stopped to ask a man if the road we were on would lead to where I was going. He answered “yes”, then surveyed our soccer mom van filled with children and said: “Mister, you don’t want to go that way.” We turned around and thankfully missed whatever peril he knew awaited us down the road. Father, keep me from taking perilous shortcuts as I journey this day. Guide me to what is best. May my choices please You and lead to Your highest and best.

GOD-CONFIDENCE

Confidence is a vital necessity for reaching our full potential, but not all confidence is healthy. The constant focus of the self-obsessed ideology of our modern culture is “self-confidence”. Self-confidence is synonymous with foolishness; it is a house built on sand. God-confidence is a much sturdier foundation. The God enamored person faces every tempest with calm assurance, knowing the Greater One is always present. Seemingly impossible challenges can be met with amazing peace when one fully trusts in the Almighty. Lord of Glory, You must increase, I must decrease. I can do all things, but only in Your strength, not my own. Deliver me from mortal pride.

THE SIN OF SILENCE

It is one thing to speak up when I personally feel the sting of mistreatment, but will I remain silent when I see others undergo injustice? Frankly, suffering for doing good is a commendable characteristic before God, but silently watching others suffer wrongdoing when it is in our power to act is condemnable. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. Being able to see and feel beyond personal pain is an indicator of godliness. Faithful Lord, Caretaker of the Distressed, make my heart tender to the agony of others. Give me courage to rise up and act on behalf of those being crushed. Forgive me for the sin of silence.

TILL WE MEET AGAIN

Another dear friend has slipped into eternity. So many times I have been at this fork in the road, but I never get used to it. One last earthly wave must do until our paths again meet on the other side. Whether delayed or swift, death is certain, however, its sting is swallowed up in victory for those who live by faith. Through the valley of shadows there is no fear, only a blessed assurance that goodness and mercy will accompany us along the way. Father, in Your appointed moment, my soul will ascend in pure delight. Thank you for those who bravely pave the way by leaving a legacy of faithfulness.