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Showing posts from October, 2016

BATTLEGROUND OR PLAYGROUND?

We install security in our cars, homes and businesses. We build fences, establish security checkpoints, hire gate guards and police to secure our lives. However, the most dangerous instrument of harm is my tongue. The Scriptures declare: “life and death proceed from our mouths”, so guarding my lips guards my life and the lives of others. Since there are no “electronic lip alarms” available, safety begins in the heart out of which the mouth speaks. When I permit worldliness to run free in my heart, it will be soon betray my good intentions. The heart is a battleground, not a playground. Lord, purify my heart and lips. Drive unholy thoughts and ways from my soul by Your Word and Spirit and destroy the enemy at its source.

TEARS

While raising our children we became accustomed to tears; each day offered many. Most of the tearful moments were a result of minor disappointments or injuries, but occasionally there was genuine heartache. While the “wailing show” was more easily dismissed, a silent single tear poised on the cheek of a sorrowful little face was riveting. Everything else stopped while full household attention was given to that one anguished soul. It is the same with God and His children. Lord of All Comfort, one small teardrop of true repentance, one tiny tear of heartbreak, unleashes angels, archangels and the company of heaven to my troubles. You turn my tears of sorrow to tears of joy!

EARLY MORNING BRIEFING

The human mind is governed by earthly needs, desires and fears, and is hostile to trusting in the unseen. The concept of a Sovereign, Caring and Attentive Shepherd of our souls is appealing, but our minds must be trained to live under a new order of life, giving first place to the Lordship and Authority of God. Understanding the true situation is a critical first step: He is Lord; I am NOT. Each day must begin with an early morning briefing with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Lord of All, I submit this day to Your plans and cast my concerns before You. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. It is well with my soul.

DIVINE DOWNLOADS

Constant updates are required for the operating systems and applications we all use. Between my phone, computer and other devices, there are multiple downloads each day. This is really nothing new; my whole being requires daily adjustments and updates as well. I must be sorted through, spirit, soul and body until every part is pure and wholly consecrated to God. Yesterday’s surrender is insufficient for this new day, so here we go again. Precious Lord, I am thankful for Your constant work in me so that You may work more effectively through me. Divine Downloads are my urgent need and daily desire.

KINGDOM COMRADES

I deeply appreciate the depths of alliance and devotion that is formed while under fire. Relationships forged in the furnace of much affliction gain an inner strength like tempered metal. Surface disputes remain, but inwardly, a code is formed and covenant is knitted deeply into the heart. I never served in the military but I feel more in common with those who climbed Normandy’s Cliffs that than with those who only accept convenient truths and shallow devotion. Lord, grant me a warrior’s heart. Free me from temporal entanglements and bind my heart to Kingdom comrades.

FORWARD IN FAITH

As it was for Abraham, so it is for us; every step of obedient faith holds the promise of inheritance. Looking behind me adds nothing to my future, but stepping forward with my eyes on the horizon means additional promised territory.  Will I delay in unholy dependence upon my known resources or will I hear and obey? I choose the latter, renouncing the freezing effect of fear and embracing what is ahead. Stepping forward in yielded obedience is the only path to acquisition of God’s promises. O Lord my Rock, strengthen my resolve with Your divine touch. Open my eyes to the previously unseen. Guide my feet to Your chosen path.

IDEAS

Ideas come from somewhere; some are harmless, some inspired, and still others, toxic. The mind is surely our most constant battlefield. Imagination can take us to the far reaches of the universe or plunge us into the depths of squalor. For our mind to reach its God-given potential it must be managed and protected. Scripture declares: “I will put My Law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.” Only a mind that seeks God’s truth will be guarded by it. Lord, guide my mind and heart. Corral my wanderings and teach me to recognize the difference between good ideas that emanate from You and bad ideas that come from other sources. Lead me in the way of truth, life, love and purpose.

UNENDING SUPPLY

God must be honored in all we do. Honor is not merely acknowledging Him; it is offering Him our first, our best and our all. The heart that recognizes the authority, wisdom, power and goodness of “The Great I AM” will have no trouble trusting Him through both storms and temptations. We waste our efforts storing up earthly things only to see them slip away on the tides of life; but he who learns to store God’s Word in his heart will never lack. Though times of leanness come, a storehouse of Truth nestled in the soul is a continuous wellspring of life and provides what we need for every occasion. Glorious El Shaddai, to breathe Your Name expunges my soul of all fear and releases unrelenting hope and assurance! To ponder and speak Your Word is an unending supply of manna in the desert places.

INTENTIONAL LIVING

Life must be lived intentionally. A lazy drift down the river of life may seem appealing, but the wise choose a straight path. If I had put forth as much effort into choosing the right things as I have making excuses, I would be much farther along. Yet, on this new day I can make another run at obedience to God’s will and ways; the sun will soon rise and wisdom, purpose and passion for God’s Kingdom is already is calling out. Blessed is the person who listens. Yes, Lord, I hear Your whisperings. Guide my choices and keep me from drifting out of my lane. Your instruction is more precious than rubies, nothing in this world can compare.

LOVE LIFTS

“Love Lifted Me”; the simple title of an old hymn with a life-altering message. Whether being given or received, love lifts. Like a tidal rise in a harbor filled with boats, love lifts all within its reach. Love lifts. What a powerful force love truly is! By receiving and giving God’s Tender Love I can change my daily experience, even when I have limited power to change my circumstances. Love lifts. A deeper understanding of His Divine Affection opens the floodgates and empowers us to pour it out to others, even to the seemingly unlovable. Love lifts. Lord of Love, use me today as a downspout of Your amazing love. Help me offer it without limitation. I already feel the lift.

THE PERFECT STAGE

“When I am weak, He is strong.” These quizzical words from the apostle Paul contain one of the most powerful principles revealed in scripture; our inadequacies do not disqualify us from God using us. Though the kingdom of darkness would have us believe otherwise, our weaknesses, when earnestly surrendered to the Almighty, are the perfect stage on which God may reveal His mercy, wisdom and glory! When we are forced out of our own abilities is often the divinely chosen moment when the LORD manifests Himself in ways we never imagined possible. Lord God, I begin this day in such a moment. I lay my deficiencies at your feet. By Your mercy and grace, help me walk on water.

AUTHORIZED INTERRUPTION

Another day is at hand. Family, work, sick friends, urgent needs, the future, world news, weather, past mistakes, dirty car; my mind is already racing. The human soul can be more crowded than the Los Angeles freeway. King David found it necessary to command his own soul to “Bless the Lord.” Seeking God first thing in the morning and listening to His voice throughout the day lifts the anxiety of constant pressures and sets my heart on the right path. Father, infiltrate every thought that passes through my mind today. LORD, I am Your child and servant, You are the authorized interruption in every moment. May Your Presence percolate through me without restriction.

CAUSE AND EFFECT

From birth, we begin learning about cause and effect. A smile offered to an adoring mother returns another with snuggles, kisses and squeals. We learn if we do a chore we will receive a reward. Educators teach us the theories of causation in science, psychology, physics and other fields. Pastors emphasize the biblical principle of sowing and reaping. What surprises me is that after all this effort to understand, it is dumbfounding how easy it is to fail to connect the dots. The ability of the human physique to disassociate one thing from another is stunning, especially if we really want something. LORD God, help me open my heart to Your instruction. Grant me daily wisdom that my thoughts, words and deeds would please you.

GREENHOUSE EFFECT

Approaching the outskirts of Moscow in winter is a long train ride through a bitterly cold panorama of barren trees and snow-covered fields. It seems impossible that life can exist in these conditions. On one such trip I was invited to a simple greenhouse behind a friends home. There, in the dead of winter were summer green plants…life-giving vegetables growing strong while surrounded by a frozen landscape. Worship and praise has a greenhouse effect in our souls, providing conditions for life in the midst of a spiritually barren environment. Lord of Life, I will praise You at all times! Faith springs alive in my heart, warmed by Your Glorious Presence and Resplendent Light.

GRACE

One of God’s biblical monikers is “God of All Grace”. Even a cursory study of Scripture unfolds a vision of grace that extends far beyond grace for salvation alone. He that spins the worlds on His fingers has sufficient grace apportioned for every person and every moment. Yesterday’s grace will not do for today, tomorrow’s grace cannot be coerced into early arrival. Like diurnally apportioned manna in the desert, grace comes for each day, each instant and each need. Gracious Lord, help me to accept and walk in Your provision of grace today and walk forward in humble expectation of Your apportioned grace for tomorrow. I trust Your perfect distribution of the grace needed.

RISING WINDS

The heavy veil of darkness will soon be driven away as daybreak unfurls. As a sail catching the wind, my soul now fills with the rising winds of a new day. I am prepared to weigh anchor and head to my designated course, but only under full direction of my Supreme Commander. I dare not choose my own ways over His, my failures at self-navigation are far too many. No, I choose to serve at the will and beckon call of my Creator, Sustainer and Guide. Lord God, King of the Universe, I commit all my ways to you today for You are wise beyond all wisdom, merciful without prejudice, generous in all things and perfect in all Your ways.

REFLECTIONS OF GOD'S GLORY

Having traveled and worked in many nations has forced me to face hidden prejudices, misunderstandings and fears within my own heart, while affording the opportunity to appreciate and learn from different cultures and languages. Our uniquenesses offer opportunities to learn more of the greatness of God since something of His nature is imprinted upon the human soul of every person in every place. Like light upon the facets of a finely cut diamond, reflections of God’s Glory shine through, even in the darkest places. Lord, in my prayers and in my travels, use my journeys to lead me to Your wonder and glory. Use me to be Your Face to those I encounter.

THE FAITH WALK

When I am absolutely sure of it, I delight to do God’s will. The challenge I often face is discerning precisely what, how and when I am to do it. While biblical declarations and the promptings of the Holy Spirit are unfailing instructors, their precise guidance is often shrouded in a host of other influences such as my own feelings, pressing circumstances and the opinions of others. Herein lies the test of trust. Like Abram seeking the Promised Land, we are at times sent forth with little but instructions for the next step; the faith walk is no more than a series of obedient steps. Lord, in your goodness, You lead us as our Father, our hand safely and firmly in Yours. In Your mercy, guide my steps this day.

THROUGH HIGHS AND LOWS

The view from the top is breathtaking, exhilarating, fresh and majestic; things that are a long distance away come into view. The lowlands? Earthy, organic,unremarkable, commonplace; where life actually happens. I am enamored with the mountaintop, but crops grow best on the valley floor. When I consider my earthbound station and day-to-day duties, dwelling in the valley lacks the glamour of high places, but in its soil is true life. Lord God in the Highest, teach me faithfulness in the midst of the mundane. Thank You for the transfiguring moments of the heights that You bestow. In either case, through highs and lows, You are Good and I am at peace with Your provision.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“I can handle this!” These are “famous last words”, often spoken just before befalling an impending catastrophe; either forced by circumstances or self-imposed. Confidence is great if rightly placed, but hubris is the beginning of many sorrows. To run from fears leaves us in a state of relentless anxiety. To bulldoze through fears in unwarranted self-confidence can destroy us. There is a better way; to run to God with our fears is to face them and destroy them. Glorious Lord of All, while I myself can do nothing without Your mercy, power and grace, in Your strength I can run through a troop and leap over walls. I can do all things while nestled safely in Your Promises and Authority.

HOLIER-THAN-THOU

The heart that understands the unmerited grace God offers will not fall victim to a superiority complex toward others. If we are still under the delusion that we are blessed because of our moral rectitude or exceptional knowledge, then prideful judgmentalism is assured. Religious arrogance paralyzes spiritual progress and sets us up for a fall. I like to think I left all sanctimonious tendencies far behind, but they still pop up like burnt toast. Lord, have mercy on my earthly ways and make me more like You. May my pursuit of piety never produce a holier-than-thou response to others.

SEAMLESSNESS

What makes the world’s high-end luxury cars so special? The difference between an average automobile and the world’s finest is determined by the details. The near perfection of the seams on the doors, instrument panels, seat stitching and other interior parts combine to make the experience dazzling. While I have no particular interest in possessing such a car, I most definitely want my life to reflect the same quality of craftsmanship. There should be absolutely no separation between what I believe, what I say and what I do; in other words, seamlessness. Only the Perfect One can accomplish this. O Lord My Maker, I place my many imperfections into Your perfecting hands. I am confident and thankful You will finish the work You have begun.

STORMY BLESSINGS

Having lived the bulk of my life on the coast of Florida, I am well acquainted with huge storms. Strangely, while they can be disastrous, they offer unexpected gifts. Dangerously weak trees are often ignored until naturally culled by powerful winds. Devastating droughts can be cured by a single tropical storm. In the midst of a terrible tempest, total strangers come together with kindness, compassion, bravery and generosity. No one in his right mind wishes for a hurricane, but we must remember, God can turn tragedy into triumph, pain into progress and curses into blessings. Redeemer of Our Souls, You transform our darkest night into resplendent light! You are truly Lord of All! I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.

THE INCONVENIENCE OF FAITH

It seems that there is no limit to our passion for greater convenience. A society that so highly esteems non-stop personal accommodation produces a deep aversion to sacrifice. People of faith are uniquely harmed by this obsession with immediate gratification since convenience is the enemy of obedience. The very nature of faith requires acting upon the unseen regardless of the circumstances and waiting steadfastly for God’s timing and methods. Simply stated, faith is inconvenient. Lord of Promise, cut me loose from the earthly contrivance. Bridle my impatient impulses and careless disregard of Your chosen ways and means. Teach me to passionately live the faith walk.

THE TRIUMPH OF THE VANQUISHED

We each face battles that are not of our own choosing. Some are arbitrarily forced upon us by life’s circumstances. Others come as a result of our own bad decisions. Many battles fall into the category of spiritual warfare while some are chosen for us by our heavenly Commander in Chief. However, though the sources of our battles are many, there is but one way to fight; we must embrace God’s promise: “The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Here we learn that peaceful trust in God alone must be the banner under which we march. Holy Father, my unruliness and fears are defeated by Your love, therefore I victoriously forge ahead in the triumph of the vanquished!

WHEN ASSURANCE EXCEEDS IGNORANCE

There is no trepidation in not knowing what is ahead if you can count on someone trustworthy who does. Indescribable rest is released when assurance exceeds ignorance. The unknown paralyzes, but knowing the All-Knowing One mobilizes. Like a small child being led across a busy road by his father, the firm grip of God pulls me along with little concern of harm. I am in good hands being taken where He leads, so I will therefore move forward in confidence and peace. O Lord Most High, You are my trustworthy guide. Lead me wherever You will. I do not fear Your guidance or Your perfect and perfecting plans.

DIVINE PURGING

As I have grown older I have become increasingly aware of how little actual control I have over surrounding circumstances. While a little unnerving, this is actually good; 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. So instead I bow my knee to the Master of the Universe. He made me, keeps me and owns me forever. Glorious Lord, I am at peace with surrender to Your absolute control. Grant me divine purging today that I may more easily yield to Your primacy. You have purchased my life with the highest price and I am Yours alone, now and always.