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Showing posts from December, 2016

DUMPING HAPPINESS

Since human happiness is rooted in earthly circumstances, it is temporal; It comes and goes with ebbs and flows like tidal waters. Over a lifetime we learn to anticipate its departure soon after its arrival since we know that circumstances never stay the same. The Joy of the Lord is very different however. Unlike circumstantial happiness, the Joy of God sticks and grows since it is rooted in the Eternal One. Joy is not frivolous giddiness; instead, it brings deep gladness, exquisite texture and is loaded with extras. Lord, I'm dumping human happiness. I love Your joy, no cheap substitute will suffice. You are my Joy and Crown.

GOOD JUDGEMENT

Discretion is a precious gift from God. If I ignore its protection I suffer the consequences. Just because I can say or do something doesn’t mean I should. The lack of discretion in modern culture harms us all. Time spent with thoughtful people increases my tendency to make responsible decisions and guards me from inappropriate recklessness. Good judgment does not lock us away from the world around us, but empowers us to walk safely in every circumstance. Giver of All Wisdom, grant me foresight and good sense today. Guard my mouth and actions by Your Spirit and Word.

TRUTH HURTS

No one likes to be singled out for their viewpoints, and we are biblically commanded: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”. However, the fact is, taking biblical stances is confrontational. No matter how you cut it, truth is inconvenient and adversarial, even when delivered in earnest love. We should not be intentionally insensitive or unnecessarily harsh, but frankly, truth hurts. That’s right; truth hurts, then heals and delivers us from the things that destroy us. Lord of Truth and Light, though it may sting, send Your Word to every corner of my heart. Cleanse me of every falsehood and deception. Make me a vessel of light to others.

SEASIDE DELIGHT

Most of my life I have lived near an ocean. Perhaps the fascination and magnetic hold it has is its similarity to its Designer and Creator. The sea offers unlimited bounty, yet its rewards remain mostly unseen until they surface. There is mystery and beauty, great power and peaceful bliss. The ocean cannot be controlled, nor defied, but it will carry those who enter it to unimagined new places. Great and Mighty God, Giver of Life, I thank You for revealing something of Yourself in the things You’ve created. I stand in awe of Your power and majesty, and am eternally thankful for Your bounty and blessings.

A FORCED MARCH

There are times when I feel like I am a soldier on a forced march through barren desert. While most trials are shared with many others, sometimes our journey can feel like a private purgatory. God’s desire for me to be more like Him requires that I pass this way. Biblical prophets passed through the desert, the Hebrews marched the sands of the Sinai, even the Savior was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness”. A protracted, severe trial is a pristine environment for faith and faithfulness to develop. Lord, I am willing to walk this way when You desire it. Strengthen me that I may walk the distance. Provoke me to remember others as they too pass this way. In Your mercy, make greater faith and faithfulness my reward.

TRAVERSING FOGGY BOTTOM

Fog can change a trip through otherwise familiar territory into a netherworld of trepidation. While engulfed in a ground cloud we must strain to see details that could easily be seen in normal conditions. Foggy surroundings force us to focus our attention away from what we would LIKE to see to what we NEED to see. In those moments, less important things fade into the background but urgent needs are amplified. There is a life lesson here; we must be laser-focused on what really matters. Holy Spirit, help me today to focus more carefully on what You want me to see each moment. Cause the non-essentials whirling by to drift into the background. Open my eyes LORD.

WORDS OF LIFE

The words we speak cause life to spring forth or inflict painful withering. As Scripture declares: “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. We cannot walk back careless words once they are spoken, nor can we reconstruct the timely moments we miss. Therefore, our tongue must be bridled, trained and guided by God’s Word and Spirit. As did the angels in their yuletide announcement long ago, our words should bring good tidings of great joy to all. O Lord My Master and Teacher, make my mouth an instrument of Your Love. Atune my heart, and the words that proceed from it, with the Word of Life.

NEVER ALONE

My earthly excursion must be trod on mountaintops and through deep valleys alike; each day brings gains and losses. My goal is to please God, yet it is difficult to take hold of eternal things while constantly immersed in the temporal.  Unruly sin and lingering regret accompany my pilgrimage, but mercy and forgiveness deliver me daily. His Word and Spirit trounce the ravages of carnal intrusions, His Goodness transforming “all things”, even the worst of circumstances, for “our good”. Glory to You Lord! You walk within us, before us, behind us, beneath us, above us and around us. We never, ever walk alone.

A GOOD WORD

No matter how things look on the outside, there is always more going on than meets the eye. Anytime you around others you can be sure, someone needs affirmation or encouragement. I try to stay on the hunt for those who may need a good word. What I have discovered is that speaking encouraging words is a skill that grows in effectiveness with practice. Frankly, I too am lifted by lifting others, but it cannot be rightly done with a selfish motive. Sometimes, I feel the breath of God in those privileged moments when His love is reaching out to someone’s secret pain or need through me. Oh Lord, Lover of Souls, use me today to speak a good word to someone’s heart.

THE SEARCH

Little children are curious and busy, always trying to figure out how things work. As we grow older we continue this search, attempting to investigate and comprehend the mysteries of life and death, our divine purpose and to understand God Himself. However, though we constantly try, the unfathomable majesty of God cannot be measured or understood by human senses alone. He, whose greatness extends beyond the heavens on high and the depths below, must be pursued by faith and revealed In His times and ways. Father, awaken authentic, childlike faith within me. May my journey toward enlightenment be free of the shadows of self-reliance and always guided by Your Word and Spirit.

A STRONG FINISH

A cemetery is not only a place of honoring those who have passed; sadly, it is also a depository of unspent potential. The apostle Paul predetermined he would not leave anything unfinished when he departed this life. I was with my spiritual father, Costa Deir just before his earthly race was completed. Though dying, he was still writing, preaching, counseling, praying and mentoring, all from his in-home hospital bed. I was enlightened in his death as I had been in his life. Eternal Father, help me finish strong, leaving no potential unspent. Lord, may advancing Your Kingdom consume my last reserves.

DANGEROUS DISRESPECT

“God so loved the world”; such powerful words that openly reveal our Heavenly Father’s motivations toward mankind. That God cares for people at all is baffling considering how depraved we are without His moment-by-moment work within us. Yet, those He created in His image hold His heart and constant attention. Disrespect for others is an ominous sign of disrespect for the Creator Himself. Frankly, I struggle to accept God’s unconditional love for me, must less offer it to someone else. But in fact, I cannot claim to be His child while harboring hatred or disregard for those He loves. Father, Lover of My Soul, pour Your pure love through me to others, especially those I disdain. Forgive my reckless gall.

PRECIOUS MOMENTS

Time is precious. Once past, a moment of time can never be relived, nor can a future moment be coaxed into the present. But the fixed state of time is no barrier for the LORD Almighty; the Alpha and Omega has equal access to every moment, past, present and future. This means His redemptive work on Calvary has no bounds. At the same instant the LORD repairs my past failures, He is at work cleaning up their lingering effects on today and every day ahead. His Power knows no bounds, His Love no limits and His Presence no confinement. Glory to God in the Highest and indescribable shalom to His children! SELAH!

I CAN!

The deepest darkness of night cannot hold back the morning light, nor can even the most difficult circumstances restrain hope. I am not referring to the garden-variety of hope wishful thinking produces; I am talking about hope that is firmly rooted in God’s Promises. The Word of God is an inexhaustible fountain of faith, hope and love from which I may freely drink at all times. A life built upon Scripture comes fully loaded. The very thought of the transcendent “I AM” dispels my fears and grants instant, unmitigated assurance. Lord God Almighty, You are the great “I AM”, and in that faith-releasing declaration my heart knows “I CAN” do all things through Your strength.

UNWASHED HANDS

As surely as eating with unwashed hands can lead to sickness, over-exposure to irreverential ungodliness leaves us susceptible to infection within our soul. Unfiltered pursuits and constant self-indulgence belong to the perishing, but wisdom and discernment are provided by knowledge only intentional godliness can provide. These powerful gifts furnish us with protection from both external and internal corruption. Like guardrails along a cliffside highway, the disciplines of servanthood and faithfulness create a barrier against meandering into spiritual danger and falling away. O Lord My Protector, grant Your Wisdom this day. Guard my heart and actions with Your Word and Spirit. Make me a constant source of life to others.

GRUDGE FREE

I am thankful that God does not hold grudges against His children. While I have rightfully felt His displeasure at my failures, one true tear of repentance opens the floodgate of His forgiveness. As the psalmist declares: “His anger lasts but a moment, but His favor endures for a lifetime; sorrow may fill the night but overwhelming joy comes at daybreak.” Since my Redeemer so freely washes away my constant failings, who am I to hold hatred toward those who have harmed me? Father, though I fall short of Your greatness, Your favor remains. Cleanse my soul of all acrimony toward others and teach me Your ways of grudge-free love.

RELIABLE FORCASTS

Where I live a winter rain almost always announces a change in temperature as cold fronts push down from the north and warm fronts push up from the south. But without the forecasts of highly experienced specialists with sophisticated equipment, the coming changes are difficult to accurately predict. The same is true of spiritual progress. I am dependent upon the reliability and accuracy of the Spirit and Word of God along with the sage wisdom of those who have trod holy ground before me. With time and practice, I too, can reliably see into the unseen. Dearest Alpha and Omega, Thank You for Your Holy Instruments and the testimony and imparted wisdom of those who have gone before us. May our fruitfulness be worthy of their sacrifices.

KIDS R US

I am continually amazed at how little I actually know about God. Each new discovery opens another universe of more to know. Children seem to have the advantage in divine discovery since they are not encumbered with a need to know how it all works. Interestingly, as I grow older I seem to be reverting back to a childlike approach. It is reassuring to realize that this whole process of spiritual growth is in God’s hands and not my own. He initiates the divine spark in us and guides the process of learning; His Word and Spirit navigating us through inexplicable mystery. Father, You have brought me thus far, I hunger for more. Teach me Your ways and help me be faithful to teach others.

TODAY

A new day is dawning. Will I turn the page or will I try to rehash the disappointments of yesterday or its predecessors? The challenges and opportunities of today now await me; there is little value in dreaming about what could have been. This new day is another undeserved gift from the Ancient of Days and I must seize it with renewed gusto. I do not want to disregard its value by dwelling on the past nor waste time in anxiety about the future. Thank You My Creator and Redeemer for today. You made it, You rule it, now I will rejoice and be glad in it. My heart is attuned to Your Voice. Today.

THE FINISH

There are those who are convinced they have run their course just before the final leg. A good start and a strong race doesn’t matter in the end, it is only the finish that truly matters. The Apostle Paul’s words ring as powerful today as they did two millennia ago: “I fought a good fight, I kept the faith!” Keeping the faith in spite of what appears as certain defeat is the pathway to the supernatural. Good finishers are overcomers. Lord Above, You open the windows of heaven to those who do not quit. My passionate aim is to fight the good fight and finish the race till at last I fall into Your Arms.

A PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

Each time I think I understand God’s ways and means He turns the diamond; new facets of His splendor emerge and my perspective is advanced. For the true believer there is no settling down where we are in this life, every pilgrim must progress. Not only am I satisfied in this constantly changing status, I am genuinely thankful for it. I am being pulled toward eternal purpose that I cannot fathom but instinctively know awaits me. Lord, though I struggle in Your arms, You never let me go. Keep me moving toward Your perfect will. Help me never miss a turn or stop unnecessarily. Keep me progressing toward Your perfect will.

SURROUNDED

I awake today just steps from the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. On my mind this morning is my first ascent into the Holy City many years ago. It surprised me how she is spread over deep valleys and poised atop peaks and ridges. Then I remembered the biblical declaration: “as surely as the mountains surround Jerusalem, the LORD surrounds His people”. Though the proud and deceived wish to divide her, control her or destroy her, she will forever be held in God’s hands. Lord God Almighty, Lover of My Soul, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the safety of its inhabitants as they traverse its hallowed streets. I pray that Your people everywhere in every corner of the earth will know and trust Your promises and surrounding love.

BEING FOLLOWED

Working in Russia in the early 90’s made being followed a normal part of life. I am still being followed; Goodness and Mercy will follow after me until every last strand of resistance to God’s ways will succumb to their advance. The Goodness and Mercy of God require no preconditions. By the time we need mercy, nothing more can be done to deserve it, but that is why only mercy will do. We who know little of unconditional love, struggle with the very idea that God offers such goodness without stipulations. Most Merciful and Gracious God, You bear no grudges and offer the way of life to the undeserving, do Your holy work in me today.

OPEN CHANNEL

I truly treasure the times when I can sense God’s love flowing freely through me to others. In those divinely chosen occasions, I realize something unearthly, something heavenly is happening. His love should always flow through me unencumbered, but sadly, perpetual self-awareness and pressings needs regularly restrict its unobstructed passage. But in those occasions when the channel is open wide, His Divine Passion passes through unobstructed and I myself am more exhilarated and deeply fulfilled than at any other time. Lord, forgive me for monopolizing Your love by my neediness. Help me be a constantly open channel.

THE FOG OF WAR

The battlefield presents constant dangers that accelerate disorientation and fear in its participants, clouding their judgment. This confusing uncertainty is known as the “fog of war”. The complexity of life can make a home, neighborhood, school, office or even a house of worship seem like a combat zone. When cherished places become battlegrounds the fog of war can cause allies to attack one another. These moments require calm confidence and good communications. Trust gained with others in the good times can protect us through life’s skirmishes. Father, help me recognize that You are my Commander in Chief and Your people are not the enemy. Keep me rightly focused in battle.

LOVE STUDY

Love requires deep analysis; seeking to understand is a hallmark of love. A mother loves her child for many reasons, but one powerful source of her love is that she studies her child. Her intense desire to understand this tiny new person in her arms requires more than a mere glance or a passive ear. Real love requires study. If I want to dismiss people I don't understand I can choose ignorance and simply place them in a prejudiced category I have available and leave them there. God never does that. Instead, His Eye is constantly upon us, His ears attuned to our slightest whimper. And as Father of All, He requires that we, as his children, seek to understand the other objects of His love. Lord increase my love for You and for Your children.

COMPELLED

When something is compelling enough, people usually find a way to make it happen. It is embarrassing to admit how often shallow pursuits compel me rather than things of eternal importance. There can be no doubt; misuse of time, talent and treasures hinders spiritual progress. As I age I am increasingly conscious of how quickly life slips by. While rest, relaxation and entertainment are not evil, I do not want to stand before God in heaven having squandered the opportunities He graciously offers me now. Lord of All, You are perfectly balanced in all that You do. Help me to properly steward all opportunities and resources You have provided according to Your will and pleasure.

WORLD CHANGERS

Most people would like to make an impact on the world around them, but it seems so overwhelming a task. Is it really? An avalanche begins with the movement of one single object. You may be the ignition point of something amazing. Inspired ideas launched by passionate commitment and steady advance changes the trajectory of things. I have had the privilege of being around quite a few world changers over a lifetime. Some are natural rock stars, but frankly, most are amazingly ordinary; it is their stubborn relentlessness to make something special happen that is the difference. Lord, in Your Mercy move my heart that I may be used to move others.

REST WHILE RUNNING

Spiritual laziness is a constant nemesis. It is easy to be tricked into thinking that Christian activity is spiritual fervor. David had been a successful king for quite a while when “at the time of battle” he was in the palace instead of where he belonged. His moral fall with Bathsheba happened when he was enjoying the fruit of his efforts while ignoring his responsibility to remain at the battlefront. Each of us needs rest, but more importantly, we must learn to rest while we run. We must disengage from our own efforts but never from our daily obedience and obligations to our calling. Oh Lord my Keeper, deliver me from worldly contentment. In all my ways pull me toward You.