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Showing posts from March, 2017

TUMBLING WALLS

It is said “love is blind,” but it is contempt that truly blinds. Those given over to hatred and offense will believe anything that reinforces their ire, regardless of how preposterous the accusations may be. Like the walls of Jericho, a stronghold of deep-seated animosity fueled by bitterness is practically impenetrable. The solution for each of us is the same as it was for the biblical city; a combination of human obedience and divine intervention made the difference. Glorious Lord and King, tumble down every wall of contempt in my heart. Sound the trumpet of Zion that I may march forward in victory.

TREKKING THROUGH THE DESERT

Flying over the Sahara Desert, the world’s largest at 3.3 million square miles is an amazing and daunting sight. It seems to go on forever, but every desert has its boundaries. Though while trudging though one it may feel like they are limitless, wastelands do not go on endlessly. The lesson here is simple, never give up through a long desert trek. As when He provided water and manna, shade and light to the Hebrews in the wilderness, God’s love and provision are limitless, carrying us through even the most extensive wasteland. Lord, Your goodness and mercies accompany my journey and green horizons await me. I will not despair for You are always with me. Your Presence is my daily oasis.

VERY PRESENT

I get rattled, but rarely shaken. In the midst of raging storms, His grace and mercy is poured out and my reaction turns to recovery as I recall the words of the psalmist: “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Not just present…He is “VERY PRESENT”! Not just near to the brokenhearted, He is very present. When trapped in a maze of confusion the LORD is very present with unfettered wisdom. When at the point of collapse, the LORD is very present with unlimited strength. The LORD is never only present, He is VERY PRESENT! Ever Present LORD, take my life and let it be for Your glory. Leave nothing untouched. Leave nothing unchanged. Leave nothing unfinished.

THE CURTAIN RISES

Nightfall is like a stage curtain’s drop after Act One of a Broadway show. Since what has just finished sets up what is next, the audience must give thought to, but not dwell too much on the last scene. Attention must now be given to what is unfolding just ahead. Soon, the curtain rises. I usually let each day begin fresh, but already I realize that I am still dwelling on some of yesterday's concerns. This will not do. Anxiety about the past or the future can obstruct necessary moves forward and neutralize God's daily whisperings. With daybreak, the curtain now rises on what is ahead. Blessed Father, I must hear from You today. Forgive my moments of worry as I now cast my cares upon You. I will listen carefully for your directions. This is the day You have made, therefore I rejoice in its arrival.

KEEPING IT REAL

As a child I spent much of my time pretending, creating elaborately detailed scenarios in my mind where I was the central character to everything that was happening. While these imagined adventures are fine for children, as adults, pretending we are superheroes does us no good at all. Maturity requires humility; an overstated opinion of one’s importance is not only foolish, it is dangerous. Blessed Father, help me keep it real. Thank You for the honest mirror Scripture provides. Though I can do all things through Your strength, I can do nothing of eternal value absent Your constant guidance, nourishment and remedy.

GOD'S FACE AND HAND

In everyone’s life story there are defining moments when someone impacts your life with a listening ear, an act of kindness or generosity, an offered prayer, a word of encouragement or needed guidance. How many opportunities to be the face and hand of God to someone do I squander? Divinely appointed moments rarely occur in our spare time, but unfortunately, I often rush past these opportunities to do something seemingly necessary. This is the daily test, to allow God to determine what is truly important in each instance. Almighty Lord, You never rush by a need. You never brush off my silent pain. Please forgive my audacity and help me turn aside to do Your bidding. By Your grace, may I never miss a thing.

EXPAND, CONTRACT, EXPAND

When questioned about his diminishing role, John the Forerunner declared: “I must decrease, He must increase”. Combined with the words of King David: “You shall enlarge my heart” we discover a spiritual principle; every day requires additional constraint and fresh release. As a jellyfish moves through the water, expanding and contracting, so we move through life. This process is disconcerting to the uninformed, but to the spiritually awakened, this routine becomes a welcomed process since it is a sign of forward progress. Unwillingness to accept necessary shrinkage or fear of expansion leaves us to simply drift along with the surrounding current, eventually casting us onto the dry shore. Lord I love Your ways and praise You that You do not leave me trapped in stagnation. Open, close, I’m good with that.

HEART THEFT

Nothing or no one can steal my heart without my permission. We are warned to “guard” our heart, because there are many things that will attempt to control it. The safest way to address this is to treasure what God treasures, starting with an eternal view of life rather than a temporary one. Since money is so central to our lives on earth, our attitude toward it, the way we get it, spend it, save it or give it reveals who owns our heart. My attitude toward how I dole out my time, talent and treasures is the best indicator of the intentions of my heart. Eternal God and Father, teach me Your thoughts and Your ways. Lay bare every wrong desire within me and strengthen my resolve to be more like You.

GREATER STILL

The troubles of this life can pile up quickly, temporarily blocking my view of the greatness of God. Yet, just one speck of tearful surrender to the LORD Almighty sends towering troubles tumbling down, for no matter the fierceness of invading darkness, the LORD Our Light is GREATER STILL! Though armies of hatred surround us from the heights, the weakest cry to the heavens scatters our foes to the four winds, for The LORD Our High Tower is GREATER STILL!! Whatever may come, whatever its power, the LORD Our Victor is GREATER STILL!!! My Lord and King, mere moments contemplating Your Greatness lifts me above the fray. Now I face this new day with renewed strength for the battle. In Your Relentless Mercy, You have again poured out Your love, for you are always and forever, GREATER STILL!!!!

HUNGRY

Hunger is a mystery to me, sometimes I try to be hungry but cannot, other times I am famished and thankful for even the smallest morsel. Spiritual hunger is no less a mystery. Today I awake with inward readiness. Even the smallest thing can inspire me when I’m ready to receive. This day is brimming with everything I need for life and godliness. God has saturated every moment beforehand; what noble things await discovery? LORD of All, this is the day You have made, I am rejoicing in it already. Grant to me good discernment and bold faith. May Your will dominate every desire, Your presence every step. I am hungry.

LOVE WHO?!?

Though I earnestly hold dear the commands of Scripture, I have limited operational capacity for doing good to those who intentionally do me harm. We are biblically charged to “love our enemies”; I am definitely still working on this one. God, on the other hand, openly gives without partiality or contempt, sending rain on both the just and the unjust, even to those who refute His very existence. His example is my only hope for fundamental change. While measurable improvement has been made, this adjustment deep in my soul is still a work in progress. Lord, even, when I turn away from Your divine work that is for my own good, You do not cast me aside in disgust. You pour Your Mercy and Goodness into my heart like a flood and wash away my resistance to Your ways.

LEANING

We each spend countless hours planning for things that never happen. In fact, most of what has actually occurred in my life I never planned for at all.  I am at peace with that, having mostly accepted the fact that God establishes my steps. He is working me into His plan, not the other way around. I will not cease making new plans, but will do my best to hold them loosely, knowing that God is in control and that whatever He does is perfect. Father, I trust Your infinite wisdom. What comfort there is in leaning on Your Everlasting Arms. You work all things for our good and grant us joy divine.

HEART SOFTENER

It is nearly impossible to face truth with a hardened heart. Past pain, prejudices and disappointments pile up and become a barricade against all others, including God. Though walls around the heart are physically invisible, they are easily seen by everyone else. Since we are deceived until truth arrives, it is fairly easy to form a life narrative that seems airtight, but is constructed on a foundation of falsehood. We feel protected by our high walls, but the real enemy is already inside. A fortress of thought must be defeated before truth can openly enter. Father, in Your love tear down all strongholds of deception in me. Most Merciful Lord, flood my soul and make my heart soft, pliable and discerning.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Green rivers and swilling brew? These are but commercialized distractions from one of the greatest apostles of all time. This  Wales-born child was captured and enslaved by the polytheistic and brutal Celts. After escape as a young man, Patrick became a re-born servant of God. Years of faithfulness, study, servanthood, character development, and ordination followed. Then, in missionary zeal he went back to the Irish enslavers to change a nation. This is Patrick. While celebrating what has become a secular holiday, remember the powerful witness of a life well lived. Lord, thank You for those who point the way. Let my life be defined by Your High Calling.

PERILOUS PURSUITS

As a teenager I felt pretty much indestructible, so as an ignorant city boy pumped with pride and adrenalin, I decided to chase a bull. Bad decision. Very quickly, the object of my pursuit became the source of my terror. Thankfully, I made it back to the fence, barely. The words of King David come to mind: “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god”. We must be sober minded when it comes to what we pursue because we may catch it, or worse, it may catch up with us. Lord of All, there is safety and success in Your counsel. Lead me to the fields of Your choosing and deliver me from perilous pursuits.

AN INSTRUCTED LIFE

While I must learn what is right before God, it is not my place to define what obedience is for others; each person must learn to be instructed by Him. It is really not that difficult to learn what is right, the challenge is our willingness to hear and obey. The person who is indifferent to instruction may not realize that a person who heeds rebuke gets wisdom’s empowerment and blessings, but the one who rejects it destroys his own life. God offers His Word, His Spirit and even life itself to grant us instruction. Lord, teach me Your ways. Lead me into Your truth today. Forgive my wanderings and place my feet on the right path.

JARS OF CLAY

A trip to a high-end department store affirms a common truism: the more expensive the packaging, the greater the value of what it contains. However, when it comes to the person in whom God dwells the absolute opposite is true. The Bible describes the knowledge of God’s glory within us as “treasure in jars of clay”. I am often surprised at the packages through whom God works. The lesson here is simple, I dare not miss the treasure because of my reaction to an inferior package, nor should I doubt the value of Christ in me. Father, though I am unworthy of Your indwelling, You are nonetheless present. May the tearing away of my weaknesses reveal Your Glory.

UNHOLY MIXTURE

After a lifetime of the dealings of God there still remains so much more to be fully transformed within me. Even when acting with best intentions an unholy mixture of selfish desires and vain conceit continues to pop up. This is very disappointing but provides daily motivation to continue the process of full surrender. I cannot promote the best interest of others while in hot pursuit of my own. Omnipotent Lord of the Universe, You hold the worlds in Your hand, yet You bend low to bring loving care to Your creation. I know that if I am to love as You do I must do so with the humility and purity You have.

UNINFLUENCEABLE LOVE

Even when we are sincere, human love runs shallow. Firmly lodged boulders of selfishness lie just beneath, regularly protruding through the surface. So how does my love stack up to the great affection of God? He does not HAVE love as if it was passing sniffle, God IS love. Human love is mostly rooted in attraction, feelings and circumstances. God’s wondrous love is His Very Being. It is not conditional. My reactions to Him do not make Him love me less nor love me more. God’s love is uninfluenceable! Holy Redeemer, while not a stranger, I still know so little of Your love. Teach me to love You and others as You do.

ENDURING JOY

Nothing of this world can add value to my soul; only God can make that happen. While emotions may be stirred, even temporarily lifted by new things or experiences, soon the exhilarated feelings drift away and we are left in the same sad condition as before. The person who constantly pursues something to make them happy will never find enduring joy. The strength giving, life lifting, heart filling “Joy of the Lord” may only be found in a vital relationship with our Maker and a realignment of our priorities to His. My Lord and King, You are the Fountain of Eternal Blessing and Your joy is my strength! Take my whole heart, I am Yours.

FONDLY FORCED FORWARD

Even after miraculous deliverance, Israel’s final escape from 400 years of slavery in Egypt was fraught with complications. Angry pursuit to the rear, an opening sea ahead and empty desert beyond, when your back is against the wall the only choice is forward. I get it. Most of my significant progress has been forced. The goodness of God doesn’t always look so good at first glance, but in the end, He works His will in us and through us, often using circumstances we would never choose on our own. Glorious Lord, I praise and exalt you. You formed me for Your will and lovingly press me into it. Your fondness for Your children forces us forward.

SEEDS

The more I take care of something, the more attached to it I become. Meaningfulness and recompense directly correspond to what I have deposited. This is the principle of sowing and reaping. If I seek love I must first scatter seeds of love. Should I desire increased fulfillment I must help someone else find it. Every seed produces after its own kind, so I must first plant the seeds of the harvest I desire. Gracious Lord, You place fruitfulness in every seed and have established seedtime and harvest for our good. Guide me to fertile ground and teach me discipline that I may only sow commendable seeds.

HIGHBORN NOBILITY

I do not have to make a choice between being a blessing to others or being blessed myself. Choosing to refresh and help others opens the windows of heaven to both the receiver and the giver. Selfishness is a sure path to gnawing sadness and loss of purpose. The word “generous” migrated from Latin to Old French to English and means “of noble birth”. In sacrificial generosity of time, talent or treasure we discover highborn nobility. The key to giving is not “what I have” but “Who I am”, since all that I have, even life itself, is a gift from God. Father, You love, You give, You reign; I want to be more like You. Teach me Your ways and grant me increased measure of Your Spirit of generosity.

CARRY ON

Complacency is a trap that we set for our own selves; we give ourselves permission to fail by yielding to its appeal. While there are times to hold fast, in spiritual matters, standing still too long soon becomes backsliding. On the battlefield, disobeying your commanding officer by retreating without orders is a punishable offense, others are counting on you to fulfill your duty. On the other hand, obedient, purposeful living produces a powerful momentum that pushes us through deserts, floods, storms, peaks and valleys. Lord God, You are my King and Commander, help me to “set my face like flint” toward Your will. Quicken my whole being to Your plan. Give me strength to carry on without complaint.

MANDATORY MAINTENANCE

Several doors in my life are creaking; let’s face it, creaks happen. This chorus of squeaks has now moved to crisis level and I can bear it no longer. Lubricant should clear this up easily, however, it does no good whatsoever to have the solution present but not applied. Though easily ignored, maintenance is mandatory. My inner life is no different. I have often allowed spiritual creakiness to become a crisis before taking action. Again, the solution can be present yet remain unapplied. That is very unwise. Father, grant me grace to act. May dryness of soul have no place in me. Thank You for the oil of joy, which bathes and penetrates each part offered to You.

FROM SORROW TO DANCING

The pain of great loss is bitter, but even more so when accompanied by betrayal. Whether in lofty halls of power or the steaming jungles of a rain forest, every human heart is tested by these flaming arrows. It is impossible to construct a barrier against the probability of a broken heart. Though avoidance is impossible, there remains an open pathway out of agony. While others are distanced by our deep sorrows, “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” O Lord Our Helper, You comfort our hearts and drive our grief far away. You reassure us in our pain, wipe away our tears and turn our sorrows into dancing.

REST STOPS & COMFORT ZONES

Rest and comfort seem similar but are actually quite different. Rest prepares me for what is next; comfort settles me into what has been. Everyone needs comfort, but too much of it feeds selfishness and feelings of entitlement, leaving us maladjusted for sacrifice. Rest stops are for those going somewhere but comfort zones easily become dead zones. The flesh defines rest as relaxation; Biblical rest is rooted in inward peace from God, and ceasing from doing things our way instead of God’s way. Father, teach me to enter Your rest and to esteem your Spirit’s comfort above all other comforts.

VIEW FROM THE TOP

Catastrophes have a way of being all consuming; the worse the situation, the more absorbing it is. The beginning point for moving forward in a crisis is to enthrone God in our praise. Praise validates the sovereignty of God in our own soul, arresting fear and releasing faith. Praise provokes us to proclaim His greatness to others. Praising God lifts our hearts to the heights of heaven and as we magnify Him the circumstances of life come into proper perspective. Lord, You are High and Lifted Up and greatly to be praised! From the heavenlies, even the largest mountain is small. I glorify and adore You O Lord, You are my Shepherd and Keeper, my Glory and the Lifter of my head!

ANCHOR POSITION

DIAMONDS ON THE DRIVEWAY

Passing by the front window at daybreak I looked on the driveway and received a wonderful surprise, there were diamonds everywhere; beautiful sparkles were spread across the otherwise dull concrete. Upon further examination, it was dew on small leaves reflecting a combination of moonlight and dawning sunlight. Again, God had transformed the ordinary into something resplendent with beauty. King of Majesty, I stand amazed in Your Presence. As surely as you spread momentary treasures on the ground you spread eternal treasures throughout my life. I am very grateful.