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Showing posts from June, 2017

TIME IS NOT REFUNDABLE

In some ways time is the most valuable commodity of life, since unlike other assets, time is not refundable. As someone who believes that time is granted to us by directly by God Himself, where and how I spend my time are critical elements of stewardship, and as I have grown in maturity, the more I have come to comprehend its actual value. More than all other treasures, time must be reclaimed, rescued and guarded from things that attempt to embezzle it away from our eternal purpose. Only in full surrender may a servant of God steward the gift of time wisely. Eternal LORD, King of the Universe, help me today to redeem the time apportioned me for Your Glory and Purpose and give me accurate discernment for proper stewardship for each and every moment.

THE SIN OF WORRY

I have often fallen into a trap of feeling something was urgent or desperate, when in fact, it never was. I have wasted innumerable hours trying to think my way past problems, only to later discover they had never even existed the way I had perceived them. It is wise to be on our guard, but anxiety drains away life and is in direct contradiction to God’s command: “Do not be anxious about anything.” Instead, we are to let prayer, promises and praise reshape our worries into expectation of God’s intervention. Heavenly Father, today, I will again cast my cares upon You. You are the answer to every question, the provision for every need and though I may warrant Your wrath, Blessed LORD, You never turn away in disgust. I can safely and joyfully proclaim: it is well, it is well with my soul.

CALAMITIES

Calamities happen, but crawling into a cave of self-pity only deepens the problems calamities bring. “Why me?” Why now?” “Why this?” These questions only lead to greater sorrow because “Why?” is the wrong question. The right question is “What?”…“What does the Lord require of me?” As it turns out, the simple children’s prayer of blessing for food opens with keystone principles: “God is Great, God is Good.” Knowing the greatness and goodness of God is vital for significant spiritual progress, especially when things seemingly go wrong. Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I am at rest in Your limitless care.

EMPTY PURSUITS

Watching a dog chase its tail is comical. It makes me wonder, if he actually catches it, will he be happy with his prize or will he regret the pursuit? When people chase after empty pursuits it is not funny at all. We each spend time considering what we want and how we will attain it. Unfortunately, we make little effort to understand WHY we want it in the first place. Too often, after obtaining long-sought goals, our accomplishments leave us exhausted and disappointed. Discerning the WHY before the start of the chase can deliver us from the wrong quests. Lord, help me truthfully discern my desires. Cleanse me of mixed motives and keep me from running headlong down empty trails.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Scripture makes it clear there is a battle occurring between light and darkness in which we are engaged. We are told of unseen enemies, instructed on the weapons of our warfare, called to resist, stand firm, pull down strongholds and charge the gates of hell. The challenge, however, is that spiritual warfare usually does not seem spiritual at all. It disguises itself as “bad luck” or “just having a rough day” or “personality clashes”. Camouflage is a common battlefield tactic, and our spiritual enemies use it handily. We sometimes blame circumstances or people for our troubles when in fact, our fight is much more sinister than what can be seen. Yet we are “more than conquerors” because of God’s Love and Promises. LORD of Hosts, grant me this day good discernment and Your power to overcome.

TRUTH IN LOVE

As light cuts through darkness, so truth cuts through deception. The simple reason we run from truth, hide the truth, bend the truth or even deny the truth is that truth is so powerfully efficient at cutting through all the nonsense. In one instant, truth can roll back years of falsehood. Yet, truth is useless unless delivered in love; like a glove without a hand inserted, truth cannot successfully operate apart from love. Since truth originates and emanates from God it must be embodied in His nature. Heavenly Father, to walk in Your Truth is to walk in Your Love. Help me navigate the complexities of human weaknesses and find that perfect balance only You can supply.

HANDRAILS

Like most people, I have stumbled on stairs plenty of times over a lifetime. I am not sure why it took me so long to recognize the value of handrails. It’s not that I had never been instructed, I just thought they were for others, not me. I still forget sometimes but it only takes the slightest slip to send me reaching for the rail’s stabilizing safety. Actually, my whole life requires equilibrium and boundaries. God, in His Immense Goodness, provides handrails of discipline, work, family, friends, commandments and His ever-present Spirit to keep me safe from my own foolhardy ways. Father of All Mercies, thank You for Your steadfast patience and constant care. Guide my steps and use me to help others make it safely through the ups and downs of this world.

HOLD POSITION

Much of what occurs on the battlefield has little in common with the noble scenes of bravery depicted in war movies. Most of what a soldier faces in real life warfare seems far less heroic, but in fact, is where true heroes are born. The command to “hold position” is usually not an assignment to stand guard at a palace entry, but rather, it is an order to a lay in a hole in the ground, or crouch next to a damaged building or the burned out hulk of a vehicle. Yet, in the big picture, faithfulness to hold that ignoble space is critical to overall victory. So it is in our spiritual assignments. LORD of All, my Commander in Chief, no matter how lowly the place or how long I must hold position, I am here to obey. I delight to do Your will O God.

AN UPWARD GLANCE

A rocky mountainside, a bush on fire, these are seemingly unremarkable things, but on a fateful day on Mount Sinai the ordinary was transfigured into the miraculous. On that run-of-the-mill day God’s manifest presence and spoken promises transformed dirt into sacred ground, a fugitive into a deliverer, a shepherd into a prophet. Moses was simply fulfilling routine duties as a sheepherder when an upward glance on a mountainside radically changed everything for him and for humankind. Soon, he would lead a nation of slaves into the Promised Land. Majestic Lord and Father, nothing is ordinary when it is infused with Your Presence and Power. Pull my eyes and heart toward Your will alone. Help me to turn aside in the midst of the daily grind so I may see Your Glory.

JOYFULLY CLEANING THE BARN

Dust and debris, piles of materials, noisy machinery and scurrying workers may seem confusing to the unseasoned observer, but productivity requires a certain level of disorder and mayhem. A home without children is easily kept neat and clean, but a growing family’s domicile can look like a small twister just passed through. An empty barn produces nothing. A quiet kitchen in perfect order is useless. A neat, barren construction site devoid of noise is pointless. The lesson here is simple; building anything of value is messy. Much of life is spent cleaning up the messes progress requires. Holy Father, thank you for the opportunities to extend Your Kingdom, I do not resent cleaning the barn. The Joy of the Lord is my strength!

THE VOICE

When we encounter barriers to doing what we want, we often attempt to reconfigure truth to fit our human appetites, placing our passing feelings and desires as the highest level of authority. God designed us to live with certain inward and outward restraints. When we consciously abandon the safety of Scriptural values, the protection of the Brotherhood of Believers and Spirit guided accountability, only to choose a path of self-determined constraint, it is a sure path to destruction. To reject truth-molded principles as our inner compass is to align ourselves with the forces of darkness. Lord God, I desperately need the constant voice of my Creator and Commander. Corral me into a life of committed surrender where I may run freely and safely under Your constant discipline and care.

LIMITLESS DOMINION

The murky confusion of the black of night is instantly transfigured by the entry of even the smallest light. Many tremble at the onset of darkness in any form, but evil can be confronted without fear for we are bathed in our Savior and Redeemer’s vanquishing love. Demons flee in the presence of the King of Kings and destitute souls find deliverance, healing and peace. To bow the knee to the Lord of Hosts is to strike a deathblow to the enemies of the God-seeking. Father of Light, limitless dominion belongs to those who know You. You are our Strong Tower, our Refuge, our Provider, our Champion and our Deliverer. Yesterday’s grace and mercy are fully spent, but a fresh batch is prepared for this new day. May Your Resplendent Glory fill me today and always.

THE WAY OF MAN

Scripture warns: “every way of man is right in his own eyes.” The capability of the human heart to get it wrong is stunning. The God-given creativity of thought we are born with must be counterbalanced with the needed restraint of discernment and divine wisdom or our imagination will run dangerously wild. Unsupported assertions and cherry-picked information can be constructed into a seemingly airtight conclusion when truth is not humbly and sincerely sought. Once self-deception sets in it is very difficult to dislodge. Lord of Truth, tear down every stronghold of deception in me and shine the light of truth upon every shadow of darkness. Deliver me from the ways of man and lead me to Your ways by.

BRED FOR THE MOUNTAINTOP

The Rocky Mountain goat resembles a goat, but are actually not goats at all. These sure-footed climbers, often seen running full-speed on steep, icy cliffs are actually in the same subspecies as antelopes and gazelles. They are born for the heights. God’s children also resemble every other human of this world, but we too, were bred for higher ground. While passing interests of the lowlands come and go, something far greater is at work deep inside the God-seeking heart. The Almighty Himself lays a foundation of desires that please Him and draw us to the higher purposes for which He created us. As we align our lives to follow His voice, these inward inclinations dissuade us from wrong choices and guide us upward. The Light of God illuminates our path through the darkness and dangers of this fallen world. Great Shepherd, You have bred Your lambs for the mountaintop; Your Presence liberates Your children’s feet to skip along the heights where others fear to tread.

FOOTPRINTS

As a young boy growing up near the ocean, one of my delights was to walk in other people's footsteps imprinted in the sand. But every person’s stride and pace is understandably different. At some point in life we must each give up the childhood game of attempting to walk in someone else’s footprints. It does me no good to compare my steps with those of others. I must fulfill God’s appointed destiny and trust that His path for me is the very best one. In the final analysis each stride taken in pursuit of His will, no matter the size, is a step forward. Dearest Father, You have promised guided steps for those seeking You and I believe it. May every footstep I take this day lead me deeper into Your will. Lead me to Your highest and best.

SAFE DOCKING

The International Space Station must be supplied regularly. No matter how capable the cadre of aerospace scientists, astronauts and ground control personnel are, the docking is so complex it must be turned over to autopilot. Only by yielding control to the navigation and control computers can they safely land. A conversation with someone who had just recently experienced his initial spiritual surrender transported me back to my own. I still recall that moment with pristine clarity when all my attempts to intellectually manage my heart’s transformation were exhausted. Only heaven’s navigation and control system could take me in. Blessed LORD, You say the word and we are spotless. By Your hand alone may we enter in to Your presence. To You who who reigns over all in awesome power be glory forever and ever.

TASTE AND SEE

Speaking of the “goodness” of God, the psalmist advises: “taste and see”. I have always been a pretty adventuresome eater so it’s perplexing to me when someone refuses to even sample something that most people feel is a delicacy. Even more surprising is seeing someone decline “tasting” the goodness of the LORD. To allow apprehension to rob us of the fullness of God’s love is a travesty. Until information becomes experience it is in essence, useless. Past disappointments or failures can linger a lifetime, stealing away new possibilities, yet mere moments of unfiltered acceptance of God’s goodness can wash them all away and open a new world of faith and eternal purpose. O LORD, my God, how majestic are Your ways! May Your goodness flow to me and through me this day and forever.

FINAL VICTORY ASSURED

I live in a moment-by-moment spiritual battle. I wish I could say it was solely a five-star, gallant fight against dark forces in high places, but frankly, it feels much less noble than that. While it is, in fact, a spiritual battle of the highest importance, mostly my battles are within and fiercely waged against my own self-centeredness, self-indulgence and self-interests. Though I am sincerely God’s servant, and have long ago pledged my allegiance to King of Kings, the enemy’s minions are always insidiously present, lurking within the shadows, targeting my weakness. Shepherd of My Soul, My LORD and Commander, thank You for sending relentless conviction and unending mercy; by Your unlimited grace and constant help, final victory is assured.

THE HAND

The same hand that shapes the heavens is the Mighty Hand and Outstretched Arm I am offered when I stumble along life’s slippery trail. The Hand of God may be invisible to the human eye, but may be clearly seen by the eye of faith. The mighty Arm of the LORD eludes my physical senses, but my heart may feel His warm embrace in the loneliest, most desolate circumstances. The Hand and Outstretched Arm of God tears away the veil of darkness, dispels my fears, displaces my doubts, destroys the works of demons and lifts me from the lowest valleys to higher ground. Blessed are you O LORD MY GOD! I raise my feeble hands in faith and offer praise and thanks, for you are God beyond understanding, generous in all things, perfect in all ways and blessed forever.

CONFLICT

Conflict is a constant and unwelcome companion of the human condition. But there is good news; the turmoil our struggles bring often turns us to God more quickly than we would otherwise. The strife we so despise leads the sincere of heart to self-examination, repentance and revived commitment to change. Self-generated transformation is always too limited in its scope, so conflicts are a necessary part of the process of full surrender. Much of my spiritual progress has been gained by way of struggles, trials, pressures and adversities. Father, You are an exquisite finisher. You take what the enemy of our soul means for bad and turn it to good. I welcome Your holy handiwork by whatever means You choose.

SELFISHNESS

While praying for a friend who was struggling to breathe it dawned on me how much I take air for granted. Truth be known, I take many things for granted. When something I want or need is taken away my first reaction is almost always frustration. I don’t intend to be so selfish but it lurks just underneath and rises to the surface easily when I am denied something I expect to have available. Selfishness is most often quietly hidden from others yet still loiters in the shadows and corrupts my ability to be thankful. Honestly, it is so common to my ways I often cannot see it without help.  Precious Lord, forgive my presumptuous ways. In Your might, tear down every stronghold of selfishness within me. May gratitude flood my soul and be my constant companion.

READY

It is too late to push away this new day; it is here, I must now deal with its arrival. So I will embrace its treasures and troubles alike. However things unfold, it will all work for my good as I am being conformed into the image of Him who created me. Unfathomable love and immeasurable goodness await my arrival. Wisdom is poised at every turn; delightful discoveries and teachable moments spread throughout. I need not fear whatever comes, for everything must ultimately pass through my Heavenly Father’s approval. He will apportion fresh grace and for what I must now face. My Lord and Keeper, I steady myself, prepared by Your Words and guided by Your Holy Unction. I am ready. This will be good.

HEAVEN'S HUMBLE AFFECTION

Blessings come in many forms. Some are huge and obvious, but most come without fanfare and in simple form: a thought, a smile, a taste, a touch. As I reflect on how often God works unannounced, it strikes me how utterly unpretentious He is. The LORD can work on any scale and is worthy of all glory, yet stoops low to quietly craft a constant stream of blessings into our lives. He does not hold back for our lack of acknowledgement, His unrequited love pours forth without restraint. Lord God, Source of All Blessings and Glorious Benefactor, sin has dulled my senses and I am slow to see, but in this moment of reflective contrition I glorify You for Your humble affection.

DEFEATED BROKENNESS

God, who created everything from nothing, is never put off by the size or amount of my needs. Human languages contain words such as unbearable, unapproachable, incomprehensible, inconceivable, invisible, untouchable, unsearchable, unchangeable and the list goes on and on. But words such as these do not exist in God’s celestial vocabulary since He has none of these limitations. By one single breath life came to all mankind, by one word darkness was replaced with light, and by one act of love, redemption was wrought for the whole world for all time. Gracious and Majestic Lord, the more I learn of Your greatness the more my brokenness is defeated. I will praise Your name forever and ever!

NUDGES FROM ABOVE

While it is absolutely true that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, God’s comforting nearly always includes making me uncomfortable. Since complacency is my constant nemesis, His love continually prods me to move forward. Like the lame man at the Well of Bethesda, I sometimes camp out on the edge of hope, but feel incapable of moving when the water is stirred. That is when the Holy Spirit, the “Hound of Heaven” nudges, convicts, prompts and pushes me forward. Herein lies a fundamental spiritual principle: convenience is rarely the path to spiritual growth. Father, thankfully, Your love propels me ahead. I welcome Your holy nudges, even when it is bothersome and interrupts my complacent tendencies. Help me stand to my feet and walk forward in faith.

OPEN

Many things catch my passing interest, but few awaken my soul or provoke me to significant change. But there are wonderful moments when divine promptings, spiritual awakenings and things revealed call from the depths of God’s heart to the depths of my own. These blessed occasions mostly emerge without my intentional provocation, but do require alertness and immediate response. Like an overstuffed suitcase, an over-packed heart leaves little room for anything new. I never know what will move me until something does, so I must continually keep my heart open to the workings of God.Lord, help me stay alert; I do not want to miss Your whisperings. By Your grace I will wait and watch, hear and obey.

HIS HOLY GRASP

Sunset, midnight, daybreak, high noon, the steady Hand of God turns the earth and all its inhabitants through another day. His grip is sturdy, forceful, capable and secure; my life is firmly in His Holy Grasp. As Master Artisan of the universe, nothing is missed; not one prayer goes unheard and not a single cry for mercy ignored as He rotates His object of love in His Blessed Hand. Lord God, Father and Creator, You behold my distracted unreadiness, yet in Your blazing lovingkindness, You do not turn away in disgust. Instead, healing my woundedness, You bring me through every trial and keep me safely in Your Hand.

POWER TO PRAISE

Whether physical or emotional, pain has a unique way of capturing our attention. Life without some level of agony seems impossible in this world, but I must not allow affliction of any sort to have more than momentary notice or it will soon sequester everything around it. God has provided multiple pathways for freedom from prolonged sorrow. Giving, serving, praising, comforting others or any act of selfless love releases abiding gladness and turns our mourning to dancing. Lord, I earnestly believe Your words: “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”. In my most difficult moments I will praise You, for my harvest is on the way. Turn my pain into power to praise You all the more!