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Showing posts from August, 2017

GREED

Emotional attachment to earthly things is an insidious evil. It is perfectly natural to appreciate the wonderful things in this creation, as did God while observing His own work. On the sixth day of creation He joyfully proclaimed: “It is good!” But there was no prideful need the wonder of His work fulfilled. In other words, God has no vacuous craving for security or attention, His love for His creation is pure. This is why greed is so ungodly, so evil. Greed is an emotionally based over-attachment to things that is rooted in fear. It is, in essence, a rejection and renouncement of the LORD, Our Provider. Holy Father, forgive my attempts to substitute Your love and care with material treasures. In Your Name and by Your Power, I renounce idolatry, greed, conceit and selfish ambition. Amen.

HOLY WRIT

The proliferation of bible translations and the availability of online sermons, teachings, podcasts, blogs and other sources do not seem to have made the people of God more Biblically sound. I’m sure many factors contribute to Biblical ignorance, but one of the major contributors is the lack of emphasis on committing Scripture to memory. The Bible commands us to “delight ” in Scripture, “to meditate on it day and night” and to “study to show ourselves approved”. Jesus quoted Scripture from memory to combat the lies of Satan and David hid Scripture “in his heart” that he “might not sin”. LORD of TRUTH, thank you for the power of Holy Writ to cleanse, deliver, heal, strengthen and guide. Awaken my love for Your Word and teach me Your ways.

SOLID ROCK

“On Christ the solid rock I stand”; words from the great hymn are resounding in my heart today. While living in Costa Rica many years ago we experienced a significant earthquake. After the first violent jolts, the aftershocks lasted for weeks. It is deeply unsettling when the earth shifts, and that which has always been stable heaves beneath. These are moments of authentication. When everything is shaken in our lives, in whom will we trust? Lord God, Rock of Ages, You are the only Firm Foundation; no weapon formed against us can prosper. Your Hand of Protection will never loosen its grip.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

The “Information Age” has become the “Age of Confusion”. Misconceptions spread so rapidly that they go unchallenged while new ones continually pile on. In a world jam packed with half-truths, deception, exaggeration and pretense the soul grows weary from the daily stampede. A sound, biblically shaped internal compass, combined with spiritual guidance and trustworthy comrades, help me navigate the constant onrush of illusions and fakery. Father, thank You that while bracing against the stormy gale of information overload, I rest safely in Your hands where truth prevails, love lifts and sinking sand turns to Solid Rock.

WHERE AND WHEN

Our whereabouts are not our choice alone. The Patriarch Abraham recognized the importance of hearing and obeying God’s directive voice. He was called to a faraway place where his inheritance awaited his arrival. While it was entirely unknown to Abraham, God’s footprints were already there, in the land of Canaan. The LORD Almighty chose where Abraham would fulfill his destiny and therefore had made the ground holy before he was sent. Prompt obedience without hesitation meant Abraham ended up WHERE he was supposed to be WHEN he was supposed to be there. Lord, may I never miss Your Voice calling me to a new place of trust and obedience. And may I never delay arrival to Your chosen moments.

DIVINE MANAGEMENT

Emotional excitement often masquerades as spiritual fervor, being dazzled can feel like “being led”. It is a laudable desire to want to strike out for higher ground, but it is not good to have zeal without accurate discernment and wisdom, nor to be overly hasty and miss the right way. Too often we wait until after we have set our course and begun the journey to check the roadmap. The Word and Spirit of God must not be used to support our decisions; they must qualify, inform, guide, cleanse and direct them from the very start. Father, keep me on the path You have chosen. May my heart and mind stay in constant surrender to Your divine management.

UNMASKING THE UNKNOWN

Many years ago we awoke to a swarm of termites in our bedroom. It is very unsettling to discover that something so destructive can be all around yet unseen and undetected. Experiencing the unexpected can feed paranoia and undermine confidence. Like termites in the wall, fear of the unknown can quietly gnaw away our stability. But there is good news; while I can easily be fooled, nothing is unknown to God. There is simply no such thing as abstract knowledge for Him who knows all things. Father, You are the only reliable source for unmasking the unknown. Grant me Your wisdom, increase my discernment, uncover harmful deceptions and let truth and light guide my way.

SELECTIVE INNOCENCE

It is an ugly thing to face, but even the most sincere person of faith at some point or another will distinguish themselves as more innocent than others by comparison. It usually goes something like: “I may sin at times, but I would never do THAT!” How different is this from the biblical parable where the Pharisee and the sinner are praying next to one another? How can we ever pray in such an unfitting manner to the Holy One before whom no earthly being can be justified by his own works? By making comparisons with anyone other than the Perfect One we reveal we have not progressed as far as we have fallen. Merciful LORD, lead me in the way of humility and contrition. Deliver me from limiting Your divine work in me by unholy comparisons to others. I cast myself into the depths of Your limitless grace.

IRON TO STEEL

On a whim I signed up for metal shop in eighth-grade. I learned that iron, a relatively soft metal, is turned into hardened steel by heat, pressure and temperature change. The iron is repeatedly heated red-hot, pounded and pressured, then placed in water to cool it quickly. This tempering process presses the ore’s molecules tightly together. Character is built the same way. No one enjoys the conflicts that forge us, yet it is the heat, pressure, pounding and cooling process that gives our character hardened steel strength. Lord God, I marvel at Your wisdom and power to transform. Make and mold me strong for the battles ahead. Refine my heart and shape my life to do Your will.

UNEARTHED

The construction of highways through mountainous terrain has always intrigued me. Millions of tons of rock must be repositioned to build a roadbed and most of it can only be unearthed with explosives. Ironically, a violent process is necessary to produce a safe and peaceful journey for travelers. It occurs to me that many things in my soul must also be “unearthed” to live a life prepared for heaven. Only the power of God’s Word and Spirit can construct a freeway through the mounds of waywardness, stubbornness and hardheartedness imbedded in the human soul. Father, You offer my heart a thruway of truth and guidance through worldly obstructions, but stubborn barriers must be blasted away. Grant me daily grace for the unearthing process.

NO CRINGING ALLOWED

God wants to love others through me but I sometimes cringe at His choices. Not that I think I am more worthy of His love than others, it is just so difficult at times. However, there is no escape for the heart where God dwells; to experience His love opens our heart to the surge of His love for all. While I mostly enjoy this process, there are moments when I wish to shut off the valve after quenching my own thirst, but He will have none of that nonsense. Restricting the love-flow from His heart to my heart and from my heart to others is a heinous crime. Lord of Love, I get it; no cringing allowed! Forgive me for holding back Your love from others. Make me an open-valve fountain of blessing.

UNFAILING LOVE

Though everything in this world can be shaken, God’s unfailing love never is; it is not of this world nor bound by its frailties. Truth, administered in His limitless love, is the only thing that can diagnose what is wrong with me and is the only cure for my wrongdoing. A herdsman chases down his wandering lambs and so does the Shepherd of Our Souls. God’s passion for His people is relentless in its pursuit. Lord of All Mercies, thank You for sending your love to heal my brokenness and discipline my rebellion. In Your hands I will safely pass through every tempest, traverse every desert and scale every mountain in confident peace.

CUTS BOTH WAYS

Potiphar's wife falsely accused Joseph; Potiphar believed her and Joseph was imprisoned. Once anger is aroused truth becomes irrelevant. Two years later, Joseph is miraculously put into the second most powerful role in Egypt. Sadly, Potiphar, who had been so blessed with Joseph’s presence in his household, is never mentioned again, lies cut both ways. The lesson here is sobering; lying and believing unsubstantiated lies strip away our blessings and set us aside from usefulness in the Kingdom, whereas, steady faithfulness delivers us from traps of the enemy and qualifies us for greater things. LORD of Truth, in Your Mercy, put Your coals of fire to my ears and mouth.

SMALL THINGS

The slightest touch of a rudder can change the course of a vessel. Swift turns are dangerous on the water, so a series of small adjustments provide the safest approach. The same is true of my soul. While we often seek something colossal to shift our course, God mostly uses small things to guide us into His best. Zechariah warns us: “Do not despise these small beginnings”. Every great oak begins as an acorn. But how can something with the potential to populate the entire planet with trees fit in the palm of my hand? Yet, it can. Father, remind me to pay attention to Your smallest touch. Guide me today into the center of Your will. May the full potential You designed me for be fully realized.

AGAINST THE CURRENT

At times it feels as if I am swimming in a strong, steady current. I can swim with it and move faster or I can swim against it, but I soon fatigue and the current slowly moves me again in the direction I had struggled against. The goodness of the Lord remains intact in spite of my resistance; God is working in me and moving me toward my created purpose. This is at once comforting and exasperating. But why would I go any direction other than that which He desires? But sometimes I do. Father, I get it, yielding is the only solution. Thank You for keeping me on course and refusing to way to foolish meanderings in the wrong direction. LORD, grant me grace to yield.

DEAD ZONES

A human tendency is to construct habits or circumstances with which we feel comfortable. These “comforts” are a trap, constricting, compressing and confining us. “Comfort zones” quickly become “dead zones”, stealing away true potential. God reveals His ardent love by propelling me with the joy of breaking through again and again. Would I ever step out in faith without His prompting? Would I cast anchor without approaching storms? I will never know, for His love never ceases. King of Glory, thank You for Your Divine impulse, Your compelling love and Your relentless pursuit.

MANIPULATING THE ALMIGHTY

God cannot be manipulated by my obedience; no amount of clever posturing succeeds in reshaping His will or ways. The Almighty sees right through every attempt I make to take control of circumstances that He alone must govern. Doing the will of God must be an act of love and abandon, not a contrived form of leverage. Self-dependence is not only unnecessary, it is rebellious refusal of His Grace and Lordship, therefore must be renounced in all its forms. It is the humble acceptance of His Sovereign Authority that invites unrestricted blessing. Father, cleanse my soul of every smidgen of poisonous pride and feigned innocence.

OPEN HANDS, OPEN HEART

God is mercifully generous, pouring out His blessings on both the deserving and underserving. Giving activates part of the divine nature imprinted on every human heart by its Creator that simply cannot be activated otherwise. Benevolence without authentic love is possible, but genuine love devoid of giving is utterly impossible. Generosity with strings attached is the earthly way, giving unconditionally is heavenly. Many of the issues of the heart are caused by selfish resistance to giving, but generosity is a cure for many of our ills. Simply stated, open hands, open heart, closed hands, closed heart. Lord, teach me Your ways. Thank You for every opportunity to be more like You.

NEGLIGENT

Why am I still surprised how quickly things deteriorate since I know everything of this world does? Much of my attention is focused on what is new, fresh and cutting-edge but I am often negligent with what I already have. I don’t care very much about new material things. What pulls-on my attention is new experiences, fresh understanding, and cutting-edge effectiveness. But, like physical things, neglected relationships or unapplied knowledge will also deteriorate. Father, forgive my tendency to neglect what I already posses. You rightly require good stewardship. Help me be more faithful with what I already have been given.

A FEW MORNING REMINDERS

A snowstorm can swiftly blanket the countryside, transforming the brown landscape of early winter into a snowy wonderland. In the manner and by the same Mighty Hand that transforms our surrounding scenery, my sins are blanketed by God’s mercy and my soul is restored. He diminishes my fears, moderates my imaginings and destroys my tormentors. He transforms my sadness into shouts of joy, dispels my doubts and calms my turmoil. He is the LORD of Hosts, My Glory and the Lifter of My Head! O LORD, My God and King, You are Great and Greatly to be praised! Thank You for Your daily care and constant love. May my heart never forget Your Goodness, not even for a moment.

THE MARCH OF FAITH

Faith, that joyful certitude that unlocks heaven’s rewards, is never bound to earthly circumstances. Faith unleashes divine promises, matchless wisdom, clarity of vision and a steady walk through the unseen. If a mustard seed’s portion can toss a mountain into the sea, then it can certainly clear our way forward. Through faith I find refuge in blessed assurance, triumphant peace in the midst of storms and laughter in the face of adversity. Lord of Hope, Your Words are the fountainhead of faith, therefore I will meditate daily on Your Holy Declarations. By faith, in faith and through faith I will march forward.

A FAITHFUL FRONTSLIDER

Extension of the Kingdom of God in me and through me to others must not be an afterthought; spiritual progress cannot be accomplished with life’s leftovers. In the absence of frontsliding there is only backsliding. Scripture proclaims: “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Every day matters, and how intentionally I approach it will affect its outcome. Lord, help me lay hold of that which You have proclaimed. Rattle my cage until at last I run to You first and always. Provoke me to advance each and every day. Father, make me a faithful frontslider.

WHATEVER

Gladness is easier to embrace than letdowns; yet, both have enduring value if I have the right perspective. Frankly, the multitude of unrelenting challenges life brings has done more to strengthen my character and soften my heart than the many joys I have known. The magnitude, multitude and frequency of problems press me deeply into God’s hands. While I certainly do not prefer additional difficulties, I realize that they come invited or not, but God turns everything into good for those who trust Him. Father, keep me from the snare of my own preferences. Whatever comes, You make all things well.

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING

I have a plethora of unused keys. It is a mystery to me how I have possession of so many and yet have no clue what they open. Strangely, I have a difficult time discarding them, knowing that they must open something somewhere. Wouldn’t it be great to have just one key that opens everything? In fact, I do have the key to everything. Isaiah declares: “the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Awe and respect of God’s first position in all things opens the locked away treasures of this life and the world to come. Almighty God, You are the Key to all things, Your boundless majesty and wisdom openly available to the trusting heart. I am grateful that what You open no one can shut, and what You shut no one can open.

ROADBLOCKS

When I take an honest look at the distracted unreadiness of my soul I realize why God’s blessings are sometimes delayed. It is the goodness of God to withhold divine action until my faith, attitude and willingness to accept God’s ways and means are properly postured to receive. I don’t like roadblocks, but ultimately they are placed there for my protection. The reliable discipline of the Great Shepherd prepares me for His very best. I am not ready when I want to be ready, I’m not ready when I feel ready, I’m ready when He says I’m ready. Glorious Lord, You are so good. I get turned around, but You lead me in the way I must go. In all my meandering You faithfully guide me back to You.

CROP FAILURE

Those who intentionally plot evil never seem to run out of schemes to do additional harm. What a travesty that those made in God’s image turn the divine imprint of the Creator into an inexhaustible fountainhead of sorrows for those they dislike or hate. Sadly, in the end, they too will face the very troubles they have caused others as surely as the chickens come home to roost. What is sown is what is reaped. I have been the target of such hatred a few times in life, but I can earnestly say I hold no grudges and have asked God repeatedly that evil seeds sown against me have crop failure, returning no harvest of evil to the sower. Great and Glorious One, I ask forgiveness for every seed of harm I have spread, knowingly or unknowingly. By Your gracious beneficence may I only scatter kernels of life and blessing.

ZEAL

Isaiah spoke of God’s fervency declaring: “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this”. God’s children must also be zealous. Fervency applied without good judgment can be brutal, even destructive, but faith without fervor is useless. Zealousness, like expired food left abandoned in the back of the refrigerator, will eventually expire; its value sadly lost down the disposal for lack of use. God is zealous, yet with the perfect counterbalance of divine wisdom and perfect love. Zeal must therefore first be bathed in wisdom and love before applied. Lord, grant me ardor, determination, devotion, diligence, drive, eagerness, earnestness, enterprise, fire, gusto, hustle, inclination, initiative, intensity, passion, perseverance, readiness, sincerity, spirit, stick-to-itiveness, urgency and wisdom this day.

A SINGE VOICE

On a trip to Colorado, a Front Range wind was howling past my hotel, window reminding me that something as inert as air becomes extremely powerful in the right conditions. Given the right conditions, one single voice can be as mighty as a hurricane. For the most part, my voice is merely one tool among many used to express myself. Until, that is, one of those moments when it carries a message from the Almighty. When my voice becomes His Voice it changes everything. Speaking faith and love embodied in truth can move mountains, calm storms or send the minions of darkness scampering away!. Father, You gave me the gift of voice. Put Your coal of fire to my lips and fill my heart and mouth with what matters.

WHILE I WAS SLEEPING

The journey from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern requires an overnight flight. A long night of restless sleep is the norm, but so much happens while I doze. On these global treks busy pilots navigate through dangers, flight attendants take care of passenger’s needs, powerful engines strain against gravity, all the while I am mostly unaware of the scene around me. So it is with life in general. Each day I live mostly unaware of how dependent I am on heaven’s helping hand. Without my notice prophesies are fulfilled, angels carry out their assignments, prayers are answered, my steps are ordered, God’s Promises are kept, and the list goes on. Lord, forgive my sleepy presumptuousness. Thank You for safely carrying me through each day. Use me to do Your bidding today.