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Showing posts from November, 2017

ENGRAVED

Washington, DC is a beautiful city; everywhere you look there is another statue quietly posed on a marble base. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one common trait, each is engraved with information. We who are “created in the image of God”, are also engraved with vital information. Even those who never read the Ten Commandments are guided by them since Scripture declares: “The requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness”. Even the most violent cultures have rules about killing, lying and stealing. Even so, daily infusion of Scripture helps to engrave our hearts with the information we need for life. LORD, make me an engraved man. Display your truth so fully upon my life that I can never forget it and others may plainly see it.

MESSES TO MIRACLES

LETHAL LIP TRAPS

I was a young child the first time I was coerced to stick my index fingers into a Chinese finger trap. My reaction, of course, was to try to quickly yank my fingers out, but this only tightens the trap. Lesson learned. Getting pulled into ungodly conversation is a much harder trap to escape; frankly, my lips have ensnared me far worse than my fingers ever have. Rumors, accusations and unfair criticisms are dainty morsels that easily sink deep into one’s heart; repeating them is a deadly trap. Why do so many people feel it necessary to take someone else apart to feel whole themselves? Father, put coals of fire to my lips. Let kindness rule my ears, heart, mind and mouth. Deliver me from lethal lip traps.

SURE FOUNDATION

A large oak tree is a majestic sight with its branches spreading high into the sky and reaching out all around. But that is only half of the story. Its root system is as large underground as its girth above ground. As with a huge building, the visible structure is only as strong as the foundation on which it sits. So it is with life on this earth. What is visible to others is only half the story. If we are rooted in shallow ground our future is weak and unsteady. But if our foundation is God’s Word and Ways we are postured for whatever tempest may come. Father, You are the one and only Sure Foundation, keep me rooted in You alone. All other ground is sinking sand.

THE SQUALOR OF JEALOUSY

Coveting someone else’s life is not only wrong; it is a dangerous. While chasing after the lifestyle, worldly goods, popularity or power of others, I cannot accurately and passionately pursue the plan God has for me. I could miss His best by false pursuits. Besides, while coveting what others seem to possess we “cherry pick” what we see, wanting the good things but ignoring or minimizing the problems and difficulties they suffer. This is a fool’s game. How can I be faithful to what God designed me to be while chasing after someone else’s life? Great Shepherd of my Soul, forgive my momentary excursions into the squalor of jealousy. Your plan for me is perfectly calibrated with all things necessary to fulfill my divinely designed purpose. My life is Yours.

JUST THE TWO OF US

The Grammy winning song by Bill Withers: “Just the Two of Us”, was all the rage in the early 80s. While dining in an airport restaurant, the song came to mind as I noticed a young mother and her infant child. Though hundreds of travelers hurriedly passed by, for them, they were the only ones present, each totally transfixed on the other. The obvious delight of this young lady interacting with her tiny child me wonder, does God delight in nurturing us?  Then I remembered: “He will take great delight in you; in his love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” So there it is. Glorious Father, I am so humbled and amazed to think of You singing over us as You nurture our created purpose. Sweep me into that moment where there is only You.

RUN TO THE RIBBON

A good start is critical to winning when running a sprint, but in a marathon, every decision along the way must be focused on a strong finish. It is vital to respect the distance in a long race; a marathoner must run with the end in mind. The apostle Paul proclaimed: “Run in such a way as to claim the prize”, comparing our journey of faith to a race. It is not a competition against others; it is a race to finish well. While literally on his deathbed, Costa Deir, one of my precious spiritual fathers, looked like a traffic cop at the center of a jammed intersection. “Please, write this down”, “Send this to Africa”, “Get me the phone”, “Hand me my bible”…as he intended from the start, he ran to the ribbon. He died as he had lived. My LORD My God, grant me the strength, wisdom and endurance to finish fast and strong. Help me run to the ribbon.

FEELIN' THANKFUL

Ten lepers were cured, but only one returned to express gratitude. King David found it necessary to remind himself of his many blessings and to command his own soul to “bless the LORD”. Our tendency to focus on what we lack in life robs us of enduring gratefulness. Giving thanks should not be corralled into moments when we feel obliged; gratefulness and praise must be a central part of the attitude and lifestyle of the child of God. Thankfulness and praise should be a forethought not an afterthought. God of all Blessings, Sustainer of All Life, Giver of all Grace, I thank You and praise you for Your Unceasing Goodness.  You are my Light and Salvation. To You be glory forever and ever, amen. Feelin’ thankful here.

NOTHING UNKNOWN

There is nothing unknown to God. Our human measurements and use of knowledge simply do not apply to the LORD Almighty. He never loses track of anything, never wonders what to do next and does not need deductive reasoning to figure things out. He is the creator and source of all things and  His knowledge is perfect right now. This is very comforting since there is so much I must learn. But as His child, I may ask and receive His counsel. Therefore, my daily pursuit must be to seek His face, follow His commands and do His bidding. LORD God, King of the Universe, I wish to continually sit at Your feet as I go about my tasks this new day. Grant me seeing eyes, hearing ears and an obedient heart.

TIDAL BLESSINGS

One of the many lessons the ocean provides is the ebb and flow of tides. The rise and fall of each tidal visit deposits both trash and treasures upon the shore. So it is with people that come in and out of our lives. Some are with us throughout our lifetime; others are merely passing through for a moment. Yet each person can be a divine gift in one way or another. Even the most painful of relationships deposit unexpected blessings and valuable lessons, leaving needed wisdom on the bank for our future use. I am convinced that God orchestrates these seemingly random comings and goings in ways we do not now understand, but one day will. Dearest Lord, thank You for the ebb and flow of people in my life. May I also be used to deposit value and blessing into the lives of others.

AMAZING 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 is now expired so fresh grace is provided 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 promised provision of grace for today while resting in blessed assurance and humble expectation of Your apportioned grace for tomorrow. I trust Your perfect distribution of the grace needed for all things at all times.

GOD MANAGEMENT

So much of what is sincerely offered as prayer is little more than attempts to align God’s actions with what we want or feel we need. Just in case He may have missed something, or is simply too busy and needs additional details, we outline the issues as we see them, even offering reasonable solutions for Him to consider. The fundamental problem with this approach is that prayer is not God management. Prayer manages us, not the other way around. Before we ask for anything we should seek guidance from Scripture and get our desires and solicitations into biblical alignment with His commands and promises. Gracious Father, align my desires to Your will and my requests to Your purpose. Forgive my attempts to manipulate Your ways. Not my will but Yours be done.

THE WORD MADE FLESH

The biblical phrase: “The Word was made flesh” opens to us a life transforming mystery; the Word of God can dwell in human flesh. It still can, and it still must. The Word of Faith is now implanted in all those who believe in Jesus, and frankly, our lives may be the only bible the people around us will ever read. This is one of many reasons Scripture states: “Let the Word dwell in you richly.” Though we are not saviors ourselves, the same Word of Life that dwelt in our Redeemer’s flesh now dwells in us. So I must allow God to turn the pages of my life that others may be see and be enlightened. LORD of Hosts, imprint my life so fully that Your Word may be manifest in all I say and do.

POSSESSED

Life will constantly teach us lessons if we pay attention; God weaves His wisdom into every aspect of creation. Proverbs instructs us: “Go to the ant, O lazy one; observe her ways and be wise.” Like ripe fruit dangling on a low hanging limb, knowledge and understanding are easily within reach. However, excuses come easier than actions. And while failure is painful, it is also convenient. So we make excuses: “If only I had…(fill in the blank— good looks, fame, a better boss, more money, etc.), then I could succeed.” Frankly, what we posses makes little difference, but what possesses us makes all the difference. Desire and passion outweigh fame and fortune. LORD, I am Yours. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me for Your Glory.

RECKLESS

The average number of words spoken in a day is somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand. Is it any wonder we often say the wrong thing? So many problems are rooted in reckless thoughts that tumble from our lips as reckless words; only fools believe we should say whatever we think. Every thought must first be brought under obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Everlasting One. Unfiltered speculations must not be allowed to roam freely in our minds and should never exit our mouths. Things spoken become life or death to the speaker and hearer, therefore they require God’s constant guidance.  Lord of Love and Truth, may all my thoughts be surrendered to You. Help me guard my tongue and let love rule my heart.

COURSE CORRECTIONS

Walking, driving or moving forward by any means requires constant course corrections; the longer the distance, the more mandatory adjustments. It is no wonder that my life is filled with mid-course trajectory adjustments. Yet strangely, though I want things to move forward, I really don’t like making all the changes necessary. However, navigating unexpected obstacles, overcoming mistakes and plotting new courses is an integral part of spiritual progress. And there is simply no navigational system more reliable than a willing heart combined with biblical directives and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. LORD, only You know how far and long my journey will be. You alone know the beginning and end. Help me this day to make the needed course corrections. Help me not miss a thing.

CAPPING THE FOUNTAINHEAD

While conscious pride may not be driving a conflict in its inception, it certainly is what enflames and sustains it because “Where there is strife, there is pride”. Bears normally retreat when startled by humans, but a mother bear protecting her cubs is far more likely to viciously attack all sudden threats.  Though it looks like rage, it is actually fear. Fear is a natural response in a fight or flight situation. Humans also attack when feeling threatened. Keeping an issue out front by blaming the other person is a fear response. Projected blame protects our pride, keeping our weaknesses from being exposed. But God’s love caps off the fountainhead of strife since “Perfect love casts out all fear”. Father, bathe my soul and my tongue in Your perfect love and deliver me from angry fears.

THE SOURCE OF STRIFE

I WILL RISE!

The words of the prophet Micah still ring loud and strong: “Though I fall, I will rise!” We all stumble into pits by our own accord at times. And like Joseph, we are sometimes thrown into one by those closest to us. In other instances, like Daniel, our enemies cast us down. Frankly, once in a pit we too often become obsessed with how deep it is or waste time brooding over who put us there. But while circumstances may feel permanent, my faith and confession must be clear, though I fall, I will rise! Though I sit in darkness, the LORD is my light! Though I may deserve punishment, the LORD is merciful and forgiving because the LORD is on my side! Blessed Father, thank You for the testimonies of Scripture that show us the way. In Your strength, I WILL rise!

THE WELL OF LIFE

The Word of God identifies and repairs what is broken within us and when “written on the tablet of the heart”, it also protects us from future catastrophes. Daily intake of Scripture not only informs us, it transforms us, and transports us to higher ground. I am not capable of honest self-evaluation without standing before the lighted mirror of the Word of God. And in the same way nitro glycerin can unearth mountains, Scripture applied deep within can unearth the most stubborn resistance. Hardness of heart is blown to smithereens by God’s Holy Word. Blessed Lord, flood my heart with Your Power as I drink deeply from the Well of Life. Your Promises are my counselors, protectors, refuge and victory.

DIVINE SURVEILLANCE

Everywhere we are in the modern world we are being surveilled by cameras, electronic devices, computer algorithms and the like. But more importantly, our ways are in full view of the LORD; this is comforting and discomforting at once. I am blessed to know that God cares and monitors every step, yet I feel the constant struggle of complete surrender to His ways. But knowing my Heavenly Father’s motives are absolutely pure and mine are not, the choice is uncomplicated: not my way, but His alone. So there it is. I cannot coast on yesterday’s victories, nor will I dwell on yesterday’s losses. Father, I depend upon Your mercy and welcome Your Divine Surveillance. I will attend to Your promptings today afresh. I desire to fully yield control to Your will and ways. Lord, in Your mercy, make it so.

THE URGE TO INSULT

The practice of lowering conversations to personal insults has now replaced serious dialogue. The need to put someone down by making outrageously ridiculous declarations about their motives or character is meant to dehumanize them. Where does this urge to insult originate? Lucifer arrogantly declared: “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” To claim God’s authority to ascend above someone else is another manifestation of Satan’s sin. To dehumanize a person “created in God’s image” is to delegitimize God’s work and power. In the end, God said to Lucifer: “You shall be brought down.” Pride destroys, love exalts. LORD of Heaven and Earth, forgive our insolence. Deliver Your people from Satan’s error. Rescue us from evil ways.

A NOMADIC HEART

Exploring new possibilities is a part of the human construct that is a direct attribute of our Creator. Every person is born with an inward passion for learning, problem solving, increased influence and adventure. The command to “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it” is a central part of our internal operating system. However, if these characteristics never fall under the daily guidance of divine superintendence we will waste our lives wandering around in a personal wilderness, forever looking for meaning, value and purpose. Lord God My Shepherd, bind my expeditions to Your perfect will. Keep my nomadic heart fixed on Your ways and means alone.

SINGLE SPACE PASSAGEWAY

Each heart knows its own bitterness, its own fears, its own self-doubts and its own solitary path; though others may wish it, no one else can enter this private space. Likewise, no one else can fully share our soul’s deepest joys, its inexplicable peace or its moments of irrepressible victory. In both bad times and good times there are very private moments where we yearn to invite others, but they cannot join us; these are times of single space passageway where no others may tread. These are the precious occasions of life when there is only God. Almighty Father, I am never alone or without recourse; You, O LORD, are the ever-present Shepherd of My Soul.

THE FURNACE

It has practically become a cultural virtue to fantasize about self-importance. What a waste of precious time it is to idolize oneself. In the end, all that will matter is what we have done for God by doing good to others. I don’t want my life to finish as a half-burned log. Only in the furnace of a sold out life will all that must, be completely incinerated, only there will God-given potential burn bright to the end, nothing wasted, all of its potential fully spent.  Lord, Yours is the power to make me the man that pleases You. Blow upon the embers You have placed within me and cause my whole life to burn white hot for Your will in the earth.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I have made steady spiritual progress throughout my life, yet many issues seem to recycle. Though I find myself fighting the same battles over and over again, it is comforting to know that my Creator and Commander will finish what He started in me. The final outcome is not dependent upon my resolve alone, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Therefore, while I may still be a “work in progress”, there is a finish line. God will complete what He has begun! Father, banish every futile resistance from my soul. Mold me into a faithful servant, pleasing to You in all my ways. Dearest LORD, leaving nothing untouched or unreformed. I am at rest in Your tender and capable care.

TRUTH IN LOVE

Scripture states: "Speak the 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, rolling 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.

DAYBREAK

Daybreak has a sweet quietness that feeds the soul; God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world around me fully awakens and the still of dawn will be swallowed by the cacophony of another busy day. An indispensable characteristic of the God-directed life is hearing and obeying the voice of God. So before charging ahead into battle I must lean-in-close to confer with my Commander In Chief and prepare for what is ahead. Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of morning’s soft embrace. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly. Clear my heart from earthly entanglements and help me maintain a listening ear as the day rages on.

SACRED FOOTPRINTS

The table is set for a new day. As Creator and Host, only God knows exactly what is already prepared for my arrival. I must now leave behind simple-minded ways and ready myself for new insight, higher life and greater things. Am I up for what today will bring? Only the day will tell, but the One who provides it will also carry me through it. One thing is sure; I will walk upon on sacred footprints since the Alpha and Omega has already trod this moment in advance, sprinkling blessings and divine opportunities throughout. Lord God, Lover of Souls, today is the day You have made; I am so good with that and already rejoicing. Lift me in Your arms and carry me through with faith, joy and purpose.