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Showing posts from December, 2017

THIN ICE

Sometimes life can feel like a long journey over a frozen landscape. Frankly, the call of God on my life has always exceeded my known resources, proven capabilities and personal character. I have come to understand this is the way it must be; otherwise, I would foolishly lean too heavily upon my own abilities. It is the daily walk on thin ice that keeps me alert and dependent upon divine intervention. My weakness invites God’s grace. So I begin another day shrouded in human frailty but anticipating a new measure of grace and victory. O Lord my God and Father, You are not put off by my shortcomings. When I am weak You are strong. Blessed Master, use me this day for Your glory.

CHANGELING OR TRANSFORMER?

Sci-fi movies have introduced words into modern culture such as alien “Changelings” who disguise themselves outwardly as someone else but remain hidden aliens inwardly. Then there are “Transformers”, robots that can transform into cars but reveal their true identity when called upon. Nothing new really, Chameleons easily blend into their surroundings and butterflies begin as caterpillars. As a believer I must not be a changeling, fitting in but never revealing my true person. No, I am transforming from the inside out and the new man created in Christ must be fully displayed when called upon; I’m IN the world but not OF this world. LORD, help me live as a transformed man. Deliver me from dark and hidden ways and let Your Light shine brightly through me to all.

A POWERFUL CHOICE

Joshua challenged the Hebrews to decide their future: “Choose this day whom you will serve.” A made-up mind should not be confused with a closed mind or stubborn pride. Firm decisions should be rooted in moral clarity that comes from God’s influence on our decision-making process. The most crucial step is to accept that God is in charge, so the only right choice is His choice. The choice to obey is powerful. A “powerful choice” is a “power-filled choice”. Once a rightly formed decision is made, it releases the power to adjust to anything that comes along, while simultaneously initiating transformation of everything that must be changed. LORD, I choose to obey Your will, open wide the floodgates of grace and wisdom that I may faithfully and accurately serve You.

EARTHLY INFECTIONS

In the same manner unwashed hands carry viruses that cause infectious diseases, the soul can be laden with unseen but deadly dangers. Strangely, we are far more careful to wash our hands after touching potentially contaminated objects than even to consider the perils of contamination of the heart. Unfettered, unguarded exposure to wrong-spirited people is dangerous. We drink bottled water to protect our bodies, but freely drink from the cesspools of unfiltered conversations or unbridled self-indulgence. High and Lofty One, cleanse my heart of all worldly infections and may Your Word and Spirit deliver me from mindless exposure to those who love discord, debauchery and darkness.

SKULKING PRIDE

Even after so many years of mistakes, failures and God’s patient dealings with me, far too much human pride still remains within. While increasingly pushed out of the spotlight, it still stubbornly skulks around in the shadows, giving way only in forced increments. Though sometimes diagnosed and stopped before popping out in words or actions, far too often, it leaps back on center-stage in full-blossom. Frankly, it is both surprising and embarrassing that it still remains in such quantity. I am grateful that God’s Goodness will not leave me in this unreliable state. Thank You Father, Son and Holy Spirit for Your holy work of deliverance from swaggering pretentiousness. Blessed riddance. I must decrease, You must increase.

FULL ABANDON

Doing God’s will does not depend upon perfect conditions. In fact, negative circumstances are practically standard equipment for things done in faith. If something is easily within grasp, faith is not essential. Seeing the unseen and doing the impossible requires taking action on what is not yet within touch or sight. As I step forward in faith I usually have only fragments of clarity, not the whole picture. Trusting God to pull the pieces together while navigating through opposing obstacles is both cleansing and exhilarating. Father, thank You for the unique joy the walk of faith brings. Grant me grace to live in full abandon to Your will while taking hold of Your unseen hand.

THE GREATEST GIVER

The Biblical maxim “it is more blessed to give than to receive” is not just good advice; it is a revelation of the nature and ways of God. He doesn’t need a thing, so there is never even a smidgen of selfishness in His benevolence. He freely gives, and He loves to do it. It blesses our Heavenly Father when we align our lives in such a way for Him to be able to open the windows of heaven to us. We never need to beg but must meet His conditions to receive. They are simple: belief, humility, generosity, obedience, stewardship and compassion for others. Great and Glorious Giver of All Things, clear away all greed, selfishness, fear or any other hindrances so I may be an open channel of Your blessings to others.

MY FAVORITE TEACHER

I have particular affection for those who care enough to teach others, especially those who choose educating as a profession. My life has been so blessed by parents, teachers, writers, preachers, philosophers, mentors and the like. But no teacher is more precious to my heart than the Holy Spirit. No opportunity for instruction ever goes to waste with the Spirit of God. “Go to the ant…and learn” Proverbs declares. Even things that really bug us have lessons for life under the Spirit’s tutelage! With God’s wisdom unfolded, mistakes, failures, victories, disappointments and successes all have equal value. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me today. Lead me in the way of everlasting. Instruct my heart and enlighten my understanding throughout this new day.

OUT OF MY DEPTH

Traveling with a friend in his new 40 ft. boat took us to a place that was previously unknown to us. Navigating unfamiliar waters while using unfamiliar equipment can be dangerous. Headed offshore and at full throttle, the depth finder suddenly registered very shallow water. Panic erupted as the alarm loudly squealed; we had not checked our charts and didn’t realize we were sitting over one of the Atlantic’s deepest ocean troughs. Our sounding setting was set too shallow to properly measure the depth. Where God has taken me in life I have often been out of my depth, so I must continually reset my heart for deeper places. Yesterday’s settings will not suffice for tomorrow’s journey. LORD God, Captain of my Soul, prepare me now for where You are taking me this new day. Deliver me from ignorance and foolishness and guide me each step.

WELL DONE

The walk of faith is no skip through the park. Each step must be taken in open defiance of the status quo, the more easily attained or what is popularly accepted by everyone around you. The ones who choose the faith walk must turn their faces to the wall daily and cry out to God for strength as the distance between this world’s ways and those of the next increase. The faithful ones will eventually breathe the rarified air of the summit, where only those who dare to have their own ways vanquished abide. But still, there remains more valleys to traverse, more heights to ascend, until this earthly trek is complete and we hear His Divine Declaration: “Well done faithful servants!" Father, where You lead I will follow! By Your grace I will finish my course. You, My LORD are the grand prize.

COVETOUSNESS

Coveting is a pernicious and deceptive sin. It may begin as innocent attraction, interest or admiration of others, but it can easily lead to destruction. While desire is motivating and a necessary element of a meaningful life, covetousness is rejection of God’s care and provision for us, leading us to believe no desire should ever be denied. A covetous heart cannot love purely, neither God nor others. Thankfulness, on the other hand, leads us to the light. A grateful heart opens the way to unlimited peace and inexhaustible affection since it focuses on the Provider, not the level of provision. O Lord My Shepherd, cleanse my heart from earthly entanglements and fill me with true love for You and others.

KEEP BREATHING

At the end of the film “Cast Away”, Tom Hanks’ character ruminates: “I know what I have to do, I gotta keep breathing. Cause tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide will bring?” A man who had lost everything found what he needed to know to live. It’s just a movie line, but there is truth here. Life was imparted to mankind as Adam received his first breath from the Almighty. With God as our Father, darkness is driven away by the dawning of each new day, fresh blessings deposited with every tide. In simple terms, life is not measured by our losses or gains. Scripture proclaims: “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind”. Yes LORD, You are Life Eternal! So I will take another breath. And another. And another. Alleluia, Amen!

A DANGEROUS BREW

Growing up in Florida did little to prepare me for treading on ice-covered ground. On my first winter trip to the mountains of North Carolina I was filled with the self-assured hubris of a thirteen-year-old boy. As I was again being warned of its danger, I brashly walked onto the ice. At the exact moment I confidently said: “it’s no problem, I can handle it”, both of my feet lost footing and I fell flat on my back. In fact, I fell hard several times. Lesson learned; ignorance, arrogance and stubbornness are a very dangerous brew indeed. Lord God, You are my Faithful Instructor. I confess to You that presumptuousness still plagues my soul. Purge from me all indifference to Your voice and keep me safely within the boundaries of Your wise counsel.

WANDERING EXILE

Wars, natural disasters, hatred, sickness, divorce, addiction and a host of other horrendous circumstances of this world all have something in common; they displace people’s lives. The prodigal son’s story is equally as bitter and perhaps worse since he had become a wandering exile by his own rebellion; banished by his unrepentant pursuits. I too, know the agony of self-defeating isolation from the Father. How foolish it is to remain exiled from the Lover of My Soul since He has provided an open path to His front door. If God seems distant, I must keep in mind, He has not moved. Most Merciful LORD, forgive my selfish wanderings. Giver of Life, clothe me in Your your righteousness and restore childlike innocence in my heart.

TRUTH MAGNET

What a joy it is to discuss the ways and will of God with someone who has spiritual hunger; they will have already been sprinkled with divinely planted seed ready to be nourished. A humble heart is a magnet for truth, and according to God’s Promise a seeker is a finder. While each of us struggles at times with understanding and wisdom, God not only assures treasures to seekers, He also opens doors to knockers and bestows gifts to askers. Lord, we may seek and find precisely because in Your Great Love, You seek us first. Help me be a diligent seeker, an attentive finder, a a consistent knocker and a humble asker. You withhold no good thing from a heart following after You.

THE GRASP OF GOD

When navigating our children through danger zones such as a busy parking lot I would say: “hold dad’s hand tightly”, but wise parents do not depend upon the strength of their child's handhold. Instead, we wrap our hand around theirs with a vice grip. It is incredibly comforting to know that I live in the firm grasp of God's hand. His grip on me is much firmer than my grip on Him. His Word clutches the strings of my heart. His Will clings to my own; I cannot simply pull way on a whim. At times I struggle against His embrace, only to be pulled tighter in by His Holy Hand. Father, You are the “The Lord my Keeper”, thank You for Your encircling Love. Your love has no limit and Your care is beyond  measure.

BLISSFULLY YOURS

As I have grown older I have become increasingly aware of how little actual control I have over surrounding circumstances. Though it is unnerving, moving from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat is actually a good thing since I do not warrant unmitigated control of my life. My record is littered with the debris of failures where I attempted to be my own final authority. So instead, I will bow my knee to the Master of the Universe again today. He made me, He keeps me, He called me and I am His. Glorious Lord, I am at peace with surrender to Your supremacy. Purge my heart that I may more easily yield to Your regulation and restraint. You have redeemed my life with the highest of prices and I am blissfully Yours.

TODAY

A new day is dawning. Unfinished business, past, present and future is already invading my awakening from every side. 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.

SEER OF THE UNSEEN

Each day presents new battles, unforeseen foes lurking just beyond view. There is simply no chance I can be fully prepared for everything that awaits me, yet how sweet the joy that fills my heart; victory rests in the Seer of the Unseen. Come what may, the Lord is my triumph; what is unforeseeable for me is in clear view of Almighty God. While on ground level I may struggle to find a way forward the LORD of Glory never loses sight of where I am nor what I will need to finish strong. I possess blessed assurance in the knowledge that God will make a way where there is no way. King of Kings, into Your hands I cast every care, You are my strength O Lord. In the moments of conflict and confusion may I ever trust in Your unfailing love.

THE SUMMIT

Too often I have hindered the approach of what God has designed for my tomorrow by over-attachment to things of yesterday. Like a hiker who attempts to lug along too much equipment, I sometimes strike out without first discerning between what will be absolutely necessary and what is merely an emotional connection that must be left behind. To follow hard after what is best I must lay aside every hindrance, including things once held dear. The decisions we make today determine how high we may ascend. Father, You are my only hope to reach the summit. You are already present in that yet unseen place, preparing the way and bidding me to climb. I trust Your provision and divine care; You never miss a thing.

LIFE UNLIMITED

The accessibility of travel has dramatically changed over my lifetime, bringing home a simple point: I can get practically anywhere from where I am. It is easy to feel stuck in life, but with determination, we can move forward from wherever we are. The belief that we CAN is vital to taking the first steps. The words of Paul ring loudly: “I can do all things…” Equally important to faith is the rest of Paul’s message: “through Christ who gives me strength.” So it’s not just anywhere I want after all, it is anywhere HE wants. Full surrender to the Person, Power and WILL of God is key. In other words, I am limited only to God and His will, nothing else. Lord, thank You for pointing to the means and direction for pursuing Your best.

POWER OF PRAISE

The LORD said of David: “A man after My Heart”. King David had many qualities and some really serious character flaws, but what is most clear about the psalmist is that he was a man who understood the power of praise. Praise was his daily entry pass into the heart of God. Paul and Silas were chained to a wall, but as they sang and praised God the shackles fell off and the prison doors flung open. Praise frees us from bondage! As it did for the Israelites when Jehoshaphat sent the choir out to battle, praise ensures victory over our enemies! Praise focuses our faith on God’s promises and delivers us from fear. O LORD My God, You areinvincible, infallible and irresistible! The power of Your awesome majesty is beyond description and Your love endures forever!

LEARNING STATIONS

Learning stations are a popular technique for children to develop cooperation and teamwork while problem solving in a real-life situation. Since divine correction and instruction are the way to true life, God also places learning stations throughout each new day. My tendency is to arrogantly brush past each lesson too quickly, confident of what I think I know. But God’s goodness wins out, and despite my attempts to move on too quickly, I find myself back at the same learning station again and again, often with the same people, until the lesson is complete. Dear Father, thank You for Your persistent tutelage. Forgive my impatience and insolence. Awaken within me daily expectation and willingness to learn.

HELPING HANDS

One of life’s greatest gifts is a reassuring hand on the shoulder. It is almost miraculous how in the blink of an eye a simple, a compassionate gesture can wipe-away concealed pain or can encourage someone to take a bold step of faith. We often attempt to burn away the fog of sorrow, confusion or fear with our words, but quiet presence combined with a pat on the arm is a wonderworking cure. How often have I missed the opportunity to offer something so valuable, yet so easy to give? I don’t really know, but I am sure I don’t want to miss another. Father, help me to be Your hand extended to someone’s moment of need. I thank You for Your constant, gentle touch. LORD use me to be Your helping hand to others this day.

SILENT TRANSFORMATION

Though I have never lived where it snows regularly, I’ve seen plenty of it in my travels. More times than I can remember I have been surprised to awake to a city blanketed with snow, having quietly covered over everything while I slept undisturbed. Silent transformation also happens in my soul. Nagging hurts, troubling circumstances, catastrophic losses, even painful betrayals can be completely covered over by God’s love. The moment we surrender our anxieties to Him the Holy Spirit goes to work unannounced, quietly healing our hearts and blanketing over all remnants of former pain. Glorious God, I am eternally grateful for Your life-giving Love. Use me to share with others your comfort and freedom from sorrows.

HEART EXAM

A heart surrendered to God cannot ignore the helpless or persecuted; the Lord Himself takes up the cause of the needy and broken and pays special attention to our actions and attitude toward those who are down and out. If I do not speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves or if I do not work for the good of those being unfairly crushed, then I deny the very nature of the Shepherd of Our Souls. God is holy and just, but He is equally kind, caring and gentle; all these are necessary characteristics for a child of God. Lord, You are Good and Merciful; release Your benevolence and goodwill through me to others. Examine my heart and give me wisdom to act fairly and with a voice devoid of selfish motives.

TEARS

While raising our children we became quite accustomed to tears; each day offered many. Most of the tearful moments were a result of minor disappointments or injuries, but occasionally there was genuine heartache. While the “wailing show” was more easily dismissed, a single, silent tear poised on the cheek of a sorrowful little face was riveting. Everything else stopped while full household attention was given to that one anguished soul. It is the same with God and His children. Lord of All Comfort, one small teardrop of true repentance, one tiny tear of heartbreak, unleashes angels, archangels and the company of heaven to my troubles. You turn my mourning into dancing and my tears of sorrow to tears of joy!

DIVINELY RECYCLED

Recycle day makes quite a visual impact on our neighborhood. In addition to the perfectly aligned garbage receptacles standing at attention, there they are, identical receptacles with bright yellow lids. It all looks so neat and tidy, but don’t be fooled, they are all filled with garbage. And, frankly, so are the people who placed them there, me included. But no worries, God never wastes a thing. He takes my life’s refuse and recycles every bit of it, turning it into something of value. Good things, bad things, ALL THINGS. For the Bible proclaims: “ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called into His purpose”. LORD of All, thank you for the transforming power of Your Divine Recycling. Make all that is within me pleasing and useful for You pleasure.

A SIGN OF REMEMBRANCE

The Sun is a daily demonstration of amazing power; its benefits offered freely to all. Clouds may temporarily obscure its presence and earth’s daily rotation makes it seem to come and go, but in fact, it is always there. Its power is never diminished and its presence is never withdrawn. God, in His consummate Wisdom created something necessary for life and made it equally a sign of remembrance of His unmitigated Power and constant Presence. He who slung the stars in place is always near whether we acknowledge Him or not. Wondrous God and Father, again I fall to my knees, face to the ground and praise in my heart. You are Perfectly Glorious in all Your ways. Your beauty beyond description and Your supremacy beyond compare.