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SOMETHING BETTER

After Lot had selfishly chosen the best land he and Abraham had seen, God said to Abraham “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are”. God was calling Abraham to look beyond his second-place circumstances; He had something better for him. As it was for Abraham, so it is for us; every step of obedient faith holds the promise of inheritance. Looking behind me adds nothing to my future, but stepping forward with my eyes on the horizon means additional promised territory.Will I delay in unholy dependence upon my known resources or will I hear and obey? I choose the latter, renouncing the freezing effect of fear and embracing what is ahead. Stepping forward in yielded obedience is the only path to full acquisition of God’s promises while in this world. O Lord my Rock, strengthen my resolve with Your divine touch. Open my eyes to the previously unseen. Guide my feet to Your chosen path.

TRANSFORMED

The transformation between the dark of night to morning light never loses its fascination for me. Some days easily, other mornings more reluctantly, like a magnet to metal I am drawn to its power to awaken. Every second brings subtle change; the landscape must be carefully observed as all that can be seen is transfigured. There are so many parallels between sunrise and the way God pulls me deeper into His will. Each day He quietly moves into my darkness, His resplendent Presence renovating my soul. His Word reveals hidden treasures and new details unfold. He unveils flaws that He immediately begins repairing and His Glory illuminates previously unseen passageways forward. Lord of Light, I welcome Your transformational approach to every square inch of my soul. Yes, You are good.

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 that I may see Your Glory. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help!”

JUST BEYOND REACH

Having raised a houseful of children we learned a few things about the challenges and blessings of childhood curiosity. When they were small, we often kept things just out of their reach and certain things we kept away from our home altogether. As a child of God I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond reach was put there by my Heavenly Father. In some cases, things are just beyond touch to urge me forward or encourage me to climb higher. However, in other situations the extra distance is for my protection, keeping me from unnecessary from pain or worse. It is comforting to know, the Holy One, who places things beyond my grasp can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will. Blessed Lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

A LEAKING HEART

The psalmist penned: “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when the grain and new wine abound.” But later cried out: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” I can relate. I want a spirit-filled life completely filled to the brim…but my heart leaks. It fills up but immediately begins draining. I’ve learned that yesterday’s infilling means nothing for today since each and every day my heart must again be turned toward God afresh, replenished with truth and made a tabernacle of praise. It must be searched, cleansed, inclined to hear, willing, contrite, guarded, softened, thankful, freed from deceit and chasing after God. Well, it sounds as if my heart will have another busy day today. Lord,my heart belongs to You. You have created it to hear from You and follow after Your will. May the Lamp of Your Love shine brightly within me today. Fill me afresh…again.

INTO THE STORM

Jonah was taken into the storm. Jesus left the multitudes on the shore and took His disciples into the storm. The apostle Paul was taken prisoner and into the storm. In each case a miracle followed, not AFTER the storm but IN the storm. I too, have been taken into one storm after another. Some are spiritual, some emotional, some physical and many are the storms of others. There are cultural storms, political storms, doctrinal storms, church storms and on and on it goes. But one thing they all have in common, there is no storm to which Jesus cannot command: “Peace, be still!” There is no storm in which I cannot take the Savior’s hand and walk with Him on top of the tempest! LORD, my prayer is that of the psalmist: “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” So be it Father.

BRIDLED

As big, beautiful and strong as horses are they are highly susceptible to panic. It is a natural flight response and serves them well in the wild but it can be dangerous. I too, experience moments of fright but panic is not a reliable strategy. A life consumed with fear is easily turned in the wrong direction, plunging those driven by it into unrelenting darkness. Fearfulness shuts down our sense of purpose, power and direction, leaving us to run aimlessly in desolate places. In contrast, a life bridled by God’s leading hand will always turn us in the right direction, filling us with His perfect love and expunging fear from our souls. Hope and faith are the companions of those who trust God. Lord of Life, You set the captive free and set our feet dancing on the hilltops. Make Your Love my constant guide and use me for Your purposes. May my choices always be wise and pleasing to You.

HAPPY TRAILS

Risk management is the process of making and managing decisions to minimize failures. While this has proven value for many things, no one but One can accurately predict the future and make the trails ahead safe for for the journey. King David assured us: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” The Alpha and Omega has already trod every trail ahead, before I uttered a sound He heard my voice, before I lifted a hand He acknowledged my needs, before I failed He provided mercy and before I cried out He attended to my longings. Gracious Father, I know I must turn to You first in all things. You, O LORD are the Fountain of Life, Wisdom and Safety. In all my wanderings, keep me close to You and guide me with Your Sure Hand.

ABIDING FAITH

Doing God’s will does not depend upon perfect conditions. In fact, negative circumstances, confusion and pushback are practically requirements for things done in faith. While much of what forms faith within our heart is the written promises of God in Scripture, how and when to apply them is not always clear. Usually, I have only fragments of clarity, not the whole picture. Yet, trusting God to pull the pieces together while navigating through troubles is both cleansing and exhilarating. Jesus clarified a key component for faith to blossom as He declares: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” The key here is not to desire, the key is to “abide in Him”. Once there, circumstances have little effect.Father, thank You for the unique joy faith brings. Grant me grace to love You more.

CAPTAIN ON THE BRIDGE

I was at a local retreat center praying with a group of pastors when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was struck at 8:46 a.m. Within minutes someone rolled a TV into the room and we sat in mesmerized horror, watching and wondering what it all meant. As we were silently taking in the events unfolding in Manhattan another plane crashed into the South Tower. I immediately stood and said to the pastors: “gentlemen, captains need to be on the bridge at times like these”, so we all packed our bags and headed to our respective churches. While I was driving to my church two additional planes were crashed in D.C. and Pennsylvania. Praying for wisdom as I walked into our offices, it came to me, “those who know little of God’s love and supremacy will live in a constant state of fear”. They unfortunately don’t understand that there are higher laws at work than our own. Lord, Your Sovereignty will always prevail. Though horror still unfolds before us, You deliver us from fear. Even in the…

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. Yesterday’s grace and mercy are fully spent, but a fresh batch is prepared for all who seek You this new day. Father of Light, limitless dominion belongs to those who know You as LORD. You are our Strong Tower, our Refuge, our Provider, our Champion and our Deliverer. May Your Resplendent Glory fill me today and always.

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. The Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector demonstrates how NOT to pray: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” It is the humble acceptance of His sovereign and underserved mercy that invites unrestricted blessing. The Tax Collector "would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!" Father, cleanse my soul of every smidgen of poisonous pride and feigned innocence…

HEAVEN'S HUMBLE AFFECTION

Blessings come in many ways. While some are huge and obvious most blessings arrive without fanfare and in simple forms: a beautiful view, a memory of someone special, a baby’s smile, a taste, or a gentle 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 He 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, You are our Glorious Benefactor. Sin has dulled my senses and I am slow to see, but in this moment of reflective contrition I glorify You and thank You for Your humble affection. Please make me more like You.

A HARDENED HEART

The hardening of the heart is generally a slow descent into prideful distrust of all others, God included. Obadiah warns: “The pride of your heart has deceived you”. It may begin as a particularly prized opinion or stubborn commitment to a specific course of action. Disappointments begin to pile up and the stiffening process commences. Hardening increases by rebellion against needed disciplines, bitterness over circumstances or by unbridled selfishness. As the hardening continues excuses are made, all contrary opinions are cast aside and no authority is trusted. In the end, callousness of the heart makes us resistance to truth itself. Father, grant me an open and pliable heart. May nothing I think or do be held so dear that truth may no longer penetrate.

DIVINE FORTITUDE

Our true measure of strength is best discovered in times of deep trouble or in times of great accomplishment. Should we falter in either we discover what we had previously imagined as strength is revealed as something far less. The tests of life are not our enemies; they are our instructors, our coaches. With God’s helping hand of grace we discover we can go farther, climb higher and finish better than we had previously thought. Metal is forged in the furnace and so are we. The journey of moving from human strength to divine fortitude is the pathway to God’s unlimited power. The Apostle Paul declared: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. He wasn’t bragging, he was showing us the way. Dearest Father, You are The Lord Our Strength, Our Rock, Our Fortress and Our Deliverer. Forgive my attempts to make it on my own.

SMALL THINGS

Every giant oak tree begins as a small acorn. But how can something so small contain the potential to populate the entire planet with trees? With God, all things are possible. The slightest touch of a rudder can change the course of a vessel. Swift turns can be dangerous on the water, so a series of small adjustments provide the safest approach, especially in tight spaces. The same is true of my soul. While we often seek something colossal to shift our direction in life, God mostly uses small things to guide us through our destined course. Zechariah warns: “Do not despise these small beginnings.” 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.

BANISHED DOUBT

There is no guarantee things that troubled me yesterday will not try to return with even more intensity today. Yet, I awaken anew with the joy of knowing that God is good and His power is not depleted. The LORD Almighty’s abiding love stands guard over His creation each and every moment of this new day. His provision feeds the birds of the air and clothes flowers with beauty. He never slumbers nor sleeps, His treasury is never emptied and His sovereignty never diminished. He is the LORD of all, yesterday, today and forever. Holy Father, banish from my heart every last vestige of doubt. You are the King of Kings all the time and in every way. Deliver me from lugging yesterday’s consternations into this glorious new day.

LIFTED

Our family was blessed to have quite a few pets over the years; a Pekinese named Reina was with us the longest. She was without a doubt, the sweetest but definitely the dumbest pet we ever had. Whenever we asked her if she wanted to go out she ran to the wrong door...every time...for almost 17 years! One day, she tried to stand up and her back legs wouldn't work. Reina sat looking at me, shaking and bewildered. I've seen that “help me, I don’t know what’s going on here” look before. I've HAD that look before. God sees that look every day from His children. A Psalm comes to mind: “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.” And another: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand". Lord, Thank You. You lift me and comfort me in my bewildering trials. You grant me assurance when I am weak. You place my feet on higher ground. I'm much better now.

HONORABLE LABOR

Today our nation celebrates Labor Day. On this national holiday we honor the contributions that workers have made to strengthen the wellbeing and financial prosperity of the United States of America. Frankly, a job can become a “daily grind”, sucking the very life out of us. Colleagues, customers, traffic, travel, system breakdowns and a horde of raging needs can make our work feel like a place of the condemned. So how do I turn my daily work into a blessing? Scripture reveals the answers: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” And “never tire of doing what is good.” Father, since the Garden You have put us to work. Help me embrace Your command and do honorable labor with a right mindset, a dedication to excellence and a thankful heart. LORD, there is rest in obedience to Your will.

CONSTANT TENSION

There is a constant tension for the child of God who wants to please Him. We are commanded to “go into all the world” yet reminded we are not “of the world” and warned to not “conform to the pattern of this world”. This leads to many false extremes. On the one hand, some run away from the world and act as if they are afraid to be in it. Others turn to worldliness as a life pattern. So how can we be a “light to the world” yet not be “of the world” ourselves? Proverbs reveals the answer: “Discretion will preserve you.” Like a fireman’s “hazmat suit”, discretion can protect us within a hazardous environment while empowering us to enter danger zones to fulfill our duty to help others. LORD help me walk in the world but not walk like the world. Grant me good discernment, discretion and deliverance from evil while “overcoming evil with good”.

DREAMS FULFILLED

So there is “finding your dream”, “chasing your dream”, “dream management”, “steps to dream fulfillment”, “the American Dream” and on and on it goes. Dream development and pursuit are all the rage, but dreams are nothing new. Paul had a dream. Joseph had a dream. Daniel “could understand dreams and visions of all kinds”. While the world chases personal dreams, as a child of God the key to dreams coming true is to dream God’s dreams for me rather than substituting them with someone else’s…including my own. Matthew declares: “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” and Philippians proclaims: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now THAT is dream fulfillment at its highest level! LORD, not my will but yours be done. Father, empower me to fulfill Your dream.

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 a purification process that includes, adding elements together, putting them under a lot of pressure and severe temperature changes. 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 making it stronger than ever. 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.

LOVERS AND LOSERS

One of the methods Satan utilizes to paralyze our faith is to blow on the coals of self-centeredness and fear within us. We are offered blessing by our Heavenly Father with this promise: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Whether it is forgiveness, time or material help, what we make happen for others God makes happen for us! But the “Father of Lies” steals our blessing and purpose by turning us toward jealousy and presumptuousness. Proverbs states: “The leech has two daughters-Give and Give!” Lovers are givers and have the joy of the LORD; Users are losers and have the grief of miserly stinginess. Blessed LORD, help me live with open hands and an open heart. Make me an instrument of blessing.

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. Shortcuts are tempting, but frequently lead to detours or dead ends. 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.

REPUDIATION OF DOUBT

I am far more familiar with the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” than the “Mountain of Transfiguration”. Like an unwelcome stranger hanging too close, nagging apprehension is the constant companion of faith. Faith is not exercised with an absence of doubt; rather, each step forward in faith is a repudiation of doubt. Ultimately we must learn that faith does not rely upon circumstances, it is reckoning upon God’s unbreakable Promises and His unwavering love. Paul’s final exhortation to the Corinthians reveals so much: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” Powerful! When you love God more than yourself faith works beautifully. Lord God Almighty, stormy gales, sinking sands, nor impenetrable walls can match Your command. Take my hand as I traverse shadowy trails and bind my heart to Your unfailing promises.

DISCERNING TIME

Not one moment is trivial. Time is a gift from the Alpha and Omega, therefore it is holy; the Lord Himself is present within each millisecond, frontloading it with purpose and power long before it ever appears. As Ecclesiastes declares: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts.” And we are commanded: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Therefore I should discern the time allotted me with great care. Past discernment will not do since I must now discover the mystery within this moment and allow it to unfold completely. Lord Eternal, “Who Is And Who Was And Who Is To Come”, deliver me from attempting to turn mysteries into formulas or treating time with indifference. Teach me to patiently make the most of my allotted days.

WALKING WITH THE WISE

Choosing the right companions in life is a primary element of success. While I prefer to be accompanied by those who make me feel better, to accomplish meaningful objectives, I must partner with those who challenge me to perform better. At the end of life’s journey I will stand before God so great care must be taken in today’s choices. Proverbs reveals: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” A true friend is one who strengthens my spiritual resolve and provokes me to draw me closer to God. Heavenly Father, lead me to relationships that honor You. Thank You for the blessed gift of comrades who put Your will ahead of all else. Help me be such a man for others.

IN ALL YOUR GETTING

There is nothing fancy about a roadside fruit stand; its treasures poised for the taking. But its bounty will never belong to those whose rush by without stopping. So it is with wisdom. Proverbs states: ““Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city” And again: “Wisdom is the principal thing;therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Daily wisdom is not a luxury; it is an absolute essential. Each morning my mind is still half-filled with yesterday’s leftovers with more pouring in upon awakening. It is then I must brake hard and seek God’s voice. Lord, You know my ways. Far too often I steam ahead without sufficient regard to you promptings. Forgive me and teach me to listen carefully every moment.

FRESH MANNA

I am dependent on fresh manna each and every day. Like the ancient Hebrews traveling through the desert, I too, must have constant nutrition provided by God; imagination, entertainment or self-driven efforts are inferior and dangerous substitutes. Every cell of my body needs constant contact with red blood cells since they provide oxygen and take away carbon dioxide and other cell garbage. In a similar way the divine impulse only God can give brings lifeblood to every moment, breathing life into us and carrying away our soul garbage. Religious devotion has its place, but an active relationship that leads to daily obedience to my created purpose is vital. Father Above, take my life and let it be all for you. Clothe me with Your Presence and guide my thoughts and desires into Your perfect plan.

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 while visiting some of our family members out in the country. 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 hastenafteranothergod”. The child of God must be sober minded when it comes to what we pursue because we may indeed 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.

ONE STEP AT A TIME

When headed on a road trip I like an accurate ground plan before departure. But in chasing after godliness, I am not capable of mapping out God's incredible will in advance; I must trust Him to reveal it in each step of obedience. He has promised to “guide the steps of the righteous.” Frankly, I prefer more foreknowledge than just one step or two, but while advanced guidance seems reasonable, faith must be developed in God’s way and in God’s timing rather than my own. As Proverbs says: “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” So there’s that. Lord, I am pleased to do it Your way. Deliver me from the terror of imagined perils to come and teach me the daily walk of faith and cheerful trust.

BLUE SKIES

Irvin Berlin taught America to sing together. “God Bless America” is practically a second National Anthem. One of my favorite Berlin songs cheerily declares: “Blue skies, Smiling at me, nothing but blue skies, do I see.” Many of my travels have begun in nasty weather at ground level, yet I have learned that if you climb high enough the sky is always blue and clear. The same is true for the soul. Living in the squalor of human deficiencies can make us feel there is nothing more. But that is not the end of the story. King David cried out: “When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rockthatishigher than I!” As my heart moves higher in prayer and praise I begin to see from heaven’s perspective. Yes Lord, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I!

ENVY

Envy is a doorway to deep darkness. In the first place, wishing to have someone else’s good fortune is in effect to question God’s forethought, wisdom and goodness to us. When we wonder, “Why them and not me?” we have already judged God as potentially unfair or misguided. Additionally, to cherry pick from another person’s life is foolish from the start because we tend to choose what we would like to have happen to us but completely ignore their sorrows and pain. Finally, to feel that we “deserve better” is an insidious form of pride. The Bible declares: “Blessedarethe meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Father, in You I have all things in One, therefore I lack for nothing and “no good thing will You withhold from them that walk uprightly”.

UNHEALTHY DELIGHT

Tearing others down does not make me stronger. In fact, focusing on the weaknesses of those around me keeps my attention dangerously away from where it should be laser-focused, which is on my own shortcomings. As much as I dislike criticism aimed toward me, there is an unhealthy delight in pointing it toward others. In the end, casting stones only exposes my own hypocrisy and weaknesses while putting me in the wrong posture to receive God’s mercy. The LORD not only treats us with underserved kindness, He actually “delights” in us in spite of our failings. Gracious Father, though You are perfect in all Your ways You hold no grudges toward my imperfections. Instead, You work with me patiently and lovingly in spite of my resistances. Lord, make me more like You.

SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

Understanding seedtime and harvest is a powerful motivator for wise planting. Everything we do or say is seed in the ground; the people we meet, family, friends, co-workers, even strangers passing by are soil. We rarely know the full story of how our life impacts others, but it is sobering to realize there is a harvest, both good and bad, from the seeds I have scattered. In the case of the good seeds sown, I pray for a bumper harvest; as for the bad seed, I pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness and for permanent crop failure for those seeds. Lord of All, forgive me for forgetting how significant each action is. Help me display Your goodness to those You place in my path. May only good seed be spread from my life that You O LORD would be glorified.

MY RESCUE

I once almost drowned as a young child. I accidentally slipped through the opening in an inner tube and was soon flailing for my life trying to catch my next breath. On what would surely have been my last plunge beneath the surface my older brother Wayne grabbed and pulled me to ground I could stand on. It was not an easy rescue; out of shear panic I struggled against my savior. I sometimes still do. Our own foolishness is most often the source of our disasters, yet at the moment of deliverance we make our rescue even more of an ordeal than it should be, pushing away from the Author of Our Salvation. O Lord My Rescue, I know you hear my cry long before I feel Your hand. Help me to not question Your timing or ways anddeliver me from foolhardy behaviors.

NO PANIC NECESSARY

To act with due caution is wise, but timidity is never a prudent course of action. Fear-governed thoughts and actions rarely lead us to the right conclusions; panic is not a reliable strategy. Trusting God is the only sensible response to crisis, so turning to Scripture is the right direction in a moment of panic, and there we find: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” The peace God grants to those who learn to lean on Him in the midst of a raging storm is the perfect environment for understanding and wisdom to emerge. Lord of Perfect Love, this day, as all days, is in Your hands. I am at peace in Your Holy Presence, knowing Your light will uncover the unseen and reveal the shape of what is hidden.

BITTER CUP

I am not a very picky eater, but I have faced things pretty difficult to mouth and swallow. It is said, “you are what you eat” and there are some things I just don’t want to take in or become. Thank God Our Redeemer is not so choosy. Upon facing the bitter cup of sin in Gethsemane He prayed “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will” and readily drank it down. He swallowed our death-marked souls whole and for a moment He too became what He drank. As Scripture declares “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. Glorious God and Savior, in rising from the dead You overcame sin. Rather than us permanently turning You into sin, You have now eternally turned us into righteous children!

EQUALIBRIUM

Years ago, I looked out the window and received quite a surprise. There it was…trunk to the ground, its huge roots pointing skyward; a huge tree had fallen over our driveway. It is a shock when something that normally stretches into the sky collapses and now lies unearthed and broken. Soil and water are the very things that nourish a giant oak tree but these life-giving necessities can be its undoing when given in excess. It is the same with me. Only the Eternal Designer who knit me together can keep me in equilibrium. My spirit, soul and body must be fully nourished but protected from excess. O Lord My Caretaker, guide me into balance and moderation. Keep me from seeking excessive sustenance outside of Your design or provision.

MIND MATTERS

Faith is not merely an emotional response to truth; it is enabled by a divinely orchestrated combination of God’s Word, His enlightening Spirit and the submissive response of the believer. The mind, however, is an integral part of faith and is essential to good judgment, obedience and creativity. But since I only “know in part”, every thought must be brought under the guidance, cleansing and dominion of the One who knows everything. In Ephesians Paul warns: “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.” Right! Father, may my thoughts only be those which reflect Your will. Help me keep my mind set on the right things, guided and empowered by Your Word and Spirit.

IMMEASUREABLLY MORE

How much farther can I go? Immeasurably more. How much higher can I climb? Immeasurably more. How much more can I handle? Immeasurably more. The answer to every “how much” question is answered in searing biblical clarity: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Well, that pretty much says it all. These passages also clarify why we ask the “how much” questions in the first place, we ask because we are still depending on our own strength instead of God’s strength within us. Holy Father, please forgive my insolence and help me live and act in Your strength alone. In You I live and move and have my being.

RAINDROPS & TEARDROPS

We are in our late summer weather and so each afternoon brings a passing squall or two. While noisy and inconvenient, these storms cleanse the air and refresh the earth as they cruise through. Actually, teardrops can have the same effect within my soul. While not always welcomed at first, I find that my tears of anguish are never missed by the Master and open a flood of forgiveness, comfort and cleansing for the wayward or broken heart. Just one sincere tear poised on the cheek activates the Mercy of God and sends forth the comforting company of heaven. As Scripture promises: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” LORD, You are my comfort and My Salvation!

I CAN CHOOSE!

I can choose whom and how I serve. I could surrender to things that seem unchangeable. I could resent, obsess or despair over what has passed me by. I could vainly dream of what could have been or should have been had it not been for this or that. Then again, I could choose a more noble way. I can put each moment, each desire, every person, hope, fear or dream into the nail-scarred Hands. I can worship as did the psalmist and declare that God is great and greatly to be praised! I can leave behind the squalor of doubt and fear and join the multitude of heaven in eternal praising God and say: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth, peace and goodwill toward men!” Lord God Almighty, Giver of Choice, I thank You that today I can choose, and I gladly, gratefully, eternally choose to serve and praise You!

GROUNDHOG DAY

GROUNDHOG DAY “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit.” I suppose we all have our favorite list of movies. One of mine is “Groundhog Day”. Watching an overtly selfish jerk develop a growing love for a truly nice person and slowly becoming like that person resonates with me. It took a lot of “redoes”, but he finally made it. I like the storyline because it seems a lot like what the man in the mirror I see each day is going through. In my story the “mirror” is the Word of God and the person I’m becoming more like is my Redeemer. I too "die daily" and am slowly making progress. But I have an advantage, my story is not a fantasy, it is written and being directed by the Great I AM! LORD, help me be more like You today. Cleanse my soul of mixture and self-will. Make me a man of Your choosing.

BETRAYAL PROOF

Betrayal by people you care about hurts so deeply because you have to face the fact that they did not value you as much as you had expected. Humanly speaking, the way we love, and the way we wish others would love us is so selfish at its core that it is a constant setup for devastating disappointment. So how do we become betrayal proof? Let’s start with God’s promises, “I will NEVER leave or forsake you”, and “perfect love casts out fear”. So to be loved BY God and to love LIKE God is to become betrayal proof. The combination of having the right perspective and actions is our deliverance from disappointment; only perfect love can protect you. Loving Father, teach me Your ways. Purify both my receiving and giving of perfect love.

THE WAY FORWARD

The temptation to simply drift along a lazy river of complacency is persuasive. The volume of life’s complications can cause us to disengage from our responsibilities, even withdrawing from active pursuit of the will of God. As past disappointments pile up and the desire to take risks is smothered, our sense of divine purpose and calling become mere shadows of what they once were. The good news is that sincere confession of mistaken priorities and reliance on the wrong things brings immediate heavenly relief and opens the way forward. The moment I take a step in the right direction there is fresh grace for the journey. Father in Heaven, awaken my heart with daily passion for Your will. Make me, mold me, fill me, use me.

RUIN OR REVIVAL

There are times when it feels as if I am teetering over the edge of a steep cliff. Though I am never actually comfortable in that circumstance I have learned that these are qualifying moments, offering the choices of ruin or revival. A plunge over the brink will often look like ruin outwardly, only to ultimately be turned into an inward revival of faith, trust, obedience and the joy that only these defining moments can release. It seems that God has chosen for me to live on the edge, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Precious Father, in Your care I am safe no matter the circumstance. Wherever Your Will leads I will follow. Keep me attuned to every nudge of Your guiding Hand. Bring ruin to my own ways and revival to my soul through obedience to Your Ways!

IDOL WORSHIP IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD?

In my travels around the world I have seen plenty of idols and idol worshipers. It is a common sight to see men, women and children bowing before false gods. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much idol worship in my neighborhood; or is there? Idolatry is the worship of something or someone other than God as if it were God. Any time we confer more importance or authority to a created thing rather than to the “Creator of All Things” we are in effect worshipping idols. Everything in this world, even life itself, must be held loosely. I must learn to take hold of eternal things with vise grip determination and bow the knee to God alone.Glorious Father, Great I Am, to You alone belongs all glory, honor, praise and servitude.

LEAK PATROL

The temptation to compromise is constant. While most sincere believers hold the line on the big issues it is easy to make concessions on smaller things. We can be spirit-filled yet leaking. Those who manage dams do not take cracks lightly. Leaks do not self-repair so they must be addressed or they will only worsen. Leak patrols are a serious matter. The same can be said of the soul. When life’s pressures build even the most spirit-filled heart can be drained. I must consistently seek fresh infilling and simultaneously take care of issues that siphon away God’s Presence. No one else can guard my heart; I must take personal responsibility to remain filled. Glorious God and Father, open the windows of heaven afresh. Grant me wisdom to recognize and attend to things that deplete my heart of Your Glory and Presence.

TRUE LIFE

An acquaintance of mine likes to respond to the question, “How are you today?” with, “Lovin’ life man!” It makes me smile. I smile because I appreciate the raw enthusiasm of his answer, but my smile also masks a bit of uncertainty. There are many things to love about life, but deep down we each know the truth; life can hurt. In fact, even when life is very, very good, there is always the gnawing reality that everything in this world is temporary, fragile and unpredictable. The bible declares: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Now THAT is true life, life that cannot ever be taken away. Shadows of darkness may obscure true life for a moment, but “joy comes in the morning!” So I guess he is right after all, and today I am lovin’ life! LORD, You are my Life and Light!

THE TRIUMPH OF THE VANQUISHED

We each face battles that are not of our own choosing. Some are arbitrarily forced upon us by life’s circumstances. Others come as a result of our own bad decisions. Many battles fall into the category of spiritual warfare while some are chosen for us by our heavenly Commander in Chief. Though the sources of our battles are many, there is but sure path to victory; we must embrace God’s promise, “The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Here we learn that peaceful trust in God alone must be the banner under which we march. Our self-dependence must first be vanquished by God’s wondrous love then and only then we are ready for any fight. Holy Father, my unruliness and fears are defeated by Your love, therefore I forge ahead in the triumph of the vanquished!

WONDROUS MEDDLING

While my private thoughts may be hidden from others, all my thoughts, wishes, fears, motives or aspirations are in full view of the Lord. He examines all my paths, not only those I have already taken but even those I merely consider pursuing. This would be a moment by moment battle of wills if I were still of the impression that my life was my own, but this issue is settled; I must decrease, He must increase. Though at times I forget to acknowledge His ever-present examinations, He never, ever looses track; not even for the smallest measurement of time. This is sometimes disconcerting, but even my consternation is a sign of His Wondrous Meddling. Glorious Father, it is true, I am Yours. Have Your way in me in every way and at all times.

FLOOD OF FORGIVENESS

In Isaiah it speaks of God’s power rushing in: “Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing”. This is how His judgment comes against the Prince of Darkness. This is how His love is poured forth to the anguished of heart. This is how His forgiveness floods to the repentant heart; like a flood of mighty waters that washes away any evidence of what has been before. His cleansing power decimates strongholds, uproots the foundations of generational curses and breaks the power of personal failures. His forgiveness is not forgetfulness, it is intentional, costly, complete forgiveness wrought by our Redeemer. How dare we fall prey to condemnation when our brokenness as been so thoroughly rectified by His sacrifice? LORD, thank You for Your cleansing flood of forgiveness.

IGNORANCE IS BLISS?

It is said: “Ignorance is bliss”. Not really. According to the bible:“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”;lack of understanding is destructive. But sometimes, the more you learn about something or someone, the worse it gets. That is why Scripture states: “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding”. Knowledge without wisdom and understanding that comes only from God is useless. Wisdom can reveal blessings in the worst of circumstances. Understanding can turn loss into gain, pain into praise and fear into faith. The lesson here is simple, knowledge must be bathed in wisdom. The work of God’s Word and Spirit is to reveal divine understanding to earthly knowledge. Father, You are the Eternal Fountain of Wisdom and You have promised it freely to those who ask. Grant me wisdom this day and always.

UNSEEN POWER

Our family lived in Costa Rica for a few years and on several occasions we visited Mt. Poas, a very active volcano that has erupted dozens of times in recorded history. We were always dazzled by the spectacular view of the huge, steaming crater. On a couple of visits we never saw more than clouds; its incredible power and girth shrouded by something as fleeting and inert as vapor. In like manner, passing clouds of needs and desires often obscure my view of God’s greatness and might. However, His power is always there whether I see it or not. Father Almighty, forgive me for allowing temporary things to cloud my view of Your Awesomeness; Lord I am assured, whether seen or unseen, Your power is always present.

NEEDLESS QUESTIONS

I have experienced a new grace lately. The question "why now?" comes to mind, but why should I ask? Does the Almighty, All-knowing One need to explain the things He does in His own Sovereign Power and Eternal Wisdom to me? Would I understand if He did? Grace is an undeserved gift; would not the demand or need for His explanation contradict the very nature of grace? One last question, will I never learn? The answer is yes, I am learning even now. So I will leave the questions behind and just breathe it in as deeply as I can. There, that is better already. Glorious God of All Grace and Mercy, thank You, thank You, thank You.

GUARDED AFFECTIONS

Occasionally, there are news stories about bags of money falling from an open door of a moving armored truck. I always wonder how in the world this happens since the entire purpose of an armored car is to protect valuable things; leaving the door unlocked is self-defeating. The same can be said of my affections. I cannot motor around life with my heart openly exposed to every passing whim; my affections must be managed. Proverbs warns us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” To guard one’s heart is not to close it and lock it down, rather, it is to protect it with God’s Word and infilling Spirit. Lord God, You are My Fortress and Deliverer. In Your Mercy, Guard my affections with Your Mighty Hand.

UNDER THE KNIFE

I am in the debt of those who have touched my soul; there are so many, I can’t even begin to count. Some have opened treasures for me while others made withdrawals. Yet in either case God has used people to help shape me into a better man. Like surgical instruments in the hands of the Great Physician, God has pressed people into my life to cut away what harms me from within. I have often resented those used for the deepest cuts, only later to realize that they have done me great good, even when they intended otherwise. Just like a patient needing serious surgery, my confidence is not in the quality of the scalpel, my assurance is in the surgeon in whose hands it works. Father, keep me under the knife and thank You for all whom You choose to use. I trust your choices and steady hand.

TIME IS NOT REFUNDABLE

In many 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 while 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 CROWN OF LIFE

\Our perceived needs are too easily overestimated. By the same token, the blessings of life are too easily underestimated. Family, laughter, opportunities, vision, mission, challenges, friends, servanthood, children, sunsets, music: considering the multitude of blessings I enjoy, I realize how truly prosperous I am. Keeping count of trials and needs brings no reward but faithfulness in spite of perceived lack brings the Crown of Life for the steadfast believer; “having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Forgive me Lord in those moments when I ignore Your loving care, abandoning the splendor of thankfulness, to roam the squalor of cravings. Strengthen my resolve to ignore the temporary and take hold of the eternal.

SO LOVED

I feel sad for the child of God who knows so little of God’s love that all they can see is their own concerns and needs. The biblical narrative “God so loved the world” is on my mind. “So loved.” These words prick my heart in ten thousand ways. Even one drop of God’s pure love upon an open heart changes everything; reordering priorities, provoking a sense of purpose and opening our eyes to the needs all around, even those far, far away. When God’s love enters our heart it comes fully loaded with such power it releases effusive joy, motivation and faith to act. Blessed Father, God of Glory, Your Love demands so much, yet offers far more than we could ever need or desire. Lord, make me a channel of Your amazing, irrepressible love.

LIGHT ON THE WAY

Pitch blackness shrouds the early morning as thick as a blanket; low hanging clouds blocking any light from seeping through. It seems for the moment as though darkness has prevailed, but I know better. Radiant light is slowly crawling across the surface of the earth as it rotates on its axis and soon all that is around me will be resplendent with dazzling summer beauty. So it is for the child of God who anticipates the LORD'S arrival; the brightness of His Presence sweeps away the darkness. His pace may seem lethargic, but in fact, He has set time in its place and He is perfect in all His ways. Father of Light, those who put their trust in You are never left in utter darkness. Let Your light shine in me and through me this today. May my whole life reflect Your Glory.

THE DAILY BATTLEFIELD

Over my lifetime the landscape has clearly changed in American society when it comes to spiritual things. I grew up in a neighborhood where belief in God was pretty much the only reality. Sunday morning was abuzz with families piling into cars as they headed to worship services. Our collective worldview left little room for spiritual choices other than personal devoutness or denominational identity. But, even in such a pro-belief atmosphere, choosing moment-by-moment surrender was just as intense as it is now. In the final analysis, it is not our external environment that makes the difference. "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!" Father, deliver me from failed excuses and strengthen me for the daily battlefield. Keep me in position and prepared to do Your will in Your way at all times.

HONOR

Modern culture has substituted “celebrity” for “honor”. While communications technology has opened a universe of information to the average person, it has also become a means of popularity for the most outrageous behaviors and unworthy celebrities. The Bible teaches the value of honor and commands us to honor those “to whom honor is due”, but warns against the dangers of popularity and self-centered aggrandizement of people. Giving honor to whom it is due in a biblical manner is life-lifting and ultimately leads us to worship of God, while adulation of celebrity leads us into personal fantasies and self-centered idol worship. The need to honor is hard-wired into our souls, but we must guard our hearts from the foolishness of seeking or idolizing celebrity. Father, help me steer clear of idol worship. Show me the right path of honoring You as I honor others.

GRACE FOR THE KILN

On my very first trip into the Soviet Union in the time of the Cold War I was surprised to find a bright little store in an otherwise drab and grey place. We were guided to a back alley by our taxi driver who behaved as if he were revealing a Soviet State Secret. The small shop had magnificent porcelain pottery. I bought several pieces and carefully packed them for my trip back to America. Upon arrival back home I opened my suitcase only to find that all but one piece was broken; they had not been sufficiently heated and hardened in the kiln. I do not like going through the furnace of trials life can bring, yet it is the “furnace of much affliction” that strengthens me for what is next. Father, You are the Potter, I am the clay. Grant me grace for the kiln that I may have fortitude for the journey.

HIGHER THAN I

From the earliest age I have been a lifelong climber. For me, it has never been about the climb itself; it is the heights that call to my soul. While I still get a bit nervous at the edge, I simply like to be up high. Seeing things from a higher position immediately gives life a different perspective. As I progressed from trees, to rooftops, to mountains to airplanes, the fascination with an elevated view never waned. In fact, it is imprinted on my soul from He who is “High and Lifted Up!” As King David’s heart grew faint, he cried out: “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” Moses held his staff over the battle below and the enemy was defeated! Yes! Lord God Most High, draw me to Your heavenly perspective on all things. Lift me higher so I may see Your prevailing power.

PERILOUS FREE-RANGING

I cannot permit my heart to have open borders since a free-ranging soul is exposed to too many perils. An unguarded heart is prone to consume unhealthy nourishment and stray into mortal danger. The common maxim: “you are what you eat” makes a valid point, and the same can be said of the human heart and mind. It is really quite simple, garbage in, garbage out, treasure in, treasure out. Like the physical body, my inward man must be nourished, protected and cultivated for it to stay healthy. My heart must be guarded since everything I do outwardly flows from the abundance of what is within it. Shepherd of my Soul, help me dwell under Your shadow, keep me safely near. Only under Your guardianship and oversight may I truly run free.

SKINNY MIRRORS

I once saw a news report describing how “skinny mirrors” are specifically designed to make you look thinner, and are being utilized in changing rooms of many retailers. Have we become so enamored with imagery that we would actually spend money to intentionally lie to ourselves? Yes we would, and I must confess, I definitely prefer mirrors that make me look better. However, lying to myself has no actual benefits; self-deception is toxic and dangerous. The Book of James speaks of God’s Word being a mirror; it never lies or projects a false image. We may ignore or forget the truth, but truth never changes. Lord Almighty, in You there is no falsehood whatsoever, deliver me from foolish games. May Your Blazing Truth and Unending Mercy cleanse my heart of every deception.

LITTLE FOXES

What I do or say not only reflects my character as a person, it either shows godliness or not. Jews and Christians alike are often called “People of the Book”. And so, what we do or don’t do is not so much a witness of who WE are as it is a reflection of God Himself. In the Jewish tradition, those who believe in God but ignore His commands commit “Chillul Hashem”, which is an “act of immoral behavior in front of others”. As Christians we usually think of “our witness” as important in really big things, but it is actually the little things that matter most.Solomon warned of “little foxes that spoil the vines.”This is a wake up call to pay attention to details of living our faith before others. LORD, you know my constant failings, yet You offer both grace an discipline. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh upon me in things both large and small.

GRUDGE FREE

I am thankful that God does not hold grudges against His children. While I have rightfully felt His displeasure at my failures, one true tear of repentance opens the floodgate of His forgiveness. As the psalmist declares: “His anger lasts but a moment, but His favor endures for a lifetime; sorrow may fill the night but overwhelming joy comes at daybreak.” Since my Redeemer so freely washes away my constant failings, who am I to hold hatred toward those who have harmed me? How can I justify denying to others the grace and forgiveness upon which I so depend? Father, though I fall short of Your greatness, Your favor remains. Cleanse my soul of all acrimony toward others and teach me Your ways of grudge-free love.

UNZIPPED

At times, life accelerates so quickly we get unzipped; at that point, even the simplest things become bewildering. The first step to recovering equilibrium is always the same; above all else I must reorient my emotions by trusting the sovereignty, oversight and goodness of God. While I may get confused about who I am or what I must do at times, the Lord of Heaven and Earth is never disoriented or perplexed. He never forgets who He made me to be. Circumstances may make me feel trapped and the way forward can look like a steep climb, but the Alpha and Omega is never boxed in by the temporal or discouraged by the length or difficulty of the journey. Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, in Your Mighty Hands my soul safely rests. May Your peace rule my heart at all times.

NOTHING HIDDEN

My weaknesses cannot be hidden from God. But why would I want them concealed when only He has the power to transform me? His approach is stern yet filled with infinite compassion. Even the slightest sincerity brings the hosts of heaven charging toward our wounded hearts. The Divine intent of our Maker and Redeemer is unrelenting and extravagant, pursuing every corruption that loads down our souls. The LORD strengthens and purifies His people! Father, though my vain acts continue, Your Mercy and Grace always find me. I renounce my earthly ways and cry out for deliverance from human frailty. You, O Lord, are my Light and Salvation.

AUTHENTICITY

As a child I did not mind playing alone. I would simply dream-up elaborate scenarios filled with interesting things to do and I, of course, was the central figure in these imagined adventures. Pretending is an essential pathway to learning and development for children, but it is a passageway to self-deception for adults. Imagination and creativity have lifelong value but to masquerade as something we are not is falsehood, and can lead to many serious problems. Scripture states: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” As I have matured, seamlessness between who I want to be and who I actually am has become more crucial. Heavenly Father, may Your maturing work in me produce increasing authenticity. Help me not gloss over weaknesses and deliver me from cover-ups.

GOD MANAGEMENT

At times I find myself praying with the intensity of a “breaking news” reporter, informing God of earthly events as if He is hearing about them for the first time. Prayer should never be an attempt to enlighten the “Alpha and Omega”; He already knows everything that can be known. He cannot be coerced, manipulated or instructed. Simply stated, prayer is not GOD MANAGEMENT. Rather than my prayers pointing to circumstances, my prayers should allow circumstances to point to me…to what needs to change in my heart, mind and actions. Lord of All Things, shine the Light of Your Presence upon that which You desire to transform. Make me a point of light to others and grant me strength, wisdom and endurance to take my position in the transformational work to which You call me.

MISSIONAL MOMENTS

Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring come every year but each annual cycle is different. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not discerning the times or seasons and warned his disciples about this. God has set the order of when certain things occur in both the natural world and in the spiritual world. It is a divine rhythm that only He can control but we can learn to recognize. Differing seasons affect how we should direct our priorities, energy and resources. Lack of discernment may mean we waste our lives in the wrong responses at the wrong times. Seasons change whether we notice it or like it or not, so the questions we must ask each day are simple: “what season is this” and “what is God’s mission for me in this moment”. LORD, open my eyes and heart to see as You see. Help me discern this missional moment and give me grace to respond accordingly.

INHERITANCE

As the firstborn son of Isaac, Esau would have received the inheritance and authority of his father at his passing. But he showed contempt for his birthright when he traded it away to his brother for a bowl of soup.How shortsighted and foolish! Yet, we too, show contempt for our Heavenly Father and our birthrights as His children each time we shrug off our inheritance as children of God in exchange for temporary, earthly things. I must constantly remind myself that over-attachment to momentary needs or desires can plunder my spiritual inheritance and corrupt my sense of purpose and destiny. Blessed Lord, You are my Strength and my Portion. Forgive my inclinations to trade-off heavenly heritage for makeshift satisfaction. Preserve my heart for You Alone.

NOW TOWER NECESSARY

I can hardly remember what it was like to search for information without pushing the “find” button on a device. However, the wisdom of God remains unsearchable by earthly means. No amount of human effort can forcibly open the treasures of heaven; even the Tower of Babel in modern form still would not reach high enough. Yet, God pours out limitless insight to the ones who approach Him with humility and sincerity. He not only provides the Word for our study and enlightenment, He sent His Spirit to our heartsand “the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” Father, Creator and Caretaker, You withhold no good thing from Your people. Your promises are “yes and amen”, Heaven’s blessings await the fervent seeker, its doors wide open to the humble of heart.

THE NEXT BLESSING

For many years we had a bottlebrush tree that hummingbirds visited regularly. It remained green throughout the year and bloomed all summer; wildlife was drawn to it like a magnet. We rarely saw the speedy hummingbirds come or go since they fly rather quickly, but there were always a few, delicately hovering like helicopters, extracting its sweet nectar. God’s blessings are the same; whether I see them coming or not, they are surely on the way. The next blessing may be as close as my next thought, prayer or act of kindness or obedience. My Lord, my God, I’m continually amazed by You and Your ways are mysterious yet faithfully predictable. Help me to stay alert to Your works and make me a blessing to others.

LORD, HEAR MY PRAYER

A common maxim is: “God Answers Prayer”. It is true, but it is often not the answer I want since He is not bound by my words, rather, God is bound to His Words. Over a lifetime I have thrown many prayers God’s way. Some have been biblically blueprinted and humbly lifted, with others selfishly constructed and with no chance of success; being offered without needed cleansing or the Holy Spirit’s directives. Prayer should always be preceded by self-examination of motives, bathed in scripturally rooted expectation, and offered with commitment to obedience. Father in Heaven, I cannot pray without Your guidance and help. Open Your Word and Spirit to my heart afresh. Lift the heavy fog of sin from my soul that I may approach You in truth and light. Lord, hear my prayer.

A MIRACULOUS PLACE

Even a casual peek through the biblical window into the Heavenly City reveals a miraculous place. There will be no sorrow, crying or pain; only unbounded joy and the unbroken praise. Things considered so precious here on earth will be no more than pavement and building material in the New Jerusalem. It will be a city resplendent with the Light of Our Savior, there’s a Sea of Glass, a heavenly host beyond number and angels as common as sand in Florida. Is it any wonder that God sends miracles into this world to proclaim the nature of the world to come! Lord God of Beauty and Power beyond description, I welcome Your marvels and mighty works in this world that announce a miraculous eternity in the next. Come quickly Lord.

NO HATRED ZONE

Hatred held in the heart can't hide forever. Like underground molten lava its pressure builds and seeks release on the surface. No matter how hardened we become on the exterior bitterness will eventually break through unannounced with devastating results. We sometimes believe hatred is justified but its tyranny cannot be contained nor equitably distributed; it must be expunged entirely from our soul. Ephesians warns: "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold." Anger, if left to hang around will multiply and turn to hatred, but Spiritual freedom and unbounded joy belong to the one delivered from hatred’s grasp. Blessed Father, heal every wound of offense within me and uproot every trace of acrimony. Fill my heart with Your unfailing love and make my soul a no hatred zone.

THE FOREVER CONSTANT

Material things and personal benefits are easily taken for granted. I know this because when something to which I am accustomed is no longer is available, I always feel surprised and disappointed. Presumption, it seems, is a constant nemesis and is sad result of exaggerated self-importance. So what is God’s answer to the constant tendency to be presumptuous? Shifting sand, inconstant circumstances, tidal changes, bizarre weather; in other words, nothing in this world endures exactly the way it is right now and this is by divine design. In this way He keeps us constantly reminded and forewarned, this world is not our home. Merciful God, upon You the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. O LORD Eternal, You Alone are the forever constant. Thank You for the reminders.

REFLECTIONS

To think that God uses any of us for His divine purposes in the earth is stunning. Yet, our Heavenly Father chooses to utilize each of His children to display His glory to others. It is simple, what I do reflects His Image and Light or instead, what I do clouds His Image and Light. As intimidating as this may seem, my life may be the only source of the image of God the people I interact with each day may have.While I have no appreciable brilliance in and of myself, the Glorious One shines so brightly that when He reflects Himself upon us, His Beauty is as dazzling as a full moon rising over a calm sea on a clear night. Father, shine upon me in Your full splendor. May every flaw be hidden by Your brilliance and may others see You reflected in all I say and do.

AUTHORIZED INTERRUPTION

Another day is at hand. Family, work, sick friends, urgent needs, the future, world news, weather, past mistakes, a dirty car; my mind is already racing down the straightaway at full throttle. The human soul can be more crowded than the Los Angeles freeway. King David found it necessary to command his own soul to “Bless the Lord.” Seeking God the first thing in the morning and listening to His voice throughout the day lifts the anxiety of constant pressures and sets my heart on the right path. Father, infiltrate every thought that passes through my mind today. LORD, I am Your child and servant, Father, You are the authorized interruption in every moment. May Your Presence percolate through me without restriction.

A NEW DAY DAWNING

I’m awake in the shroud of darkness, yet light swiftly approaches. Whether I know it or not, whether I believe it or not, daybreak is marching toward me. Soon the world around me will be bathed in brilliance, anew day is dawning. Blessings are already arrayed waiting for my arrival. Divine wisdom has been released into my pathway and the needed resources for this new day are already deployed. Angels are present and assigned to their work putting the forces of darkness on alert, this is the day the LORD has made I will rejoice and be glad in it! Lord, help me to recognize Your approach in my darkest moments. May I seize new beginnings, divine opportunities; a fresh start. Awaken my heart with readiness and fervor and use me for your bidding.

THE INCONVENIENCE OF FAITH

There are no limits to our passion for greater convenience. The consequence of a culture that so highly esteems personal comfort is unrestricted aversion to sacrificial living. People of faith are uniquely harmed by this obsession with constant, immediate gratification because the desire for convenience is the enemy of sacrificial obedience. The nature of faith requires acting upon the unseen regardless of the circumstances, and we must do this while patiently waiting for God’s timing and methods. Acts of faith are inherently very inconvenient. Lord of Promise, cut me loose from my impatient impulses and careless disregard of Your chosen ways and means. Teach me to toss convenience aside and passionately live out the faith walk in steady obedience.

MY DAILY PRESCRIPTIONS

I must hear from God daily. Thankfully His voice of wisdom, knowledge and discretion cries out by many means. Everything I hear with my ears, behold with my eyes, touch with my hands or think in my mind can be used by the Ancient of Days to bring greater understanding. Enlightenment is always available to the attentive heart but we must remain alert to His constant presence and promptings to receive the full benefits He offers. Daily input of His Word and a commitment to both seek and obey His Will are critical components to spiritual growth. Lord God Almighty, blessed is the man who listens for Your voice, watching daily and camping at Your feet. Help me make good choices and in Your mercy grant me grace when I fail.

STIRRED AND PLIABLE

What are the signs of a hardening heart? There are many such as indifference to spiritual issues, prayerlessness and refusal to listen to God or obey His promptings. A heart beginning to crust over is far more comfortable around people with spiritual cynicism than with those of spiritual hunger. Spiritual minimalism becomes the habit of those slipping away, choosing the least confronting forms of worship. The most ominous sign of hardening is when we cut ourselves off from fellowship with passionate believers, seeking rather to constantly associate with those of little or no genuine faith. O Lord My Creator, You formed me for Your will. Keep me stirred and pliable; work me over like moldable clay. Thank you for the power of fellowship and the witness of burning hearts.

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 the best of intentions a 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. Though I have been made a “new man” by Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection, this unholy mixture of old and new remains in my soul. 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.

THREE RIGHT TURNS

How do you get back on track after going the wrong direction? Many places have sections of the city that consists of nothing but one-way streets. A quick turn around can be difficult in these situations, but three right turns will get you back to where you started. Life-itself is even more complicated once lost, but still, three right turns will get you back on track. Turn one? Turn to God’s Word. Turn two? Turn your heart over to God’s Will. Turn three? Turn your decision-making over to God’s Ways and Means. Now you are back on track. How many times will these simple steps work? Every-single-time. LORD, deliver me from seeking any direction for my life apart from Your divine guidance and keep me on track with You Perfect plan.

SHINE

I don’t think the world is actually getting darker; there is simply less light shining into it. Not that the sun isn’t doing its job, it is the SON that is not shining as brightly. As children of God we are biblically chastened to “Let your light SO SHINE before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Simply stated, the light God has shined upon us must be displayed to the people around us. The good news is, the darker the environment, the more easily even the smallest light is seen. Sometimes we shade our lamp because of the embarrassment we feel for the flaws we still have, but our message is about His perfection, not our own. Father of Light and Love blow away the clouds of doubt and shine within me and through me to the world around me today.

NEEDLESSLY RECYCLED

Having traveled the globe to many impoverished areas I have seen the amazing creativity and ability of mankind to repurpose things; recycling is nothing new among the very poor. I have also known all too well the human ability to recycle guilt, condemnation and hatred of others. Letting the past go is a critical step to grasping today’s new opportunities. Psalms declares: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” The word translated “uprightly” can also mean “simply”, or not “double-minded”. In other words, single-minded trust in today’s provision opens heavens fresh blessings now, while longing for the past robs us from moving forward. LORD, help me let go of what is no longer useful and take hold of the manna You send for today.

OPEN MY EYES

The invention of lenses, magnifying glasses, telescopes and microscopes changed mankind’s perception of life on earth. We learned there is much more life present all around us that was wholly unknown to us. Seeing something that was there all along but previously unseen can radically change our perspective. The promises of God contained in Scripture are a lens through which we can peer into the previously unseen, activating a divine perspective of life. Nothing can transform the ordinary into something truly remarkable like the eye of faith. Father of Light, I do not want spiritual eyes that cannot see. LORD, open my eyes to even the smallest details of Your Will. Show me Your Glory and turn my darkness into Your resplendent Light.

THE FINAL OUTCOME

“No weapon formed against you will prevail.” These words spoken by God do not promise we will never be wounded in battle, instead they point to a victorious final outcome. We must be willing to pass through the trials and consequences of war while taking hold of the promised triumph by our faith, obedience and actions. The daily slog through passing circumstances can seem overwhelming, but even when disoriented in the fog of warfare, we must never forget, “The battle is the LORD’S” and however large and dangerous the attacking hordes of our enemy may seem, “there are more with us than with him.” O LORD My God and Victor, keep me strong within the fray. Help me keep my eyes on You and to fully trust Your promises.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

While still shrouded in lingering darkness, I observe the advancing signs of a new day dawning. Both my body and soul are pulling out of the stupor of slumber and the dark of night. With the dawn of a new day I can already feel the fresh hope today offers with its rising sun. With God’s pardon and care I will escape the shadowed fogginess of yesterday and walk fully in the light of a new beginning. This unfolding sunrise is a gift and I am thankful for another shot at being a man God is pleased to call His own. Lord, dispel the murkiness of wrongdoing within me and cut me loose from all that binds me to disobedience. Help me shake off the burdens, fears and failures of yesterday and to boldly take hold of what You now put before me in this new day. LORD, You are good and Your Mercy endures forever!

EARTHBORN NOT EARTHBOUND

As is every living thing on our shared planet I am earthborn. Scripture states: “For dust you are,And to dust you shall return”, but that is not the full picture. The biblical depiction of human life neither originates on earth nor is bound to its elements or limitations. The Apostle Paul proclaims: “He chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world” (which means He knew us before we were made). Also, we are told He: “raised US UP TOGETHER”, and “MADE US SIT TOGETHER in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. These are space and time mind-twisters for those of us locked into linear time and measured space as they exist in this world, but not for the “Alpha and Omega”, the great “I AM”. So as it turns out, I am earthborn, but not earthbound! “O LORD my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all…then sings my soul, “HOW GREAT THOU ART, HOW GREAT THOU ART!”