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Showing posts from 2018

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.
AFTER THREE WEEKS OF BEING LOCKED OUT MY GOOGLE ACCOUNT IS FINALLY WORKING!!!! YAY!!!

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!”

TEMPEST OF TERROR

One of life’s true delights is an afternoon breeze off the ocean on a sunny summer afternoon. But wind is not always so nice. It is hard to comprehend the power of the unseen; how something as docile as air can become a tempest of terror as a tornado or hurricane. I depend upon air for my every breath, yet in the wrong set of circumstances, it may take my life. Relationships are identical in nature. While they are vitally necessary and a cornucopia of blessings, they too, can be devastating. Human love, as wonderful as it may be, can turn to hatred. Only in a God-centered relationship can earthborn love be entirely safe. Gracious Lord, You must be first within every human intimacy. Let my love be pure and my heart true to You at all times.

GOD'S TEENY TINY LOVE

The first two chapters of Genesis demonstrate God’s lavish love and detailed provision for His creation. Our Glorious Creator lovingly designed a world brimming with life and beauty. Physicists believe particles named quarks and leptons are the smallest units of matter in the universe, but perhaps there is something even smaller. Yet no matter the size, every created thing was declared “good” by God and worthy of His perfect love. The LORD has PASSIONATE Love, IMMENSE love, TEENY TINY love, and ENOUGH love for everything He made. His fingerprints of divine affection are everywhere. We should never, ever doubt God’s love! Holy Father, forgive my fickle form of human love and sweep me into the power of Your Eternal Adoration.

A GOOD WORD

No matter how things look on the outside, there is always more going on than meets the eye. Anytime you are around others you can be sure, someone needs affirmation or encouragement. I try to stay on the hunt for those who may need a good word. What I have learned is that speaking encouraging words is a skill that grows in effectiveness with practice. To be honest I myself am lifted as I seek to lift others, but genuine, intentional encouragement must be done without a selfish motive to be truly effective. Sometimes, I actually feel the breath of God in those privileged moments when His love is reaching out to someone’s secret pain or need through me. What a joy! Oh Lord, Lover of Souls, use me today to speak a good word to someone’s heart.

DITCHING DISAPPOINTMENT

I typically do not lug past disappointments very far, unfortunately, new ones are ready to take their place as quickly as I let past ones go; there seems to always be a steady supply. While disappointment is something I would rather avoid, it has actually become a useful character builder and motivator for me to try harder. This is another example of God’s power and wisdom; even the evil works of my soul’s enemy can become effective tools for making me better when in the Master’s capable hands. I will not grow weary in doing good if I remember the Lord is my Strength and my Redeemer. Father, You clothe me with salvation and fill me with joy as I cast my cares upon You. I’m ditching disappointment and cleaving to Your Divine Craftsmanship.

THE STAGE

To openly live a life of faith is not a proclamation of personal perfection. In fact, the opposite is true as His endless grace is repeatedly revealed as it appears again and again and again in response to my many weaknesses. My imperfections are the stage upon which the amazing grace and relentless love of God are displayed. In my weaknesses, His awesome strength is discovered and brought to the forefront. Foolish attempts to gloss over our foibles presents a false image of the believer’s life and in the end does more harm than good. Lord, You are my Fortress and Deliverer, reveal Yourself in me. May my failings spotlight Your exquisiteness. May my need for constant redemption encourage others to seek the same.

UNFAILING LOVE

I have made many successful repairs over a lifetime by learning how to fix things by taking them apart. Unfortunately, there have been times when I could not put together what I had previously dismantled. Thankfully, God needs no practice and what He takes apart He can make even better than before. The Bible puts it quite clearly: “LOVE NEVER FAILS”! I don’t know why I sometimes struggle to trust in His unfailing love. Everything He creates is created IN His amazing love and everything He redeems is redeemed BY His amazing love. Unlike the earthly brand of affection His love simply “never fails”. Never fails! Lover of My Soul, You are perfect in all Your ways. What You remove must go and what You provide is the very best. Blessed be Your Name.

INSIDE OUT

We each desire to exert influence on the world around us precisely because God created us to do so. Deep within our soul lies the imprint of God’s commanded purpose for all mankind: “Be fruitful, increase, multiply, rule, fill the earth”. These are divinely programed mandates within our internal guidance system; alertness to God’s Word and Spirit awakens and intensifies these innate longings. Doing nothing to actually fulfill this internal impulse in some way empties our heart and leaves us spiritually listless. Lord and Redeemer of All Nations, thank You for creating me with Your purposes imprinted within. Show me how to turn what is inside out and live Your Love out loud without reserve.

PERILOUS SHORTCUTS

Long before satellite navigation was possible in a car our family was traveling in the Smokey Mountains. After unfolding and studying a map, I took a road that looked like a good shortcut for us. As the road narrowed and became a curvy, steep plunge I doubted my decision and stopped to ask a man if the road we were on would lead to where I was going. He answered “yep!” with a nod. Then he slowly surveyed our soccer mom van filled with children and said: “Mister, you don’t want to go that way.” We turned around and thankfully missed whatever peril he knew awaited us down the road. Father, keep me from taking perilous shortcuts as I journey this day. Guide me to what is best. May my choices please You and lead to Your highest and best.

WHEN ASSURANCE EXCEEDS IGNORANCE

There is no trepidation in not knowing what is ahead if you can count on someone absolutely trustworthy who does. Indescribable, unshakable, flourishing rest is released within our soul when assurance exceeds ignorance. The unknown paralyzes us, but knowing the “All-Knowing One” mobilizes us. Like a small child being led across a busy road by his father, the firm grip of God pulls me along with little concern of harm. I know I am in good hands as I’m being taken where He leads, so I will therefore move forward in confidence and peace. O Lord Most High, You are my trustworthy guide. Lead me wherever You will. I do not fear Your governance and I welcome Your perfect, and perfecting plans.

NOT SO "EASY PEASY"

“Even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Powerful words spoken out of the deep need of a mother seeking God’s help for her child. Even when the disciples and The LORD Himself made it difficult for her to receive she would not go away, she would not lose heart, she would not quit! Proverbs gives us further insight into the heart of this desperate mother: “To a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet”. A hungry heart is not easily offended. Too many people walk away from the help they seek because the journey of faith is more difficult than they expected. Glorious Father, may I never tire of following hard after you. Only in Your Presence can I quench my thirsty soul, only You have the Words of Life and in Your will alone will I find rest.

LIP FILTER

We often feel compelled to “have the last word” in conversations, but having the right words is far more important. Scripture reveals: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Since we have no control over our words after they depart our lips, it is necessary that great care must be given BEFORE we speak. A Biblical and Spirit-controlled filter between the mind and the mouth serves everyone’s best interest, avoiding needless pain and giving love the chance to be our guide. Slowing the velocity of my replies to others increases the effectiveness of the filter. Lord, let Your Word saturate my thoughts, and transform my spoken words into instruments of life. May only what is bathed in Your love and filled with Your truth leave my lips.

HIGHBORN NOBILITY

I need not make a choice between being a blessing to others or being blessed myself. Choosing to refresh and help others opens the windows of heaven to both the receiver and the giver. Selfishness is a sure path to gnawing sadness and loss of purpose but giving lifts us to a higher place.The word “generous” migrated from Latin to Old French to English and means “of noble birth”. In sacrificial generosity of time, talent or treasure we practice “highborn nobility”. The key to giving is not “what I have” but “Who I am”, since all that I have, even life itself, is a gift from God. Father, You love, You give, You reign; I want to be more like You. Teach me Your ways and grant me increased measure of Your Spirit of generosity. Help me walk as a man of highborn nobility.

ALL OF ME, ALL FOR YOU

Jerusalem is one of the world’s most ancient cities. Thousands of years of building and rebuilding have left its oldest sections buried deep underground. Almost constant modern excavations guarantee new treasures are unearthed daily by those who seek them. Each excavated artifact leads to greater understanding of the city’s true character. The work of God’s Spirit has the same effect within me. He exposes and removes the rubble and residue of the past. His Holy Work surfaces deeply imbedded treasures that God has uniquely arranged in each of us. These divine attributes, implanted by His Word and Spirit, are designed for God’s purpose for my life today. Lord God, Worker of Miracles, Grantor of Good, Creator of All Things, expose every part of my heart to Your Light and make all of me, all for You.

DEEPER INTO SURRENDER

There is but one salvation, but the process of sanctification is day-by-day, minute-by-minute. I am quite proficient at making up excuses to avoid doing something I do not want to do. Yet, I am equally adept at constructing convincing arguments for what I want. Neither of these skills is helpful to the person who wants to please God. In fact, there is grave danger of talking myself right over a cliff into a sea of selfishness and disobedience. Even the Savior faced this struggle in the heat of battle. His self-denying garden prayer must become my own: “not as I will, but as you will.” Father, help me pull away from human desire and push deeper into surrender. Your will first, Your will always.

YES AND NO

Saying yes or no is an easy linguistic exercise. Small children enjoy the power of these words and love to say them and test their parents with them. But that’s a kid’s game, saying yes or no as an adult is far more complicated and consequential. The Bible teaches us to let our “yes be yes and our no be no”. And it reveals the POWER OF GRACE to say "yes” and and say ”no”, revealing that the grace of God “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness”. We know we need grace AFTER we use yes or no wrongly, but grace is better used BEFORE we say yes or no. It’s time to grow up. Selah! LORD grant me grace to rightly exercise the authority of yes and know. Help me release the power of Your grace BEFORE I speak.

BOUND BY LOVE

Does God tire of my many failings? Will He turn in disgust from my constant troubles, doubts or fears? With human love it is possible, but not with God’s love. Narakatsi declares in prayerful praise a deeper understanding of how God remains our steadfast redeemer:“Through the blessed wood of life, upon which you were bound”. The LORD binds Himself to that which binds us. He bound Himself to our transgressions, iniquities and brokenness. In speaking of divine love Crysostom noted: “these thus bound by love bear all things with ease”. O LORD my Rescuer and Deliverer, You are bound TO Your love, I am blissfully bound IN Your love!

MY TEACHER'S HAND

Today is “Teacher Appreciation Day”. Even after so many years I can still remember the comforting encouragement of a teacher’s hand gently folded over my own as I drew my first circles. It felt like I was controlling the movements, but now I know the truth. Though I took pride in my improved drawing, it was those teachers who were humble partners in my development as a young reader, writer, thinker, artist and leader. Actually, nothing has really changed; every move I make in the right direction still requires a guiding hand. I still need a teacher. O Lord My Helper, You are my Greatest Teacher, guiding me into Your highest and best. I am thankful You never let go. I need Your divine touch more today than ever. Help me learn the rhythm of Your embrace. And bless all our teachers this day.

THUNDER RIVER

One of the world’s great rivers is the Zambezi, famously referred to as "Thunder River". The Zambezi begins as nothing more than rain runoff, then grows and flows for over 2200 miles, passing through six nations on its way to the Indian Ocean. One of its many features is Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. Some of the wonderful, powerful things God does in our lives begin as a dribble as well. The Scriptures advise us: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings”. The River of God within us may begin as a mere trickle, but will eventually carve into every area of our lives. Lord of All Creation. Pour out Your Presence in me. Make me a thundering witness of Your Glory and Power! May the wellspring of life pour from me into the surrounding sea of humanity.

THE FINEST OF GIFTS

A few years ago, an elder brother pulled me aside after a church service to encourage me. This was not some garden-variety flattery; he obviously planned it and presented clear, precise, well-thought-out points. I still remember the power of the thoughtful and kind gift he gave me that day. I have received many gifts over a lifetime, however most are long gone. But not that gift, it is still with me and remains treasured. Yet, this is a present I can re-gift to others time and time again, and so I do. Today, I will again have fresh opportunities to promote, encourage, lift, love, appreciate and celebrate others. Lord, in Your Goodness, endow me with authentic love and make me a endless source of blessing to those around me.

NO FRAUD ALLOWED

A relationship with God must be absolutely genuine. In our earthly relationships we are accustomed to holding back, all the while, doling out our true person in controlled spurts. There can be none of this with God. He knows us inside and out because He made us, therefore He cannot be fooled in any way at any time. In simple terms, there can be no fraud allowed with God; cover-ups must end here. Such wonderful deliverance and freedom can be ours as we live in unrestrained surrender and openness to the LORD God Almighty! While it is harder than we think, yielding to His control offers greater rewards than we can imagine. Heavenly Father, You created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother's womb and You call me by name. I am happily and eternally Yours.

STAND DOWN

I have never been one to back down from a fight that I felt was necessary, but at times I have been drawn into battles that were not for me to fight. On more occasions than I can recount, just as I was rehearsing my strategy and preparing for battle, the LORD commands me to wait for Him to handle the matter. This is where learning to “stand down” comes into play. At times we must run toward the giant, as did David. But other times, like in the story of King Jehoshaphat, God has us stand down. Instead of his best soldiers, the LORD told him to send singers out front. As they praised God the enemies began destroying one another! Praise brought the victory. O Lord Our Defender, I am Yours. Guide me in battle, grant me good discernment and teach my heart to trust You as Commander In Chief.

SHAPED

I begin this day in earnest thankfulness for those who have helped shape my life. Biblical characters, historic figures, family, friends, spiritual parents, prayer warriors, pastors, co-workers, authors, teachers and many others have been used by the Master Craftsman to form me. I’ve had some who intended to cause me harm as well. But frankly, my detractors, accusers, betrayers and openly antagonistic enemies have also played an important role in my formation, and I am equally grateful to them for pushing me down paths I would have not taken otherwise. Lord, I earnestlythank You for each and every person You have utilized to forge me into a man of Your own making. May I also be a quality tool in Your hand useful for shaping others.

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP

Catastrophes have a way of being all-consuming; the worse the situation, the more absorbing it is. The beginning point for moving forward in a crisis is to enthrone God in our praise. The LORD Almighty is sovereign at all times whether we realize it or not, but praise validates the sovereignty of God in our own soul, arresting our fears and releasing faith. Praise provokes us to proclaim His greatness to others. Praising God lifts our hearts to the heights of heaven and as we magnify Him our circumstances come into proper perspective. Lord, You are High and Lifted Up and greatly to be praised! From Your heavenly viewpoint, even the largest mountain is tiny. I glorify and adore You O Lord my Shepherd and Keeper, my Glory and the Lifter of my head!

GODLIKE

Greed always lurks in the shadows, waiting to steal away one of the greatest joys of life. Fear-generated greediness is a merciless thief that can rob us of one of the most valuable and godlike characteristics, the blessedness of generosity. God is indescribably generous. Giving activates godly capabilities imprinted on every human heart by its Creator. There is a part of our soul that simply cannot be switched on apart from generosity. Benevolence without authentic love is possible, but love devoid of giving is utterly impossible. Giving with strings attached is the earthly way, giving unconditionally is divine. Lord, teach me Your ways. Thank You for every opportunity to be more like You. Open my hands while flooding my heart with a giving spirit.

THE PERFECTION PROCESS

While I have grown spiritually over a lifetime, I still struggle with many of the same basic human issues. This discouraged me as a younger man causing me to question the veracity of my faith, but my response is different these days. Now I am actually encouraged by the knowledge that it is the work of God’s grace upon which I must wholly depend; frankly, it always has been and it always will be. While I must still work for perfection, it is the Lord Himself who brings sonship into full manifestation. Self-managed improvements are always too limited in their range and never get to root issues, but there are no limits for the Almighty. Father, I happily welcome Your holy work in me; As You promised, You will “finish Your good work in me” and bestow faith and encouragement that self-assurance never could.

FUTURE FORCAST

A farmer cannot control how weather will affect his future crops, but it is guaranteed that if no seed is put into the ground, no harvest will come forth. The future can’t be controlled, nor should it be feared, however, the seed I put in the ground now is the best forecast of what is coming. Everything I do or don’t do today affects my future. He who has given me this moment also holds all my tomorrows in His Mighty Hands. The person who doesn’t look ahead ends up blindly staggering down a steep, crooked trail without realizing it. Lord of All, You are rightly praised by all creation. Grant me grace to sow the right seed and confidently trust Your daily superintendence, guidance, provision and sheltering right arm. You are my refuge today and hope for all eternity.

BATTLEGROUND OR PLAYGROUND?

We install security in our cars, homes and businesses. We build fences, establish security checkpoints, hire gate guards and police to secure our lives. However, the most dangerous instrument of harm is the tongue. The Scriptures declare: “life and death proceed from our mouths”, so guarding my lips guards my life and the lives of others. Since there are no “electronic lip alarms” available, safety begins in the heart out of which the mouth speaks. When I permit worldliness to run free in my heart, it will be soon betray my good intentions. The heart is a battleground, not a playground. Lord, purify my heart and lips. Drive unholy thoughts and ways from my soul. By Your Word and Spirit destroy the enemy of my soul at its source.

NO OTHER FOUNDATION

“Look to the rock from which you were hewn”; these are powerful, penetrating words spoken by God to His people. I can change my mind, I can change my location, I can change my priorities, but I cannot reshape my foundation. Therefore, if I truly believe as did the psalmist that God “created my inward parts” and “knit me together in my mother's womb”, then I will not reject the LORD’s design on my life. No other foundation can support my calling and destiny; only the one from which I was hewn will suffice. No other life will fit the foundation already laid. Instead of wishing things were different, I must seek to understand and embrace the will of the LORD. Father, Your handiwork is perfect, I humbly yield to Your plan, purposes and ways.

GODLINESS VS. GOD-ISHNESS

God’s Word declares: “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”.Godliness produces “God-likeness”, transforming our values and behaviors to reflect His. But we are warned against “having a form ofgodlinessbut denying its power.” Godliness without power is not godliness at all. I call this false godliness “God-ishness” (yes, I made it up). God-ishness is an attempt to amend and reorganize God’s values and behaviors around our own. God-ishness is a powerless mockery of truth and is calamitous for our spiritual lives. “Sort of” will never do when it comes to the spiritual conflicts we will encounter in life, only godliness will suffice. Holy Father, help me take hold of godliness, faith and love.

TINY TROUBLES

A common maxim is “don’t sweat the small stuff”. This is true in most cases, but ignoring tiny troubles can be dangerous. A hairline fracture can eventually take down a plane or destroy a massive dam. Solomon warned of “the little foxes that spoil the vines.” While it is true that we often waste time and energy sweating over meaningless things, we must pay attention to the important details; all things are not equal. This is where discernment, wisdom and diligence play such important roles. The problem-solving power of God’s Word and Spirit combine to keep us safely on track. LORD God, You are perfect in all Your ways. Grant me grace for greater mindfulness, precision and determination to get things right and to stay on course.

MOUNTAINS TO MOLEHILLS

Unfortunately, it is pretty easy to let worry turn a small problem into a huge problem in our minds; making mountains out of molehills is as common as summer rain. But Jesus showed something much different: “if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them”. In other words, He challenged us to make mountains into molehills! When The LORD Almighty is our center of attention, even the biggest problems shrink to nothing. To believe His Promises and to proclaim them as our own is to push fear out of the spotlight and into the shadows. Father, of myself I can do nothing. In obedience to You, I can do all things in Your strength.

TRANSFORMATIONAL CHOICES

Self-generated transformation is always too limited in its scope, but I do play a significant role in it. Only God’s handiwork is sufficient to dig deep enough and has sufficient power to bring wholeness to my heart. Perfection is not simply a goal of God; it is His very nature. He is an exquisite finisher, so I must trust His Divine Work in me will be completed in His time and in His way. So what is my role? I must choose. In fact, I must chose again and again to surrender to God’s choices. I dare not trust another path. O Lord, Your Word is my hope and confidence: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplatethe Lord’s glory,are being transformed into his imagewith ever-increasing glory.”

INEXHAUSTIBLE MEANS

Every earthly resource is exhaustible. Trusting in whatever we have gathered for the future is as useless as when the Israelites tried to store away manna only to have it "breed worms and stink". Yet, a little bread and a couple of fish could feed 5,000 and still have leftovers with the Master’s touch. Life deals blows that shake our hope, but allowing pain or fear to shape our behaviors is the wrong course of action. My earth-born inclinations are scattered to the winds by the glorious victory wrought in knowing God’s limitless provision. When “The Lord Our Provider” wants to act, He has inexhaustible means and power. Blessed Father, You are Lord of All. Forgive my foolish attempts to live in my own strength. Teach me Your ways and lead me in the way of everlasting.

CELESTIAL INTERVENTION

Many things may temporarily stir emotions, but the soul cannot be awakened to God without Divine Initiative. It is the spark of the Lord Almighty that instigates deep searching or gnawing spiritual hunger. A horse will not walk straight without a hand on the reigns and I will do no better without God’s guiding embrace. The desire to run free and fast is also born of God and entirely acceptable as long as we stay on His designed course. Father, Lord of Glory and All Wisdom, You stir my heart and steady my stride. You O Lord Who are capable of all things will order my steps and lead me to secret placeswhere I may breathe the rarified air of the Most High. I gratefully welcome Your celestial intervention.

VICTORY!

It is possible to lose a battle but win the war. I have watched loved ones slip into eternity surrounded by friends, family and medical professionals fighting with all their might to keep them on this side of the veil. It seems like a tragic loss at that moment for sure, but for the faithful, this is not the end, only a turning of the page. It is true that battles for success in marriages, friendships, businesses, ministries, and every other worthy pursuit, can end in what appears to be sure defeat. But for the child of God, what seems like failure is never the end of the story. The LORD turns every defeat into wins for those who live in surrender to Him. Holy Father, I am so thankful for those divine moments in which loss is swallowed in victory. You truly work everything for our good. You shelter our souls and turn our mourning into joyful dancing!

LEAVING THE STATION

The idea of a permanent “station in life” is a false concept. While it is true that we begin life with significant differences from others and face easier or more difficult opportunities, nothing or no one has the power to keep us “where we belong”. I’ve traveled on trains quite a bit and can tell you it is a good feeling as the train leaves the station, unless you’ve just missed it and are supposed to be on it. The bible is filled with stories of God taking people of “high station” down and lifting others of “low station” to amazing places. Moving forward is a necessary part of spiritual development and fulfillment of my created purpose. LORD, forgive my foolish excuses for not leaving the station. Keep me moving forward, gaining speed and climbing higher.

STREAMS IN THE DESERT

The Hebrew people’s biblically recorded journey from Egypt to the Promised Land offers many lessons. It was in the desert where the idolatrous influence of Egypt and the deep scars of enslavement were confronted; they were slowly being delivered from the past so they could embrace their future. While wandering through open wilderness God’s people learned to chase after the cloud and trust God’s daily provision. Climatic moments brought the Ten Commandments, deliverance from enemies and cleansing from cultivators of sedition. They were learning to do God’s will, God’s way. Lord, thank You for streams of life that only the desert can reveal. Out of barren rock flows living water to those who seek Your face.

FICKLE FEELINGS

The words we use in daily conversation are an indicator of our deepest beliefs. Never in my lifetime have I heard the words “feel, felt or feelings” used more to describe what guides people’s actions. Words such as “principles, truth, duty and honor” are now generally reserved for what motivates outstanding heroes. So a life guided by fickle feelings is normal, but life guided by true character and moral certitude is seen as special and highly uncommon. The new normal is not good for our future world. The farther Modern Culture slips away from Biblical Culture the more anemic it becomes. O Lord My Helper, let truth be my only guide. Shape my heart by Your Word and Spirit that I may bring honor and glory to Your Name.

NO GRADING SYSTEM

We sometimes justify our own behaviors by believing there are levels of good and evil, and of course we grade ourselves on the curve. This is foolish, there is good and there is evil, nothing in between. God is good; anything outside the will of God is evil while anything within the will of God is good. Romans 2:4 queries: “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Grace and mercy have no grading system; the goodness of God convicts, coaxes and nudges us to repentance. That’s it, nothing else matters. LORD, You are good and Your mercy endures forever. Forgive my absurd attempts to diminish the perfection and purity of Your redemption.

WHO & WHY

One of my regular life experiences is to walk down huge hallways in the congressional office buildings in DC where there is one stately door after another in hallway after hallway on floor after floor. In the Halls of Congress, you can easily get into any office, but what is accomplished depends on who you are and why you are there. Actually, life can feel like this for each of us. Critical life questions are: “who am I?” and “why am I here?” There may be powerful opportunities on the other side of an open door, but do I belong there? Is it the LORD who calls me in or is it my own curiosity or selfish desire? God declares: “I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” That is the door I choose. LORD, take me where you will and keep me out of where I don’t belong.

SOMETHING MORE

Problems appear and grow larger. After recognizing there is a problem, calculating all known factors, characterizing why it exists and seeking the advice of others, there are many occasions when no human input will suffice. But when all earthly efforts are fully exhausted there is more, much more. In that crucial, divinely arranged moment only one choice will suffice, we must turn our heart to hear from God’s Word, we must turn our face to the wall and pray to the Lord Our God. No human intervention is necessary or welcome in that instant, it is holy space where only the Almighty may speak. It is not a place of desperation; in fact, it is where hope begins. O Lord my God, at the finish of all my effort Your Glory is unveiled.

NEVER ALONE

The walk of faith is at times a solitary, private path. While others are willing to join in, inevitably there are places within our journey where there is only single-space passage. However, We are never actually alone since our Heavenly Father has promised: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. NEVER. When we feel desolate in our sojourn we must remember, the point is not desertion by others, it is an invitation to walk closer to God. Rather than bringing sorrow, these defining moments release great joy as we take the Master’s hand and trust His guidance through secret places. Ever-Present Lord, open my eyes to see Your faithful omnipresence. Though fears may lurk in the shadows, where You lead, I will safely and gladly follow.

DAILY INTRUDER

What divine protection and transformational power belong to those with a generous heart! Selfishness is a persistent daily intruder, a bothersome and dangerous squatter. My heart is committed to live to give, to live to bless, to live to lift; yet earthly cravings still throw me off track. Time, talent and treasures are heavenly gifts placed into our hands by the Almighty. We are in turn, to be His hands extended to the needs around us. I am deeply thankful that the things of this world are steadily losing their grip on my soul. This process prepares us for increased stewardship, blessing and higher living. LORD of All, grant me a generous spirit today and deliver me from every vestige of selfishness. Cleanse my heart and bathe my hands in holy oil where nothing unconsecrated sticks. Thank you for the wonderful joy of cheerful generosity. 

SILLY SQUABBLES

Three tiny birds have developed a territorial interest just outside our back door. They are really cute, but each day is filled with puffed up feathers, lots of irritated chirping and little hops at each other. It all appears pretty comical to me, but it seems deadly serious to them. I imagine many of our earthly squabbles seem as petty to God as these daily bird fights seem to me. There are serious enemies in life, but much of our energy is wasted on inconsequential petty differences. On the road, in the office, home, or at the grocery store, petty irritations pile up and ruin our peace with God. Father Above, keep me focused on what really matters. Help me ignore daily irritations and keep me laser-focused on fighting the true dangers to my soul.

BOUNDLESS

Love and hatred are similar in one way; they both have no limits. While we have each felt at least a little of the all-consuming power of hatred, we have almost no experience with unlimited love. This is why we struggle with the amazing, unrelenting love of God. Can He really love us without limits? The Bible states it clearly: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE”. He doesn’t “have” love as if it were just another of His many attributes, instead it states: God “IS” love. To limit His love would be to deny who He is; love is His very being. Lord God Almighty, I want to understand the depths of Your love and offer it freely to others. Teach me to receive and freely offer Your boundless, immeasurable, inexhaustible, irrepressible love.

WHO STOLE MY CROWN?

Romans instructs us: “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life”. In James we read: “receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him”. Words such as “reign” and “crown” conjure up images of power, authority, nobility, and primacy. So who stole my crown? Why do I not feel I reign in life at times? Actually, no one stole it, but sometimes it is shrouded from sight by confusion. The LORD IS my crown. To “put on Christ” is to put on the crown of life and mean’s that under His lordship His victory is ours to claim, His authority ours to exercise, and His kingdom ours to extend. The key? He is LORD; I am not.Humble following leads to triumphant ascension.O LORD my King, I am Yours to command and Yours to serve.

MALIGNANT MEANDERING

Everyone needs rest and relaxation. On the other hand, seeking to comfort myself almost always leads to disaster. Most sin is rooted in attempts to self-treat whatever troubles us. King David’s moral failure with Bathsheba happened as he created a comfort zone in his palace “At the time of war”. In the moment he belonged on the battlefield he chose to enjoy the surroundings of the palace instead. While a bit of human comfort offers relief, too much mental meandering leads to wrong places. Blessed Lord, My Eternal Comforter, help me to abide in Your divine comfort. Deliver me from selfish sidetracking and keep me on task. Teach me to rest in Your Presence while safely in Your Will.

MISTAKES

One of the most commonly quoted maxims is “we learn from our mistakes.” If that is the case I should be absolutely brilliant by now. Obviously, I don’t learn as quickly as I should since I often repeat certain mistakes over and over. But there is good news nonetheless, if all my mistakes are new ones I am making progress since learning what not to do is a vital part of knowing what is best. The more I arm my decision making with the principles of God’s Word and the wisdom of God’s Spirit the easier it is to not repeat the same mistakes. Lord, guide me today through the maze of decisions along the way. Help me make good choices and grant me wisdom, spiritual advance and the joy and satisfaction of getting it right the first time.

LOW-HANGING FRUIT

Even as it is just beginning for me, the Alpha and Omega has already passed through this day sprinkling blessings throughout. Each sunrise provides new opportunities for me to grab low-hanging fruit placed there by God, incredible moments unfold to the person who learns to pay attention. How many times have I rushed by, foolishly missing a divinely arranged circumstance? Yesterday’s harvest has now passed. Thankfully some fruit made it into the barn but some was missed and left to rot on the ground. Yet, the goodness of God provides me another shot at ingathering throughout this new day. Father of New Beginnings, help me to see Your daily provisions. Awaken my soul to Your works; I do not want to miss a thing from dawn-to-dusk.

CHASING IDENTITY

People within our modern culture seem to constantly chase after personal identity using material things, causes, cliques and practically everything else to discover and then proclaim who they are. As a child of God I need not chase identity. I am not what I possess, nor what I have accomplished; I am who God designed me to be. I need not go on a search for identity since He knew me while still in my mother’s womb and brought me into this world to do His bidding. The words of God Himself in Isaiah settle the question: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” So there’s that. Lord God, I gladly fall into Your embrace and surrender all pursuits to Your perfect plan. I delight to do Your will.

JARS OF CLAY

A trip to a high-end department store affirms a common truism: the more expensive the packaging, the greater the value of what it contains. However, when it comes to the person in whom God dwells the absolute opposite is true. The Bible describes the knowledge of God’s glory within us as “treasure in jars of clay”. I am often surprised at the packages through whom God works. The lesson here is simple, I dare not miss the treasure because of my reaction to what I perceive as an inferior package, nor should I doubt the value of Christ in me. Father, though at times I feel I am unworthy of Your indwelling, You are nonetheless present. May the tearing away of my weaknesses reveal Your Glory.

THE PLUMB LINE

Amos declared” “I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel”. A small weight suspended from a string provides a straight vertical line. Family, friends, culture and even sincere Christians around us are only relative measures.  I may feel justified in my actions yet be completely off plumb in the eyes of God or I may be right on target, but wrongly judged or guided by others. What I need is a precise plumb line by which I can see if I measure up to God’s will and ways; human opinions will not do. Only God’s Word enlightened by the Sprit of God is an accurate plumb line. Lord of all Wisdom, Your Spirit and Word accurately expose my pretenses and shortcomings. Deliver me from falsehood from any source and establish my steps according to Your ways.

OUCH!

It is no bother at all to simply categorize someone we don’t like under a cherished prejudice and ignore or even revile them. But to mistreat, disregard or malign others is to show contempt for their Maker. I must never forget that the differences I sometimes resent have God’s fingerprints on them. When I was once complaining to the LORD in prayer about someone I didn’t like very much I heard a very clear message in my heart: “The way you treat My children reveals the depth of Your love for Me.” Ouch! It was then I began a more sincere effort to learn to love the unlovable and to be kind to the unkind. Father, help me to love as You love. Thank You for confronting my preconceived notions and leading me to deeper devotion.

HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!

Accusing Pharisees, False Judgments, Nails and Boards, Crown of Thorns, Mocking Soldiers, Final Cry: “It Is Finished”. Frightened Disciples, Broken Hearts, Mourning Mother, Torn Curtain, Dark of Night, Morning Mist, Rolled Stone, Empty Tomb, Folded Napkin, Discarded Linen, Seated Angels, Bewildered Women, Racing Apostles, Descended Champion, Defeated Enemy, Recovered Keys, Resurrected Savior, Ascended Victor, Redeemed World, Heaven Rejoicing, Redeeming Pardon, Healed Bodies, Broken Curses, Great Commission, Coming Again, Eternal Life, New Jerusalem, Forever With Him. The LORD is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!!! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!! Happy Resurrection Day to all!!!

WHAT, HOW, WHY

My early years were spent learning WHAT to do, followed by decades of learning HOW to do what I do better. And while I am still learning “what and how” more recently the focus has shifted to WHY I do what I do. Perhaps it takes a lifetime of journeying through the twisted tangles of life to get to the question of motive. The ebb and flow of people, careers, circumstances, tragedies, wonders, gains and losses and eventually strips away every veneer, depositing a simple prayer in our hearts: “Father, not my will, but Yours be done.” Lord, reveal and cleanse my deepest motives. May Your perfect will come forth in me and through my activities today. Shine Your Light into every corner of my soul and bring Your will into clearer focus.

AS THEY WENT...

There is the story of the women leaving Jesus’ empty tomb: “AS THEYWENT to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them.” And there are the ten lepers: “He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that AS THEY WENT they were cleansed.” These are two among multiple biblical examples where miracles happened “AS THEY WENT”. Many times God puts us on the move before we see His Hand in action. We typically expect Him to meet us in the present need, but sometimes God will only meet us “as we go”. Simply stated, miracles only happen in God’s chosen moments and manifest by His chosen means. Glorious Father, though I struggle at times, I do not resent Your wondrous ways. As You will, My LORD, and as I go.

MORE NOBLE

Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath and it made the religious leaders very angry. Before thinking too harshly about their response, I must take a look in the mirror. When I see something spiritual happen that is beyond my personal experience or understanding should I dismiss it or sincerely seek to understand? The people of Berea were noted in Acts 17: “They were of more noble character… for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” More than a few times in my life I have dismissed things that turned out to be precisely what God was doing or saying in that moment, only later to discover I was wrong. LORD, forgive my brutish ways and make me a more noble man. Keep me attentive to Your workings. 

GRUDGE-FREE LOVE

I am thankful that God does not hold grudges against His children. While I have rightfully felt His displeasure at my failures, one genuine tear of repentance opens the floodgate of His forgiveness. One authentic word of contrition marshals the armies of heaven to my defense. 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? 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.

PERSISTENCE NOT STUBBORNNESS

Persistence is a needed characteristic for a life well lived. But stubbornness is like walking in deep darkness since it causes us to keep hitting the same obstacles over and over, yet preventing us from understanding what makes us stumble. It is foolish to keep making the same mistakes, But the good news is that if all my mistakes are new ones, I am actually making progress. Proverbs states: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day”. Divinely infused wisdom accompanies the soul of the determined, yet surrendered. Father, not my will or my way, You alone must guide every step I take. In Your mercy, grant me a steadfast heart devoid of stubborn pride.

ANGER DANGER

I live in an angry nation. In fact, we all live in an increasingly enraged world and it seems to be worsening. Outrage is now the “go-to” emotion that is intended to prove just how legitimate and serious whatever we want done actually is. But there is danger where there is unchecked anger. Deep rage and bitterness have long since been expunged from my soul, but mild to spicy anger still pops up in me. But far too much is damaged in my relationship with God and my calling on earth to cling to anger or unforgiveness. I must resist the convenience of anger and choose thoughtful, effective action embodied and practiced in love. “Be angry and sin not” is possible but tricky. Lord, deliver me from selfish entitlement and grant to me humble kindness to others at all times, even when fighting hard for what is truly just and good.

GOD-CONFIDENCE

Confidence is a vital necessity for reaching our full potential, but not all confidence is healthy. The constant focus of the self-obsessed ideology of our modern culture has turned confidence into deadly pride.  Self-promotion is so central to contemporary practices that pride is considered a virtue while humility is seen as a character flaw. Biblically speaking, self-confidence is synonymous with foolishness; it is a house built on sand. God-confidence is a much sturdier foundation. The God enamored person faces every tempest with calm assurance, knowing the Greater One is always present. Seemingly impossible challenges are met with amazing peace when one fully trusts in the Almighty. Lord of Glory, You must increase, I must decrease. I CAN do all things, but only in Your strength. Deliver me from mortal pride.

A DEATHBLOW TO DARKNESS

It is unsettling to think about the wickedness is in this world. At the very same moment I am striving to do good, someone else is seeking to do harm. This would lead to fear if I did not know that in spite of the marching hoards of evil I am not alone or unarmed. The heaven-sent “weapons of our warfare are mighty through God”. And they are not only for defense; they are for “pulling down strongholds”. When the enemy rises to attack, thinking there are no troops on guard, the One Who Never Sleeps Nor Slumbers rises to my defense, sending unseen armies of angels to the aid of the people of God. O Lord My Victor, with You on my side the battle is checked and eternal victory is sure. To call upon Your Name is to bring a deathblow to every work of darkness!

NO SURPRISES

So often I confidently act on what I think I know only to be tripped up by ignorance or deception, however there are no surprises for the Alpha and Omega. Three times in the Book of Revelation we see this phrase: “Who was, and is, and is to come”. God is fully prepared to handle whatever has already happened, about to happen or yet to happen. He alone is completely devoid of the blinding fog of time or distance, there is simply nothing hidden or unknown to the Almighty. I am therefore utterly dependent upon His wisdom and amazing grace. LORD God, You are the Great Physician, I welcome Your daily examinations and treatments. Deliver me from my many appeasements of human frailty. My surprises are divinely managed in Your Sovereign Care.

MINDFUL OF WONDERS

While waiting for a flight I noticed three young boys poised at the window watching all the runway activity. The giddy wonder of their new experience prompted me realize I have become indifferent to the wonder of modern flight. I am so accustomed to moving across the world at amazing speeds I resent that it is not even faster! Really? Nehemiah states: “They were not mindful of Your wonders.” Sadly, I often do the same with the wonders of God. How dare I? I‘ve experienced so many blessings, miracles and wonders, that at times I actually take them for granted. God of Wonders, forgive my hubris. Awaken my attentiveness to the wonders you perform. Help me see Your works with childlike eyes of innocence, fascination, praise and wonder.

VIGILANT DEFIANCE

On a morning walk I saw a large hawk being chased by a tiny bird. Small birds become very aggressive when a predator comes near their nest; they use their agility and quickness to intimidate a much larger predator and eventually the larger fowl flies away. In the same manner, I must be vigilant and defiant to be a victor in life. At times I accept the presence of hovering danger too quickly, thinking I am powerless to change my circumstances. That is simply not so, the Greater One resides within me. “The LORD is my strength” and “I can do all things through Him who loved me”.  Blessed Lord, You have not left me defenseless. Though my weapons seem small, they are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” Tweet! Tweet!

HARNESSED

An ox will not walk straight without a harness holding him in place, however with needed constraints hitched on great power is ready and waiting. I too, need a yoke to stay on course. I cannot fulfill my high calling unless I’m firmly harnessed to God’s ways instead of my own. When we desert the safety of God’s love depravity and chaos rule. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not a helpful hint for being a nicer person, it is the royal command of our Creator and the only path to a life filled with divine purpose. I must be continually harnessed to the needs of others to accomplish God’s highest and best. Father, You are Love. I confess that I love poorly, but I desire to learn to let love govern my heart and ways. Your yoke of love is my guide.

MANIFEST PRESENCE

King David mused: “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” God is always present whether we invoke, acknowledge, welcome, believe-in or desire His Presence or not. I am not entirely comfortable with this since I don’t always want it, preferring at times to turn away in pursuit of my selfish desires. How sad, the proximity of the Almighty is a promise, not a threat. He continually transforms me into His image and nudges me deeper into my divine purpose. Father, forgive me for my moments of insane resistance and draw me to the sweetness of simple obedience. Help me to never ignore the potential of Your Manifest Presence. Tear away callousness and revive my heart with ever-deepening passion for You.

OUT OF DARKNESS...AGAIN!

Most of my morning prayers have the same starting point: seeking forgiveness for yesterday’s misses and additional grace for today’s challenges. As this new morning breaks I realize my petitions are eerily similar to every other day. Each sunrise to sunset is filled with hacking my way through twisted vines of self-interests to return to the path of surrendered obedience to God’s ways. It still surprises me how easily I get off track, the slightest turn plunging me into another ravine of darkness. Yet even from the bottom there is always light above and God’s help is constant, His lifting hand placing me again on the mountaintop. Father, thank You for Your Mighty Arm! Your love pulls me through the steep climb again and again.