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Showing posts from January, 2018

MERCY MISERS

Mercy is but another word for God’s nature in action. Why is it so hard to offer mercy to others while at the same time we cry out for more of it for ourselves? Sadly, we justify our own needs as worthy of mercy while simultaneously disqualifying the needs of others. And, when we see that God is merciful to those we feel are unworthy of His mercy, we are perplexed and offended. Hoarding mercy while denying it for others turns the heart bitter and disqualifies us from His mercies toward us. Loving Father, forgive our miserly ways. You do not have love for one but deny it for another. You are love personified and Your mercies endure forever. Grant me grace to rejoice in Your merciful kindness at all times.

HOLD THE LINE

A common cry in the midst of battle is the command: “Hold the line!” From our earliest records of warfare to this day, keeping a strong, unbroken battle line is a critical element for supremacy over the enemy. Though I still remain temporarily captive to human frailty, I am never alone in this fight for spiritual advance. My Commander and Chief doesn’t simply pass orders from above, He is also with me each day to my left and right, He is before me and is my rear guard; never ever abandoning His position. I too must remain in my assigned position. Lord God Almighty, when I am weak Your strength brings victory. Human anxieties are put into retreat by Your all-surpassing power and unfailing love.  In Your Grace, I too, will remain at my station and hold the line.

MARVELS AMIDST THE STORM

Even in the midst of a violent storm there is beauty all around. Dancing trees, rumbling clouds and the sheer power released are marvels in the midst of a tempest. In like manner, each and every day has marvels sprinkled into it by the Hand of God, even throughout the stormy ones. Like eyes adjusting to a dimly lit room my heart must attune itself to see what could be easily missed. Divine moments can appear on a crowded plane or in a busy grocery checkout line. New friendships can emerge from nowhere and began patching up the gaping losses that befall us. Blessed LORD, Your Holy Finger dabs beautifying touches onto the canvas of my life in so many ways. May I never miss the marvels you perform nor fail to acknowledge the wonders You deposit all around.

TREASURED FRIENDS

Friendships bring pleasantness to one’s life, but the greatest treasure is the earnest counsel that springs from a true comrade; the honesty of a trusted friend lifts and blesses the soul. Earthly love always comes laden with human imperfections, yet when authentically offered, it has flashes of God’s amazing, perfect love within it. I’ve not always welcomed loving advice at the moment, but I can earnestly say I am deeply indebted to those who love me enough to confront my blunders and wrongdoings. Heavenly Father, thank You for my friends. Each one reveals a facet of Your Glory. I especially thank You for those treasured friends who love so deeply they risk offering wise and unvarnished counsel. Help me be that kind of friend to others.

THE SEEDBED OF MIRACLES

A wedding celebration seems an unlikely place for a miracle, but a quiet conversation between a mother and her son invoked a great one in Cana. Water was turned to wine as compliant servants obeyed the simple but life-transforming command: “Whatever he says, do it”. The requirements for a miracle are actually pretty simple; a human need, plus recognition of God’s authority, a personal request and obedience to what He says are the raw materials of miracles. The seedbed of miracles is straightforward; we must turn every circumstance of life over to the King of Kings and then do what He says. Blessed Savior, I place myself and all I survey into Your capable hands. You are LORD of All and there is no other.

UNBECOMING AMBITIONS

I am sometimes surprised how quickly my mind attempts to take a blessed moment and turn it into a point of pride or personal advantage. A lifetime of divine dealings has not rid me of unbecoming ambitions. While progress has certainly been made, selfish desires still lurk within, rising to the surface when stirred. Only by the charitableness and longsuffering of God, combined with unrelenting truth, can every last vestige of unsurrendered soul be overcome. Glorious Father, I know that You will finish what You have begun in me. When I mix my earthly desires with Your heavenly ones, You faithfully call me out to keep me in check. Thank You My LORD.

CARELESSNESS KILLS

Road signs can only help those who read them and make the necessary adjustments to the messages they carry. God places warnings, reminders, instructions and navigational help in our daily walk, not to restrict us from success, but to defeat our earthly tendencies toward lawlessness. Carelessness kills, but obedience offers life and safety. A wise person passionately seeks to be wiser still and is always searching to improve their awareness, discernment and response time to God’s directives. Holy Father, may Your unrestricted Wisdom defeat my moments of irresponsible insensitivity to Your Guidance. Lord, make me a wiser man and grant me insight that I may live it and share it with others.

I SEE YOU

In the movie Avatar the phrase “I see you” is used to describe seeing someone’s true essence and to acknowledge value and deep love for that person. This picture of love is seen beautifully revealed in the biblical story of Hagar. In her darkest moment the LORD came to her and showed her His love. Hagar coined another name for Yahweh that day when she called Him: “EL ROI”, which means: “You are theGodwho seesme”. She boldly proclaimed: “I have now seen the One who sees me”. We can easily feel alone, misunderstood, maligned and abandoned by others. Unrequited love is deeply painful, but one thing we can know for certain, God IS love and He will always declare: “I see You!” O LORD, EL ROI, I am swept into unspeakable joy by Your perfect love.

A GOOD FRONT

Have you ever noticed how many times we connect the words “I need to” and “good”? For instance, “I need to look good”, “I need to act good”. And then there are its siblings: “I need to act nice, or friendly, or calm, or interested...the list goes on and on. Nothing is ever perfect, so it takes a lot of work to put up a good front, but not for the Perfect One.  As the psalmist proclaimed: “LORD You ARE good and Your mercies endure forever” and “You meet (me) with goodness”. Again, he sang: “I will tell of Your goodness all day long…I will proclaim Your goodness, Yours alone!” God never NEEDS to be good; He is goodness personified, its very definition and source. LORD You are so good, fill me with Your goodness that I may spill out Your glorious goodness to all freely, unpretentiously and consistently.

NOT-SO-RANDOM KINDNESS

Kindness attracts a crowd. I am not talking about “Kindness Stories” being featured on the local news showcasing random acts of kindness. Those are great, but I am referring to a much more meaningful crowd that is attracted by kindness, a huge crowd of divine characteristics quickly surround genuine kindness. Tenderheartedness, forgiveness, mercy, joy, peace and many more immediately begin appearing as kindness prevails. One godly act breeds another, and so on it goes. Kindness should not be random at all; it should be central to our approach toward others at all times. God is kind beyond description and so should we be as His offspring. Lord God, You are kind beyond measure, help me be like You. May kindness be the centerpiece of Your work through me.

THE LAST SECOND

I propose that If God made watches they would only display one time: eleven fifty-nine and fifty-nine seconds. Why? Because it seems to me it is normally the last possible second when He chooses to answer my prayers and do His divine work. His timing is perfect of course, but it never coincides with my chosen timeline. Candidly, considering how I am transformed for the better by this process, I am actually grateful for it. His way imparts greater confidence to me in the biblical promise: “When He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” It is now abundantly clear; it only takes a second for God to do a miracle…just one last second. Omnipotent Father, forgive my imprudent haste. In my final moments on this earth You will finish Your work in me and I’ll arrive to You perfect. Wow.

EYES UP!

While on a morning walk I scanned the bright blue sky above and counted over thirty contrails slicing across the azure canopy. The wispy white streaks silently announced the passing of high-flying planes filled with passengers and cargo. So much was happening above me and I would have missed it all if I not looked up. How much in life do I miss for failure to follow King David’s example? He proclaimed: “I lift up my Eyes to the heavens”. The lesson? Keeping our noses to the grindstone on earth must be done with our eyes and heart toward God’s throne above. Lord of Glory, You continually act within the heavenlies to enforce Your will in the earth whether I notice or not. Help me to keep my face turned toward You. To You I lift up my eyes.

UNENDING SUPPLY

God must be honored in all we do. Honor is not merely acknowledging Him; it is offering Him our first, our best and our all. The heart that recognizes the authority, wisdom, power and goodness of “The Great I AM” will have no trouble trusting Him through both storms and temptations. We waste our efforts storing up earthly things only to see them slip away on the tides of life; but he who learns to store God’s Word in his heart will never lack. Troubles come, but a storehouse of Truth nestled in the soul is a continuous wellspring of life and provides what we need for every occasion. Glorious El Shaddai, to breathe Your Name expunges my soul of all fear and releases unrelenting hope and assurance! To ponder and speak Your Word is an unending supply of manna in desert places.

A DEADLY FALL

The biblical story of Adam and Eve’s rebellion is often referred to as: “The Fall of Man”. While it is true that there was a third party involved in the temptation, the two of them were held accountable for their own decisions; temptation is powerless without the willingness of the person who falls into it. We downplay our own role by saying: “I fell in sin”, but in fact we are ALWAYS complicit on some level. It is more honestly stated: “I fell head first with my eyes wide open”. True repentance is admitting personal responsibility. The good news is God is merciful to penitent hearts. LORD, please forgive my squirmy attempts at self-justification. I do not want to abuse Your grace, help me to align my ways with Your Will before falling.

THE VOICE

While having dinner at an unusually loud restaurant I noticed a young couple seated in a corner booth. It was obvious they were on a first date, but the surrounding cacophony didn’t seem to bother them one bit; it was as if they were all alone. The lesson is simple; we hear what we are dialed-in to hear. Life can be very noisy at times, but with desire and concentration, I can hear God’s voice if I really want to. The problem is that sometimes I don’t like what He says. But if I treasure His words more than those of all others, I will have a steady stream of His wisdom. Lord God, You do not hide truth from Your children. You store up wisdom for those who seek Your voice and freely offer guidance for those who follow Your ways.

IRRATIONAL STRUGGLE

Like a wounded animal that bites at the hand that feeds it or snaps at the veterinarian that intends to bring healing, I sometimes irrationally struggle against the tenderness of God’s embrace and provision. It is only when my heart trusts His care can I receive the full benefits of His helping hand. We were created in His Image but our souls still bear the scars of the ravages of worldliness. Though He Himself carried our sorrows and healed our woundedness upon Calvary’s hill, we pull turn away at times from His work to reshape us into what is best for us. Blessed Father, forgive my attempts to resist. Through Your boundless care my sins are atoned and by Your Spirit I am being re-established daily in the fullness of Your salvation.

THE ENVY TRAP

There is a razor thin line between admiration and envy, making it dangerously easy to slip from one to the other. Respect and esteem can inspire us and provoke us to reach for greater heights, but when we cross over into personal comparisons, jealousy or judgmentalism, we become trapped in envy and resentment settles in. In the final analysis, envy is unbelief; rooted in lack of trust in God’s shepherding care and fed by pouting pride. For me to be jealous of another person’s blessing is, in effect, to repudiate the Goodness of our Heavenly Father toward me. LORD, You are the Way, the Truth and the Giver of Life. Deliver me from mortal traps and help me trust Your work, ways and means implicitly. Blessed be Your Name.

DISHONEST SCALES

Proverbs proclaims: “The Lord detests dishonest scales.” This is not His hatred of inaccuracy; it is His abhorrence of dishonesty. The Perfect One judges no one for imperfection, for without Him nothing is perfect, nor can be. Rather, it is the prideful attempt to set up false scales that elicits His wrath. Ignorance is not an excuse, yet He is merciful to the innocently uninformed. But when we pridefully attempt to establish a new scale of truth to fit our own desires or needs, His anger is roused. Was that not the Deceiver’s intention in the Garden when he tried to reset the scale by saying “eat the forbidden fruit, it will make you like God”? Like God, but without the need for God. My LORD, forgive my dangerous attempts to redefine truth. You Alone are Almighty God. Demolish every false scale within me.

PRESENT

Time spent pondering the life-transforming power of God's presence is time well invested. Bidden, or not bidden, He is always near, yet often remains unacknowledged. Awareness of His presence is a major game changer. Upon awakening each day I must recalibrate my mind, body and spirit to recognize and welcome God’s Presence. Throughout each day I must practice disciplines that cultivate God’s Presence. At the close of each day, I must trustingly rest in God’s Presence, casting all my cares upon Him. Dearest Lord, grant me grace to pull away from the dizzying anxiety of this world and lay my head on Your chest. Let my very breath rise and fall in cadence with Yours and help me be schooled in Your Presence.

DOOM AND BLESSING

Both doom and blessings always seem to be just ahead and coming my way. At times, one appears more imminent than the other, but one or the other always seems to be circling the landing strip and on final approach. As it turns out, neither have ever actually arrived exactly the way I had previously imagined, nor had the impact I had envisioned. In fact, what appears as doom often comes laden with hidden blessings upon arrival, and “blessings” often contain unexpected complications. The lesson here?...“In everything give thanks”. Blessed Father, come what may, I am more than a conqueror because You love me and are working everything for my good. I get it. Baruk ha Shem Adonai!!

ANGER DANGER

There is no progress made by stirring up acrimony and outrage. Mild anger can move us into action and needed change, but it can easily metastasize into animosity, infuriation and hatred. The Biblical admonition is “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” It goes on to admonish us to deal with anger swiftly. All too often we interpret this to mean we should hurry to the source and change the circumstance or person making us angry, but the starting point is to let God work in our heart first. Lord of Unfailing Love, you created me to quickly respond to You, not have a quick temper. Forgive my many failings and help me first examine my heart before reacting to circumstances. May Your Love always guide my actions.

AWESTRUCK

I so admire those who care for those with debilitating illnesses or severe disabilities. The deep admiration I feel for these caretakers is rooted in my own sense of being so easily overwhelmed by the very thought of it. Then, when I consider how low God must bend to care for my brokenness, and how patient He is with my complaints, I am both grateful and embarrassed. He is never put-off by my weaknesses. In fact, it seems the more I offer them to Him the more I sense His love, presence and compassion. O Lord My Caretaker, Healer and Benevolent Benefactor, You never turn your back to the broken. Your love is undiminished by the volume of our frailties. I am awestruck by Your unlimited love, mercy and enduring goodness.

THE RIGHT THING

The biblical command to “let love be your guide” is incredibly profound. Doing the right thing is never done in a vacuum; there are always other options pulling on us in the moment of decision. Personal interests must be conceded each time good is chosen over evil, but “speaking the truth in love” can sober us faster than a dip in an icy spring. Letting love be our guide not only makes good choices desirable, to “walk in love” makes doing the right thing consistently achievable. Failures to do so remind me that I am still a rookie, but I am confident God will finish His “work of love” in me. Blessed Father, Your “love never fails”. Dispel the darkness of self-centeredness and fortify me with Your amazing love.

BREAK THE CHAIN

Snowflakes are delicate and seemingly harmless as they float down to the ground, but things are not always as they seem. Each year many lives are destroyed by the heavy weight burden of accumulating snow, collapsing roofs and causing myriad of other heavy snow accidents. In like manner, petty offenses, small annoyances and little irritations also seem innocuous, but they stick together, building up and becoming deadly for our souls, collapsing in on our lives like an avalanche. Unforgiveness rarely begins as a single event; it creeps in slowly and piles up. Our pathway to safety is to break the chain by closing each day with forgiveness for others. Lord of Forgiveness and Mercy, cleanse my soul of unforgiveness and fill me with Your love.

THE LORD'S REBUKE

I do not resent the Lord’s rebuke. Don’t get me wrong, I usually don’t like it at the time it is happening, but I realize that His discipline is a necessary expression of His unfailing love. Without His restraining hand and supervision, I would run wildly off track and would surely settle for less than His best. He will have none of that. The Love of God keeps a constant eye on every move and as the shepherd searches relentlessly for his lost lambs, Our Redeemer chases us down when we stray and pulls us back from ruin. He takes hold and never lets go. Holy Lord, You are my Father, Your corrections are blessings and Your Holy Hand of discipline proclaims Your delight in us as Your children.

GROWING PROBLEMS

Cold tile floors and bare feet are an unpleasant wintery mix, yet warm socks properly applied are a welcome and easy fix. This is a teachable moment, reminding me that little problems become big problems if not addressed, but they are easily overcome if immediate, proper care is taken. Delayed prayer, deferred forgiveness, ignored relational issues; all these are life’s land mines. Postponement does not deal with problems; it only makes them worse, dangerously masking them until they explode. I must never run from problems, instead, I must run to the throne room to the LORD’S feet. Father, help me recognize and deal with the little things that spoil my soul. Remind me to be proactive when facing dilemmas and grant me fresh grace for today.