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Showing posts from April, 2018

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!!!