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Showing posts from May, 2018

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.