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Showing posts from July, 2018

WONDROUS MEDDLING

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

FLOOD OF FORGIVENESS

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

IGNORANCE IS BLISS?

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

UNSEEN POWER

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

NEEDLESS QUESTIONS

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

GUARDED AFFECTIONS

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

UNDER THE KNIFE

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

TIME IS NOT REFUNDABLE

In many ways time is the most valuable commodity of life, since unlike other assets, time is not refundable. As someone who believes that time is granted to us by directly by God Himself, where and how I spend my time are critical elements of stewardship, and as I have grown in maturity, the more I have come to comprehend its actual value. More than all other treasures, time must be reclaimed, rescued and guarded from things that attempt to embezzle it away from our eternal purpose. Only while in full surrender may a servant of God steward the gift of time wisely. Eternal LORD, King of the Universe, help me today to redeem the time apportioned me for Your Glory and Purpose and give me accurate discernment for proper stewardship for each and every moment.

THE CROWN OF LIFE

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

SO LOVED

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

LIGHT ON THE WAY

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

THE DAILY BATTLEFIELD

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

HONOR

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

GRACE FOR THE KILN

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

HIGHER THAN I

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

PERILOUS FREE-RANGING

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

SKINNY MIRRORS

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

LITTLE FOXES

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

GRUDGE FREE

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

UNZIPPED

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

NOTHING HIDDEN

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

AUTHENTICITY

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

GOD MANAGEMENT

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

MISSIONAL MOMENTS

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

INHERITANCE

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

NOW TOWER NECESSARY

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

THE NEXT BLESSING

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

LORD, HEAR MY PRAYER

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

A MIRACULOUS PLACE

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