Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2018

LIAR, LIAR

Paul warned Timothy long ago about things we see today on an ever-broadening scale: “Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” This is nothing new. There have always been lies and liars, the deceived and the deceivers. So why does it seem to be worse in today’s world? Lies and deception are simply more easily spread in the technological age in which we now live. But our protections from falsehood are as powerful today as ever before. Daily prayer and study of Scripture, regular fellowship with mature believers and the discernment granted by the Holy Spirit are more than sufficient to keep us stable in a roaring sea of lies. “Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world!” LORD, keep me on course. Use me to guide others by “speaking the truth in love.”

GOOD JUDGEMENT

Discretion is a precious gift from God. If I ignore its protection I will surely suffer the consequences. Just because I can say or do something doesn’t mean I should. The lack of discretion in modern culture harms us all and is responsible for so much unnecessary pain and suffering. Time spent with thoughtful people increases my tendency to make responsible decisions and guards me from inappropriate recklessness. Good judgment does not lock us away from the world around us, but empowers us to walk boldly and safely in every circumstance. Giver of All Wisdom, grant me foresight and good sense today. Guard my mouth and actions by Your Spirit and Word. Help me be a faithful witness to others.

THE SQUALOR OF JEALOSY

Coveting someone else’s life is not only wrong; it is a dangerous. While chasing after the lifestyle, worldly goods, popularity or power of others, I cannot accurately and passionately pursue the plan God has for me. Besides, while coveting the life of someone else, we tend to “cherry pick”, wanting the good things they enjoy all the while ignoring or minimizing the problems and difficulties they endure. It is in fact chasing after a fictitious life. It is pursuit of a fake image that doesn't even exist. Our desire should be set completely on the life God has for each of us. Great Shepherd of my Soul please forgive my momentary excursions into the squalor of jealousy. Your plan for me is perfectly calibrated with all things necessary to fulfill my divinely designed purpose.

A WALK IN THE LIGHT

It is dark outside, yesterday’s light is long gone, but daylight is now crawling over the face of the earth headed straight for me. Though I cannot yet see its approach I know it is on the way. Since I can no longer live in yesterday’s light I must now turn my thoughts from past things and step into the brightness of this new day as it appears. Isaiah proclaimed, “Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” I am one day wiser than ever before and have never been more experienced or known more than at I do at this very moment. This new day comes loaded with potential for me to be further transformed into His image and to do His bidding. Lord God Almighty, thank You for a brand new opportunity to know You better and to do Your bidding. My heart is prepared with joyful anticipation to take another walk in the light.

A WORLD-CLASS SHADOW BOXER

The apostle Paul clearly stated his goal in life, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” Even a “world-class” shadow boxer wins no prize. Each of us has responsibility for proper stewardship of our time, talents and treasures. These are gifts from God and as His stewards they must be invested in what really matters, devoted to what pleases Him. Too often I have settled for less than God’s best being pulled off course by inward deception, a wandering heart or the influence of others. Strong finishers do not follow the crowd; they set their pace for the prize. O Lord My Guide, keep me on course and help me stay in my lane. May each punch connect with my purpose and be within Your Perfect Will.

TIMELESS INSIGHT

Each new generation has wonderful new ideas. Music changes, language changes, styles change, but some things never change; nor should they. We are warned several times in the Bible: “do not move an ancient boundary stone”. According to God’s design, His Word is not only a book of Promises it is also a Foundation on which our life of faith is built. Interestingly, as one grows older, the lessons of the past become more relevant and crucial for both now and for what is ahead. Wonderful innovation, knowledge and communication is growing at breakneck speed all around us, but it is increasingly necessary to stop and remember who we are and where we came from to keep us on course to where we are going. Eternal Father, unmask for me the lessons of life past, present and future. LORD, grant me timeless insight for today.

MY LAST NERVE

Every time I start believing I’ve made significant spiritual progress I find someone standing squarely on my last nerve. A flash of frustration can rise up so quickly at times and is usually entirely out of proportion to the situation. The Apostle Paul revealed the key to victory over self-centered behaviors when he stated: “I die daily”. I cannot afford to miss the lesson here, as the saying goes: “dead men feel no pain”. Dying to selfishness must happen each and every day. Patience with others is a sign of the depth of our progress. Father, I am rightly shaken with the reality of my lingering weaknesses, yet I know preoccupation with self is not incurable. Thank You for confronting in me what is not pleasing to You. Help me to love others with Your amazing love.

DESPERATE INTIMACY

Pain is very personal; every heart knows its own concealed agony. Smiles and laughter often mask hidden inward grief. To the one who truly knows God as Father, those times of veiled agony actually become uniquely precious. For in the same way our deepest pain is vey private, times of desperate intimacy with the Great Shepherd turns our sorrows into joy in ways that no one else can share. In those “secret place” moments, mourning becomes dancing, grief becomes gladness and pouting becomes praise! Just the mention of His name declared in bedrock belief shatters the darkness and opens the heavens! My Lord, my God, You are Awesome, Powerful and Wonderful in all Your ways! All Glory and Majesty are Yours forever and ever amen!

THE POTTER'S WHEEL

We are each spun round and round by the everyday swirl of life; family, job, news, weather, health and on and on it goes. It often feels as if I am a lump of clay spinning on a potter’s wheel. As a matter of fact, I am. As I am spinning through each day the Master’s touch gently presses in, reshaping me for His envisioned purpose. So why do I still resist this needed process at times? My failed attempts at shaping myself should be evidence enough to stay on the wheel and yield to the Potter’s hands. The Potter’s Wheel is an instrument of blessing in the hands of my Maker and Redeemer. Father I thank You for Your blessed work. Have Your way, I am yielded clay in Your hands. Mold me and make me into the vessel You desire.

I CAN HANDLE IT

Famous last words: “I can handle it!” Too often, this kind of brazen pride leads to tragic endings. To bulldoze through fears with unreasonable self-confidence is foolish and dangerous. However, to run from fears leaves us in a state of relentless anxiety, opening our soul to ever-increasing panic. So what do we do? It is simple really; to run to God in times of terror is to face our fears and destroy them. When the cares of this world hit us hard we must cast them upon the One who cares for us and praise Him through the tempest. His promises transform doubts into dominion and fears into faith. So in fact I CAN handle it if I remember: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Lord God, You are my Glory and the Lifter of my head! You, O Lord are my shield and deliverer, in You I put my trust and on You I cast my cares.

SOMETHING BETTER

After Lot had selfishly chosen the best land he and Abraham had seen, God said to Abraham “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are”. God was calling Abraham to look beyond his second-place circumstances; He had something better for him. As it was for Abraham, so it is for us; every step of obedient faith holds the promise of inheritance. Looking behind me adds nothing to my future, but stepping forward with my eyes on the horizon means additional promised territory.Will I delay in unholy dependence upon my known resources or will I hear and obey? I choose the latter, renouncing the freezing effect of fear and embracing what is ahead. Stepping forward in yielded obedience is the only path to full acquisition of God’s promises while in this world. O Lord my Rock, strengthen my resolve with Your divine touch. Open my eyes to the previously unseen. Guide my feet to Your chosen path.

TRANSFORMED

The transformation between the dark of night to morning light never loses its fascination for me. Some days easily, other mornings more reluctantly, like a magnet to metal I am drawn to its power to awaken. Every second brings subtle change; the landscape must be carefully observed as all that can be seen is transfigured. There are so many parallels between sunrise and the way God pulls me deeper into His will. Each day He quietly moves into my darkness, His resplendent Presence renovating my soul. His Word reveals hidden treasures and new details unfold. He unveils flaws that He immediately begins repairing and His Glory illuminates previously unseen passageways forward. Lord of Light, I welcome Your transformational approach to every square inch of my soul. Yes, You are good.

AN UPWARD GLANCE

A rocky mountainside, a bush on fire, these are seemingly unremarkable things, but on a fateful day on Mount Sinai the ordinary was transfigured into the miraculous. On that run-of-the-mill day God’s manifest presence and spoken promises transformed dirt into sacred ground, a fugitive into a deliverer, a shepherd into a prophet. Moses was simply fulfilling routine duties as a sheepherder when an upward glance on a mountainside radically changed everything for him and for humankind. Soon, he would lead a nation of slaves into the Promised Land. Majestic Lord and Father, nothing is ordinary when it is infused with Your Presence and Power. Pull my eyes and heart toward Your will alone. Help me to “turn aside” in the midst of the daily grind that I may see Your Glory. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help!”

JUST BEYOND REACH

Having raised a houseful of children we learned a few things about the challenges and blessings of childhood curiosity. When they were small, we often kept things just out of their reach and certain things we kept away from our home altogether. As a child of God I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond reach was put there by my Heavenly Father. In some cases, things are just beyond touch to urge me forward or encourage me to climb higher. However, in other situations the extra distance is for my protection, keeping me from unnecessary from pain or worse. It is comforting to know, the Holy One, who places things beyond my grasp can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will. Blessed Lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

A LEAKING HEART

The psalmist penned: “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when the grain and new wine abound.” But later cried out: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” I can relate. I want a spirit-filled life completely filled to the brim…but my heart leaks. It fills up but immediately begins draining. I’ve learned that yesterday’s infilling means nothing for today since each and every day my heart must again be turned toward God afresh, replenished with truth and made a tabernacle of praise. It must be searched, cleansed, inclined to hear, willing, contrite, guarded, softened, thankful, freed from deceit and chasing after God. Well, it sounds as if my heart will have another busy day today. Lord,my heart belongs to You. You have created it to hear from You and follow after Your will. May the Lamp of Your Love shine brightly within me today. Fill me afresh…again.

INTO THE STORM

Jonah was taken into the storm. Jesus left the multitudes on the shore and took His disciples into the storm. The apostle Paul was taken prisoner and into the storm. In each case a miracle followed, not AFTER the storm but IN the storm. I too, have been taken into one storm after another. Some are spiritual, some emotional, some physical and many are the storms of others. There are cultural storms, political storms, doctrinal storms, church storms and on and on it goes. But one thing they all have in common, there is no storm to which Jesus cannot command: “Peace, be still!” There is no storm in which I cannot take the Savior’s hand and walk with Him on top of the tempest! LORD, my prayer is that of the psalmist: “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” So be it Father.

BRIDLED

As big, beautiful and strong as horses are they are highly susceptible to panic. It is a natural flight response and serves them well in the wild but it can be dangerous. I too, experience moments of fright but panic is not a reliable strategy. A life consumed with fear is easily turned in the wrong direction, plunging those driven by it into unrelenting darkness. Fearfulness shuts down our sense of purpose, power and direction, leaving us to run aimlessly in desolate places. In contrast, a life bridled by God’s leading hand will always turn us in the right direction, filling us with His perfect love and expunging fear from our souls. Hope and faith are the companions of those who trust God. Lord of Life, You set the captive free and set our feet dancing on the hilltops. Make Your Love my constant guide and use me for Your purposes. May my choices always be wise and pleasing to You.

HAPPY TRAILS

Risk management is the process of making and managing decisions to minimize failures. While this has proven value for many things, no one but One can accurately predict the future and make the trails ahead safe for for the journey. King David assured us: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” The Alpha and Omega has already trod every trail ahead, before I uttered a sound He heard my voice, before I lifted a hand He acknowledged my needs, before I failed He provided mercy and before I cried out He attended to my longings. Gracious Father, I know I must turn to You first in all things. You, O LORD are the Fountain of Life, Wisdom and Safety. In all my wanderings, keep me close to You and guide me with Your Sure Hand.

ABIDING FAITH

Doing God’s will does not depend upon perfect conditions. In fact, negative circumstances, confusion and pushback are practically requirements for things done in faith. While much of what forms faith within our heart is the written promises of God in Scripture, how and when to apply them is not always clear. Usually, I have only fragments of clarity, not the whole picture. Yet, trusting God to pull the pieces together while navigating through troubles is both cleansing and exhilarating. Jesus clarified a key component for faith to blossom as He declares: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” The key here is not to desire, the key is to “abide in Him”. Once there, circumstances have little effect.Father, thank You for the unique joy faith brings. Grant me grace to love You more.

CAPTAIN ON THE BRIDGE

I was at a local retreat center praying with a group of pastors when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was struck at 8:46 a.m. Within minutes someone rolled a TV into the room and we sat in mesmerized horror, watching and wondering what it all meant. As we were silently taking in the events unfolding in Manhattan another plane crashed into the South Tower. I immediately stood and said to the pastors: “gentlemen, captains need to be on the bridge at times like these”, so we all packed our bags and headed to our respective churches. While I was driving to my church two additional planes were crashed in D.C. and Pennsylvania. Praying for wisdom as I walked into our offices, it came to me, “those who know little of God’s love and supremacy will live in a constant state of fear”. They unfortunately don’t understand that there are higher laws at work than our own. Lord, Your Sovereignty will always prevail. Though horror still unfolds before us, You deliver us from fear. Even in the…

LIMITLESS DOMINION

The murky confusion of the black of night is instantly transfigured by the entry of even the smallest light. Many tremble at the onset of darkness in any form, but evil can be confronted without fear for we are bathed in our Savior and Redeemer’s vanquishing love. Demons flee in the presence of the King of Kings and destitute souls find deliverance, healing and peace. To bow the knee to the Lord of Hosts is to strike a deathblow to the enemies of the God-seeking. Yesterday’s grace and mercy are fully spent, but a fresh batch is prepared for all who seek You this new day. Father of Light, limitless dominion belongs to those who know You as LORD. You are our Strong Tower, our Refuge, our Provider, our Champion and our Deliverer. May Your Resplendent Glory fill me today and always.

MANIPULATING THE ALMIGHTY

God cannot be manipulated by my obedience; no amount of clever posturing succeeds in reshaping His will or ways. The Almighty sees right through every attempt I make to take control of circumstances that He alone must govern. Doing the will of God must be an act of love and abandon, not a contrived form of leverage. Self-dependence is not only unnecessary, it is rebellious refusal of His Grace and Lordship, therefore must be renounced in all its forms. The Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector demonstrates how NOT to pray: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” It is the humble acceptance of His sovereign and underserved mercy that invites unrestricted blessing. The Tax Collector "would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!" Father, cleanse my soul of every smidgen of poisonous pride and feigned innocence…

HEAVEN'S HUMBLE AFFECTION

Blessings come in many ways. While some are huge and obvious most blessings arrive without fanfare and in simple forms: a beautiful view, a memory of someone special, a baby’s smile, a taste, or a gentle touch. As I reflect on how often God works unannounced, it strikes me how utterly unpretentious He is. The LORD can work on any scale and is worthy of all glory, yet He stoops low to quietly craft a constant stream of blessings into our lives. He does not hold back for our lack of acknowledgement, His unrequited love pours forth without restraint. Lord God, You are our Glorious Benefactor. Sin has dulled my senses and I am slow to see, but in this moment of reflective contrition I glorify You and thank You for Your humble affection. Please make me more like You.

A HARDENED HEART

The hardening of the heart is generally a slow descent into prideful distrust of all others, God included. Obadiah warns: “The pride of your heart has deceived you”. It may begin as a particularly prized opinion or stubborn commitment to a specific course of action. Disappointments begin to pile up and the stiffening process commences. Hardening increases by rebellion against needed disciplines, bitterness over circumstances or by unbridled selfishness. As the hardening continues excuses are made, all contrary opinions are cast aside and no authority is trusted. In the end, callousness of the heart makes us resistance to truth itself. Father, grant me an open and pliable heart. May nothing I think or do be held so dear that truth may no longer penetrate.

DIVINE FORTITUDE

Our true measure of strength is best discovered in times of deep trouble or in times of great accomplishment. Should we falter in either we discover what we had previously imagined as strength is revealed as something far less. The tests of life are not our enemies; they are our instructors, our coaches. With God’s helping hand of grace we discover we can go farther, climb higher and finish better than we had previously thought. Metal is forged in the furnace and so are we. The journey of moving from human strength to divine fortitude is the pathway to God’s unlimited power. The Apostle Paul declared: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. He wasn’t bragging, he was showing us the way. Dearest Father, You are The Lord Our Strength, Our Rock, Our Fortress and Our Deliverer. Forgive my attempts to make it on my own.

SMALL THINGS

Every giant oak tree begins as a small acorn. But how can something so small contain the potential to populate the entire planet with trees? With God, all things are possible. The slightest touch of a rudder can change the course of a vessel. Swift turns can be dangerous on the water, so a series of small adjustments provide the safest approach, especially in tight spaces. The same is true of my soul. While we often seek something colossal to shift our direction in life, God mostly uses small things to guide us through our destined course. Zechariah warns: “Do not despise these small beginnings.” Father, remind me to pay attention to Your smallest touch. Guide me today into the center of Your will. May the full potential You designed me for be fully realized.

BANISHED DOUBT

There is no guarantee things that troubled me yesterday will not try to return with even more intensity today. Yet, I awaken anew with the joy of knowing that God is good and His power is not depleted. The LORD Almighty’s abiding love stands guard over His creation each and every moment of this new day. His provision feeds the birds of the air and clothes flowers with beauty. He never slumbers nor sleeps, His treasury is never emptied and His sovereignty never diminished. He is the LORD of all, yesterday, today and forever. Holy Father, banish from my heart every last vestige of doubt. You are the King of Kings all the time and in every way. Deliver me from lugging yesterday’s consternations into this glorious new day.

LIFTED

Our family was blessed to have quite a few pets over the years; a Pekinese named Reina was with us the longest. She was without a doubt, the sweetest but definitely the dumbest pet we ever had. Whenever we asked her if she wanted to go out she ran to the wrong door...every time...for almost 17 years! One day, she tried to stand up and her back legs wouldn't work. Reina sat looking at me, shaking and bewildered. I've seen that “help me, I don’t know what’s going on here” look before. I've HAD that look before. God sees that look every day from His children. A Psalm comes to mind: “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.” And another: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand". Lord, Thank You. You lift me and comfort me in my bewildering trials. You grant me assurance when I am weak. You place my feet on higher ground. I'm much better now.

HONORABLE LABOR

Today our nation celebrates Labor Day. On this national holiday we honor the contributions that workers have made to strengthen the wellbeing and financial prosperity of the United States of America. Frankly, a job can become a “daily grind”, sucking the very life out of us. Colleagues, customers, traffic, travel, system breakdowns and a horde of raging needs can make our work feel like a place of the condemned. So how do I turn my daily work into a blessing? Scripture reveals the answers: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” And “never tire of doing what is good.” Father, since the Garden You have put us to work. Help me embrace Your command and do honorable labor with a right mindset, a dedication to excellence and a thankful heart. LORD, there is rest in obedience to Your will.

CONSTANT TENSION

There is a constant tension for the child of God who wants to please Him. We are commanded to “go into all the world” yet reminded we are not “of the world” and warned to not “conform to the pattern of this world”. This leads to many false extremes. On the one hand, some run away from the world and act as if they are afraid to be in it. Others turn to worldliness as a life pattern. So how can we be a “light to the world” yet not be “of the world” ourselves? Proverbs reveals the answer: “Discretion will preserve you.” Like a fireman’s “hazmat suit”, discretion can protect us within a hazardous environment while empowering us to enter danger zones to fulfill our duty to help others. LORD help me walk in the world but not walk like the world. Grant me good discernment, discretion and deliverance from evil while “overcoming evil with good”.

DREAMS FULFILLED

So there is “finding your dream”, “chasing your dream”, “dream management”, “steps to dream fulfillment”, “the American Dream” and on and on it goes. Dream development and pursuit are all the rage, but dreams are nothing new. Paul had a dream. Joseph had a dream. Daniel “could understand dreams and visions of all kinds”. While the world chases personal dreams, as a child of God the key to dreams coming true is to dream God’s dreams for me rather than substituting them with someone else’s…including my own. Matthew declares: “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” and Philippians proclaims: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now THAT is dream fulfillment at its highest level! LORD, not my will but yours be done. Father, empower me to fulfill Your dream.