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Showing posts from November, 2018

BELIEVING IS SEEING

It is often said, “Seeing is believing" but the Bible reveals that BELIEVING IS SEEING! In 2 Corinthians we read: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory”. And in 2 Kings 6:17-20: “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Frankly, I see the shadow of God’s Hand far more often than I see His Manifest Hand. But at times His actions, Presence and voice are so manifest that can I feel Him inwardly, see His workings visibly and understand His will for that moment with amazing clarity. But I must never forget, God dwells in my blind spots as powerfully as He does in the times when I can clearly see His Manifest Presence. I can see His Manifest Presence in past things much more easily and clearly than I see in my future, but again, He is as…

MY NECESSARY FIXES

Circumstances cannot be successfully transformed into our desired design by railing against them or blaming others. What is most needed is for me to change internally and instead of focusing on the state of affairs surrounding me. In fact, I have come to realize that God arranges custom designed “fixes” (southern vernacular for difficult circumstances) in which something in me get’s fixed. As the saying goes, “God fixed a fix to fix me”. We are told in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” All things? Yes, to those who know and trust His perfect and perfecting love and who love Him back. To the stubborn and hard-hearted, God will show mercy, but that person will probably keep seeing the same scenery over and over. LORD, open my eyes and heart to the lessons each moment provides. I trust Your Goodness and guiding hand.

RECKLESS

The average number of words spoken in a day is somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand. Is it any wonder we often say the wrong things? So many problems are rooted in reckless thoughts that tumble from our lips as reckless words; only fools believe we should say whatever we think. Every thought must first be brought under obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Everlasting One. Unfiltered speculations must not be allowed to roam freely in our minds and should never exit our mouths. In Proverbs 18:21 we read: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Things spoken become life or death to both the speaker and hearer, therefore our words require God’s constant guidance. Lord of Love and Truth, may all my thoughts be surrendered to You. Help me guard my tongue and let love rule my heart. 

OUTCOMES OF CONNECTIVITY

I love making things work. Whether it is a relationship, an organization, a garbage disposal or a vision, my heart is drawn to finding ways for things to function better. The key to improvement of anything is to get all the connections right. A loose wire, a misplaced word, a broken relationship, or a dispute between nations, all have one common problem…disconnection. God made it this way and He is the principle source of life-giving connections. Deuteronomy 8 is often used as a model for prosperity and success, but it is really about connectivity and its outcomes. Israel’s connections to God, the Land, His Commandments, His Promises and each other would be the foundation for their success. We must seek life-giving connections and atthe end of our course be found faithfully marching in cadence with the truly God-enamored. LORD, keep me in line. Help me connect the pieces in ways that invite Your blessings.

FROM DUTY TO DELIGHT

A sense of Christian duty drives much of what I do, so each day I dutifully recommit myself to do the right things. This seems fine on the surface but as a child of God there is a more noble way. While a sense of duty is appropriate, God seeks those who delight to do His will, even if they do it imperfectly. In Psalm 40:8 David prays, “I delight to do Your will.” Yet later confessed, “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me." Still, God said of David, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” His eyes move to and fro over the earth searching for those who with grateful, love-filled hearts turn toward Him and make His will their first priority, not as a sense of duty, but out of delight in pleasing Him. Father, I desire to permanently join the ranks of those who move from duty to delight.

INCONVENIENT FOLLOWING

In Leviticus 22:31 we read: “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.” That is about as straightforward as it can get. The problem is that following after the Will of God is by definition inconvenient since anything that imposes upon our human desires is bothersome. Following His promptings cannot be done without constant rearrangement of our personal priorities and commitments. Daily infusion of the Word and Spirit is vital to the walk of faith but will have minimal effect without a corresponding willingness on our part to hear and obey. I am better at this process now than when it first began in my life but I must still make a daily effort to make further progress. Lord, Your relentless pursuit and unmitigated love are my strength and hope. Grant me grace for immediate obedience. Help me knuckle under and put You first in all things.

HE'S GOT THIS

I will not live my life in a fear-fueled rage against circumstances outside of my power to do anything about. While there are many things I would like changed in this world and in my life I accept that I don’t understand what is best for each moment on this earth. What I do know is that Almighty God knows and He is generous, loving, meticulous, wise and in control. He’s got this! Isaiah 41:10 the LORD commands: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” That sounds good enough for me. So I will do as did King David and command my soul to bless the Lord and not forget all the benefits He promises to His children. Glorious Father, knowing You is enough. All things are in your perfect hands; I safely advance in peace.

IN AWESOME WONDER

What does God have in store for those who seek Him? The Scriptures reveal a lot: protection, wisdom, success, eternal salvation, daily bread, hope, light to our path, still waters, peace, joy, unconditional love, discipline, inexhaustible forgiveness, redemption, a restored soul, purpose, and best of all, “when we see Him, we will be like Him”. And yet, this is but a sampling of His promises since “eye has not seen nor ears heard” the full array of His blessings. But it gets even better, 2 Corinthians proclaims: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” O Lord my God, again here I am in awesome wonder, joyfully considering Your Goodness and Mercy. My heart is singing, Your Greatness steadily unfolding.

I AM THANKFUL

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father.” The Apostle Paul wrote this in his letter to the Ephesians while chained in a Roman prison cell awaiting imminent execution. This would be impossible for someone with an empty heart, but a thankful heart is one of the primary characteristics of a spirit-filled life. Circumstances may steal away the inner joy of a child of God for a moment, but a person with eternity in their heart returns to equilibrium. The biblical phrases “by Him”, “in Him”, “through Him” not only point to the greatness and goodness of God, they are instructions for how to be joyful and thankful in any circumstance. LORD, this is the day You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

WHEN I'M 64

The song “When I’m 64” was one of was the early songs performed by the Beatles. It was about a young man’s plans to grow old together with his lover. As a ten-year old it seemed entirely irrelevant to me, but today on my 64thbirthday it is more relevant than ever. The lyric: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?” could actually serve as a prayer, and the answers are “yes He does, yes He will”. The LORD does not discard His love for His servants nor does He withdraw His provision. I’m happy to report that His love is eternal. Life does seem to pass by quicker than ever these days, but eternity never runs out of time and blessing for the child of God. We are comforted by these promises: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” So I will ignore the aging man I see in the mirror since we are commanded to: “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is un…

COMENDABLE FRATERNITY

Much of what we learn is accomplished by imitating others. Since we are predisposed to this, it is vital that we choose carefully those to whom we cast more than a glance. Covenant friendships, godly fellowship, spiritual brotherhood and missional commitments are the things that provide needed guidance to our associations. While I am naturally inclined to like people and appreciate their unique qualities and distinct differences, I must be wise in my choice of true comrades. Proverbs warns: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” And, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Lord, You direct my steps; lead me into commendable fraternity. Use me to rightly influence others.

THE ENVY TRAP

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

CRUSTY NO MORE

A large patch of dead grass in our yard had become rock hard on the surface; the destructive work of moles. No new grass would grow in that spot until the crusty remains of past greenery-gone-bad was removed. The same process is necessary within my soul. Relationships can be very life giving, but sometimes they go south quickly. The hardness of heart that past disappointments or betrayals create must be plowed under and removed or the crusty leftovers could prevent new life from emerging. Honest self-examination, forgiveness, praying for others and filling life with truth and mission are unbeatable tools for softening my heart. Glorious God, in Your Loving Mercy, break up crustiness within my heart. Make my soul pliable, ready to receive new seeds and new growth.

LADEN WITH GOD'S PRESENCE

As a youngster traveling with my family through Florida I marveled at the seemingly endless amount of fruit-laden orange trees. The branches were so full of citrus that the lower ones touched the ground. In similar fashion, each new day and each and every moment is laden with God’s Presence. It is as if I am standing next to a tree filled with ripened fruit; I can simply reach out and take its delicious bounty. Earthly trees offer but one fruit but this is different, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” I want every one of these! What will God provide me today that could change someone’s life? Will I even notice? Lord, thank You for Your bountiful blessings. Help me awaken to and take hold of Your provision. I ask that You never allow me to consume Your Goodness for myself without sharing it with others.

DIAMONDS ON MY DRIVEWAY

Passing by the front window at daybreak I looked at the driveway and received a wonderful surprise, there were diamonds everywhere; beautiful sparkles were spread across the otherwise dull concrete. Upon further examination I realized it was dew gathered on small leaves reflecting a combination of moonlight and dawning sunlight. Again, God had transformed the ordinary into something amazing and resplendent with beauty. That is what He does. A dusty rock orbiting the earth becomes a brilliant moon with God’s touch and design. An ordinary mind can have a life-altering idea with just a nudge from the All Knowing One. Jeremiah said: “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’.” With a single touch God made Him a mouthpiece for truth. King of Majesty, I stand amazed in Your Presence. As surely as you spread momentary treasures on the ground You spread eternal treasures throughout my life. I am very grateful.

HAPPILY DEFEATED

As a twelve-year-old Boy Scout I was almost defeated by distance. Our troop was taken on a 20-mile hike in the heat of a Florida summer. I don’t even remember my troop leader’s name but thanks to him we all learned we could go much farther than we believed possible That 20-Mile Hike merit badge meant far more to me than did others I had earned because it was a discovery of what is possible. I have since learned that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”. All but one thing that is…I cannot out-distance His love. After repeatedly passing through impossible circumstances as “more than a conqueror” I am utterly overcome by My Savior’s amazing love and faithfulness. Dearest Father, I am not a wandering exile, You call me by name, You claim me as Your own. I am happily defeated by Your immeasurable love. 8/27/13, 11/25/15, 11/15/18

MY ANCHOR HOLDS

Jesus said: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find restforyoursouls.” On the oceans of the world an approaching storm can come so fast that there is no way to avoid it. Both Captain and crew are put to a test that can last for days on end. Growing weary in a fight against these unrelenting tempests is a normal part of life on the seas. Exhaustion becomes just ashazardous as the gale itself; making bad decisions increasingly becomes a dangerous potential. Dropping anchor to get some rest can be the only wise course of action. For the child of God there is also rest in the storm that only our Heavenly Father can provide. I must cease from my own works to allow Him to do His Divine Work. The great hymn proclaims: “In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” Dearest Father, Captain of My Soul, my anchor holds, I am at rest. You are LORD of All.

FULLY PRESENT

We have all been in more than a few early roll calls in elementary school. We listened with only modicum of interest; and once our name was called and acknowledged we lost interest. But as we each learned, there is a huge difference between “physically present” and being “fully present”. The same is true when it comes to the will of God. I can show up to the moment half asleep or half awake. On the Mountain of Transfiguration the disciples were very sleepy and they too slipped into the unconsciousness of deep sleep, but “when they became fully awake they saw his glory.” At times, I slide into a half-present/half-awake consciousness in my spiritual walk as well, only vaguely aware of the divine value of that moment. Holy Lord, AWAKEN me…ALL of me. Let the brightness of Your dawning bathe my soul. May Your Glory fill my life leaving nothing untouched!

ACKNOWLEGED

"In all your ways acknowledge Him." This biblical admonition is not intended to mean that we simply recognize God's existence while continuing in our own ways; it is a command to exchange our ways for His. Acknowledgement of God is not a raw deal or a robbery; it is His generous offer to trade our rickety ways for a much sturdier and dependable model of life. Surrender to doing things God’s way is never a zero sum trade off. In fact, we are the ones that get the best deal ever as we yield to His ways rather than our own! His ways come jam-packed with previously unseen blessings. So it is time to stop merely nodding our heads as we pass by the Master, now we must bend the knee to His ways. Gracious God, grant me Your pardon and deliver me from my own earthly intentions. LORD I acknowledge You.

A RAGING INFERNO

The powerful Santa Ana Winds are what fuel the furious California fires each fall. A fire needs plenty of air to reach its full potential, if ventilation is cut off, the flames die out. The same can be said of anger. While quiet, seething anger is still dangerous, venting our anger openly to others can lead to a raging inferno. Every emotion has a proper place in life, but expressed without the needed controls of God’s Word and Spirit, they become tools of our own destruction. We are scripturally warned to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander”; spreading it to others does not get rid of it, it only makes it worse. Like all things, my consternation must be surrendered to the Almighty. LORD, snuff out the embers of rage within my heart. Smother every flame within me that is displeasing to you.

LOVE FILTER

Expressing feelings and opinions comes fairly easily for me, but speaking without necessary restraints is never a good thing. Frankly, I have both wounded and healed with my words. As Proverbs states: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Though I genuinely attempt to use care in what I say, far too often, the wrong things slip through anyway. The phrase “I really shouldn’t say this…” followed by saying it anyway is a fools game. Words guided by wisdom and bathed in love should be the constant way of the child of God. To withhold wisdom can rob someone of a blessing, but to say just anything that comes to mind is never the right path. Father, cleanse my lips, help me speak only what is filtered through love. Purify my heart that my mouth will be a fountain of blessing.

FINISHING WELL

I am not striving to live the best life possible, I am contending to finish well. What a wonderful life I’ve already lived. It is most definitely not perfect nor do I expect it to be, but it has been quite an amazing run. When I survey the blessings, the wonderful people and the mind-blowing opportunities I have been offered in this life I can gratefully say I am at peace. So the issue is no longer “grabbing the brass ring” or concern about what others think; my goal is finishing well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no hurry to finish, it’s just that want to reach the end and be able to declare with confidence the words of the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” In other words, I want to please “The audience of One”. I hope to one day hear the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”. LORD, it is well, it is well, with my soul.

HOLIER-THAN-THOU

The heart that understands the unmerited grace God offers will not fall victim to a superiority complex toward others. If we are still under the delusion that we are blessed because of our moral rectitude or exceptional knowledge, then prideful judgmentalism is assured. Religious arrogance paralyzes spiritual progress and sets us up for a fall. I would like to think I abandoned all sanctimonious tendencies far behind but they still pop up like toast out of a toaster. They are still lurking in my soul, camouflaged as “concern for my brother” or some other pitiful excuse. It is not pleasing to God to for me to deny someone else the mercy and grace on which I so heavily depend. Lord, have mercy on my earthly ways and make me more like You. May my pursuit of piety never produce a holier-than-thou response to others.

PANIC ATTACK

A powerful storm on the lake prompted the disciples to wake Jesus from “sound sleep”. The disciples were in mortal fear, their panic made them feel he didn’t care and their words were infused with foolishness: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He awoke, spoke peace to the storm “Peace, be still” then asked them: ““Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The size of our crisis causes no panic on His part; God has no panic attacks, instead, He attacks our panic. Since He is not bound by time nor limited in capacity, He cannot be confounded or set back by earthly turmoil. He is the Eternal Sovereign, the Almighty, the Lord of All and the Lord our Peace. Heavenly Father, Your timing, Your way, Your will, that’s it! My storms are in Your hands; I rest assured in Your Presence.

RIGHTEOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS

While standing in line at a checkout, an elderly gentleman motioned to a sleeping infant in a young mother’s arms and asked me: “wouldn’t you love to have a conscious that clear?” It resonated with me because I would love to have a conscious unburdened with the scars of past failures. All of us would. The problem is, innocence cannot be retrieved once lost. Yet for those who come to know the boundless mercy of God and the inexhaustible sufficiency of our redemption, something even more wonderful is revealed; we are granted “righteousness consciousness.” In the divine exchange, our Savior took upon Himself our condemnation and bestowed upon us His right standing. Wow! Most Merciful Father, in Christ alone there is peaceful rest while held in Your transforming arms.

GIVE SPACE

Two words came to mind while in prayer: ”give space.” The Presence of God can occupy space of any size, but His residency may not be recognizable while hidden in the junk pile of an overstuffed life. It is amazing how quickly every last bit of storage area in a drawer, house, office, car or garage fills to the brim. Since we know how easily empty space gets jam-packed with unessential things, we need to sincerely ask ourselves some questions: “How overstuffed is the space in my soul?” “Does the Savior find any room in the inn or is He still stuck out in a manger?” Lord of Light and Life, You own me through and through. I desire to yield every last bit of space in my inward being to You. In Your mercy grant me grace for further housecleaning in my mind, my heart and my calendar.

BEYOND THE COMMON COURSE

The salt marshes along the southeastern coast can be quite tricky to navigate. Many perils await such as hidden, oyster-covered sand bars and maze-like waterways that easily confuse the inexperienced. However, leaving the safety of the marked channels opens endless rewards of beautiful wildlife such as manatees, bald eagles, great fishing, a kaleidoscope of colors and a serene sense of quiet privacy. In those exquisite moments it all seems divinely composed. Well, it is. A similar experience can belong to those who pull away from the common channel of mundane spirituality and go deep into the quiet spaces. The God-seeker will soon become the God-finder. Lord of Might and Wonders, help me seek the unseen beyond the common course. Nudge me toward divine moments secret places where Your Glory awaits the seeker and rarified air fills every breath.

OPEN HEART, OPEN HANDS

Proverbs reveals: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.” Interestingly, generosity is not dependent upon our level of material resources. In fact, it is often the case that the more abundance someone possesses the harder it is to live with open hands. We easily become so focused on managing what we have or don’t have that we forget why God blesses us with abundance in the first place. The key to generous living is to stop calculating the value of the gift by recognizing the value of being a giver. As God’s instruments of blessing we are to be a resource, not a reservoir. Blessed Giver of Life, time, talents and treasure are all gifts from You. Open and cleanse my heart so my hands will not be sticky and that I may give as feely as I have received.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Most Christians imagine spiritual warfare to be a matter of battling high-level, diabolical tactics proceeding from a well-designed operational plan launched against us from Satan’s Central Command. While that may well be the case at times, most of my personal warfare emanates from irritating airline schedule changes, overcrowded intersections and disinterested help-desk attendants. In fact, my greatest battles do not proceed from the bowels of hell, but from the unsurrendered back-alleys of my heart. Of course, Satan and his minions are always willing to escort my strolls through the underworld of impatience and presumption, but last time I checked the Bible, they were defeated by Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Father, again I must confess, though I am Your son, I am still a rookie in many ways. Shine Your transforming Light on my dark moments.

EXHAUSTED RESOURCES

With one astonishing response to an otherwise unremarkable need at the wedding in Cana our Redeemer revealed so much about His will and ways. He revealed that He can turn exhausted resources into abundant overflow in an instant and showed how an ordinary moment can be transformed into a miraculous blessing by simply obeying His commands. He demonstrated that our needs and requests are not ignored, and that He is perfectly willing to do something supernatural in our everyday lives if we ask in faith. Lastly, He made known His inclination to save the very best for last. Blessed LORD, thank You for making it plain to see; exhausted resources set the stage for Your amazing handiwork. Help me embrace Your ways more firmly and obey Your commands more readily.