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Showing posts from December, 2018

OPEN OUR EYES LORD

In Ephesians 4 the apostle Paul prayed: “thatthe God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,the eyes of your[f]understanding being enlightened; that you may know what isthe hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,and whatisthe exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe”. There is nothing shadowed or obscured for the LORD Our Light and Salvation. With laser focus, His Glory penetrates every manner of darkness, His wisdom unveiling every deception. From Him, nothing may be hidden nor camouflaged nor squirreled away. For every child of His defeated by weariness, for the soul buried in the depths of a lightless abyss, for the ones for whom all seems lost, His luminous approach floods the wastelands of destitution with unending hope and rescue. O LORD God Almighty, Ruler of All Things, Our Provider, Our Protector, Our Shepherd, Our Peace and Our Vict…

ON THIN ICE

“Now come, and I will send you to Pharaoh so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:10-11). I understand Moses’ reluctance, the call of God on my life has always exceeded my known resources, proven capabilities and personal character. I have come to understand this is the way it must be; otherwise, I would foolishly lean too heavily upon myself. It is the daily walk on thin ice that keeps me alert and dependent upon divine intervention. My weaknesses invite God’s mercy, strength and goodness. So I begin another day shrouded in frailty but anticipating a new measure of grace and victory, contemplating God’s promise to Moses “I will be with you.” Blessed Father, You are not put off by my shortcomings. When I am weak You are strong. Blessed Master, use me this day for Your glory.

THE DANGER OF ENVY

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). Carrying nuclear waste in my pocket would be no more deadly than carrying envy in my heart, they both have the power to destroy lives. Malice grows quickly in the heart that harbors jealousy, emptying the soul of joy, peace and purpose. It is a slippery slope from witty criticisms to skillful, malicious rumormongering and malignant dismembering of the reputations of others. In reality, to covet someone else’s life is disavowal of God’s care and purpose for our own. It is in effect unbelief and a false accusation of God’s loving care and wisdom. O Lord, My Healer, eradicate from my soul all envy, jealousy and malice. May thankfulness be my constant companion and joyfulness the dominant factor in every thought, word and deed.

PERFECT TIMING

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” These are mind-stretching words from the Book of Revelation about God and time as we humanly measure it. Chronological time moves from the past, through the present and into the future, and is the only time we can humanly measure. God, on the other hand is the “I Am”, the “Alpha and Omega”, and the “Beginning and the End”. He dwells in all moments, past present future simultaneously. In 2 Peter 3:8 we read: “Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. This is why the victories won on the Cross so long ago are never distant from my current needs, “In Him” they are freshly unfolding right now! This is why His Promises are always within reach, “In Him” they are present at this very moment! Glorious Father help me set aside the barriers of time and distance. “In You I live and move and have my being!”

THE FEAR OF GOD

In Philippians 2:12 we read: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” To “fear God” is not having terror of Him, rather it is fear of following mankind’s ways rather than His ways. Every town has its scrapheap and my life does as well. There it is, a junkyard littered with the rusting hulks of past crashes of my own making; the results of going my own way instead of His. My “fear” is that I would again mistakenly seek my own way. Only in absolute surrender and reverent obedience can fear be obliterated. David declared: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.” And Philippians 2:13 proclaims, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Now THAT is GREAT NEWS! LORD, my fears are swept away by Your relentless pursuit of my heart! Keep me on track and at a safe speed.

CHANNELS OF BLESSING

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. This is the model for understanding our purpose and how to fulfil it. As recipients of God’s goodness, we must pass along what we receive. Most Christians do not get this therefore stunting their own spiritual growth. My spiritual father, Costa Deir taught: “There is a one-word definition of love…’Others’”. What God makes happen for you, equips you to make things happen for others, assuring your own spiritual growth. Our lives are to be channels of blessing, not reservoirs where only spillover is offered! The old hymn states it well: “Make me a channel of blessing today, make me a channel of blessing I pray; My life possessing, my service blessing, Make me a channel of blessing today.” LORD thank You fo…

SMALL THINGS

“For who has despised the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10. Christmas has many lessons in it, not the least of which is the birth of a child in a small, dusty, village on the backside of nowhere. It happens every day around the world, yet this seemingly unremarkable event in this tiny town perched on the hills of Judea changed everything for everyone everywhere for all time. It begs the question, what great thing is ahead that is currently in seed form in my life?” As far as we know, only a few local shepherds, three foreign Wise Men, a young couple and a few animals beheld this momentous, world-changing event. But heaven was singing and celebrating with song. LORD God, King of the Universe, as I begin this day, I commit my heart and mind to pay more attention to the small things. Help me not miss a thing You are doing in my life.

O NIGHT DIVINE

Shadowy figures slowly come into focus as a weary young couple stares into the darkness of early nightfall, searching for a place to stay. Their long, dusty journey has brought them to the hills of Judea, to the small town where King David had been born so many years before. Empty, uninviting streets contradict the importance of this glorious, miraculous moment. All the company of heaven peers down in joyful celebration while the hordes of hell shrink back in disoriented confusion. What child is this? Soon, blazing truth will rip away the shroud of darkness and the Savior of the world will be revealed. O holy night, O night divine. LORD God Almighty, may this holy eventide on which we celebrate with angels the coming of Your Son, be a time of joy, reconciliation, giving, love, laughter and worship. And may Our Savior be openly welcomed into the hearts of men, women and children around the world.

IN LOVE

1 Corinthians 16:14 succinctly sums up what each of us must do our best to master, “Do everything in love”. And in 1 John 4:8 we read “Whoever does not love does not know God, because "God is love.” If considered together, these passages reveal that I cannot consistently act in love toward others without being “in love” with God, so the depth of my love for God can be accurately determined by measuring my love for others. And since “God so loved the world”, I must not selectively love only those I feel a connection to, I must love as God loves…without discrimination. Jesus commanded, “Jesus commanded, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”. Wow. LORD of Love, purge my heart. Cleanse me of all indifference, bigotry, prejudice or hatred in any form. Teach me to love as You love.

SINGLE SPACE PASSAGEWAY

Each heart knows its own bitterness, its own fears, its own self-doubts and its own solitary path; though others may wish to accompany you, no one else can enter this private space. Likewise, no one else can fully share your soul’s deepest joys, it's inexplicable peace or its moments of irrepressible victory. In both bad times and good times there are very private moments where we yearn to invite others, but they cannot join us; these are times of single space passageway where no others may tread. These are the precious occasions of life when there is only God, Yahweh alone can walk with you there. In fact, He is waiting for you there. Almighty Father, I am never alone or without recourse; You, O LORD, are the ever-present Shepherd of My Soul.

A DANGEROUS BREW

Growing up in Florida did little to prepare me for treading on ice-covered ground. On my first winter trip to the mountains of North Carolina I was filled with the self-assured hubris of a thirteen-year-old boy. As I was again being warned of its danger, I brashly walked onto the ice. At the exact moment I confidently said, “it’s no problem, I can handle it”, both of my feet lost footing and I fell flat on my back. In fact, I fell hard several times. Lesson learned; ignorance, arrogance and stubbornness are a very dangerous brew indeed. “You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:15-16). Lord God, You are my Faithful Instructor. I confess to You that presumptuousness still plagues my soul. Purge from me all indifference to Your voice and keep me safely within the boundaries of Your wise counsel.

NOT BY MIGHT

In Hannah’s prayer of thankfulness for God granting her a son she cries out:“It is not by strength that one prevails” (1 Samuel 2:9).  This is counter-intuitive since we all know we need strength to thrive in this world. But Hannah is not suggesting there is no need to be strong, she is pointing out that man’s strength is limited, but God’s power is limitless. Nothing has changed. We are commanded in 1 Corinthians 16:13 to “stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” We must do our part, but always understanding that it is God’s strength that prevails. LORD, my weaknesses invite Your strength. You O LORD  are my strength and shield! By Your strength I can do all things. 

OUR ONLY SURE DEFENSE

Psalm 118:14 “The LORD is my strength and my defense.” King David acknowledged that even though he is both a king and warrior, he is powerless without God’s favor and help. When Nehemiah heard of Jerusalem’s terrible condition with its walls destroyed he wanted to defend it, but he started with is own repentance: “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.” We cannot effectively stand against the enemies around us until we address our own standing with God. Father, forgive my sins and and grant me Your strength that I may help others.

DIVINE DELAYS

In Proverbs 16:3 it states: “Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.” This verse makes it very clear that we must first commit what we do to God, and then and only then will divine clarity begin to unfold. God will not commit His wisdom and resources to something not born of Him, nor if we are not fully prepared to trust Him throughout. He is not holding back for His own sake but as a Good Father He delays certain things for our sake, “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off,” Isaiah 48:9. In other words, God delays manifesting the big picture outcome He is after until we get on board. He delays so we don’t get left behind and miss our call, purpose and reward. Holy LORD, God of Mercy And Grace, thank You for Your kindness and patience toward Your children.

HANDRAILS

Psalm 119:133 “Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Like most people, I have stumbled on stairs plenty of times over a lifetime. I am not sure why it took me so long to recognize the value of handrails. It’s not that I had never been instructed, I just thought they were for others, not me. I still forget sometimes but it only takes the slightest slip to send me reaching for the rail’s stabilizing safety. Actually, my whole life requires equilibrium and boundaries. God, in His Immense Goodness, provides the handrails His Word and Spirit to keep me safe from foolhardy ways. Father of All Mercies, thank You for Your steadfast patience and constant care. Guide my steps and use me to help others make it safely through the ups and downs of this world.

THREE FOR ONE

I love a good deal, so I often check out the bargains at the grocery store. I particularly like the “Three-For-One” offers. God seems to like them as well. For instance, “Faith, Hope and Love” are so bound together that the exercise of any one activates the others. As is the Holy Trinity, they are distinct in practice, but in fact, are three in one. Like facets of a diamond, even the slightest turn toward one releases the resplendent beauty of all. If you truly believe, then love will abound. When love abounds hope is raised. When hope rises, faith is released. What a glorious trinity of tools in our hands provided by God for knowing Him and doing His will. Such a deal! Blessed Trinity, Your mysteries are beyond earthly comprehension, yet may be practiced by a child. I stand amazed.

AN OILY START

Matthew Chapter 25 offers the lesson of the Ten Virgins: “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them.” We shouldn’t start each day’s journey on empty hoping to strike oil along the way. My calendar stays full, but the real issue is whether my lamp is full; when the Bridegroom arrives will any oil be found in my lamp? I cannot depend upon past spirituality as this day approaches, so I seek Him before today’s journey begins. His words should be the first to cross my mind and shape the priorities of this new day. The first tear of repentance floods the soul with grace, the first word of praise uncaps a wellspring of joy, a single Promise proclaimed in earnest faith sends demon hoards scattering! Lord God of Mercy and Goodness, I praise you afresh. May Your oil of gladness flood my soul and ignite full-flamed. Darkness now scampers away as Your Light dawns! Let’s roll!

ON MY SIDE

Psalm 118:5-6 “I called on the Lord in distress; The LORD answered me andset me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.” Mankind's fallen nature inherited from Adam’s sin made us enemies of God, but the redemptive work of our Savior opened the way for us to become His sons and daughters. This great salvation proclaims the wonderful truth, the LORD is on our side. I would have remained in darkness and utterly lost forever had not the LORD been on my side. My attempts to follow His will or pursue His call would be entirely impossible and my hopes would have been vanquished forever had not the LORD been on my side. While at times I struggle to muster the strength and valor to fight this earthly battle, I know I will finish strong for the LORD is on my side. Glorious Adonai, Captain of Our Salvation, Eternal Father, all glory to You now and forever! I march ahead in victory and abiding peace along with all who are Yours, for You O LORD are on my side.

JERK-IN-THE-BOX

I saw unrestrained anger recently while standing in line at an airport. A man placed his bag on the floor in front of him while in line. The man ahead didn’t notice and stepped backward for some reason and stumbled. It got ugly fast and painful to watch. The anger in one fired up the anger in the other and a volcano erupted. Obviously something had been turning the crank for each of these two strangers and it took just one crank more for two Jerk-In-The-Boxes to pop up. I am eternally thankful that God has pretty much expunged vitriol from my soul. Even the slightest ripple of hatred grieves the surrendered heart. I still get angry more than I should, but realize now more than ever what a protective gift the love of God truly is. Ephesians 4:32 “"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Lord of Love, thank You for the powerful forces of kindness and forgiveness. Strengthen my resolve to walk in love.

GOOD PEOPLE

Proverbs 12:2 “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.” We know that Jesus said, “There is none good but the Father” so how do we interpret this contradiction? It requires taking in the full counsel of God. In Hebrews we are instructed that the Word of God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. So intentions matter with God. The key here is to allow the Word to clean up your heart by exposing your intentions, which it clearly has the power to do. We “obtain favor” with God by seeking His will over our own. It is a daily battle, which is why we need to read and meditate on His WORD daily. Good people are not perfect people, they are hungry people; seekers are finders! LORD, I know my failures all to well, but I believe Your Word, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in [me] will complete it”.

FEELING THANKFUL

In Luke 17 Ten lepers were cured, but only one returned to express gratitude. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Great question. But even King David found it necessary to remind himself of his many blessings and to command his own heart, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”.Our tendency to focus on what we lack in life robs us of enduring gratefulness. Giving thanks should not be corralled into moments when we feel obliged; gratefulness and praise must be a central part of our attitude and lifestyle and flow freely from the heart of a child of God. Thankfulness and praise should be our first thought, not an afterthought. God of all Blessings, Sustainer of All Life, Giver of all Grace, I thank You and praise you for Your Unceasing Goodness.  You are my Light and Salvation. To You be glory forever and ever, amen. Feeling thankful here.

QUIET PLEASE

My times of prayer are mostly done in quiet solitude early in the morning. Quiet time is the perfect remedy for the overstimulated soul. However, though it is silent around me, my internal impulses often make my meditations feel like rush hour on the I-95 Corridor. Random thoughts, daily concerns, carping accusations from the evil one and incessant problem solving noisily crowd into holy space carved out for God alone. Like highway road signs for the lost traveler, the Holy One hangs patiently overhead, quietly instructing and directing me to the intended destination. Isaiah 26:3 states, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” But there is more. The Word stored in my heart combines with the Holy Spirit within me to guide me to wonderful places I could never find on my own. Glorious God, only You can quiet my soul. Silence my thoughts and calm my inner storm, You are my peace. I await Your voice and instructions.

NO AND NOT YET

Though small children have plenty of time on their hands they still must learn to wait. Nothing seems to put their little souls to the test more than having to delay something they want right now. A long road trip is especially hard for them to get their minds around and is usually repeatedly peppered with the question: “Are we there yet?” Actually, we never quite seem to grow up in this regard; patience with God’s pace is still an issue for me. 2 Peter 3:8 states: “do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” His timing is perfect so I must learn to not bail out before arrival. I must also resist the temptation to interpret delay as a sign God doesn’t want me to do something. Heavenly Father, teach me the difference between “No” and “Not Yet”. Grant me grace for the journey and help me not miss the lessons in the detours.

ARRESTED

The human instinct for harmony, symmetry, balance and rhythm is continually assaulted by the unpredictable anarchy that each new day brings. Striving to enter rest is the daily conundrum of the soul. It seems that most of my energy is exhausted in attempting to achieve what I must, only to find rest in abandoning my struggles to God. In Genesis 1 we find an answer to chaos: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The work of the Holy Spirit is precisely to bring order and truth out of chaos by leading us to still waters. FATHER, what sweet whisperings await the relinquished heart! LORD, arrest me; body, soul and spirit. Capture my heart and lock away my strivings. Teach me to succumb to Your promptings BEFORE running headlong into walls. Constrain me to “Come Unto” before I ”Go Therefore.” At Your feet is the better part.

TRUTH IN LOVE

We are bombarded with information in our modern culture. However, the intent behind information and the form of delivery is as important as the facts themselves. Scripture states: "Speak the truth in love." As light cuts through darkness, so truth cuts through deception. The simple reason we run from truth, hide the truth, bend the truth or even deny the truth is that truth is so powerfully efficient at cutting through all the nonsense; in one instant, rolling back years of falsehood. Yet, truth is useless unless delivered in love; like a glove without a hand inserted, truth cannot successfully operate apart from love. Truth originates and emanates from God so it must be embodied in His love. Heavenly Father, to walk in Your Truth is to walk in Your Love. Help me navigate the complexities of human weaknesses and find that perfect balance only You can supply.

MYSTERIES REVEALED

Like most people, I enjoy a good mystery, but I really dislike not knowing how to figure something out. The exception is when it comes to divine mysteries. While I am still just as curious, years of practice have taught me that spiritual mysteries may only be understood as God unfolds them in His own timing and His way. And even then, there is always deeper truth imbedded that may only be discerned by divine revelation of His Word and Spirit; again, in His time and His way. Human formulas or deductive reasoning, no matter how brilliantly conceived, are useless in holy space. These mysteries may solely be revealed, not solved. Glorious God, High and Mighty One, forgive my earthly attempts to uncover what You have hidden. Grant me grace and good discernment for the journey as mysteries unfold.

SILENT TRANSFORMATION

Though I have never lived where it snows regularly, I’ve seen plenty of it in my travels. More times than I can remember I have been surprised to awake to a city blanketed with snow. Through the night millions of tiny flakes had fallen, quietly covering everything and silently transforming the cityscape while I slept undisturbed. Silent transformation also happens in my soul. Nagging hurts, troubling circumstances, catastrophic losses, even painful betrayals can be completely covered over by God’s love. The moment we surrender our anxieties to Him the Holy Spirit goes to work unannounced, quietly healing our hearts and blanketing over all remnants of former pain. Glorious God, I am eternally grateful for Your life-giving Love. Use me to share with others your comfort and freedom from sorrows.

TRUSTWORTHY

The possibility of betrayal is always present in every act of trust except with God. Mention of the faithfulness of God is sprinkled throughout the Bible, but not any more clearly than in1 Corinthians 1:9 “Godisfaithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”And in2 Timothy 2:13we read: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Faithfulness is His very nature.To love Him is to trust Him. So here is a revelation, I can trust others precisely because I trust God. I must learn to trust that God is at work in and through others for my benefit because He is faithful. Trusting people can be dangerous, but trusting God to work through people is not a problem, we simply can never let anyone or anything be God for us but Elohim. True and Faithful One, my heart, my life, my future and my well-being are in Your faithful, trustworthy hands.

"WELL DONE"

The walk of faith is no skip through the park. Each step must be taken in open defiance of the status quo. The faith walk requires stepping the more easily attained, convenience or what is popularly accepted by everyone around you. The ones who choose the faith walk must turn their faces to the wall daily and cry out to God for strength as the distance between this world’s ways and those of the next increase. The faithful ones will eventually breathe the rarified air of the summit, where only those who dare to have their own ways vanquished abide. But still, there remains more valleys to traverse, more heights to ascend, until this earthly trek is complete and we hear His Divine Declaration: “Well done faithful servants!" Father, where You lead I will follow! By Your grace I will finish my course.LORD, to dwell in Your Presence forever is the grand prize.

GOD'S NO SLACKER

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us...” (2 Peter 3:9). God's no slacker, He is not slow to act and His timing is perfect. What often seems like unnecessary delay is, in fact, demonstration of His patience with us. As is true with all gift-giving, the giver must choose the right moment and the receiver of the gift must be ready to receive what is offered. The right conditions are critical. When our son Ben was around eleven he decided he was ready to drive. As our family headed for the car, he rushed ahead and jumped into the driver’s seat. He was sure he was ready, however, he was unable to touch the pedals and see over the dashboard. As his father, I would one day proudly give him a car of his own, but not that day. Glorious Father, forgive my attempts to control the steering wheel before it is time. I trust Your wisdom and welcome Your divine management. Teach me Your ways.

WATERPROOF

Wood floats until it stays in the water too long. It has natural resistance to water penetration but over time the water seeps in. Once waterlogged it sinks to the bottom, so it must be removed from the water and sealed again and again against penetration. In like manner, to spend time with God and those who love Him is a sealant against becoming waterlogged with the ways of this world. Too much time in the wrong environment without protection is a recipe for disaster. We are in this world but not of it. Whether I float or sink is dependent upon a spirit-sealed life. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13). My trust must be placed in Him, His Word and His Spirit for me to remain capable of floating instead of sinking. LORD, make it so. While You have me in this world use me to touch it without me sinking into it.