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SHAKEN AND STIRRED

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness,” Acts 4:31 (ESV). Why do we expect that our lives will never be shaken? And why do we think things being shaken is a bad thing? A “comfort zone” may feel okay for the moment, but in reality, a comfort zone is a dead zone. As this Scripture reveals, shaking is a sign of God moving. I can think of many times throughout my life when what looked like a destructive earthquake was the starting line for greater things. The James Bond character likes his martinis “shaken not stirred”, but I want my life both shaken and stirred by God! LORD, I asked for the grace to pass through whatever is necessary for Your power to flow freely in my life. Father, in Your mercy make it so.

OVERCOMING ANGER

It is impossible to think my way out of being offended; believe me, I have tried. In fact, the opposite is true. The more I mull over offenses and discuss them with others, the more indignant I become. Our fuming deliberations deepen the pain, entrenching us in sullen exasperation and excessive defensiveness. Forgiveness turns our sorrows into joy since it places the situation into God’s hands instead of our own; letting go of the wheel is the only sure path to the right destination. Matthew 18:21-22 is the starting line, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Really? Yes, really! O Lord My Keeper, into Your hands I commit my heartbreaks disappointments, and consternations. Keep me reigned in do love may prevail, and my heart and hands may be clean.

DEEP CALLS TO DEEP

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me,” Psalm 42:7 (NKJV). The Psalmist here speaks of one splendor of Creation communicating with another. Like pure, refreshing water hidden underground in a desert cavern, our created purpose lies deep within us. This is where the psalmist’s words come into focus: “deep calls unto deep”. Whenever I stray too far from His plan the Goodness of God calls to me and pulls me back to my only enduring source of life and purpose; His Spirit crying out to my human spirit deep within me. He formed me to do His will and no other aspiration can be substituted for it. Every earthly desire must align with His divinely engineered plan. Father You created me with divine purpose and an innate capacity to fulfill it. I so need Your daily grace. Help me to drink deeply from Your still waters.

THE GOD OF MY LIFE

“Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life,” Psalm 42:8 (ESV). I am NOT “the God of my life”. In this passage we see that God faithfully does His part and we must faithfully do ours. Worship and prayer are a dynamic duo for daily renewal of the relationship and partnership between God and His children. To bend the knees and open our hearts and minds to the LORD each new day is essential to walking in faithful obedience. The “God of My Life” must have first priority and the final say. In fact, apart from my Divine Maker, there IS no life, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” John 1:4 (NKJV). Father, clearly I struggle with priorities, grant me fresh grace this new day to step away from all else and place You first in all things. Again, I bow the knee to Your will.

THE ROADSIDE STAND

There is nothing fancy about a roadside fruit and vegetable stand; its treasures poised for the taking by the discerning shopper. But its bounties will never belong to those whose rush by without stopping, and so it is with wisdom. Proverbs 8:1 (ESV) states: “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?” And again: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom, and in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 (KJV). Daily wisdom is not a luxury; it is an absolute essential. Each morning my mind is still half-filled with yesterday’s leftovers with more pouring in upon awakening. It is then I must brake hard and seek God’s voice. Lord You know my ways. Far too often I steam ahead without sufficient regard to Your promptings. Forgive me and teach me to listen carefully every moment.

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all,” 1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV). Catastrophes have a way of being all-consuming; the worse the situation, the more absorbing it is. The beginning-point for moving forward in a crisis is to enthrone God in our praise. The LORD Almighty is sovereign at all times whether we realize it or not, but praise validates the sovereignty of God in our own soul, arresting our fears and releasing faith. Praise provokes us to proclaim His greatness to others. Praising God lifts our hearts to the heights of heaven and as we magnify Him our circumstances come into proper perspective. Lord, You are High and Lifted Up and greatly to be praised! From Your heavenly viewpoint, even the largest mountain is tiny. I glorify and adore You O Lord my Shepherd and Keeper, my Glory and the Lifter of my …

THE MONEY ISSUE

A woman poured expensive ointment on Jesus’s head as he reclined at a table. All of the disciples were upset at what they saw as waste, but for one it triggered something far more sinister. “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him,” Matthew 26:14-16 (ESV). We attempt to put distance between Judas’ betrayal and our own distrust of God’s choices, but betrayal always lurks in the heart of the person who does not have THE MONEY ISSUE dealt with; at the core, it is A TRUST ISSUE. Either God is Good and Trustworthy or not; it is not left up to us to pick and choose which of His ways we will accept. An absence of thankfulness always precedes accusing God of not caring for our needs. Great Shepherd though I do not always understand Your choices I am at rest in your tender care.

HEARTS IN HEAVEN, BOOTS ON THE GROUND

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 1:3 (ESV). “Has blessed us”; that is spoken in past tense, I must allow that to sink in. Right now, while I am still on this earth, I am already blessed with every spiritual blessing of heaven. And again, in Ephesians 2:4-6 we read: “ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Already blessed, already seated, already given eternal life and already raised! LORD, help me live with a heavenly perspective today. Keep my heart in heaven while I still have boots on the ground.

ONE MIRACULOUS CHAIR

The biblical descriptions of The Heavenly City paint a picture of an amazing place. Every aspect of it is beyond comprehension, but nothing more so than a single chair at its core. There resides a throne where only One may be seated yet it is equally the place where millions upon millions abide. It is a mind-bending riddle for sure, but the answer lies in a powerful passage: “ButGod, beingrich in mercy,because of the great love with which he loved us,evenwhen we were dead in our trespasses,made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him andseated us with Himin the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:4-6 (ESV). There, the Eternal One is enthroned. There, every knee shall bow. There, the Redeemed dwell with the Redeemer! LORD God Almighty Your wonders never cease! Open my mind and heart to these heavenly realities that I may faithfully and effectively reflect Your Glory here on earth.

THE NAME

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name,” Psalm 91:14 (ESV). In the bible there are many names for God, but why are there so many different monikers? The Lord Our God’s greatness is simply beyond the capacity of one name to characterize His Majesty and Awesomeness. Like individual facets on a diamond, each name reflects the light of His Glory a little differently, each one reckoning upon different aspects of His power. His Name is not merely a moniker, when we speak His name in any biblical form, we are reckoning upon His very nature and power to transform. Not to be used like a magical incantation, one’s heart must seek the Lord Himself as we call on His Name. El Shaddai, Elohim, to declare Your Name releases unquenchable joy and unmatchable power! In Your Name, it is well, it is well with my soul!

TURNING THE DIAMONDS

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful,” 2 Timothy 2:24 (ESV). I love to “turn-the-diamonds” of Scripture in conversational reflection and shining new light on the beautiful facets of truth. A good discussion where two or more people consider what a verse means to each of them or how it has impacted their lives always freshens-up my understanding. But in this verse in 2 Timothy there is a warning against quarrelsomeness. Kindness, ability to teach and an absence of resentfulness are critical components of good conversations. While I love to hear a great sermon preached, there is nothing better for learning than good fellowship bathed in bible study together. LORD, thank You for those wonderful moments You provide for us through Your Word.

A PIECE OF WORK!

More than once I’ve had friends exclaim: “Daniel, you’re a real piece of work!” They are so right! In Ephesians 2:10 it reads: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” So many things in life seem random, even bizarre, but as time unfolds, we begin to understand how all the disjointed pieces come together to craft us into the man or woman God wants us to be. There is a Divine Hand at work in each of us that we must learn to acknowledge and trust. I can learn from others but never attempt to be a copy of someone else. We are “HIS WORKMANSHIP”. LORD, forgive my attempts to do or be someone of my own making. You are the “Perfect One” and I trust Your wisdom and love. Make me the man of Your own choosing and use me for Your divine purpose.

IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Luke 23:34 (ESV). None of them understood what was really happening in that dark moment…not the Romans, not the Pharisees, not His disciples, not His mother…no one. But then, the Light broke through to just one, the thief at his side. While one of the thieves cursed him, the other said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise,” (ESV). I want to be that guy. I desire to see my Savior as He truly is. I wish to understand what is really happening in my darkest moments and trust my life to Him no matter the circumstances. This story reveals that it’s never too late to trust the Redeemer. I’m encouraged to know that God can change everything in the twinkling of an eye. LORD, make it so.

THE WALK OF FAITH

“For we walk by faith, not by sight”, 1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV). The walk of faith is not a singular climb up a solitary mountain, it is more akin to a trek across a mountain range. The faith journey comes with many highs and lows. There are glorious moments of breathtaking vistas never seen by the faint of heart and those exhausted arrivals to exhilarating heights, only to be followed by steep plunges through dark valleys. Our ascents to the mountaintops always include dizzying descents. Such is the life of faith. The walk of faith tests everything within us and makes us stronger than we ever imagined. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith,” 1 John 5:4 (ESV). LORD, You do not abandon your beloved in the swamplands, You walk before us, behind us, beside us and within us throughout the ups and downs of this life. Glory to You Lord God!

WE THRIVE

My mind is upon past memories today. Most are good, but we each have our regrets and losses. The human experience in this world is replete with personal and public pain. Deaths, wars, floods, crop failures, there is no shortage of grief. For those who know their Shepherd, there is victorious relief from the ravenous thieves of life and peace. We can not only SURVIVE the passing storms; we can THRIVE as the winds and waters rage! “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:37-39 (ESV). Father, You turn our grief into joy and our losses into victories! I rest assured in Your hands.

TURNING MOUNTAINS INTO MOLEHILLS

Unfortunately, it is pretty easy to let worry turn a small problem into a huge problem in our minds; making “mountains out of molehills” is as common as summer rain. But Jesus spoke of something much different: “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him,” Mark 11:23 (ESV) . In other words, He challenged us to make mountains into molehills! When the LORD Almighty is the center of our attention, even the biggest problems shrink to nothing. To believe His Promises and to proclaim them as our own is to push fear out of the spotlight and to send it scampering into the shadows. Father, of myself I can do nothing. In obedience to You, I can do all things in Your strength.

FRONT-LOADED, BACK-END COVERED

“For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard,” Isiah 52:8 (ESV). Each and every day is front-loaded. God has already stocked your day with valuable lessons, new opportunities, unique challenges, unexpected blessings, experiences, and spiritual insights. Today is another needed chance to leave lawlessness behind and to firmly embrace redeeming grace. Today will provide a unique and powerful pathway to higher life that is divinely orchestrated from beginning to end. He’s even got your back as your “rear guard.” Dearest Alpha and Omega, thank You for today. It is holy, for You made it, placed me in it and have already brushed Your fingers across it. I am ready. Lead me to what is right and good.

DAYBREAK DELICACY

“Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away,” Exodus 12:21 (ESV). God’s provision in the wilderness for the Israelites was miraculous, but there were conditions. They had to rise early to seek their daily bread. Daybreak has a sweet quietness that feeds the soul; God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world around me fully awakens and the still of dawn will be swallowed by the cacophony of another busy day. An indispensable characteristic of the God-directed life is hearing and obeying the voice of God. So before charging ahead into battle I must lean-in-close to confer with my Commander-In-Chief and prepare for what is ahead. Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of morning’s soft embrace. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly. Clear my heart from earthly entanglements and help me maintain a listening ear as the day rages on.

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; “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” James 1:12 (ESV). Lord, forgive me in those moments when I ignore Your loving care; abandoning the splendor of thankfulness to roam in the squalor of cravings. Strengthen my resolve to ignore the temporary and to lay hold of the eternal.

ALREADY DELIVERED AND TRANSFERRED

It is heartbreaking to see families torn apart, so much anger and hatred on public display and evil ways on the rise. With increasing darkness all around, heaven looks more attractive than ever. But we do not have to wait for heaven to be delivered from evil, we have already been transferred to into the kingdom of God: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” Colossians 1:13 (ESV). So, my prayer this day is that of King David: “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me,” Psalm 119:133 (ESV). As darkness deepens even the smallest candle burns brightly. We are light in this dark world, and I desire to shine as far and wide as The LORD wills. “Letyourlightshine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16 (ESV).Father by Your grace, make it so.

RUIN OR REVIVAL

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28 (ESV). There are times when it feels like I’m teetering over the edge of a steep cliff. Though I am never actually comfortable in these circumstances I have learned that instances such as these are qualifying moments. A plunge over the brink will often look like ruin outwardly, only to ultimately be turned into an inward revival of faith, trust, obedience and the joy that only these defining moments can provide. It seems that God has chosen for me to live on the edge, but honestly, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Precious Father, in Your care I am safe no matter the circumstances. Wherever Your Will leads I will follow. Keep me attuned to every nudge of Your guiding Hand. Bring ruin to my earthly ways and revival to my soul through obedience to Yours! So be it LORD!

TIME TO SHIFT

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his,” Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV). The value and benefits of working hard are obvious to the industrious person, but the value and benefits of a day of rest from our own works is like downshifting at high speed in a heavy truck down a steep mountain. No simple tap on the breaks will do. However, steep cliffs are great motivators for slowing down and life has plenty of them. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience,” Hebrews 4:11 (ESV). Pray, shift, turn, shift, pray again, read the Word, shift again, call a friend, shift, help a stranger, be a blessing, shift gather with family and friends, Shabbat Shalom everyone.

INTERDEPENDENT BY DESIGN

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you,’” 1 Corinthians 12:21 (ESV). I am by temperament an independent person, but a lifetime of experience has instructed me that I need all the help I can get. There is no shame in interdependence, we were actually designed for it. God specifically created each of us with strengths that others need, and conversely, weaknesses that invite and activate the strengths of others. In this divine construct interdependence is as essential as breathing. Frankly, it may seem preferable to go it alone, especially after a big disappointment or two but God has chosen otherwise. Father, thank You for blueprinting a life that leads to giving and receiving. Keep me on the lookout for needs that I can meet and grant me the humility to receive the comfort, corrective advice, aid and sustenance I need.

MY MORNING RUN TO THE ROCK

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your Word.” (ESV). King David was not a man given to fear. His need to escape from his enemies was only occasional, but his need to escape his own human frailties was constant, as is mine. His run to the Rock of His Salvation was not one of fear, but of faith! I too, must pull aside and shield my soul from useless thoughts. I too, must quite the raging stream of human deliberations, speculations and rationalizations, and sit quietly by the River of Life, prayerfully drinking-in deeply the Words of God. David’s prayer from Psalm 63:1 will suffice as my own this quiet daybreak: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Amen.

GRACE TO MOVE A MOUNTAIN!

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (ESV). What does “grace upon grace” mean? It is like the mashed potatoes bowl on a southern dinner table; “honey, there’s more where that came from”. It is like waves at the seashore, “they just keep on comin”. Don’t misunderstand grace, it is not just something nice to have around, it is God’s gift of power to do what we must. There is grace to give, grace to suffer, grace to sacrifice, grace to forgive and be forgiven. Grace is a powerful force to be utilized properly and with great care. It is precious yet supplied in abundance. “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” Zechariah 4:7 (ESV). LORD, pour out Your grace and point me to the mountain of Your choosing.

PURIFYING LOVE

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV). God’s divine love is pure, not polluted with mixed motives, so it is not only pure, it is purifying. Human love on the other hand is filtered through a swamp of self-centeredness, allowing only a trickle of God’s love to flow through us to others. Divine love is an incredible motivator that activates a host of godly attributes He deigned us to operate in. As I welcome His love it ignites a purification process in me that releases His love to flow more freely from me to the world around me. The key to walking in love is learning to love others through God’s perfect love instead of our own. Father, I desire Your purifying love to surge through me to like a raging flood. Sanctify my motives and wash away the obstacles of pride and selfishness within my heart.

GUIDANCE

The Psalmist writes: “You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain,” Psalm 119:118 (ESV). The Living Bible translates the end of the verse:“They are only fooling themselves.” And Romans 8:14 states: “For all who areled by the Spirit of God aresons[ of God.” Our Father has given us His Word and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as mankind’s best guidance system through life. Attempts to outsmart God by dependence on ourselves or any other source is futile. Turning to other forms of navigation is not only foolish, it is dangerous. He created mankind“in His image”(Genesis 1:27),not as His equal. We are designed to “reign in life” (Romans 5:17), but not to reign over the Giver of Life! LORD in Your Mercy grant me forgiveness for my foolish attempts to work things in my own way instead of Yours. Thank You for the divine provision of Your Word and Spirit.

IRON SHARPENS IRON

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” Proverbs 27:17 (ESV). One of life’s hard-learned realities is that human interaction is characteristically confrontational. So, it should be no surprise that at some point every relationship confronts imbedded selfishness, fears or other hidden issues within our souls. Interaction with others helps shape us into sharper, better people, however, reacting negatively to the sharpening process will only guarantee it will last much longer than necessary. Confrontation without ensuing bitterness is one of life’s greatest gifts; providing a powerful, regenerative and transformative force of good that will last for a lifetime. Lord, You are the Potter; I am the clay. Make and mold me into the man that pleases you. Thank you for those whom You use to help shape me.

DEFEATING THE TEMPTER

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed,” James 1:14 (NKJV). The desire to “do the right thing” is very compelling, unfortunately the lure of wrong choices can be equally compelling. Temptation empowered by own weaknesses and under the strategic influence of “the tempter” is effective but God does not leave us powerless. “The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” Jesus quoted God’s commands from Scripture for each temptation and after three defeats Satan left and angels came and ministered to Jesus. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resistthedevil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (ESV). Our spiritual enemy and his horde of collaborators can be resisted to the point of his “fleeing”, when we surrender to the “Greater One” who lives within us. LORD, Your Word and Spirit grant strength to Your children. Empower me to walk faithfully before you this day.

STAND DOWN

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you,” 2 Chronicles 20:17 (ESV). I have never been one to back down from a fight that I felt was necessary, but at times I have been drawn into battles that were not for me to fight. On many occasions, just as I was rehearsing my strategy and preparing to go to war the LORD commands me to wait for Him to handle the matter. This is where learning to “stand down” comes into play. At times we must run toward the giant, as did David. But other times, like in the story of King Jehoshaphat, God has us stand firm, allowing Him to take care of the situation. Instead of his best soldiers, the LORD told him to send singers out front. As they praised God the enemies began destroying one another! Praise brought the victory. Father I am Yours. Guide me in battle, grant me good discernment and teach me trust You as Commander-In-Chief.

THE VOICE OF TRUTH

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart as you did in the rebellion. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’” Hebrews 3:7,9 (ESV). When we encounter barriers to doing what we to do we reconfigure “truth” to fit our human appetites, placing our feelings and desires as the highest level of authority. God designed us to live with certain inward and outward restraints. When we abandon the safety of Scriptural values, the protection of the Brotherhood of Believers and Spirit-guided accountability, choosing instead a path of self-managed constraint, it is a sure path to destruction. To reject the principles of Truth is to align ourselves with the forces of darkness. Lord God, I desperately need Your Voice of Truth. Corral me into a life of committed surrender where I may run freely and safely under Your constant discipline and care.

MERCY MISERS

“Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God,” Nehemiah 9:31 (ESV). “Mercy” is but another word for God’s essence and attributes in action. Why is it so hard for us to offer mercy to others while at the same time crying out for more of it for ourselves? Sadly, we justify our own lives as worthy of mercy while simultaneously disqualifying the needs of others. And when we see that God is merciful to anyone we feel is unworthy of His mercy we are perplexed and offended. Hoarding mercy while denying it for others turns the heart bitter and disqualifies us from His mercies toward us. Father forgive our miserly ways. You do not have love for one but deny it for another. You are love personified and Your mercies endure forever. Grant me grace to rejoice in Your merciful kindness at all times.

TENDING THE TULIPS

As far back as I can remember my mother loved to work with plants. She had a true gift for gardening therefore beautiful flowers and greenery always surrounded her homes. Solomon states: “He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,” Proverbs 27:8 (ESV). The life-lesson here is simple: God provides the seed and ecosystem for life and beauty, but things must be tended-to for maximum value and fruitfulness. Though I am truly dependent upon God’s care and provision I too, must do my part. And while I may not always understand the “why” of what I’m doing, my heart is trained and calibrated to hear and obey His choices. Lord of All Creation help me to recognize priorities and faithfully tend to those things, both material and spiritual that require my full attention and effort.

CHRIST IN ME, CHRIST THROUGH ME, CHRIST TO ME

“I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” Philemon 1:6 (ESV). I have spent a large portion of my life sitting with people I didn’t know on airplanes, in meetings, and practically everywhere I go. More times than I could ever recount people ask me about my faith, I suppose I “wear my heart on my sleeve” and people open up to me fairly easily. That is Christ IN ME. It is in those glorious moments I discover the depths of what God has placed in me as it comes rolling out of my mouth being delivered to a hungry, seeking soul. That is Christ THROUGH ME. God puts “good” things in us that we may be blessed and be a blessing to others, meanwhile I too am as blessed by that moment as the other person! That is Christ TO ME! Father I am ever amazed at Your wonderful ways.

THREE RIGHT TURNS

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV). How do you get back on track after going the wrong direction? Many places have sections of the city that consists of nothing but one-way streets. A quick turn-around can be difficult in these situations, but three right turns will get you back to where you started. Life-itself is even more complicated once lost, but still, three right turns will get you back on track. Turn one? Turn to God’s Word. Turn two? Turn your heart over to God’s Will. Turn three? Turn your decision-making over to God’s Ways and Means. Now you are back on track. How many times will these simple steps work? Every-single-time. LORD, deliver me from seeking any direction for my life apart from Your divine guidance and keep me on track with You Perfect plan.

BLESSED FEAR

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love,” Psalm 147:11 (ESV). “Blessed fear” is to love God and His pleasure above all else. We fear other things so much, because we fear God so little, and do not “rest in His love” (Zephaniah 3:17). The fear of God delivers us from every earthly fear. Reverence for the Almighty One contains no trepidation, anxiety, panic or horror, only deep respect and humble deference to His nature and Will. Fear of God opens our understanding, fills our lives with true praise, grants peace in every storm and empowers us to love others. Forgiveness is rooted in it, holiness and kindness as well. Lord, You Alone are to be feared, all other fears are vanquished in Your Glorious Presence. My heart and mind are at rest cherishing the one and only “blessed fear”.

TINY TROUBLES

A common maxim is “don’t sweat the small stuff”. This is true in most cases but ignoring tiny troubles can be dangerous. A hairline fracture can eventually take down a plane or destroy a massive dam. We are warned, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom,” Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV). While it is true that we often waste time and energy sweating over meaningless things, we must pay attention to the important details; all things are not equal. This is where discernment, wisdom and diligence play such powerful roles. The problem-solving power of God’s Word and Spirit combine to keep us safely on track. LORD God, You are perfect in all Your ways. Grant me grace for greater mindfulness, precision and determination to get things right and to stay on course.

A WORK IN PROGRESS

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6 (ESV). I have made steady spiritual progress throughout my life, yet many issues seem to recycle over and over. And though I find myself fighting the same battles again and again, it is comforting to know that my Creator and Commander will finish what He started in me. The final outcome is not dependent upon my resolve alone, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13 (ESV). Therefore, while I may still be a work in progress there is a finish line. God will complete what He has begun! Father banish every futile resistance from my soul. Mold me into a faithful servant, pleasing to You in all my ways. Dearest LORD, leaving nothing untouched or unreformed. I am at rest in Your perfect care.

TO AND FRO

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NASB). I like to cook, so I end up in the grocery store quite a bit. Young moms are usually distracted with shopping and there sits a young child in the basket taking in all the sights and sounds. I often catch their eye with a smile. I get everything from a busy glance to an occasional “eyes-locked-on smile”. How pleasant those few seconds are! It’s hard to imagine, but God’s eyes are also looking “to and fro” for those moments with us, His children. He is looking to bless and "strongly support" us in fulfilling our created purpose, but we’re often too distracted. LORD, remind me to “lift up my eyes” to You today in all I do. Father, sweep my heart into Your glorious glance and use me to bless others with Your amazing love.

THE JOY OF THE LORD

In the last portion of Nehemiah 10:9 (ESV) a divine secret is revealed: “And do not be grieved, for thejoyoftheLord is your strength.” Although we can be made happy by many things, it is always temporal and dependent upon circumstances. This is something very different. It is a force from heaven that is not dependent upon human circumstances, in fact, the Joy of the Lord changes circumstances! The joy of the LORD isHis Joyimpartedto us. It is Eternal Joy, His Joy: “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save,He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love,He will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV). Imagine that, The LORD God Almighty sitting on the throne of heaven joyfully singing over His people. But it’s not a dream, it is what He does! Father, may I never settle for circumstantial joy! Flood my heart and life with YOUR JOY.

REIGN ME IN

“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?” Proverbs 6:6-0 (ESV). The lessons of God are imbedded in everything He has made, everything we experience and in every single moment. However, development of deeper understanding requires patience and hunger to learn. Spiritless pursuit of understanding leads to nothing, rather but hunger-driven yearning to discover reveals deeper truth. Each life circumstance, both good and bad, offers treasure troves easily missed by the impatient. We must learn to take it all in and not miss a thing. Lord of All Knowledge and Wisdom calm me down when I rush past concealed yet discernible insights. Reign in my futile striving and point me to those hidden treasures that truly matter.

THE LOVE TEST

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,” John 13:34 (ESV). Cultivating connections and cooperation with others is one of God’s principle means of developing divine qualities within us. As we learn to be truly grateful for this process, we make huge spiritual strides. After all, it is in the trenches of relational interaction where life unfolds, and we learn what love and hate truly is. Raw truth without the test of practical application, would leave me fundamentally unchanged. So, the many obstacles of relationship development is no accident. In fact, the blessings and challenges of walking in love toward others have God’s fingerprints all over them. Lord, thank you for the relentless tests of love. Guide me through the maze of forgiving, blessing and lifting others.

SHAME, SHAME

It has become a cultural virtue to shame others, especially online. Total strangers find personal value out of joining an hateful mob with virtual pitchforks in their hands while burning a total stranger at the stake. Jesus, on the other hand, called out sin and hypocrisy to the face, but offered a path of redemption. David cried out: “O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you,” Psalm 31:17 (ESV). Jesus straightforwardly called out sin but took our shame upon Himself on the Cross, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV). Haters must remember we “reap what we sow”. Shaming is a loser’s game. LORD, increase my kindness, especially toward those with whom I vehemently disagree. Help me stand firm for truth yet always “speaking the truth in love.”

GARBAGE PICKUP DAY

We live in a townhome community where everything is very neat and uniform. It pretty much looks the same most of the time, except on trash day. Even then, we each have exactly the same huge garbage and recycle bins engineered to be emptied by an automated refuse system. It all seems so tidy, but let’s face it, inside those bins is garbage. They stand at attention, symmetrically spaced, lids closed, but no matter how we dress it up, what is inside is messy. Jesus was pointing out the hypocrisy of dressing up the outside while leaving garbage within. Glorious Father forgive my attempts to hide my rubbish, especially from my brothers and sister in Christ. My wrongdoing knows too few limits, yet You do not turn away in disgust. Instead, you deal with the garbage while cleaning the container. Lord, cleanse me afresh and use me to help others.

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 genuine tear of repentance opens the floodgate of His forgiveness. The psalmist declares: “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalms 30:5 (ESV). 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 fully depend? Father, though I my sins are as scarlet, in Your mercy You wash me white as snow and Your favor remains. Cleanse my soul of all acrimony toward others and teach me Your ways of grudge-free love.

HIS TIME

I’ve seen advertising for a service for older singles called “Our Time”. Clever name. The problem is there is no such thing since time is held in God’s hands alone. Its all “His Time”. “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased,” Psalm 138:3 (ESV). Notice that the “strength of soul” was immediate, but the solution to the problem David sought was not the focus of His prayer. It often feels like God is slow in His response to our crises, but He never is. The Eternal One is always perfectly on time. My part is to obey Him, serve Him, call upon Him and trustingly wait upon Him. The moment I ask He sends His strength to my soul, but any panic about the timing of the manifestation of the answer does nothing to move His Hand more quickly. He is the Timekeeper, and there is no other. LORD, I have many needs, but one thing supersedes them all; thatI seek YOU.

BAMBOOZLED

Generally speaking, I am not easily bamboozled. The great exception to this is my own self-generated excuses to not do something I know I should, but really don’t want to. Sadly, I often find my internal arguments for non-action quite impressive. Here I must pause and give thanks to the Spirit of the Living God who will not let me have my way without a fight. His constant and compelling promptings counter my self-deception and provoke me to action. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” John 14:26 (ESV). Lord of Truth and Light, I am earnestly listening. Fall afresh upon me and pour your light into everyunsurrendered crevasse of my soul. Reverse the work of stubbornness in me and push me forward into those things that please You.

SHIPWRECKED...AGAIN!

“Three times I was shipwrecked,” 2 Corinthians 11:25 (ESV). Three times shipwrecked?! Why? Wasn’t once enough? Three times?! This was God’s call, not Paul’s choices. THE LORD God will call you to places you would not choose. Sometimes, repeatedly. What looks like personal mistakes can become the pathway for you turning someone else’s misery into the manifestation of God’s love and goodness. What is a more powerful, life-changing message? Being delivered FROM a set of problems or being delivered IN a set of problems where God is exalted, and Satan is defeated? God put Paul in the same horrible circumstances three times so Paul could confidently and honestly encourage each of us with these God-honoring, devil-destroying, soul-empowering words: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” Phil. 4:13 (ESV). As can I! Aswe all! Father Your Ways are Marvelous, Your Calling is Precious, and Your manifestation is Glorious!

THE MIRROR

“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage,” Jude 1:16 (ESV). I’m not comfortable reading this verse. Not that it isn’t true, I don’t feel comfortable because it is, and even as a sincere believer I have repeatedly done each of the things it points out. Sometimes, I still do before I even notice I’m doing it! But seeking truth is not a “One and Done”, it is a daily journey, so I must again face the mirror of God’s Word. “The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing,” James 1:25 (ESV). Lying to ourselves about our own spiritual conditions only makes it worse. Father, in Your abundant Mercy please forgive me. Awaken my heart to truth and cleanse my ways.

"HELP NEEDED"

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words,” Romans 8:26 (ESV). A “Help Needed” sign posted in a store is not an admission of weakness, it is a confession of strength! It is a declaration that there is plenty more to be accomplished and they are looking for someone to step up, join the team and help make it happen! I need the Holy Spirit in the same way. I don’t just need rescue; I need a moment by moment partner that can help propel me to be the very best God has for me to do. I will never hear the words: “well done thou good and faithful servant” without the empowering partnership of the Spirit of God. Help Needed? You bet…HELP WANTED!! Father teach me to invite Your Spirit into full partnership in all I do.

HAPPY DEPENDENCE DAY!

No...I didn’t spell it wrong, please allow me to explain. On this day July 4, 1776, the “Continental Congress” declared that the thirteen American colonies were “free, united and independent states”. While we did indeed declare independence from the British Government and its laws, we also declared dependence on God and on one another. A portion of the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.” Again, Independence Day represents independence from a foreign government but equally stands a…

THE TRIUMPH OF THE VANQUISHED

We each face battles that are not of our own choosing. Some are arbitrarily forced upon us by life’s circumstances, others come as a result of our own bad decisions. Many battles fall into the category of spiritual warfare while some are chosen for us by our heavenly Commander in Chief. Though the sources of our battles are many there is but one sure path to victory; we must embrace God’s promise, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” Exodus 14:14 (ESV).Trust in God alone must be the banner under which we march. Our self-dependence must first be vanquished by God’s wondrous love, then and only then we are ready for to stand back and see God vanquish the enemy! Holy Father, my unruliness and fears are defeated by Your love, therefore I forge ahead in the triumph of the vanquished!

ASSIGNED

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19 (ESV) The Garesene Demoniac understandably wanted to remain with Jesus and His disciples, but the LORD sent him back home where he became a very effective witness. Our imaginations sometimes take us in the wrong direction, pushing us to want what seems best for our lives when in fact, our greatest concern should be “what does the LORD desire of me?” The Garesene’s desires and needs seemed more important to him at the time, but he turned out to be one of the great heroes of the Bible and we do not even know His name. But we shall indeed one day. I must surrender my imaginations to the LORD and ask Him, “where is my assignment?” Father instruct me in Your ways. Position me in perfectly within Your plan. Your Will be done.

TRUTH IN LOVE

“Speaking the truth in love," Ephesians 4:15 (ESV). 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. Speaking the truth in love means facts with no “spin”. 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. 1 John 4:8 (ESV) nails it: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is 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.

FUTURE FORCAST

A farmer cannot control how weather will affect his future crops, but it is guaranteed that if no seed is put into the ground, no harvest will come forth. Everything in my hand is a seed; my time, my talents and my treasures. The future can’t be controlled, nor need it be feared. The seed I put in the ground today is the best forecast of what is ahead.Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 (NKJV). Everything I sow or don’t sow today affects my future. He who has given me this moment also holds all my tomorrows in His Mighty Hands. Lord of All, You are rightly praised by all creation. Grant me grace to sow the right seed today and confidently trust Your daily guidance, provision and sheltering right arm. You are my refuge today and hope for all eternity.

GRASPING FOR THE WIND

]“Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind,” Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NKJV). The seemingly universal mantra “Follow your dream” is constantly declared from kindergartens to Ivory League classrooms, from kitchen tables to pulpits, from boardrooms to backyards, but is it sound advice? Actually, dreams can mutate into nightmares or become no more than “grasping for the wind”. For the person of faith, dreams, like every other human desire, must be bathed in holy surrender to the Giver of Life. I refuse to knowingly substitute an earthly dream for my heavenly calling. God’s dream for my life must become my relentless, singular pursuit. Lord God, Your Sovereign Will does not diminish my life it makes it worth living! Pull me deeper into Your purpose and plans.

BEFORE ALL ELSE

“O God You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory,” Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV). Daybreak is very quiet. God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world awakens and the still of dawn is lost in the cacophony of life. An indispensable characteristic of the God-directed life is seeking, hearing and obeying the voice of God. So, I push away the rushing horde of things this new day brings and remember Jesus’ words to Mary as others complained and she sat at the Master’s feet, “but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosenthe good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of silence. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly.

SKINNY MIRRORS

“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing,” James 1:22-25 (ESV). I saw a news report describing how “skinny mirrors” are designed to make you look thinner and are utilized in the 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. However, lying to myself has no actual benefits; self-deception is toxic and dangerous. 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 may Your Blazing Truth and Unen…

WHAT AND HOW

We are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV), “Pray without ceasing”. This sounds impossible for most of us but remaining in a prayerful attitude of listening to God, speaking to God, seeking His Will and acknowledging His Presence should be the daily bread of every child of God. Work, play, ministry, study, exercise, fellowship, pondering; this is WHAT I do. But remaining in a state of prayerfulness should always be HOW I do what I do. Many mistakes can be avoided by maintaining a listening ear and surrendered heart in whatever we are doing. Most of Jesus’ miraculous ministry happened along His way to somewhere. Dusty roads became places of miracles because he was always plugged into the Father’s heart. LORD, help me live this out each and every day. May my temporary circumstances never drown out Your Eternal Voice.

JOYFUL SUFFERING

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for THE NAME,” Acts 5:41 (ESV). Rejoicing!? They had just been jailed, almost put to death, severely beaten, commanded to stop preaching the Gospel and finally released. Then they rejoiced for being worthy to suffer! You cannot fake this level of dedication and faith. No one likes to suffer, but it seemed small compared to what they knew. They had left everything and walked with Jesus. They heard His teaching, saw the miracles. His arrest, His beatings, crucifixion, entombment and resurrection. He ascended into heaven as they watched! Their present circumstance of persecution could not rise high enough to overwhelm their joyful call to serve their Redeemer! LORD, awaken in me faith that rejoices no matter the circumstances I suffer for Your Glory.

BACK ON COURSE

“The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them,” Proverbs 11:3 (ESV). I have taken plenty of costly shortcuts in life, but thankfully, my moral compass is permanently set on integrity. This means that while I am prone to make wrong turns along the way, I always have a way back home if I will pay attention. When I realize my mistakes and turn around, I end up headed back on course in the right direction. Integrity is a guidance system that is often ignored but never fails when practiced. Though a price will always be paid for ignoring it in the first place, integrity’s trustworthy calibration will turn disaster into delight if trusted and practiced. Glorious God, Your Ways are beyond compare. Thank You for Your Word and Spirit’s work within me and through me.

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING

I have a plethora of unused keys. It is a mystery to me how I have possession of so many and yet have no clue what they open. Strangely, I have a difficult time discarding them, knowing that they must open something somewhere. Wouldn’t it be great to have just one key that opens everything? In fact, I do have the key to everything. Isaiah 33:5-6 (NIV) states: “The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Awe and respect of God’s first position in all things opens the locked away treasures of this life and the world to come. Almighty God, You are the Key to all things, Your boundless majesty and wisdom openly available to the trusting heart. I am grateful that what You open no one can shut, and what You shut no one can open.

GRUDGING OBEDIENCE

Since God sees into our souls as easily as looking into a fishbowl, grudging obedience will not suffice. While others may be fooled, the Lord Almighty knows the underlying thoughts andintentions of every person’s actions. We know joyful compliance puts a smile on our Heavenly Father’s face since 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV) tells us, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. Resentful obedience of any form leaves us empty and does not produce in us the purpose God intends. Willing, prompt submission releases joy but grudging submission drains the heart. Unless obedience is done promptly and with the right attitude it is nothing more than polite disobedience. Oh Lord, Keeper of My Soul, teach me to love You without reserve in all that I do.

AN OPEN DOOR

“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name,” Revelation 3:8 (ESV). God knows what He’s getting into by assigning any of us to His divine work. He “knows our works”, the good ones, bad ones and all the in-between ones. So how can He use us considering our spotty record? Because God knows “we have little power”, but that’s no problem, He has plenty! So, what are the qualifiers? “You have kept my Word”, meaning You esteem His will above your own and “have not denied My Name”. In spite of your frailties you obey His Word and you do not deny His Name. That’s it! It is Him “who opens, and no one will shut, who shuts, and no one opens,” (vs. 3:7). LORD, I truly can do all things in You calling and strength! Father use me as You will.

THE SHEPHERD'S VOICE

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand,” John 10:27-28 (ESV). I do hear His voice. Sometimes very faintly. Other times, quite clearly. His voice has many tones; at times quietly emerging within a string of thoughts. Other times, through someone else’s voice, or in my own mind as I read the Word or hear myself speak, but I definitely hear it. I truly desire to hear more clearly and often, but I’m sure that my own willingness to obediently follow His Voice is critical to the accuracy of my hearing. While my standing as a child of God is secure, my walk with God is very dependent upon constantly hearing and following His directions. LORD, there is “no speech nor language where Your voice is not heard”. No excuses. As said young Samuel: “Speak; for Thy servant heareth.”

AN AMBASSADOR IN CHAINS

In Ephesians 6:19-20 (ESV), the apostle Paul solicits prayer: “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” His prayer requests reveal three critical points: 1. The words we speak must be God’s Words, not our own. 2. We must boldly and faithfully speak them. 3. We are all “ambassadors in chains”, representing Him and His Kingdom. In other words, we represent Him, not ourselves and we do so from whatever station in life God chooses for us. Frankly, so many others I know seem to do a much better job representing the Gospel than I, but I cannot be a copy of someone else since we are each designed according to God’s choices to be used for His will. Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me. Make me, melt me, fill me, use me. LORD, So be it.

A STOREHOUSE OF TRUTH

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever,” Psalm 86:12 (ESV). God must be glorified in all we do. Honor is not merely acknowledging Him; it is offering Him our first, our best and our all. The heart that recognizes the authority, wisdom, power and goodness of the Great and Mighty One will have no trouble trusting Him through both storms and temptations. We waste our efforts storing up earthly things only to see them slip away on the tides of life; but he who learns to store God’s Word in his heart will never lack. Troubles come, but a storehouse of Truth nestled in the soul is a continuous wellspring of life and provides what we need for every occasion. Glorious El Shaddai, to breathe Your Name expunges my soul of all fear and releases unrelenting hope and assurance! To ponder and speak Your Word is an unending supply of manna in desert places.

EARTHLY INFECTIONS

In the same manner unwashed hands carry viruses that cause infectious diseases, the soul can be laden with unseen but deadly dangers. Strangely, we are far more careful to wash our hands after touching contaminated objects than to consider the perils of contamination of the heart. “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV).Unfettered, unguarded exposure to wrong-spirited people is dangerous. We drink bottled water to protect our bodies, but freely drink from the cesspools of unfiltered conversations or unbridled self-indulgence. High and Lofty One, cleanse my heart of all worldly infections and may Your Word and Spirit deliver me from mindless exposure to those who love discord, debauchery and darkness.

GOD-SOURCED, NOT CROWD-SOURCED

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20 (NKJV). While faith must be personal and God-sourced, not Crowd-sourced, let there be no doubt that there is a unique presence of God that manifests within a unified gathering of believers. God is present “in the midst of them”. Public worship can easily become routine being nothing more than going through the motions. Often, the pastor is blamed, but frankly, the responsibility of genuine worship falls upon each of us. Again, worship must be God-sourced, not Crowd-sourced. I must arrive to the gathering of believers as a worshipper not a consumer, already worshipping not waiting to “be inspired”. My heart must be already seeking and moving toward God, not dependent upon being moved toward God by others. LORD, pull my heart toward You. Make me a true worshipper in Spirit and in Truth.

TRUE CHAMPIONS

The righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Proverbs 24:16 (ESV). All of us have taken a few falls in battle, life can be brutal at times. In my daily walk in this world I never know where the next test will be, but I know the power to rise from a fall is the signature characteristic of a true champion. Those who never learn to triumph over failure can be expected to stumble when the next calamity comes along, but the ones who have learned to rise again after stumbles are the true warriors in life. Victors stumble but never quit; they push ever forward and ever higher. LORD, You are my Mighty Warrior! You laid down Your life only to rise as Eternal Victor! Give me strength to rise from my falls, learn from them and lead others to final victory.

BY HIM, IN HIME, THROUGH HIM

Another day has dawned. How will it all unfold? Am I prepared for it? Will I have what it takes? So, I will now turn to God’s Word to prepare me for what is ahead: John 1:3 assures me that both I and this new day were formed by Him, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (KJV). And Acts 17:28 reveals “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being,” (KJV). Like a fish in water, my breath, my movement, my sustenance, my very being is formed and dwells within my Creator and LORD. I cannot do anything without Him, but in Philippians 4:13 I am assured that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (NKJV). Well…that just about sums it up; “BY HIM, IN HIM, THROUGH HIM”. Yes LORD, You’ve definitely got this! Therefore, so do I…let’s roll.

LIViNG WATERS

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water,” Jeremiah 2:13 (NKJV). Not every source of water is equal. On the surface, there is little difference between a spring fed lake and a retention pond. The sky reflects beautifully over both, but in one abides healthy, life-giving water, in the other is the runoff of surrounding streets and lawns; even its aquatic life is dangerous to consume and no one with good sense would drink from its contaminated waters. I do not want my soul to be filled with the tainted runoff of the world around me. I need the daily flow of living waters to flood my soul. LORD, In Your Mercy, pour Your cleansing truth into my soul and make my heart like a pristine mountain lake, teeming with life and welcoming all to safely enjoy its bounty.

GOD'S WORD, GOD'S WAY

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless thingsand revive me in Your way,” Psalm 119:37 (NKJV). Many things that are attractive at first glance turn out to be worthless or harmful. To substitute “God’s Way” for an inferior, man-made model is not only treasonous, it is dangerous: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death,” Proverbs 14:12 (ESV). “Revive me in Your way” is one of the simplest yet most powerful prayers in the Bible. God’s Word instructs us in God’s Ways therefore no pursuit of God can be successful apart from reading, meditation-upon and obedience to His Word. We cannot “revive” what we have never imbibed. LORD, my confession is that of the psalmist: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” In Your mercy, instruct my heart with You Word and guide my feet into Your Ways.

MIRACULOUS MOMENTS

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” I Corinthians 1:27 (ESV). In the Book of Acts, chapter 10, God gave two very different men in completely different cities, two perplexing visions that neither understood. Simon Peter and Cornelius the Centurion were on a collision course with divine destiny that only required their strict obedience, not their understanding. I too, have been sent on perplexing missions that turned out to be divinely-arranged, miraculous moments. God is never limited by my weaknesses, ignorance or confusion. He is only limited by my stubborn disobedience and unwillingness to trust Him. Father use me for Your divine purposes. Give me increased faith and abiding grace to take bold new steps of obedience.

GOD'S MANIFEST PRESENCE

David ponders in Psalm 139:7 (ESV): “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Whether we invoke it, acknowledge it, welcome it, fear it, or seek His Presence, the simple truth is God IS present. The LORD Almighty is everywhere at the same time, but there is a clearly biblical emphasis on His Manifest Presence, not just His omnipresence. In fact, Moses recognized that the Manifest Presence of God is one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of the People of God when He queries: “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:16 (NIV). LORD, manifest Your Presence within me, around me and through me to others this day and always.

ANY WAY YOU NEED IT

I was reading in Matthew, chapters 5-8 early this morning. These passages begin with the Sermon On the Mount and include his trek from the mountain to the villages below. It struck me how straightforward and unvarnished He spoke to everyone gathered around Him; disciples, Pharisees, sinners and everyone in between. Truth has a way of hitting you the way you need it. Sometimes harsh, sometimes gentle, always powerful. As He descended from the mountain He was approached by a man with leprosy and healed him. Then, by a centurion with a servant back at home “paralyzed and suffering terribly”. DONE! Any way you need it, God has a way to deliver it! O Glorious One, when I need it You are always faithful to provide it in Your perfect time and in the way only You can! Blessed are You Father, Teacher, Helper, Healer and LORD of All.

THE FINISH LINE

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV). Junkyards can be eerily fascinating with so many stories connected to rusting heaps as they sit in inert silence. Unfortunately, many people’s lives end up in junkyard condition with their lives a messy collection of one smashup after another. God created us with the capacity to finish our race with the same potential we start with. Will my life finish as a rusty pile of past crashes or as an antique classic still running well? I choose the latter. O Lord My Creator help me race fast and strong all the way to the finish line. Infuse me with Your power that I may successfully charge ahead until my last breath. May the full extent of my purpose in this world be completely fulfilled when I pass the checkered flag.

GIVE IT A REST!

“For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night,” Psalm 90:4 (NKJV). Considering the words of the psalmist it becomes clear why it is so difficult to understand God’s timing on things. When a trial seems like an eternity to us, it is but a passing moment to Him. But both His actions and inactions are perfectly timed, and our panic does not change that. I must therefore learn to trust His perfect love and rest in Him. Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV) proclaims: “The LORD Thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.” Wow! What a beautiful picture! LORD, by Your grace I will ditch my panic and worries. I will “give it a rest” and trust Your timing. I shall join the melody of Your song of joy over me and praise you with my whole heart. Selah!

PATCH REMOVAL

“But in accordance with your hardness of heart and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God," Romans 2:5 (NKJV). The lawns around our neighborhood are summer green but a few spots are an ugly brown hardened patches where the grass will not grow must be removed before new growth will appear. Nutrition will not make a difference; the crusty surface must be penetrated and the dead roots unearthed for good soil to be exposed. New seed, fertilizer and regular watering will make the hardened patches beautifully green again. My soul is no different; spiritual nutrition will not have lasting effect on what only repentance can transform. Holy Father tear away the crusty surfaces of my heart. Where dried patches reside in my soul grant me grace to truly repent. Plow my heart with Your Word and sow in me that which You desire.

A SINGLE VOICE

I was very surprised on my first trip to the Colorado Front Range many years ago to experience such powerful windstorms. A tempest was howling past my hotel window reminding me that something as inert as air becomes extremely powerful in certain conditions. In the same way, one-single voice can be as mighty as a hurricane in the right conditions. My voice is merely one tool among many that I used to express myself. Until that is, one of those moments when it carries a direct message from Almighty God. Job 37:5 (NKJV) proclaims: “God thunders marvelously with His voice;He does great things which we cannot comprehend.”When my voice is empowered by His Voice it changes everything. Speaking His Word can transform hearts, move mountains, calm storms, turn darkness into light or send the minions of darkness scampering away! Father You gave me the gift of voice. Put Your coal of fire to my lips and fill my heart and mouth with what matters.

THE CALL OF GOD

“So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying,‘Every son who isborn you shall cast into the river...’”Exodus 1:22 (NKJV). Moses was born as a slave with an imminent death sentence. From there, God promoted him to Pharaoh’s palace. Enraged by an injustice he witnessed Moses murdered an Egyptian soldier and had to flee to the wilderness. But a burning bush became a stepping stone to his highest positions in life; a Prophet, a Lawgiver, a Deliverer, the Leader of a nation. His calling was never subject to his circumstances, God made a way. He still does for each of us. The Call of God never looks neat and tidy. Most of it unfolds in the dark of night or in a personal wilderness; its power unleashed in private moments with God. LORD God, may I never turn away from the private places You design for me to hear Your Voice. Grant me grace to always obey.

GODLINESS, GODLIKENESS AND GOD-ISHNESS

In 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) God’s Word declares: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”.Godliness produces “God-likeness”, transforming our values and behaviors to reflect His. But we are warned against “having a form of godliness but denying its power,” in 2 Timothy 3:5 (NKJV). Godliness without power is not godliness at all. I call this type of false godliness “God-ishness” (yes, I made it up). God-ishness is an attempt to amend and reorganize God’s values and behaviors around our own. God-ishness is a powerless mockery of truth and is calamitous for our spiritual lives. God-ishness will never do when it comes to the spiritual conflicts we will encounter in life, only godliness will suffice. Holy Father help me take hold ofgodliness, faith and love.

HUNGER POWER

“Even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table,” Mark 7:28 (ESV). These were powerful words spoken out of the deep need of a gentile mother seeking God’s help for her child. Even when the disciples and The LORD Himself made it difficult for her to receive she would not go away, she would not lose heart, she would not quit! Psalm 107:9 (ESV) gives us further insight into unlocking the power of spiritual need: “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things”. And Proverbs 27:7 (NKJV): “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” A hungry heart is not easily offended. Too many people walk away from the help they seek because the journey of faith is more difficult than expected. Glorious Father, may I never tire of following hard after you. Only in Your Presence can I quench my thirsty soul, only You have the Words of Life and in Your will alone will I find rest.

HIGHER VALUES

“Love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful,” Luke 6:35-36 (ESV). This passage stands in such sharp contrast to the growing cultural trend to grab all you can, can all you get and poison the rest. Unkind accusations that are patently false have become normalized in modern culture, but the call of God to higher values for those who are His has not waned even slightly. Ephesians 4:32 is still His command: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”. LORD, help me rise above the standards of our culture in this hour. May love and kindness rule my heart, my actions and my words at all times. Please forgive us for allowing secular culture to guide our behaviors.

A HARDENING HEART

“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” Jeremiah 18:12 (ESV. What are the signs of a hardening heart? There are many, such as indifference to spiritual issues, prayerlessness and refusal to listen to God or obey His promptings. A heart beginning to crust over is far more comfortable around people with spiritual cynicism than with those of spiritual hunger. Spiritual minimalism becomes the habit of those slipping away, choosing the least confronting forms of worship. The most ominous sign of hardening is when we cut ourselves off from fellowship with passionate believers, seeking rather to constantly associate with those of little or no genuine faith. O Lord My Creator, You formed me for Your will. Keep me stirred and pliable; work me over like moldable clay. Thank you for the power of fellowship and the witness of burning hearts.