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Showing posts from March, 2019

GOD FIRST

“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,” Psalm 63:1 (NKJV). This is not only a beautiful prayer, it is sound advice from a shepherd boy psalmist turned warrior king of the nation of Israel. No doubt, every day quickly filled for young David; bleating sheep, constant demands and approaching dangers. Later, the burden of leadership of a nation constantly at war would be his at both bedtime and awakening. But he had learned by experience; God first, no matter what else cried out for attention. Like a long road trip, starting late means additional traffic. Prayerful meditations do not belong bumper to bumper on a crowded freeway; the cares of this world cutting into holy space. Other things can wait, our day must begin at the foot of the throne. O LORD, Shepherd of my Soul, early will I seek You. Help me set aside encroaching thoughts and concerns that I may seek You first and always.…

THE DREAMER

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more,” Genesis 37:5 (ESV). It could easily be said that Joseph’s dreams were the root of many of his problems, but in the end, they became the fountainhead of his greatest blessings.  Joseph showed us a more excellent way when after he was betrayed by his brothers, he forgave those who had tried to destroy him. Frankly, it is painful to be unjustly vilified, but the pit where we are thrown becomes a place of purification and discovery. Joseph rose from the pit of hatred, to the chains of slavery, to the jails of Egypt to the second-highest position in Pharaoh’s kingdom! Sometimes the pit is the most important stop along the journey to fulfilling the greatest dream. Heavenly Father, I will not permit today’s disappointments to kill the dreams You give. Because of Your wonderful love, and tender mercies I can trust and embrace the dreams You have for me.

YOU ARE MINE!

“But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine,’” Isaiah 43:1 (ESV). Though each of us were foreseen and created in love by our Heavenly Father, we often doubt both His love and attention. Yet Isaiah 1:3 tells us, “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Maybe being “dumb as an ox” or “as stubborn as a donkey” isn’t so bad after all! These questions must be settled. My life is not my own, I am His. Therefore, I will stubbornly cling to side of the Master, no matter what comes. The work he puts before me I must do; I’m designed for it, He empowers me to accomplish it, feeds me along the way and rewards me with His care. I am His, He calls me by name! LORD, place in the fields of Your choosing. I delight to fulfill my created purpose.

ON BENDED KNEE

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:15-16. God’s Presence is intimate and welcoming.He greets us with open arms and grants us acceptance on the basis of what our Redeemer has accomplished for us. We must never take for granted the high privilege of private worship and intimate seeking; it is only by mercy and grace we enter in. Presumptuousness is a vile tag-along that can accompany the liberty we feel in His Presence. But nonchalant casualness should never appear in my approach to God. Holy and Almighty Father forgive my recklessness. May I never show contempt for your kindness by inappropriate brazenness. I acknowledge the amazing privilege of worshipping at Your feet and I humbly bow before You on bended knee My King and LORD.…

THE GREAT I AM

I begin this new day with a couple of passages from the 30th Psalm in mind: “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,” (Vs. 5) and “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Vs.11). Huge storms throughout the dark of night are now superseded by the soft, warmth of the advancing light of sunrise. This new morning prompts my remembrance of God's pattern: dark to light, storms to calm, mourning to dancing and sorrows to joy! Yesterday has now slipped away and a new day is dawning already prepared for my arrival. Almighty Father, I have never been here before, but You O LORD are Everlasting, Our King Eternal, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End! You have already trod these moments, sprinkling this new day with blessings, provision and purpose. Guide my steps to land only in Your footprints.

THE REAL DEAL

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18 (ESV). It is difficult to believe a society has ever been as pretentious as our own. Let’s get real; living by pretense is no life at all. God created mankind to bear His image, not to skulk around in a culture of self-promotion, exaggeration, falsehood and fakery. Thankfully, the raw, straightforward simplicity of the Gospel begins the process ripping away pretentiousness upon arrival. Christ’s example of love, humility, obedience, truth and power awakens virtue and initiates a clean sweep of all fraud. Sure, falsehood may hang around, but will find no easy resting place with Truth on guard. Though selfishness still lurks in the dark places of our lives, it must not be allowed to take center-stage. Lord God Almighty, shine Your blazing Light of Truth in me today. Illuminate the darkest corners of my soul with Your resplendent brightness and tear down every veneer. Make me entirely the real deal.

THE STAGE

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we learn, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness,’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (NKJV). To openly live a life of faith is not a proclamation of personal perfection. In fact, the opposite is true. To reveal myself as a man of God is to open the curtain and turn on the lights; my imperfections become the stage upon which the amazing grace and relentless love of God are displayed for all to see. In my weakness, His awesome strength is discovered and brought to the forefront. Glossing over our foibles presents a false image of the believer’s life and in the end does more harm than good. In verse. Lord You are my Fortress and Deliverer, reveal Yourself in me. May my failings spotlight Your exquisiteness and demonstrate Your truly amazing grace. May my need for constant redemption encourage others to seek the same.

MOVE FORWARD

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea,’” Exodus 14:15-22 (NKJV). How can we traverse unknown terrain when we are not sure where we are headed? What do we do when God calls us to move forward, but a huge obstacle stands in our way? The Hebrews faced these dilemmas multiple times in their journey from Egypt back to the Promised Land. Clearly, we must first be willing to leave something behind to take hold of the unseen. When the path is blocked, we must take steps of faith, understanding that sometimes the waters do not part until our toes are in the water and our enemies on our heels. And most importantly we must obey the LORD’S command to “Move forward.” O Lord my Deliverer, thank You for taking me beyond the possible! I can do all things Your Will demands and done within Your Stre…

THE SUMMIT

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” 2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV). Such POWERFUL and encouraging WORDS! Keeping my eye on the finish helps yesterday’s losses seem less important.Too often I have hindered the approach of what God has designed for my tomorrow by over-attachment to things of yesterday. Like a hiker who attempts to lug along too much equipment, I sometimes strike out without first discerning between what will be absolutely necessary and what is merely an emotional connection that must be left behind. To follow hard after what is best, I must lay aside every hindrance including things once held dear. The decisions we make today determine how far we can go, how high we may ascend. Father You are my only hope to reach the summit. You are already present in what is yet unseen by me, preparing the way and bidding me to run harder, fight smarter, get leaner and climb higher. I trust Your provision and divine care; You never miss a thing.

FRAUGHT WITH OVERTHOUGHT

Today I will think thousands of thoughts. Neuroscientists estimate the average person has a minimum of 20,000 “present moment” thoughts each day. Some have the number as high as 70,000! I often over-think problems, mulling over the same details, ad nauseam. I do this knowing all along that the answers I seek come from God alone and only arrive in His way and in His time. Yet, I ponder, reflect, get advice, ruminate and keep trying to figure it all out. Will I never learn how useless this is? An overcharged mind is no substitute for a surrendered heart at peace with God’s ways. “Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed bythe renewal of your mind, that by testing you maydiscern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect,” Romans 12:2 (ESV).And, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you,” Isaiah 26:3 (ESV). Lord when my mind drifts away pull me back to Your thoughts, Your ways, Your Promises and Your peace.

A NOMADIC HEART

Exploring new possibilities is a central part of the human construct that is a direct attribute of our Creator. Every person is born with an inward passion for learning, problem solving, increased influence and adventure. “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” Genesis 1:28 (ESV). Multiplication, seeking distant places, dominion and fruitfulness are all God-given elements of our internal operating system. However, if these characteristics never fall under the daily guidance of divine superintendence, we will waste our lives wandering around in a personal wilderness forever looking for meaning, value and purpose without truly finding it. Lord God My Creator and Shepherd; bind my expeditions to Your perfect will. Keep my nomadic and dominion-fixed heart upon Your ways and means. May Your will be done on earth as it …

THE PERFECTING ONE

As a child growing up in Florida I spent much of my time outside. There was never a shortage of insects and I quickly learned that small things can lead to big problems, especially if there are lots of small things. I sometimes forget that lesson and pay little attention to my small faults. It is easier to focus on the big ones, but as they accumulate even tiny defects add up to big problems. The world’s wisest man warns in Solomon 2:15, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vines are in full blossom,” (ESV). Often, in the midst of blessings and harvest Satan slides something in us to destroy us. God, in His perfection, has His eye on even the smallest detail. The Perfect One is also the Perfecting One. Lord God, You are the Master Craftsman, bringing Your finishing touch to even the slightest flaw. I welcome and need Your perfecting care.

SOLID ROCK

Things already feel a bit wobbly as I start the day, but a song comes to mind, “On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand.” These steadying words from the great hymn are resounding in my heart. While living in Costa Rica many years ago we experienced a significant earthquake. After the first violent jolts, the aftershocks lasted for weeks. It is deeply unsettling when the earth shifts, and that which has always been stable heaves and ripples beneath. These are moments of authentication. When everything is shaken in our lives, in whom will we trust? Hebrews 1:10 points the way, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands,” (ESV). Lord God, Rock of Ages, You are the only Firm Foundation; no weapon formed against us can prosper. Your Hand of Protection will never loosen its grip.

DIVINE DOWNLOADS

Constant updates are mandatory for the operating systems and applications we all use. Between my phone, computer and other devices, there are multiple downloads required each day. This should be no surprise really, my whole being requires daily divine downloads, adjustments and updates as well. I too, must be sorted through and updated daily, spirit, soul and body, until every part is wholly consecrated to God and prepared to face the challenges this new day brings. “Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you,’” Joshua 3:5 (ESV). Yesterday’s surrender is insufficient for today, so here we go again. Precious Lord, I am thankful for Your constant work in me so that You may work more effectively through me. Divine Downloads are my urgent need and daily desire.

DON'T DO IT...BUT IF YOU DO

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John 2:1 (ESV). Let’s face it, sin is our constant nemesis. Sin is therefore our greatest enemy and constantly seeks our condemnation and destruction. The Court is the final authority in a legal dispute and the Judge determines our final sentence. In the case of my standing with God I have the dream defense team with the Holy Spirit as “Wonderful Counselor” and Jesus as my “Advocate”. The trial Judge is the LORD my God and Father, who judges me according to His mercy, grace and goodness. “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us,” Isaiah 33:22 (ESV). LORD, I stand in awe of your thoughtful wisdom and complete salvation for Your children.

JUST THE TWO OF US

The Grammy winning song by Bill Withers: “Just the Two of Us”, was all the rage in the early 80s. While dining in an airport restaurant, the song came to mind as I noticed a young mother and her infant child. Though hundreds of travelers noisily passed all around they seemed to be the only two present, each totally transfixed on the other. The mother seemed to be singing and the child cooing. The obvious delight of this young mother interacting with her tiny child made me wonder, does God delight in nurturing us? Then I remembered Zephaniah 3:17: “He will take great delight in you; in his love He will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing,” (NIV). Even as He holds the whole world in His hand, I can hold His full attention. Glorious Father, I am so humbled and amazed to think of You singing over us as You nurture our created purpose. Sweep me into that moment where there is only You.

WATER WALKERS

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel,” 1 Corinthians 4:15 (ESV). One of my spiritual fathers, Russell Linenkhol, has been in heaven many years but his voice is still in my head and heart. His eyes sparkled when he smiled; he had a great wit and a deep-voiced southern drawl. Russell gave me wise counsel over most of my formative years and deeply influenced me in more ways than I could elucidate in this medium. One of his most endearing attributes was something we described as “Russellisms”, which were pithy points of wisdom and insight. For instance, he described people who stepped out in faith as “Water Walkers”; the biblical story of Peter stepping out of the boat clearly referenced. I needed those enlightening and inspiring words. I still do. Lord God, thank You for placing me in places where only You can hold me up, I will follow Your voice no matter the perils. And thank You LORD …

OPEN WATERS

Casting off into a strong tide is fraught with perils. Though open waters beckon, the security of being tied to the dock is compelling. But forward progress always includes the risk of letting something go. The apostle Paul wrote, “We are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,for we walk by faith, not by sight.Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV). Everything in this world including death itself will eventually be “swallowed up in victory”. Looking ahead to what God is unfolding in His eternal plan helps to ease the pain of temporary risks and losses. Lord, keep me from getting uncorked when things change. I know that You work it all out for our good. Cut me free from fears of loss so that I may embrace what is ahead.

PERSPECTIVE

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV). What looks like a life-ending boulder rumbling and tumbling down the mountain toward me is no more than a harmless granule of sand to the Lord Almighty. What looks like a measly kernel of corn to me is in God’s eyes a never-ending supply of harvest after harvest. It is abundantly clear, I must face life with God’s perspective and not my own. Father, what is heavy for me is light as a feather for You and what is beyond my reach is centered in the palm of Your mighty hand. Open the eyes of my understanding to see the greatness of Your power and the depth of Your unending love

JERUSALEM JOY

In Psalm 122 we read: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God; I will seek your prosperity.’” Even with all its internal and external religious and geopolitical troubles, Jerusalem has something so special that peoples and nations have coveted it throughout history. Even with all its tensions, there is inexplicable joy to walk its streets, to smell its aromas and to ponder the amazing events that have unfolded within its walls. LORD, You have chosen this Holy City for Your Name to dwell forever and to be a “House of prayer for all people”. I pray for its peace. Quiet its storms and grant prosperity to its walls. Make her enemies to be at peace with her and let Your people dwell safely in The Land.

ALWAYS ROOM FOR GOD

My mind sometimes feels like a crowded subway car headed to Grand Central Station; each stop filling in what little space is left until there is no room at all. In the hustle and bustle of a thought-filled mind there seems to be no room for The Almighty. But in those moments, we must make a full stop; nothing is so important that it should be allowed to crowd out His Presence. ”You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (ESV). Amazingly, with even the smallest pause offered, the LORD Almighty will turn turbulent confusion into a picnic by the river, gripping apprehension into a country walk and over-stuffed choices into a stroll under a star-filled night. O LORD My God, You turn my turmoil into awesome wonder and transform my murmuring into glorious praise.

GET WITH IT!

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV). As with muscles, my spiritual giftings and God-given abilities grow stronger as I use them. So, my best strategy is to get with it and put them to the test. I can ignore today’s opportunities, or I can step into the challenges and man-up to what God has placed before me. I could just drift along in meaningless survival or I can grow stronger this new day and make a genuine difference, becoming even more effective for tomorrow. I choose the latter. Father help me move further in, deeper down, higher up and farther out. Awaken my soul to Your will, Your ways and Your means. Grant me eyes to see, ears to hear and an ever-increasing fortitude of commitment.

SHUN EVIL

“And he said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding,”’ Proverbs 28:28 (NIV). These words, “shun evil” seem archaic in modern culture, but evil must be identified and overcome. A huge mistake in dealing with evil is to focus on the host rather than the source. People can become so overcome by evil, they seem like evil personified, but the source of evil is Satan’s rebellion. People do evil things, but the true enemy is much more insidious. This is critical to understand because even good people, godly people can do evil things. Godly fear is to respect and reverence God above all else, not hide from Him, rebel against Him or revile Him. Love is to honor and obey God as Father and Lord. It is to hate sin but love the sinner. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21 (ESV). O LORD my Redeemer, deliver me from evil and help me love You and others with Your Perfect Love.

OPEN MY EYES

Whatever we see as we face difficult or complicated circumstances is never the full picture, there is always more to the story. 2 kings 6:17 (ESV) tells us, "Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Like Elisha’s servant who needed his spiritual eyes opened to be able to see the army of angels that encircled Israel’s enemies, we too, need our eyes opened to the full measure of the Lord’s surrounding Presence. The divine purpose behind every earthly trial far outweighs whatever temporary discomfort or fear we may feel. In these occasions there is no substitute for knowing God’s love and promises. O Lover of My Soul, I praise You for Your faithful care and power to save. Open my eyes to Your Glory and Power.

STILL WATERS

“And she had a sister calledMary, whosat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching,” Luke 10:39 (ESV).As I awaken to the dawning of a new day concerns and responsibilities rush in attempt to take control of the moment, but first I must sit at the Master’s feet. Like Martha, I too am tempted to busily complain from the kitchen rather than choose “a better thing” as did Mary. My morning prayers are often poorly concealed attempts to get something accomplished, being little more than another mark on a checklist. I must again ask myself, would a gushing river of thoughts accomplish more than quiet praise? The words of the psalmist come to mind: “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm (46:10). Rather than complex thought processing that does little more than occupy my own mind as I pray, today I will let go of my concerns in silent seeking. Lord, You are enthroned over all. In peace do I praise You. On green pastures I repose, by still waters I rest and by Your hand Good Shepherd…

SOUL TIES

I pretty much like everyone I meet, but the people with whom we cast our lot significantly impact our lives, so we must choose our associations wisely. It is never easy to pull away from human attractions, but Scripture repeatedly warns us to avoid friendships with the wrong people. In 1 Corinthians 15:33 we read: “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” Rather than experiencing the pain of pulling away, we can get ahead of the problem by wisely choosing with whom we associate. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm,” Proverbs 13:20 (ESV). No one is perfect, but we must tie our heart to those who earnestly pursue God’s will and ways. Gracious Lord awaken good discernment within me. Thank you for those who provoke me to love and good works and help me guard my heart from inordinate affections.

THE MASTER'S TOUCH

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork,” Psalm 19:1 (ESV). This morning's sunrise looked as if God dipped His finger in florescent paint and stroked a luminescent orange ribbon across a silvery blue background. As if that were not enough, there is a beautiful mosaic of white to greyish and tan to bluish clouds thinly weaved like giant ropes, spread north to south as far as the eye can see. The Master’s touch can turn any moment, any place into a masterpiece. What else will God craft into this day? I will watch for His artful work. Perhaps He will stroke the canvas of my soul, covering over useless space and delicately creating something exquisite in its place. Almighty God and King, I welcome Your craftsmanship, Your slightest touch foretells majestic beauty. May my heart be a ready landscape; prepared for each stroke of Your holy brush.

SEER OF THE UNSEEN

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me,” Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV). Each day presents new battles, unforeseen foes lurking just beyond view. There is no chance I can be fully prepared for everything that awaits me, yet how sweet the joy that fills my heart; victory rests in the Seer of the Unseen. Come what may, the Lord is my triumph; what is unforeseeable for me is in clear view of Almighty God. The LORD of Glory never loses sight of where I am nor what I will need to finish strong. King of Kings, into Your hands I cast every care. In the moments of conflict and confusion may I ever trust in Your unfailing love.

HOLD POSITION

In Ephesians 6:13 our walk of faith is framed in military terms, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm, stand therefore.” Much of what occurs on the battlefield has little in common with the noble scenes of bravery depicted in war movies. What a soldier actually faces in warfare seems far less heroic, but in fact, is where true heroes are born. The command to “hold position” is usually not an assignment to stand guard at a palace entry, but rather, it is an order to a lay in a hole in the ground or crouch next to a damaged building or the burned-out hulk of a vehicle. Yet, in the big picture, faithfulness to hold that ignoble space is critical to overall victory. And so it is in our spiritual assignments. LORD of All, my Commander in Chief, no matter how lowly the place or how long I must hold position, I am here to obey. I delight to do Your will O’ God

ENMIITY

In Galatians 5:19-21 there is a laundry list of the “works of the flesh”. Listed right along with “orgies, idolatry and sorcery” is the word “enmity”. In God’s perspective, hostility, hatred, animosity or envy are as inherently evil as things we generally consider as the really BIG sins. Believers who would consider it treason to worship an idol will self-justify their resentment or envy as normal human reactions. This is a deadly trap. In our modern environment of political, cultural and social conflict, along with the intermingling of so many religions and philosophies at our workplace, in our neighborhoods and even in our families we must not get confused; “Enmity” is as evil as it gets. Sin is sin, and hostility toward others is a deadly sin. Holy Father, Lover of My Soul, deliver me from resentment, purge my heart of animosity toward others so I may love others purely.

EXPONENTIAL POTENTIAL

“How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up?” Deuteronomy 32:30 (ESV). In this verse find the secret to exponential potential. God created us for partnership and the key is to have God as the senior partner. Whether in marriage, mission or moving mountains, the LORD must be first. God created us to partner with Him and to do so in partnership with others. He could have created the Garden of Eden to be self-sustaining with no need for care, instead He created us “in His image” to “tend the garden” as His partners. Genesis 2:18 states, “It is not good that man should be alone” (ESV). Jesus sent the disciples out in two’s, but the key was the Spirit of God was the Senior Partner that went with them. LORD, thank you for my wife, leaders, friends, colleagues, supporters, encouragers and teachers. Release exponential potential through me as I partner with You and others.