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Showing posts from May, 2019

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.

LIGHT SOON!

“The Lord is mylight and mysalvation; whom shall I fear?TheLordis the strongholdof my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (ESV).While still wrapped in the black shroud of predawn, it is difficult to envision the brightness and power of the light that soon approaches. Though I’ve been here over and over, still the terror of night can seem endless. But the glory of the new day dawning is far greater than night and soon the black shroud that surrounds me now will scamper away. So it is with inner darkness that attempts to trap my soul in fear. God’s unending love always approaches whether I can envision it or not, and soon, every fear will bow the knee to the Greater One. The LORD Himself will tear away the terror of darkness and the Glory of the LORD will appear. Great are You LORD and greatly to be praised! I now behold Your arrival in my mind’s eye, but soon will see Your deliverance face to face.

OVERCOMERS!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21 (NKJV). To hear many Christians talk you would get the impression that our faith is defeated, and our best course of action is to complain about it. None of that is true! The entirety of Romans 12 is a call to shine brightly before man and God, wrapping it all up with the powerful words: “overcome evil with good”. This is not a call to “be overcome”, it is a clarion call to be “an overcomer”! This is a battleplan for victory, not defeat! The life of love and servanthood is more powerful than the combined forces of the world’s greatest armies, and the light of truth mightier than the hordes of hell, works of darkness and the devil himself. Holy Father awaken Your people with the Spirit of an Overcomer. Empower us with Your Word and send us forth in love and good works.

MEMORIAL DAY

I was but a 23 year-old-pastor when one of our members, a Naval Pilot was killed. I sat with his young widow and shared her tears. The sacrifices made for the cost of freedom became real to me that day. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13 (ESV). Poignant words, spoken by The One who understood personal sacrifice for others like no one else ever had nor ever will. Across America today families and individuals are gathering supplies, preparing grills and looking forward to a day of fun and activities. They will enjoy the freedoms gained and protected by the blood, sweat and tears of those fallen in defense of this Great Nation. But there are many others who are gathering flowers, pouring over photos and feeling the stinging pain of a loved one killed, especially those who are just days, weeks or months from the tragic moment of loss. LORD of Peace, war is a result of mankind’s sin, but the death of Your Son brought us peace wit…

SACRED FOOTPRINTS

“This is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24 (ESV). The table is set for a brand-new day. As Creator and Host, only God knows exactly what is already prepared for my arrival. I must now leave behind my days gone by and ready myself for new insight, higher life and greater things. Am I up for what today will bring? Only the day will tell, but the One who provides it will also carry me through it. One thing is sure; I will walk upon on sacred footprints since the Alpha and Omega has already trod this moment in advance, sprinkling blessings and divine opportunities throughout. Lord God, Lover of My Soul, today is the day You have made; I am so good with that and already rejoicing in what is to unfold. Lift me in Your arms and carry me through with faith, joy and purpose.

PAINFUL SNARLS

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you,” Luke 6:27-28 (ESV). As a young man I was driving along when an Irish Setter ran into the street from between two parked cars. I didn’t see him quickly enough to avoid contact but I hit the brakes hard and fast. My vehicle only bumped him slightly. I leaped out to check and he was under my van; not seriously hurt but dazed and confused. I reached toward him to comfort him and he and snarled, crawled quickly from underneath the van and ran away. His refusal of help was not personal; he reacted from his pain and confusion. People will often do the same. It can be brutal, but in these moments genuine love is authenticated and shallow love is exposed. Father forgive my snarling resistances to Your loving touch. When others react to me as I have to You please grant me the same patient mercy for them You always extend to me.

HONOR

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor,” Romans 12:9-10. The men and women I have most admired throughout my entire life, particularly my many spiritual fathers and mothers, have all had a common trait, they attentively and faithfully honored others around them; always pointing out attributes and accomplishments of others. I wish to be that kind of person. While I have steadily grown in this characteristic, I realize I’m still a rookie at this compared to others and miss many opportunities to honor someone the way I should. It is not only kind to do, it is a biblical command and a principle characteristic of godliness. Glorious Father help me to grow in this wonderful characteristic giving honor to whom honor is due. Make my love for others run pure and deep.

NO OTHER FOUNDATION

“Listen to me you who pursue righteousness. You who seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug,” Isaiah 51:1 (ESV). These are powerful, penetrating words spoken by God to His people. I can change my mind, I can change my location and I can change my priorities but I cannot reshape my foundation. Therefore, if I truly believe as did the psalmist that God “created my inward parts” and “knit me together in my mother's womb”, then I will not reject the LORD’s design on my life. No other foundation can support my calling and destiny; only the one from which I was hewn will suffice. No other life will fit the foundation already laid. Instead of wishing things were different, I must seek to understand and embrace the will of the LORD. Father, Your handiwork is perfect, I humbly yield to Your plan, purposes and ways. You are my sure foundation.

THE GOOD LIFE

When you hear it said that someone is “living the good life”, it usually means that they are living in comfort and calm with few problems or worries. While this is a common goal and seemingly harmless it’s dangerous from a biblical perspective. As God’s servants we must live an effective life that is pleasing to Him. The good life is an effective life. The good life is the life of His choosing. Earnest pursuit of increased godliness positions us for divinely empowered accomplishment. Selfishness has the opposite effect, sending us into a world of speculative fantasies that are empty and dangerous. The “parable of the talents” is not a passive commentary on how to improve your life; it is a warning to not waste it. To You, Dearest Father, belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding. Grant me good discernment in my daily pursuits. 6/17/17, 5/21/19

THE WELL OF LIFE

My son keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart,” Proverbs 7:1-3. The Word of God identifies and repairs what is broken within us and when engraved upon the heart, it also protects us from future catastrophes. Daily intake of Scripture not only informs us, it transforms us, and transports us to higher ground. I am not capable of honest self-evaluation without standing before the lighted mirror of the Word of God. Nitro glycerin can unearth mountains and in like manner, Scripture applied deep within can unearth the most stubborn resistance. Hardness of heart is pulverized by God’s Holy Word. Blessed Lord flood my heart with Your Power as I drink deeply from the Well of Life. Your Promises are my counselors, protectors, refuge, deliverer and victory!

THE HOUSE WISDOM BUILT

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established,” Proverbs 24:3 (ESV). Great news, but how do we recognize wisdom over knowledge? James 3:17-18 (ESV) reveals the characteristics and order of priority within wisdom: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincerity. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” First in line? Purity…pure love, pure motives and absolute sincerity. Great counsel delivered or received with wrong motives will not bring the intended results, but even cutting, difficult-to-receive counsel is welcomed when delivered with purity. LORD, may I walk in Your wisdom and share it with others, and may it always be embodied in Your purity of heart and good will.

SHABBAT SHALOM

In Leviticus 23:3 (NKJV) we read: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day isa Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” In Mark 2:27 Jesus give us further understanding: “Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Rather than approaching the “Day of Rest” as another set of rules we can approach it as a “Thanks, I needed that” pause in our weekly routine. While Shabbat is practiced many different ways, what is most important that it is a time of physical and mental resting from “our own works” by remembrance of God’s promises and commands, reflection on our personal spirituality, and relationships with our family, friends and others. These are the things that bring God’s peace and rest. Rest, Remember, Reflect and Relate. LORD, You have called us to this SABBATH REST. Help me embrace it as both Your command and gift.

SPIRITUAL RADAR

“What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us,” 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NIV). We live in this world and therefore must operate within it, but not by “the spirit of this world”. We have such wonderful opportunities to glorify God as we allow His Spirit to navigate us through. Until radar was developed it was impossible to fly at night. The ability to see in spite of darkness is precisely the gift we have as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. What I cannot perceive by the measurements of this world can be as clear as day when guided, not by the spirit of this world, but by the Spirit of God. His Word, The Holy Spirit and our obedience combine to give us safety and direction. Father awaken my heart to Your constant guidance and use me to help guide others.

THE PERFECT OUTFIT

I really enjoy watching my Sharon prepare for a trip. She stands thoughtfully in the closet and talks through all the outfits she will need. And she seems to always gets it right! It is a pleasant experience to put on clothes that fit perfectly. It reminds me of how God wants us to be prepared for whatever comes. Nothing fits better for our soul than when we put praise on our lips in a time of anxiety or distress. Praise opens our hearts and begins transforming our sorrows, pouring into our soul “the oil of gladness instead of mourning”, and clothing us with “the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit,” Isaiah 61:3 (ESV). Praise is the garment that fits perfectly for every occasion! We are told in Psalm 33:1 (NIV): “Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.” So, there it is!! LORD, I praise You with my whole heart this day! You are Great and Mighty, and Your love is everlasting!

DIVINE STEAMROLLER

“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate,” Proverbs 8:13 (ESV). The “fear of God” is not frightful quaking in His Presence or worry-driven obedience to His Will. The fear of God is to love and honor Him above all other things, especially oneself. Oil and water do not mix, nor does godliness (godlikeness) and worldliness. Our role as Lovers of God is not simply pointing to what is wrong in this world, it is for us to illustrate what redemption looks like. We can be fully functional “in this world’ while not being “of this world”. Pure motives, driven by godly morals and delivered in unselfish love is a divine steamroller, crushing foolish arguments, pulverizing false precepts and preparing the ground for what God wants to construct. Father make me an instrument of Your amazing love and use me to reflect your resplendent Light to all I meet.

JUST HEAVENLY!

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” Revelation 5:11 (ESV). Even a casual peek through the biblical window into the Heavenly City reveals a miraculous place. There will be no sorrow, crying or pain; only unbounded joy and unbroken praise. Things considered so precious here on earth will be no more than pavement and building material in the New Jerusalem. It will be a city resplendent with the Light of Our Savior. There is a Sea of Glass, a heavenly host beyond counting and angels more numerous than grains of sand. Is it any wonder that God sends miracles into this world to proclaim the nature of the world to come! Lord God of Beauty and Power beyond description, I welcome Your marvels and mighty works in this world that announce a miraculous eternity in the next. Come quickly Lord.

A RECALIBRATED HEART

It is not possible for me to treat someone better than I feel about them or have previously felt about them behind their back, especially if I’ve ever let those feelings spill out of my mouth to someone else. A judgmental attitude toward others, justified or not, keep us trapped in disappointment, hindering our ability to positively relate to them. How is it that I can see my own faults and still believe I can change yet withhold that same faith and grace toward someone else? This is wrong in every way. After all, in James 2:9 (NLT) we read: “If you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law”. Shall I judge myself or someone I like with greater mercy and favor than someone I don’t? God will not play along with that kind of hypocrisy. LORD of Love, in Your mercy, recalibrate my heart to Your Divine Will and Ways. Let Your forgiveness flow freely through me to others.

A WORSHIPPER'S HEART

You can’t keep a worshipper’s heart down. Praise and worship of our Heavenly Father lifts our hearts beyond our circumstances and takes and us into the presence of The LORD of LORDS: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name,” Psalm 100:4 (ESV). The more I praise Him the more I love Him. The more I love Him the smaller life’s circumstances become. The smaller our fears become the greater our faith grows. I can praise God in silence, I can shout to Him out loud, I can bow my face to the ground in His Presence and I can praise Him by quietly, steadily obeying His commands. The moment praise begins transformation ignites; it happens from the inside out!  O LORD My Father, I lift up my heart in praise. Forgive my wanderings into the valley of self-pity and help me to dance upon the mountaintop of praise.

A TENDER HEART

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8 (ESV). This simple verse is jam-packed with godly qualities we need, but none more important than “a tender heart”. A tender heart accepts God’s commands, but a stubborn heart is a fool’s heart. So how do we develop a tender heart? Foolishness can be easily overthrown with the steady effort of one step of obedience at a time; “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” Romans 6:17 (ESV). Each successive surrender tenderizes our hardened heart and soon, His commands become our daily bread. Lord, help me to lay aside rationalizations and cover-ups. Soften my heart to Your promptings that wisdom may prevail.

THE DIVINE EQUATION

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” John 1:17 (ESV). So, the Law was given to identify right and wrong. However, no one is capable of being justified or in right standing with God under the Law. But this was no mistake, “the law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24 (ERV). It is simple, truth without grace leads to death, truth with grace leads us to faith. Faith is not self-confidence, it is God-confidence, “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). The divine equation is “truth + grace = justification through faith”. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him,” Philippians 2:13 (NLT). LORD, make it so in me and through me to others.

FRAUGHT WITH OVERTHOUGHT

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” Philippians 4:8 (ESV). Today I will think thousands of thoughts. Neuroscientists estimate the average person has a from 20,000 “present moment” thoughts per day up to as many as 70,000! I often over-think problems, mulling over the same details, ad nauseam. I do this in spite of knowing that the answers I most often seek come from God alone. Yet, I ponder, reflect, get advice, ruminate and keep trying to figure it all out. Will I never learn? An overcharged mind is no substitute for a heart  that is open to God’s voice of wisdom. Blessed Lord Our Maker, Fountain of Wisdom, help me stay in perfect peace as my thoughts are steady upon You. When my mind driftsaway, pull me back to Your thoughts, Your ways, Your Promises.

MY WHOLE HEART

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2 (ESV). Much of the Book of Psalms is a like reading the daily prayer journal of King David. Obviously, he had good days and bad. But clearly, he understood the power of self-examination, repentance, thankfulness and praise to God. We too, must recalibrate our hearts and minds each day to God’s goodness, His standards and His calling upon our lives. Daily meditation upon God’s Word, repentance, confession and praise are critical elements to the walk of faith. LORD, my life is Yours and not my own. My time, talents and treasures are gifts from You and belong wholly in Your Holy Hands.

CROP FAILURE

Those who intentionally plot evil never seem to run out of schemes to do additional harm. What a travesty that those made in God’s image turn the divine imprint of the Creator into an inexhaustible fountainhead of sorrows for those they dislike or hate. Sadly, in the end, they too will face the very troubles they have caused others as surely as the chickens come home to roost. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” Galatians 6:7. I hold no grudges and have asked God repeatedly that evil seeds sown against me have crop failure, returning no harvest of evil to the sower. I have also asked the same for myself concerning bad seeds I have sown. Great and Glorious One, I ask forgiveness for seeds of harm I have spread, knowingly or unknowingly. By Your gracious beneficence may I only scatter kernels of life and blessing.

TRANSFORMATIONAL CHOICES

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12: (NKJV)Self-generated transformation is always too limited in its scope, but I do play a significant role in it. Only God’s handiwork is sufficient to dig deep enough and has sufficient power to bring wholeness to my heart. Perfection is not simply a goal of God; it is His very nature. He is an exquisite finisher, so I must trust His Divine Work in me will be completed in His time and in His way. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV). So what is my role? I must choose. In fact, I must chose again and again to surrender to God’s choices. I dare not trust another path. O Lord, Your Word is my hope and confidence.

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 mother and her infant child. The young mom had her face just a few inches from her baby and was talking and singing very softly. The child was smiling and cooing. Though hundreds of travelers were hurriedly passing by it seemed like they were the only ones present, each totally transfixed on the other. The obvious delight of this young lady interacting with her tiny child made me wonder, does God delight in nurturing us?Then I remembered: “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV).Glorious Father, I am so humbled and amazed to think of You singing over us as You nurture and push along our created purpose. Sweep me into that moment where there is only You.…

BE KINDLY AFFECTIONATE

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:10 (NKJV). As love-centered believers operating in surroundings of disappearing civility, our light shines even brighter. While many will dismiss our love, others will run to it. Strangely, Christians are often more kind and less argumentative with non-believers than with our own brethren, especially if they are from a different denomination or worship practice. NOW is the time to stand together as the Body of Christ. Now is the time to build deeper connections to people of faith. This is the hour to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven;” Matthew 5:16 (KJV). LORD, by Your Word and Spirit, make us kindly and affectionate toward one another that You may be seen and known by all.

WISE, HARMLESS AND INFLUENTIAL

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.Therefore, be wise as serpents andharmlessas doves,” Matthew 10:16 (NKJV). These instructions of Jesus are incredibly insightful for guiding us into effective spiritual influence. “Wisdom” means good judgement, discernment, acumen, prudence and foresight. “Harmless” means gentle, honest, with godly intent, and virtuous. Wisdom blended with Harmlessness maximizes our spiritual influence. Many sincere believers have little to no impact in their witness to unbelievers precisely because they ignore what Jesus said about presenting truth to others. Dogmatic arrogance doesn’t work, but genuine love combined with good judgement is practically irresistible. LORD, help me to always deliver Your truth in the way You commanded.

THE SECRET PLACE

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” Psalm 91:1 (NKJV). The secret place is any place God calls us under His shadow. More often than not it is in deep prayer where we both say and mean, “not my will, but Yours be done”. There is no room for personal pride there. The secret place is not merely scheduled prayer time, it is a deeper place within prayer. “When you pray,go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place;and your Father who sees in secret will reward you[copenly,” Matthew 6:6 (NKJV). The secret place is fully surrendered space within prayer. This kind of prayer refreshes the heart while cutting away fleshly things. LORD, thank You for Your divine invitations and intrusions. Make, me, melt me mold me, use me.