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Showing posts from July, 2019

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.