Open my eyes…

“Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18, (NIV).

When I walk into my garage from the outside and the lights are out I am blinded by the darkness as I walk in.  If I stand there for several minutes in the dark my eyes will adjust to the darkness so I can begin to see my way to the door into the house.  In life, I don’t want to live so that I am accustomed to the darkness around me.  I want to be a light in the world I live in.

The Bible tells us, “Without a vision people perish…”  (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).   I’ve desired nothing less than to see the Lord in my daily life.  During times of struggle, it can be hard to see him.  When I take my eyes off of Him, I stand there in my circumstance and get used to the darkness that surrounds me.  Yet, my desire is to continue to seek Him in those dark times.  A famous poetic quartet once stated, “In the dark you need a light do you want to make it right… So, freely surrender!” (Freely Surrender, Stryper).

The Psalmist knows he can’t see without the help of the Lord and he looks to God’s law for his light.  He realizes without his eyes open he will not see the wonder of God’s love found in His law.  “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.” Margaret Feinberg writes, “God invites us to look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him.”  (Wonderstruck).  There is not a better place to look for God than in the Bible.  Take the time to read it and you just may be surprised how He speak with you.

Make this your pray today.  Father, open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law. In the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen.

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Walk Steadily on the Road

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. (Psalm 119:1, The Message).

Has God revealed something to you?  Is there something God has spoken to you that hasn’t come into being?  Do you have a desire in your heart that you can’t seem to explain to others?  Yet, you know God understands! What’s keeping you from pursuing that desire with all your heart?  Maybe you have given up on God, thinking, “That’s not what He really said for me to do.”  The Psalmist says here you are blessed if you stay the course.

Maybe there is something God called you to and circumstances blocked your path.  Where are you now?  Are you still on the road? Maybe you are still on the road but have settled for selling lemonade instead of walking steadily.  After-all, you heard once when life throws you lemons you should make lemonade.  Or have you given up altogether and decided to cut your own path?

I was listening to Steven Furtick’s message, “Don’t Stop on 6.”  It’s a message on Joshua and the people of Israel as they were headed for the Promised Land.  On the road, they encountered many obstacles and problems.  Jericho was one of those problems in their path.  God told Joshua to lead the people around Jericho.  Literally, they marched in circles around Jericho.  For 6 days they made one lap each day around the city.  What if they had given up on day 6?  What if they had given up on lap 6 of day 7?

It doesn’t matter where you are in life.  If you are a college student struggling to understand God’s plan, or if you are in your 40’s/50’s wishing you had made other choices. Blessed are those who stay the course! Don’t give up.  Don’t quit. Has God given you a dream – a passion – something you can’t let go of… yet you haven’t arrived? Don’t stop here!  Keep pressing on.  Let Him take you deeper in His Word.  Deeper with those He has put in and around your life.  God’s purposes are much greater on the road He reveals over the path either one of us could carve out on our own.

In Matthew 7:14, Jesus said, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (NIV).

Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He behaved well before God. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to the left or right. (2 Chronicles 34:1, The Message).

Our lives aren’t meant to be a sprint to the finish line but rather a long distance endurance race.  Don’t allow the mountain in front of you to keep you from finishing the race strong!  Take it one step at a time.  Keep your focus on your footing and keep on walking steadily.

I picked up a journal recently I was writing in 2009.  The interesting thing for me is that I am still praying about the same thing today that I was then.  I’m even praying over the same passage of Scripture.  My initial reaction was, “Wow, I can’t believe that!”  I thought for a moment why continue… but that thought process quickly changed.  What if Israel had stopped on 6.  I’m not stopping either.

Day 7 is on it’s way if we keep walking steadily!

It’s His vision… delight yourself in Him.

polaroidDo you recall using one of these cameras?  This camera would give you a developed picture in a minute or so.  The picture would literally develop right before your eyes.

I recall going to Washington, DC in eighth grade with one of these cameras.  I was standing in front of Abe Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial.  I remember being nervous with excitement as I took that photo.  The picture came out a bit blurry as a result. Over the years the picture has faded and became darker…. much more difficult to see.

Has God given you a vision for your life, family, church, community, or job?  Can you see what it is He wants you to become or do?  I think we become frustrated (at least I know I do) when we can see what He wants yet we are having to wait for the picture to develop.

We live in a world where everything is instant.  We take our phones and other digital gadgets and snap the picture and immediately look to see how well it turned out and immediately show others how great the shot is then immediately post it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the world to see.

I see “vision” kind of like the development of a Polaroid picture.  I look through the lens and see the future and press the red button to capture the vision.  The film comes out and over time the vision becomes reality.  It slowly develops into the vision I saw before I committed to it.  If you have ever owned one of these cameras you know that after some time the quality of the photo losses its luster… especially if it is not protected.  Just like with any vision we must protect what God has given.

One of the well-known promises in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV).

It’s God’s vision.  Often-times we go through life and forget He has it all planned.  He has given us the Bible to help guide us in this life.  To encourage us when things are dark and without hope.  He gives us the Bible to build us up to encourage others who are in need.  Whatever the vision God has given you protect it, cultivate it, and share it with others.  Keep it before God… after-all it is His vision.  And when the days are long and you seem to think the vision will never come to pass, remember to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and He will give you these things.  (Matthew 6:33).

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

King Jesus is faithful… Celebrate him today!

IMG_0539 VirginiaThrough everything we face in life, Jesus is faithful. In a time where commitment is a rare, Jesus is faithful.

Jesus faithfully loves us all. He is consistent in his dealings with us. Jesus is faithful when we find ourselves so often unfaithful.

God, as we begin this new day,

Listen, God! Please pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help. Every morning you’ll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend. (Psalm 5:1-3, The Message).

Today we need the Lord’s help and strength to fulfill his mission in our lives. His faithfulness extends beyond the limits we set up upon our lives. His love reigns and leads us in righteousness for the sake of his name.

Jesus is king… today let’s celebrate him and proclaim his great and mighty faithfulness.

His majesty surrounds us… Stand strong today in the power and the might of his Holy Spirit.

Walking in God’s deep wisdom

As children, we all live with the thought of, “When I grow up I’m going to…..”

As a child, I dreamed of being an architect.  I had notebooks full of designs.  I charted my course in that direction and attended Middle Georgia College.  I made several discoveries that year.  One big discover was this choice was going to be really hard considering how challenged I was with Pre-Algebra.  I guess the greatest discovery I made was not in the classroom.  It was the world I found inside the pages of the Bible. I recall not being able to read enough and I looked for opportunities to share with others what I was discovering.

It was through the reading of God’s Word that I made decisions on how I was going to live and the path in life I was going to follow.  Reading Psalm 119:1-5 today reminded me of those days at Middle Georgia College.

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. (The Message).

Are you in love with God’s Word today?  Do you read His Word in hopes of getting closer to Him?  Are you freely giving yourself, your will, your dreams, and aspirations to him?  Stay the course whether or not you are living out those hopes and dreams.  In relentless pursuit, seek the wisdom of God.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! (Proverbs 3:5-7, The Message).

One way God reveals himself to us is through the Bible.  If the Bible is not a part of your daily life I encourage you to make it.  I bet that when you do He will help you stay the course.  Honestly, it’s not always easy.  Often times the road can seem unmarked.  Keep your eyes open for him.  Trust him today.  Take a moment or two and read Psalm 119.

I am confident He will help you finish the statement, “When I grow up I’m going to….” No matter what age you are today.

God enjoys the prayers of his people

Have you ever walked into a room where candles or incense were burning? If so, you know how the aroma fills up the room. Depending on how well you like the aroma will determine how you respond to it.

I have a pastor-friend who told me several years ago that he was praying for me. He was specifically praying for me to be full of joy. I was in the midst of a time where I was very frustrated with how life was going. I was praying, reading scripture, serving in church… you know, all the “right” things. He was right I lacked joy!

It was during this time that I found out my wife was pregnant with my 4th child. I quickly did the math and realized this baby would be 16 years younger than the oldest and by the time she would reach high school I would be… well, we’ll leave that for a later post. I was stunned at the news. I was literally speechless all day. I sat in silence until that evening then I went outside and started a fire and I just sat there and I prayed.

I didn’t walk away with answers to all the things going on in my life. I didn’t have some major revelation from God in that moment. My circumstances hadn’t changed. I walked away changed… just a little. I walked away with a glimmer of hope and assurance I hadn’t felt for a while.

While reading and praying I was drawn to Revelation 5. It was in verse 8 where I read that the prayers of God’s people are in bowls of gold.

…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. (Revelation 5:8, The Message)

I stopped here and pondered the thought that our prayers are a sweet-smelling aroma before God. He delights in our praying that he finds in our words. David prayed, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:4, NIV).

A prayer marked by faith is never about what happens on our terms or time lines, but God’s. Faith-stained prayer brings us to a place of trust and hope. (Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, 17).

Every year I enter into December with a sense of hope and anticipation that great things are going to happen. This year has been no different. As I look to the future, I am reminded that my hope is in Jesus. My trust is in him. Before the things of God are revealed in my life, I’m understanding His desire for me to come before Him and pray. I believe this December is to be a time of drawing away from the crowd and settling down in the quietness of prayer. Seeking the face of God.

I’m staying on Your trail…

I love David’s unique way of communicating to God through praise and prayer. He had a way of talking with God that was free and honest.  Psalm 17 gives us a glimpse of David’s heart and his unwavering pursuit of God. He begins with, “Listen while I build my case, GOD, the most honest prayer you’ll ever hear.”

David does not lack confidence as he approaches his Heavenly Father. He is sure of the One he seeks, “Go ahead, examine me from the inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night – You’ll find I’m just what I say I am. My words don’t run loose.” (17:3).

In verse three, he is honest before God. There is not manipulation in his words to try and get his way. He lays his life out before God and asks for an examination. Much like how we do when we go to a doctor for a full physical on our health. We want the truth from the doctor and we hide nothing from them.

I have a strong desire to be used in God’s plan on this earth. I want to be available to be used by Him however He desires. Sometimes I seem to get lost in this pursuit. So often I seem to get trapped by the circumstances of the past that try to dictate my future.  However, I have come to know the God of all grace who sees me through… He has become the Writer of all things new in my life.  David found Him to be that as well.

“I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I’m not giving up.” (17:5).

David prays in verses 6-7, “I call to you, GOD, because I’m sure of an answer. So – answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you.”

David sought God desperately to get away from the clutches of his enemies. He prayed what he wanted to see happen to those who came up against him. (17:10-14). He didn’t hold back and presented his circumstance to the Father.

Finally in 17:15, “And me? I plan on looking you full in the face. When I get up, I’ll see your full stature and live heaven on earth.” David knew victory would be his. He knew who he was and he knew his GOD… he trusted with all his heart. David didn’t give up or give in. He stayed hot on the trail seeking GOD.

Let’s do the same!!

Psalm 17 quoted from The Message, Eugene Peterson.