Friday, July 30, 2010

Daily Light - July 30, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation
and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ..."
Revelation 1:9

I was brought up being told that I had to share. I really didn't mind sharing. I have never been that much of a hoarder. However, to this day there is one thing that I don't like to share, and my family can tell you very quickly what it is. When we have some ice cream in the house, I love to make me a bowl and enjoy it. Ice cream is one of those joys of life that just can't be replaced by anything else. For some reason, though, my ice cream bowl always seems to attract every one. When Susan and I were first married, she tried to just share mine instead of getting her own. I finally told her that I would make her very own bowl if she would just leave mine alone. Then the children came along and would stand around my chair as I would eat my ice cream with their mouths open like baby birds. They know better now. The other night I looked down at my feet and there stood the dog. Of course, she didn't get any. My ice cream bowl is sacred. I will share every thing else, just leave that alone.
In my twisted and strange mind I thought about that when I read this passage. John was saying to the churches that received these letters that they needed to share. What they were going to share was far different than ice cream though. They were sharing with him in three spiritual things. Notice that they were sharing this by relationship (brother) and it seems by choice (companion). John and these churches were identifying together for Christ no matter what it may cost them. They were first sharing in tribulations. Jesus told His disciples that in this world they would face troubles, and they did. Each of them were martyred for the cause of Christ. The early church suffered greatly at the hands of the enemy. Even today many are persecuted for their stand with Christ. We share with them in that suffering through prayer and encouragement not knowing what tomorrow holds for our own lives and the freedoms that we enjoy in our own country. Secondly, John shared with the churches a kingdom. This kingdom is one that is not made with hands. A kingdom is a place of authority and power. It is only as good however as the King. We thankfully serve together the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is supreme and above all, and we share this kingdom with Him and with one another. One day we will rule and reign alongside of Christ, but now we are to have dominion and authority over sin and hell through His name. Thirdly, we share in the hope (patience) of Jesus Christ. We will face tribulations. We do live in anticipation of that great Kingdom to come. However, we do not hope in vain. Our hope is in Christ Who will fulfill each and ever promise He has made. He told us that if it was not so He wouldn't have told us. There is a future destiny for the children of God, and we will share that joy for all eternity. We will live in peace together with Him. There will be no death, sorrow, tears, or parting. Eternity with Christ and all of its joys will be shared with our brothers and sisters and most of all with our mighty and eternal God. Who knows? Maybe by then I will be humble enough to even share my ice cream.
May you share in the joy of hope with your fellow believers today!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Daily Light - July 29, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city.
And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe."
Acts 14:20

I have never had a "near death" experience. My hope is that my first "near death" experience will take place when I am much older and actually "near death." Paul, however, tasted death in a way that many have not known. From other Scriptures many believe that it was during this time that he was given the revelations that he later writes about in one of his letters. Of course, the reason that he was being stoned to the point of death this time was because he was simply preaching the Gospel. The same crowd that at one moment wanted to lift up Paul as a god for performing a miracle now wanted to kill him for preaching the message of Christ. This would be called religious schizophrenia. People really do not know what they want or need; they are just looking for whatever makes them feel good.
While all of that is true, I could not help but focus on Paul's reaction after he was left for dead. Stoning was a cruel and awfully violent way to die. There was almost a science to it. These were no mere pebbles that were thrown at Paul. A person would be violently carried outside the city gates, thrown down, and large rocks with their jagged edges would be hurled at their head and their body. Of course it took several throws on average to exact out the punishment of death. Paul gave every indication that he was dead. As a matter of fact, his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ had already gathered around his body to mourn his death. Suddenly, Paul opened his eyes as best he could; surely they were bloodied and bruised. He stood to his blood stained and dusty feet and walked right back into town.
There is only one word that comes to my mind when I think of this: PERSEVERANCE. God had a purpose for Paul's life, and he was not giving up until it was accomplished. They could leave him for dead, but as long as there was the breath of God in his body he was not going to stay down. How many of us have that same resolve? Remember that God has a purpose for your life as well. Don't give up until it is accomplished. Others may give up on you. They may even set you aside and say that you will never amount to anything. Get up and walk right back into the battle for Christ. Only God knows when He is through with you, and it will be obvious when that day comes. Stand strong and straight. You will get your share of bruises in your lifetime. There will be others that stand around you wondering what could have been. However, don't stay on the ground. Get back up and walk right into the teeth of the enemy with this knowledge: If God is for you, who can be against you?
May you persevere for Christ's sake!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daily Light - July 28, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And he said to them, 'Look at me and do likewise;
watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do.'"
Judges 7:17

There is a definite need for spiritual leadership today. This need is literally found in every facet of our lives. Our homes need true leadership. Men need to step up and be the spiritual leaders that God has called them to be. Ladies need to be the examples of godliness for our future generations. Parents need to realize that in order for their children to follow Christ they are going to have to give them a pattern to follow. We need leaders in the church. God gives us each a special role to play in the body of Christ, and we need to take those responsibilities seriously. We need leaders among our young people. Teenagers and college students must recognize that especially in their youth there is a need for them to show others the right way, the way of Christ. We also need spiritual leaders in our places of business. The greatest lessons of ethics are taught in the Word of God, and we must learn them to show those with whom we deal every day how to live like Christ.
Gideon had been given a seemingly impossible task. He had to take an army of 300 men and defeat the mighty Midianites. He and his men were in every way outnumbered. There was no humanly possible way for victory. This is exactly what God intended. When we think of being leaders in this world, it can seem like the task is as great now as it was for Gideon then. I am sure that Gideon was completely overwhelmed. Yet, in our passage above he was telling the men to follow him and do exactly as he did. That sounds pretty confident! Where did this confidence come from? Gideon was following the directions of God, and He knew that God was not going to fail him. Therefore, because he was following God, he could feel confident to tell others to follow him. That is the key to spiritual leadership. Some seem to think that leadership is making all of the decisions yourself and then coercing or demanding people to follow you. That may be the way the world leads, but that is not the pattern that Christ lays out for us in Scripture. We will never become great leaders until we learn to become great followers. Our ability to lead people depends solely on our ability to follow Christ. When we are following the Lord with our heart, soul, and mind, we can then be sure that the direction that we are going is right.
Gideon's 300 did follow him even though his plan seemed wildly absurd. They won the battle in the most incredible fashion. They better than anyone knew that day that Gideon followed God, and they benefited from following God's leader. Be a devoted follower of Christ so that you may spiritually lead others into battle.
May you follow Christ today so that you may lead others tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daily Light - July 27, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Mark 15:34

I was recently reading about the crucifixion of our Lord, and there were so many phrases where I saw His suffering. We often talk about the fact that Jesus has experienced what we have, and therefore He is able to sympathize with us. I began to think about those that have been martyred for Christ and knew that they could relate much better than I could.
There were people who gave false witness against Jesus. Even today in many countries Christians are put on trial, and witnesses appointed by the government or some other group accuse them of things they have never done. I saw where they unmercifully beat Jesus and mocked Him while they did it. Thousands of followers of Christ have endured torturous beatings and have been mocked by even their own family members. Jesus was vehemently denied by one of His closest followers. There have been numerous stories of how Christians stood alone against their accusers and no one would stand with them, because they feared for their own lives. The crowd around Jesus chose a proven criminal to be released to insure His death. Even today there are many that call evil good and good evil. I also read in these accounts of the crucifixion where Jesus breathed His last breath. I once again think of the thousands that have had their lives taken from them simply because they named Jesus Christ as their Savior, Lord, and God.
There is only one thing that none of these martyrs for Christ experienced that Jesus did. When Jesus had on Him all of the sins of the world, the Bible tells us that He became sin for us. At this moment, we are told that the Father turned His back on His Son. This is the evidence that God cannot be acquainted with sin. This is the reason for the great anguish of Jesus in the garden as He prayed. There has never been one believer, one martyr, or one follower of Christ that has been forsaken by God. He promised us that He would never leave us, and He has been faithful. In the cold prison cells, Christians have experienced the presence of God and the joy that has accompanied it. Even while suffering torture, these martyrs have heard the Spirit of God speaking directly to their hearts. While taking their last breaths, these dear saints have seen heaven opened in preparation for their first steps into glory.Jesus has truly experienced for us all things, even that which we will never know. Thankfully, Jesus went to hell and conquered death and the grave. He is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. He truly knows what you feel and even more. Praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer!
May you know His everlasting love today!

Daily Light - July 26, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"He must increase, but I must decrease."
John 3:30

The word must appears several times in this famous chapter of the Bible. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he "must" be born again. Jesus also says that He, the Son of Man, "must" be lifted up as a sacrifice for the sins of man. This third "must" has a different person speaking. It is now John the Baptist, and he is proclaiming that in his life Jesus must increase, and he must decrease. There is obviously a lesson of true humility in this passage. Humility is not about having a low opinion of myself. It is thinking of others and lifting them up above myself. John is essentially saying that he needs to make more of Jesus.
Does the thought of John the Baptist making more of Jesus stagger you? Think about it for a moment. Even when he was in the womb he was praising the Messiah. He spent most of his life out in the barren wilderness proclaiming that the Messiah was coming and all needed to repent. We often describe him as the man that seemed to resist all of the comforts of this world. I know that if my diet consisted of locusts and wild honey that I would not call that luxury. His clothes were fashionably made of animal skins that he had probably made himself. If anyone knew what it was to humble himself for Christ's sake, it was John the Baptist. Many came out to seem him as simply a spectacle and a side show. He was not respected by the religious elite. I am sure that they considered him as strange as his message of repentance. However, John never backed off of that message. He wasn't preaching to please people. He was preaching to please the Lord that he loved to serve. Even when Jesus came to be baptized by him, instead of embracing the honor and privilege, he saw his unworthiness. How could he baptize the Messiah when he didn't even feel worthy to loose His sandals?
With all of that in mind, this is the man that says he must decrease! When I think of that, how much more must we need to decrease? How great is the need for us to start making more of Jesus? This is not at first something that we do publicly. If you decide to put your humility on public display, I think that you missed the definition of humility. Humility starts in our private relationship with the Lord. We must begin to make more of Him in our personal relationship. It is through our time of prayer and praise that we exalt Him as He is worthy. Once we have learned to naturally exalt Him privately, we will know better how to exalt Him publicly. Don't concentrate on being humble; concentrate on making more of Jesus.
May you decrease today while He increases!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daily Light - July 23, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one,
I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."
John 21:25

The old hymn says to "count your blessings, name them on by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done." Never has there been a more accurate statement. God's blessings on us are numerous. Most of us live each day with blessing upon blessing. We have been so blessed that let's admit it, we have become used to it. Every once in a while God does something over and above what we could have ever imagined, and we are reminded of how incredible He is to us. But, think about it for a second. God gives us all that He does, and there is not a thing that we have that we deserve.
John traveled for 3 and a half years with Jesus. He saw the most astounding of miracles. He was there at the moment that Jesus turned the water into wine. He saw them pour the water in and serve the wine to the master of the feast. I imagine that when the master of the feast proclaimed it to be the best wine he had tasted, a smile slid up John's face because he knew the truth. Surely he thought, "This is the most incredible thing that I have ever seen!" It only became more incredible from there. He personally served the bread and fish to the five thousand. Every time that he went back to Jesus to feed the next row, Jesus smiled into John's doubtful and amazed eyes as He handed him the bread. John was there the day that he saw Jesus weep as He stood at the grave of a friend. Death is irreversible, or so he thought. Even with all of the doubts and objections, Jesus still called Lazarus from his cold, stenchful tomb. John watched as Lazarus came hopping out all wrapped up in the cloth which had prepared him for burial. He knew at this point that nothing was impossible for Jesus, except for maybe His own resurrection. Of course, Jesus proved Himself to John there as well.
As John ends this last of the Gospels written, he recognizes the enormity of what he has seen. There are not enough books and not enough space to contain the power of God. That could be said about each of our lives. God's daily supply is hard to fathom. There are things that you once rejoiced in that you have completely forgotten about. You have become so acquainted with God's blessings that they are just part of the every day now. Let's be reminded of God's power and goodness in our lives. Let's count our blessings one by one and be surprised by what God has done.
May you recognize the hand of God's blessing today!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daily Light - July 22, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

Have you ever noticed that it seems that death comes in groups? Often, when I hear about one person passing away there is another one right behind it. Yesterday was that way. I received two phone calls just a couple of hours apart to let me know that people that I know or am acquainted with had passed away. One of them was expected and the other was a complete surprise. Unfortunately most of us have felt the sting of death in our lives. We know today what these families are feeling. However, I also have been told that both of these individuals knew Jesus Christ as their Savior. They both had a personal relationship with Jesus based on what He did for them on the cross of Calvary. Therefore, immediately when they took their last breath, they were absent from this earthly body and in the very presence of the Lord.
The psalmist wrote that we will most definitely walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Have you ever noticed the confidence that he has in walking through this valley? He doesn't see death as a definite end to dread, but instead he calls it merely a shadow. While the thought of the unknown may terrify many, the believer does not live in the unknown. We live with the knowledge that for those who know God there is no fear in death. No evil can overtake me even in death when I am safely in the arms of Jesus. I walk through this valley in His presence. I am simply following Him through a path that He has already foreordained for my life. It is He that protects me from the evil one. It is He that keeps the enemy from snatching at my soul. There is no greater security than knowing that I am safely in His presence even during the most dreaded and fearful day of my life humanly speaking.
John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace, saw life and death completely different than most. His last words were reported to be: "I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon." We of course will weep when we lose a dear saint of God. We will weep more for us than we will for them. They are safe now. They are comforted beyond imagination. They are today in the land of the living.
May you be comforted by the presence of God.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daily Light - July 21, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing."
Psalm 30:11

In my study of the book of Daniel, I read that after he received a vision from the Lord that he wept and mourned for three days. Can you imagine what it was like to weep for three days, because you knew that God's judgment was going to be strong and fierce? I began to think of all of the other prophets that experience such things: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and especially Jeremiah. These men were burdened because of the sins of God's people and they also knew that God was going to judge the sins of His people. So now I am wondering out loud, when is the last time that any of us wept over the sins of God's people today? We all know that it exists and that it is too common, but are we heart broken over it?
In my opinion, the church needs its tears back. We have forgotten what it means to weep because of sin in the camp. Somehow we think and hope that it will just go away. Or, maybe God will excuse it this time. God cannot excuse it, because He is holy. Fortunately for us He is also compassionate and merciful, but we must understand that there is and will be a judgment for sin. Can I challenge you to look around today and see the reality of the situation? First, ask God to reveal to you if there is any open or secret sin in your personal life. If there is, fall on your knees with tears in your eyes and get it right with God. Secondly, take an inventory of your family. Confess and remove the things that are not bringing honor to God in your home. Finally, pray for repentance and revival among God's people. The church desperately needs a baptism of grace and forgiveness in order to see God's power manifest as it should be.
You might ask, when does the dancing take place as in our above passage? Notice that it follows the mourning. There will be no dancing apart from the season of mourning over our sin. Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. The psalmist said that he that goes out weeping will return rejoicing. Let us get a genuine broken heart so that we might experience genuine joy. The prophet Jeremiah never had the chance to laugh and rejoice for much on this earth, but I would contend with you that he is rejoicing now and has all of eternity to do so.
May you have a broken heart for God today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Daily Light - July 20, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"
Galatians 4:16

"What is truth?" Those were the famous words of Pilate as Jesus stood before him? The Bible, of course, has much to say about the truth. Pilate could not recognize the truth even though it was literally staring him in the face. Jesus proclaimed that He was the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Everything that Jesus said was true, because it flowed out of Him whose very essence is truth. He also told man that if he would come to know the truth and accept it as truth it would set him free. Free from what? Free from the bondage of a lie, sin.
It is here that we naturally want to say, "Well, no one wants to be in bondage. We all want to be free." I would caution you to think a little harder about the statement. There are many people in our world who are in bondage voluntarily. They have chosen to remain enslaved to something even though they could be free at any time. What do I mean? People are enslaved to several things: an addiction to a substance, a bitter spirit, a besetting sin, a harmful relationship, etc. Many of us have habits that are damaging to our body even though we know the truth of the consequences of these habits. We say that we could give it up any time, but we have no desire to do so. Instead, we just allow it rule and reign over our bodies day after day. Others have lived so long with bitterness at a family member, friend, or someone else that they ought to give it a name and keep it as a pet. We know the truth of how to handle this situation scripturally, but we cannot imagine letting go of what we have to hold over their heads. The examples could go on and on.
The problem is not that we do not know the truth. The problem is that we do not like the truth and better yet do not want to deal with it truthfully. As long as this is our attitude, we will stay in the shackles of a lie. God never intended for His children to live in shackles. He sent His Son to die on the cross to free His children. If you are a child of God, you have freedom today. This freedom is not to sin, but freedom from sin. God is not your enemy; He is your friend. He is the Friend that tells you the truth whether you want to hear it or not. He is the Friend that sticks by your side as you step by faith into victory from bondage. Don't let something in your life bind you to a lie. Your enemy is a liar. Your Friend is the Truth. Ask God to help you get the victory over that enslaving act or attitude today, and be free in Jesus Christ.
May you experience freedom today!

Daily Light - July 19, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD."
Genesis 12:8

There is not a one of us that has any idea what tomorrow holds. We live each day knowing that the circumstances of life can change very quickly. One of the most amazing parts of living the Christian life is how much God prepares us for these changes. While we may not know what is in store for the future, He most assuredly does. Therefore, He directs our lives with the knowledge of the circumstances of which we are oblivious.
God called Abram out of a pagan country and told him that He had great plans for his life. I am sure that Abraham never dreamed that God would bless him and use him to the extent that He did. However, as I was reading this first calling of Abram and his obedience to God, I recognized that he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. As you do further study of the journeys of Abraham, you will find that this became a regular practice for every where that he settled. Abraham probably became an expert at building altars. He had done it so many times. He probably took great pains to do it well. He was doing this for the Lord. This was no haphazard effort on his part. He wanted to give the best to God. It is this place that he would come time and time again to worship the Lord. He took this very serious.
However, this expertise would be put to the test. If you know the story of Abraham's life, God gave him a promised son named Isaac. Abraham had waited for this promise to be fulfilled, and God came through to give him this precious son. However, God asked for Abraham to give Isaac back by the way of sacrifice. This was no where in the plans. How could God ask such a thing? God wanted Abraham to know that everything belonged to the Lord. So, guess what Abraham had to do. He had to build an altar. Out of all of the altars that he had built, this would most definitely be the toughest. It is hard to build an altar with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. It is hard to build an altar with tears in your eyes. It is hard to build an altar with a broken heart. Unless, God had prepared you for this day, and you had done it hundreds of times before.
As you know, God spared Abraham's son and blessed him. However, Abraham showed God complete obedience not only on this day but all the days previously. You have been called to do right day in and day out. You may have no idea what God is preparing you for, but trust Him daily and He will be your strength when the day of testing comes.
May you build an altar by faith today!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Daily Light - July 16, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse
"Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there."
Matthew 27:36

How many things do we regularly receive a day that we take for granted? If you are reading this, I can tell you automatically a few things that you have that you may not have even considered this many. You are breathing. You woke up this morning. You have your sight. You received an education at some point in your life. You have electricity. We could go on and on, couldn't we? The fact is our blessings stare us in the face and we forget all about them. For some reason we just don't seem to see how much God has done for us.
Our passage refers to the soldiers that crucified Jesus. They had already performed their acts of cruelty: the beatings, the march to Calvary, the nailing Him to the cross, the mocking, the gambling for His robe, etc. Now, they are sitting at the foot of the cross staring at what they see as a man. They do not realize that this is no mere man. This is God Himself in the flesh. He knows each of them. He is their Creator. He allowed them to take the breaths that it took to curse His name. Every bit of physical strength that it took for them to beat His body came from Him. They do not realize that before the foundation of the world He ordained this day. He knew of their vile hearts and sinful souls, but He chose to give them life just for this very day. When He said, "Father, forgive them," it included these cruel soldiers. In my mind's eye I see big, strong men with sweat pouring down their faces, dried and fresh blood on their uniforms, sitting and staring at this nameless Man. Yet, it is this Man that holds for them the keys of life and death. It is this Man that offers deliverance to their sin-sick hearts and minds. It is this Man and this Man alone that can offer them the one thing they each need: grace. You may wonder how they could be so blind!
Remember earlier when we talked about how we do not recognize our blessings when they are staring us in the face? That would fit perfectly here. Some of you know people that need Christ, but they just can't see it. You know from experience what He can do for them. You don't understand how they can't grasp this. Next time, you feel that way, remember that we also forget God's daily favor on us. Ask God to open their eyes through the leading and drawing of the Holy Spirit. Call on Jesus to destroy the blinding work of Satan in their lives. With all of your heart pray. Pray that God will shake their life with and earthquake of conviction.
As one last thought, don't forget that a little while later, one of these soldiers that just watched Him die made this proclamation: "Truly this man was the Son of God." With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
May you not forget God's gift of grace in your own life today!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Daily Light - July 15, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body
and to be present with the Lord. Therefore, we make it our aim,
whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him."
2 Corinthians 5:8-9

Growing up I was one of those sneaky kids. Some kids are outwardly rebellious and they don't care who knows it. Others, like me, made sure that while someone was around I was doing the right thing. It is when I was alone or in the company of those that I "trusted" that I often found my trouble. I assumed that as long as my parents or other authorities in my life didn't know about it then everything would be just fine. Obviously, I naively did not consider the presence of God.
I thought of this when I read this passage. The Apostle Paul lived his life very aware of two things. First, as a child of God he would one day be absent from this body and in the very presence of Jesus Christ. This was his ultimate prize and goal. He longed for that high calling. He was living his life with that moment in mind. Do you ever consider that moment? Do you wake up each day with the reality that it could be your last, and you could very soon find yourself standing before Almighty God? I am sure that most of us would say that we look forward to that moment. However, I am not so sure that most of us live in preparation for that day.
Second, Paul was also aware that even while he lived here on earth he was walking with the Spirit of God as his continual companion. Paul stated that his goal in life was to live pleasing to God while here on earth so that he could be pleasing to God in eternity. We are laying up something for ourselves in Heaven while we are living on earth. The question is, what are we putting in that store house? Is it wood, hay, and stubble that will burn under the fire of testing? Or, is it gold, silver, and precious stones that will only become purer with God's holy heat?
Recognize that today is a day to be lived for God. Strive above all things to please Him.
May you be aware of God's presence today!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daily Light - July 14, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse
"We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope."
Romans 5:3-4

This past weekend I was watching television with my boys and the Harlem Globetrotters came on. They had never seen the Globetrotters play before and sat spellbound while watching. Of course, the Globetrotters were playing their usual foes, the Washington Generals, which have not beaten them since 1971. My boys laughed at their funny antics and were wowed by the thrilling dunks. Finally, one of them asked, "Dad, are they the best basketball team ever?" That brought up some interesting thoughts as I have reflected on it this week.
It is my opinion that many Christians have decided that they either want to be a Harlem Globetrotter or a Washington General. Let me explain what I mean. The Washington Generals enter each game knowing that they are going to lose. It has been that way for years now. They know all of the tricks that are going to be played on them. They know that they will score and maybe even lead at some point in the game, but the outcome has already been determined. Their effort is just enough to make it look like they are trying. So many Christians wake up each day with a defeated mind-set. They have fallen prey to Satan's tricks so many times that they now feel that it is their destiny. They will put forth an effort to their Christian life, but they truly never feel as if they are going to succeed. They are discouraged in their heart, and they see nothing changing in the near future.
Obviously, you need to be a Harlem Globetrotter Christian, right? Well, let's think about that too. When you think about the Globetrotters, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? You know that they will make you laugh. They are very entertaining. They make plenty of trick shots. They can dunk the basketball. Everyone wants to be a Globetrotter. They fit perfectly into society, because we have bought into the philosophy that we are supposed to laugh and have fun all of the time. Life is about whatever makes me happy. Here is a question for you to consider. How many world championships have the Globetrotter's won? You know the answer: 0. With all of the talent they have, why haven't they won an Olympic gold medal or an NBA championship? It is very simple. They are focused on entertaining and having fun, not winning championships. Teams that have won multiple championships (Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, and for my wife, Rockets) have had to persevere through hardships. They have had to go through the hard work of practice, injuries, team chemistry, etc. They did the work necessary and were rewarded with the prize.
The Christian life is not all fun and games. It is going to take hard work to persevere from day to day. Jesus Himself told us that in this world we would face trouble. Paul told us to glory in the trouble with the knowledge of what the end result would be. We can't avoid our troubles and laugh them off, and we can't wake up each day with dread and defeat already before us. When we persevere through our troubles, it shows what kind of character we really have. Our character must be shaped by Jesus Christ. This character statement that puts Jesus Christ at the forefront is going to naturally produce hope. It is not hope in people or in situations, but it is hope that is found in Christ alone. He is our hope. He is our victory.
So, don't be a Globetrotter or a General. Be a follower of Jesus Christ, because in Him we are more than conquerors.
May you be a champion for Christ today!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Daily Light - July 13, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"When the enemy comes in like a flood,
the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:19

Several years ago a man named Hal Lindsey wrote a book entitled Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. He wrote this book after his numerous experiences of seeing the occult first hand on college campuses and recognizing the openness of satanic worship in different areas of society. It has been almost 40 years since that book was written, and it is true that Satan is as alive today as he has ever been.
We could talk about the prevalence of the occult in media which is as abundant as ever. In Hal Lindsey's book he told fascinating stories of how people worshipping Satan and committing violent acts because they were instructed to do so. I remember as a young boy being told about these incredible events. They were presented to us as scary and as horror. It was obvious what to stay away from, but it is not that clear any more. Satan uses new things to make it more palatable. He has most definitely been effective in presenting witchcraft and vampirism to our children. He has made it appealing and attractive, and many Christians have fallen into the trap. We have hundreds of thousands of young people that are drawn into this lifestyle that promotes not only the occult but sexual promiscuity, violence, and rebellion. They cannot deny that there are most definitely occultic overtones in this media, but they will excuse it because it appeals to the senses.
As horrible as these things can be, I do not believe that this is the greatest weapon of Satan. His strongest tool in the American church is still apathy. Many believers who would never indulge in the media of the occult are living their lives for themselves. They go to church regularly. They participate in Christian activities. They may even read their Bible and pray from time to time. However, they have learned to play the hypocrite very well. They know how to judge everyone but themselves. They would like the last paragraph that was written, because they are not involved in those things. Yet, many of them have sins in their life that they have covered up so much that they have even convinced themselves they don't exist. They live with a who cares attitude about their personal relationship with God. Which of the two, the occult or apathy, is more destructive? I would say the second, because at least the first one is honest about what it is.
What is the answer for both things? The Bible says that when the enemy comes in like a flood, and that is a definite that it will come. At that time it is only the life that is surrendered to the Holy Spirit that will drive it away. You cannot defeat the enemy on your own. This is a spiritual warfare. Carnal weapons will not work here. Today you must surrender your heart and life to the Spirit of God and ask Him for wisdom of how to defeat the enemy in your own life. Recognize the power of the enemy, but never forget that great is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
May you be an overcomer for Christ today!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Daily Light - July 12, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I will seek what was lost, and bring back that which was driven away,
bind up the broken and strengthen that which was sick."
Ezekiel 34:16a

All of my life I have heard God described as a "God of second chances". People have told personal stories about how God took their life that they felt they had ruined and brought them back in His loving arms to a place of hope and restoration. They have experienced the forgiveness of God and have come to know the living definitions of mercy and grace. The Apostle Peter would perfectly fit this illustration. Here was a man that knew all of the answers. He spoke out of a heart of wisdom when he told Jesus that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. When other followers of Jesus were leaving, it was Peter that wonderfully declared, "Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life." His words were nothing short of powerful. However, he is also the disciple who denied Jesus not simply once but three times. He essentially betrayed Jesus with his heart and his words. Surely he would join Judas in the ranks of the dead and the outcast. However, Jesus did something that is astounding. He personally sought Peter out and demonstrated forgiveness to him.
As I read this passage from Ezekiel, I noticed that God was the one doing the seeking. I recognized it was not the stray returning on their own, but it was God bringing them back. God in His love and mercy was tenderly binding up the broken to help them walk again; it was God giving His strength that is perfect in weakness to the sick. In Galatians 6 God tells those that are spiritual to restore a fallen brother. Do you know why He calls on His people to do such a thing? It is very simply because that is what He does. We are to be like Christ. He is the Shepherd that looks for the lost sheep when everyone else blames the sheep for running away. He is the Great Physician that cares enough to touch the leper when everyone else calls them unclean. He is the one that runs down the dusty road to the prodigal when others feel that he deserves what he is getting. God is a God of mercy and grace. God truly is a God of second chances.
I have been able to watch the God of mercy and restoration at work in the past year. I have seen Him bring very precious friends from the depths of despair to the heights of hope. God in His love sought, brought back, bound up, and strengthened His children. Along the way He has used some people who were spiritual to join Him in this process. Please don't think of saying that God is done with you. Don't think for a moment that because what you have done that God is not big enough to restore you. Simply look up and cry out for mercy. Fall on your face at the throne of grace and call to Jesus. To God be the glory for the great things He has done!
May you know the grace of God today!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Daily Light - July 9, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse
"So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.
But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually,
He will deliver you."
Daniel 6:16

Many times I hear people speak of leaving a legacy. You hear that politicians make certain decisions because they want to leave a legacy politically. There are athletes that try to accomplish certain feats so that they will leave a legacy in their particular sport and be inducted into the hall of fame. We even use this word when we refer to some of our Christian heroes that have passed off the scene but left us an example to follow. The only thing that bothers me about all of this is that we usually only thing of someone's legacy after they are dead. It is my belief that God desires for us to live so much for Him that we have a living legacy. Better yet, He wants us to live a legacy that is more about Him than it is about us.
Daniel lived that kind of life. He had been carried captive into a strange and foreign land. He had been introduced to pagan gods. He had been given every opportunity to turn away from the true and living God. However, he purposed in his heart that God and God alone would be His guide. He now found himself underneath the leadership of a third king. God had used him to unashamedly declare the truth to King Nebuchadnezzar until he humbled himself before the true God. He interpreted the writing on the wall to King Belshazzar before he died in his stubbornness and idolatry. Now he stands before Darius condemned to die, because he chose to pray to God instead of the king. The Bible tells us that Daniel was good-looking, but this is not what Darius noticed. The Bible tells us that Daniel was very intelligent, but Darius made no comment about his intelligence. Darius knew the one thing that made Daniel who he was: Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you. Daniel followed God consistently. Can you imagine Darius saying things like: Your God, whom you serve on the Sabbath; or Your God, whom you serve when things are going well; maybe Your God, whom you serve when you are facing difficulties? No, of course not. Darius recognized Daniel's life of consistency with God. The world notices that about our lives too. They notice when we are living for God and when we aren't. They notice if God is just a convenient excuse or the Lord of our lives. You are living and leaving a legacy of some sort every day whether you realize it or not.
To show you how much they notice and what effect it will have on them, listen to this passage. After Daniel had been thrown into the lions den, the king could not sleep at all. Early the next morning he quickly ran down to the den to see what had become of Daniel. I believe he knew what to expect, because in our passage above he said, "He will deliver you." Maybe it was because he had seen the other three Hebrew men walking around in His kingdom that had survived the fiery furnace. Whatever the reason may be, he arrived at the site and called to Daniel: "Daniel, servant of the living God [How would you like to be known that way?], has your God, whom you serve continually [That word continually is important.], been able to deliver you from the lions?"
Daniel's testimony before this day was what was important. It was not his faith during the trial that makes him a great servant of God. It is his faith before he ever went through the trial that brought such great respect. He was a man with a Godly living legacy.
May you serve God continually!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Daily Light - July 8, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds
of heaven with power and great glory."
Matthew 24:30

I love athletic events. I am the kind of person that will watch almost anything that involves competition. While living in England I would watch Cricket matches. If you have never seen a Cricket match, go outside and watch your grass grow, and it will be about the same experience. That is the only sport that I know of that takes breaks for tea time. However, because of who and how I am, strangely I started to enjoy it. I think I know why. It is the drama. Some of you remember the slogan from the wide world of sports: the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Amazingly it happens all at the same time. My family has watched a lot of the World Cup this year. My wife enjoys it, but she always feels bad for the team that loses. While one team celebrates, another team lays on the pitch with tears running down their cheeks. What brought one person joy brings another person sorrow.
So will be the second coming of Christ. Jesus Christ has promised us that there will be a day that He will return for His children, the elect. We are encouraged from Scripture to not only look for His appearing but to love His appearing. We are instructed to lift up our heads because our redemption draws nigh. No man knows the day or the hour that this will take place, but it most definitely will take place. Jesus is coming again to take His children home. For the believer this is a day of joy, and we look forward to that day. However, the lost will face agonizing sorrow on that day.
There has been a theory for years that teaches a "secret rapture". In other words, there are those who believe that all of a sudden the Christians will be taken out and the lost will walk around wondering what happened. According to this passage this will not be so. Jesus Christ is going to step out of glory in all of His glory in the midst of a cataclysmic event. The Bible says that all the tribes of the earth will see Him on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. I can see in my mind's eye the believers weep with joy because redemption has come. He has fulfilled His promise to His children. Oh, what a moment! At the same time the Bible says that the earth will mourn. While standing beside a believer who has joy in his heart, the lost will weep because their day of judgment has come. What they denied would ever happen is now a reality right before their very eyes. This goes far beyond the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. This is joy unspeakable and full of glory compared to agonizing despair and hopelessness.
If you know Christ today, live in the light of this moment. Work, watch, and wait knowing that Christ's promise will be fulfilled. If you are not in a relationship with Christ today, don't live in the agony and dread of that day. It is sure; Christ is coming again. Give your heart to Christ. If I am standing next to you when that day comes, I pray that we will be caught up together.
May you see Him as He is and rejoice!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Daily Light - July 7, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me,
having loved the present world."
2 Timothy 4:9-10a

There is a lot of emphasis put on fellowship in the church today. It is a Biblical principle and discipline. It comes from the Greek word koinonia. This word describes not just a gathering but a people that share an intimacy and a closeness in the Lord. However, we have messed up that definition to some degree. We often think of fellowship in the sense of a gathering of our friends that makes us feel comfortable and relaxed. I don't think this is the whole definition of what Christ intended.
Paul encourages Timothy to come to him quickly. Think about what it is that he means. I personally don't think that he is saying to Timothy, "Please get here quickly, because I am so bored. I need someone to just hang out with." Paul saw fellowship as an opportunity to comfort one another in the Lord. He desired the presence of Timothy, because he needed someone of a like mind to undergird him in his ministry. I am sure that they had great moments of fellowship and laughter. However, Paul saw the big picture of what God called them to do.
On the other hand, you can hear the disappointment in Paul's voice when he tells Timothy about Demas. It is obvious that two things bothered Paul about the recent events. First, he was hurt because he had watched a brother walk away from him. He loved Demas and cared for him, so when he left it was difficult personally. I have never understood how brothers and sisters in Christ can just leave their church family with no explanation and break fellowship with them. It is often people that you have loved and prayed for the most that leave you. I am sure that this is exactly how Paul felt. He had spent countless hours with Demas in the ministry, so when Demas left, he took it incredibly personal. The answer to many would be to not love people so much and let them get too close to you, so that if they did leave it wouldn't matter as much. However, that is not how God has called us to love people. He told us to not love like a hypocrite. Either we love completely or by definition we do not love at all.
Second, it seems that Paul also was concerned for the long-term welfare of Demas. He told Timothy that Demas had not only turned his back on him, but more importantly he had turned his back on God. Somewhere along the way Demas started looking at the world in comparison to looking at Christ. There was an attraction to the world. It looked appealing. It offered fulfillment for his flesh. God will never compete with that. His offer is first fulfillment of the spirit. When the spirit and soul are fulfilled, then and only then will we understand real happiness. Demas knew all of this. He had listened to Paul preach time and time again. How could anyone turn away after hearing the greatest preacher of all time? This is what must be understood. Demas did not simply turn his back on Paul. He turned his back on God. Paul knew that Demas would not have to answer to him, but he would give account before a holy and a righteous God. What a fearful place that will be for the one who has rejected a holy God!
May you stay in fellowship with God and His people!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Daily Light - July 6, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Consider the work of God; for who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him."
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Have you ever gone through a difficult time in your life and asked yourself, "Where is God?" Each one of us knows that life is not always easy. As a matter of fact it can be quite difficult at times. There are currently many people that are struggling economically. Every one of us can be guaranteed that in a fallen world we will face crisis, sickness, and difficulty from time to time. One of the most common responses that I hear from people that are going through such crises is that they feel God has abandoned them. I am going to say something that may shock you, but there is plenty of Scriptural evidence that it is true. It very well could be that God has at least allowed this trial in your life, or He may have purposely placed it in your life.
Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, saw that God was in complete control. If you will read the whole book of Ecclesiastes, this thought troubled Solomon a little. He had gained so much and become so prosperous that he became depressed. Why? It was because he realized that in the end of all things he had no control over what the future held for him or his riches. When he died, someone was going to inherit it and in his opinion waste it. Therefore, his advice in this passage needs to be heeded. First, we must realize that we cannot undo what God desires to be done. His plan will always trump my desires. If God has purposed it for my life, I will accept it along with the grace that He gives. Second, when we are blessed by God, it is right to praise Him and rejoice over His blessings. Enjoy with moderation what God has given you. It is a blessing from His hand, because He cares for His children. Third, when we go through difficult days, do not forget God or think that He has abandoned you. Consider Him. As difficult as it may be, learn to accept even the difficulty that God has allowed to come into your life knowing that His grace will be sufficient for you. Fourth, none of us knows the future plans that God has. The situation that you are in right now will not last forever. It is hard to see that at the moment. However, God knows what tomorrow holds, because very simply, He holds tomorrow!
May you follow the path that God has laid before you whether it be straight or crooked!

Daily Light - July 5, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

“The clouds are the dust of His feet.”
Nahum 1:3b

Do you ever just stop and think of the majesty and power of God? I have shared this many times, but it is my majestic God-moment. When God first allowed Susan and me to birth the ministry of Lighthouse, I was working third shift at Gulfstream. Being a third shift employee has its negatives and positives. One of the negatives is that during the day you feel like a vampire. However, one of my first few nights on third shift taught me the greatest benefit. While on a break, I was able to walk out onto the tarmac at the airport. The runway lights had been turned off since the last scheduled plane had come in for the night. It was amazingly dark. I looked up into the sky and saw more stars than I ever had before. It was not the immensity of the number of stars that captivated my mind. It wasn’t even the brilliance in which they shone. I immediately thought of the power of God as He spoke all of that into being. With just His voice He created the vast expanse of wonder that lay before me.
This verse brings back that thought to my mind. The thought that the clouds are the dust of His feet makes sense. The enormity of His creation is simply miniscule compared to Him. He is awesomely majestic! In context this is also a picture of what we are to God as well, especially those who reject Christ. Abraham recognized his place and confessed to God that before Him he was simply dust. In our sin we are absent of any glory. It is only when we come to know Christ that He shapes this lump of clay into something incorruptible and beautiful. Those who reject Christ remain in this earthly condition. Jesus instructed the disciples to shake off their feet the dust of the city that rejected the Gospel. It is not that God does not love the sinner, but He refuses to be rejected and dismissed by that which He created. He wants to make you glorious like Himself! I repeat this phrase by Max Lucado often: “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus!”
May you see God tonight and not simply the stars.

Daily Light - July 4, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad IN IT."
Psalm 118:24

What great irony it is that this day is the Lord's Day (Sunday) and the day that we celebrate our independence as a nation! IN this day we truly have so much to rejoice and be glad about. Today we will hear often about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. These 55 men literally risked everything to place their names on that parchment. They believed IN what they were signing. It was no mere document; it was to them the fulfillment of the plan of Almighty God. They believed that the heart of God had freedom at its core. They knew that blood would be shed because of this document. They knew that lives would have to be given in order to make the declaration stand. However, they also knew that freedom was worth the sacrifice. Over 230 years later we are still reaping the benefits of that decision. We will gather together in places of worship with no fear of government intrusion today. We will not be told where to worship or who to worship. We will speak the Word of God in all of its truth, and we will do it openly and boldly. Thank God for our freedoms and the country IN which we live.
However, the Declaration of Independence would mean nothing if it were not for Christ. Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms would not matter at all if Jesus Christ had not given His life on the cross of Calvary. Our founding fathers were not the first to believe in freedom. Jesus Christ came so that we might truly be free. Every man is a captive to sin. He is born with that condition. His heart yearns to be free from the chains of sin's tyranny, but within himself he can find no escape. However, if he looks to the cross of Calvary and learns that there Christ bore His sin, then and only then will he find true freedom. Jesus came and gave all for us so that we might be free. 2,000 years later we are still reaping the benefits of that decision.
Some think that independence means that we are completely free to do as we please. I noticed one thing that I would just like to share with you. Notice the word: independence. Did you catch it? Look at it this way: INdependence. We are IN dependence of Christ our Savior. We are each completely dependent on Him. I am free from sin and dependent on Jesus for the strength to live His way and for His glory. I owe Him my life. He is my everything.
Join brothers and sisters in Christ today to celebrate what we are as a nation and what we are in Jesus Christ. Don't miss the opportunity at any time to freely worship with God's people.
May you know what it means to truly be INdependent today!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Daily Light - July 1, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
to declare Your loving-kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night."
Psalm 92:1-2

If someone were to ask you to list the most horrific sins that you could think of, what would be in your top ten? I am sure things like murder, blasphemy, adultery, idolatry, and many others come to mind. We have universally recognized sins such as these as heinous and are repulsed at even the thought of them. However, when Paul was listing the gross sins of the last days, one of the trademarks of the ungodly was that they were unthankful. Think about that for a moment. How in the world could you even begin to compare ingratitude with all of these other sins?
On one occasion Jesus met ten men who were lepers. Each of them cried out to Him for mercy and healing. He told them to go see the priest, and as they turned to obey they were each healed. However, only one of them, a Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus for what He had done. Jesus blesses this man but makes a point by asking where the other nine were. To be unthankful is to consider God's goodness in our lives as nothing. We are dismissing His very character and taking His amazing grace for granted. Everything that we possess and that we are is because of our Father in Heaven. He has blessed us beyond measure. Even in the greatest difficulties and tragedies of life we can find His presence. I have found that it is especially there that I get to know Him even more. That is why the psalmist says that it is good to give thanks to the Lord. He speaks of praising God in the sunshine of the good days when it seems that everything is in order. He also speaks of praising God even during the dark nights where circumstances might not be what we would have hoped, but we know that even then He is faithful.
It is God's desire that we be thankful in all season and at all times. Paul told those at Thessalonica, "In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Stop and take the time today to consider who God is in your life and what He has done. Thank Him for the great blessings that you have received, and then swallow real hard and thank Him for the trials as well. You never know what God has in store for His children.
May you rejoice with a heart of gratitude today!