Thursday, September 30, 2010

Daily Light - September 30, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
Job 23:12

I can see this little boy in my mind's eye almost on a daily basis. Two years ago I had the privilege of going to Togo, Africa. In a village in the northern part of the country, a young boy came walking up with the rest of the children. All of the pictures from magazines and television can not prepare you for reality. This little boy's eyes were sunk back into his head. His belly was protruding and swollen in a grotesque fashion as he suffered from malnutrition. To see such a small child literally starving to death is almost more than one can bear.
When I read the words of Job, I am reminded of that moment. We live in a society today that knows nothing of this type of starvation. We have food in such abundance that we have cable channels dedicated to the subject. We know nothing of the term "necessary food'. We think that the abundant amounts that we eat are necessary. Job was talking about the minimal amount that is necessary for survival. Your body needs fuel and that is what food is supposed to do for you. If you have ever been on a prolonged fast, you know that when you come off of it your body craves only those things that are healthy for you. That is your necessary food. Your body is telling you that it needs those things in order to survive.
Job relates God and His Word to this type of food. God was the craving of Job's soul. That is all that he needed, and it was truthfully all that he wanted. He had known what it was to be rich and have the abundance of things. There was a day in Job's life where he lacked absolutely nothing. If he wanted to sit down to a feast with his family, it was just a matter of ordering the servants to prepare it. Now, however, he had lost every thing. When someone has lost it all and has nothing, you find out what their soul truly craves. Job's soul craved only God. He preferred God more than that which would help him survive from day to day. If you study the context of the passage, you will find out something very interesting about Job. He was not craving God because he had lost it all. Job had a desire for God when he had every thing.
What do you crave each and every day? Are you craving the things of this world and what would satisfy you above what would please God? I wonder if we entered into a fast from the things of the world if we would begin to crave God more. Many Christians today are in a spiritual place of malnutrition. Their spiritual eyes are sunk back into their heads, and their spiritual bellies are swollen with a lack of nourishment from God's Word. Make a decision for Christ today that He is all you want and sit at the banquet table of His presence.
May you be filled with God today!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daily Light - September 29, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Lord, teach us to pray."
Luke 11:1

What would you consider to be the most important aspect of your spiritual life? What would you also say is one of the greatest struggles of your Christian life? Interestingly, many people would respond to both questions with the same answer: prayer. Prayer is something that we know is absolutely necessary to the success of our Christian walk, but it is also one area in which many Christians struggle to be faithful or in their opinion successful.
On a certain day Jesus was spending time in prayer. His disciples sat and waited somewhere nearby as He prayed. I can imagine them watching Jesus pray. I am sure that He prayed with passion and conviction. His times of prayer were not short platitudes to the Father, but they were instead desperate pleas. In these moments you could witness the tenderness of Jesus and the power of Jesus at the same time. The disciples were captivated by this, because they were also firsthand witnesses to each of these prayers being answered. When Jesus rose from His prayer on this day, a certain disciple asked that Jesus would teach them to pray. The one thing that this disciple wanted to emulate in Jesus' life was prayer.
When you think of all that the disciples saw of Jesus, isn't it interesting that prayer was what they wanted to be taught? They did not ask to be taught to preach and teach like Jesus. They did not ask how to walk on water. They did not ask how to divide up small amounts of food so that they could feed multitudes. They did not ask how to heal blind eyes, lame legs, and withered hands. They asked to be taught to pray like Jesus. Why? I believe that they saw that all of the other things in Jesus' life were a result of His relationship with the Father in prayer. There was a communion in prayer that no miracle could manufacture. If they were going to teach thousands the truth of God's way, they knew that only through prayer would they be given power from on high. They saw that when Jesus prayed He was actually communicating one on one with the Father. Prayer was not a religious exercise but a relational communication with the Almighty. They had access to the Father!
How desperate we are today to pray like this again! We need to be able to communicate with the Father on a daily basis in an open and unfettered way.
May you learn to pray like Jesus prayed!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daily Light - September 28, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103:12

Guilt. Shame. They eat away at people's lives like an incurable disease. More people suffer from guilt and shame than any ailment that is known to man. Why? The simple answer is that sin brings shame with it. From the very first act of sin in the Garden of Eden, we see man running to hide because of his guilt. It has been this way ever since. Most have wrongfully concluded that if they can hide it from man then it can be hidden from God. However, we must remember that the eyes of the Lord see throughout the whole earth beholding the evil and the good. There is nothing that escapes His knowledge.
Consider though what happens when Jesus steps on to the scene of our guilt. 2,000 years ago God sent His only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of man once and for all. On the cross Jesus took the heavy burden of sin and died in our place. He died for all of those sins that bring such shame and guilt. We did not deserve such mercy, but He gave it freely of His own accord. In the same psalm as above we read, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities." If God chose to punish each one of us based on our own merit, who could stand before Him? Thankfully those that come and receive the finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary as their atonement and accept Him by faith can know forgiveness and ever lasting life.
At the moment of God's forgiveness, our sins are cleansed and removed as far as the east is from the west. The prophet Micah said that He will cast our sins into the depths of the sea. God is not like us. We each have the ability to forgive another individual, but we do not have the ability to forget their transgression against us. God forgives and never again lays that sin to our charge. Most of us carry around the weight of guilt and shame because of our own failings and sinful actions. May I encourage you today to know that if God has forgiven you, let Him also heal you of the shame of those sins. It is important to learn the lessons from our past transgressions, but there is no need to let it weigh us down for the rest of our lives. Thank the Father for His forgiveness, and live the new life that He has prepared for you.
May you know freedom from guilt and shame today!

Daily Light - September 27, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
Matthew 24:37

The mystery of Christ's return is probably one of the most encouraging and yet confusing topics for many people. We are encouraged, because we are promised that our Lord and Savior will come to redeem His church and take them to Heaven. There is joy in knowing that this life with its frustrations, schedules, and oppression is not eternal. We will one day step out of the mundane and wicked into the joyful and holy. To consider Christ's return can also be frustrating, because we are eagerly awaiting that day but do not know when it will be. The Bible says that even our bodies groan for redemption, but we must wait. I am sure that patience is not the gift that most of us claim to have.
Having done a recent study of Noah and all that surrounded the great flood, this comparison that Jesus makes of the end times and Noah's day is absolutely perfect. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. We as children of God have received grace by God's hand. Noah was told of a day of deliverance. We are told that Christ is coming again for His children. Noah was given instructions on how to serve until that day. We are instructed to work each day for God, because the night is coming when no man can work. Noah believed God in spite of what every one around him thought or said. We live in a world that does not believe that God's Word is true, but that does not change its truth at all. Noah had to wait on the appointed day for the flood. We are waiting for the appointed day of Christ's return.
While we wait, let's be diligent in serving the Lord. There is so much work to be done. Many of us have loved ones that are not prepared for this day. They need to know the joy of a relationship with Christ. Be diligent in your witness to them. Show them that Christ's forgiveness and grace is for all men who will came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Let us also be diligent in making sure that we are completely right with a holy God. It is imperative that we have a broken heart over sin and that we do not allow it to have any place in our lives. While we are busy serving, let us be ready to lift up our heads as our redemption draws nigh.
May you be ready for His coming today!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Daily Light - September 24, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly."
Romans 16:20

Deceiver. Manipulator. Liar. Destroyer. There are many other words that could be used to describe Satan. He came to Eve in the Garden with such a soft and cunning voice. He did not want her to think at first that he was opposed to God. He just wanted to make her curious. When he had her attention, he accused God of being what he is: a liar. His MO has not changed since that time. He still tries to convince man that God is not the way, the truth and the life. His sole purpose is to destroy the lives of men, women, boys and girls. Unfortunately, he has won many battles for the souls of some, but it is an irrefutable fact that he will not win the war.
As much as Satan hates mankind, God loves them. God loves them so much that even in the Garden He told Satan that He was going to do what needed to be done to bring mankind back to Himself. In the movie The Passion of the Christ, the opening scene is Jesus praying in the Garden. There is a portrayal of Satan enjoying the agony that Jesus is suffering as He thinks of the cross. The tears and blood are flowing down the face of the actor portraying Jesus. Behind him a serpent is making its way toward him. Suddenly the character portraying Jesus looks up boldly and his foot comes down on the head of the serpent. This is a perfect picture of what was promised to Satan in the Garden of Eden. When Jesus came to this earth 2,000 years ago and died for sin on the cross of Calvary, Satan became a defeated foe. This liar has been crushed by the Truth. This one who brings death was defeated by the Life. "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"
The verse above is an awesome picture in the Word. The God of peace will crush Satan. Our God brings peace in so many ways. Normally when we think of peace, we think of the absence of violence. However, in this case God violently defeats the enemy of all mankind. God is justified in His violent force, because He is God and knows best. He is also justified in His violent force, because His holiness cannot tolerate sin. This enemy has waged war against the very nature of God since Satan tried to take the position of the Most High. In eternity future there will be no enemy to contend with, because Satan will be destroyed completely and wholly. This could only be accomplished by our mighty God who is sufficient to save!
May you live in victory over the enemy today!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daily Light - September 23, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Who is this King of glory?"
Psalm 24:8, 10

We live today in a world that not only doubts but outright denies the existence of God. I find almost on a daily basis the writings, recordings, and public witness of people who will go so far to deny God that they blaspheme His name. Some treat God as a fictional character and try to bring Him down to the level of simple man. Others mock His very existence and dare Him to judge their blatant sin if He really exists. When I hear these things, I have a righteous anger that courses through my body, but I also have a broken heart for the souls of these individuals.
If you are a believer, I imagine that you share some of my feelings in this area. However, you are just the person that I would like to contend with. While we may believe in God's existence and trust Him by faith for our salvation, we are also guilty at times of making less of Him. For example, I notice that many believers treat God as just a convenience. They only turn to Jesus when they really need Him. When things are difficult, they pray and ask Him where He is, but when things are going well, God is ignored and never spoken to. Many believers live their lives more concerned with what others think about them than God. When they need to make an important decision, God is not their first choice but a last resort. The average believer in America today does not read their Bible on any sort of regular basis. Many treat God like a genie in a bottle. If they have a need, they rub the lamp and ask for their wish to be granted. As soon as everything is okay, they put God back in the bottle until next time. When we consider this, I am not sure that the world is the only group being blasphemous.
The psalmist asked in this triumphal psalm, "Who is this King of glory?" That would be a great question for all of us to ask today. Who is this King to you? Is He a fairy tale, a convenience, or a genie in a bottle? Or, is He the Lord, strong and mighty? If He is, why are you depending on your own strength to live the Christian life? Is He the Lord, mighty in battle? If He is, don't you think that it is time to quit fighting your personal battles on your own and give them to Him? Is He the Lord of hosts? If He is, you are now set free to boldly proclaim Him and His love to this world with no fear of what man can do unto you. Is He the King of glory? If He is, then do not neglect to praise Him each and every day for all you have and all you are in His name. What a joy and privilege it is to say that He is our God and our personal Savior! What a thrill it is to know that He is with me even unto the end! Who is this King of glory? He is my mighty King!
May you give the King glory today!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Daily Light - September 22, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
Psalm 103:2

Most of us commonly think of God's blessings in the sense of material things. Because we live in a country where we are so full of stuff, it is easy for this to be our main understanding of God's benefits. However, as we begin to examine our lives, we find that God's benefits graciously go beyond the things that we possess. Let's be honest with ourselves when it comes to things. First, those items that we greatly treasure will eventually rust and decay. Why live for things that are simply going to rot? Second, when we make "stuff" our primary desire, we are never satisfied with what we have; we always want more. That is because things will never be able to satisfy the real craving of the soul.
So what does the psalmist say are the benefits of the Lord that reach deep into our hearts? What a list it is! Could I encourage you to read this list and stop after each one and consider what God has done for you? After you read each benefit, thank God in Heaven for supplying the great needs of your spiritual life.
1) He forgives all our iniquities. What a fabulous word that little word "all" is!
2) He heals all our diseases. God has power over every affliction that you will ever face.
3) He redeems your life from destruction. In His grace He took us from hopeless to joy unspeakable!
4) He crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies. It is because of His mercies that we are not consumed; great is His faithfulness.
5) He satisfies your mouth with good things, His love is as sweet and enlightening as honey to a weary soul!
We have so much to praise God for that has absolutely nothing to do with any materialistic possessions. Praise God today for all that He does in your heart and soul. Get your mind off of circumstances and things. Focus on what Christ has done and will do in your life. Sing out loud like the psalmist did: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"
May you live in the joy of His benefits today!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daily Light - September 21, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few."
Matthew 9:37

My grandfather by his very nature was a farmer. It was in his blood. A couple of times a year we would get to go spend some time with my grandparents, and it did not take long to realize what life was all about. He was either getting the ground ready for the new season, tending to the growing crops, or bringing in the harvest. Sometime during the day he would tune the television in to the Wiregrass Farm Report. Now that is exciting programming in Southeast Alabama! If I was just sitting around the house, my grandmother would put us to work shelling peas or snapping beans. While my grandfather was slaving under the hot sun, my grandmother was usually slaving over the hot stove and getting things ready to be canned and put away. It was all about the harvest.
Looking back I am amazed how much the two of them did all by themselves. They worked tirelessly each and every day with no outside help. They would bring in a plentiful harvest, just the two of them. I think of this when I read the verse above. I also realize that there is not a problem with the harvest. When I have the opportunity to go to foreign countries and see the work that God is doing there, I am always greatly moved by the sincerity of people's faith and the abundant blessing of God's power that I witness. While it is not true in every field, many places are seeing a mighty move of God in their land. Souls are being saved, and lives are literally being changed for the glory of God. When I return and tell of what I have been able to see, many people ask why we are not seeing that here. I believe the answer is very simple. We are not laboring for the harvest as much as others are. There is no problem with God's power; it is still as mighty and effective as always. The harvest is out there, but only a committed few are toiling in the fields.
How do we change this? So many times we are told that it is our lack of witness that is the whole reason for this famine of souls. While that is part of the equation, there is so much more that must be considered. First, each one of us must make an inventory of our own life and make sure that we are completely right with God. Second, we must begin to pray for the power of God to fall on us. To walk out into this world without God's power is spiritual suicide. Third, we must recognize that we are more dependent on God than our methods of evangelism. Fourth, we must make sure that we are preaching a Biblical Gospel of repentance and faith instead of easy believism to pad our numbers. Fifth, we must not let fear or pride cripple the work of evangelizing our communities. Finally, we must witness with God's power and trust Him for the results. The harvest truly is plentiful, but how many of us will be laborers for Christ's sake?
May you be a laborer for God's harvest today!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Daily Light - September 20, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
and saves such as have a contrite spirit."
Psalm 34:18

"God just wants me to be happy!" This is the calling card of the modern church in America. The average Christian in this country has bought into the lie that God is in Heaven planning and strategizing the best way to make them comfortable and satisfied. The church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 is described as exactly what the church at America is demonstrating. I will grant to you that this is an overview and is not exactly the way each and every Christian or church in America acts. However, for the most part, it would be an accurate description. It would do us good to heed the words of the prophet Amos: "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion!"
I believe that God's greatest desire is to transform His church to be more like Himself. In order to do this we must experience the sufferings of Christ. Suffering has as much to do with the heart as it does the body. While many believers around the world today physically suffer for their faith, God is calling the church in America to experience a suffering heart of anguish. On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you describe how broken your heart is for the things of God? When is the last time that you agonized over unconfessed sin in your life and in the church? How often do you spend long seasons of prayer for those around you who are lost and without Christ?
The psalmist tells us that God is near those who have a broken heart. This word broken literally means shattered into pieces. A broken hearted person's human ideals and perspective have been so dismantled that they can only now turn to Christ. All has fallen apart and having reached the bottom they look up for the will of the Father. If this was not graphic enough, we are told that God delivers those who have a contrite spirit. Contrite means crushed into dust. It is of no value in itself. When I read this, I thought of how God created man from the dust of the ground. He took what was useless, formed it, and breathed life into it. God wants to take believers that will experience the sufferings of Christ so much that their very spirit is crushed into dust and new life is breathed into their spiritual being.
I saw an interview this week with Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family. On a recent trip to China he was sitting in the Beijing airport. Some Chinese Christians recognized him and to his surprise told him that they were praying for the church in America. He asked what they were praying about. Their reply came as a shock to him. They said, "We are praying that the American church will experience persecution. You are too soft and comfortable. You need to know Christ more." I have no idea what the future holds, but unless America experiences a Great Awakening within the next two generations, we will greatly regret that we did not seek to be broken hearted before a holy God.
May you live a broken life before God Almighty!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Daily Light - September 17, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"For even His brothers did not believe in Him."
John 7:5

"You just think that you're so good!" "Well, excuse me, Ms. Spiritual!" "You are so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good!" "Just because you are a Christian and go to church that doesn't make you better than me!"
Do any of those quotes sound familiar? It is often very difficult to be a believer in a world full of people that castigate you for your faith. Your trust in God is sincere, and you recognize better than any one else that it is only by God's grace that you have been accepted by Him. Your desire isn't to be an elitist. You want each and every person to know the joy of being a follower of Christ. It is so strange that we have to realize our sinfulness and imperfection to come to Christ, but once we do every one accuses us of thinking that we are perfect.
The toughest thing about those verbal barbs that are tossed our way is that they are usually said by people that we love and are very close to. If these comments came from complete strangers, we would probably ignore them entirely because they do not really know us. However, when it comes from people that do know us, it makes it so tough to hear and to live with. So how do you handle it? How do you reply to these hurtful and stinging remarks?
First, realize that Jesus knows exactly how you feel. Even His own brothers did not believe that He was the Messiah. I have to say here that it would be difficult for any of us to believe that one of our siblings was the Messiah. Can you imagine them hearing Mary say, "Why can't you be more like Jesus?" Hello! He's Jesus! Seriously, Jesus lived His own life being denied by every one that He was close to. One of His disciples would betray Him. The unspoken leader of the twelve would deny Him three times in His presence. The rest of them would abandon Him in His greatest hour of need. When you feel the pain of others' doubt and accusations of self-righteousness, realize that Jesus knows how you feel, and He is there to comfort you.
Second, keep living like Christ in front of those that would accuse. You may argue, "But that is exactly what they don't like about me!" Two verses after the above text Jesus acknowledges that the world hates Him. He later tells His disciples that the reason that the world hates them is because they hated Him first. You are really not the object of people's ridicule. They don't mind you so much. It is Jesus that they cannot stand. Your consistency of walk and example will allow the Holy Spirit's work to continue in that loved one's heart. They will learn as much by your walk as they will your word.
Here is the big question? Will this life of consistency work even with my closest loved ones? I cannot see the future, but I can give you encouragement from the Word. There are two small letters written toward the end of the Bible by James and Jude. Guess what? These men are commonly accepted as Jesus' brothers.
May you live like Jesus today!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Daily Light - September 16, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.
And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
Genesis 4:7

Adam and Eve never imagined that their disobedience would bring them to this. There they stood over the dead body of their second son. Their oldest son Cain had now fled from their presence, and they were left in despair. It didn't have to be this way, but sin is a powerful force when man submits his heart to its lust. Cain had received a sinful nature by blood. This nature has been passed to all men since the fall in the Garden of Eden. It is a powerful force against the hearts of man, but we must understand that it is no match against the power and righteousness of God.
Cain and Abel had returned from offering their sacrifices to God. Both of them brought the best that they had, but only one of them brought what God required. Cain thought his fruits and vegetables should be pleasing to God, but God rejected his offering. This made Cain bitter, and as we all know bitterness kills. God knew Cain's heart and spoke to him about his condition. It was not a difficult thing that Cain needed to do in order to be right with God. He just simply needed to be obedient. How true that is for us as well! It is not difficult to do right, but it is against this nature that we battle each day. We must simply submit our will to the will of the Father. Like Cain we want to do things our way, but our way is not the path of obedience. Our way leads only to bitterness, hurt, anger, and even death.
God warned Cain that if he decided to go his own way that sin would surely lie at the door. If we do not submit to the will of God, sin is ready and willing to take hold of our lives. There are no games that should be played with evil. Satan does not fight fairly. He fights to win and to destroy. In our society and even in our churches we see the wreckage of those that chose their own path. There are ruined marriages, embittered hearts, wasted lives, and empty souls that are a direct result of sin. I can almost hear the Father pleading with His creation to simply look up and be obedient to His voice. To not obey is to choose our destruction by the hands of the enemy.
God told Cain that sin desires him. What a powerful thought that is! Sin desires your life. It desires to eat you alive from the inside out. It desires to take away every thing beautiful that God has in store for those who love Him and live for Him. When God created Adam and Eve, He told them that they should have dominion over all things. It was never meant for sin to dominate the lives of man, but man gave up his dominion when he submitted himself to evil. The words of James powerfully remind us, "Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." If you are a child of God, you were given the power of the Holy Spirit to rule and reign. Do not become a servant of sin, but surrender your life to Christ so that you may live in the joy of spiritual dominion.
May you live today in the power of Christ!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Daily Light - September 15, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"These who have turned the world upside down have come here too."
Acts 17:6

In the early days of Jesus' ministry, He chose 12 men to follow Him as His inner circle. They were many that followed Jesus on a regular basis. We are told in John 6 that after some difficult teaching some of Jesus' disciples left Him and followed Him no more. None of those that left were part of the 12. Even after Christ's ascension there were about 120 in the upper room waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. The 12 were not alone, but they were hand picked to personally learn from Jesus so that they might carry out the ministry after His death, resurrection, and ascension.
It is obvious with just a small amount of study that none of these men were perfect. Each of them had their own flaws. Of course, we know that Judas was known by Christ as the betrayer from the beginning, and he was eventually replaced by Matthias. When we look at some of the others, we see their flaws front and center. We often refer to Thomas as doubting Thomas. Peter often spoke before he thought. James and John wanted to be the greatest in the kingdom at the expense of every one else. It is clear that each of them were normal men with their own personalities and their own set of issues. However, when we come to the book of Acts, something miraculous happens. This group of normal misfits is credited with turning the world upside down. They have turned over the apple cart of man's religion and are powerfully teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thousands are being saved and professing that the executed "criminal" Jesus is their Messiah. People who fearfully once filled the synagogues are now boldly preaching in the streets. In a society where people once questioned who their neighbor was, men and women are sharing of their resources with complete strangers. The 12 who once hid in an upper room for fear of their lives are now standing before magistrates boldly proclaiming Jesus at the risk of death.
There are two things that are pointed out in Scripture for this miraculous transformation. First, these believers are now indwelled by the Holy Spirit. They are doing none of these things apart from the power of the often forgotten member of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit has confirmed to them the teachings of Jesus, and He is empowering them to stand boldly as sheep in the midst of wolves. So many times we think that living this Christian life and proclaiming Jesus is all up to us. It is only when we put our lives in subjection to the Holy Spirit's power that we will be able to do great and mighty things for the kingdom of God. Second, these believers determined to daily walk with Jesus. On one particular occasion the disciples were arrested and brought before the council. The council determined that they were unlearned and ignorant men, but there assessment did not stop there. They also determined that these men had been with Jesus. How fabulous it would be if we walked so closely to Jesus that it would be noticeable even to the lost world! There is a great need for us today to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the fellowship of Christ.
May you determine to live according to the example of Jesus' disciples!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daily Light - September 14, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?'
Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'"
Isaiah 6:8

While in Haiti I met so many people with such incredible stories of God's amazing grace. There were multiple people that had a testimony of being delivered from demon possession. Several could testify of how God had given them hope in the face of tragedy. It was truly inspiring and heart stirring. The most powerful testimony came from missionary Richard Turner.
If you met Pastor Turner, there would be nothing on the outside to impress you. He is a fairly normal looking individual, a mountain man from the south without any teeth. He doesn't impress you with his charisma or his oratory skills. He is for the lack of a better word fairly simple. It is when you get to know the faith of this man that your heart is incredibly moved. In 1992 God called Pastor Turner to the mission field of Haiti. He was in his 50's and was set up to be able to retire quite comfortably. As a business man he had been quite successful, and God had also used him in several areas of ministry. It was time now for him to spend his "golden years" with his precious wife Wilma and their grandchildren. However, as He often does, God had a different set of plans. He knew that the hearts of Richard and Wilma were exactly what He needed in the difficult field of Haiti.
I could not in this space begin to tell you the entire story of their service in Haiti, but a couple of things stand out that all of us need to consider. First, they most definitely had a call of God on their lives to go and minister to souls. I am convinced that to go to Haiti or any other mission field without a call on your life is one way to commit spiritual and physical suicide. The Turners did not make an emotional and irrational decision to go. They were convinced of the Lord that this is where He wanted to them. When we are convinced that God is calling us, we must choose wholeheartedly to follow that call. There have been difficult and life-threatening days for the Turners, but God has taken care of them according to His will. Second, the Turners heard the call of God on their lives, because they were listening for it. Before the call ever came, they had surrendered to God to do whatever He called them to. With their spiritual ears now open, they were able to heed to God's will and direction for their lives. Most of us miss God's call on our lives, because we are listening to other voices. We may be listening to the voices of loved ones or even the voice of our own will. Only when we are still and focused on the voice of God will we be able to hear Him and hear the direction that He would have us go.
One of the verses that Pastor Turner claims for his calling to Haiti is Isaiah 58:14 which says, "The mouth of the Lord has spoken." When God is speaking, it is imperative that we listen and obey. There will be many that stand before our Savior at His throne in Heaven, but I believe people like the Turners will be allowed to stand close to the Savior and rule in positions of power with Him. Pastor and Sister Turner were once people of great wealth and means as far as this earth is concerned, but today they would be considered paupers by the world's standards. They are the fulfillment of the Scriptures that say that those who become the least will be the greatest in the kingdom of God.
May you be humble enough to listen for the voice of God!

Daily Light - September 13, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man
the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

It is good to be home, and I want to thank each of you that prayed for me while I was in Haiti. It is such a unique place, and God worked so incredibly in the nightly crusades and the daily VBS classes. We were in the more mountainous plateau areas of the country, and it was a privilege to minister among these precious people. We had over 800 in classes each day and over 1,200 at night for the crusade type services. During the week there were a recorded 135 people that came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. We rejoice with the angels in heaven over these lives that have been transformed for the glory of God. Words cannot begin to describe all that God has done in my heart over the last week, but I am thankful that the Spirit of God still moves so strongly among His people.
The area in which we were would be classified as very rural. One church that we went to was about a two hour hike one way from the main road. These people lived in conditions that were beyond what we think of as poverty. They make the best with what they have, but what they have is not much. At the main mission where we held all the services, the people came there to stay and sleep in whatever shelter they could find for the whole week. They were given two meals a day which is more than most of them eat on a regular basis. My children wake up wondering what they are going to have for supper that night. These children and adults wake up wondering if they are going to eat that day.
I could go on and on in describing their poverty, but that would leave you with the sense that these are desperate and discouraged people. The truth is far from that. While they may have nothing of physical worth, they are truly the richest people that I have ever known. They are rich in faith, because they wholeheartedly serve Jesus Christ and claim Him as their own. Their worship and prayer is as genuine as one can fathom. They lay their hearts open before God with absolutely nothing held back. It is so refreshing to be in such an atmosphere.
I had the privilege of teaching different age groups each day through an interpreter. One particular day I had the 11-14 year olds. During my lesson I spoke of Heaven and what a thrill it is to know that God is preparing a place for us. During the question and answer time I asked them what they thought would be there. The first answer was that there would be no hell. I thought maybe they didn't understand the question so I asked it a different way. The answers then begin to come: Jesus, love, joy, peace, etc. Not one of those young people mentioned a tangible thing as we often do when describing heaven. We always speak of streets of gold, mansions, and other physical things. These people have no thought of the physical things to cloud their view of the spiritual. I discussed this with Pastor Turner who is the American missionary that heads up the mission. (I will tell you more about him later.) With tears in both of our eyes we spoke of looking forward to the day that we could watch some of these Haitian people enter into the presence of God in glory. To see the joy on their faces as they stand in awe of what God has prepared for them will truly be an amazing moment.
May you live with your only desire being Jesus!

Daily Light - September 2, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Children are a heritage from the Lord...Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them."
Psalm 127:3,5
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing."
Proverbs 18:22
I have learned so much about life having been given the privilege and blessing to be a husband and a father. When I try to imagine what my life would be like if it were not for the five precious people that God has allowed into my life, there is a foreboding cloud of fear and depression that sweeps over me. I am so thankful that God has blessed me and entrusted me with these relationships.
In Proverbs Solomon spent a great amount of time warning his son to avoid the strange or contentious woman. He stressed to him the importance of that great relationship called marriage. God has not called all of us to marry, but for those of us that He has, we must see the blessing, privilege, and responsibility with this call. Over 16 years ago I entered into this covenant with my best friend. Even though I was in ministry at that time, I was as far from God in my heart as I could be. I had learned well the legalistic and hypocritical idea of holiness. Every area of my life was suffering, especially my marriage. There were honestly days that I thought for sure that my wife would eventually walk away, and I wouldn't have blamed her. However, one day I entered the room and noticed her reading a book. Later I found the book and saw it was entitled "The Power of a Praying Wife". In my damaged spiritual state I experienced two emotions: anger (that she thought I needed so much prayer) and conviction (because I knew how much I needed prayer). Today, I am a living testimony of the fact that prayer works and that a man who finds a Godly wife finds a good thing (that which is honorable - it sounds strange to call a spouse a thing). Could I please encourage every spouse to spend great amounts of time in prayer for your husband or wife? You cannot change them, but God in Heaven can.
A quiver is the tool that is used to hold the arrows of a hunter or soldier. The Bible tells us that a happy father is one that has his quiver full of children, and that they are his legacy. The arrows in this hunter's quiver are very precious to him. For many centuries each arrow was handcrafted by the hunter or soldier. He spent an incredible amount of time to make sure that they flew just right. The head had to be shaped to certain specifications. It was important to make sure that they were straight and did not warp. These arrows were so precious that after they were shot they would be sought out in order to be returned to the quiver. At some point however, when a shot had to be made at quite a distance, the hunter would have to make a conscious decision to let that arrow go and fly for the purpose for which it was created. I am personally thankful for the little arrows that God has put into my quiver. He is giving me the privilege of shaping four precious lives. Like arrows, each one of them is distinctly different. I realize the magnitude of my responsibility as a father to these impressionable souls, and I desire greatly for them to fly straight for the glory of God. There will come a day when I will lift my bow toward the unknown and let them fly into the purposes for which God created them. If you have children, I know that there can be great burdens in being a parent. However, see beyond the burden and recognize the blessing. God has entrusted you with a precious gift. Shape them for Christ's sake so that they may fly to Jesus!
To my dear family: Susan, Julianna, Dianna, Michael and Jordan, I love you with all of my heart!
May your family be God's family today!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Daily Light - September 1, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."
Psalm 56:3

This verse has been used numerous times by loving parents trying to comfort their children. Being a father of four children, I know all about the fears of little ones. Our youngest, Jordan, is one of those little guys who has his own set of fears. For years he was very afraid of swimming. He didn't mind the water, but he did not like the helpless feeling of floating in it. He would hang on to the ladder of our pool for dear life. Today, that fear has been conquered, and he swims like a fish. Recently a large dog in our neighborhood chased him down the street, so you can now add that to his list of fears as well. He's afraid to go to the mailbox by himself now, because he just knows at any moment that dog is coming. The one fear that he shares with many other children is the dark. I have tried every thing possible to get him to see that there is nothing to be afraid of, but he's not buying it. He won't even walk into a dark room to turn on the light switch. You always know when Jordan went to the back of the house by himself, because the whole house is lit up like a Christmas tree. One day I took him into his room when it was completely dark and held his hand. I explained to him that although he couldn't see any thing that there was nothing in there that was going to hurt him. I am pretty sure that he didn't believe me. So, I told him to watch as I turned on the light. When the light came on, everything was as it should be and completely safe. I explained to him that even if we can't see what is around us there is no need to fear what does not exist.
That is a pretty good lesson for all of us "big kids" too. Let's be honest. Every one of us has fears that rival Jordan's. Perhaps it is not the dark, or water, or big dogs (okay, some of us have that one), but we all have some anxieties that shake us to our very core. Some of you fear that you will not be a successful parent. Others fear that they have made wrong career decisions and are wasting their lives. Many couples see the rampant rise of divorce in our society and worry about the stability of their own marriage. After thinking of all of that, most of us would trade being afraid of the dark any day over those things. Many of these fears have to be confronted face to face.
I remember going into that dark room with Jordan and holding onto him. I noticed that as long as he was with me that he could face the darkness. Somehow in his mind I was more powerful than any thing that the darkness had in store for him. Think about that for just a second. Isn't that what the psalmist was saying in this verse? We will all face fears, but we do not have to ever face them alone. Whenever we stand in the darkness of our fears, all that we need to do is reach out and take hold of the hand of God. When I have Him by my side, I know that He is more powerful than any thing that the darkness has in store for me. He did not put a spirit of fear in me. No, with Him as my confidence I am able to have a spirit of power that shines light on any amount of darkness. We are all going to be afraid at times, but these moments are the greatest opportunities for us to demonstrate complete trust in God.
May you stand face to face with darkness holding onto God today!