Friday, October 29, 2010

Daily Light - October 29, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"He leads me beside the still waters."
Psalm 23:2

I have thought much about this phrase as of late. We are taught in the psalms that we are the sheep of God's pasture. That means that He has taken upon Himself the responsibility of our care. He has chosen to nourish us, protect us, and provide us. No wonder the psalmist could say that he has no anxiety when he realizes who his Shepherd is.
The Good Shepherd leads me. The Bible teaches us to seek the face of the Lord. That is to many a very confusing phrase. I believe that it means that we are to seek the Lord's direction and therefore His will. If you are walking north, your back would be to the south and your face to the north. It is that simple. We must begin to seek after the way that God is leading us and start walking that direction. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our example and that we should walk in His steps. Why does the Good Shepherd lead us? Why doesn't He just tell us which way to go and send us out on our own? Remember that the Shepherd knows His sheep. We are incapable of going our own way and accomplishing the will of the Father. We desperately need a Lamp for our feet and a Light for our path.
He leads me beside the still waters. There is a purpose for His leading and a place for His leading. The Good Shepherd doesn't just lead us to any water. He leads us to the still waters. Many have been led astray by the enemy to drink from the filthy streams of religion, the corrupt rivers of self-righteousness, and the polluted springs of carnality. They have had their fill of this water to find that it leaves them unsatisfied. The Good Shepherd leads us to the water that as we drink it becomes a well springing up in our very bosom. He leads us to the water that not only quenches our thirst for the moment but becomes a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
Our Shepherd became a sheep that went to the slaughter and tasted the bitterness of death. He took upon Himself the unquenching water mixed with vinegar. Now, He calls us to follow Him into this place. He leads us to take up our own cross. However, when we choose to take up this cross of pain and suffering, we find that there is joy unspeakable awaiting our souls. The Shepherd knows what is best for His sheep, and He leads us to that water ever so lovingly.
May you follow the Shepherd today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daily Light - October 27, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But we see Jesus..."
Hebrews 2:9

When God created man in the Garden of Eden, he gave him dominion over all things on the earth. All of creation was subject to man and his authority. The author of Hebrews is recalling this fact. God did not put things under the authority of His angels. He gave man that authority. As a side thought, that makes you wonder if this is the reason that Satan, who was an angel created by God, hates man so much. We know that he was filled with pride, and it must have been devastating to him to not have the authority that was given to man.
It amazes me every time I read that God created man and crowned him with glory and honor. God loved His creation so much that He chose to allow him to have dominion over His good and perfect creation. Man enjoyed a God-given authority that we cannot even fathom today. However, as you know, everything fell apart when man fell in sin. What was once paradise for man became a curse to his flesh! Man chose to step outside of the perfect plan of God and do what he wanted. Since that moment this world has literally been headed toward complete chaos. How sad it is to realize all that man gave up for a moment of pleasure and self-gratification! If you were to dwell on this fact very long, it would leave you with a hopeless and empty feeling. That is why the author of Hebrews states the discouraging news, "But now we do not yet see all things put under him." What do we do as we look at this sad position of man in light of the fall? Do what the author suggests next.
"But we see Jesus." There is absolutely nothing that we can do about our fallen state through our human power. There is no amount of goodness in us to overcome the evil around us. As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches us that there is no goodness in us at all, and all the things that we declare to be righteous are as filthy rags compared to God's holiness. So look at Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. Why? Because Jesus came to this earth as man, maintained His sinless and holy state, and tasted death for us and in our place. He in His love brings us into His family. He in His mercy declares those of us who are completely sinful to be wholly righteous before the Father. He through His suffering became the Captain of our salvation. It is through His work of sanctification in our lives that He makes us one with Himself and declares us to be His brethren.
When I see Jesus in this way, I am truly amazed that He would come and rescue a sinner like me. We must today stop dwelling on a fallen world or even our fallen selves, but we must look up and see Jesus once again.
May you see Jesus today!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Light - October 26, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But Peter followed Him at a distance..."
Matthew 26:58

It seems that there is a progression that takes place in the lives of too many believers. For whatever reason, there are many that once followed Christ closely that now only follow Him at a distance. There are many reasons that this happens. Often our trials and circumstances cause us to get discouraged and disheartened, and we quit walking with Christ with the fervency that we once did. Many times we get so wrapped up and busy with all of the cares of this world that we just simply don't make time for God like we once did. I personally believe that the main reason we stop following Christ closely is because we get complacent and think that it doesn't really matter.
Most Christians will never admit out loud that they are not as close to God as they once were. Although it is glaringly obvious that things have changed in our walk with Christ, our pride will not allow us to admit that there is a problem. This is so incredibly dangerous, because without honest confession of our faults we will just continue down that road. Peter was the only one that did not flee when Jesus was betrayed, but we notice that he did not adamantly follow Jesus. Instead, he lurked back in the shadows. He was still following the Lord, but it was not like how he had always followed Jesus before. Of course he could justify his actions for several reasons: the circumstances of Jesus' arrest; at least he didn't abandon Jesus like the rest; surely he didn't need to put his life on the line too. I find it amazing how people justify their decision to not follow Jesus with all of their heart. We find every reason in the world to live the mediocre Christian life. God promised us an abundant and full life, but that only occurs when we follow Him with all of our heart.
Peter never dreamed what following Jesus from a distance would lead to. Eventually this disciple of Christ was denying the very one who walked with him on the water. He has said that he doesn't even know the One who he had declared to be the Messiah. Stepping away from Christ places us on a very slippery slope. No one ever plans to abandon God, but it happens so often.
Are you as close to God as you once were? If not, why not? Some have asked me how closely they need to follow Jesus. I believe that answer is very simple, but I must admit also very difficult. You must take up your cross and follow Him. You cannot take a step back from following after God. There are no retreats in this spiritual battle. Every day you must follow the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind. You must do what you know is right and walk in His steps.
May you stay close to the Lord today!

Daily Light - October 25, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
Acts 7:60

How would you define peace? Some would think of it as the quiet and tranquility of a fall morning with a little coolness in the air as the sun majestically rises. A mother might think of it as that moment at night when her little ones have fallen asleep, and she is able to sit down for just a few moments with a cup of tea as she heads off to bed. The business man might define it as the end of a busy week with all of the assignments done and the knowledge that next week is vacation. Peace is usually defined as what brings us relief from the anxieties of life.
When I read this verse, peace was the word that immediately entered into my mind. Stephen had been a faithful servant of God. We first read about him in Acts 6 when he was chosen to be one of the seven men that served the church. He was described as "a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit". What an awesome way to be identified! He was not described as a man with immense talents and abilities, incredible knowledge and intellect, or tremendous people skills and charisma. Unfortunately, these are the kind of characteristics that we usually look for in our leaders. We tend to notice all of the external abilities and talents before we recognize the spiritual. Stephen surely had tremendous abilities, but it was his spiritual qualities that set him apart from others.
Stephen was also a man of peace. He was falsely accused in a mock trial just like Jesus. People were brought forward to lie about what he was saying. Many of us would loudly and angrily defend ourselves. We feel that it is our job to make sure that this type of injustice does not stand. However, when Stephen stood before the high priest, it is said that the council saw his face as the face of an angel. It is obvious that Stephen did not have anger and vengeance on his mind as he began to speak. Instead, he had a peace that what he was about to declare would honor God. Many think of peace as passive, but a person with the peace of God can be as bold as a lion. That is why Stephen was able to look at this council and boldly declare, "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you."
Of course you know what happened after that. The council and congregation went from being a civil audience to an angry mob. They drug him outside the city gates to stone him to death. In the midst of this horrific moment, Stephen still had peace. We are told that he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God preparing to welcome him home. As the stones began to bruise and batter his body, Stephen spoke to Jesus and asked him to receive his spirit and not lay this sin to the charge of those ignorantly persecuting him. At this moment, the Bible gives us one of the most peaceful sentences, "And when he had said this, he fell asleep." He slept on a bed of bloody rocks and woke up in the presence of the Savior. What wondrous peace for this saint of the Most High!
May you know the peace of God today!

Daily Light - October 22, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me."
2 Timothy 4:16

When some one gives you the admonition to be like Christ, what thoughts pop into your head? There are a lot of expressions that we use in our Christian circles that I am not sure we really understand. It becomes easy to say certain platitudes without really knowing what they mean. We sing such hymns as "I Surrender All", but what does it really mean to surrender all and have we really done that?
Paul once stated that his heart's desire was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. I must admit that I have repeated those words before in my time of prayer with God. However, there was a day that I sat down and really considered what those words meant. If you will stop and think about it for a second, it is humanly a very scary proposition to say such a thing. Sure, we like the "power of His resurrection" part, but how much do you really want to know and experience the "fellowship of His suffering"? As I read about the life of the Apostle Paul, I believe he meant what he said. I also believe that he came to realize his desire.
Paul became like Christ in the boldness of his power. When he stated that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, he meant that, and he proved it by his continual and effectual witness. The will of God for Paul's life gave him the opportunity to speak in the highest courts to the highest officials of his day. He spoke boldly both to those who were of a high estate and those of lowly means. He became like Christ in his love for the poor and down trodden. He encouraged the churches to give from their hearts to their brothers and sisters in need. Paul truly became a man that lived his life for Christ and like Christ.
We also must consider our passage. He also became like Christ that in the greatest days of trial he stood completely alone. Not one person stood to vouch for him and give testimony of his innocence or character. He had helped a countless number of people, but during the days of his affliction they all left him. Being like Christ isn't as glamorous as it is often portrayed. Truly, it is at times very painful and difficult. But, can you honestly think of any one else that you could strive to be like that would be as eternally rewarding? I would be remiss to not include the last part of this verse. After Paul stated to Timothy that he had been completely abandoned in his time of need, he said, "May it not be charged against them." When I read those words, I see how much like Christ Paul had become. Can't you hear the words of Jesus: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"?
May you strive to be like Christ in your life no matter what it costs!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Daily Light - October 21, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head."
Mark 14:3

Especially during His last days on earth, Jesus spoke much of His death, burial, and resurrection. It seemed that no one understood what He was talking about. The only ones that ever made any comment or showed any understanding of the matter were Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha conveyed some understanding of resurrection and the fact that Jesus was the Messiah in John 11. In this current passage, we see Mary coming to anoint Jesus in lieu of His burial.
When Mary came to anoint Jesus she brought a box or flask full of spikenard. This was an extremely costly substance. We are told by Bible scholars that the amount of ointment she brought would be worth about the yearly wage of the average worker. Many believe that it was probably something that was passed down from generation to generation. There is no doubt that it was valuable and very precious to the owner. Some of those nearby even scoffed at the seeming waste of the substance. They thought it could have been of better use somewhere else. Instead, it was poured all over Jesus feet and dripping to the ground.
As I studied this passage, an interesting thought came to my mind. While this substance did have great monetary value, it was really of very little good to any one until it was poured out. In order to be poured out though, the vessel that it was in had to be broken. I believe with all of my heart that when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at salvation, we are of great value to the Lord Almighty. Within us lies the very God that spoke the whole world into being. The same God that stilled the storms over the Sea of Galilee dwells in our hearts. However, we are like that box full of spikenard. There may be great value in us, but we are of no use to God until we have been broken.
The one characteristic that is consistent with those who live lives completely for God's glory is that they can trace a time that they laid before God as a broken people and gave up all of their own rights, hopes, dreams, and plans to God. These people recognized who God is, and that in turn helped them to realize who they were. They were able to cry out to God in the desperation of their soul and plead for His help to accomplish even the smallest of tasks each day. They recognized that prayer was the privilege of unworthy man to enter into the throne of God's glory. They saw their own sin and failings as God saw them. They grieved over that sin and repented of it. They considered God each day before they attempted to accomplish any thing. They walked about with joy in their hearts but pain in their souls for a fallen world. They lived in a constant state of prayer.
Would you say that you are a person that has been broken before God? If not, there is so much that God wants to do with you through His power, but you must be a broken vessel. I would encourage you to pray and ask God to break you, but I must give you a warning. If you decide to pray this prayer for brokenness, understand that you might not enjoy the process. There will most definitely be pain and loss, but the reward of knowing God in a more intimate way far outweighs any thing that you may lose.
May you live a spiritually broken life!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daily Light - October 20, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

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

Why do we pray the way that we do? Have you ever thought about the intentions and motives of your prayers? The Bible clearly teaches us that we are to do all things for the glory of God, but I am personally convinced that often I pray for what will make me happy not Him. Communion with God through prayer is an awesome privilege that allows us to have direct communication with the Father. A clear look at Scripture will teach us that God opens this pathway so that He might have fellowship with His creation. He receives glory by talking with us. We must be careful to not make prayer all about us.
Now, I am not saying that you should stop praying for the things that you currently have on your heart. I am simply suggesting that we need to consider our motives for doing so. Let me give you an illustration. I often pray for God's protection over my life and the lives of my family members. What I mean when I pray this is that I want God to keep any harm or any thing bad from happening to us. Obviously there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect my family, but what is my real motive? The truth is I just don't want to have to deal with pain and difficulty. Consider this question with me though. What if God wants to allow something in my life that is painful and trying? There are plenty of illustrations in the Scriptures where some of God's most faithful servants faced great trials. Did God not answer their prayers for protection?
Here is the change that must take place in our prayer lives. We must start praying for God's will to be done and not our own. However, when you do, be aware that God's will may be far different than your own. God's will may have difficulty and suffering in it. God's will is about bringing Him glory not you. John the Baptist experienced this as much as any one. He gave up every thing to be the forerunner for Jesus Christ. He surrendered his life to do the will of the Father. It eventually cost him his life. Do you think he complained when he met the Father? No, I believe he heard the words well done, because his life brought the Father glory.
John's prayer for his life was that Jesus might increase while he decreased. Many of us often pray that God would "lift us up". Could I encourage you to change this part of your prayer life today? Ask God today to bring you low! Ask Him to humble you so that all that you desire and want is the will of the Father. It is a difficult prayer, but it is desperately needed in our spiritual lives.
May you be brought low before a holy God today!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daily Light - October 19, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision."
Joel 3:14

Lately God has been speaking to my heart of two types of fire that are necessary in my life. First, there is the fire of judgment that burns away all that God has rejected in order to make us more pure before Him. The second fire is one of revival or renewal that burns like the flame of a holy sacrifice to God. As the Holy Spirit settles on our lives we burn for the sake of God's kingdom and for His glory.
These thoughts have driven me to study the minor prophets toward the end of the Old Testament. The section of the minor prophets starts at Hosea and ends with Malachi. I must warn you if you decide to start studying this section of Scripture that it can be very dark and troublesome. For years I avoided it, because I didn't really understand all that was going on, and every time you turn around someone is being consumed with fire. God is judging the nations right and left, and you get the idea that no one can survive before a holy God. Then, one day a light went on in my heart. I think that is exactly the point of these minor prophets. Who are we as mere mortal men to stand before God in our unrighteousness and expect Him keep extending His mercy? He is a holy God, and His purity will not be compromised. This is exactly the message that the church of Jesus Christ needs in this day.
Recently, as I read in the book of Joel, I came across the above verse. God has before Him all of those who are standing in judgment. Notice that it says there are multitudes, multitudes awaiting the verdict. I imagine in my mind's eye a multitude of people standing before God as far as the eye can see. They are awaiting the verdict upon their lives. The Bible says that the Lord will judge the dead and the living. There are many there in that day that will know that their doom is certain. There will also be many that stand before God knowing that they have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. However, I believe that most of the world will stand at this moment in the hope and belief that their righteousness outweighs their sin. Many of these people will have a claim that they have been a good, fair, and honest person. Many will even be able to accurately testify that they attended church on a regular basis. In their minds they have convinced themselves that they are good enough, but they will be shocked by the final decision.
The church, like the nation of Israel, needs to repent of placing so many things before God that He almost gets lost in the shuffle of our works and ministry. We need to confess a pride that has caused us to justify ourselves by our own righteousness. We live in a world that will be desperately hopeless on this day of judgment, but we have all but isolated ourselves from them. Too much of today's church has holed themselves up in their church buildings and forgotten a needy world. Let's wake up and realize that there is a valley of decision that stands before all of us. What have we done with what God has given us, and will the things that we have produced be able to endure the fire of God's judgment?
May you be ready to face the Lord on that day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Light - October 18, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?"
Matthew 15:33

Faith is a funny thing. Most people say that if they could see something then they would believe. Of course we know that is not always true, and it is also by definition not faith. I am sure that there were some that saw Jesus do great miracles and called Him Lord as a result of those miracles. However, it was not long before they were shouting "Crucify Him" about the same Man. They saw, but they did not believe.
Jesus' disciples had this same problem. This particular passage is when Jesus fed four thousand people with seven loaves and a few fish. Yes, it was four thousand! This is after Jesus had miraculously fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Surely they knew that nothing was impossible for Jesus now. Right! No, instead when Jesus presented the situation to them, all they could see was the impossible. Why? I think the passage gives us a few clues.
First, they said "we" in their response to Jesus. Somehow they thought that the answer was dependent on them. What could they do? They had no resources with which to feed people or money to buy food. They were helpless in themselves. I think that is exactly the way God wants us to be. He desires that His children be completely dependent on His power and resources. Second, they were focused on where they were. They asked where they would get enough food in the wilderness to feed such a crowd. How much we need to realize that our circumstances will never determine the extent of God's power! We often feel that if we were in a better situation that things would be better spiritually. Remember that it was on a stormy sea that Jesus met His disciples and taught them one of the greatest lessons of faith. Third, the disciples could only see how much they had and how big the crowd was. What they forgot to realize was that they had the Creator of the world standing right next to them, and nothing is impossible for God. When we look at the overwhelming situations of our lives, we must realize that God is never overwhelmed. He knows exactly what to do when we cannot see an answer.
Once again, this was the second time that Jesus had performed a similar miracle. Why didn't the disciples have faith that He could do it again? Let's ask ourselves that question. How many times has God worked in our lives and done great things, but when a problem comes up we seem to forget all about the last time? Give God what you have by faith and watch Him do the miraculous! He is a mighty God that knows exactly how to accomplish His will in your life.
May you trust Him completely today!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daily Light - October 15, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."
John 8:9

There is no doubt that she is guilty. This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Of course there are plenty of questions that have to go along with that statement. How was a private affair such public knowledge? Where is the man that was with her? Is she just a pawn in this cruel game to set up Jesus? While those questions may swirl around in our minds, she is considering none of them. This woman is lying in front of an angry and hateful crowd that is gathering stones for her unavoidable execution. This Teacher that they have brought her to is acting quite unusual. The mob obviously doesn't like Him very much, but He just calmly writes in the sand.
To this woman's shock, Jesus' first words were not of condemnation or ridicule. As a matter of fact, He hasn't even acknowledged her. Instead He addressed her accusers by telling the one's without sin to cast the first stone. As self-righteous as this crowd acted and as condemning as they were, surely there was one that thought he was perfect. She braced to feel the sting of the first rock to pelt against her body. Instead she heard the thud of rocks falling to the ground and footsteps leading away from her. She wanted to look up, but she was too afraid. Suddenly, she heard the voice of the Teacher. At this point she realized by His inflection that they were alone. She stole a look upward to where He was and saw the kindest face that she had ever seen. He asked her where her accusers were. Was there no one left to condemn her? She took a long glance back to where her accusers had once stood. She saw the scattered pile of stones lying on the ground. Through tear-stained eyes she looked at Jesus and replied with a parched throat, "No one, Lord."
She knew of her guilt and that is what really mattered. If this Man asked her if she was guilty, she would have to respond affirmatively. What she did not realize though was that Jesus knew of her guilt as well. As a matter of fact, He knew even the man that she had been with. In His mind He knew every thing about her. He knew how life had been for her and how she had gotten to this point. Although God detests sin, the effect of it on His creation deeply saddens Him. It is this awesome love of God that extends mercy to the guiltiest of sinners. Jesus spoke to her and said, "Neither do I condemn you." She thought her heart would burst with joy and relief. She knew that she was guilty, but she had been released from the payment for her sinful act. With this instruction, Jesus gave her one more word of important instruction. "Go, and sin no more." He was telling her to not abuse His grace and mercy. Don't foolishly take advantage of what God has freely given. See it as a gift from God, and repent of sin. Putting on God's righteousness does not give you the right to wallow in the mud and filth of sin.
In my mind's eye, I fast forward to a later date. This woman is standing watching the barbarous punishment of a crucifixion. She normally doesn't come to see these disgusting rituals, but this one is different. The One in the middle is the Teacher who refused to condemn her. As the sky turns black and the ground shakes, she hears Him cry to His Father. Suddenly, it all makes sense. The reason that He did not condemn her that day even though they both were so sure of her guilt was because He knew that on this day He would take her guilt upon Himself. She wept once again knowing that this was no simple man or teacher. She had been forgiven by God Himself.
May you know the mercy of God today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily Light - October 14, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"No one can...say to Him, 'What have You done?'"
Daniel 4:35

There have been numerous times in my life that I have wondered what God was doing and why He was allowing certain things to happen. If any one ever tells you that they have figured God out, caution them that they are in for some big surprises. Isaiah even said that it is impossible for our human mind to completely understand God and His ways. There have been many people that have felt that God is not fair at times, yet the Bible teaches us that His judgments are always true, just, and righteous. What is it then that we have to understand about God in order to be able to rest in Him even though we may not always understand Him?
The one thing that we must know about God is that He is sovereign. This word is usually used in a reference to a king or ruler who is declared to be the final authority. Although many versions of the Bible do not use this word, it is what is meant whenever you see a phrase such as "Lord GOD". This phrase teaches us that God is supreme above all things and that He is Lord (owner and controller) over all things. In our passage King Nebuchadnezzar had to find out the hard way that God was sovereign. He walked through his kingdom proclaiming his power, goodness, and majesty. The Scriptures tell us that while he was still speaking God spoke up and showed him that there was only room for one Sovereign King. Nebuchadnezzar was humbled and sent as a wild beast out into the field for seven years. When he returned, he did not complain to God that his treatment was unfair. Instead he cautioned any one to speak against the supreme will of the Most High.
Have you made God the Sovereign Lord of your life? I am not asking about your salvation; I am asking about who has control of your every day life. It is amazing to me how many of us try to control and manipulate life on our own and then complain to God when it all falls apart. We can get ourselves into an insurmountable amount of debt because we have to have so much stuff, but when the bills come due we complain to God because we don't have the money to pay them. Why don't we just admit to Him that we got in this mess because we took control instead of giving it to Him?
God also sovereignly allows difficulty and pain to be a part of our lives. There is this belief that any thing difficult comes in one's life must be from the enemy. I have learned that there is nothing that comes into my life that God did not allow. Scripture proves to me that He either allowed it or maybe even caused it. When we realize this, now we have an opportunity to let God be God and surrender to His plan for our lives no matter how we may feel. Granted, this is easier said than done. However, it is when we are completely surrendered to the plan of God that we see Him as King, Lord, and the Lover of our souls.
May you make God Lord of your life today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Light - October 13, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood."
Leviticus 17:11

Have you ever been to the barber shop and noticed that red, white, and blue pole out front? Traditionally that pole would have only been red and white. It seems that in the U.S. the blue was added for possibly a couple of reasons. If you were to go all the way back to the Middle Ages, you would find out the significance of that red and white pole. Tradition has it that the red and white stripes on the barber's pole represented the clean and blood-soaked bandages. At the top there was a basin that represented what the leeches were held in and at the bottom was another basin to catch the blood. A barber many years ago did more than give you a shave and a haircut. He was also a surgeon. One of the surgical procedures that was common for many years was bloodletting. It was believed that there was "bad blood" in a person's system and if it was removed they would be healed. This procedure was in part one of the reasons for the death of our first president, George Washington.
How could that happen? Science had it all figured out that this procedure would saves lives not take them. It would have been good for the scientists and physicians of the day to take a look at the Bible and see very clearly that God said that the life of the flesh is in the blood. The answer was right in front of them. This isn't the only area in which science and even religion has failed. For many years the official church of Rome taught that the world was flat. To argue against this ridiculous philosophy could cost you your livelihood and even your life. The church said that they were the final authority and the earth was most definitely flat. If someone in the church would have taken their time to look at Isaiah 40:22, they would have seen God described as "He who sits above the circle of the earth."
Once again, God was right and man was wrong. As we look at the world around us today, there are a large number of people who doubt the Word of God. They have trouble accepting it as truth. I have been told by several people that I would describe as quite smart if not intelligent that the Bible is just a book of made up stories and fairy tales for weak-minded people. They intellectually can't accept that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, that there is a Heaven, and that a loving God would allow someone to spend eternity in Hell. Here is what we must understand. Their doubt does not change its truth. The philosophies of man will never trump the truth of God's Word. It is true still today that the life of the flesh is in the blood. It is also true that the life of the Spirit comes through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This is the clear teaching of God's Word. His Word has been tested and tried for centuries, and it still holds true.
May you let God's Word be the final truth for your life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Light - October 12, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
Matthew 17:5

What do you think of when you hear the word "hero"? According to what age you are and where you are in life, I am sure that several different things come to your mind. For some there is the picture of a soldier that fought to defend the freedoms of their countrymen and even the citizens of another country. Others may think of a family member that bravely battled a disease for several years of their life while continuing to be a light to those around them. There are of course those that have accepted the role of helping and loving those who are helpless and hurting.
Unfortunately, the word has been cheapened to mean some very small things as well. I often hear young people say that their heroes are athletes and celebrities. However, it is not fair to place that on just our young people. Turn on the television any given day and watch a sporting event. You are almost guaranteed to see grown adults spending way too much money and time to celebrate the fact that someone can throw, catch, shoot, or hit a ball. They may not say those people are their heroes, but their actions say otherwise.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a mountain to pray. This was not an unusual event, but little did they know how unusual things would get. Suddenly Jesus was literally shining like the sun, and He was not alone. There, standing beside Him, were Moses and Elijah. Here are three Hebrew men who have heard and read about Moses and Elijah their whole life. If they would have had Bible trading cards in those days, these disciples would have had their cards prominently displayed in the spokes of their bikes when they were boys. The word "hero" does not even begin to explain how highly revered these two men were. We know they didn't have pictures of them in their Torah. We don't read that Jesus introduced them to the disciples. We conclude that in the super-natural we will be able to automatically identify people. They were completely amazed. They were so amazed that in the excitement Peter expressed how great it would be to build three tabernacles to commemorate the moment: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
That is when God the Father spoke. The purpose of this moment was not to glorify man. Moses and Elijah may have been used in powerful ways by God, but they were still men. There is nothing that they accomplished that they could have done apart from the power of God. God the Father is jealous for the glory of His Son. Our praise and adoration is never to be for men and their accomplishments however great they may be. All things are for God's glory, praise, and honor. The disciples fell to their faces humbled by the voice of God and His admonition. How wonderful it would be if we fell to our faces today before a God and gave Him all the praise that He deserves! Quit being so obsessed with man that you forget about the One who came to give you true life.
May you live in awe of the Messiah today!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Light - October 11, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept,
and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven."
Nehemiah 1:4

The desire of my heart in recent days is that the church of God would become broken hearted over its condition and grieve over it before a holy God. I feel that God is calling for us to awaken a generation of believers that has grown lukewarm and thinks that it is full and in need of nothing. I am praying for a genuine revival to move across the church in America and an awakening to take place in our land so that many others would come to Christ. We must remember that with God all things are possible. I am praying for each of you that God will break your heart and allow you to fall on your faces and beg for a renewal.
Someone once said that hearts were meant to be broken. I know that they meant it differently than what I am thinking. However, I believe that God is looking for people that will be spiritually broken. Each of us come into this faith like a wild horse that is stubborn and refuses to be bridled. We feel that if we are broken that we will lose our identity and our will. I think that is exactly what God wants. He does not want us to be bridled and bound to the will of other people. He wants us to yield completely to His will and His way.
How incredible it would be if each member of God's family had no identity of their own but only the identity of Christ! What would it be like if we lived our lives so submissively that people could not distinguish between our will and the will of the Father? The world needs to see a church that is broken in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry, merciful, pure, peaceful, and faithful even in persecution. Are we that church? Are we desperately seeking God? Oh, how I long to be a part of a move of God that is so divine that there is no physical explanation for what is happening!
Please pray that we would see a renewal and an awakening in this generation.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Light - October 8, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"You almost persuade me to be a Christian."
Acts 26:28

These are tragic words in many ways. It is tragic in the sense that Agrippa heard the truth of the crucified and resurrected Messiah, Jesus, and still rejected it. It is tragic that he stood at Heaven's door and chose hell. Any time someone rejects Jesus Christ and His offer of hope for their life, it is most definitely tragic. As I study this story though, I see something that must have been especially tragic for Paul that many believers have experienced.
Paul was a man that knew of the convicting and changing power of God. When he spoke of his Lord, there was lightning in his eyes and thunder in his voice. He had once walked and lived far away from Jesus Christ, but when Christ came into his life, He came in like a storm. Paul had gone from being a persecutor to the persecuted for Christ's sake. This man who had once cursed the name of Jesus now could not help but speak it and proclaim it to all who would listen. At this very moment of his life, he has been given an audience before some of the most powerful rulers in the land, and he desired greatly to show them the love and power of Jesus. He spoke with fervency and conviction, and laid before them what change the Holy Spirit had brought into his life.
Here is where I think that it became tragic for Paul. Read the verse this way. "Paul, YOU almost persuade me to be a Christian." I believe that when Paul heard this his heart sank. We often tend to focus on the word "almost" in this passage. I don't think that is what would have bothered Paul as much as the fact that Agrippa was almost persuaded by Paul and not the Holy Spirit. Paul knew that his words were not adequate enough for one to be converted. He knew very well that every man needed to be convicted then converted by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have too often put too much pressure on ourselves to convert people. We almost at times try to talk people in to accepting Jesus. If you are what has convinced someone to be saved, it just might be another false profession. The greatest tool that you have in sharing your faith is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. You are completely powerless without it. As you live your life and share your faith, pray more than any thing for the power of the Holy Spirit to be present. We cannot persuade men like the Holy Spirit can move them.
May you have the power of God today!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily Light - October 7, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Create in me a clean heart, O God."
Psalm 51:10

If you will take an objective glance at the Christian church, you will find humanism has made its way into the mainstream. The average best-sellers among Christian books today are self-help books that teach you that you can become a better you. The popular messages from pulpits tell people if they will just speak it out loud their desire will come to pass. There is instruction for the addict to reach deep inside himself and break the chains that bind him. I even heard a whole message the other day from a Christian pastor on how the church needs to be instrumental in reversing global warming. Somewhere I think we get the idea that reformation is all about man and what he does to cause that reformation.
David comes to the Lord in recognition of not just his act of sin but especially his nature of sin. It is in this moment that he realizes that he has nothing good to offer to God in himself. With this broken and contrite spirit he stands as a needy man before a holy God and requests, "Create in me a clean heart." Notice that the understood subject is God. David knew that he was completely incapable in himself of seeing his life and heart be transformed. There was nothing in him that could bring about the change that he so desperately needed. Is this not the fulfillment of the first of the beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit"? How humbly we need to come to God for His help!
I have shared this illustration with many before, but I find it very appropriate. When our daughter was just a new toddler, we saw the first glimpse of her stubbornness. (I am not sure if she got that from me or her mother. You can be the judge!) I was sitting on the couch relaxing when she came toddling in to the room. She wanted to get up on the couch with me, so I reached down to pick her up. She refused, because she wanted to do it herself. She tried and tried to throw her little leg up on to the couch but to no avail. It didn't matter how hard or how long she tried to pull herself up she couldn't do it. Finally, after quite a while, she looked into my eyes and stretched out her hand for help. I gladly picked her up and placed her beside me. She had to come to the point that she realized that without the hands of her father she was helpless.
How greatly the church needs to come to that same realization! We cannot receive a renewal and an awakening by doing the Christian work in our own power. We need a new heart and a power source which is not of this world. Let's throw this humanistic philosophy and doctrine back to hell where it came from and fervently call on God for a work of restoration, reformation, and transformation.
May you hunger and thirst for the Almighty today!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Light - October 6, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters,
and said, 'Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!'
But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking."
Genesis 19:14

Many years earlier Lot and Abraham had to part ways because their families and possessions had grown too large to stay together. Lot chose the well-watered plains outside of the city. When he moved in, he faced his tent toward the city of Sodom. This was the beginning of the end. It is obvious that the allure of the city was great upon Lot's life. It was so great that the next thing we see is that he has moved in to the city and even become one of the elders of this wicked place. Lot is a perfect study of someone who failed to be a spiritual example.
Temptation to sin is so strong, especially to those who refuse to remove themselves from the place of it. The Bible clearly teaches us that by the power of the Holy Spirit we can flee lust and even resist the devil. We must, however, make a conscious decision to do so. Lot chose to put himself in the midst of a sinful environment, and this decision had tragic spiritual and physical consequences for him and the rest of his family.
When God mercifully sent His angels to warn Lot and his family, it is obvious that they did not want to go even though knew about the coming judgment. Finally, knowing that he had no choice but to go, Lot tried to convince his family that they needed to get out. It is obvious from their reaction that Lot had been anything but a man of God. When he started talking about spiritual things, they thought he was joking. I believe that they had never heard him talk like this before. We cannot wait until a moment of crisis to become a spiritual leader. We must lead by the power of God day in and day out. It will be a consistent walk with Christ that will have the greatest influence on the lives of those close to us. Lot would lose his daughters and sons-in-law that stayed behind, all of his possessions, his wife (who looked back against the command of God because she longed for what God despised), and his moral decency (his own daughters would have children by him up in the mountains).
I guess if I had the opportunity to ask Lot one question it would be this: "Was it really worth all of that?" I am sure that he never planned on it going this far the day he faced his tent toward Sodom, but we never do plan for things to go like that, do we? When we give an opportunity to the flesh, it will without any doubt become destructive. Lot once had such a large family and so many servants. When Abraham began to bargain with God to save the city, surely with all of Lot's family and his servants there would be ten righteous people. Of course, we now know there wasn't. Why? It is like the old saying: "Sin will take you farther than you want to go. It will keep you longer than you want to stay. It will cost you more than you wanted to pay."
May you resist the devil and live as a righteous example today!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daily Light - October 5, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him."
Luke 5:11

Jesus wants to absolutely transform every thing in our lives, especially the way we work. When He finished speaking, He called on those who had just finished cleaning out their nets to take Him fishing. These exhausted men had worked all night long and had come back empty handed. They were tired, discouraged, and ready for some much needed sleep. After a mild protest by Simon, they decided to entertain this Teacher and take Him out for a short expedition. Little did they know how much this would change their lives!
The key to this whole story is that they submitted to the Word of the Lord. In their own power and flesh they wanted nothing to do with another fishing trip, but they chose to do things with God instead of on their own. When we start working with God and according to His will and wishes, it is there that we experience His power. The nets of the fishermen became so heavy that they had to call back to the shore for help. This was not just a good catch; they knew that this could only be the result of a miracle from God's hand. Working with God instead of our own opens the door for the super-natural to invade our lives. God is now able to work, because we have gotten out of His way. It is then that we are reminded that with God all things are possible.
There are three transformational changes that take place when we see the power of God at work in our lives. 1) We recognize our limitations. The Bible tells us that when Simon Peter saw the vast amount of fish he cried out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" What did that have to do with catching fish? You cannot step into the realm of God's power and not recognize your own needy condition. Simon Peter and the rest of them knew that they were in the presence of holiness and power. 2) We can never return to the way things once were. Jesus told them that from that day forward they would catch men instead of fish. They couldn't keep doing the same job knowing that there was something better out there. In Christ we have the greatest opportunity of success than any where else. 3) We forsake all to follow Christ. At the point of transformation nothing else matters but Christ. Everything else is a hollow shell of humanity with no hope. Christ is what truly fulfills and satisfies. The choice to walk with Christ alone is an easy one, because you know that with Him your life will never be the same.
May you go fishing with Jesus today!

Daily Light - October 4, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's,
and asked him to put out a little from the land."
Luke 5:3

Availability. This is one of the most important words in the kingdom of God, but it has been the casualty of many other words that men have found to be more important. Men love to focus on words like talent, charisma, or ability. We often laud people who have a certain skill set or a dynamic personality. When we see those types of people, we feel that they will surely make a difference in God's kingdom. If they can't be used, then who can?
As you read this account, you do not see Jesus choose this place or this time for any of the human reasons mentioned above. He needed a platform from which to speak because of the large crowd standing around the lake. There were two boats sitting on the shore while the fishermen that operated them were washing out their nets. We read nothing of the unique characteristics of these boats. The Bible does not tell us how large they were, how they were designed, or what features they had that made them different from other boats. They were simply two normal fishing boats that were available for use. Jesus climbed over the side of the boat and asked one of the fishermen to push it away from the shore so that He could teach. They did just that, and the boat served its purpose very well.
There are times that we feel like those boats. We are docked close to the shore with nothing unique about us. We look around at the lives of others and we see so many more people with a certain set of gifts or abilities that seem to be much more profitable to God. They have talents and skills that we can only dream about. When they walk into a room, every one turns to look at them. When we walk into a room, every one turns to look away. There is nothing special about our lives, or so we think. We want to be used of God, but what do we have to offer? Then one day Jesus walks into our lives. He steps into our frail little boats and says, "I want to use you." Why would He want to do that? He wants to do that, because He is not looking for someone with great ability. No, He is simply looking for someone that will be available to accomplish His purpose. Throughout Scripture God took the small and made it great. Always remember that little is much when God is in it.
May you be available for God's purposes today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Daily Light - October 1, 2010

Daily Light from the Lighthouse
"Then He commanded them that they should tell no one;
but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it."
Mark 7:36

The ridicule and scorn must have been as difficult as the disability. Not only was this man deaf, but in a society that rejected people because of disabilities his was obvious every time he opened his mouth to speak. He was left like others to a life of groveling for the most meager of wages, but how difficult it was to even do that. Sure, he couldn't hear what they were saying, but we all know that feeling of shame and scorn without a word being spoken. He could see it in their eyes.
Thankfully, there were some that cared about him enough to go to Jesus on his behalf. They had heard of Jesus' power to heal even the most difficult of calamities, and they thought of their friend. They loved him in spite of his affliction, and they desired greatly to see their friend made whole. How many people do you know around you that are suffering from illness or even greater the disease of unbelief? Do you love them enough to bring them to Jesus at whatever the cost? These individuals brought their friend to Jesus and begged Him to do something for him. Oh, how much we need to come to Jesus on behalf of our friends and loved ones and call on Him to do what only He can do!
Imagine this deaf man watching the commotion all around him, completely unsure of what was taking place. This Teacher that they brought him to then started doing something highly unusual. Jesus pulled him aside and put His fingers in his ears. What was this all about? Then Jesus took saliva from His own mouth and touched his tongue. The deaf man must have been thinking this is getting more and more odd. As he looked into the face of Jesus, he read His lips as He said, "Ephphatha, be opened!" Suddenly in his ears he heard a crescendo of noise like no orchestra had ever played. Every sound was crystal clear. He tried to speak and tell those that brought him to Jesus that he could hear, but when he did someone else's voice spoke. It was a resonant and clear voice that seemed to come from his own vocal cords. He experienced the miracle of God personally at first, and then he was able to show others by speaking what had been done in his life. Isn't that exactly what Christ does in the life of the believer? You know first and foremost the change that God has made in your life, and then you spend the rest of your life declaring what great things He has done.
Here is where the story gets interesting. Jesus, because of all of the scrutiny and because of the Father's time table for His death, tells this man and those around him to not tell any one. When I read that, a smile goes across my face. Why? Jesus just told a man that can now hear Him and speak with a perfectly resonant voice to not tell any one. I can see this man's first words to Jesus as being, "Are you serious?" How do you keep something like this quiet? Obviously from the text he couldn't. By the end of the day this man had told every one under the sound of his new and transformed vocal cords of the power of God through Jesus. For the record, we are under no restrictions to be quiet. We are instead commanded to boast of what Christ has done in our lives. He has changed our lives from deaf and silent souls to transformed and speaking hearts.
May you tell everyone what Christ has done for you!