Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daily Light - December 28, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind..."
Romans 12:2

Alexander Hamilton is credited with saying, "He who stands for nothing will fall for any thing." The desire to not conform to the standard of this world or the standard of the self-religious is commendable. However, we must not get so caught up in what we will not do that we are doing nothing. Paul's admonition to not conform was not designed to develop within us an attitude of a rebel or maverick. It was clearly taught in the context that God alone is the standard by which we should live.
Therefore, the encouragement of nonconformity is followed by an admonition to be completely transformed in the most internal part of our being. The word transformed is taken from the familiar yet miraculous process of metamorphosis. We see this amazing transformation when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. That horrible little creature that no one would at one time touch is now the desire of every one to see and capture. Entire conservatories and atriums are built so that people can observe these beautiful butterflies with their exotic shapes and colors. How many buildings do you know of that are dedicated to observing caterpillars?
There is a truth that is inescapable. Every caterpillar has the potential to develop their wings and fly, but this will only take place if they go through this process of metamorphosis. In other words, they cannot become the beautiful creature that they were designed to be unless there is significant change.
When Christ truly enters a life, there is significant change that takes place. He works in such a way that a person who receives Him undergoes a metamorphosis of the heart and mind. With the heart they believe on Christ and with the mind they change the direction of their lives. All of this is initiated by God Himself through the power of His Spirit. Faith and repentance walk hand in hand so that a new creature is the product. The old man passes away and all things become new. Very simply, an individual cannot come into relationship with Christ and not experience change.
It seems that in every generation there are many caterpillars that are claiming to be butterflies. They are still grounded with no ability to fly because they have not come into a faith and repentance relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do we think that we can force God to accept us when we are not willing to accept Him and the change that He must bring into our lives?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daily Light - December 27, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Do not be conformed to this world..."
Romans 12:2

Conformity is a demand that is made on all of us at different times. There are certain standards of what we do, what we look like, and how we think that are expected of us in certain environments. As the environments change, so do the standards of conformity. The pressure to conform comes from without (those who want you to be just like them) and from within (the feeling that we have to be like every one else). I have a t-shirt that is based on this verse, and the front of it simply says, "Don't Conform". The reactions that I have gotten from this shirt by complete strangers are amazing.
What is it then that Paul was telling us that we should not conform to? He uses a phrase which simply says "this world". The word "world" here refers to a period of time and the culture within that period of time. The "world" that Paul is referring to in the Roman culture of the 1st century is different from the "world" in which we live today. These believers lived in a very different culture from ours. The point that Paul is trying to make is not about the period of time or the culture of that time, but the fact that we should not allow those things to dictate our mind and heart in relationship to Jesus Christ.
This next statement may be surprising, but it is most definitely true. Conformity has very little to do with the outside of us that every one sees. We could line up 20 young men all dressed exactly the same, but that does not mean that they are all alike. Conformity in the sense of how Paul is using refers to the mind. The "world" does not want you to simply look like them; they want you more importantly to think like them. If someone can get you to conform to their way of thinking, then all of the other areas will fall into place.
As believers our ultimate and primary goal is to think like Christ. He is the pattern by which each of us should live. There is no man-made pattern or religious standard that will ever measure up to the stature and fullness of Christ. Seek to know Him and be as He is.
Where do you feel the major pressures to conform in your life, and how do you handle them in the light of Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Daily Light - November 2, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him."
Exodus 2:4

This passage of course is in reference to Miriam the sister to baby Moses as he was hidden by his parents in the river in order to protect his life. Moses' parents had already demonstrated great bravery and courage as they defied the clear order of Pharaoh to kill their son. They believed not simply in life but that each life was a gift from God that had an eternal purpose.
There is also a power shown in the fact that Miriam is standing watch over the basket that contains her little brother. It would seem that she has been given a responsibility to see what would take place. Surely Moses' parents did not go through all of the risk of saving his life to place him in a basket in the river to let the elements have their way with him. Miriam is there for a purpose. Recently while reading a new book this line stood out to me: Miriam was in a position to watch the Lord show up. Take a deep breath and let that sink in for a second.
There are great considerations that come with that statement. First, do I allow myself to settle into positions of uncertainty where all I can do is wait for the Lord to show up? So often we try to figure out every thing about life even before we have all of the information. To sit still for many of us is wasted time, and we can't allow that. Aren't we instructed however to be still and know that He is God? How are we going to get to know what God wants if we already have all of the answers?
Second, are we like Moses' parents placing our children in a position to see God? So many Christian parents try to hide the difficulties of life, the reality of sin, and the gravity of trials from their children. They never discuss difficulties and tough issues with their children out of the fear that children will not understand. Our children need to see pain and struggles, so that they can also see a God who heals pain and gives strength to endure the struggles. Children of all ages need to see God at work!
Miriam saw God mightily work that day by the river. She also saw God use that little baby to become the man of God that would lead his people out of bondage.
May you be in a position to watch the Lord show up today!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Daily Light - November 1, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"[I pray] that the sharing of your faith may become effective
by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."
Philemon 6

One of the greatest frustrations that many believers have is being able to effectively share their faith with others. While faith in Christ Jesus is the most life changing aspect of our lives, it can be terribly difficult to share with others. There are many factors as to why that is.
Most people battle with some things internally. We all face fears that seem to surface when we are about to speak up for the name of Jesus. There is also a pride factor that is most definitely present as well. Others complain that they fear being rejected by people, especially those that they love. Human factors enter into this conversation also. "What if I don't say things just right?" "I know what I believe but it is so hard to get all of the right words into the right order. "There are other people that are so much better at sharing their faith than I am. Where are they when we need them?" "If I could just get them to church, then they could hear the pastor and understand."
If you will notice, there is one theme in all of these reasons and excuses. Somewhere along the way, we have been convinced that being a witness for Christ is all about us. We fear our failure. We recognize our deficiencies. We don't feel like we have the right words to say. We are not sure that we are able to do this. Paul understood this and expressed to Philemon and his household that being an effective witness for Christ would only happen if we acknowledged the One that mattered in our life, Christ Jesus.
For years we have used the term "soul-winner" to refer to those that witness for Christ. While that term may be well meaning, it often seems to put too much emphasis on the one doing the witnessing instead of the One that does the saving. There should be no emphasis on who "won" a soul to Christ or how many were "won". The emphasis should be placed on sharing our faith effectively and letting the Holy Spirit do the work in the individuals heart through Jesus Christ.
Who is a successful witness for Christ? Three individuals commit to sharing their faith with one person a week over the next year. At the end of that year the first person has seen 10 people come to know Christ as Savior. The second person saw 5 people come to a relationship with God through His Son. The third person was never able to see an individual converted during that year. Which of these three was successful? If you answered all three, you are right. It is our job to share our faith and leave the results to God.
May you share the greatest story ever told today!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Daily Light - October 11, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Woe to you who are at ease in Zion!"
Amos 6:1

There is not a one of us that does not like to get comfortable every once in a while. For some there is nothing quite like laying in a hammock suspended by two palm trees while listening to the ocean waves crashing on the beach. Maybe others would describe comfortable as a warm bed on cold, rainy day. Whatever comfortable may sound like to us, we all enjoy it from time to time.
Comfortable however can be quite dangerous when it comes to our spiritual lives. When we get too comfortable, we tend to lose focus. The ease of our situation lulls us into a place where we don't look for any thing to challenge us. We settle for what we like or just simply what we know. It is even possible to get comfortable in a bad situation, because that is all that we know.
A highly respected man of God spoke of this subject and referred to how God's people can get so comfortable with their lukewarmness that they don't notice the tragedy that is going on around them. He spoke of how that even within the church we can excuse sin, hypocrisy, and lies because we are afraid that if we confront these things it will take us out of our comfort zone. The danger of ignoring this tragedy can be catastrophic, because we are sacrificing our relationship with God for our own comfort. This pastor said, "When these things happen, we have come near or crossed a line into a spiritual stupor that no amount of divine mercy can awaken."
It would do us well to follow the example of David and ask God to search us and know our hearts, to try us and know our thoughts, and reveal any thing contrary to His nature. Those things to which He is opposed that we have become comfortable in must be removed if we plan to move forward for His purpose.
May you allow God to move you outside of your comfort zone today!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Daily Light - October 5, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

We live in a world full of "I can't" people. The number one excuse for why people do not do certain things is "I can't". We are so focused on our perceived limitations that we have let those views creep into our spiritual life. Granted, there are certain physical impossibilities in the natural man. Man has come to the conclusion that he cannot fly completely unassisted. The tragic results of gravity combined with the limitations of the human anatomy have taught us this. There are, however, many things that we say are physically impossible that are only impossible to us because we cannot fathom it. What if you were asked to run approximately 3,000 miles in 75 days? Impossible, right? Recently, a man named Dean Karanzes did just that. He ran from California to New York in 75 days! That is a mind-blowing feat, but here is the real question: Is it impossible? Obviously not.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary to tell her she would have a child, she said that it was impossible. She was a virgin, so there was no physical way possible for it to be so. What was the angel's response to her? With what I like to think was a smile on his face because he knew the power of the Almighty, he replied, "For with God nothing will be impossible." Each of us has different doubts about what we can do for God. Some of us cannot even understand His grace being so great that it would save our sinful souls. We, of course, are unworthy of this grace but through His love Christ has made us worthy. Others cannot imagine that God would use us to be a witness of His light to shine into the lives of others. Then, we are reminded that He has chosen to use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. There are those who cannot fathom that God would give them the ability and the privilege to minister in His name. However, we all along with the Apostle Paul recognize and "thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled [us], because He counted [us] faithful, putting [us] into the ministry.
It is true that when the possibilities within us come to an end, God's ability to do the impossible begins. When we allow the thought of impossibility to enter our mind, we doubt the power of Christ who strengthens us. He sees the impossible for us and joys in the fact that He can accomplish it through us.
May you do through Christ what you see as impossible today!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daily Light - October 4, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Lord, do not charge them with this sin."
Acts 7:60

Dying words say much about the person who is speaking those words. The life, love, and character of Stephen are on full display as the rocks pile up around him. He is hated for doing nothing more than preaching the message of repentance and the love of Christ to a group of people that desperately needed to hear it. The description of unjust murder would certainly fit this scene. It would seem more appropriate for Stephen's last words to be "Why? Why?"
Instead, we see him model the very One that he openly proclaimed: Jesus. As Jesus hung on the cross after suffering from the cruelty of those who indicted Him and those who mercilessly beat Him, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." It would seem clear that the greatest gift that we could ever give to others is forgiveness. It is also true that we are never more like Jesus than when we exercise this blessed gift of forgiveness.
It is true that for most of us it is not a natural impulse. The natural man within each of us wants vengeance. We live with a "how dare you" chip on our shoulder. We don't deserve to be treated the way we were treated, and those that have hurt us so greatly deserve to face the full justice of their transgression. We have turned Jesus' words of turning the other cheek into a byline or a joke, but Jesus was serious. He proved that on the cross of Calvary. Now, one of His closest followers is modeling it for us again.
Think about the stones that were piling up around Stephen. They were thrown by those who shouted insults. Their faces were gnarled with hate and disdain for Stephen and his faith. This was not a group of people looking for forgiveness; they were looking to kill with no remorse at all for their actions. Much of the confusion of forgiveness comes to the fact that so many have been taught that they can only forgive when the person who committed the offense seeks forgiveness. It is just the opposite that is true. A disciple of Christ learns to forgive far before the forgiveness is sought. A disciple is to carry no records of wrong done against them. Jesus taught that the forgiveness we receive is directly linked to the forgiveness that we give. If there is forgiveness that you need to give to someone, don't delay in freely giving it today. It may not feel natural, because it is not. It is super-natural.
May you breathe words of forgiveness today!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daily Light - September 27, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid;
and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
Matthew 13:44

What do you have that is valuable? Perhaps there is a family heirloom that has been passed down over time that holds some value. Maybe you saved your money to buy something that you always have wanted. Whatever it may be, those things that we consider valuable are also thought of as precious. It holds a value that others may not immediately recognize or understand.
Jesus' simple parable about the kingdom of heaven in this passage is incredibly profound. A man finds a treasure so valuable to him that he is willing to sell every thing that he has in order to attain it. All that he owns cannot compare to this treasure that he has found. Obviously others know that the fields exists, but they do not understand the value contained in it. They see it as just any other field, but he knows something that they do not.
One can think of God's kingdom that eternally exists through this passage. We are told in other places that the kingdom of God is within us. Those who are in relationship with Jesus Christ are not waiting for a future kingdom, but they are in reality living in that kingdom at this very moment. The impact of what they do in the kingdom life here on earth will have an impact on their kingdom life for all of eternity.
Jesus is continually calling on us to give all that we have for His sake so that we mighty truly enjoy all that He has prepared for us. Stubbornly we hold on to the things of this world as if they had a value beyond what Christ has offered. Many are paupers clinging tightly to their rags of the flesh while the King is offering to robe them in His righteousness. Jesus told the one that we call the rich young ruler to give every thing that he had to the poor then come follow Him. Unfortunately, the young man saw what he had for himself as more valuable than what Christ could do for him.
There is nothing in this life that will bring you full joy! No amount of money, ease, wealth, fame, or possessions will begin to compare with the joy unspeakable and continual peace that you receive from God. You have a treasure in Christ. Let nothing keep you from experiencing the pleasure of God.
May you see what is really valuable in your life today!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daily Light - September 23, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 1:21

I usually do not make the Daily Light personal, but I have to share with you something that the Lord has shown me this past week. Some of you may know that this past weekend our home was burglarized. Any of you that have faced such an experience knows the feelings of vulnerability, anger and even fear that come with such an experience. Unfortunately we lost a good deal of cash and some of Susan's jewelry which had as much sentimental value as monetary.
The back story is what could have been and what God has shown me through it. The burglary took place on Saturday evening. Our family was spread out in different places that night. Susan and I had gone with some friends out to dinner. The girls were at the church teen activity, and the boys were playing at a friend's house. Dinner went a little longer than we thought, so some of our friends graciously took the kids home. Our oldest daughter takes care of the kids when we are gone out normally, so it was no big deal. When they got home, the friend that took them home was kind enough to wait until they were inside with the doors closed before he left. We came home just a little while later.
To make a long story short, when we realized our home had been burglarized we thought that there was a possibility that the thieves could have been in the house when the kids came home. At that point the stuff didn't matter no matter how valuable it was. We were so grateful that our children were okay and that nothing had happened to them. That night we went to the Lord and thanked Him and gave Him glory for protecting our family. We even claimed the above verse. We told God Almighty how good He was in spite of all that had happened!
As I lay in bed that night, I felt a burning question in my heart. A question that I do not like to even consider, but one I must ask. "What if your children had been harmed, would God still be good? Would you still bless His name?" I found myself in a great crisis of faith. The one part of me wanted to say yes, but those words would not come so easy. There in the darkness of my room I cried out to God with my heart that no matter what was ever taken from me that I would bless His name. Years ago we gave our children and all that we had to the Lord to do as He pleases. We have surrendered ourselves and all that we have to His will. I am grateful today that my family is well and safe, but I am even more grateful that they are in the hands of the Almighty.
May you be able to say this day, "Blessed be the name of the LORD!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Daily Light - September 21, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And do not be drunk with wine wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."
Ephesians 5:18

This is a powerful passage of Scripture that goes well beyond dealing with the subject and issues surrounding alcoholism. Drunkenness is an analogy to demonstrate the idea of control. When an individual has become drunk on wine, they have given themselves over to the control of that substance. It affects their walk, their speech, and every other area of behavior.
The call here is for believers to come under the control and influence of the power of the Holy Spirit. The term "filled with the Spirit" could be also stated as "controlled by the Spirit". At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes residence in the life of a believer, but that does not mean that we have each given Him control over our lives. We must learn to yield to the Spirit of God on a daily basis. A life that is yielded to the Spirit and therefore controlled by the Spirit shows forth the indelible marks of Christ in each area. When the Spirit is in control, we live out the will of God and reflect the Father's glory.
What does this practically mean in the context of the passage? Paul is encouraging the believers in Ephesus to walk in the light. Therefore, if they are controlled by the Spirit they will walk in the light and not walk in darkness. Sin will not have dominion over any area of their lives. One pastor recently said, "There has never been a husband or wife that are each controlled by the Spirit of God that has gotten a divorce." How far can we carry that? Would it be safe to say the following as well: There has never been a man that is controlled by the Spirit of God that has committed adultery? There has never been a teenager that is controlled by the Spirit of God that has rebelled against their parents? There has never been a woman that is controlled by the Spirit of God that has allowed her tongue to become a tool of gossip and slander?
How much we need men and women in the church today to be filled with the Spirit of God and yielded to His control! The world desperately needs to see light in a dark world, and the children of God have within them that light from Jesus Christ. Let us not be controlled by the foolish and beggarly elements of this world. Let us instead yield ourselves to the power of the Almighty through His Spirit.
May you be filled with the Spirit today!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Daily Light - September 15, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Be opened."
Mark 7:34

Simple words for such a complex problem. Here is a man that is deaf and mute. He has been in this condition for some time. The world that he knows is silence. The joy of hearing a child's laughter is foreign to him. He had never experienced the soothing sounds of the birds singing on a spring morning. He lived in a world where every thing buzzed around him and his inability to communicate was so incredibly frustrating.
For him there was no cure. This would be his reality for the rest of his life. There would always be limits to what he could and could not do. On a certain day however some friends took him by the hand and motioned to him that they were taking him to see someone. Perhaps they talked of Jesus on the way and recalled all that He had done for others, but the deaf-mute heard none of it. He was simply on the journey. One thing that he had learned in his affliction was how to use his other senses well. It was not long before he looked up and saw the face of Jesus. His eyes immediately told Him that this man was different. There was kindness, compassion, and mercy in the eyes of Jesus. The deaf-mute had never seen such glory.
It was then that Jesus put His fingers in the ears of the man and then He spat and reached to touch the tongue of the man. With that came the two simple words that would be the first that this man would ever hear, "Be opened." It was with astonishment that the sound of the streets, the gasps of his neighbors, and the laughter of Jesus filled his ears. He could hear! In response to this miracle of the healing of his deaf ears he began to cry out for joy. What was this? For the first time he along with his friends heard his voice. The words of the psalmist were being fulfilled: "Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord!"
In our own lives we have complex problems. Our conditions range from the physical to the emotional, mental, spiritual, etc. We have not known what joys there are because of what afflicts us. It is when we recognize these things that we must come to Jesus. Those areas that are closed off from hope and joy can be immediately opened by the power of a simple word from Jesus. There is no obstacle or difficulty that is beyond His touch or that can resist His word.
May your life "be opened" by the Divine Healer today!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daily Light - September 14, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"A disciple is not above his teacher,
but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher."
Luke 6:40

So many individuals get discouraged in their Christian walk because they do not feel like they "measure up". The feeling of inadequacy can be as discouraging as having failed numerous times. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet the expectations of others or even expectations that we set for ourselves that may not be reasonable. When we don't meet those expectations, we often give up on trying to do what we know we need to do altogether.
Jesus desires greatly that His disciples live up to a standard of righteousness that exceeds those made by man. He wants the best for us, and He also expects the best from us. This great expectation is only matched by the training that we receive from Him. He is our Master Teacher, and all that He teaches us is needed and perfect. A good teacher always has the hope that their students will not only learn the facts but know how to apply those facts to their lives. The teacher also has the desire that students will surpass even them in their field. Obviously, there is not one of us that will exceed Christ and His righteousness. In these earthen vessels of humanity we will continually struggle with the flesh, but that is no excuse to say that we cannot succeed and live like Christ.
Jesus famously implores us in Matthew 11, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me." He is offering Himself as not only the Teacher but the example of how we should walk each day. This is why John the beloved disciple says, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." We are to follow in His steps and learn what it means to live and abide in Christ. This path has areas of learning all along the way, and we are blessed to have the guide of Scripture to be a lamp to our feet and a light on the path. Paul told Timothy that the Scriptures were given to us by God so that we would be thoroughly equipped for the work to which we have been called. Also, Jesus told the disciples that not only do we learn from Him but He has given the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.
How awesome it is to know that Christ is personally interested in the success of my Christian walk, and He is taking charge of instructing me in the way that I should go!
May you walk after the example of the Teacher today!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daily Light - September 13, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt,
and everyone who was discontented gathered to him."
1 Samuel 22:2

The greatest challenge of leadership is that you don't get to choose your followers. Imagine being in one of the most difficult days of your life. You know that God has anointed you to be a leader for His sake, but at this moment you are trying to simply stay alive. Perhaps you misunderstood God's direction. You thought that He had anointed you to do great things, but simply surviving is not what you think you were called to.
David sat alone in a cave with all of these thoughts racing through his mind as he paused to catch his breath from running for the last 24 hours. Suddenly, there is a sound at the mouth of the cave. Have they found him? Is he trapped? Someone calls his name, and he nervously answers. For the next several hours there are many more men that come to him looking for leadership. All is well now and he has an army, right? Well, not so fast. Look at the description of this group: a whole host of men who are stressed out, in debt up to their eyeballs, and angry with the government. Who wouldn't want to be the leader of this group?
Leadership is not about having a perfect group of people to lead. So many times leaders are looking for people that have a certain skill set, just the right amount of charisma, and a positive attitude. They want individuals that are creative thinkers with the financial backing to accomplish their dreams. What do you do however if the crowd behind you waiting for your orders and watching your example has none of these abilities? You do what every godly leader does. You follow Christ and demonstrate that to others.
A godly leader demonstrates love in such a way that people learn how to love like Christ. A godly leader lives by principles that are contained within the Word of God so that others turn to the Word for themselves. A godly leader walks by faith daily so that those watching him have a desire to pick up their cross daily and follow Jesus. No one can be a great leader of others until they have learned to be a great follower of Christ
May you follow Christ closely so that you might lead today!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Daily Light - August 5, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him..."
Matthew 10:1

We love to use words like elite and special. There is a sound of importance and superiority in such words. These twelve disciples held such distinction. They were as set apart of a group as could be. At one point they even let it get to their head a little and began to argue about which would be the greatest in the kingdom. A quick study of their lives reveals that they all had their own issues. We all of course know "doubting" Thomas. What about "speak first think later" Peter? Philip struggled because he had trouble rationalizing all that Jesus taught. Then, there is famously Judas, which Jesus Himself said was full of the devil.
For some reason, when we read about the failings of these men, we become encouraged. They weren't perfect, far from it. They were just like us, and they had been chosen by God to do a special task in spite of all their failings. There is probably no greater picture of grace and mercy than when God chooses to use the weak to lead the strong. The elite in the kingdom of God are only that by the sovereign choice of the Most High God.
God extends a call upon each of our lives. That call is different for each individual, but it does not mean that it is any less important. His desire is to use us for His glory so that His grace might be continually on public display. He enters into the world of our frailty, ignorance, pride, and foolishness and calls us out to Himself. He has a work for each of us to do. He called the disciples to do a work but not without three things.
If you study the chapter in its entirety, Jesus first handed them their marching orders (5-14). They were to walk into this world by the power of His name and proclaim the Word of the Lord. That call has not changed in the 2,000 years since. We have received from Christ the command to go make disciples. Second, Jesus gave the disciples a word of warning (16-26). This task that they had embarked on would cause them to be hated by the world. Persecution would most definitely come, because so many were opposed to their message. Even today there are many that despise the truth of the Word. If you stand for Christ, you will be described as a bigot and narrow-minded, but these insults or persecutions will not change the power of the message. Finally, Jesus instructed them about the seriousness of the task (27-42). This was no game. They were not proclaiming the gospel of social favor. The stakes that lie before them were as serious as Heaven and hell. How serious minded we must also be about the task that we have been given! As one of God's chosen people, you have been called to the elite forces of spiritual warfare. Enter it boldly with the banner of Christ always before you.
May you go out into a needy world today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Daily Light - August 2, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"For which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'?"
Matthew 9:5

Matthew 9 is like the who's who of healing stories. Numerous miracles just pour from the words of this rich chapter. A man with paralysis is completely healed and walks away with his bed under his arms. The tragic story of a little girl that had died was transformed to a story of triumph as Jesus brought her back to life. A woman who had felt the pain of illness along with the contempt from those around her was wholly restored when she touched only the hem of Jesus' garment. Two men who could not see anything but darkness were healed and looked upon the Light of Jesus Christ. Another man had lost his ability to speak and was controlled by the demonic forces of hell was released from his spiritual bondage and for the first time spoke aloud praise to the Almighty. The chapter ends with scores of people being changed by the miracle working power of God.
Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that God is able to change all things according to His will so that He might receive the glory that is due Him? Perhaps you think that God doesn't work this way any more. God does miracles from time to time, but He chooses to simply let things be as they would. It is this very mindset that has caused much of Christianity to miss out on two things.
First, many are missing out on the miracle that they need to see God do today. Faith has been sacrificed on the altar of rationalization. We have determined that what we cannot explain or fathom is impossible. There are many that believe the miracles recorded throughout the Bible which are astounding, but they cannot believe that God could do or would do the miracle that they need in their lives right now. Why? Has God changed in who He is or how He works? The God of the Bible is the God whom we worship today, and His power and compassion have not diminished at all. The prayer of our hearts should match that of the disciples when they said, "Lord, increase our faith."
Second, the greatest miracle that is ever performed is when a life is transformed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Lame legs that are given strength are nothing compared to the soul that was lost and is now found. The miracle of blind eyes seeing the light of day is small compared to the heart that was blind but now looking upon the Light of Christ. A little girl being raised up from her death bed is astounding, but it cannot hold a candle to the miracle of a soul that was once dead experiencing new life through the breath of the Holy Spirit. Our God is a miracle working God that is able to transform not only the broken physical things of this world but especially the spiritual things that need His touch.
May you experience a miracle of God today!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daily Light - July 27, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.'"
Matthew 9:13

It seems that people often try to define God based on their religious affiliation. They have made a journey trough their traditional way of thinking about God that they can pretty much summarize Him in a few nice and neat statements. They know what makes Him happy and what makes Him sad. They know what point of view that He would have on certain issues. Some of these individuals proudly boast that they are narrow minded. Others claim to be so open-minded that they can rationalize any view point. When you are genuinely trying to follow Christ and are confronted by all of these opinions, this can be a very frustrating world in which to live.
Jesus knew exactly what this was like. Every day He was confronted with those that had Him all figured out, and of course they were absolutely wrong. The God of creation in human flesh was being told by others how He should be doing things. The religious leaders who said that they were followers of the Most High God spent every day of their lives correcting that same God. When Jesus sat down with the "worst" of sinners, He faced the scorn and ridicule of the religious crowd. "How could He do such a thing? Doesn't He know what kind of people they are?" The truth was Jesus knew what kind of people they all were. That is the reason that He came to this sinful and fallen world.
He then challenged the Pharisees to go back into their scrolls and figure out what Hosea meant when he wrote, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." If there was ever a group of people that knew how to make sacrifice, observe rituals, and obey the letter of the law it was the Pharisees. They had it down to a science if not an art. They were the finest of the religious establishment, and they knew it. You could tell that they were "right with God" by the way they dressed, the way they spoke, and their understanding of Scripture. No one knew as much as they knew, but how little they really knew! It is not just possible but also highly probable that the most religious of us today know much about sacrifice but little about mercy. We have been so intent on observing the outer things that we have completely neglected the inner man. We try to lead men to a decision for Christ and that is honorable, but then we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them to comport to our religious standards. If the outside looks well, that is all that matters. It would be good for us to remember that Jesus Himself said that the Pharisees looked good and clean on the outside but inside they were filled with the rotting flesh of dead men.
Would you take the time to explore your heart and see if you are as intent on showing mercy and delivering that message as you are trying to get someone to view things as you see them? How liberating it would be if we all began to live for Christ and not men!
May you desire mercy today!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Daily Light - July 26, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
Matthew 8:22

I do not know of any one that has ever claimed this to be their "life's verse". As you read the account, it almost sounds a little cruel. Why would Jesus say such a thing? Doesn't He have any compassion? Of course we know that He is compassion, and to those that are intensely following Jesus this sentence seems normal. How?
Those that are radically following Jesus Christ have come to the place that they know to live for Jesus means completely changing the way you think. There is no such thing as normal when following Him. Better yet, what is absolutely strange and weird to every one else is normal for the intensely devoted disciple of Christ. "No where to sleep? No problem." "An incredibly overwhelming storm about to capsize our boat and Jesus is asleep? That's about right!" "Stepping off the boat into a cemetery with two naked and demon-possessed men running toward us? Been there and done that!"
If you have ever had the opportunity to go on a mission's trip, especially to a third world country, you know that every one of your senses gets completely overwhelmed. The people are different, as well as the scenery, the food, the smells, the customs, etc. Usually, early on in the trip some of those who went are just ready to get back home. However, as the trip goes along, you realize that all of the things that you are experiencing are normal for every one around you, and they are fine with it. One missionary made a great statement, "If you can do this for a week, you can do it for a lifetime." Those same people that were so ready to go home when they first arrived literally weep on the day that they have to leave. Missionaries are my heroes because what is totally strange to me is their normal. They have made a radical decision to turn their lives over to Christ even as He turns their lives upside down.
Author and gifted speaker Francis Chan asked the question, "Is my life so radical for God that if it was written about in the book of Acts would people be amazed by it?" The answer for most of us is of course no. We live in the normal, but don't you ever think that God is calling you out of the normal into the supernatural? Maybe like Peter you feel the call to step out of the boat and onto the water, but the boat seems so safe. Faith knows that we will never experience the power of Christ in the places of safety and security. Live wholeheartedly for Christ, and the next time two demon-possessed men come running toward you just smile and realize that you are normal when it comes to being a disciple of Christ.
May you follow the Savior of the world today!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daily Light - July 14, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him."
Matthew 8:3

Disfigured. Grotesque. Repulsive. Rejected. These were only a few of the words that described the life of a leper. The disease that had taken over there body was like no other. It not only led them to their death, but it had such horrible effects on their life that death was a welcomed end. Many illnesses have complications associated with it that are quite painful, but leprosy had one that could not be relieved.
With leprosy there was a constant pain and irritation that was associated with this flesh eating disease. The pain could be intolerable, but even the irritation would not allow for a moment of peaceful sleep. At some point the flesh began to literally rot away leaving bone, tissue and muscle exposed to the elements. The body was now susceptible to any and all infection. These things were horrible, but they were not the most difficult part of the disease. The most tragic consequence of leprosy was that you would never feel the compassionate touch of another for the rest of your life. Instead, you would be banished from society and seemingly banished from knowing what it means to be loved.
A leper heard of Jesus and made his way to the place where He was. As he approached the crowds, he heard the all too familiar sounds. Women began to scream and run away from him. Little children cried as they saw his horrifically disfigured face and body. Men began to shout at him to leave that place and go back to where he belonged. He pressed on however with a hope that could endure any amount of ridicule. Finally, with the path cleared from in front of him, he recognized the One whom he had heard so much about, Jesus. He did not run or shout like the others. Instead He watched the leper as he humbly approached and began to crawl in humility on his knees. In complete faith the leper said, "Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean." He waited only for the spoken word of healing to come from Jesus' lips, but Jesus did far more than that. As He said, "I am willing; be cleansed", Jesus touched him.
Jesus did what nobody else would do. He touched the untouchable. He met this man and gave him what he so desperately needed: compassion, love, and healing. The hand of Jesus is still extended for each of us today. There is some untouchable part of every individual's life. Perhaps others know about it, or perhaps it is some area that is so private that no one knows. As we come by faith to Jesus and call on Him for help in our time of need, it is certain that He will go over and above what we could ever ask or think.
May you feel the tender hand of Jesus Christ today!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Daily Light - July 13, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I never knew you!"
Matthew 7:23

There can be no doubt that Jesus Christ is the only way to everlasting life. There have been and always will be those that deny it and teach other wise. One conservative radio host said that people that believe this way are no different than the radical Muslims that want to kill others. Of course, that is his opinion that he is allowed to have, but one's opinion does not change what is absolutely true. Jesus referred to a narrow gate and men like stubborn sheep have balked against it for thousands of years.
There will of course come a day in the future when all things will be revealed. Every fruit that was brought forth will be exposed for what it really is. Not only will the motives of man be revealed but also his heart. We are easily fooled by the words, actions, and performances of men. Some can present themselves as genuine children of the Light and be quite convincing. The words that emanate from their lips sound extremely persuasive and even sincere. The amount of people that their life has affected is staggering and the accolades of their accomplishments read like a description of Christ Himself. Surely no one would deny them entrance into the presence of God.
Stop for a moment however and realize that there is not a one of us that will stand before our peers and let them determine our eternal destiny. Each individual will stand before not simply the final judge but the only judge, Jesus Christ. Christ, the very God that created all things and has always been, is not impressed with our list of deeds. There are no fine speeches that will persuade Him to reject His own justice and holiness. Some will try, but try in vain. In that day it will not be so much about what you know about Christ but whether or not He knows you. How fearful and sad the words will be as they echo through the judgment hall of eternity: "I never knew you; depart from Me!"
It seems that there are many that are holding on to what good they have done. These individuals are often even ministers of the Gospel. They have accomplished something in the corner of the world that they have been placed and that it is to be commended. What is not commendable is the fact that there is sin ever before them but they act as if it does not exist. Even when this sin is public they hide behind their position and their righteous deeds. They refuse to acknowledge it and refuse to repent. Others may even come along side of them and give them support, but woe be unto the individual who covers sin. There will be no one to be our advocate when we stand before God but Jesus Christ. If we have sinned against Him and grieved the Spirit, there should be a fear and trembling in our souls.
Praise be to the Lamb that He paid the price for our sin and that there is no sin that is too great that it cannot be washed in that crimson flow and made white as snow! We must come humbly to the feet of Jesus, the only place that we can find redemption and forgiveness. It is there and there alone that He makes us His own and becomes our advocate before the Father.
May you know the redeeming power of Jesus today!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daily Light - July 12, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

Matthew 7:7

Here in these three words we see the divine description and pattern of prayer. Jesus taught His disciples the basics of prayer so that they might make it a part of their regular spiritual discipline. Prayer is an essential element to the Christian life, but many are intimidated by it. There is a fear of not knowing how to pray properly or saying the wrong thing. As we enter into this blessed relationship with God and recognize how much He loves us, we find that He enjoys hearing from His children.
The word "ask" clearly shows us the relationship of God as our Father. He knows that we have needs. Some of them may seem small or some may be great, but in the eyes of God they are all important. We need not be a fearful child hiding around the corner afraid to approach the Father. Instead, He encouraged us to come boldly to His throne with the confidence that not only does he want to hear our requests but He longs to meet them as well. Never fear to take your needs before a God that owns the cattle on a thousand hills and has made you an heir to all that is His. Of course this "ask" is a request and not a demand. Only an insolent child would demand of their father. We are servants of the most high God; therefore we come to our Master humbly with our hearts lifted to Him.
We find in that thought the importance of the word "seek". As servants of the Almighty we must recognize that we do not always know best in every situation. Numerous times throughout Scripture we are encouraged to seek the face of God. The face of God is always pointed in the direction of His will. He is looking toward a finishing mark that we often cannot see. Therefore, as we ask and bring our petitions to the Lord, we are also to pray in accordance with His will. That should be the very first thing we seek. Too often we are so concerned about our will that we fail to consider the will of God in the situations of our lives. Perhaps how we are praying is what He wills, but it is also possible that God sees something better that might bring Him glory and accomplish His purpose. We must humbly remember as we seek the Lord that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
Finally, we are told to "knock". This gives us a description of a persistent prayer life. Jesus taught a parable in Luke 18, and we are told the purpose of this story is that "men always ought to pray and not lose heart". There is most definitely power in persistent prayer. We are commanded on numerous occasions to pray continually. God never tires of hearing from His children. There are times when we have prayed again and again for something and sought His face so much that we feel as if we are being a bother to God. God is not a man that tires of his children's persistence. God recognizes that we are coming to Him because we are completely dependent upon Him and that brings Him joy. So, those things that you may ask for in prayer, continue asking. The numerous times that you have sought the will of God in a matter and still have not yet found it, continue seeking.
May you be encouraged in the fact that God loves to hear you pray!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daily Light - July 7, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Matthew 7:5

What does it mean to judge someone? This is a question that has been asked time and time again, because there is such a great misunderstanding of the issue. Obviously, God teaches us throughout Scripture that we are to use a righteous judgment when it comes to issues like right and wrong or having discernment about such things. When sin is pointed out to some individuals, they often respond by saying, "Don't judge me!" This is a misinterpretation of judgment. One who is pointing out what is clearly revealed by Scripture as sin is not passing judgment but simply passing along truth. There are of course people that do not want to hear this truth and will reject God outright, so these are the times that we need to be wise and perhaps not cast our pearls before swine.
The wrong type of judgment is one of condemnation. There is no man that has ever lived that has the power to condemn another. It is God and God alone that has this power and right. For man to pass condemnation on another he would have to be perfect. It is obvious that there is no one that has ever lived that is perfectly righteous in all his ways with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each man is a sinner by nature and this curse has fallen upon all of mankind. None of us have power over a soul and to speak and act as if we do is an affront to the work of the Holy Spirit. God calls His children to be salt and light in this world so that others may see the perfection of Christ in us and might respond to His work before their soul is eternally condemned.
The real problem that has surfaced when it comes to judgment is hypocrisy. We are too often much better at being critics than we are Christians. Many act as if they have no difficulties and at the same time have made themselves the judge and jury over the lives of others. Most of us find it easier to think that someone else's sin is worse than our own, because very simply we are filled with pride. Pride allows us to see the transgressions of others as glaring issues while completely ignoring our own. We have come up with the idea that to look down on someone means that we are above them, and that is really what is at the root of pride. Jesus calls us to look in the mirror of His Word and His perfection and see our sin as God sees it. We will never be able to help a brother with those things that afflict their lives when we have not been able to be honest with God about our own issues. God has called His children to be right with Him; He has not called us to be better than others.
May you live according to God's righteous standard today!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Daily Light - July 6, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Are you not of more value than they?"
Matthew 6:26

Have you ever had an opportunity to watch the television program Antique Roadshow? People will bring items that they bought in yard sales or inherited to the show to find out what the articles are worth. These items range from the truly fascinating to the absolutely weird. The highlight of the show is when people find out that the painting that they bought at an estate sale for $50 is actually a masterpiece that would command thousands of dollars at an auction. This seemingly worthless piece of art that has hung in the closet for several years is now a very prized possession.
There is something to consider that is often overlooked. The items that are brought to the show only have value because someone is willing to pay that price. Any piece of artwork is simply canvas and paint. The value comes when an individual says that they want it and attaches a certain monetary amount to it. If no one is willing to purchase it, the item is of no value.
Jesus told us to not worry about our lives. We worry about so many things that are ordinary: what to eat, what to drink, what to wear, etc. We put way too much value in our stuff, our possessions, our circumstances, and our surroundings. The external things of this life seemingly blind us to the things that really matter. We base the value of self on what we have or don't have, what we eat or drink, what we wear, who we know, or what talents we have. Our value is inextricably defined by what others think of us. This unhealthy view of life has led people to destructive habits, debt, eating disorders, and unhealthy religious practices. Our value system is completely messed up. The professional athlete that can throw a ball is worth millions while the teacher that labors each day with special education students is paid a minimal salary.
Jesus knew that this was how man perceived themselves and others, so He showed us how valuable we were to Him. He illustrated it by giving us the examples of a tiny sparrow and a lily in the field. We can look at these two things and see the tender hand of God. In both of them there is the beauty and glory of God's creation. Neither of them spends time worrying about their value. They simply live according to the provision of their Creator.
Remember the painting at the Antique Roadshow? It was only valuable because someone would pay a high price for it. 2,000 years ago, God through His Son, Jesus Christ, demonstrated how valuable you and I were to Him. He gave the ultimate price for us, His life. You are not valuable because of what you have but because of who you are to the Lord. He loves you and considers you more valuable than you could ever imagine!
May you recognize your worth in Christ today!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Daily Light - July 5, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"The lamp of the body is the eye."
Matthew 6:22

Our eyes help us to understand and discern our surroundings. Just a faint amount of light can keep us from stubbing our toe as we walk through a dark room. That light makes us more aware of the obstacles that lay in front of us. This is the discerning light of life that Jesus is referring to. The light found in Him gives us a heart of understanding about what is going on in our lives.
Why then do people that know Christ make foolish decisions from time to time that get them in so much trouble? The problem is obviously not the light because it emanates from God Himself. The lack of discernment occurs when we take our eyes off of Christ and put it on man or try to make decisions using a clouded discernment. There are times when people that know better tolerate sin in their lives or do not confront sin that is obviously before them. It is puzzling because these people claim to walk in the light. Unfortunately, what has happened is that they took their eyes off of Christ and placed it on their own opinion of the situation. They are now seeing the surrounding events in complete darkness.
Jesus follows this statement about the light of the eye with the declaration that no one can serve two masters. This is not a change of subject but a further expounding upon what has already been said. You cannot have two definite opinions on a subject. One is right, and the other is wrong. There is a temptation for us to immediately follow and be loyal to that which makes us most comfortable, but what if it is wrong? Can we be honest enough with God and ourselves to admit it?
This passage concerning masters is just as relevant today as it was when Jesus first spoke it to His disciples. There are many masters that have taken the place of Christ in men's lives. There is of course the master of money, the master of lust, the master of power, etc. We have even allowed other people to become the masters of our lives. We bow to them and submit to their authority even when in our heart we know that something is not right. Jesus emphatically said that you have a choice to make over who or what will become the Lord of your life. Either He is Lord, which means the owner and ruler of every thing, or He is nothing. That is a decision that each individual must personally make.
May you see clearly by the light of the Lord Jesus Christ today!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Daily Light - July 1, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"That they may be seen by men..."
Matthew 6:5

The ball is snapped and the quarterback drops back into the pocket. He can feel the pocket begin to collapse as the defensive ends bear down on each side. His agility allows him to spin away from the grasp of the nose tackle just as the offensive guard makes a tremendous block. As he rolls to the right he sees his wide receiver get free and head to the corner of the end zone. The safety is closing fast, so he knows the window is small. With incredible balance and precision he threads the ball just over the outstretched hand of the oncoming linebacker and past the defensive backs. The wide receiver catches the ball and balances on his toes just inside the line before he falls out of bounds. Touchdown!
Suddenly these grown men begin to celebrate by showing every one the number on the front of their jerseys and their names on the back. They take off their helmets so the camera can get a good shot of their faces. That is when the cynical fan realizes that the most important thing on the field at that time to that player is himself. The average fan paid a couple of hundred dollars or more not including parking and the hot dog so this guy can boast about himself. Of course, he is also getting paid several million dollars in salary and endorsements to catch the silly football any way. That is also when the fan realizes that he could have made a payment on his car with that two hundred dollars and the hot dog he ate has given him indigestion.
We are not so different than the boastful football player. Most of us love to be noticed whether we admit it or not. We like a good pat on the back or to see our name in print with remarks about something that we have accomplished. Jesus knew that we were this way, and He also knew that this would find its way in to the church as well. That is why he issued warnings about not seeking the attention of others when we give to the Lord. It is like the football player catching the ball. That is what we should be doing any way. He warns us about spending our time in prayer so that others can see or hear our prayer. They will be so impressed with how "spiritual" we are if we do it just right. How devout they will think we are when we fast as well! Can you imagine the spiritual discipline that they will think we have when they see us weak and shriveled from our time of forsaking food? If this is our motive, then guess what. Whatever attention from men that you received will be all the reward that you will ever have. God does not reward what has not been done for Him.
All the giving, the praying, and the fasting mean nothing if our motivation was so that others may see us. Our lives are to be lived in such a way that we will do those things so that others see them and glorify our Father in Heaven. No one else may ever know how much you have given to God, but He knows. There may not be a soul on this earth that knows how many nights you have stayed awake calling on God with the burdens of your heart, but He knows. The times that you have abstained from food so that you might discipline yourself to come to the Lord may be completely unnoticed by any one in this world, but He knows. Does it matter to you if someone else knows, or is God knowing all that matters?
May you do all for His glory today!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Daily Light - June 30, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes
and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:20

There is an enormous difference between the spiritual and the religious. Religion is based upon certain protocols or standards according to the views of those on the inside of that sect of beliefs. The spiritual is guided by the Spirit of God and adheres to the counsel of the Spirit as He ministers to each individual heart. Jesus came to man to challenge the ways of his religion by the work of His Spirit.
Religion is all about the external which can be seen by men, while the spiritual deals with the internal that can be seen only by God. When the two are compared, it is obvious that the higher standard of righteousness belongs to those who are living submissive to the will of God and not simply the external rules of man. Religion says that you should not murder your brother; Jesus said that if you hate your brother you are a murderer. Religion says that as long as you don't commit the act of adultery every thing is fine; Jesus said that if you look upon a woman with lust in your heart you are as guilty as if you had done the act. Religion places more weight on what we say than what we do; Jesus said that what you say is important before a God who hears all things. Religion says to do just enough to get by; Jesus said that we should strive to show our fellow man Christ in us. Religion says that you are only obligated to love those around you; Jesus says that you are obligated to love even your enemies.
The Scriptures tell us that the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. Most men and women choose religion, because they feel that they have a standard that they can measure up to. They are fine with someone telling them how to pray, how to eat, how to dress, when to worship, etc. By doing this they feel righteous and that is all that matters to them. The spiritual man seeks God and His will and desires to live only by those things that are given through His Word and by His Spirit into their hearts. Their behavior is not based upon the rules of man but by the righteousness of God.
There have been many throughout history that were deemed righteous according to the standards of man to only find later that there was wickedness and immorality in the secret places of their lives. God was never fooled; He knew what they were all along. We must remember that God never looks on the outward appearance of man but upon the deep places of the heart.
May you live according to the righteousness of Christ today!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Daily Light - June 29, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."
Matthew 5:14

The traveler steps lightly and breathes faintly as he walks through the forest. The darkness is so strong that it feels as if it is suffocating him; it almost feels like a heavy coat upon his back with its hood wrapped tightly around his face. Trying to see his hand extended in front of him is next to impossible. That makes every step a dangerous one, because he knows there are terrors that lurk in these woods.
He has felt the sting of the darkness upon his flesh. This darkness is very natural to him, but it will never be comfortable. At times, he has tried to make friends with it and welcome it into his life. Those are the times that he was stung the worse. Just when he felt that he could see enough to find his own way, he ignorantly stumbled into a pit. There was no one to help him as he climbed his way out. If only there was some light to show him his way through this dark world.
Then the day came. He noticed through the gloom a pin prick of light. It was small and very faint and seemed to disappear as quickly as it appeared, but it caused something to stir in his soul like nothing had before. He set his face toward the light to discover what it might be. As he drew closer, it grew brighter. In fact it was so bright that he wanted to turn his eyes away from it. Strong light in the midst of heavy darkness is almost repulsive to someone who has only known darkness. The light also revealed some things about him and his surroundings. It showed him how filthy the environment that he walked in was. There were all sorts of beasts and creeping things lurking in the shadows. There were pits all around him that contained the remains of those who had gone before him. Even as he looked at his own flesh, he saw the toll that this darkness and mire had taken on his body. His skin was scaly and grimy and in desperate need of cleansing.
It was then that the light became something that he detested. It was as if the light was judging him in some way. How dare the light reveal him for who he was and cast judgment on his surroundings! Incredibly, he longed for the darkness again. He felt comfortable in that darkness not knowing the things that had been revealed, but now he would always know those things. The revelation of the light would no longer allow him to be ignorant of his surroundings or innocent of his own filth. With this knowledge, he turned and squinted as he looked into the now bright light. He had a decision to make: continue to walk toward the light until all was revealed or walk back into the darkness.
May you choose to walk toward the light today!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daily Light - June 28, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Blessed are..."
Matthew 5:3

The Sermon on the Mount is famously known for the Beatitudes that are listed in verses 3-12. These beatitudes offer spiritual fulfillment and joy to those who follow the way of Christ. With each spiritual attitude there is a spiritual blessing that accompanies it. Unfortunately, we have often separated them into individual attitudes and pursued only those we felt were achievable in our lives.
This is not unusual, because we do the same thing with what is called the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5. Some will comment that they have the gift of love and peace, but they find patience and meekness to be impossible for them. God never intended for you to only have a portion of His Spirit; He desires for you to grow up in all of these areas. It is the same with the Beatitudes.
See these spiritual attitudes as a progression that you must follow. There first must be an understanding of how poor (v. 3) we are spiritually. This realization will lead us to mourn (v. 4) over our sin and the corruption of our flesh. One who is spiritually mournful cannot help but be meek (5) before both God and men. They recognize that something is missing in their lives, thus begins a hunger and thirst (6) for God and His righteousness. As God fills them with Himself, they inherit the ability to be merciful (7) as God is merciful. They offer this mercy out of a pure heart (8) with no personal motives but only the motive to demonstrate Christ to others. With Christ as their goal for all men they desire to show peace (9) and bring about peace in all things. This peace passes all understanding even in the face of persecution (10).
Through the opening words of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount we see His desire for His children. These are necessary steps that must be taken in order to live not only a life for God but to live the abundant life that He has promised to each of His disciples that will forsake all and follow Him. Our spiritual actions will be rewarded only as they follow our spiritual attitudes.
May you take the first step in the right direction today!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Daily Light - June 24, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"They immediately left their nets and followed Him."
Matthew 4:20

The sound of the waves slapping against the side of the boat. The smell of the seaspray hanging in the air. For many these are sounds and smells that conjure up the joy of a relaxing day of fishing out on the water. Perhaps there is the anticipation of awaiting that big catch or maybe not caring if you catch any thing as long as you get to spend the day soaking in the sun.
It is much different for the disciples though. When Jesus called them to Himself, they were not on vacation or on a pleasure cruise. Fishing was their livelihood. It had been the way that they and their ancestors had lived for generations. He was not asking them to give up a day or two of their lives; Jesus was calling them to give up every thing they knew for the rest of their lives. To follow Jesus meant that they would have to give up every thing that came natural to them, to walk away from all that was familiar. It was only by faith that they would be able to put bread on the tables of their families. This offer from Jesus to follow Him brought up some very difficult questions that needed to be answered.
That is why the answer of the disciples is so surprising. Without hesitation they left all that they knew behind and followed Jesus. There was no sit down discussion on what type of salary or benefit package Jesus was offering. No one tried to reason it all out rationally before they stepped over the side of the boat. Each one simply took a step of faith in following the Messiah toward His kingdom.
There are many times in our lives when the call of Jesus seems to be difficult. Worldly reason and rationale can not make sense of such a request. It is in these moments that we must follow Jesus completely by faith with the knowledge that He will provide and take care of those who answer the call. There is nothing that we are doing at the moment of the call that is more important than what Jesus is calling us to do. It seems that without our knowledge He has been preparing us for this moment. He did not make this call at a time that was not perfect in His will or in our lives. It is not ours to understand what He has planned for the future; it is simply ours to obediently throw our legs over the side of the boat and follow Him. His will may lead you into places and circumstances that are very unfamiliar, but in those places there will always be a familiar voice calling you to move forward.
May you leave your nets today!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Daily Light - June 23, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 4:17

REPENT!! The word in itself conjures up images in one's mind of fear and judgment. Some picture a man standing on a street corner with a beard that needed to be trimmed years ago shouting the word while wearing a sign over his shoulders with random Scriptures of condemnation and judgment. Others see in their mind's eye a memory of a red-faced preacher ominously slumped over a pulpit with sweat rolling down his face and spit coming from the corners of his mouth. With these mental images the word "repent" becomes a horrid thought seemingly intended to inflict bondage over those who would follow such a command. Is that really what Jesus meant though?
It is interesting that the first recorded "sermon" of Jesus started with these words. It would become the theme of His ministry, so obviously we need to understand what He was calling for. The word itself is a combination of two words which means "with understanding". Jesus is calling people to believe by faith in Him but with an understanding that doing so they are making a conscious decision to turn from sin and live only by His call and direction. There is most definitely a change that will take place in their lives by making such a decision.
Some would argue that it is enough to have faith and believe on the name of Christ. Simply by faith believe that Jesus is who He says He is and call upon Him and all will be well. James argued against this reasoning by saying that faith without works is dead. Repentance is the evidence that faith is real. Faith without repentance is like a car without gas. It might look good, but it is not going to get you very far. Jesus would not commit Himself to some who "believed in His name" at the end of John 2, because He knew that there was no sincerity in their belief. When one can profess that they believe in Christ but there is no evidence of change, it has to be questioned whether or not they understand the true message of salvation that is found through not simply a belief system but through a holy God that is calling men to Himself through repentance.
It is not man's works that constitutes true repentance; it is a dependence on His grace through faith to live for Him so that we may be like Him. God's call was consistent from the Old Testament all the way through the New Testament: You be holy, for I am holy!
May we live with Christ in mind and not ourselves today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daily Light - June 22, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God,
and Him only you shall serve.'"
Matthew 4:10

The battle between good and evil is the staple of any good story whether it be in a novel or a movie. The struggle that takes place for the main character in his decision to do right or wrong is spell-binding. The forces on both sides are so powerful that it seems the tug of war for one's conscience will go on forever. What a riveting tale this is!
The temptation of Christ by Satan is no fairy tale. As Jesus began His earthly ministry Satan came to stop Him before He even started. Satan's weapon of choice was the ages old formula of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This arsenal had worked well for thousands of years on humanity, so surely it would work well on God who had become man. It was pride that brought Satan from his place of habitation in the kingdom of God, and it was pride that he had used to bring others to his new habitation of hell. Surely there was no one that was not susceptible to this poison that naturally flows through man's fleshly veins.
Christ however was no man of the flesh. Although He had the form of man in the flesh and felt as man feels, He was completely divine. Even though He had fasted for forty days, Jesus did not need the filling of bread to satisfy His greatest hunger. He did not need to throw Himself down from a high place and test whether or not the Father would save Him from such a death. He didn't need the Father to prove Himself. As all of the kingdoms of the world lay before Jesus, Satan sought once again to be worshipped which is his greatest craving and desire. It is in this final temptation that we see the greatest calling for all mankind.
"You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve." There is no one else that deserves our praise, attention, glory, or adoration like our God. It has been placed within all of creation to glorify God. Even the heavens declare it. If man were to shut his mouth and never utter praise to the Most High, the very rocks would break forth in sound of His majesty. It is with our tongues and lives that we should be bringing God the glory for not simply what He has done but for Who He is. To give our ultimate glory and praise to any thing else is Satanic and condemning. Worship and service to God and Him alone should be the controlling force of our lives.
May you worship the LORD your God today!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daily Light - June 21, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Matthew 3:17

A life lived for 30 years with one purpose: to prepare the way for the Messiah. Every thing else in life was a trivial pursuit compared to this. Somehow even in his mother's womb there was a knowledge of who the Christ was. There was also a joy in knowing Him. John the Baptist lived in anticipation of seeing the fulfillment of Christ and His day. He had separated himself from the religious crowd, because they sought their own kingdom. He was looking for a kingdom not made by earthly hands. This life had not been an easy one. He sought for none of the comforts that this world offered, but chose instead to live a simple life that would be free of distractions from his purpose. If that meant eating bugs and honey, then so be it. He lived only for the sake of the call!
One day, the moment he had always anticipated came. As he was preaching and baptizing, Jesus, the Messiah, stood before him. There was a silent acknowledgment between the two of them that the time of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of His kingdom had come. The unexpected twist came when Jesus asked John to baptize Him. After some explanation John consented and placed the Lamb of God under the water then raised Him up. At that moment the Godhead in its entirety manifested the glory of the Almighty. The Son stood with water dripping off His beard and watched as the Spirit of God swept down upon Him, then the voice of the Father shook heaven and earth.
As we look away from the glory for a moment we see the servant John standing next to Jesus with tears flowing down his cheeks and glory in his eyes. All of the sneers and scornful comments that he had received for his eccentric ways were forgotten. The barbs and stings that had been hurled at him from the religious crowd all of these years did not matter at this moment. A life spent in the wilderness preaching by faith what no one else could see was more than worth it now. When the fulfillment of God's promise comes, all of the negatives are forgotten as if they never existed.
Believers will face scorn from the ones they love; they will face insults from a world that knows not God. Any individual that chooses to walk with Jesus and therefore chooses to walk away from religion will be called every thing from liberal to self-righteous. In the flesh these words will sting, but when the fulfillment of God's promise comes at that eternal day they will all be forgotten. Living for Christ is what is well pleasing to the Father and all that really matters.
May you live for the sake of the call today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daily Light - June 8, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."
1 John 2:6

There is in every generation a definite need for spiritual leadership. I would imagine that if you read writings of Christians from every age you would hear a cry of desperation for spiritual leaders in that day. It is of vital importance that men and women be leaders for Christ, but it is first and foremost imperative that those that would be leaders have learned to be followers of Christ first.
Many men and women have taken up the mantle of leadership in the name of Christ, and they have led others to a fulfilling relationship with God. Paul led young men like Timothy and Titus so that they could lead a generation that followed after them. It is also true that some have led people "in the name of Christ" and unfortunately led them to destruction. Many of these leaders may have started out sincerely enough, but too often pride, ego, arrogance, and the flesh caused them to start leading others in their direction and not Christ's. They demanded loyalty, even blind loyalty, and their followers went along with the plans to the unfortunate demise of not only their own lives but in many cases the testimony of our Lord and Savior.
This analogy came to me the other day as I was jogging and saw some ducks walking down the street in our neighborhood. There were three of them walking together in a line. The first duck was waddling down the road and wandering in no certain pattern. He would go straight for a few feet and then make a sharp left. At one point he walked in a circle. He would go to the edge of the road and walk on the grass for a while and then back to the pavement. While this all seemed strange, it is not what really caught my eye. The other two ducks walked right behind the lead duck and did every thing that he did. I at first admired the other two ducks for being such good followers, then it happened. A truck came driving down the road, but the ducks were on the other side of the road completely safe. Then, for some unknown reason the first duck quickly walked out right in front of the truck. Of course, the other two followed him into the path of the approaching vehicle. I no longer admired the other two ducks now, because their blind loyalty put their life at risk.
First, we must be careful to follow after the principles of Jesus Christ given to us through His Word and through the leadership of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Second, we must learn to perceive if the leaders that we are following are following after Christ. The greatest test for this is the first test that is given for godly leaders: are these individuals of blameless character? We are to walk like Christ and follow only those who are doing the same.
May you walk after the pattern of your Master today!
By the way, the driver of the truck noticed the three little ducks just in time and came to a stop until they crossed the road! I knew that some of you would want to know.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daily Light - June 7, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Lazarus is dead; and I am glad..."
John 11:14-15

It is a surprising thought that Jesus would find any sort of gladness in the death of an individual, especially the death of a friend. He knew very well this man named Lazarus as well as his family. He had sat at supper with them on different occasions, and they were a family that seemed incredibly devoted to Jesus. Why had He not gone to them before this sad and difficult moment? Why had He not at least spoke a word of healing from across the miles as He had done before? Even more astounding, why does Jesus now say that He is glad about what has happened?
The reason that we have trouble understanding Jesus' way of thinking is because of our frail and anemic spiritual minds. God doesn't think like we do. He sees what is invisible to us and knows what we cannot even imagine. Every one around Jesus is concerned about death, but death holds no power over the One who created all that lives. Man sees the bondage of time, space, and matter. God, however, is ageless; He is not constrained by the bonds of this earth.
Before Jesus even leaves for Bethany, His own disciples question His wisdom. When He arrives there, Lazarus' sisters berate Him for His actions or lack of. The entire crowd is wailing and doubting so much that it causes grief in the heart of Jesus. So many times in our own lives we have been disappointed with Jesus. He didn't show up when we thought He should have, or He didn't do things the way we thought He should. Our disappointment led to grief and eventually for many a lack of faith. It is impossible to see what God sees when our eyes are not on Him and have full faith and assurance that He does all things well even though we don't understand what He is doing.
There is one person in this story that never complains, Lazarus. One may argue that He is dead, but that is the point. He is completely helpless and has no will of His own. Jesus is glad that He will not only see His friend again, alive, but also that Lazarus and others will understand what it means to completely trust God. Jesus stands in the midst of the doubters and nay sayers and calls Lazarus' name. Somewhere beyond the terrestrial into the heavenly Lazarus is called back to the earthly body that he once possessed. As he emerges from the tomb, the crowds cry that truly this Man is the Son of God! There are no words that can make glad the heart of Jesus like those words!
May you make Jesus glad today by dying to self with His will alone as your own!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Daily Light - June 2, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks."
Hebrews 12:25

There are so many voices speaking into our lives on a regular basis, some directly and others indirectly. If we were to try and listen to them all, it would become quite wearisome and confusing. We know without a doubt that we need guidance, but who should we listen to in the different moments of life? It seems that some voices carry a message of discouragement and defeat. They tell us that we are doomed to fail and that to even try to succeed in a walk with Christ is futile. Other voices entice us with flattering words that we want to hear, but the key ingredient of honesty is missing in their speech. Thankfully, there are also those who guide and direct with integrity and encouragement so that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives for the sake of our Lord. How do we discern the truth with all of these voices calling our names?
There are three passages of Scripture that give us clear advice and one that gives us an illustration to help guide us. In the book of Ecclesiastes King Solomon says, "God is in Heaven, and you on earth; therefore LET YOUR WORDS BE FEW." When we consider God and all of His divinity, we recognize that the most important thing that we can do is listen for His voice. James wrote in his epistle to the church, "My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, SLOW TO SPEAK, slow to wrath." We are so inclined to speaking that we often cannot hear the voice of God. This is surely why God Himself implored us through the psalmist, "BE STILL, and know that I am God." It is imperative that we listen on purpose and not simply try to catch a bit of God's voice in passing.
God's prophet Elijah was in desperate need to hear the voice of God. We are told that he stood waiting for the Lord and during that time he experienced strong winds, an earthquake, and a raging fire, but God was in none of those things. Once all of those things passed, Elijah heard a still small voice. Immediately he knew it was the Lord and responded accordingly. God speaks to the heart of His children and His sheep know His voice, but only if they are listening for it. If we allow all of the voices of discouragement, flattery, and emptiness to fill our minds and hearts, we will miss out on knowing what God is trying to say. Study the Word and meditate upon it. Ask God to reveal to your heart what He would have for you.
May you clearly hear God's voice today!