Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Daily Light - March 30, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And such were some of you."
1 Corinthians 6:11

He stood there with his head bowed in prayer, but his mind was racing over what was happening. He could even feel his heartbeat so clearly against the walls of his chest that he wondered if those around him could hear it. What was supposed to be a moment of prayer had turned into this strange and awkward event! No one else seemed to notice but how could they not, or was it just him?
A group of brothers in Christ had gathered together for a time of devotion and encouragement. It was refreshing to see so many Christian men gathered together to lift up the name of Jesus and encourage one another in the Word. The Spirit of God was truly felt. Men shared their hearts, minds, and emotions with one another. Scripture was read and God was the main character displayed for all to see. It seemed that nothing could interrupt this moment of spiritual bliss, but then it happened.
One of the brothers began to share his testimony and how he had received the love, grace, and forgiveness of God. Somewhere during the time of his sharing he dropped a bombshell. He had spent years in a state penitentiary for murder! He had been so calloused and cold-hearted at some point that in a moment of rage he took someone else's life. This was unbelievable news, especially for the man sitting next to him. He suddenly felt uneasy and that was all that he could think of the rest of the Bible study. He couldn't wait for it to end, so he could get away from not only this man but the feelings that he had.
Finally, the devotion comes to an end, and every one reached for the hand of the man next to him so that they could pray together. The next thing he knew he was holding hands with a murderer. He thought back of the time that he was praying with a new member of the church and heard the man confess that he had once been convicted of abusing children. That same feeling came over him now. How had he gotten into this situation, and how could he get out of it? He has held hands and prayed with a child abuser and now a murderer. This is horrific!
Then, God spoke to his heart and said, "Who are they holding hands with?"
What title would be on all of our heads if it were not for the grace of God? Paul continued in the text above by saying, "But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
May you praise God for His grace today!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daily Light - March 29, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting."
Daniel 5:27

When God speaks, there is truly power in His voice. It caused all of creation to come into being, and it caused men to fall on their faces. We see the results of His voice throughout the Bible. There are only a few times, however, that we see Him write. When a woman was caught in adultery and brought to Jesus, He said very little, but He spent most of the time writing in the sand. What He wrote we are not sure of, but the reaction to it was astounding.
On this occasion in the book of Daniel, the king and all of his entourage are enjoying themselves immensely. They have brought in the gold and silver vessels that had been consecrated for the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and began to worship the gods of gold and silver. When the party had reached its lustful and pagan peak, God moved in. A hand appeared and wrote an inscription on the wall. Although they could not discern its saying right away, it had an effect on them none the less. The Scriptures tell us that Belshazzar's knees literally began to knock against each other. God had his full attention! The prophecy of the words told Belshazzar that his days as king were numbered and the kingdom would be given to another. Why?
It is interesting to see the idea that God weighs our lives in the balance of His righteousness. There is clearly a holy standard by which God measures all things. We often like to think that our standard of righteousness is good enough, but how does our standard compare to His? Any one that deals with measurements will tell you that it is impossible to accurately measure something with two different standards. There must be one established standard by which all other things will compare. Our standard of righteousness should be Jesus Christ. Our striving should be to live according to the example which He left for us. Of course, none of us are righteous in ourselves and that is clearly taught in Scripture. That is why each of us must be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. However, when we come to Him, the Bible says that we are new creatures, and we are now expected to live by a different standard. We can no longer compare ourselves with the world or even what we once were. We must now live in the light of Jesus Christ always desiring to live according to His righteousness.
May you be found to like Christ today!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Daily Light - March 28, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Sit here while I pray...Stay here and watch."
Mark 14:32, 34

The most difficult thing for many to do is to stay still. In a recent discipleship program a group of people were given a challenge each week to deepen their Christian walk. Some of the challenges were things such as memorizing Scripture, praying for specific areas, etc. Many saw the benefit in these challenges and took advantage of them by throwing themselves completely into the task. Once it was done they felt rewarded for the effort and time that they had put into it.
The same group however was challenged to spend ten minutes a day for one week and do nothing but concentrate on God and listen for Him in their lives. It seems like a fairly simple challenge on the surface, but the reality was much different than many expected. Most found it impossible to accomplish the task that they were given. They found that they were easily distracted during those ten minutes. Others felt that they were wasting time just sitting there and doing nothing. The other challenges where they were doing something took much more than ten minutes, but they were busy and therefore accomplishing something. What are you accomplishing by sitting still?
How greatly we need to realize that God is not looking for people that are "busy"! Instead, He is looking for people that are focused completely on Him. The reason we feel better when we do something is because we believe that life is all about us. We want to feel good about ourselves; we want to feel successful and industrious. We think that we are more useful to God and our fellow man if we are laboring every waking moment of the day.
Unfortunately, we are missing a time of intimacy with God that is vital to our walk with Him and our understanding of Him. God Himself says to us in Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." We cannot really know Him until we come into that place with Him of uninterrupted communion. Much of our life will naturally be busy, so it is even more important that we learn to stop and breathe in the fresh air of God's presence. In the quiet of your day get to know God better than you ever have before. Spend time with that Friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Daily Light - March 25, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"For a day in your courts is better than a thousand (anywhere else)."
Psalm 84:10

It seems that every one has their dream place that they want to live. Some have the desire to live on a tropical island surrounded by sand and emerald waters. There are others who long for a mountain hideaway next to a flowing stream and the smell of clean air in the morning. Wherever this place is, most people see it as an escape from their normal world. They want peace and happiness that comes with an "undisturbed" guarantee.
The psalmist had a desire for a place such as this, but it was not in the selfish sense of gratifying the flesh. It was not just a place of comfort and ease that he longed for. Instead, it was a craving of the soul. He felt a desire deep within his spirit to know and experience God on a daily basis. According to him, one day in the presence of the Almighty God would far outweigh his dream escape. A thousand days anywhere else would be a passing shadow compared to one day with the One whom he loved the most.
Paul wrote in the book of Romans that all of creation groaned for the redemption of its fallen state. Even in some of the most successful times of our lives, there is a craving in the human soul that cannot be satisfied by anything in this world. We long to be with God our Maker. We yearn to know His power, comfort, and peace first hand. Our fallen bodies hope for a renewing touch from His warm and healing hand. Yes, just for one day we would love to run into His presence and feel the love of our God first hand. With all of that in mind, imagine that those who are His children will experience this bliss for all of eternity. It will not just be one day in a thousand that we are there. Our greatest hope and dream will come true and never end. That is joy unspeakable and full of glory!
May you live with the desire for the presence of God today!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Daily Light - March 22, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Mark 14:38

Prayer was in the news this week. Comedian and talk show host Joy Behar interviewed fellow comedian Janeane Garofalo. In the interview, Garofalo said that prayer was "un-intellectual". While defending Garofalo on another program, Behar said, "Faith is something that you feel. Thinking is something that you do with your brain. It's different. When prayer takes the place of logical thinking, then I think it's dangerous."
It is obvious that people are quite confused on what prayer really is. Faith and prayer have become very distorted by the secularization of Scripture and hijacked by many individuals for personal gain. Quite a few individuals have made God their "genie in a bottle", and they hope if they say the right words then they will have all of their wishes come true. Many are blindly led through a series of words and affirmations to then be told that they now have eternal life because of what they said. If prayer is carried out in this way, then Garofalo and Behar are right. That type of prayer is un-intellectual, dangerous, and absent of true faith.
Jesus never told us to turn off our minds when we come to Him. As a matter of fact, a reading of the Scriptures teaches just the opposite. He wants our minds to be transformed according to His will and through His power. A decision to turn to Christ through prayer is an intellectual choice that has been guided by faith in who Christ is. Faith is not simply a feeling however. Our feelings cannot dictate our faith, or we will stumble and fall at every major or even minor circumstance that comes into our lives. This is exactly what Jesus was telling Peter. He needed a power over and above what was within himself. Peter truly wanted to live a life of superb faith, but a desire to do so is not good enough. There is an emotional, physical, and intellectual struggle that takes place within each of us. Our desire to do right is often overcome by this flesh with which we struggle. Dependence upon God is what gives us the power over the temptation that we feel on a daily basis. Jesus even taught us in what we commonly call the "The Lord's Prayer" to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
We must drown out all of the critics of prayer by looking at the life of Jesus. He taught us prayer by example, and there is not a one of us that would truly say that he was un-intellectual and dangerous. He is God in the flesh living out the example of life for each of us.
May you pray today and be an overcomer for Christ's sake.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Daily Light - March 18, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But who do you say that I am?"
Mark 8:29

Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed that your opinion didn't really matter? It did not matter how much you shared your input or thoughts no one listened. That can be a very discouraging feeling. Jesus had asked the disciples who the multitudes thought He was. After all, the disciples were used to mingling among the crowds and hearing the opinions of individuals. They had heard it all: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the revered prophets. When they told this to Jesus, He then made it much more personal. "Who do you say that I am? What every one else thinks is all well and good, but I want to hear your opinion."
Still today God speaks to our hearts in a personal manner and wants to know who He is to us. William Faye in his great series entitled "Share Jesus without Fear" encourages believers to ask friends, co-workers, family members and even stranger a very similar question: "Who is Jesus to you?" The answer to that question reveals much about the relationship that individual has with God. Some see Him as the one they talk about at church, the one who died on the cross, or even God's Son. Those are all correct answers in some way, but notice the personal element that is missing. The identity of Christ seems very vague and hard to understand. A follower of Christ will say much more than that. You will hear things such as "my Savior", "the Lord of my life" or "the One who gave His life for me". When Jesus asked the disciples this question, Peter powerfully answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God".
Jesus wants you to know Him in a deeply and personal way. He from the Garden of Eden has shown His desire to have a relationship with man, even though man has turned from Him at every opportunity. That is why 2,000 years ago He came to this earth to with a cloak of humanity upon His divinity to pay the penalty for sin. Sin had separated man from God and outside of His grace there was no relationship or fellowship. Therefore, Jesus became the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. He allows us to call Him our friend, but that is only because we can call Him Lord. Jesus is the promised fulfillment of hope and life, the Messiah, and the Christ. How personal is your relationship with Him?
May you draw closer to the Lord today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Daily Light - March 15, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up."
John 3:14

When we speak of being lifted up, we think of it as a glorious thing. It is the athlete who hits the game winning shot or kicks the winning field goal that is lifted up and carried away on his teammate's shoulders. The gold medalist in the Olympics is lifted up on a platform that is higher than the rest. The throne of a king is lifted up on a pedestal to pronounce his position of exaltation. Therefore, being lifted up has become a glorious and even desired position.
Consider, however, what Jesus meant by being lifted up. Yes, Christ is most definitely to be exalted. Throughout Scripture we see that He is worthy of praise; He is our glorious God and Lord. As the King of kings and Lord of lords His throne is high above all that would exalt themselves. He needs no man to lift up Him on their shoulders or place Him on a pedestal to prove His glory. He is the Almighty Creator by which all things have their being. So what does it mean that Christ must be lifted up?
Jesus came to this earth and took on humanity without giving up His divinity knowing that there would be a day that He would be raised up in shame for the entire world to see and that on that day He would take upon Himself the sins of the world. The cross was not about being lifted up so that Christ might receive glory, but it was truly about the fact that He would be lifted up to receive shame. Sin has no glory in it; it is vile and utterly detestable to God. As depraved individuals we glorify sin and laugh at its horrors, but it is exactly those sins for which Jesus died. He chose for your sake and for mine to be lifted up in shame to this world so that He might receive the glory of the Father through resurrection. Praise God that He took upon Himself the payment of sin so that you and I might go free by grace through faith in His name!
You and I may very well have to face a lifting up that is not too pleasing. Jesus said that we are to take up our own cross and die daily. We must be confronted by our own humanity and our own need on a regular basis. Jesus told His disciples early in their ministry that they would be blessed only when they become poor in spirit, meek, and mournful. These characteristics seem like those of a weak person, but to God they are absolutely necessary to the life that would live out and lift up Jesus Christ. It is only when we are humbled and brought low before a holy God and this world that we can lift up the Son of Man. Paul stated it as fact that a true believer is crucified with Christ and has only Christ as his source of life.
May you in humility lift up Christ today!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Daily Light - March 8, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Sing to the Lord a new song."
Psalm 149:1

Most of us enjoy simple yet profound things like reading and listening to music. If you are one of those people, you will most definitely understand what I am about to say. If you are a reader, have you ever spent the day walking through the library or a book store? As you do, you see literally hundreds of books that you would love to read. You pick them up one at a time and read the jacket cover. The contents of the book are like a mystery waiting to be solved, and you just have to read it. However, no sooner than when you put it down you find another book that seems just as if not more exciting. You leave almost feeling discouraged, because there are so many books to read and you know you don't have the time to read them all.
If you are a lover of music, you have gone through a very similar experience. You stand with it seems like millions of CDs in front of you all wanting to be heard. Of course, in this day of technology they are all at your finger tips online. Every one of your favorite artists has a new album out and they are all screaming to be heard. You haven't even finished listening completely to the last new one that you purchased and an ad for the new one is flashing on the screen. Who has time to listen to them all and soak them in? There are so many new songs and new books that we will never begin to comprehend it all.
I thought of these things when I read this verse. What does the psalmist mean by another "new" song? This "new" song is not like those of your favorite singer or the book from some new author. No, this song is much different. When you come into a relationship with God, there is a song that plays in your heart that is so new and thrilling, and yet it is strange because the words and the tune sound so familiar. It is a song that seems to have been planted in your heart long ago, but only now is that song making its debut. The words of truth that seemed to be contrary to your spirit are now so refreshing and enlightening. The tune that once seemed to be a bunch of jumbled notes is now a melody of grace in your heart. The melody of God's love plays over and over again, and it flows from the instrument of God's Spirit now planted in your soul.
The beauty of this song is that it can be sung in so many ways; it is not restricted to an exercise of the vocal chords. It is too great a song to be contained in one medium. The author and poet sing this song with their pen. The laborer expresses this praise in how he does his job. The mother nurtures the music from her soul to a little child. The child sings through their genuineness of faith. If you listen closely, you can even hear the deaf and mute believer sing more beautifully than could ever be imagined. How do all of these sing this song? They sing from what God has done in their heart. This music was composed by God Himself before the foundation of the world. This is a symphony of praise, a melody of love, and it is conducted by the Author and Finisher of our faith. We are privileged to be instruments in the orchestra of God. He has carefully crafted every note and every score so that when we play His children and this world clearly hear the song of redemption and grace. As He waves His hand, we simply play the tune that is in our hearts.
May you sing the song of your heart today!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Daily Light - March 4, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring;
the rain also covers it with pools."
Psalm 84:6

You know positive and encouraging expressions such as, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." These kinds of sayings are meant to encourage us to make the best out of difficult situations. The passage above is such an encouraging word. This psalm speaks of making a pilgrimage to the tabernacle of God where His presence dwelt. There is a craving and yearning to be with God and His people and to wholly worship in this place.
The journey was not easy to the tabernacle was not easy for all, however. Those who lived in far away places had to come through dry and barren deserts thus signified by the Valley of Baca. It was therefore a dangerous trip, because there was the possibility of dying of thirst between destinations. So often our experiences in the presence of God seem to be so rare although we are promised His presence continually. There are days in which we live on the mountain top of blessing with God. We seem that if we turn too suddenly we will bump into Him. Those days are joyful and cherished and if not careful we can take them for granted. Because, there are also days where it seems that God is far away and only a trip through the desert that we presently find ourselves in will lead us to God. We desire to spend time in unbroken communion with God.
What do we do in these days where it seems so dry? When the children of Israel would make their pilgrimage through the dry deserts, they would dig out large holes in the ground. There was time and preparation to dig these holes and pitch them with some type of substance that would hold water, because when the autumn rains came they would fill these pools. Therefore, as they made their next journey across the desert, they would find these places to draw water and nourishment from.
We must also learn to follow this pattern in our lives. Every day of our lives will not be a mountain top experience, but we must recognize that God is faithful even in the valleys. God sends His rain in the autumn of our lives to fill our pools of blessing in the dry and barren days. We must constantly be preparing our hearts to receive the rain of God's love. Even on those days that God seems so far away, we can count our blessings and recognize that even then God is with us. God has been pouring out His blessings on your life when you were not even aware of it. You can now sit down by the pool of His goodness in the desert and drink from His provision.
May you find a pool of water in the desert today!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Daily Light - March 1, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I who speak to you am He."
John 4:26

"Who is this man? Nobody comes out to the well in the middle of the day, except me of course. I wonder if he has something to hide as well. Wait! He's a Jew. Oh, boy! Here it comes. Just keep your head down and don't make eye contact, and maybe he'll leave you alone." These must have been the thoughts going through the mind of this woman in John 4. She just came to get her water and go about her daily chores. The next thing she knew she was engaged in a conversation with a man that seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That is exactly how powerful God is! When we think He must have done something wrong, we find out that He was right all along. He meets us in the moments of our lives that we least expect Him. In the great trials of our lives when we were sure that God had abandoned us, we found that the calming hand on our shoulders was His. When we had been ridiculed and mocked by those we love and felt so all alone, we clearly heard His still small voice through the chaos of our lives. When our sin seemed to separate us from every one and we felt so ashamed, Jesus was sitting at the well offering us the water of life.
He was not immediately recognizable, because we could not see past ourselves. Sometimes it seems as if every one and every thing is a mirror reflecting our past and our failures. Our trials seem to swirl around us in a violent and chaotic storm. The debris of sin and suffering blows angrily and dangerously. We choose to isolate ourselves away from every one, even those we desperately love. We argue with the voice that tries to encourage us to press on, and we cry out for God wondering where He is. Then we recognize that encouraging voice as He says, "I who speak to you am He." At that moment we cry with joy, because we realize that all along He has been with us. He cared for us when we did not even care for ourselves. When all we could see was our ugliness, God saw His child. What a moment of joy when God says to you, "I AM."
May you hear that voice today!