Friday, April 29, 2011

Daily Light - April 29, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

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

I usually do not try to inject myself personally into these daily devotionals, so please forgive me but today I must. Yesterday was a day of genuine grief for me because of the loss of someone who I considered to be very special in my life. It is strange to say that to some degree, because I never actually had the opportunity to personally meet this individual. His death, however, came as a sudden blow to my life, and I was greatly challenged throughout the day by the legacy that he left behind.
While surfing the web one day, I found a video on Youtube entitled "A Call to Anguish." As I sat and listened to the speaker proclaim this message from God, I felt as if the shockwave from a bomb had rattled my whole being. When it was over, I sat in my chair and this wave of the Holy Spirit of God swept over my heart and mind, and I knew that I would never be the same. The speaker was a man by the name of David Wilkerson. I have to admit that the name did not ring a bell at first until my wife told me that he was the one that wrote "The Cross and the Switchblade." It is the story of how God led Wilkerson to the streets of New York City to start a ministry that continues today in two forms: Times Square Church in New York City and World Challenge Ministries.
I began to study more about his life and listen to every message from him that I could find. I was able over these years to not simply hear his words, but I listened mostly to his heart. I found the entirety of the message "A Call to Anguish" and have listened to it several times. Because of the help that I have received from this man of God, I have called him my "pastor" for the past couple of years. God used David Wilkerson to challenge me in a way that I have never been challenged before. My hunger for the Word, my desire to fervently pray, and my serious passion for God and God alone were all greatly influenced by him.
On Wednesday, David Wilkerson and his wife were in a head-on collision with a semi-truck while traveling down a Texas Road outside of Dallas. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his wife is in serious condition in the hospital. A national news report was made about the accident with just one sentence. One believer commented that the world does not realize what they have lost and that is true. For over 50 years David Wilkerson told countless numbers of people about the love of Jesus Christ and now he personally knows that love in a very amazing way.
When Elijah was carried away into the presence of God, he handed off his mantle to a servant named Elisha to carry on the work of the Almighty. I personally plan to carry the mantle of a man of God who served faithfully and powerfully for many years. May we all lift up Christ unashamedly to a world that desperately needs Him!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daily Light - April 27, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and who trembles at My word."
Isaiah 66:2

Isn't it amazing the things that people will do to get noticed? They will make drastic changes to their bodies to hopefully draw the eye of an individual. Some will dramatically change their behavior and their attitude in the hopes of getting attention. We have seen many in our society that act out in over the top ways as a ploy to grab the limelight. Others pretend to be shy and disconnected with the hope that someone will take note of them and reach out to them. Much of our lives are centered on trying to get someone else to notice us.
That brings up a question: who does God notice? Of course, God sees all and knows all. He is not fooled by the external things that we do or don't do to get the attention of others. As a loving God He cares for each of us even in our days of ignorance and disobedience. Thankfully, 2,000 years ago He noticed us on this earth when we weren't paying any attention to Him and He sent His Son to pay for our sins. However, when we say notice, who is it that God is nurturing and giving His special attention to?
Our passage clearly teaches that it is not the "glory hound" or the pridefully religious individual. God notices with His heart the humble and the meek, the one who realizes that without Him they have nothing. They are destitute of any goodness on their own without Christ. They stand before the Almighty a humble and broken individual. There is nothing that they pretend to hide from the One who knows all things, and they pour out their heart like water at the feet of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world that they want more than to hear the Father say in that day, "Well done!" They do not want fame, glory, or followers; they only want Jesus. They have come to a point in their life that they are satisfied with the little that they have because God is all that they desire.
These humble individuals long to know the Word. Yes, they long to read the written Word, but only so that they might better know the Living Word. They walk softly into the presence of the King seeking grace and mercy to help in their time of need. They know nothing of living the independent life, because they are completely dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the individuals that have the heart of God.
May you live to be noticed by Christ and Him alone today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Daily Light - April 26, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel."
Luke 7:9

Perhaps you have found it while walking or hiking through the woods; a forest so dense that you had to beat back the brush and unwrap the vines from around your legs. Maybe it was in the midst of some rocky landscape where it seemed that no life could be found. Wherever it was, there you found the most beautiful plant or flower growing where you least expected it. Had you found it in a garden it would have seemed like just another flower, but here in this place it was so surprising.
When I read of Jesus' words about this centurion's faith, I am reminded of these flowers. In Jerusalem, among God's chosen people, Jesus could not find faith. Some doubted that He could even be the Messiah and most outright rejected it. They accused Jesus of everything from sedition, blasphemy, and even demon possession. This Jerusalem under Roman rule was a wasteland for faith. Before Jesus lay a desert of dry and hardened hearts. However, in the midst of this barrenness there was a flower. On this day the most beautiful bud emerged from the rocky terrain and bloomed for every one to see. A centurion, most of whom were known for their vicious and cruel ways, humbled himself before the Almighty Lord and believed that through Jesus Christ all things were possible. Faith was found in one of the most unexpected places.
Our environments vary from person to person and even from day to day. On a Sunday when God's people gather together to worship the King of Heaven, the flowers of faith are in full bloom and expected to be that way. It is the garden of God's love on those days, but then comes Monday. The beautiful flowers of Sunday are planted in the dense jungles of wickedness and corruption. The heat of this world and all of its vices breathes wilting air on the petals of our faith. We are dared to rise from our rocky surroundings and threatened by the enemy that if we do we will be crushed. For some, they do not have to wait until Monday. They return home from their brothers and sisters of faith to an earthly family that mocks their beauty in Christ. These flowers are laughed at and shamed with scorn for believing that God really considers them precious. Their stems droop under the weight of pain and hurt, and their only nourishing moisture comes from the tears that run down their cheeks.
Each of these flowers has one thing that will help them endure the greatest trials of their days. They each have at the core of them the root of Jesus Christ. The Root is not affected by the surroundings; it can grow and even flourish in any environment. While the petals and stems may feel the heat and want to wilt, the Root cannot and will not give up. When the vines of disbelief try to choke out the life of the flower, the Root continues to send nourishment so that it may blossom even in adversity. We may be flowers and may bloom beautifully on Sunday, but it is only because each day the Root is our source of strength.
May your faith blossom in unexpected places today!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Daily Light - April 22, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"A man of great wrath will suffer punishment;
for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again."
Proverbs 19:19

This is not the first time that you have been in this situation. Your stomach is churning and your mind is racing. If you had the ability to disappear without anyone noticing, now would be a great time for you to use that power. Someone is asking you to do something for them once again, and you know in your heart that you should say no. You also know that you are going to say yes.
Too many of us have faced these difficult moments way too often. The person asking for the "favor" is usually someone that we love and care about deeply, although some of us can't even say no to a perfect stranger. Don't they know how awkward and uncomfortable they make us feel when they come to us like this? It depends on the person, because some do and some don't. More than likely though, the answer is that they don't care. As long as they get what they came for, they are happy. It is time to stand up, look some people that we love in the eyes, and say "NO". There are three reasons why.
First, if you say yes and bail them out once more, it will not be the last time. That is what this passage in Proverbs is telling us. You are continuing a cycle that will go on for the rest of their lives. There are people that often say, "How do I always end up in this situation?" It is because they keep saying yes when they should look somebody in the eye and say the most loving thing that they have ever said to them, "No!" Second, when we say yes, we are not allowing them to understand that decisions have consequences. The principle of sowing and reaping from Galatians 6 is thrown out the window, because we are taking away the penalty for their bad decisions. We love them and help them through their consequences, but it is imperative that they learn that their choices bring about certain results. Finally, one of the surprising reasons that we cannot say no is that we are full of pride. We are afraid that people will not like us if we say no when they want us to say yes. Perhaps we are afraid of losing a relationship if we say no. The Bible teaches us that "pride goes before destruction". How amazing a thought it is to realize that because we are too prideful to say no that destruction could be around the corner for that individual's life or ours! Be an individual that is loving but not an enabler. Stand up for what is right even when the cost is great.
May you learn to say the hard things today!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daily Light - April 21, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
Philippians 4:11

"The grass is a little greener, the air is a little fresher, and the problems are much fewer on the other side of the fence." This is a standard view of life for so many of us. We always want something else besides what we have. It all came very natural to us as children when we wanted the toy that another child had although we had plenty toys of our own.
There are many individuals that spend much of their time considering and dwelling on how much better it would be if things were different. If only we had a different and better job, we would feel so much more fulfilled. If we could just live in a certain place, I know that there we would truly be happy. If I could minister to a different group of people, that would give me the satisfaction that I am looking for. These are just a few of the common perspectives that too many of us have. We have based our whole happiness and fulfillment on something that we do not have. Amazingly, Paul is writing these words from the confines of a prison cell. It was probably a damp and dark room full of filth and vermin with very little ventilation and absolutely no amenities of which to speak. Here is where Paul finds contentment with no longing for a better and more fulfilling place in this world.
Think of just a few things. First, when we are not content with where we are or what we have, we are actually saying that we are not happy with God. It is not a mistake that you are where you are or have what you have. It is by the gracious and good hand of God that all of these things have come to pass. Make it an exercise to rejoice to the Lord daily for where you are and what you have, and watch how your perspective changes. Second, when we are not content, we tend to invest less where we are. God placed you here for a reason. There is a saying that we should "bloom where we are planted". In other words, don't spend time groaning and longing about something or somewhere else. When you live this way, you tend to give less of yourself to the place where you are. This is a selfish mentality, because there are people that need you right where God put you. Finally, be still. The greatest advice that we are given in the Word of God is to be still and just know God. Can you imagine Paul ramming into the door of his cell trying to bust it open and escape? That sounds ridiculous! You are not in bondage but free in Christ! Lie still in the warmth of the Son and just know Him. Close your eyes and see only God, so that when you open your eyes to your surroundings you will start seeing other and the place where you are as God sees it.
May you live in contentment today and every day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Daily Light - April 20, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Oh, that My people would listen to Me!"
Psalm 81:13

There have been many good and loving parents that have spent countless hours weeping for children who have turned in rebellion to the foolishness of sinful choices. These parents have taught their children the difference between right from wrong, yet they will not heed to all that they have been taught. Many of these "children" are now past adolescence into adult-hood and are still causing grief for their mothers and fathers. It is a painful event to watch a parent that hurts for their child so deeply.
God knows that grief. He has experienced it from those days in the Garden of Eden until today. How could Adam and Eve make such foolish choices after all that He had provided for them? How great was the despair of God as He watched the sin that dominated the lives of men and women in the days of Noah? He brought a nation out of Egypt and made them His own, yet they rejected Him time and time again. It was only when they were at the bottom and could find nothing in themselves that they turned back to God. He, being the loving and compassionate Father, saved them so many times in spite of their sin.
As a parent watches their child run from all that they have been taught, they are confused on why a child would go such a direction when they know the consequences that they are going to face will be so difficult. They have been show and given a better way, but for some reason they choose the way of pain and suffering. If only they would listen to wise counsel, they would find life to be so much more meaningful.
God often thinks the same things about us. He has pointed us in the direction of His Word and given us the example of His Son, Jesus Christ. He declares to our hearts, "This is the way, walk ye in it." However, we stubbornly refuse to listen and obey. We know the words they He says to us, but we fail to appropriate them into our lives. How impactful it is to hear the voice of God pleading with His children, "Listen to Me"! If we fail to listen, heed, and follow the voice of God, there is only pain and regret on the other side to show us our mistakes.
May we follow the leading of the Shepherd's voice today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Daily Light - April 19, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for the ministry."
2 Timothy 4:11

Irreparable. That is the way that many would have described Paul's relationship with John Mark at one time. Paul and Barnabas took John Mark on their first missionary journey, and for some reason John Mark couldn't make it and left them to return home. Paul had no time for people who couldn't stick it out. They were entering new places all of the time, and they needed each other. If someone didn't understand that, they were just not aware of the gravity of the situation. When the time came for Paul and Barnabas to head out on their next expedition, John Mark showed up with his suitcase at the invitation of Barnabas. Paul was flabbergasted and refused to allow him to go. The situation eventually divided the team of Paul and Barnabas. Surely John Mark and Paul would hold this against each other for the rest of their lives. However, now we read in Ephesians that Paul is literally requesting the presence of John Mark, and he describes him as helpful to him. What changed?
There are many individuals today that have strained relationships with people that they once greatly loved. At one time, these individuals could not have imagined a day much less years where they would not be an integral part of the other person's life. They believed that they would be there for each other to laugh together in the good times and weep in the bad times. Then, something changed all of that. Whether it was an offense, a misunderstanding, or a disagreement, it severely divided this seemingly unshakeable relationship. One or both parties may have made an attempt to work things out, but things didn't just seem to ever come together. Now, this relationship is irreconcilable. Or is it?
There are many keys to bringing a relationship back together, but the terms used to do that are words that we do not often like to hear. Words like humility and forgiveness are usually not the first terms that we would use to describe how we handle relationships, but they are absolutely necessary. Perhaps there is a face or name that springs to your mind when you think of an irreparable relationship. What are you doing to bring peace and bring two of God's children back together? Many will say that they are waiting for the other person to take the first step. One Christian author says that is always the mature one that takes the first step. Is that you?
May you discover peace in spite of trouble today!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Daily Light - April 14, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call."
Psalm 20:9

A pauper. A peasant. A nobody. The least of the least. An individual whose social status hangs on the bottom wrung of society's standards. It isn't that there is anything strange or grotesque about him, but he is simply forgettable. When he walks into a room, no one notices, and when he leaves, it is as if he was never there. A visible being in a world that believes him to be invisible.
This is the opinion that many of us have of ourselves. We live this life for whatever time that we have been given and then we pass away. There are some in our immediate circle that notice, but for the most part our lives are a tale that is told and then forgotten. We don't make much of a difference in the lives of others even though we try, and often the lives we affect forget all about us when they go their own way. To dwell on life in such a way would make you understand the words of wise King Solomon, "Therefore I hated life...for all is vanity and grasping for the wind."
This may be what you think of your life, but there is One who thinks much differently. There is a God in Heaven that sees you as His precious creation. He gave you the life that you have for a purpose, and He knows that within Himself is the power to make you all that He wants you to be. Your life in Him is not a waste but instead a precious gift that keeps giving to others but more importantly to Him.
You, a nobody according to this world, have the ear of the Almighty King of Glory! When you cry, "Save, Lord!" all of Heaven leans forward to hear your heart. The merciful and compassionate Jehovah that saves mounts His pure, white horse to ride into your circumstances. He carries with Him the sword of His Word to defeat every foe that would seek to destroy your life. There is nothing that He has not permitted that He will allow to enter your life.
He does all of this so that we might bring Him the glory and praise that He deserves. He loves us of His own will and not because we are deserving. The King has chosen to reach out to the peasant and the pauper and extend His arm of amazing grace. Praise God that He does!
May you call upon the King today!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Daily Light - April 13, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
Acts 7:55

Try to explain the beauty of the ocean and its crashing waves to the individual that lives in a land-locked region. They cannot fathom the sights, sounds, and smells that are associated with such thinking. They may have seen pictures and videos of the scenery or perhaps someone descriptively told them of the white sands and emerald waters of the Caribbean islands, but until they experience it for themselves all of these descriptions fall short.
God in His mercy gives us glimpses of Himself and His glory from time to time. We read often in the Scriptures of His power and majesty. The glory of God is so overwhelming that Moses face shone brightly after only seeing its shadow. The psalmist reflects poignantly on the beauty of God which he had never fully witnessed. Three disciples saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes, and His brightness was so overwhelming that they were not sure of what they saw.
How do you describe God? We can only describe Him by His attributes. We have no physical description of such beauty. Those that experienced God in any way for themselves came away proclaiming Him to be "Holy, Holy, Holy". There were no words that could paint such a portrait of God that man could understand how perfect He is in the beauty of His holiness.
Stephen, the man of God who had chosen to proclaim Jesus Christ in spite of persecution, is experiencing the wrath of this corrupt world. Sin and hell are bearing down on him and seeking to destroy his life. However, in the midst of man-made terror, Stephen sees what he has only been able to imagine up to this point. His spiritual eyes are now opened to see the glory of God. The phrase that says he "gazed into heaven" is incredible! This is not a figurative phrase for seeing what looked appealing to the senses. He saw what our hearts and souls long to see: God Himself. The entirety of the Trinity is involved in this moment. The complete Godhead has been manifested to this faithful servant, and it is so overwhelming that not even the physical torment of persecution can take away from its majesty. Instead, he tries to declare to others what he sees that they cannot. This sight leads him to understand God so much that he asks for his spirit to be received into that glory and to let others experience forgiveness so that they might come to know this glory as well.
May you live with a longing for the day that you will see God face to face!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daily Light - April 12, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order;
if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."
Psalm 40:5

What is the first blessing that you ever received from the hand of the Lord and you knew God was in it? Now, what was the second? How about the third? The psalmist lays before us the impossible task of naming God's blessings and demonstrations of His love in our life in order. There is absolutely no way that this is even feasible, and he knows it. God's blessings have been so great that we have forgotten more of them than we remember.
We are then challenged with another ridiculous job that a hymn writer picked up on years ago. Count your blessings! Just try to assign a number to each and every blessing in your life. Better yet, take a sheet of paper and number it from 1 to 100. Start making a list of the things that you are thankful for. Keep doing this until you run out of blessings and praises. How many sheets of paper do you think you could fill? At some point you will realize that this is an exercise of ridiculous joy! There is not enough paper or ink to write the goodness of God's hand on the lives of every man, woman or child that has ever lived.
How often do we forget the goodness of Lord? We are much like the children of Israel that saw God move miraculously among them. They would be led by fire at night and a cloud by day. By the kindness of God there was manna and quail to eat. God Himself fought against their enemies for them and left them safely in their tents. However, as soon as things went a little awry, they forgot about all of that. They began to wail and declare doom and despair. It seems that they only saw what they wanted to see.
We are awakened each day by the grace of God. The breath that flows easily from our lungs is often taken for granted. Our hearts beat at the bidding of God's divine creative power. We do not have to concentrate on the beating of our heart or the breath that fills our lungs. Most of us have more than we could ever use for ourselves. These precious few things do not even begin to compare with all that we have in Christ. Let's not dwell on what we do not have but instead see all that God has done for us!
May we see what God wants us to see today!