Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daily Light - May 31, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two."
Matthew 5:41

When I began running on a regular basis a couple of years ago, I found it to be quite difficult. I was reminded of those early days while on my morning run yesterday. Quite a while ago I set up some markers on the road so that I knew how far I was running. I passed one of those markers yesterday and thought back to the first time that I reached that mark. You would have thought that I had finished a marathon in record time back then. I was so excited, because I had completed an amount of mileage that I never thought possible. On a daily basis now I run past that mark and never give it another moment's thought. My eyes are on a mark that is way beyond that one now.
Jesus is teaching His disciples about what it means to forgive others and serve them at the same time. Those are two areas that all of us struggle with. For some, forgiveness is an ugly word, because that very word makes them think of someone that they find it impossible to forgive. The offense that has been committed against them is too great. How could Jesus expect us to forgive that person, but even more astounding He also wants us to serve that person on top of it all? Obviously, from this passage Jesus knows very well that to live this type of life is not natural or normal for man. We cannot find it in ourselves to stoop to this level. It is like that mark that seemed so far away that to run there without stopping felt impossible.
God is calling all of us to push ourselves beyond our natural boundaries. It is beyond our selves that we are completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit. As long as we are only doing what we think is possible, we are in control of our lives. It is when we pass the mark of our own power that we come into the realm of knowing God's power and seeing how He can work through us. Serving others, especially those who are difficult to serve, is going to take a power that you do not have in yourself. We may walk the first mile with them grudgingly, but when we start living like Christ, we find that the second mile is service not simply to them but to our Lord.
May you walk two miles for Christ today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daily Light - May 17, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be
absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."
2 Corinthians 5:8

We have all experienced that day that is dreaded above all. The fear of the unknown and the chill of the mysterious have rippled up and down our spines. We have stood with those dearest to us, strongly embraced them, and even felt their tears fall on us as we watched someone so precious to us take their last breath. It is a moment of grief that is rivaled by nothing else in this world.
At that same moment, however, the sweet soul of that loved one that knows Christ as their Lord and God is being raptured into the presence of their Maker. As we cling tightly to their hands, they are being released into the joy of the Lord. That mystery of the Almighty which this human mind searches to understand is now made clear for them. The smile that we would long to see just one more time is brighter and fuller than it has ever been before. Every happiness that they have enjoyed on this earth seems as sorrow compared to the joyful state in which they now find themselves. They outwardly gasp at the glory that is being revealed when God Himself welcomes them into His presence for not only the first time but forever!
We stand however in a much different state. We are left with the remnants of humanity, a lifeless body. As believers it is right and good to grieve. We do not grieve for the one who has passed, but we groan within ourselves for the loss and the hopeless feelings of a fallen world. We would love to feel the warmth of their embrace just one more time, but they would love for us to feel the embrace of our Savior. We would give almost any thing to see them smile again, but they can't wait until we see the smile of Jesus for ourselves. We desperately want answers that no man has; they have seen the Answer to every question worth asking.
Let us always remember that our grief and weeping may endure for the night, but joy surely comes in the morning!
May you know the joy of Christ for eternity!
In memory of my friend: Everett Biggs (October 9, 1930 - May 17, 2011)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Daily Light - May 11, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"To whom then will you liken God?"
Isaiah 40:18

Beethoven. Victoria. Einstein. Dickens. The list of names could go on forever. Each of these individuals and many others accomplished astounding things that have shaped our world to be what it is today. We would also say that they are "arguably" the best in their field. They have the credentials to prove the worthiness of this title. Imagine for a moment if you could take the artistry of a Beethoven, the leadership of a Victoria, the brilliance of an Einstein, the eloquence of a Dickens and roll it into one person. What an amazingly gifted person that would be, and the accolades that they would receive from this world would be numerous! However, they could in no way compare to the Almighty God!
What man's very being can stretch from eternity to eternity? Who beside God has always been, is today, and always will be? What man with just his spoken word created not only the beautiful majesty of this earth but also the amazing and untouched expanse of the universe? What man is so diligent in his creation that he not only created and named every star but he chose to place his own image on that which he formed from the dust of the ground? What man would love so much that when his own creation turned his back on him and fell under the curse of death that he would choose to bring them back by giving his own life for them?
What man is so holy in his nature that he cannot lie or fall under the deception of a cruel world? What man hears the cries of the abused child, the grieving widow, the guilty prisoner, the wayward son, and the repentant sinner? What man can keep his promise to never leave nor forsake those that he loves? What man can bring victory from defeat, joy out of mourning, and peace in the midst of trouble? What man can continue to persevere generation after generation even as throngs try to destroy his credibility and his name? What man can bring a mighty king to his knees and at the same time raise up a lowly servant to heavenly places?
The answer is simple. There is no one like our God! Man may doubt Him, mock Him, deny Him, and even crucify Him. Man may try to explain Him away or say that He doesn't even exist, but the fact that He is will not change. There is no one like our God!
May you know Him and Him alone today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daily Light - May 10, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel."
Psalm 78:41

Bondage. Slavery. Death. Destruction. These are not only the words that were familiar to the children of Israel, but it was their way of life. In the land of Egypt this was all that they knew. Then, God in His grace and love intervened on their behalf. He brought out His people from the nightmare of their daily lives and gave them a hope and a promise that consisted not only of a new land but His own eternal presence. These would be a people that would live with gratitude continually on their lips and trust in their heart for the Almighty, or would they?
It seems from the history of this nation that every time God poured out His blessings upon them that they grew even more hard-hearted against Him. God's provision was never enough; there was always a desire for something new and different. "Do for us something that we have not seen before. Prove that you are really God!" We are told that this spirit that came from God's people had an effect on the Divine. The Bible says that it "limited the Holy One". The word "limited" here would correspond well with the New Testament idea of "grieving the Holy Spirit". They could not receive all that God had prepared for them, because they did not place their complete trust in Him. This brings grief to God when He knows all that they are missing through a lack of faith.
We know today what it means to be freed from the bondage and slavery of sin. That sin had a destructive force in our lives, and we recognized that the only thing that it would bring is death. Jesus Christ bought our redemption on the cross of Calvary through His grace and love. He told us to not let our hearts be troubled, because there was not just the hope of Heaven to look forward to but there is also a promise that He will never leave us. You would think that we would live in complete gratitude and place our faith daily in the wisdom of the Almighty, but is that true?
Has our lack of faith in God brought grief to the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that we have limited the good and gracious hand of God in our lives, because we simply could not put our faith in the only One who can do all things and do them well? Let us not "limit the Holy One" but allow Him to do all that He has planned for us.
May you live in the realm of total faith today!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Daily Light - May 6, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you."
John 14:27

Have you ever received a notice in the mail that said, "Congratulations, you have just won a free trip to the Bahamas!"? Do you remember how there was a bit of excitement in you even though you knew that it was probably a scam? You opened the envelope any way just to see and discovered that it was truly free if: you went alone, slept in a cardboard box outside a resort, and fasted for the entire week. We've all been there; there is always a catch.
This is why Jesus said that He does not give as the world gives. He gives to us simply because He loves us. The focus of His gift in this passage is of course His peace. There are many things that we learn about God from the Scriptures, and one of them is that His love is unconditional. However, do we realize that is not the only thing that is unconditional about God? His peace is also unconditional.
Maybe we have trouble grasping this idea of peace being unconditional, because we think of peace as an emotion or state of mind. Peace cannot be condensed to simply these things. If you read this passage carefully, you will notice that this not just any peace that we are given. Jesus said that He is giving us HIS peace. Whoa! Jesus has just essentially promised us Himself and with that His own thoughts and feelings. Does Jesus panic when there are more bills than we have money? Does Jesus stay up all night when the doctors give us news that we weren't expecting? When one of our loved ones strays from the truth, does Jesus fret about how things are going to turn out? The answer of course is no. This is the point where we realize that peace is not in our circumstances or how they end, but peace is knowing that through it all that Jesus is in control.
This kind of peace is unconditional, because Christ is not bound by conditions. He gives us peace through our greatest and most troubling times, because He is not fazed by our troubles. This great gift of peace is meant to be everlasting for the child of God. It is not a temporary commodity that will phase out at some point of our lives. Christ is eternal, therefore our peace is eternal. We can stand on the most difficult days of our lives and have the assurance that all is well in Him. This strength that we find in the peace of God is beyond our understanding and comprehension.
May you live in the peace of the Master of the wind today!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Daily Light - May 5, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"But fornication (sexual sin)and all uncleanness (impure motives) or covetousness (greed),
let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints."
Ephesians 5:3

A man by the name of Dick Fosbury revolutionized a part of sports that most of us hardly ever think about: the high jump. His technique which became known as the "Fosbury flop" changed the sport so that the bar could literally be set higher for future jumpers. Fosbury's technique became the standard by which all high jumpers are held.
Paul is telling the church in Ephesus that there is another standard by which they must abide that is far more important. This standard is what is fitting and expected for the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The bar is most definitely set higher for those that would be called the children of God. Unfortunately, there is often a move to set the bar where we want it instead of God. Some do it because they are trying to be more "relevant" to the culture, and they don't want to stand out in the world. Others move the bar lower because they are trying to cover up for their own sin or even the sins of others. One crowd confronts sin by admitting to it but excusing it because "no one is perfect and we are all messed up any way". Another group tries to ignore the sin and act as if it doesn't exist; instead of confronting it they stick their head in the sand and hope that it all goes away. Any accusations of wrong doing are met with statements like "don't judge me" or "you are just trying to stir up trouble".
The church of Jesus Christ needs to take steps to reclaim the testimony of Jesus Christ in this world. It is a travesty that sexual sin, selfish motives, and financial greed are tolerated among God's people. From the pulpit to the pew there needs to be a call for all immorality to be done away with. People who claim to be children of the King are wallowing around in the hog pen of sin but then trying to wash up on their own and walk into the church. The world sees this and they rightly say that those who do so are hypocrites. 99% of the church can be doing right, but that 1% that is living in hypocrisy will be the focus of this lost world.
We must confess our sins and get right with a holy God. We need to confront brothers and sisters that are living in sin in order to restore their souls. It may cost you friendships, relationships, or even positions, but it is well worth doing what is right for the glory of God.
May you be honest in your heart before God today!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daily Light - May 4, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war."
Psalm 120:7

It seems as if we are obsessed with violence. The most popular movies, television programs, and video games are filled with violence that is just over the top. There is a fascination with it that has become unhealthy for the average consumer. We would like to blame the media for the problem, but they wouldn't be selling it if there weren't a market for it. Most people are obsessed with violence because there is an unsettled rage within the heart of man. We want to vent our frustrations and feed the side of us that desires revenge on others.
This attitude is even prevalent within the church. People seem to long for someone to have a problem with; they are prepared at any moment to argue over any thing that comes their way. They revel in conflict and disagreement and appear to be unsatisfied if things are at peace. The psalmist had a completely different attitude that should be the prevailing attitude among God's children.
Does your heart crave peace? Does trouble, consternation, and disagreement grieve you or do you secretly love it? It is apparent from the psalmist that those who hate God are the ones that are always looking for a fight. They try desperately to get others riled up and angry; they want nothing of this so-called peace. If this were written today, they would say that peace is for wimps. Real men are not only ready to fight, but they are looking for one. They hate their brother without any cause. They spend most of their time trying to tear down another individual and provoke them to anger. As Paul said of those things that are unspiritual, don't let this attitude be named among God's children.
Please know that if you determine to be a peace-maker you will have more enemies than you did before. When you speak up for God and for what is right, they will see that as a call to fight. When you try to share the love of God that leads to a peace that passes all understanding, they will see you as a threat to their way of life. When this happens, realize that God's way is peace and you are to be an ambassador of that peace. The way to peace for all men is through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Declare Him and not war on those around you.
May you know peace in the midst of chaos today!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Daily Light - May 3, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God
in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat."
Acts 27:35

You have at some time heard someone say, "How can you eat at a time like this?" That is exactly what many of the people aboard this ship were thinking when Paul decided it was time for lunch. Paul, now a prisoner, is on his way to Rome to stand trial. The ship he is on is in the midst of a storm and headed for certain disaster. If you have ever been in a storm on the water, then you know that it is something to fear. In that moment is a feeling of helplessness like you have never known. These sailors have been in this storm for two weeks now and have not had any thing to eat. They are mentally, physically, and emotionally worn. What they need is a miracle, right?
Well, not really. What they really need is an individual that has complete confidence in God to give them encouragement and impart to them wisdom. While it is a miracle that none of the 276 people on board the ship did not die, Paul was not promising miraculous signs and wonders. He was simply sharing with them some desperately needed courage. Over the next several days they would need strength to fight against the storm. It would take every muscle in their bodies to throw cargo overboard and eventually swim to shore. The food that Paul encouraged them to eat would go a long way in their eventual circumstances.
So many times in our lives when we face a storm, we act as if what we need is a miracle to get us out of the storm. We cry and wail to God for deliverance from this "evil" that has fallen upon us. Our thoughts are troubling to us even as we sleep. Where is God, and why doesn't He deliver us now? Perhaps, God is calling on you to use the wisdom and the knowledge that He has already given to you before you ever entered into this storm. God calls on us to have confidence in Him that no matter what we may face He will give us the courage and strength to get through it.
There is this popular idea that believers should never face great difficulties and that if they do then God will come swooping down to take us out of our circumstances. However, the Bible gives us example after example of God's faithfulness to His children as they endured and persevered through the storms of life. This storm may be exactly what God wants for your life, and if it is, He will give you the strength to make it through to the other side.
May you confidently face that storm today!