Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Daily Light - February 28, 2012

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us."
Ephesians 3:20

We live in a world that is full of limitations.  There are those of us that hate to admit it, but we are limited in what we can accomplish in this life.  We are limited by factors that are out of our control.  There are only so many hours in a day.  We have a limited number of days in a week.  Physically there are restrictions on our bodies and in our minds.  If we could only break through these barriers, the impossible would become reality.
It would be good for us to remember the story of Gideon and the 300 men that went with him into battle.  They faced an army that outnumbered them by more than was even fathomable.  Gideon's mighty army of 32,000 had dwindled to just a handful in comparison.  They had no swords, spears, or shields with which to fight.  Their weapons consisted of lanterns and trumpets.  To win a battle in such was would be impossible except for one powerful fact:  God was with them.  As a matter of fact, He had purposely reduced their numbers and chosen their weapons for the express purposes of them being dependent on Him and His receiving the glory for the victory.
There was not a soldier including Gideon that could have fathomed what would take place in the valley below them, but when they blew the trumpets and let their lanterns shine they saw the God of the impossible do wondrous works.  This is what Paul is praying for in His letter to the Ephesian church.  This young church does not realize how great the resource of God's power is in their midst.  They possess an inordinate amount of blessing and strength, but all that they can see are their limitations.  Paul commits them to the Lord who can do "exceedingly abundantly above all that they ask or think".
How similar we are to the church of Ephesus!  We have the great and mighty God that created all things through the power of His spoken word living within us, but we are bogged down in the mud of sin and self.  We struggle with the limitations of what we can and can't do and forget to turn our lives over to the power of the Holy Spirit.  We live in defeat as if Satan is more powerful than God and therefore we will always be in bondage to the sin which does so easily beset us.  Let us remember the words of Scripture, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!"
Call now more than ever on the only One that can do what you cannot do and even what you cannot imagine.  He is not limited but limitless!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daily Light - February 23, 2012

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"The LORD our God, the LORD is one!"
Deuteronomy 6:4

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He came back to the well-known declaration of the Hebrew Shema, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."  This great commandment was preceded by the words, "The LORD our God, the LORD is one!"
Society today has a buzzword that flows through our media, corporate human resources, athletics, etc.  That word is "diversity".  It is an important word because we live in a very diverse world, especially in the United States.  People from all walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, races, and homes live, work and exist together.  Walk into almost any large or medium sized city and you will see diversity on its grandest display.  You can see it through physical characteristics, religious backgrounds, societal behaviors, etc.  People have differences in taste when it comes to clothing, food, and habits.  They look different, act different, and even smell different.  Diversity in our day and culture must be understood as normal and accepted.
However, in all of this diversity there is one thing and one thing only that remains consistent:  there is, always has been, and always will be ONE God!  Throughout the pages of Scripture and the years of history He has been on display for all to see.  From the beginning as we know it He was the Creator and Giver of life.  He declared Himself to be the I AM to Moses as He led His chosen people out of captivity.  As Jehovah (I AM) He showed Himself to be Shalom (peace), Tsidkenu (righteousness), Rapha (healer), Rohi, (shepherd), Jireh (provider), and Nissi (banner).  This same God as the fulfillment of prophecy came to this earth in the form of man (Jesus) to be the Suffering Servant that would take the sins of the world upon Himself and be the Sacrifice that was needed for sin to be cleansed.  One of His disciples would rightfully declare Him to be the Messiah.  Today we learn of Him as He (the Holy Spirit) teaches us and convicts us.  We also await the day that the clouds will be gathered at the four winds of the sky and the whole world will watch as He steps out as King of kings and calls His children to spend eternity with Him.
There may be many people with many differences, but God is the only One that can truly unite us.  Jesus came to draw all men to Himself.  He did not come for a particular race, nation, or people group.  He came because He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  Jesus Christ and He alone is the Hope that this world desperately needs.  We who have been changed by Him must shine the light of His salvation like a city set on a hill.  Let us declare to every man, woman, and child that there is one God and He loves them!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daily Light - February 22, 2012

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." 
John 14:15

Much of Jesus' ministry was in direct opposition to the religious zealots of His day.  The Pharisees did not like the message of Jesus because it did not fit in to their self-righteous doctrine and way of life.  They believed that every one should adhere to the rule of law in the way which they did.  If a person do not live as they lived they were not right with God.  This is by definition what the term legalism means.
Today we are not much different although we would like to say that we are.  We tend to interpret Jesus and His words based on our opinion and not necessarily on what He meant in the context of what He said.  There are three schools of thought on this simple passage, and two of them are more concerned about self than Christ.
First, there are those that focus entirely on the phrase "keep my commandments".  They would emphasize that if you really call yourself a Christian you would act, talk, walk, and look like one.  The external is every thing with this crowd.  They believe that they can identify "real" Christians with their eyes.  They stress the importance of going to church, having your hair cut a certain way, wearing certain types of clothing, etc.  The problem here is that the heart may not be right but that doesn't matter if all you are looking at is the outside of one's life.  Jesus sees what no one else sees, and He values the heart condition over the surface areas of life.
Second, the pendulum then swings completely the other way to those who concentrate on "if you love Me".  This group doesn't care anything about the external.  Their entire emphasis is in how they feel about Jesus.  They spend most of their time wrapped up in the emotional side of things.  It doesn't matter if you go to church, because as long as you love Jesus that is all He cares about.  You can look any way and do any thing you want, because Jesus knows how much you love Him.  Their favorite phrase is "don't judge me".  The problem with this way of thinking is that our love for God does not give us permission to abandon principles that are clearly given in the Word of God.  God is completely loving, but He is also completely holy and just at the same time.  We must love God, but we also must demand holy lives of ourselves.
Finally, there is the crowd that balances these two phrases and does not see them as contrary to one another.  The Bible tells us that a false balance is an abomination, and we are instructed to not be double-minded.  We are to live by the whole counsel of God's Word and to take it in its entirety as it meshes together.  We are to keep God's commandments, because we love God.  The evidence of our love for God is a changed life.  We love Him so much that we want to be like Him, and we will therefore live according to His Word.  We don't do what we do to please man.  We live our lives to bring glory to the Father through Jesus Christ.  Christ is our motivation!  We don't allow others to bind us into their religious mindset so that they are pleased.  This love we have for Christ gives us the liberty to live out loud our faith.  There will always be those who say that we aren't doing it right, but we do not answer to them.  We answer to One who is above all!
Jesus desires for His children to know His love and return that love.  The evidence of our love for Him will clearly be known by Him through our hearts and displayed by our obedience to Him.  Love and obedience to Christ work hand in hand and liberate us to become what He desires us to be!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daily Light - February 21, 2012

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain."
2 Corinthians 6:1

Do you remember as a child receiving something wonderful unexpectedly? It didn't have to necessarily be any thing of great value to others, but it meant the world to you. Perhaps a parent or grandparent took you to get an ice cream. It was such a treat that even now you feel joy as you reminisce about that moment. You cherished every lick or bite of that ice cream. You didn't want to waste any of it. You even went to all the precautions to make sure that none of it escaped through that little point at the bottom of the cone. Wow! That is special!
As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth he knew that they had been through great trials and difficulties. They had been on the front line battle with sin, pride, and self. These things had done damage to the entire body of Christ. However, they have dealt with these things and have seen that God's grace is abundant especially in their weakness. With joy they have received this grace and are now moving on to live daily in that grace. Paul feels it necessary to encourage them and even admonish them about this grace.
Perhaps grace is a word that we have used so much that we have lost the meaning. It is popularly sung in many songs and said in phrases by those in religious and secular realms. When grace is referred to in Scripture it is not an empty word. It is a word that bestows love and forgiveness to the unlovable and the guilty. Grace pours out hope and peace to the hopeless even through the chaos of their circumstances. Grace is the unexpected and undeserved gift of God to desperate and undeserving man. When received it is cherished beyond words or emotion. No amount of intellectual musing can fathom the expanse of its borders.
Paul, in recognition of this great grace, implores the recipients to not waste one drop of it. Guard your hearts from those things that would make you get used to this grace. Never let a day go by that you do not return to God and give Him thanks. Live each day to please the one who found you in your unworthy state and made you worthy. This is no mere ice cream cone that will eventually melt away. This grace is eternal, and we will live in it not only in this life but for eternity.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Daily Light - February 16, 2012

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you."
John 14:27
"Peace be with you."
John 20:19

The night before Jesus was crucified He sat with His disciples and tried to prepare their hearts for what was about to take place. While they did not understand all that He was saying, in that moment they were given the greatest gift that He could offer them: peace. Jesus knew that for the next few hours and even days they would be fearful and doubtful. They would face an uncertainty that was unimaginable at the moment that He offered them this peace.
Fast forward to several days later and you will find the disciples huddled into a room with the door shut tightly. Somehow they have survived the horror of the last few days. One of their own was found to be the one who betrayed Jesus. The unspoken leader of the group is in great distress after having admitted to denying that he even knew Jesus. The rest of them were no better because they fled in their Messiah's hour of need. Suddenly, in the midst of their turmoil, Jesus steps into the room and offers them peace once again. His offer is not one of prosperity or better times but simply peace that passes all understanding.
It seems very reasonable to come to this conclusion when looking at these offers in context: If Jesus promises and gives peace before and after a trial, there is no doubt that we have His peace in the midst of the trial. He is completely aware of what you will face this day and the days ahead. He knows every "bump in the road" and every tragedy that may strike. His gift to us is peace before we ever face the difficulty. When the trials come, He is with us in the midst of our storm. As a matter of fact, while we are busily bailing water from the boat trying to keep it from sinking, Jesus is peacefully asleep. Why? Is it because He doesn't care? No. It is simply the fact that He knows the outcome. There is no panic on His part. We have to learn to rest when He rests, and be still and know that He is God. Finally, when He speaks and the once troubled waters are as smooth as glass, we bow before Him with a peace that passes all understanding and say, "My Lord and my God!"
Peace is only as good as the source of the peace. We will be offered it from multiple sources in this life, but at the end of all things we will conclude that the only peace that amounted to any thing was from the One that we call both Everlasting and the Prince of Peace.
May you have peace through His name today!