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They will be so kind and merciful and good, that they will be a light in the dark for others who do the right thing. Psalm 112:4 (CEV)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! Ephesians 5:8 (NLT)

Light. It’s comforting to the young mom after a night comforting a sick child; it’s calming to the sleepless heart after a night of storms; it warms the fingers and toes and brings a smile to those in the cold; it brings relief to the ship captain as he guides his cargo and crew safely into harbor; it provides needed nutrients for plants to produce their fruit. Life can not exist without light.

It’s no wonder Jesus and others use this analogy in reference to the church, his body. He knew the importance of providing light to those in darkness. Light has nothing to do with darkness because light by its very presence dispels darkness once and for all.

The world is full of darkness. We see it in the politics of the nations, the lies of its people, the deceptive tactics of the enemy. Darkness can creep into the church itself with words of condemnation, criticism and legalism. Religion based on rules and dogmas is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, ready to distract us from our real purpose of giving those around us hope, sharing the message of forgiveness, showing mercy to those who are lost.

We are called to be the light of the world. When we use the tactics of the world to respond to the issues of life, we become part of the darkness, not the light. People are looking for light, not more darkness.

Spread the grace of Jesus to those who need some light today. Our purpose is not to pass judgment; not to condemn; not to burden down with guilt. That is the work of darkness. Rather, spread light today to those around you who disagree with you. Rather than defending your cause to their face, talk over the issues with your father on your knees. Only he can change hearts.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy in our culture to become messengers of darkness rather than beacons of light. Empower me today with your Spirit so that I can spread the light of your grace, forgiveness and hope to those seeking the light. Amen.


Don’t rip your clothes to show your sorrow. Instead, turn back to me with broken hearts. I am merciful, kind, and caring. I don’t easily lose my temper, and I don’t like to punish. Joel 2:13 (CEV)

When I was in about sixth grade a couple of friends of mine decided to have an overnight campout in one of the guys backyard. The tent was only big enough for two guys but they said I could hang out with them if I wanted to sleep under the stars. I went home and asked permission from my mom. Problem was, she said no. I could go back to play, but had to be home by dark.

I never went home that night. I lied to my friends about the pseudo permission I received and had an absolutely miserable time. They didn’t know it of course. I kept it well hidden as we played cards, sat around the campfire and told stories.

I slept under the stars that night with nothing but my light jacket. I assured my friends it was by my choice to sleep that way. I was cold. I was scared. Every little sound awakened me from a fitful slumber.

The odd part was, I was within eyesight of home. Just a short walk to a warm bed. In spite of that I was determined to do things my way. Even when I saw my dad drive by at about dusk I ignored the guilt and pain associated with knowing I was wrong! I took the long way home late the next morning. I was hungry, cold, tired and guilty. When I got home the next morning I was grounded for my actions. Both of my parents reminded me of the rules and assured me of their love, but that didn’t change the consequences.

You may be living the same way today. You are determined to live life your way. You know what God requires. You know the path you should take. You know that what you are doing is displeasing to God. You may even do as I did that night and try to convince yourself that everything is fine and life is good.

When you do things your way and leave God out there is an emptiness that nothing can fill. Relationships won’t fill it. Religion won’t fill it. Money, toys and social status won’t fill it. The only thing that will fill that emptiness is living for Jesus.

The prophet Joel wrote to a stubborn, rebellious people. People who’d seen God work many times but refused to follow him. Through the prophet God sends the people ofIsraelthe same lesson he sends us. ‘Come home. Get serious about life and living. I don’t want your rituals. I want your heart. I don’t want words. I want a passionate relationship with you. I’m patient. I understand your plight. I won’t lose my temper with you.’

PRAYER: Father God I have tried so many things to fill this void in my life. I confess that I am afraid to come home to you. I’m so used to people responding to my failures with anger and hostility I expect the same from you. Thank you for your patience, love, mercy and grace. Forgive me for being stubborn. Empower me to live for you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all. Proverbs 22:2

Try as we might to avoid it, we put labels on people. We judge them by the way they dress; the work they do; the church they go to; whether they go to church; their sexual orientation; their marital status and a whole list of other things. We don’t even realize it half the time!

I wonder how much anger would be removed from the world if we could just grasp the truth of Proverbs 22:2.

“The Lord is maker of us all.” It’s not our education that makes us. It’s not the government or unions or social status that makes us what we are. It’s the Lord God of heaven that determines the important things about us. I don’t buy into the idea that we are ‘all God’s children’ in the spiritual sense. Spiritually speaking there are plenty of passages in the Bible that tell us that a child of God is one who has accepted Christ as Savior and repented of their sin and called Jesus Lord.

But the Bible also says we are all made in God’s image, male and female, rich and poor, Christian or non-Christian. We don’t always understand the big ‘why’ questions. For example, why are some people rich and some poor? Is it because rich people are smarter? No. Is it because they try harder? Sometimes, but certainly not always. Is it because they were born into a situation that gave them their wealth? Again, sometimes but there are many people who have risen from poverty to wealth.

What is it then that makes us rich? The answer is really two-fold. First of all we need to re-define wealth. Wealth isn’t determined by what you have in your bank account, the size of your pension plan or your social standing. True wealth comes from within. It’s an attitude. So, in one sense we can all be wealthy in the things of the heart.

Secondly, anything we consider of value: money, talents, spiritual gifts, etc. comes directly from God. True wealth is not a government option. True wealth is not a result of unions or political action. God determines, for whatever reason, who is wealthy. Period.

Seek to grow wealthy in the important areas of your life. Seek to show mercy. Sow love. Cultivate compassion. Grow in the riches of Godliness through reading God’s Word, prayer and fellowshipping with others. Stop looking at what other people make or do or have. Focus on what God has given you. He is the true source of all wealth and His wealth lasts for eternity.

PRAYER: Another day Father where your word has cut me to the bone. So much of my anger, frustration and anxiety comes from what I have physically or what I want. I so often forget that anything I have or others have is directly a result of you. Forgive me for judging what others have as though it’s unfair or greedy. Empower me to seek True Wealth through you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

A few years ago the then-governor of Minnesota made the statement that “Faith is for weak-minded people.” However, weak-minded faith is faith in something that isn’t true. Weak-minded faith is faith in a lie, a system, a human, a philosophy.

Faith in the one and only triune God isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and courage. It’s faith with a capital ‘F’.

A person with this kind of Faith has the strength to face the challenges of life with the attitude that says I’ll do what I can to make my world better, knowing all the while that the success of my venture isn’t dependent on me but on God.

A person of Faith makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are huge. Sometimes those mistakes are willful choices to take the easy way. But in the end the person of faith is secure in knowing that they are loved by God. This person of faith, even when far from where he/she wants to be continues to battle back. Knowing all the while that their ‘righteousness’ isn’t based on their actions but on their hearts desire for a fulfilling relationship with God.

A person of Faith sees the social ills of the world around him/her and works to make them better all the while making the sacrifices needed to show the love and grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Even to those people who they disagree with. Even to those people who abuse the system. This person knows that true justice will never come to this world at the hands of mankind but still works towards that end.

A person of Faith looks at family and friends who are living apart from God and loves them back into the kingdom. They realize that restoration of the soul takes time and effort and prayer. They realize that relationship is more important than condemnation and that restoration is done better with gentle hands and patience than a sledge hammer and duct tape.

A person of Faith thinks before he/she talks. Puts themselves in the other person’s shoes before taking action to change things. Loves in the midst of hatred. Brings an attitude of calm in the midst of the storm. A person of Faith realizes that the still quiet voice based on Godly principles is much louder that a beating drum and blaring speakers or legalism.

PRAYER: Father God. I want to be a person of Faith. I’m so frustrated right now with where I find myself on the journey of life. I’m angered and frightened by what I see going on around me both on the world-wide scale and in my own corner of the world. Empower me with your spirit to practice strong faith. Faith that says no matter what happens I know you are in complete control. Help my actions be the change-agent my loved ones need. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

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