Archive for October, 2011

Be filled with the light of God


                “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.  The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light” (Luke 11:  33-36.)


                Most ancient lamps were round, hollow clay containers filled with oil.  One end of the wick was plunged in to the oil; the protruding end was lit.  Although the visible wick seemed to be the source of the light, it was not; the true source was the oil hidden within the lamp.  Every human being is a lamp; a vessel; a hollow container that is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Much like the flaming wick, the light from within man, pours out of the eyes (for all the world to see.)  Those who observe the radiance of Christ are drawn toward it; God’s greatest desire is for others to receive His Spirit, that they might be transformed and become vessels of His light to all those who dwell in darkness.

                As a new Christian I remember that some believers eyes were unique; looking in to them was like looking in to crystal clear water; there were no waves; there was no turmoil; just a supernatural purity and peace (Their eyes weren’t shifty; they blinked less, and always maintained eye contact when talking.)  However, some people’s eyes were filled with darkness.  I knew one man who was engaging in perversion; his eyes were dull, and covered in a yellowish film; even the hair and the skin on his face appeared drab (his condition was not biological, but spiritual.)  As he began to grow closer to God, that yellowish film began to fade away; his eyes began to clear; and his face began to warm.  (When a person has a seizure, or suffers a concussion, their eyes go blank and they become unresponsive; the lights go out; it is as if the person is no longer there.  The eyes of those who walk in darkness are empty.  They may live, work, have children, and even pay taxes, but they are not truly alive; they are hollow on the inside; they are dead; and only Christ can breathe life into them.

                Today, many are overflowing with the Spirit of God and many are not.  How can non-believers can be filled (and believers grow closer to the Lord?)  They can ask God daily for His Holy Spirit.  They can take time to pray and to speak with God.  Reading the bible is another act that produces faithfulness.  Also, practicing the teachings of Christ will increase spiritual growth.  Every act of selflessness, charity, outreach, and love increases our intimacy with God.  As God continues to fill us, others will see something different in our eyes.  They will see a peace, clarity, purity, and a genuine hope that only the children of God possess.  May God fill you with His Holy Spirit, and may you be a light to others in this dark world.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we lift You up; You are an awesome and mighty God; full of grace, peace, and mercy.  Push the darkness out of our hearts, and fill us to overflowing with Your light.  Help us to have eyes that are beacons of hope to others; eyes through which You can draw the lost to Yourself and to Your Son.  May our eyes reveal all of Your glory, and all of Your goodness.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”

Relying upon God


                Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written:  ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”  Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”  Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Mathew 26: 31-35.)


               Peter boldly rejected Christ’s prophecy; he vainly exalted himself above the other disciples, saying, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  Despite great effort, he would go on to deny the Lord three times before morning.  Without Jesus, Peter failed to maintain his faith in the midst of crippling fear (The Lord had been his comforter; his protector; and his provider; without him, Peter became as weak as any other man.)  Jesus promised that he would eventually send a replacement; after his resurrection and ascension, he fulfilled his commitment; Peter and the other disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost [the Holy Spirit is the fullness of God dwelling within the human heart.]  After receiving God’s Spirit, Peter’s strength was restored; he immediately entered a crowded temple and boldly preached the gospel.  The Peter that denied Christ leaned on his own strength; the Peter that proclaimed Christ relied upon God’s power.  For the sake of Christ, Peter went on to endure beatings, imprisonment, persecutions without number, and even death [he was crucified upside down in the city of Rome.]  Without God, it is impossible to accomplish even the simplest tasks.  With God, it is possible to move mountains.

               Peter shares the experience of divine empowerment with some other notable men of the bible.  While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, a young Hebrew man named Moses who had grown up in Pharaoh’s household, believed it was his destiny to free his people.  One day, Moses witnessed an Egyptian task master, beating one of his countrymen.  Filled with rage, and a sense of duty, he killed the Egyptian.  In an effort to conceal his crime, he buried the body beneath the sand.  The body was discovered, and a few days later, Moses’ life was in jeopardy.  Alone, and defeated, he fled to the desert and became a shepherd.  For decades he cared for livestock.  At the age of 80 God appeared to him and instructed him to return to Egypt to free his people.  He responded by telling God he wasn’t ‘the right man for the job.’  He no longer believed he was capable of accomplishing the task.  A once prideful and self-reliant young man, had become an old man who recognized his own weakness (apart from God); he was finally ready to be used by the Lord.  The young Moses, with his own power, was unable to bury a single Egyptian.  The mature Moses, with God’s power, led a nation to freedom, and buried the entire Egyptian army beneath the waves of the red sea.

               Western culture promotes self-reliance; in the divine culture, reliance upon God is paramount.  Is there anything in your life that you are trying to accomplish on your own?  Are you attempting to endure a difficult trial unaided?  Are you struggling to overcome an addiction in isolation?  Do you look to God for provision, or are you the provider?  Your best efforts will never compare to the works of God.  No matter how large the obstacle, or how great the need, if you humble yourself, you will harness the power of the one true and living God.  Do this, and you will be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 13.)

               “Lord Heavenly Father, we honor and praise You.  You are an amazing God.  Apart from You we are weak and incapable of accomplishing good things.  Be our strength; may we rely upon You and not upon ourselves.  Give us victory over the things that cause us to stumble; may we stand firm, may we endure, and may we overcome.  May our hearts be humble, and our lived filled with joy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Forgiving others completely


                “Take heed to yourselves.  If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17: 3-4.)


                God’s forgiveness is not without stipulation; those who desire His mercy must be merciful; those who yearn for His forgiveness must not withhold forgiveness from others.  Refusal to forgive is the first step on a journey that leads away from God.  Hatred, anger, and resentment have no place in the heart of the believer; unresolved bitterness creates division between God and man.  His true children desperately seek to be like Him; Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   Every disciple seeks to defend the weak; to feed the hungry; to love the outcast; and to forgive others without exception or restraint (just as God Himself does.)  There are no limits to God’s perfect mercy; those who call Him Lord, are his representatives; as believers it is our duty to forgive unconditionally; reconciliation leads to revelation; for those who observe our limitless compassion have laid eyes upon the unseen and everlasting God.

                In 1956 five American missionaries flew in to the jungles of Ecuador to make contact with a hostile and war like tribe of Indians known as the Waodani.  All five men were speared to death.  The families were devastated by the loss; in one day, numerous children were orphaned, and many wives became widows.  Did the families seek vengeance?  Did they cry out for justice?  No […] instead Elizabeth Elliot (who had lost a husband), and Rachael Saint (who had lost a brother), heard the call of God and forgave the tribesmen unconditionally.  Elizabeth and Rachael continued to evangelize the natives, and the Waodani people eventually invited them in to their community.  One by one, the members of the tribe began to commit their lives to Jesus Christ.  The men who had perpetrated the murders expressed great joy in knowing that they had been forgiven by God (the women eventually formed lifelong friendships with these men.)  Out of love, the Waodani Church was born; a church that thrives to this day; they have put down their spears and have even begun to evangelize other tribes in the area (at great personal risk to themselves.)  This amazing work of God was only possible because two women were willing to completely forgive those who had harmed them; without limit or restriction.

                Forgiving others is not a suggestion, a recommendation, or a request; it is a command; a command that heals both the forgiver and the forgiven.  Animosity toward others distances us from God.  Is there anyone you are angry with?  Has someone caused you pain?  Is there someone you need to forgive?  Search your heart; dig deep; and ask God to give you the courage, and strength to let go of your resentment; to lay down your hatred; to do away with your bitterness; and in turn, He will give you peace […] and your heart will overflow with joy as you grow ever closer to the God of forgiveness and mercy. 

                “Lord Heavenly Father, search our hearts and reveal to us any resentments.  If there is hidden hatred, bring it to our attention and help us to forgive completely.  May we love as You have loved.  May our forgiveness be as Yours.  May we be kind to those who have harmed us; may we bestow compassion on those who have treated us poorly; and may we be examples of Your great mercy.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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