Beacons

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14,16) NRSV

What an awesome responsibility! God shines light into this world through His people. People who are looking for light in the darkness of this world need help to find the true source of light and life. We are invited to help them by shining as lights pointing to that ultimate Light, Jesus Christ. They may not come to your church, they may not be helped by radio or TV messages, but they still have you. You have the privilege of lighting up the path to someone looking for God. Don’t let your light grow dim, the world doesn’t need judges or critics, it needs light, the light God has put in you.

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Stayin’ Alive

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. (Psalm 119:93) NRSV

We live in a culture that is very health-conscious, and focused on preserving a good quality of life for as long as we can. Not only is that understandable, but such concerns to maintain and preserve health are laudable goals for anyone. Unfortunately, we often overlook the one true source of all life worth living. God’s word, applied to our hearts on a daily basis is a life-giving thing. Sure, we can take care of our minds and bodies, disciplining and exercising our physical selves with some benefit, but the effect is limited to this present life. We will die one day, regardless. The life Scripture speaks to is reaches far beyond the cradle to grave experience common to all humanity. The Psalmist saw it, and thus reflects the deep-seated reality that real life comes from only one Source, what the New Testament refers to as the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate (Heb. 12:2). His precepts, His word, His truth is the source of genuine, and eternal life. Listen to Him, He’s speaking to you right now.

On our way

I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14 HCSB

Paul recognized that his journey was one that would last for his entire lifetime. He consistently held the goal of God’s call in Christ as the focus of his life. In doing so, he could freely admit that he had not arrived, but was always on his way toward that goal (vv.12ff). It takes great humility of spirit to admit that we do not have all the answers, we have not yet taken hold of our prize, but we are on our way. Strangely, we hate to confess that there is so much more to know about Christ, about our faith, and about our living out that call. We prefer to show our supposed expertise, our depth of knowledge and so on. Such people, in other words, like to think they have arrived, though they would never say that aloud. To be unteachable is to be unreachable. Let us, with Paul, rejoice in our weakness and insufficiency (2 Cor. 12). Then, and only then can we  be the malleable people God wants us to be.

Living in Fellowship

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 KJ21)

What a blessing it is to live in fellowship with those around us. We share the wonderful grace of Christ’s life and love flowing in us and through us. We celebrate the forgiveness of sin, and a real joy in simply being together.

It is interesting to note that John’s words of admonition are going to a group of believers who knew intimately how difficult it can be to live out this high calling in an unbelieving world. Fellowship was about the only thing they could hang onto and it was, and remains, a priority within the church. Sadly, the groups and factions that make up the present day church around the world seem to have forgotten this critical point. It often seems to me that we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy distancing ourselves from those who differ from us. We want to make the point that our theology is the correct one, our beliefs about secondary matters are the only correct way to live out our faith. And so, we criticize, and judge those who do not agree with us. We hurt one another, we divide the church, and we are more interested in proving ourselves right than we are in walking in the the light as He is in the light. John tells us that this will result in fellowship in Christ, and that fellowship stretches far beyond the walls of our particular place of worship. Perhaps we are not walking in the light where we thought we were, and have contented ourselves to get used to seeing dimly and feeling our way along in the darkness we have created. May God wake up His church in every nation, tribe, tongue, denomination, and splinter group before it is too late.

Ay, there’s the rub

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. John 15:10 NLT

“How can I better show my love for Jesus? He is so amazing, and he does so many wonderful things, I could just burst with joy and appreciation. How can I show him how much I love him?”

Did you ever feel the desire to show God your love for him? Jesus doesn’t mince words here. You don’t need to write a new song, or create a beautiful work of art. If we really want to show God our love for him, what you and I need to do is to OBEY him. And as our good friend Hamlet would say – “Ay, there’s the rub!” Showing our love for God is not a matter of generating warm fuzzy feelings for the creator. It’s not something that comes from our sense of creativity. It is absolute, complete submission to God in obeying everything he commands. That is how Jesus demonstrated his love for the father, in obedience – even obedience unto his death on a cross. Did anyone ever love like the Son loves the Father? Take a cue from Jesus, if you really love him, then listen to what he is saying, and then obey. This is love in action.

First things first

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11 NLT

That first word in this passage is an important one. “Therefore God elevated him…” only comes after then description of Jesus’ emptying himself of all he could rightly claim as God. Instead God the Son pours himself out in profound humility in order to become human. Only in this way can he save us, and in his astounding love and grace, he comes to do that very thing. As followers of the unique Son of God who is at once God and man, why do we have such difficulty seeing what comes before “Therefore?” We all want God’s blessings, with showers of his goodness, and we seek his unending mercies toward us. But how much of ourselves are we willing to pour out so that God may exalt us? Perhaps much of the paucity of our lives as believers comes from the fact that we have no room to receive what God wants to pour into us. Only be pouring out, can we hope to be poured into. First things first, make the vessel empty, and then it can be filled. Are you making room for him to fill you?