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“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

light in darknessHave you ever had one of those nights when you lay awake waiting for morning because daylight may be the only relief you get from the worry in your heart and soul? You breathed a sigh of relief of seeing the first glimmer of dawn because it signaled the dawn of a new day and hopefully respite from your pain?

Have you ever been under attack for your faith? Even though you had complete faith in what God’s word said, you watched as people you loved and respected seemed to turn away. The loneliness was harsh and your emotions ranged from pain (for what was being done to Jesus) to anger (because when attacked, anger is the easiest emotion).

Have you suffered through the loss of a loved one? Even though you knew they were in the arms of Jesus. Even though you knew they were without pain. Even though you knew that someday you would be reunited again and rejoice for eternity. Even though you knew all those things, the pain was still unbearable?

Have you ever watched the news with horror as sin was celebrated as normal and everything you knew pleased your Lord and Savior was being mocked, ridiculed and scorned? In the midst of it all, you felt completely helpless. Like Noah, you watched society fail and the raindrops begin to fall?

Here’s some good news. You were never called to conquer the world. Jesus will take care of that. You were never commissioned to be the one to turn the tide of events. That has already been planned out.

All we were called to do is shine. That’s it. Just shine. John writes in his first epistle that God is light. No darkness, just light (1 John 1:5). Jesus tells us that we are lights on a hill, like a city on a hill that is impossible to hide.

Remember this the next time the darkness seems to creep in around you. The deeper the darkness, the brighter even the smallest light will shine. No amount of darkness will ever be able to subdue, conquer or change the effectiveness of light.

I have a favorite campground in far northern Minnesota. A few years ago I was sitting on the shore late at night. The stars were amazing. In the distance I saw the small flicker of a campfire on an island on the other side of the lake. Just a small fire, yet it was clearly visible in the darkness.

Be a light for Jesus. Let God’s Spirit determine your effectiveness. Just shine. Shine because of the God within you, not because of the gods surrounding you. Your God is greater!

PRAYER: Father God. I confess that I worry rather than trust; that I doubt when I should have faith; that I am afraid when I should be confident and that I get discouraged when I could be encouraged by the fact you are in control. For today, let my light shine for you regardless of the darkness around me. Amen.

And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Jeremiah 1:8

bibleThe story is told of an illegal Bible Study found out in a communist country. The soldiers who discovered the Bible Study told those in attendance that they would all be shot. Then, in a moment of false mercy, the head soldier said, “I’ll let you go if you spit on the Bible we’ve discovered. One by one people approached the Bible, spit on the open pages and left hurriedly. Then, a young girl approached the now spit covered Bible. She knelt, wiped away the spit with her dress and kissed the Bible. The soldier pointed his gun and pulled the trigger.

What a brave story of heroism and love for the Lord Jesus. This young girl looked at the situation before here and realized she could not acquiesce to the man with the gun. Perhaps she realized, more than anyone else in the room that the real power didn’t lie with the gun. The real power was in God’s word and she could not deny that.

The prophet Jeremiah encountered a somewhat similar situation. He was called to be God’s messenger during a very perilous economic, political and social time in his nation. Not only that, but God’s Word was looked down upon by many in the nation and he was but a youngster.

We live in a similar time today. We’re told by society at all levels that our message is, at best, no different than any other religious message. We are accused of being out of touch, intolerant, judgmental, and a whole litany of other adjectives. The reality is, sometimes we deserve those accusations because we use God’s word and a weapon rather than the source of love, hope and grace it was intended to be.

The question for each of us today is the same as it was for Jeremiah and for the young girl who literally had a gun pointed to her head. Will you stand for God’s word when your classmates ridicule you; when you are confronted by those antagonistic to Jesus; when it would be far easier to stay quiet, but more prudent to speak the truth in love? Jesus says you can’t serve two masters. Who will you serve today?

PRAYER: Father God, I’d like to think that I would take a bullet in the head before denying you, but I confess my weakness. While no one has pointed a gun at my head, there have been times I should have spoken up but did not. Forgive me for my fear. Help me to trust you completely. Amen.

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 16:25 NLT

I was talking with an old farmer one day. He was telling me about some of the issues his son was having with his dairy herd. Being a real green hand on the farming issued, I asked him what were more difficult to raise? Sheep or Cows?

He shook his head and looked at his feet. “Sheep, he said, definitely sheep.”

“Why is that?”

He looked up at me like I’d said something really stupid, then replied, “Well, sheep are just so stupid!”

He was right, of course. Sheep are known to follow one another into dangerous or even fatal situations. When you are a sheep, strength in numbers and peer pressure aren’t nessecarily good things.

It’s interesting that Jesus likens us to sheep in the Bible. Does he refer to us as sheep because he thinks we are ‘just plain stupid’, like my farmer friend said? Was he trying to send us the message that we are really worthless creatures?

Most likely not, for whenever Jesus references us as sheep he speaks of our value; the speaks of the shepherds love for and concern for his sheep. Jesus speaks of himself as the good shepherd. A good shepherd gives his life for his sheep, he knows them by name, he rescues them when they get lost.

The evil shepherd, on the other hand, has no concern for his sheep. When sheep (people) follow the evil shepherd they are doomed. If they have no shepherd at all, they will follow a path that seems right to them: a path that leads to destruction.

Proverbs also reminds us of the futility of following our own instincts. Those who follow the path that seems best to them, follow a path that inevitably leads to destruction. There is no guide to show us the way through the wilderness. We are on our own.

As Christians our path through life should be determined by the words of Christ, not government policy, church edicts or popular opinion. “Fairness” is not a gaurentee. Cultures change and evolve, but the principles in God’s word remain unchanged throughout time.

Jesus tells us that the broad road, the easy way, the way of popular opinion is the path that leads to destruction. The hard road, the narrow path that few others will travel, is the path of righteousness and holiness.

The closer we walk with Jesus and according to Godly principles, the more we will understand the difference between right and wrong. The deeper our relationship with Christ, the more we risk standing against the popular notions of our day.

Refuse to live the life of a sheep. Grow closer in your walk with Christ and prepare of battle. Better to live in disharmony with the worlds standards than to live in separation from God.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I’m buffeted on every side by this wind of philosophy and that call for social justice. In the midst of the battle help me walk the narrow path of your love and grace. Amen.

Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well. Proverbs 23:23

When you want something of value you save every penny to get it. Let’s say, for example, you are a collector of fine art and you find a rare painting by your favorite artist, You decide you MUST have this painting so you plan on how to get it.

You give up other things of less importance; cut back on other expenses; perhaps get a second job. You study up on this particular painting and find out all you can about it. You become an ‘expert’ on this cherished of all possessions and the artist who created it.

After all your labors, on that day of all days, if you’ve worked hard and scrimped and saved, the time arrives. You go to the seller to make the purchase. You examine it one more time making sure there are no flaws and that everything is just as it should be. Once assured of this you lay down all that you have to make that cherished possession yours. Success has come. The fruit of all your labor and sacrifice has come. Let the celebration begin.

Now that the picture is hanging securely on the wall, how much would you sell it for? You would no doubt look at me incredulously. “Sell it? I just bought it!” you say. “Do you realize how much I’ve given up for it? The ball games I’ve missed. The fishing trips I’ve passed up? The party invitations I’ve passed on? It’s NOT for sale. No amount of money in the world would be enough. It’s mine.”

Solomon, in all of his wisdom, had enough money to buy anything and everything he wanted. Yet he tells us in Proverbs 23:23 what is really important: Truth. In our world of relativity Truth with a capital ‘T’ is hard to come by. We’ve bought into the idea that Truth is what you make it. What’s true for me isn’t true for you. Honesty is dependent on the situation. Wisdom changes with every new philosophy and whim of mindless, science based religion.

As Christ-followers, each of us is given Truth by the God of the universe, through His Word (the Bible) and His Son Jesus Christ. He has given us His Holy Spirit so that we can gain wisdom in understanding His ways and insight into how to walk this journey we call life. Seek after the Truth He has to offer us by drawing close to Him in relationship. Read His Word. It is still the only source of real truth available. Pray daily and often. What a marvelous opportunity prayer is. To think that we as mere mortals can talk personally with the Creator of the Universe! Don’t let past mistakes and your inability to understand God completely keep you from spending time getting to know Him. As God’s cherished possession, He has given all He has to acquire you and He’ll never let you go.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many voices that are calling out to me to be tolerant of this or accepting of that. There are so ideas out there that confuse me as to what is right and wrong. I confess to you that I’ve not always followed you as I should. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to empower me to grow in relationship and understanding of Your ways so that they become a part of my daily existence. Thank you for giving so much so that I can live in Truth. In Jesus name, Amen.

But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9

I make no apologies. I can not keep silent about my God. I will not wish you ‘Happy Holidays’ because this time of year I remember the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore, I will wish you a Merry Christmas.

I will, to the best of my God given strength, to allow you to be wrong. But I will not embrace a lifestyle that is contrary to the word of God because He has shown me the way of life. I do not pretend to understand everything He does. I can not explain why He allows evil to flourish and heartache to continue. But I will not keep silent about the inner peace He has given me in the struggle of life and the healing He has worked in me even though I’ve failed Him miserably.

I will not keep silent about eternity. There is life after death. There is heaven for those who choose to follow him. There is hell for Satan and those who choose not to follow the creator God of the universe. I will not keep silent about this because I want, in the worst way, for you to be with me in Heaven for eternity.

I will not keep silent about Jesus. He is the only way, the only truth and the only way to real living. If I seem intolerant, I’m sorry. But I will not turn my back on the one who never turned His back on me.

I’m not concerned with your denominational dogmas or your religious perspectives. They are restraining and boring. I choose rather to follow Jesus and grow in my relationship with Him. I can not keep silent about my love for Him and Him alone.

I can not keep silent. For the blessings He has given me and the peace He has worked in my life will not allow me too. Should I try, His Spirit will burn within me like a fire within my very bones. My body would scream in agony for not being able to attest to His greatness.

I will not be overbearing. I will not judge you for the way you choose. But I will forever speak His praise because I can not keep silent.

PRAYER: Father, I pray that this would be my prayer as I move among those who need to know the forgiveness and healing only found in you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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May 2023
Follow Built with Grace on
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