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Posts Tagged ‘light’

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Recently, I’ve encountered a lot of talk on “relationships and love” with people – and it got me thinking about God’s love. How his love sets us apart (as well as himself) from all the other people and their religions/beliefs. This also made me think of how even when we fall into chaos and unknown territory – he is there; he’s always there, for us. And he’s never mad, even when we fumble big-time, or turn out backs on him, or even commit a serious wrong or hold a grudge against someone that we need to let go of – he’s always there calling to us. And when we find him – his bright and ever-lasting light in the darkness of our lives, he opens his arms wide and embraces us, crying or laughing, or smiling with us.

There’s a verse my youth past told us and taught about to us on Sunday (11/3). This is about God’s love and relates to all the things I’ve said. Luke 6:27-33:

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do no withhold you tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Now, I want to first point out that the first phrase of the verse says “to you who hear.” Why do I point this out first and foremost? Because Jesus is calling people to really listen, as what he’s about to say hasn’t been said before. He knows – as well as you and I, that some people just zone things out or do that “half-listening” thing when people preach/teach on a topic that’s been heard before. He wants to get everyone’s attention, letting them know that this is a new topic, it’s a topic that people really need to whole-heartedly pay attention. Make sense, right? I hope so.

Okay, with that covered, let’s talk about the rest of the verse. This verse is obviously about loving our enemies and treating others how we want to be treated, right? In fact, one of the verses (vs 3) – “do to others as you would have them do to you” as many know it by – is a very well-known verse to many people (not just Christians). And at a first glance of the verse, people get the obvious theme (which I pointed out at the beginning of this paragraph) – be kind to people I don’t like/are considered my enemies, treat others fairly, and take care of the needy. Easy right? No. Is there more to the verse? Of course. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tend to those who need help or turn the other cheek, or treat others wrongly – their all great and wonderful things to be practiced, but I want to focus on the last bit of the verse plus a few in-depth details about the first part verse.

I’m going to start at the end – with verses 32-33 (the last paragraph of the given verse). Jesus is saying that when we love and treat those who are good to us and love us – what’s the point? What do you truly gain? Yes, it’s crucial for those who love you to love you and for you to love them back, but what about that kid who bullied or you really bad once – maybe more? It’s easy to hold a grudge against them, hoping something bad will happen to them, just as something bad happened to you, or if they try to apologize, you want them down on their knees begging for mercy while you have your arms crossed, foot tapping, and your head angled enough to look down on them making a disgusted face and refusing – until they collapse – to forgive (Jesus even points out that when we love those who love us – even murderers, prostitutes, etc. love those who love them – that’s what he’s referring to when he says “sinners.”) Why is it easy to hold a grudge and not “love our enemies” as we’re instructed? Let me tell you a secret – it’s called flesh; sin. We want to have revenge; satisfaction, making whoever made us feel unloved, unwanted, and not good enough… we those who weren’t good to us, have the same feelings, if not worse.

See, if we only love and do good to those who love us and do good to us, then we do not truly treat those how we want to be treated, we don’t understand truly what it is like to love our enemies. We don’t know what it’s really like to show them God’s love, and we don’t try to understand how to act or reply in a Godly way to those who wrong us. Just like in school, teachers teach and have the students practice the concept they teach – for without practice how can we truly learn and know the material?

Rewinding to the first section of the verse (vs. 27-31)… try applying what I just said about verses 32-33 to these verses. Have a different perspective now? What about a new plan or way to approach situations in relation to these?

Now, in verse 27, isn’t just loving loving your enemies that “Oh, that wasn’t nice – but all well” attitude, it’s about coming along side them, helping them; showing God’s true love, and forgiving them even if they haven’t asked forgiveness. As a Christian, we should always strive to go that extra step. And – or more – but, when these situations come up, we need to check ourselves – giving/praying (to) our hearts to hearts to God and letting him take those grudges and put them away – destroy them. We also need to make sure our actions are for self-glorifying reasons.

You know that sarcastic phrase that people (you) often mutter when in or towards a situation that comes up and is hurtful, benigning, etc.? The one that goes: “Well, that was a slap in the face.” Literally, it could of been – but that’s also when you show grace and turn the other cheek. Don’t lash out, don’t retaliate. Humbly offer the other side of your face. Either they will “hit” you again or be in shock from your actions. And even if it seems that your actions had no effect – let me assure you, they did. God is planting that seed in their heart through you. Some may often even come back asking questions, because their so dumb-founded, of “Why?” and “How?”. That is your opportunity to tell of the “why” and “how.” The same application can go for the second half of verse 29 – where it talks about offering someone your “tunic.” When someone begs – have a compassionate heart. Give to them – and don’t demand repayment or ask for what you gave to be given back to you. Whether is was simply loaning a money to a friend who forgot their lunch at school to food to someone needy… don’t ask for repayment. These actions and showing love sets us Christians apart (and God), as I said before.

You do need to be careful though, of people who have a false claim, do show them God’s love, but be wary, going to God and seeking counsel on the situation you’re in. It’s sad, but there are people who imitate and act in ways that are deceiving to gain things they are have and don’t need.

Referring back to the first paragraph – where I was talking about how we oh-so-often struggle, I want to conclude partially in reference to Tammy Maltby’s book, Confessions of a Good Christian Girl. In the book, she talks and tells of women who struggled – these were good Christian women, leading Christ-like lives and living well, or that’s what it appeared. Yes, they loved God, but these women were conflicted with suicide, cutting, addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography), self-image and confidence. The book tells countless testimonies of how in the deep dark, these women found the light, the love. One of the quotes Maltby put in her book, which is by Angela Thomas, goes:

“Jesus wants you to know that when you are broken, shivering, alone, or afraid, with nothing left and nowhere to go, then you can turn in His direction and lay yourself at the foot of his love…. God wants you to know that when everything is gone, that makes more room for Him, and every time there is more room for Him, you are blessed.”

(pg 5, Maltby)

In this we can take an apply the concept of that when we hold on to grudges, hate, and hurt (etc.) when you give them up and lay “yourself at the foot of His love” we are revived with his love and forgiveness. This helps us make that step to forgiving those who may have hurt us or even ourselves. Because just as other people may be our enemies and slap us in the face, we can do just as much damage, if not more to ourselves; we can easily become our own enemy. We must learn to have compassion on ourselves and others and to have respect for ourselves and others.

I wish I could write on about this topic, but time is such an enemy to me lately, so short and demanding. Before I part, until next time, here’s some verses in parting. Don’t just go, “Oh cool, verses to look at!” and ignore them or think I’ll look at them later. Look at them now. It won’t take much time.

Psalm 36:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, 1 John 3:1-2, 1 John 4:7-12, 16-18

Some questions for reflection:

  1. Are you able and confident that in times when people wrong you, you can stand up, humbly, forgive, and give your burden to God, even though it’s not easy?
  2. Even when you mess up, or others, are you able to go the extra mile for God’s sake?
  3. Loving your enemy will be hard, but will you be able to rise above the offense and “offer the other cheek?”
  4. In times of distress it’s easy to forget about God – it’s easy to blame him, and in times when you want something badly, and it may not be his will – are you able to accept him and trust him to lead you 100% through?
  5. Sometimes it’s our very selves that get in the way of seeing truly what’s right – having a personal conflict is hard to accept, confess, and be able to reason and respect yourself, but sometimes that’s the first step to forgiveness. If some of these questions were hard to answer, maybe start deep in your heart and soul. Really think about it.

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The passage being looked at is in Romans, it’s Romans 12:1-8 (NIV):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

In verse 1, we are urged by Paul to offer ourselves; our bodies as living sacrifices. Okay, now you’re already probably freaking out right now thinking, What? Living…sacrifices…our…bodies?? Stop. Don’t freak.  Okay? Let me continue…  it’s by God’s mercy we are able to offer ourselves; submit, to God as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to him.

This is describing our spiritual commitment of allowing Christ to live in us, so that we may worship him spiritually. Now, when it the verse first said, “sacrifice”  most discern a sacrifice as killing or offering something that’ll eventually have to die. Some may mistake this verse sacrifice as something taking possession over our bodies, in which, yes, Christ does take possession, but he takes possession of our heart. It’s not in a violent, stereotypical way (take the movie “Possession” for example) that most think of. He takes our hearts and keeps our attitude, thoughts, etc. in care.

He lives in us and when a dedicated Christians is living according to God’s word you can see there’s something different about that person. Most people -unbelievers- wouldn’t know that Christ was living in you, but people do notice how others (us) act – our kind “deeds.” Christians know what’s making a person act a particular way – it’s Christ living in them; their hearts. He uses us to show people what he’s like; we reflect him. So if we have a hard heart, do you think people will think highly of Christians? Or hate us? Hate us, right? Because who wants to act like that.

In the second verse, we are told in this verse that we must not follow the pattern of flesh – our world’s ways. Instead we need to let Christ transform us, we must change our mindset. When a person changes their mindset (in general) it varies what things get done, so when us (Christians) are able to alter our mindset so that we’re able to test and accept what God’s will is for us – his perfect will, planned millenniums in advanced, tons more things will be accomplished than following our flesh’s will.

Verses 4 and 5, talks about how as humans we have one body, one physical human body. Each person’s body is different – from blood type to DNA. With many others we make up many bodies – we create a church body. One that is one body because of Christ.

Finishing with verses 6-8… Because of how God made each and every one of us differently, so are our gifts given to us by God, according to the grace given. Whatever a person’s -or your- gift is, use it! If a person loves to help, let them help; if they enjoy teaching God’s word, let them teach; and so on! Do not hold back or be afraid to use your gift(s) God has given you.

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The verse that’ll be looked at in this devotion is found in 2 Corinthians. It’s 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NIV):

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Starting out, in verse 1, one discovers that through God’s mercy, we have ministry – the opportunity to preach/tell the gospel to others, so that they may come to know Him and His word. Since we have that opportunity to minister and make it  so other people will have hope in something that’ll last forever, we need not to lose heart.

In the second verse, we see that it talks about our sinful ans shameful nature. We are often lost because of deception and we (as flesh) distort the ways of the Lord. But it’s because of the mercy God gives us, we have no need to lose heart; faith. By telling and recognizing the truth set forward by God for us to see, we gain trust from God to help preserve the truth. When we commend ourselves so that others trust us – mind, body, and conscience – we can then tell them about the word and God, too earns their trust – when they ask him to become their Lord and Savior.

The next two verses, verses 3-4, a discovery, too made here is that for those who try to “cover” the truth; God’s word, they are blinded from it, they are not able to fully see, because thy try to destroy it. For if you blind a driver, they cannot see, ‘nor drive safely. This is the same concept for when people try to hide; cover up, the gospel, they cannot and will not be able to “drive” – live a good safe live without it. It’s like driving without a license – it’s illegal! When you can’t see or understand or accept what Christ has done or see the light of the gospel, life isn’t going to be lived full – even though it may seem like it. Life can only be lived to its fullest with Jesus (the Holy Spirit) living and working in and through you. I can’t say it won’t be easy or anything, in fact life may get harder, but with Christ all things are possible and there will always be a light and reason at the end of each journey.

In verse 5, it’s here one can see -are told- that we ourselves do not preach, for sinful flesh isn’t capable of preaching God’s holy word alone. But it’s through Christ’s work we are able to preach the gospel – God puts the words in our hearts to speak through our mouths about his word. He makes is so that the itch on our heart to go out and serve him, just like Jesus did while he was on earth.

The last verse, verse 6, talks how the God, who made this earth and said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made it so his perfect light could cut through the darkness of our hearts. He gave us the light not only to see on this world, but so that we may acquire the knowledge of how beautiful his love and glory is, in the form of Christ and when he came down, died, and rose we’d fall over in sheer awe and submission to him. Just like servants ready to serve a wonderful master, who treats them like his own children.

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Part 2

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-15

 

As a Christian we are examples. We are how people view God Himself. We are modeling what the Bible says. A non-Christian isn’t going to look at someone who says ‘I am a Christian,’ and think ‘they are lying.’ No, they are going to think ‘oh, so that’s what a Christian is?’ and no matter how that person behaves it designs the viewer’s ideas and feelings towards Christians in a whole.

So at this point it could go either way. That person could a great example of a Christian or he could’ve been a hypocrite. See, we have a vital role of showing our friends and family God’s love and the wonderful relationship you can have with Him. But if our lives do not match God’s love and purpose, then we are hypocrites slaughtering God’s name.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
James 1:21-23

 

We shouldn’t just listen to the sermons and read the Bible, we should be living it. We find it so easy to be typically ‘good’ people, but when it comes to going beyond our comfort zones and into the ‘oh look at that goody-two shoes’ we find ourselves buckling under what other people think of us far too much. Or we start to think ‘I can’t really do that… it’s just beyond me…’

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
John 16:12-14

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Galatians 5:15-17

By listening to listening to the Holy Spirit we are guided by how to conduct ourselves in times of trials. He is our teacher and guide to get us through whatever we need. When we say ‘it’s too hard for me to do,’ He says ‘Jesus already did the hard part for you.’

Once we know what is right and wrong and where we should be setting our standards… what’s next? Well carrying them out! (Standards, boundaries, laws, etc… change for guys and girls therefore I will not go into all of them, but they are all clearly stated in the Bible. If you’re unsure of them and want to know more is sure to email me or ask a trusted Godly person in your life)

Remember our first verse:

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-15

We are not simple carrying them out because it’s ‘The Law’. It says in

Luke 6:45

New International Version (NIV)

45 a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

When the heart is full… full of what? Whatever you placed there. When we are honoring God and seeking an active relationship with Him, our actions and lifestyle will be the reflection of that.  We will automatically be the ‘city on a hill’ a ‘light in the darkness’. And the best part is, it will be natural. You won’t be fighting to convince yourself you need to keep more biblical standards and rules. It will be a blessing to be following God more fully, something your heart will be craving to do. The way you view God’s laws is a direct reflection on how actively you are pursuing a relationship with Him.

So don’t be the Christian who’s ashamed or too lazy to walk out their faith in everything they do. Be the Christian proves the Love of God is real with everything they do.

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Christ’s Love

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:11-15 (NIV)

In the first verse, it tells us something about Christ, and how the Lord has given us someone to fear; him. It tells us that we are “plain to him,” and how he is mighty beyond all things. The second, tells us about the flesh; human nature. As humans we want to be accepted, so we offer ourselves to God and try to follow his wonderful teachings and example. The third is something we discover, and that with the right mindset and heart “attitude” we can be with God aw well as function well and for him. But if we aren’t living for them, then we need to ask ourselves, “What are we living for?” Something that pops out in meaning is the fourth verse, that because of Christ’s love , we are all saved, for his death made it so we didn’t have to die… he paid the ultimate price. The last verse tells of an application, one we need to take to heart and act on, and it is that since Christ died, we need to believe, for it was because of his death that our faith is built upon. We need to remember not to be selfish, and like Christ, compassionate and selfless, for it was his selflessness that saved us.

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“‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city 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 men,that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.'”

-Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV 1984)

When we think of salt, we think of it being bitter and only good with certain things – but it add flavor. A nice flavor when put with the right things. So how can salt be applied in the Bible?…

In the first verse (vs. 13), it states, “‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Salt has a flavor, a distinct flavor too, one that no one could forget. It also gets everywhere – even when you try to shake it lightly; it scatters. This is what God calls us to do, go about the world, or even your home town, and teach others about him, to leave a taste of him that people will thirst for. Salt does that, it makes you thirsty and that’s just what salt does. It’s God who can only quench that eternal thirst and give us the satisfaction we long for.   But we need to make sure that that flavor stays strong and present, for when the flavor fades people start to forget and then they get distracted by other flavors, as Christians we don’t want that happening, we want to keep God’s word alive and potent.

The following verse (vs. 14) continues on by saying, “‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.'” We are the light of the world, the aid to people being saved and by God’s grace and miraculous ways we are able to be bold and have faith. We are like a city, as the Lord describes us, that’s lights cannot be put out or dimmed; we cannot be concealed from the world. Though the world will try very hard to put us out, we will only shine brighter, for that’s the reputation and courage God has put in us to do so. The city is also described as being on a hill, generally a city is placed on a hill so it is easily visible to the surrounding area and beyond. This helps elevate our capability of sharing the word. This is one of the ways we are able go forth to people and tell them about Jesus.

After the second verse, the third verse (vs. 15) states, “‘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.'” Again, using the reference of a light and putting it some place high, were it can be seen and light the way or make the darkness disappear and make it so people can see. We are the light to people for Christ, the messengers who travel and show people the way to the light, for they are walking in the dark, lost, and have no clue where to go. We need to hold the light high and make sure our guidance towards the “ultimate light” stays bright and correct, that is doesn’t waver, and it lights the path so people won’t trip over a log or stone into a perilous canyon. We need to make sure, with God’s help, that their path to him is bright, clear, and right.

The last verse (vs. 16) concludes with, “‘In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.'” We also need to shine the light on our paths, making sure we don’t trip over a log or rock and to make sure the things we do are good in our Father’s eyes and people’s as well. We need to show people that the God we serve is merciful, loving, and kind, and as Christians and people we show this through our actions, we give people the idea what God looks like, and whether that’s good or bad is up to that person, and hopefully you shine your light bright, proud, and high – not dime, low, and poorly. For this give people a poor path to follow, and tripping, stubbing your toe, and more isn’t pleasant… they won’t want to continue down a path they do not like or think won’t be much good to them.

Our Father loves to be praised, for he is a jealous God – El Kanna. We need to direct our and others attention towards him, at all costs, for he’s the one who saves.

Be mindful of your actions, hold your light high, and remember who you’re representing – God. Let people see that the path towards God is full of hope and love, sure it has its surprises, but don’t all, and the best thing is that God -whenever something horrible happens- is always with you, he’ll never let you go or fall, even if it feels like it, he won’t let you go. Ever.

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In 2 Corinthians 5:7 it says, “We live by Faith and not by sight.” This verse is basically saying that we need to remember to keep God first, going to him in hard times, have faith and keep up with those who inspire us. As for having sight, why? Yes, our faith is based upon facts and history, but it’s mainly based on faith; belief in something we can’t see, it says this in Hebrews 11:1, it states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Helen Keller once wrote, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.” She also said, “If the blind put their hands in God’s, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose.” Referring back to the faith, and of believing in God, Jesus, the Spirit; the Trinity. We need to have assurance, confidence in all we do, and say godly and worthy things. Remember all things, it was through Helen Keller’s blindness that God brought her closer to him, she depended on him and lead a life full of a trusting relationship with him.

If help is needed and faith is tested, turn to God and those around you. Those who care and love you, like a brother or sister in Christ.

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