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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Let Light Shine in the Darkness

Today is a beautiful day in Atlanta, GA. After what seems like endless days of rain and dreariness, the sun has made an appearance and it is glorious. The minute we got home from church, I had to open up all the shutters and let the sunlight stream in; my soul had been missing it. After laying my daughter down for her nap and opening all of the shutters, I sat down and started to enjoy reading a book in the sunshine. But, when I sat down and looked up at the sun streaming in, instead of enjoying the beauty, all I could see was the dust, dirt and cobwebs that the sunlight was revealing. Because of all the days of darkness, I had not realized how dirty my house had gotten.

I decided I had two choices; I could either close all the shutters back up and ignore the dirt or I could get up, do a little cleaning and then continue to actually enjoy the beautiful afternoon. The first choice seemed by far the easiest and least painful choice, but I was determined not to let a little dust and a few cobwebs keep me from enjoying the beauty of the sun. So, I got up and started cleaning.

As I started dusting and sweeping God began to speak to me. This predicament I'd found myself in had a spiritual equivalent. God's Son came into this world to shine light into the darkness, not just to expose the darkness in our world but also the darkness in our own souls. Here's what the gospel of John says about Jesus,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5 (ESV)

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul says, "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

As we allow Christ deeper and deeper into our hearts, his light shines into the darkness and sometimes it's not pretty. His light reveals all the yucky, nasty dirt that is hiding in the deepest corners of our soul. And, we have two options; we can either shut out the light and go along our merry way because frankly that's easier. Or, we can allow His light to expose the dirt and with His help dust out the cobwebs that are clogging the deepest parts of us so that we can more fully enjoy basking in his light. Paul says that the Light gives us the knowledge of the glory of God. The more we allow His light to shine in our hearts, the more cleaning we will have to do but also the more joy we will have as we bask in the light of His glory. 

After I spent a few minutes cleaning up some of the exposed dirt in my house; I was able to rest and more fully enjoy the warmth of the sun. Oh how I pray it would be the same in my daily walk with Jesus.

"You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light." 2 Samuel 22:29

"He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light." Job 33:28

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Be Strong and Courageous!

One of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament is Joshua 1. Moses has just passed away and Joshua has been given by God the task of leading the Israelites into the Promise Land. Can you imagine how he felt? He must have been excited, they all must have been. This is something they've been waiting to see accomplished for generations, since the land was promised to Abraham all those years ago. But, he was also full of anxiety, fear and trepidation as he faced the unknown. He was to lead an entire nation into a land that was already occupied by the enemies of God. This was no easy task and Joshua knew it. He had to have felt this way or God wouldn't have told him multiple times throughout the chapter, "Be strong and courageous!" Not only does He tell him that several times but he also admonishes him to not be frightened or dismayed.

God doesn't just tell Joshua to suck it up, don't be afraid and get some courage. He tells him you don't have to be afraid and you can be strong and courageous because, "I will not leave you or forsake you." (Joshua 1:5b)

God often calls us to big and scary things. He often lets us see glimpses of what's in store and what's ahead can seem frightening. But, if you are a child of God He has given you "a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7)

How do we tap into this spirit of power that Paul talks about? How can we face the challenging tasks of life with strength and courage? Psalm 31:24 says, "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" there's a catch. Yes, God is with us always and He give us the power to be strong and courageous for the big tasks of life. But, in order to experience His constant presence and be sustained by His power and strength in order to be courageous, we have to "wait for the Lord." God tells Joshua in 1:7-8, "Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

So, our ability to be successful in facing the challenges of life is directly related to our time spent meditating on and obeying His Word. Psalm 1:1-3 says:

"Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers."

So, what challenges are you facing this day, week, month or year? Are you excited, afraid or timid? God wants you to know, as He wanted Joshua to know, that He will never leave you or forsake you. He wants to empower you to be strong and courageous for the task He has set before you. Will you go to Him, be as a tree planted by streams of water, meditating on His Word knowing that the source of all strength and courage comes from Him?

 "...fear not, for I am with you;
  be not dismayed, for I am your God;
 I will strengthen you, I will help you,
  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)