Some Thoughts about Light

“Be the light!” the preacher proclaims from the pulpit. “Shine in the darkness,” says the Sunday school teacher. All good advice, but the practicality sometimes escapes us as we hurry away from the darkness and try to stay near the light ourselves. We are missing the point that we are the light and in our haste to move away from darkness, we are missing opportunities to shine His light on a dark world.

We try to stay insulated in our protected group of Christians who all believe as we do when what we are supposed to do is go into the world and shine the light that we have on the people who don’t yet know that they need Jesus. When we are doing what we should be doing, we are going to naturally attract others and need to have an answer for the hope that is in us. Be ready at all times to tell others how Jesus has made a difference in your life! Like a moth is attracted to a flame or any kind of light, so people in darkness need to know that there is a light that they can turn to. At the most unexpected times and from some of the most unexpected sources, you may have people seeking answers from you because they have seen your light and want to know more about what makes you different. Be ready to be that light!

Many times we fear approaching darkness because we are intimidated by just how dark it is and the fact that we cannot see “two inches in front of our face.” That’s okay, Step into the darkness and it won’t be dark anymore because your presence brings the light with you.

The light that is in us comes from the Lord Jesus. When darkness is all around, we can continue to shine and attract others to the beauty of salvation and the peace and hope that it offers.

A Source of Life

When the woman at the well was thirsty, Jesus said that He had living water that would always refresh her. We have that same living water living in us and we are called to pour it out to others.

The words that we speak should be a source of life for others, giving them hope and encouragement and love just when they need it the most. The wicked, however, spew words of death and discouragement and hatred. They plot to destroy, not to build up. It is up to those of us who know the Lord to be a source of life to others, to speak boldly and proclaim with courage that our hope lies in the Lord and in His plan for salvation for the world. Let’s be a source of life together!

Part of the Crowd

I generally avoid crowded places because, as an introvert, I am uncomfortable around a lot of people whom I don’t know well. But I am looking forward to being in the crowd that surrounds Jesus in Heaven. He is not a stranger to me since I have come to know about Him in His Word. I am truly looking forward to the day when I will see Him face to face and be able to give Him the praise and honor due His Name.

People in today’s world seem to be hung up on diversity and accepting others from all over the world. God already does that because everyone is welcome to come to Heaven. You just have to get the passport that allows you to enter. What passport? The one that says your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. How do you get that to happen? You accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, be baptized and live for Him. May I suggest that if you are seeking salvation that you read the Book of John? It is like a biography of Jesus and the reason He came to earth to be our Savior, how He suffered and died so that we can live forever with Him. He provides the stamp on our passport that says we can be a citizen of Heaven for eternity.

God provides the way to be saved, but it is up to us to accept the free gift that He offers. If you want to be part of the crowd in Heaven, you have to open the gift.

Finally, once you have chosen to follow the path of Christ, to declare that He is your Lord and Savior, you have to follow Him daily. What that looks like for you is different than what it looks like for me. We each have our own cross to bear as we follow Jesus. For some, it may mean rejection from other family members. For others, it may mean a life of sacrifice on the mission field. For still others, it may mean giving up your old lifestyle to accept a new life in Christ. Whatever it means, it will be worth it when we see Jesus!

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”-Bill Gaither

Not by Works

I am and always have been a person who seeks the approval of others. I want people to like me, to appreciate what I have done and to notice that I am helping. I don’t think that I am alone in this desire, but I do know that this need to work towards acceptance isn’t necessary with my relationship with God.

I have read these verses, memorized them, taken notes from numerous sermons about them. But they are now settling into my heart. I spent years trying to please my mother, but there was nothing I could do to make her happy with me. I just was never good enough. I had straight A’s on my report card, but my mom brought up the fact that I had gotten a C on a test recently. I was just not good enough. I knew from a young age that my mother cried when she had me, stated repeatedly that she never wanted me and even refused to name me. (My dad names me, ironically, for my mother.) In spite of a less than welcoming childhood and all kinds of physical problems, I grew and matured and at the age of twenty-one, I became a Christian. I didn’t have to do anything special for God to love me. I just had to be me…a sinner saved by grace. There was and is absolutely nothing I can do to make myself more acceptable to God. He loves me just the way I am. That has been a freeing truth in my life. I still like to please people, but if I don’t, I’m not totally devastated. I just keep trying to please God instead by serving others. Not because He requires it, but because He doesn’t require anything of me except for me to believe and accept Him as my Lord and Savior. I have been changed from the inside out and it’s freeing to know that I can’t earn grace!

May you, too, find the freedom that comes only from accepting God’s free gift of salvation. And may your day be blessed with finding others to tell about His love, mercy and grace!

Just As I Am-The Vagle Brothers

A Wonderful Life

One of my favorite holiday movies that I have watched since I was very young is “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Clarence, the angel, is my favorite character as he guides George Bailey into accepting the fact that he is important to others in his life. I just want to say that I haven’t needed an angel to know that I have a wonderful life. I have found the Lord and He has found me, and together we have made my life wonderful.

I was lost in sin and darkness, hopelessly facing a future that was scary and intimidating. Once the Lord came into my life, no matter what I have faced, I have felt loved and cared for. The challenges have been plentiful, but the Lord has always been up to the task of helping me through them. I am an overcomer because of my relationship with the King of Glory!

There’s a lot of “shaking” going on in this old world, but God is the mountain in my life that won’t allow me to be shaken along with everything else. With my eyes fixed on Him, I stand firmly and wait for the shaking to cease.

I love the word picture from this Scripture! A well-watered garden is exactly what I want to be and I go daily to the spring of life found in God’s Word in order to receive the water that I need for that day. It is in Him that I have found the wonderful life that I craved but dared not hope for in my youth. Now I am old and I can look back and see the battles that I have fought and won, with God’s help.

Have a blessed day and remember that you, too, have a wonderful life in the Lord! He is sufficient and always will be.

Faith and Works

I struggled for a long time when I was a newly born-again Christian. I just did not understand the thought that Jesus paid everything for us on the cross and yet, there was still work for us to do here on earth. After many years of seeking an answer, I finally got peace when I realized that the work that Jesus wants me to do is not onerous or demanding but rather loving and kind and merciful. The work He has given me to do is the same that He did on earth, i.e. to spread the good news of salvation through grace.

Seeing others believe in Christ builds my own faith. Helping others to come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior builds it even more and that is a living legacy worth having. God has given us all of the tools we need to share about Jesus in His Word. Some of us are better at using the Word than others, but all are supposed to be daily digging into the Word in order to share it with those who need it. The Bible is our spiritual food and just as you would not go days without eating (unless you are called to fast for a period of time), neither should any Christian go days without reading God’s Word and letting His Spirit speak to your heart. Then, once your own faith is built up by His Word inside you, then you can take what you have learned and share it with others. A hammer builds, but only in the hands of someone wielding it. Likewise, God’s Word saves but only from the mouths of those who speak it.

Have a blessed day and may you be filled with the wisdom from His Word so that it overflows to others around you.

Thankful for the Power of God

The treasure that we carry in our hearts and souls is the message of the Gospel. Only God could have planned the salvation of all via His Only Son and only God could have been willing to see His Son sacrificed on the cross for all mankind. Only God could raise Jesus from the dead, His resurrection pointing the way for us to one day also have eternal life. This is all the power of God. There is nothing I can do to save myself, so the treasure that I have is in this earthen vessel that God created for my soul to inhabit until He calls me home to be with Him forever.

It is only by God’s sacrifice and power that you and I are being made holy. This is an ongoing process, one that will not be finished until we go to be with Him in Heaven. Thus, I thank God for His power that is working on me to help me to be more like Him.

I feel weak a lot spiritually. I mess up and have to go back and confess, repent and apologize to those I have offended. But God’s grace is always sufficient. He shows Himself powerful on our behalf when we are willing to confess that we need Him because we are weak. It’s not a bad thing to admit weakness. The bad thing is not being willing to admit it and ask God for His power to help you through whatever situation it is that requires His power and strength. When we let pride get in the way and like the toddler declare to God, “I can do it myself,” He steps back and lets us try. Let me tell you from experience that my efforts alone do not usually work out for me; it is only when I acknowledge that I need help from a Higher Power that I can receive the assistance that God has been able and ready to offer all along.

May you be blessed with the knowledge of God’s power and His loving kindness that wants to help you in all situations.

Thankful that I Am Accepted

Many years ago, I sent out various applications to colleges that I desired to attend and then waited anxiously to hear about whether I was accepted or not. I did not get into my first choice, a college that was way beyond my financial capabilities anyway, but I was accepted into Mary Washington, graduated from there and went on to teach. It was during the weeks of waiting for the acceptance letters when I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of what would happen if no one accepted me.

Less than a year after my graduation, I was invited and accepted into the family of God. No anxious waiting, no thoughts about a plan B or even any idea that I would not be accepted. Why not? Because acceptance is a gift from God and He does it well.

There is no favoritism with God, no “show me the money and I will accept you” kind of pseudo-acceptance. God truly accepted me because He shows absolutely no favoritism. I had to confess my sins and repent, true, but that is what everyone who calls on the name of Jesus as Savior has to do. There is no magical formula for acceptance with God, no letters of application to complete and no anxious waiting to see if God will allow you into His family or not. He already has…you have to accept the invitation He sent out long ago when He sent His Son to die for you, and then His acceptance of you is automatic. As someone who struggled most of my young life with being accepted, this is the most amazing gift and one I hope that I never take for granted. And I pray that you know the same acceptance and loving grace that He has shown me. It’s free to you although it cost Jesus dearly.

My prayer of blessing for you today comes from the Holy Bible. Accept His blessing on your life as you read and meditate on the Scripture below.

Thankful That I’m Not Lonely

When I graduated from college almost five decades ago, I was able to find a teaching job about five hours away from my hometown. For the first time ever, I was going to be living on my own! I was thrilled, filled with adrenaline spikes and scared. That was for about the first week or so. Then, I was lonely. Not at school, of course, because there was plenty of action and lots of other people there. No, I was lonely at night, alone where I was living. At first, I lived with an elderly lady who was very kind but she was also an alcoholic so she spent her evenings imbibing while I spent mine alone. After a few months there, an apartment became available and I moved in, happy to have my own very small space but taking my loneliness with me. My fiancé was stationed a couple of hours away, so we saw each other on weekends when he could get away. But the weeknights were dark and I was totally alone. I was delighted when the neighbor next door introduced herself and started a short conversation daily. She is the one who told me about Jesus, gave me a Bible to read (“THE WAY”) and who once and for all offered a solution to my loneliness. I read the Book of John as she suggested, confessed my sins, repented and started going to church with my new friend. I became part of the family of God, a family more loving and kind than I thought was possible.

Not only did God give me fellow believers as brothers and sisters, he also led me to get married a few months after Harry and I became Christians. Again, more reason not to be lonely. Except my new spouse traveled with the military a lot and I stayed behind. Once more, God showed me the importance of my church family. We moved a lot while Harry was on active duty (25 times in 23 years), so I got accustomed to finding a new church each time we moved and plugging myself into the fellowship and camaraderie there. I’m so thankful that after years of being lonely and feeling like there was no place that I felt accepted and as though I never belonged, I found a family with the people of God and have been with my family ever since. God sent that neighbor to me and He established me in His loving family. He saw my heart and reached out to me before I even knew what I needed.

God is always one step ahead of us if we allow Him to take the lead. I’m thankful that before I knew Him, He knew me and extended His mercy, grace, forgiveness and love to a lonely young woman in a new place. I am so thankful for Verna, the kind neighbor, who was obedient to the Lord and befriended me. I was never truly alone because God was there, but I didn’t know that. Now I do, and because I know that, I have never been really alone since that night in February, 1973 when the Lord became my Savior and my best friend forever.

May the Lord bless you with friendships, love, peace and joy. He is only a prayer away.

Real Hope

As humans, we have a tendency to wake up each day and hope for a good day with good things to happen in our lives. God wants that for us, too, but more importantly, He wants us to realize and to tell others that the only hope we have is in Jesus.

God spoke the world into existence and Jesus was right there with Him. Then, when God sent His Son to earth, He did not come to save us because of our own worthiness. Rather, we are saved only because of God’s great mercy. He sent and He saved.

We cannot overcome the sin in our own lives by just hoping that it will go away. We have to believe that Jesus delivered us from that sin on the cross and that we don’t have to bow to sin any longer. We are children of the Most High God, not slaves to sin as we once were. There is where our real hope lies, for today and for eternity.

If we awaken and have hope in things or events coming to pass, then our hope is misplaced. We need to fix our hope on the grace that Jesus gives us each day and the grace that will be ultimately revealed when He returns and takes us to be with Him. That is our real hope.

When I awakened this morning, I was thankful for a new day and hopeful for what it would bring. With my devotional completed and my meditation on the word “hope”, God has shown me that He is my hope and things that happen are just circumstances that change from moment to moment. But His love, grace and mercy in my life stand forever. Real hope!

May each of you know the real hope that is only found in the person of Christ Jesus. God bless you!