If you’ve ever lost power at night, you know how disorienting it can be to try and find your way to a flashlight or candle. You think you’re heading for a doorway but unexpectedly bump into a wall. This is what our life was like before we met the Light of the World. In fact, we didn’t even know what real light was and had become comfortable in the darkness because it kept us from seeing how sinful we truly were.
An amazing transaction occurred when we finally believed the gospel, repented of our sins, and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We were rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Light. And now Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, has come to dwell within us (Col. 1:13; Eph. 3:17). So how are Christ’s followers supposed to live? Today’s passage outlines three basic responsibilities:
1. Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2). As the Savior sacrificially loved us, so we are to love others. If we are at odds with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t claim to be walking in Light (1 John 1:7).
2. Abstain from sin (Eph. 5:3-7). Believers aren’t sinless, but they don’t habitually practice deeds of darkness.
3. Learn what pleases God (Eph. 5:8-17). The fruit of Light is goodness, righteousness, and truth. These are displayed in our character, conversation, and conduct when we are living out our faith.
Let’s make it our aim to move ever closer to the Light, letting Jesus expose and remove any areas of darkness so we can reflect His glory and goodness.
It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. God became a man! Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. Jesus came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were un-manicured, calloused, and dirty. For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt…weak; weary; and afraid of failure. His feelings got hurt.
To think of Jesus in such a light seems almost irreverent. There’s something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant and predictable. But don’t do it! For heaven’s sake, don’t! Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the muck and mire of your world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out!
As a Christian I try to pray everyday. I thank the Lord for His kindness, goodness, protection and provision. But, on occasion I don’t know what to pray for or about because I don’t want my prayers to be repetitious. So, I turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to intercede for me and help me with my prayers.
There is one prayer, however, that is the perfect prayer and it’s not repetitious because it is found in God’s word. It covers love, daily provision, forgiveness of sins, the ability to resist temptation, delivery from evil when we’re not strong enough, and finally the declaration that God is king forever.
Of course by now you probably know that I am talking about the Lord’s prayer. When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, Jesus recited the Lord’s prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus pointed out this prayer is the right way to pray, unlike the religious leaders of the day who stood around making vein repetitions so they would look godly and righteous.
I don’t think we have to worry about looking godly and righteous in front of others. Instead, God has given us a very powerful prayer that helps us approach His throne humbly with our petitions and thanksgiving in our hearts. So, the next time you’re stuck, read and pray Matthew 6:9-13.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever.
Maturity in the Lord is a lifelong process. The heavenly Father will continue to grow His children until He brings them home. Seek the Lord’s wisdom and truth, and ask that He reveal anything holding you back from a beautiful friendship with Him. He wants to walk closely with you all of your days—and for all of eternity.
The rewards of our maturity in the Lord are great. First, our Father removes any spiritual obstacles that impede a close walk with Him. Second, we gain greater intimacy with the Lord and with others. Third, as resentment, fear, and other ungodly attitudes stop draining us, our energy is renewed and serving God becomes a joy instead of a duty. Fourth, regardless of circumstances, we experience spiritual freedom through forgiveness.
All of these benefits lead to deeper fulfillment, peace, and joy. And, maturity in the Lord.
By reading the headline of this post you probably think I am going to discuss hell and ways to get there. That’s not my purpose today. What I do want to discuss are the damaging and long lasting effects of the sun on the human body.
Let me start by praising God for providing us the sun. It gives us life and keeps us from freezing to death. But, too much sun is not a good thing. Think drought and sunburn.
On Thursday I had some minor surgery to remove some lesions on my body that were created as a result of too much exposure to the sun. I lived in the Philippines for 2 years and while there I basically lived in swim trunks and tennis shoes. The rest of my body was exposed to the sun. When I returned to the U.S. I was very dark skinned. Little did I know the future consequences of living without proper sun protection. Future surgeries would be very painful and in some cases leaving unsightly scars.
Every summer thousands of people flock to the beach or lay around a pool in hopes of getting a “tan” that is supposed to be a sign of health. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve all seen the advertisements for Copper Tone and other sun screens. They make it seem like if you apply these ointments then you are protected. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.
The only way to avoid damage to your skin now and in the future is to avoid direct exposure to the sun. I know it’s hard, especially when your neighbor invites you to a BBQ at his pool or your friends say let’s go to the beach. You’d feel pretty silly in either case showing up covered head to foot in clothing and a hat. My friends cover yourself and avoid long-lasting harm to your body.
Remember, God created you and wants the best for you. He gave you sound judgment on how to live your life and present it to Him a living sacrifice. That’s hard to do when you look like a piece of toast and you’re in agony because of 3rd degree burns.
Did you know that you are an heir to unimaginable wealth that will never fade away? If you’re a believer, then God has an inheritance reserved for you in heaven. In fact, He says you have already obtained it. (See Eph. 1:11.) Your right to this treasure is not based on anything that you’ve done, but on the one to whom you belong. If you are a child of God, then the inheritance is yours and will be “revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
No one can take our inheritance from us, because God has guaranteed it by sealing us with His Holy Spirit of promise. The transaction is complete and merely awaits the ultimate consummation when everything will be brought under the headship of Christ. This seal shows His ownership and authority over us, and one day our full redemption will come.
Naturally, we all want to know what we’re going to inherit. Much of that is beyond our earthly comprehension, but Scripture gives us a few hints. It will involve the transformation of both our body and soul. The goal for which God predestined us will be completed as we stand before Him, conformed to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29; 1 John 3:2). And these weak, perishable bodies will be changed into strong, glorious ones that are free from sin and death (Phil. 3:20-21).
Why has God done all of this for us? Amazingly, He says it’s so that throughout eternity He can show us “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). In love and gratitude for such amazing goodness, let’s devote each day of our life to living for Him.
How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)
So here we are in the modern age — the age of the Internet, smart phones, space travel, and heart transplants — and our problem is fundamentally the same as always: our consciences condemn us and make us feel unacceptable to God. We are alienated from God.
We can cut ourselves, or throw our children in the sacred river, or give a million dollars to charity, or serve in a soup kitchen, or a hundred forms of penance and self-injury, and the result will be the same: the stain remains and death terrifies.
We know that our conscience is defiled — not with external things like touching a corpse, a dirty diaper, or a piece of pork. Jesus said it is what comes out of a man that defiles, not what goes in (Mark 7:15-23). We are defiled by attitudes like pride and self-pity and bitterness and lust and envy and jealousy and covetousness and apathy and fear.
The only answer in this modern age, as in every other age is the blood of Christ. When your conscience rises up and condemns you, where will you turn? Hebrew 9:14 gives you the answer: turn to Christ.