Come Now! The Parable of the Great Banquet

Have you ever received an invitation to “Come Now!” to a function? In many cultures, it is rude to refuse such an invite. Perhaps, you were already committed to other plans, were exhausted from work, or it was poor timing for you. There could be many reasons to decline an impromptu engagement.

We might request a rain check from the host or hostess, hoping to meet at a later date when it is more convenient. Sometimes, the delay may be justified. Other times, we create excuses for having other priorities — even misplaced priorities. Although a similar opportunity may come again, we must carefully consider each offer.

Jesus told a parable, a simple story revealing spiritual truth, about a great banquet. In the parable, the host offered no rain checks. “Come now!” he announced to his chosen guests.

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’”
Luke 14:17

Excuses

Without even considering the gravity of their response, they “all alike began to make excuses.

What? Everyone invited declined? Sadly, their excuses sounded strangely familiar to those we might use.

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
Luke 14:18-20

Politely, they all requested a rain check on the dinner engagement. Preoccupied with newly purchased property, the potential of owning his own land flooded the thoughts of the first guest. The second, an obviously wealthy man to buy five yoke of oxen, felt secure in his possessions and wealth. He wanted to try out his latest and greatest investment. Besides, he could prepare a banquet for himself whenever he wanted. The third could think of nothing but the pleasure of being with his lovely bride.

Most of us can relate to at least one of these fine gentlemen. Just like them, things, money, and people occupy much of our time, energy, and focus too. We easily justify how much time and effort we place in these areas of our lives.

The Master

The host planned for months. He prepared for weeks. All his servants worked diligently to present the choicest delicacies for the master’s guests. Elaborate decorations adorned the great banquet hall. Everything was ready.

The master of the banquet saw through the feeble excuses of his chosen guests. At great expense, he had prepared his best, freely and liberally offering it to others without any expectations in return. Their refusal would not stop the banquet.

Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’”
Luke 14:21

The servants obeyed. Up and down the city streets the servants ran, beckoning the outcasts and neglected to come now to the great banquet.

Still Room

The wealthy elite who rejected the master’s invitation went about their personal pursuits, enjoying their luxuries and pleasures. The most unlikely of guests flocked into the great banquet hall. They sat around tables overflowing with delicacies. Their eyes bulged in disbelief and bellies rumbled with hunger as they gazed upon the abundance of provision. But there was still room for more.

 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’  “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
Luke 14:22-23

Can you hear the heart of the master? Can you feel his generosity? His compassion? The intent of his purpose? “My house will be full!”

The servants ran with haste into the countryside, beckoning everyone they saw to come now. The master desired every seat to be full. He had prepared for maximum capacity.

No Rain Checks

Jesus spoke not just to the listeners of His day. He speaks just as clearly to us — whoever and wherever we might be. The invitation of the Father, the Master of the house, reaches to you and me. It extends to our family, neighbours, and friends. Everything has been made ready.

The banquet points directly to the future marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Rev 19:9). It cost Him everything. It costs us nothing to accept His invitation. He waits for our, “Yes!”

One way or another, the banquet will be filled. Those who decline will miss out. Those who are ready will feast with Him. For some who delay, their place will be given to others.

There will be no rain checks — no opportunity for a change of heart once the seats are full. The Master commands His servants with an urgency, “Compel them to come in!” Then, He gives this warning,

“I say to you all, no one who receives an invitation to feast with me and makes excuses will ever enjoy my banquet.”
Luke 14:24

No More Excuses

How many excuses have we spoken or heard from others. Either verbally or through our actions, we tell God, “Later! When it is more convenient, I will follow You. When business isn’t going so well, I’ll come to You. If my relationships fall apart, then I’ll call on You.”

God’s invitation is to “Come now!” Jesus warned that there will be no room for those who refuse. And there will be no grounds for excuses then.

I weep as I consider all the Master has done for us. I also weep as I consider the consequences of those who decline His invitation.

The parable tells a true story — one lived out daily and being fulfilled throughout eternity. May the parable inspire each of us as God’s servants through the streets of our cities and down the roadways of our countryside, inviting others to come to the Master. May we each sense the Holy Spirit compelling us to come now.

Lord, like the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, we accept Your gracious invitation. We come without excuse to sit at Your table. We thank You for the great preparation You have made for us. With humble hearts, we say, “Yes!” to You. And with urgency, we invite others to join us. As unworthy beggars, we feast of Your goodness and mercy. Thank You, Lord.

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5 Key Spiritual Strategies to Investing Wisely

We each possess a limited amount of time, energy, or resources. Today, let’s explore key strategies to investing wisely all God has given to us.

When I move from this life to my heavenly home, I don’t want to “leave anything on the table.” In other words, I want to take full advantage of every opportunity ahead.

In a recent dream, a small group of people sat in my kitchen, waiting to be served. Their bodies spilling limply over the chairs they sat upon. Another small group of people, I was supposed to be leading, were in a side room studying the Bible. The largest group of people patiently waited outside my kitchen window — the neglected, rejected, and dejected.

The kitchen group consumed all my time. They smelled the two turkeys roasting in the oven — ready to pounce on the choicest portions. One person even purposely spilled her drink on the floor as she looked out the window, rudely ridiculing those outside. I bent down, cleaning up after her.

Scooting off to the side room, I checked on the ladies who were studying the Word and sharing their discoveries with each other. The atmosphere was joyous and energized.

Returning to the kitchen, I looked in my cupboard for something to feed the crowd outside until the turkey could be served. The cupboard was bare! “Who ate all these?” I asked those lounging like lazy lions in the kitchen. No one responded.

Those outside my door began to drift away, leaving as hungry as they had come.

It was a God-dream packed with meaning.

Strategies

God speaks in many ways. Through the dream, He called me to evaluate carefully where and how I invest my time, energy, resources, and influence. Like in my dream, it is often the things that return the least that demand the most from us.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
2 Timothy 2:2

Paul speaks of four generations of investment in this verse. He taught Timothy by word and example. The things he invested in young Timothy and many others, he asks Timothy to now invest in “reliable people.” The word for “entrust” also means “to deliver, deposit, or teach.” Paul is talking investment terms!

He tells Timothy to choose reliable, objective, trustworthy, faithful, believing people to invest in — people prepared and ready to pass the investment on to others.

Paul’s example with Timothy leads us to the first key strategy to investing wisely.

#1 – Set a Goal

Goals establish clarity and purpose. Do we know our God-given purpose? What do we desire to accomplish with the limited and temporary resources we have?

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

An eternity mindset brings even temporary goals into alignment. Our business portfolio, scholastic achievements, awards, and accolades won’t matter when we give an account to God for what we have done with our lives.

Jesus told a parable of three individuals each given different talents “each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15). When the master returned, each person gave an account of how they invested what they were given. One unfortunate fellow resembled those in my kitchen — taking what he could but failing to pass anything on.

Whatever talent, ability, or resource we have ultimately came from God. When we possess an eternal mindset, we recognize ourselves as stewards given a trust. As we keep eternal perspective, we gain wisdom to handle, multiply, and use temporary things for eternal purposes.

#2 – Measure the Investment

For investing wisely, we need the second strategy, as well. With goals aimed toward eternity, how much are we willing to invest toward individual significant areas?

My bank account and day planner reveal the real story of where my chosen investments lay. These two areas in particular, time and resources, measure my investment in individuals and communities.

In John 6 we find an revealing progression. Jesus supernaturally fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, using only a boy’s small lunch. The next day, Jesus confronts the same people who continued to follow Him.

“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
John 6:26

They weren’t following Jesus because they believed in Him. They followed Him for what they could get from Him.

Jesus began to teach such difficult things that all but a few grumbled about Him and quarrelled with Him. The crowd saw Jesus as their free meal ticket. Jesus would have nothing to do such slothful behavior!

Jesus set the example in how to invest wisely. We should prayerfully consider how much to invest in any specific person or people group, without creating similar codependency.

#3 – Choose Where to Invest

Some people will monopolize our time and drain all our resources. Yet others will legitimately need intense short-term investment to successfully launch into a healthy life pathway.

Newborn babies demand undivided attention and care. We don’t “baby” any natural or spiritual children forever though. They must learn to feed themselves, dress themselves, manage their own resources, and care for others. It would be abnormal for any infant to remain an infant.

Yet we find spiritually under-developed Christians everywhere.

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”
Hebrews 5:12

Once we set our goal for eternal benefits and God has shown how much to invest, now we seek His wisdom for the specific where, who, and even how on His heart. We ask Him to lead us to those who will grow and take personal responsibility for their development.

“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:8

Increasing measure speaks of normal spiritual growth and development.

#4 – Begin

Strategies begin to work when we implement them. The implementation will be fluid, developing more fully as we go.

In my dream, I needed to lovingly move those inside to the outside to make room for those outside to find a place of acceptance and care. As long as I allowed a few people to consume all my time and resources, I had nothing left for those who needed it the most.

God calls us to love everyone without showing preference. Jesus longs for those outside His family to enjoy His blessings too. We accomplish this through investing wisely where there will be the greatest eternal returns.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

Where do we begin? We begin with the one in front of us — the one just outside our window, the one we see every day, the one needing encouragement and support, or even the one needing a tougher kind of love.

#5 – Try, Test, Tweak

As we invest, we listen for God’s continued direction. Hopefully, you don’t need such a vivid dream to wake you up to your need to tweak how you invest your time and resources.

As we invest in others, we measure the results. Is there evidence of fruit or signs of transformation in the lives of those around us? Are godly attributes increasing in those we are investing in?

“This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:13 (NLT)

Sometimes the results will be less obvious than at other times. Each area of trying, testing, and tweaking takes a special courage that God promises to provide. I am so very thankful for those who invested so much into my life. I’m sure they wanted to quit many times over, but they didn’t!

May our investments prove eternally beneficial, reproducing in multiplied measure.

Blessings my friend, as we invest into our homes, churches, and communities.

Let’s begin investing wisely!

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Christianity — The Greatest Movement in History

Christianity - The Greatest Movement in History

Time has proven the greatest movement in history has undeniably been the sustained growth and expansion of Christian faith, despite extreme persecution of its followers by oppressive regimes to eradicate it.

The ministry of Jesus spanned three short years. Yet today, roughly one third of the world’s population profess some form of Christianity — about 2.38 billion people according to the last count. Rather than a diminishing belief, people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ in greater numbers now than ever before.

Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, women approached his tomb to mourn and give Him a proper burial. How shocked they must have been at the angel’s announcement,

” . . . Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
Matthew 28:5

Many people still believe Jesus to be dead, buried, and gone. Oh, how wrong their perception! Both He and His church are alive and well!

Just As He Said

On multiple occasions, Jesus forewarned His disciples about His death and ressurrection. He prepared them for the future, telling of many things yet to occur. Rather than the church weakening or becoming just-another-religious organization in His absence, He said Christianity would become a powerful, unflinching force that would neither cower nor bow.

“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.”
Matthew 11:12 NLT

All the original apostles, except for Judas, Jesus’ betrayer, gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Faith in Jesus, rather than fear of political or religious leaders, drove them to ferociously defend and advance the Kingdom of God.

“We are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life.”
Hebrews 11:39 TPT

The same attitude embodies Christians around the world today. Christianity remains the greatest movement throughout history.

Greater Works

It is difficult to comprehend Jesus’ promise that His followers would continue and exceed the ministry He began.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12

Greater works than Jesus? Since Jesus said it, we can confidently believe.

Jesus didn’t leave us powerless. The indwelling Holy Spirit continues to flow through those who follow Him. Holy Spirit working within believers accomplishes the same things Jesus did when He walked among humanity. Now, with Jesus’ followers numbering in the billions, greater works are being done. Billions of Spirit-filled believers actively carry out His mandate around the world.

Much Fruit

The greatest movement in history continues to flourish and dominate social cultures and political landscapes, not apart from Jesus, but through Him, by Him, and for His glory.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

In a recent dream, I saw a large, open field. I knew the land was once rolling terrain, dotted with sandy hills in some areas and wasted swamp in others. Yet, now the flat field produced an extremely thick crop of plump wheat. The ripe heads of wheat were thicker and fuller than any natural wheat heads. It was a supernatural crop. As the legal owner of the land, I knew it was my responsibility to bring in the harvest — an impossible task to accomplish on my own. This supernatural harvest would require a supernatural team, including Jesus and others.

Together

John records Jesus’ prayer — first for Himself, then for His followers, and finally for future believers (like you and me).

” . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:20-23

This unity between believers from diverse denominations, complex cultures, and numerable nations creates a synergy, adding momentum to the greatest movement in history and bringing in the supernatural harvest. Christian unity offers people everywhere a visual demonstration that Jesus is alive.

Jesus continues to visit people through dreams and vision, supernatural healings, signs, and wonders. Borders cannot stop His entrance. Governments cannot stop His movement. His is alive! His church is growing exponentially in numbers and maturity. He compared it to yeast working through dough,

” . . . The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Matthew 13:33

Do Not Be Afraid

Sixty pounds of flour is a whole lot of flour! Once blended in, yeast can never be separated from the dough

The first words the angels spoke continue to resonate, “Do not be afraid!” Jesus continues to lead His church to victory! Rather than standing off in obscurity, He actively moves among us, drawing the prodigals home, opening the ears and eyes of the spiritually deaf and blind, while softening even the hardest of hearts.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Oh, precious reader, take courage! You are not alone! Wherever you live, God is with you. If you have declared Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you belong to His amazing powerful Church, the greatest movement in history.

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Beauty of Boundaries: Fences of Protection

As a teenager, I failed to see the beauty of boundaries, repeatedly pushing against any restriction my parents or teachers established. I bear the scars to prove it!

Every outstanding leader honors and recognizes the indisputable importance of parameters on their leadership and with those they lead. Loving parents establish appropriate lines of protection around their children. These fences — sometimes visible, often invisible — keep what is harmful at bay while provided the greatest liberty.

Jesus trained world-changing leaders to follow behind Him. We witness His boundary-establishing techniques at the beginning of their ministry experiences.

Authority

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
Matthew 10:1

I may have been born in the wrong generation, on the wrong continent, of the wrong gender to take part in the exploits of this group, but my heart cries, “My too!” I long to see a day when hospital wards completely empty, with every disease and sickness brought down. I’m not alone in praying for God to remove the deceptive and deadly claws of the enemy from those we deeply love and care.

“Yes, Lord! Grant us the same authority!”

The Greek word exesti, translated here as authority, means “privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery, or delegated influence.” We consider authority to mean the power to give orders, make decisions, or enforce obedience in others. Biblical authority contains a broader meaning within the beauty of boundaries — boundaries, Jesus clearly articulated.

Do Not Go

“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.”
Matthew 10:5

Do you see it? Immediately, Jesus set the parameter of their movement. Jesus never conferred authority upon His disciples as a blank cheque to be executed wherever or however they desired.

Power and authority, like intoxicating wine, changes people. Usually to their detriment! But with proper boundaries, that same power and authority becomes mighty in the hands of ordinary men and women.

Multitudes in need awaited the disciples throughout the vast territory before them. The magnitude of the mission, without the beauty of boundaries Jesus established, might otherwise have overwhelmed them. If they or we over-extend ourselves, the immensity of the task incapacitates us, rendering us ineffective.

Jesus scaled back their focus to one people group in one specific area. Within that parameter, they possessed the authority of Christ to function liberally, bringing healing and freedom to those they encountered.

Go

When they clearly understood the “Don’t go!” Jesus then released them to “Go!”

Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Matthew 10:6

Galilee embodied as much multiculturalism as any nation today. God loves each one completely and uniquely.

As a former farmer/rancher, I understand only a fragment of the heart of the Good Shepherd here. If I noticed an animal from a neighbor’s herd in need, I quickly contacted the neighbor and offered help. But if one of my own animals fell into danger, became ill, or went missing, I immediately amped all efforts. The care and concern for my herd far exceeded that for my neighbor’s.

Jesus, the Great Shepherd, desired to minister first to His sheep, “the lost sheep of Israel.” Lost sheep encounter many deadly dangers. Time is of the essence!

As You Go

Jesus gave not only a “do not go” and a “go” instruction, but He also added important details to an “as you do” directive.

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
Matthew 10:7-8

First, He called them to present the message and purpose of their authority clearly! God desires that everything we say and do points others to the “kingdom of heaven.” Jesus gave the disciples authority to point the lost sheep homeward to the waiting arms of the loving Father.

Second, supernatural signs and wonders emphasized and validated the message. God had been calling His sheep home for decades. They had grown deaf to His voice. Jesus knew meeting human need through miracles would have dramatic effect, awakening them to their deeper spiritual needs.

Beauty of Boundaries

When we stop resisting the fences of protection and provision God establishes, we discover the true beauty of boundaries. It has taken me far too long, but I’m realizing that the more I respect and honor the boundaries God has placed around my life, the more empowered I become to declare His grace.

God’s impartation of authority continues through all generations. God still moves with divine power, healing the sick, casting out demons, and even raising the dead through the submitted hearts and hands of those who intentionally walk within His boundaries.

Freely, they live among us, declaring God’s love and grace. Liberally, they move with supernatural power and authority. Those who hunger and thirst for the things of God are being filled, empowered, and sent out.

Weekly, I hear people witness to God’s healing and deliverance in their lives.

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Psalm 16:6

“Lord, forgive us for resisting your parameters of influence. Turn our hearts in surrender to your ways. Release in and through your faithful followers divine authority and power to speak and move within the beauty of boundaries, as Your instruments of healing, redemption, and deliverance. Let it be!
Amen.”

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Fresh Air! A Fresh Wind Is Blowing

What memory or image most clearly represents “fresh air” to you? Is it mountains, forests, or laying in a hammock beside a lake? Developers and marketers attempt to package and advertise their latest scent to entice you into buying everything from laundry detergent to shoes. Why? Our nose knows!

When I close my eyes asking God for alert spiritual senses, I “smell” a shifting aroma that excites my spirit. I smell a fresh wind blowing, swooping across the nations of the world. It is starting almost imperceptibly, building strength, riding the prayers of God’s people of all nationalities, disrespecting political boundaries or earthly terrain. Like a powerful stallion sent from heaven, it comes — unbridled and free.

Long ago, in another land, a wind blew.

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Acts 2:2-4

“Suddenly” they ALL heard and saw things they had neither seen nor heard before. Perhaps, God again is repositioning us for new things previously unseen and unheard — times of refreshing, times of revival, times of awakening.

Hope

I invite you today to close your eyes for a moment and turn your heart heavenward toward the One upon His eternal throne. May you commune heart to heart with Him who loves you, knows you intimately, and sees your situation.

Neither distant nor distracted, He waits, listening for your voice. Like a loving Father, arms outstretched, welcoming you to come.

You are not abandoned! You are not forsaken! God has not forgotten your name.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Ephesians 1:18

Oh, that we each may “know the hope to which (God) has called” us! Renewed hope breathes fresh air upon us. Do you smell it?

Courage

The fresh breeze blowing rides upon the wings of courage.

“But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27

We take courage, grabbing hold of it. We all possess the potential to choose courage. Courage shines strongest in the face of fierce circumstances. Courage disarms fear, exposing its faulty system.

It may be -30 degrees celsius outside, but today I unlocked the door and stepped onto my balcony with slippered feet. I shouted long and loud, laughing (literally) at fear. This simple gesture created a powerful inward move, refusing to entertain fear. The fresh air made me cough, pause, then breathe a glorious deep breath.

I smelled again the scent of newness, of God invading this earthly realm in ways my heart yearned to see.

Faith

Have you ever smelled the humusy aroma of fresh turned earth after a long winter’s rest? It is one of my favorite things, reminding me the old is gone and a new season has come. Faith smells just like that! Faith dares to turn over the moldy remnants of growth long dead, preparing for the planting of new seeds.

We enjoy the fruit of whatever we willingly sow, both in the natural and the spiritual.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-contol. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Sow the seeds! Reap the fruit! Breathe in the aroma of the fresh air of God’s Spirit rising.

In prayer, I saw an eagle, rising, circling upon a fresh wind. It rose higher and higher until I could no longer see it, but I knew it was there — powerful, strong and free. Suddenly, the eagle swooped taking captive what needed to be taken captive. Then flaming arrows came from heaven, lighting fires all over my nation of Canada. Not destroying fire, but fire that lights and warms — inviting fires, needed fires, holy fires.

The fresh air of Holy Spirit ignites flames of passionate worship, surrendered hearts, and yielded wills. I smell it, though I don’t yet see it.

Prayer

Yes, Lord! Bring in the fresh air of Your Presence. Blow across this and all nations with hope, courage and faith. Release over the earth the wind of Your doing. May Your church be ready! May she be waiting and watching — anticipating the newness of this day and hour. Turn over and overturn all that is dead and dying. Prepare the soil for Your harvest.
May Your people unite in perfect unity and harmony, declaring Your unfailing Word, without shame, throughout the streets and roadways, to neighbors, family, friends, and strangers.
May the winds of revival and restoration come! Remove what must be removed. Ignite holy fires. Shoot Your powerful arrows restoring Your purposes and plans. Light the path for those who have wandered far to find their way safely home.
This is a season of renewed hope! A time of great courage! Unwavering faith stirs among Your church — young and old, male and female. She is beautiful and strong. She will not be diminished! Through the burning fire of oppression she comes — radiant and unashamed.
She is learning to love as You love. She carries with her the fruit of Your Spirit, scattering it abroad. Lavishly generous, she freely receives and gives with open hands.
Awaken us, Lord! Awaken our senses to know the tremendous season upon us. It smells like fresh air, turning us toward You.
Amen.”

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Glory to God in the Highest Heaven, And on Earth Peace

On Earth Peace

Long ago an angelic chorus announced to a band of shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The occasion, of course, was the birth of Jesus. When the angels ascended into heaven, both the sound of their voices and the glorious brilliance which shone around them dissipated. Their message did not.

The shepherds, like many of us today, struggled with the profound simplicity of their promise. Those far-reaching, never-achieving words, “favor” and “peace,” echoed like hollow rhetoric in their ears. But now the message came, not through prophets or teachers, but through angels.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Luke 2:9-12

The validation of the angelic message slept, as only babies sleep, in a manger.

Prince of Peace

Look around! Can you see it? Feel it? Hear it in the air? This message of peace for all the people?

While tornados rip apart communities, homes, and families, where do we find peace? We silently watch as military giants set siege to defenseless nations and ask again, “How will peace be found?” Floods destroy. Fires consume. Addictions devastate. Yet, God’s Word echoes eternally,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those o whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

Peace, illusive peace, embodied the paramount blessing Israel looked for with the coming Messiah. The shepherds, like us, desired this state of tranquility, freedom from civil disturbance, security and order, as well as harmony in personal relationships.

The peace which God offered reached beyond the natural realms. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to extend peace within, dispelling confusion and discord, first in the hidden recesses of hearts and minds.

Isaiah spoke,

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government
and peace there will be no end . . .”
Isaiah 9:6,7

My heart longs for such good news, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace!”

Peace and Hope

Hope within the humble band of shepherds latched on to these words! Hope of peace spurred them into the streets of Bethlehem until they found Him.

When they looked into the face of the Christ Child, what did they see? Did they recognize the Holy Lamb of God who would pay a horrific price for their peace? This Gospel of peace declared first to them, would one day echo through the hills of Galilea, and eventually reach even us!

The message reached me when I was over twenty years old — my mind filled with confusion — suicidal and broken. As broken as the family, my internal peacelessness helped to break. Lost and without hope. Needing a Savior, I didn’t know. A Redeemer. An Advocate.

In a last ditch effort to take my life, He came to my ditch. He offered what no man could offer. He gave what no human could give. Peace with God! The peace of God.

In a single moment, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, not the Baby in a manger, but rather the glorified Lord, reached down to me, the worst of sinners, granting indescribable peace. Faith arose. Knowledge of Jesus bearing the sins of the world, even my sins, burst through disillusionment and despair. I believed Jesus died for my sins and was bruised for my iniquities to arise from the grave three days, all to give life. I knew in that instant the offer extended to me, to you, to all . . .

Not through angels, but Holy Spirit breathed words,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Shalom

The most common Old Testament word translated into “peace” is shalom. It embodies a sense of wholeness, soundness, health, well-being, and prosperity.

Though none of these immediately became outwardly evident, inwardly my heart filled with shalom! Why? God, the Author and giver of peace became my peace.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:1

When we experience peace with God, nothing and no one can rob us! The peace and hope flowing from Him surpasses anything. Vertical peace — peace with God — inevitably becomes horizontal peace — peace with others. The evidence of internal peace expressed to others resounds the loudest,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rest.”
Luke 2:14

Let Peace Rule

Paul wrote to the church in Colosse,

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
Colossians 3:15

God grants peace to us, but we cooperate by letting His peace work and rule through us. With me, it is impossible. But God makes a way through His indwelling Spirit!

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Romans 8:6

Jesus intends for the enduring “greatness of his government and peace” to operate consistently and continuously through us as we surrender the control of our minds (and hearts) to Him.

As we follow the path of peace, we ultimately follow the way of God, yielding our minds and motives to Him and purpose.

Jesus knew how much we would need to live at peace within an unpeaceful world. Three times after His ressurection, He says, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, 21, 26) Co-incidence? Not at all!

On Earth Peace

This earth, the broken, aching world, knows no peace. But it longs for it!

Our neighbors and communities, our friends and our families wait as the shepherds waited. They wait for someone, anyone, to bring them “good news that will cause great joy for all.”

God strategically places you and me to be His voices to herald the Good News, sharing the message of peace to those around us. Peace, perhaps greater than anything else, remains the most desired gift of this and every generation.

“When they had seen him (Jesus), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
Luke 2:19

When we see Him, we want to tell others about Him!

May we all follow the example of the shepherds, spreading the Good News. Jesus makes Himself as available to all people as He was to the shepherds long ago. May the message of peace and hope be loudly and broadly proclaimed, not just at Christmas, but every day.

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons (and daughters) of men.”
Luke 2:14 TPT

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“Come, Follow Me” – How Ready and Willing Am I?

Come, Follow Me

“Come, follow me, Grandma!” My grandson yelled over his shoulder as he grabbed his sled and sped down the steep snow-laden hill. The sun brightened the day, but failed to soften the biting crispness of the winter air. With fingers numbing in the cold and heals dug in, I hesitated, evaluating the outcome and standing in reluctance. For generations, our family enjoyed sledding together down these familiar slopes. The pages of my photo album chronicle many such outings.

Today was different!

As I stood on the crest of the hill, I realized I wasn’t as young as I once was. Broken bones don’t heal quite as quickly as they once did. My aging body doesn’t flex like it did a few decades ago. But alas, fun called! I lassoed my courage in one giant breath, lifted my heals and pushed off. Wind and snow pelted my face, forcing icy crystals around my neck and blurring my vision. Holding frantically to the inner tube beneath me, I creased my eyes tight as I veered off course, slamming into a bluff of shrubs and trees. With limbs intact, I flung my arms wide in the air, signalling triumph to the onlookers (laughing wildly, I might add). Obviously, I lived to tell the tale and smile in the remembrance. 

Waiting and watching

This invitation was risky, but invitations come in many forms. Invitations to weddings, baby showers, dinners with friends, picnics or vacations. Someone thought of us. Someone values our presence. The response to the invitation rests with each one of us. Will we pass up the opportunity, or be counted in?

Sometimes, we consider the cost more carefully. Future outcomes lay hidden. Resulting consequences questionable. “Come, follow me!” should cause us to ask at least a few questions before we jump on board. 

“Come, Follow Me.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their nets and followed him.” 
Mark 1:17,18

Simon and Andrew never requested a legal contract validating Jesus’ ability to lead or adequately compensate them for their efforts. “At once” they followed. A little further down the beach, Jesus summoned two more fishermen, the brothers James and John.

Birds on water

Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat
with the hired men and followed him.”
Mark 1:20 

Don’t be confused! Their decision carried serious consequences. When they walked away from their father and the fishing business, they also left security, a predictable income, and peer credibility. They chose Jesus above their families and any earthly benefits. Jesus called these dedicated, mature business owners into futures they could not yet comprehend. 

Jesus recognized qualities in these hardworking men that would be essential for the demanding ministry ahead. Though rough around the edges, Jesus noticed in them the ingredients of greatness. His invitation to “Come, follow me!” held unprecedented risk — ultimately costing them their lives. 

Followers

Eventually, the numbers of people following Jesus aroused the suspicion of many, the jealousy of others, and the anger of still more. The multitudes which followed sought healing, deliverance, and food for their bellies. Others followed out of curiosity. A few followed with evil intent, waiting to catch Jesus in his words. 

Come Follow Me

The outward appearance of this rag-tag group of disciples concealed the mighty world-changers they would become. Jesus chose those who would be passionately committed and deeply involved in the work of ministry. He sought those who would courageously stand in the face of adversity and death. All-in, nothing held back, trusting, independent, and teachability! 

Many God honoring men and women turned and walked away. The cost of following Jesus was greater than they were willing to make. A wealthy young man in Matthew 19 is a prime example.

Since childhood, to the best of his ability, he lived for God. Yet, he knew he lacked something. He asked Jesus what more he could do.

” . . . sell your possession and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 19:21

Sadly, he walked away, hoping to find an easier path, a cheaper alternative, a less painful option.

Everyone Come

Our response to Jesus’ call to “come, follow me” reveals more about the motivations of our hearts than we realize. Just maybe, His invitation discloses how deeply we hold to the temporary pleasures and comforts of the world.

The open invitation to follow Jesus still stands. Unfortunately, we too often relate to the wealthy young man or those in the parable of a banquet. Jesus says that everything is prepared and waiting for anyone willing to come. Throughout the streets and byways, messengers announced the good news.

Come, for everything is now ready. But they all alike began to make excuses.”
Luke 14:17-18

Though their reasons appeared valid and their response polite, they all missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the core, they all made excuses! Funny, how much validity we give to our frail reasoning. The Master in the parable knew both the weakness of their arguments and inevitable consequences of their failure to respond.

Compel Them

The Master became outraged by the feeble responses. The parable foretells a wedding celebration unlike any other. The union of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. It speaks with urgency.

Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame . . . Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”
Luke 14:21-23

Ducks Diving

Excuses won’t matter then! The Master will fill the seats — if not with us, with others.

Every invitation requires preparation, setting aside other commitments, our time, and perhaps gifts. “Come, follow me!” carries a price, too. Our dedication to Jesus means more than lounging at banquet tables or sitting idly under shady trees.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:38

The cross for some may seem insignificant, but for others weighty. In following we become servants, messengers, and ministers caring for the needs of others above our own. In following, we commit everything we are and have to Him. We are no long our own; “we have been bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20).

The Reward

The rewards of following Jesus Christ are greater than could be compiled within a blog or list!

  • He lifts our burdens (Matt 11:28)
  • “Come, follow me!” leads us from the familiar into the miracle-moving, water-walking impossible (Matt 14:19, 28-29)
  • It brings us into the place of blessing and inheritance (Matt 25:34)
  • It welcomes us and others into the kingdom of God (Mk 1:17)
  • He provides quietness and rest (Mk 6:31)
Geese Lead and Follow

” . . . Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
John 7:37-38

We’ve all heard those get-it-now, time-limited offers. Though it may not seem like it, Jesus’ invitation fits into a similar category. When He returns, it will be too late. The doors will be closed and further access denied, unless you have already accepted His invitation to “Come, follow me!” Let’s not allow anything to keep us from responding.

” . . . I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

Today, acknowledge the invitation. Jesus welcomes all to RSVP, “Yes, Lord, today I come!”

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Recipient of Good News: Time for a Good Report

Good News

Have you been the recipient of good news recently? Are you looking forward to, and hoping for, a good report? Perhaps, we all are!

Not all news has been positive, but, over the years, we’ve experienced many excellent reports: the births of healthy babies; a cancer free diagnosis; an impossible healing verified; grandchildren successfully completing a task or excelling in an endeavor; a promotion or new position granted; financial provision just in time. So much to be thankful for.

Exotic Bird

Yet, we’ve dealt with heart-breaking reports as well: brain cancer; spinal injury; creditors calling before paychecks come through; addictions; divorce; and more. Whether the report announces good news or difficult times, we press close to God, knowing He holds us and everything else in His hands.

Good News for a Nation

As I was reading the historical account of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, I couldn’t help but wonder how they responded to such good news. “God is coming to rescue you!”

Were they in disbelief? Did they celebrate?

“The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”
Exodus 2:23-25

Over four hundred years previous, their ancestors honored and worshipped God. Now, generations later, their descendents knew nothing of God. Though they forgot God, God remembered them; He knew them and longed to see them set free.

Bird in Cage

“The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them . . .’ “
Exodus: 3:7-8

Consider, for a moment, their bondage to cruel dictatorship and alienation from God. Though they cried in misery, they had drifted so far from God that they didn’t even know how to cry to Him.

Perfect Timing

Only those who experience it comprehend the weight of slavery, the cold-blooded murder of infants, and inhumane conduct of cruel taskmasters.

God heard! Through Moses, He came to rescue. That’s good news. With signs, wonder and miracles, He pulled one nation from another in a single day — not just any day, but the exact day of God’s choosing.

“Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt. Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt. . .”
Exodus 12:40-42

Though God lives outside of time, present in eternity past while present in eternity future, He has a perfect time for His people, both Israel and us. That’s good news!

Another Deliverance

God’s deliverance of His people from bondage marked the high point of the nation. What could possibly compare?

During another brutal season of captivity for Israel, Jeremiah declared an even greater deliverance.

‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up from David’s line a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.”
Jeremiah 23:5-6

Hummingbird

Jeremiah is speaking of another deliverance for Israel that will make the exodus from Egypt pale in comparison — the greatest deliverance of all time.

He points all eyes, not just to the end of seventy years of captivity in Babylon, but to King Jesus, who would save forever Jews and Gentiles from the bondage to sin and rebellion.

Good News

In the fullness of time, God looked again on the misery of humanity and came to rescue.

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’ Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”
Galatians 4:4-7

At “the right time”, “the fullness of time”, His perfect time, Jesus came, born of a virgin to live a sinless life. He died a cruel death on the cross and was resurrected to newness of life, doing it all to purchase for Himself a family of believers.

Parrots Flying

I often cry when I receive bad news. I sometimes even cry as the recipient of good news. This news, the greatest news ever, stirs my heart to the deepest level. God offers His good news to the worst of criminals, the loyalest of saints, the weakest among us, the richest and poorest, the old and the young, those of every nation, tribe and tongue.

Jesus Christ, The LORD Our Righteous Savior, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, came to rescue!

Get Excited

Whatever bad news you are facing, this good news exceeds it all! Whatever bad report has reached your ears, God came to rescue, through Jesus Christ.

Even imprisonment in a Philippian dungeon couldn’t keep Paul and Silas from praying, singing hymns, and praising God for such good news. An earthquake may have shook the jail, but it was the Spirit of God that shook a Roman jailer to his core.

“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.’ “
Acts 16:29-30

No one needs to wait for an earthquake or a desperate situation. God offers the same good news to each of us. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” It sounds too simple; yet, that simple it is.

Birds Singing

The time is perfect! Today, believe the good news.

I know that there will be seasons of both good and difficult reports ahead for us all. Yet, the good news is we can walk through the good and the difficult with God as our strength and comfort.

Share the Good News

William Carey, who started a worldwide missionary movement in the nineteenth century, said,

“If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel . . . then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among the nations.”

Gospel literally means “good news.” Let’s follow his example by first believing and then sharing such good news.

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The Lost Meaning of Repentance

Language is in constant fluid motion; words often change meaning over time. Repentance is one example of a word with value and meaning shifting over the years.

Linguists, those who studies language, tell us that youth culture changes language about every 6 months. Dictionary writers update, adding new words and adapting meanings of existing words, continuously. It’s not much wonder confusion arises when certain words are used. Some members of the population may understand one meaning, while another segment may have a totally different concept in mind.

Here are just a few words as examples:

  1. Awful now means something very bad or unpleasant, disgusting, horrible or terrible. At one time, awful meant “worthy of awe”.
  2. Fizzle once referred to the act of producing quiet flatulence. Now it simply means to come to a gradual end.
  3. Clue, or clew, was a ball of yarn. Today it has the meaning of “evidence or information used in the detection of a crime or solving of a mystery”.

Repentance

Biblical repentance goes beyond the dictionary’s definition of “sincere regret or remorse“. Remorse is a deep regret or guilt for wrong committed. A person can be sincerely remorseful without ever repenting.

Remorse, regret and repentance

“Why is definition important?” one might ask?

Jesus responded to accusations of socializing with the wrong crowd by saying,

“I have not come to call the righteous,
but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:32

If Jesus purposefully came to draw people to repentance, it is imperative we have a clear understanding of what He was actually meaning.

After hearing Peter’s first sermon, the people were deeply remorseful and knew they needed to do something about their spiritual condition, but they honestly had no idea what to do. Peter’s response was,

“… Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2: 38

Repentance to biblical writers reached beyond feelings of guilt or shame. It was necessary for anyone coming into relationship with God. Years later Peter’s message hadn’t changed:

“The Lord … is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9

Eternal Significance

Truth is truth! Whether I believe it or reject it, truth remains true forever. Where each of us will spend eternity hangs in the balance of this one word — repentance.

In a world of political correctness and apologetic niceties, I must be honest. Eternal hell is full of those deeply remorseful and in constant regret of sin.

Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

To repent is simply to change one’s mind toward God and sin. It is a voluntary change of will, feeling and action toward God involving not just a feeling bad about what one has done wrong or the consequences faced. It is a “godly sorrow” leading one to confess and renounce sin turning away from it completely.

Repentance is a changing of one's mind

Where once sin held great pleasure and lure, now it is seen clearly for its true destructive nature,

“For the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

Sin is always deadly! Always! But when a person repents, God extends His wonderful gift of life, available because of Jesus’ work through His death and resurrection.

A Good Trade

Sometimes I have made what would be considered a “poor” trade to give someone else an advantage: taking the smaller portion of desert, using the broken pencil, choosing an uncomfortable position… I’m sure you have too.

A few years ago a man traded a single red paperclip. Fourteen trades later, he traded with the Town of Kipling Saskatchewan for a house. A paperclip for a house is a good trade, but not the best trade!

“If my people,
who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin
and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land

Now we are talking good trade! Trading pride for humility to draw close to God! Better yet, repenting and turning from “wicked ways” and receiving forgiveness and healing. That is a good trade!

I love the “I will”s of the bible. There are promises of God available if we assume our responsibility. This one verse contains three such amazing promises — all are connected directly to repentance.

No Regrets

Sometimes people genuinely feel so attached to their sinful life style they honestly feel to repent would deprive them of joy. It is a perceived “sacrifice” many are unwilling to make.

True repentance accesses indescribable freedom and pleasure in obeying God. Undoubtedly, there is a loathing of the sin that once held them in bondage. For Christians, life is not a list of “dos and don’ts”, but rather fullness of joy in fellowship with God and others.

“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Psalm 16:11

The fullness of joy!Sin holds pleasure for only a season! Repentance is the path to enjoying life fully now and for eternity.  There are no regrets to such a life choice!

It remains vitally important that we maintain the biblical meaning of repentance as God intended. Individually and corporately it is a principle leading to life and spiritual wholeness.

“Repentance means turning from
as much as you know of your sin
to give as much as you know
of yourself to as much as
you know of your God,
and as our knowledge grows
at these three points so our practice
of repentance has to be enlarged.
J. I. Packer

Choice for Today

To the tender-hearted person of faith, repentance is a continuing process. Holy Spirit both convicts us of sin, bringing us into sharpened awareness of areas of rebellion toward God, while convincing us of the immeasurable grace available to all who believe.

Today is the day of salvation!

The liberating force within repentance is difficult to articulate and wonderful to experience.

“For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you,
now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

There will be no better day than today! No better time than right now! Test and see just how good God is! I encourage you to take the step beyond remorse and regret to the freedom found in genuine repentance. It is the right time to experience God’s favor!

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Fireflies and Lightning Bugs – Let Your Light Shine!

Childhood memory flashed through my mind as fleeting as fireflies and lightning bugs. Under the thick summer canopy of elms around my grandfather’s cabin, we would race capturing fireflies to put in jars. My real joy was watching them freely rise and spin, dart and swirl, appearing and disappearing with ease.

These tiny light generators danced spontaneously through the night air. I still view them with childlike amazement. It is a chemical reaction inside the firefly’s body that allows them to light up.

Fireflies and lightning bugs!

There is nothing extraordinary about fireflies by day. But in the dark, watch and see!

Let it Shine

The evidence of Jesus Christ within us is meant to spontaneously shine, creating an atmosphere of amazement and wonder to those around us.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

Do you catch the implication? We have an ability to either hide The Light, Jesus, from others or “let” our lights shine!

I have long struggled with preferring to go unnoticed, while at the same time desiring God to be seen in my life. Only when people witness what God is doing will He get the glory He deserves – even if that means I am uncomfortable in the process!

I like the way Paul says it,

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.
But I received mercy for this reason,
that in me, as the foremost,
Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience
as an example to those who were to believe
in him for eternal life.”
I Timothy 1:15-16

When people see God through the worst of the worst, it is evidence of His grace and confirmation, Jesus Christ is Saviour of all!

I can relate! Every time God uses me in some small way, I am amazed! If His grace is on my life, His grace is for any and all! I don’t say this lightly! I am no human lightning bug. Apart from God, I have no ability to produce anything good.

But Christ in us? That is a different story!

Shine in Darkness

“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 God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Let light shine! There is that small but important word again – “let”!

Sometimes it is the recognition of the darkness of our own hearts or the fragile condition of these clay pots we inhabit that condemns us enough to hide the light rather than shine it. The tiniest light is visible in darkness. In the same way, even the smallest act of faith in front of the world will allow Christ to be seen.

If, we “let” Light shine!

Let your light shine before men!

Take courage friends,

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
John 1:5

God is Light

Don’t get confused, however, God is Light!

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
Psalm 27:1

Yet at the same time, that Light has chosen to limit Himself to inhabit and be revealed though human flesh. The limitless God, set within the boundary of humanity!

If we don’t “let” The Light shine, Jesus Christ will not be seen in our world. With this reality is a tremendous privilege, challenge and responsibility.

But here is the paradox: God is Light and so are we!

You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a stand, and it gives light
to all in the house.”
Matthew 5:14-15

God’s supernatural light radically ignites us, transforming us into human lightning bugs and fireflies! We are His lights shining brightly in a dark world. We may prefer to cower under a basket or hide in a back room, but God has placed each of us where His light will be clearly seen.

I have no idea how fireflies feel locked in a jar while wide-eyed children examine their every move. But maybe I do understand a little!

For All The World

I don’t thrive in

the spotlight of examination,
the confines of legalized agendas,
or the boundaries of control.

Set me free to roam the dark world of the broken, rejected, and hurting! Let me loose on the streets of my city or the cells of our prisons! Lift the lid and release me into hospitals and psychiatric wards! Free me to teach and preach, mentor and disciple! It is here my little light shines freely and fully.

Arise shine for your Light has come!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60:1-3

The Light has come! Jesus Christ came, lived a sinless life and died a horrific death to redeem all mankind. Yet, there is a world that knows nothing about Jesus, The Light of the world. How is it possible that millions have never heard His Name? Yet it is true!

Jesus the Light of the world!

God has lifted the lid of our confinement! “Let your light shine,” He urges.

He has filled us with His Spirit and set us loose. As people clearly see Christ in us, God will get the glory, the Kingdom of God will expand its reach, and Light will invade darkness.

Lightning bugs are tiny, yet there light shines incredibly far. Take wing fellow fireflies and let Christ be seen in you. “Let your light shine!”

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My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships