Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LET'S BE SHINING STARS FOR JESUS



His brightness far exceeds that of the stars above and that of our own making. No matter how accomplished, how talented, how popular, or how rich, we can’t begin to outshine Jesus. He is the only light that matters and He wants us to reflect His light. Let’s do it!

Eternal Perspectives   by Sally Bair

Stars

The myriad of stars we see on a clear night away from the world’s distracting lights is a sight to remember. One fall night I slept outside our tent, entranced by the heaven’s display of stars, and of meteorites which we call shooting stars. I learned that stars, once they’ve shined in their brilliance, burn out. Like candles, they expend themselves.

The Bible tells us that God sent a brilliant, shining star to direct the wise men to Jesus’ stable. Once they arrived, the special star might have had no more significance, so could have burned out, although its origin and purpose remain an astronomical mystery.

The Bible contains many other references to shining lights. For instance, we are told, metaphorically, to be like shining lights. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Does that mean we should burn out like a star or candle after we’ve prayed for someone? Or shared the Gospel with a stranger? Or advised a friend against an illegal and immoral act?

The Old Testament book of Esther tells of a Jewish woman, whose name means Star, who sacrificed herself for the sake of her people. She chose to be willing to give up her life to do what was right for the sake of others. As a result, her life became a light that could have been extinguished through death, burned out like a candle, but it shone like a great star that will never burn out. The Jewish people still celebrate her heroism.

Esther, as one who shared the throne with the king of Persia, could have chosen to hold onto her high position at the expense of her people. We too have a choice. If we choose to live for the sake of being selfishly comfortable, we may find ourselves dwelling in darkness. But if we are willing to give up our lives for the sake of others—as Esther did and as Jesus did—we will become as great as a shining star that never burns out.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) We can make the choice of living as a sacrifice for His purpose, knowing He will light the way for us.

Lord, as we sacrifice ourselves for Your sake and the sake of others, keep our lights from flickering and burning out. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

WINDOW WASHING IS NECESSARY FOR A CLEAR VISION OF GOD



We can’t see beyond the smudges of our lives until we cleanse ourselves, like in window cleaning. Only then will we see His truth, His wonderful attributes and gifts.

Eternal Perspectives   by Sally Bair

Window washing

I live near a dirt path traveled by frequent ATVs. As a result, dust blows into my apartment and coats everything in sight, including the windows. Greasy smudges and even bird spatterings add to the problem of clouded window panes.

Window washing isn’t my favorite activity. But I’m always amazed how much better my view is after I’ve finished the chore. There’s nothing better than clean windows. I should wash them more often.

Spiritual dirt and grime sometimes tend to cloud my vision of God and His love, too. Perhaps you can relate to such a problem. And it can become a problem if we allow it. Cloudiness can appear in the form of distractions. We all face many of them.

Or we may have a bad attitude. When we choose to grumble and complain about people, places or things, we shut out the clear light of God’s love and blessings. Grumbling is what got the Israelites in trouble over and over as they hiked through the wilderness. It kept them from seeing the path God had chosen for them. It clouded their memory of the miracles He had performed the day before. They became so used to their smudged sight that they didn’t realize they couldn’t see God’s love and provision.

Jesus berated the Pharisees for not keeping their hearts clean. “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.” (Luke 11:39-41

Paul also admonishes his readers to keep themselves clean. “… Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) The point of cleansing is to dedicate ourselves to Christ and live in His righteousness. The Bible repeats the command to walk in the light of God’s Spirit. We can’t be righteous (right with God) when we live as if we’re dirty windows—cloudy to those who look upon us.

Lord, thank You for the clarity of Your light and for Your Word which is a lamp onto our feet. Forgive us the times we’ve allowed the cares of this world and the bad attitudes of our hearts to cloud Your perfect love. Cause us to clean our hearts for Your sake and for the sake of others who need to see You through us. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELVES APPROVED...



God wants us to know Him more intimately and the only way we can is to study His Word daily and diligently so we will be approved by Him as His ambassadors.

Eternal Perspectives   by Sally Bair

A pair of fawns visits our back yard frequently. The mother often leaves them to play while she wanders ahead to graze. The fawns romp for a bit then stop, look around and study the situation. I can almost hear their thoughts. Shall we run ahead and catch up to mama? Or keep playing until she comes back for us?

We humans, if we’re wise, also study situations before acting. The operative word is wise. Sometimes I’m not as wise as I should be and act without thinking. My impetuous nature has brought me embarrassment and trouble at times. I do, however, take care in my study of God’s Word. I ask myself three questions as I meditate and study.

First I ask myself, who are You, God? The entire Bible shows God’s character, so whatever passage I read will tell me who He is. A God of love … holiness … patience … faithfulness … or another truth about Him.

Next I ask, who am I? Inwardly, we all change from time to time, sometimes from moment to moment. One day we may be angry or judgmental, struggle with a bad habit or set a poor example of love. Another time we may be genuine in our love or perhaps smile on the outside while seething inwardly. The Bible verses we read may show us our strengths but also our weaknesses, causing us to repent.

My final question is, who do You want me to be today? A reading in Exodus may show us we need to stop complaining. The book of Ruth may be the example of loyalty and love we need to strive for in our relationship with others and with God. Studying Philippians may speak to our need to pray for God’s joy to fill us and to pass it along to others.

Bible study is imperative for Christian growth and maturity. “Be diligent [study] to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) The words and ideas of others may be popular, but if not from God’s Word of truth, they are of little value in the eternal perspective of life. Like fawns that are wise enough to study situations before acting, we can accept the wisdom of God’s Word to guide us in our earthly walk.

Lord, thank You for Your living, active Word of truth. Give us the will to study it diligently and the wisdom and guidance to follow it fearlessly. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

DEATH AND DYING IS A SUBJECT WE SHOULD NOT IGNORE



Too many people try to avoid the subject. Some refuse to discuss it, especially with family, as if it will never happen. But we know it will and the Bible tells us we should be prepared for it. Are you?

Eternal Perspectives   by Sally Bair

Death and dying 

As I write this column, I’m grieving over the death of my older sister, Jo. Her death was expected, considering her failing health, but facing the death of a loved one is never easy no matter how imminent.

Young people tend to think life will go on forever. As we age, however, the subject of our mortality causes us to take closer inventory of our past. Did we do all we should have in showing love to our family? In fulfilling our dreams? In serving and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ? Or have we left some issues unfinished, like forgiving certain people? What kind of emotional and moral legacy have we left to our family? What about our spiritual legacy—is there more we could have said or done to point them to a strong relationship with the Lord?

I’m especially mindful of my own mortality as I watch the trees lose their leaves, knowing another season of death is near. And believing a new season of life will appear next spring. That’s what I’m believing for my sister—a new life with her Savior. Her last gesture was a barely manageable smile as she pointed to her daughter-in-law’s shirt that had the word Immanuel printed on it.

Only God knows the heart of a person. The most honest, “religious” person may not know our Lord personally. The grungiest looking may know Him better than anyone around. God is the final judge at our death. We may face death in the arms of a loved-one, but the act of being transported from a life of breath to its final cessation is experienced alone.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose I, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

As we each face our mortality, let us consider where we will spend our future. Many people don’t believe in God’s final judgment. Do you? Wouldn’t it be better to believe in it than not? Losing out on the promise of eternity with Jesus in heaven is not something to consider lightly.

Lord, thank You for Your promise of eternal life with You. Give us the will and desire to deny ourselves and follow You daily as we look toward the day of our own death. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SEEK THE LIGHT OF GOD'S LOVE



Too many times we seek the light of someone or something else, which illuminates for a while but eventually sputters into oblivion. Only the light of God’s love, through His Word and presence, will shine bright enough to keep us from straying off any path.

Eternal perspectives   by Sally Bair

God’s light

My friends and I didn’t reach our destination, a waterfall, until dark and then we had to hike back to our vehicles. The canopy of the thick woods hid all light, even that from the stars. I couldn’t see my hand in front of me. What I did see, however, was the milk-white t-shirt worn by the guy in front of me. As we stumbled along the trail, I clung to the back of his shirt, happy for the bit of light it produced. As long as I hung on, I knew I’d reach our destination.

The comforting glow of that t-shirt reminded me of God’s light. In the literal sense, God made light to shine in the form of the sun, moon and stars. “Let there be light,” He said during His creation of the universe. During the exodus of His people through an unknown wilderness, He guided them with a pillar of fire during the nights they traveled. When Paul encountered God on the Damascus Road, he was blinded by supernatural light. Other biblical examples point to God’s guiding light as well.

We also understand light in the metaphoric sense. “Her smile lights up her face,” we hear. “Ah, I get it now. A lightbulb just went off in my brain.” And the Bible uses the metaphor of light when describing our relationship with God. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 14:16)

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) In the Bible, darkness denotes sin and evil. It conjures up thoughts of hiding the truth. Who would want to walk in the dark when we could have light to guide us, as I did with my friend’s white t-shirt? Isn’t it logical to want the security, protection and peace that light gives us?

Jesus offers life-saving, life-enhancing light. He has promised that as long as “hang on” to Him and turn away from the darkness of sin, we will reach our destination of fellowship and eternal life with Him..

Lord, thank You for being our Light. Give us the desire and will to cling to Your light as I clung to the white t-shirt of the person who led me to my destination that evening. In Jesus’ name, amen.