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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

GOD WANTS US TO SEEK HIS KINGDOM FIRST



No other kingdom will give us the riches and blessings that God’s kingdom will. That’s His promise. Let’s live in it.

Eternal Perspectives   by Sally Bair

God’s kingdom

The lion is considered the King of the Jungle. As such, he isn’t readily confronted by other jungle inhabitants. And in the world of people, it takes a special kind to deal with him. 

Remember playing King of the Hill as a youngster? Only the boldest and strongest dared pull the King off the hill.

It takes a lot to be a king.  In the animal kingdom it takes strength, size, and fearlessness.  Among us humans it t takes more than that.  A good king must have a strong sense of command, compassion for and devotion to the people under him, and unbiased fairness.  In the Old Testament during the time the Israelites were ruled by kings, the people thrived when ruled by a good king.  The evil kings, however, brought the people down until they cried out to God for help.  It became a vicious cycle: good king, good life, bad king, adversity, repentance, deliverance, good king ….

Jesus spoke often about the Kingdom of God.  He was not an earthly king, as many wanted Him to be.  His was—and is—a spiritual rule.  He brought healing and deliverance to the people.  And He rules in the hearts of all who accept Him as king.  Besides healing and deliverance, Jesus' spiritual rule also includes power over Satan's domain.  Through the power of God’s Spirit, He still causes miracles to happen.

Jesus told us we must seek first His kingdom—not our own—and His righteousness, and then He will give us all that we ask.  We might wonder, what is our kingdom?  It might be our family, job or pastimes.  Whatever we control or whatever controls us becomes our kingdom. 

God's kingdom brings blessings that no other kingdom can.  It is our responsibility to seek His kingdom every day in every way.  It is not for those who neglect His Word and presence, who deliberately disobey and compromise our faith with worldly pursuits.  It is for those who persist in avoiding sin and following His will, even to the point of facing ridicule or worse.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5:10)

Lord, forgive us when we've made other people and other things the king, the controller, of our lives.  Help us remember to seek Your kingdom above all others—every day in every way.  In Jesus' name, amen. 
           


Sunday, September 3, 2017

SEEING JESUS FROM A HIGHER PLANE



Sometimes we have to change our perspective in order to see Jesus in a new light. He would have us be open to such changes as He gives.

Eternal Perspectives     by Sally Bair                       

A higher plane

As a kid, I illegally climbed my home town’s old water tower. A few friends and I decided we needed a new perspective on the world. Though I wouldn’t admit it, I was scared stiff. When I reached the third rung I wanted to quit but wouldn’t chicken out. If my friends could do it, so could I.

Once I reached the tenth rung, I began to talk to myself. “One step at a time.” “Don’t look down.” “You can do it.” And I did! I’d never been so high up before. Standing secure on the circular walkway and overlooking the vast panorama of autumn leaves in the distance, I felt guilty, yet giddy with pride.

The experience left a mark on my memory. I had accomplished something risky, conquering fear in the process. My perspective of the world and of myself had changed.

Sometimes it takes a new experience to change our perspective, like that of Zacchaeus, a hated tax collector. The short man climbed a tree in order to see Jesus, who was walking amid a large crowd. His encounter with Jesus changed him. Though giddy with joy, his guilt at short-changing people brought him to repentance and new life. He welcomed Jesus into his home, and said, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)

Like Zacchaeus, our view of Jesus can become enlarged, as mine did from the top of the water tower. He realized his wrongdoing. May we too realize our sins as we view Jesus from a higher plane.

Lord, change us from the inside out as we encounter You in Your Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

(Reprinted from The Nature of God: Autumn’s Splendor Daily Devotionals by Sally Bair.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

OUR SACRIFICE TO GOD MUST BE OUR LOVE AND OBEDIENCE



Above all else, God wants our heart and soul.

Eternal Perspectives          by Sally Bair

Sacrifice

Most parents think nothing of giving up their comforts or pleasures for the sake of their children, because they love them. Love seems to always bring out the best in us.

Wise King Solomon was asked to settle an ownership issue between two new mothers. One of their baby’s had died and both mothers claimed the living child was hers. When Solomon demanded the living child be cut in half so each mother could have a part, the real mother begged the king to give the baby to the other mother in order to save its life. She was willing to give up her own child, thus proving her blood relationship.

Such an act of sacrifice can be seen in the lives of people everywhere. We think of first responders and servicemen and women, who not only are willing to risk their own lives for the sake of others, but also their marriages, home life and opportunity to earn a better living.

Are we willing to sacrifice our money, time, talents or lives for the sake of others? Whether we give through volunteering, by attending regular worship service or babysitting our own children, our sacrifice becomes effective only if done with love and godly obedience.

When King Saul disobeyed God, the prophet Samuel told him, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed [is better] than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Samuel emphasized that sincerity and obedience must be Saul’s reason to make any required sacrifices.

God takes pleasure when we serve Him with hearts of love and obedience Him. God would have our actions accompanied by a heart given over to Him.

The apostle Paul expands on this truth. “I beseech you … to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God …” (Romans 12:1) True sacrifice means setting ourselves apart from the things of the world for God’s use. Our love for Him will become a willing and joy-filled sacrifice for His sake. Just as it did for Jesus, when He sacrificed Himself on the cross, in obedience to His Father and out of love for each of us.

Lord, thank You for Your ultimate sacrifice. Strengthen and empower us to love and serve You in obedience to Your Word—even when letting go of our own desires seems painful.  In Jesus’ name, amen.  



Monday, August 21, 2017

IS THERE ANYONE YOU NEED TO FORGIVE TODAY?



By all means, don’t put it off! Forgiving others any wrong they may have done is crucial to our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. It brings freedom and joy and peace that nothing can offer. Do it!

Eternal Perspectives               by Sally Bair

Forgiveness

I once had a friend who said no one deserved more than two chances to right a wrong. How many times have we said, or thought, “Once is enough. I won’t let you hurt me again.”

Our human nature finds it hard to forgive. When we’re wronged, perhaps it diminishes our fragile ego or we feel it puts us in a bad light with others. Worse, we may believe the offense deserves revenge because we “don’t deserve such harsh treatment.”

Abuse and bullying, common in our society, are hard to take unless love is involved. Stories abound of wives who have been beaten but refuse to file charges against their spouses. Instead, they keep returning, hopeful the abuse will stop. Parents continue to forgive and accept their children in the midst of their disobedience, all for the sake of love.

Of course, the greatest example of love overcoming hatred, abuse and torture is Jesus. In His darkest hour while hanging on a cross, He asked His Father, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:22)

Then Jesus told them a parable about a king who forgave a huge debt owed by a cruel manager. In turn, the manager, now free of his debt, showed no mercy—became ruthless, in fact—toward someone who owed him little.

The limits on forgiveness are of our own making. When we refuse to forgive, we condemn ourselves by holding onto past hurts and pain. Forgiveness may be difficult, but it frees us from the countless ways we offend God, each other, and even His creation. We don’t have to wait for an apology to forgive someone who offends us. And we must never forget that the crux of the matter of forgiveness is this: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15)

Lord, thank You for Your mercy and undeserving forgiveness. Lead us to forgive all who have broken our hearts, made us bitter or stolen our happiness. In Jesus’ name, amen.