Tools - Flashlight 5

In the first month or two at our current church I was passing through the Sanctuary on the way to my office.  It was in the evening and the church was dark.  I thought I knew where things were in the room and thought I could easily maneuver to where I needed to be until my knee discovered where the piano was.

Things are so much better and easier when it is light.  I learned my lesson that evening.  I turn on the lights whenever I have to go anywhere in the church.  It is important for me to be able to see where I am going.

The same is true of our lives.  It is important that we go through life in the light.  We need the light of wisdom, the light of hope, the light of love.  We need the light that God gives us, the light of His care and insight.  If we do not walk in the light of God’s guidance and love then we are in the dark of confusion, doubt, and sin.

John encourages us to walk in the light.  What are the benefits of walking in the light of God?

1 John 1:5 tells us that “God is light; in him there is no darkness.”  God is love and wisdom.  God is the source of hope.  Being all these things means that God is that light that we need so badly.

If we can walk in the light of God – that is, if we can try to live out love the way God loves, if we can try to keep God as part of who we are – we can avoid stumbling in life.  We can avoid wrong decisions, wrong attitudes, and wrong actions.

If we make God’s love part of who we are we are also freed from sin.  The sacrifice and presence of Jesus purifies us, washes away the sinfulness.  But we also have fellowship.  That fellowship is with God because we are in His presence and we have made Him part of who we are.

But, just as light shines on more than one person, when we are in the light of God that light spills over onto others.  We are then in fellowship with others.  In that fellowship we can share the love of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How can you walk in the light of God?

Tools - Flashlight 4

How do we know what God looks like?  How do we know what God is like?  These questions are often on our hearts and minds.  And they are certainly on the hearts and minds of others who are trying to make their way through the labyrinth of life.

As we examine faith, specifically our own faith, we must concede that faith is a belief and confidence in something we cannot fully grasp, and probably cannot see.  So we feel we must be content in accepting that we believe in God even though we think we can never see God.

But the author of Hebrews gives us a plain example of God and Jesus.  Who is Jesus?  What does Jesus do?

Jesus came to earth as a human being, the Son of God, appearing in human form – completely human and also completely holy.  He came so that we might be saved from sin; that is certain.  But he came also so that we might see God.

Jesus is the physical representation of God.  Through the kindness and mercy, the miraculous works, the compassion that was expressed by Jesus we can see who God is.  Jesus acted out the love of God – caring and sacrificial, all-encompassing.  God’s love is that way.

Jesus came as a reflection of God.  He came so that we might be able to comprehend God, to see what God is like in terms we can cope with.

Through the word of Christ, the teaching and lessons, Jesus holds all the things about God together in ways that we can see and experience.  When we look at who Jesus is we see who God is.

And now we must see that we are supposed to be like Jesus.  If Jesus shows the love of God, shines grace and mercy like a blinding light in a darkened world, then we also are to shine that light of love.  If Jesus loved all people – the good, the bad, the saints and the sinner – it was because God loves all people.  And we are to love all people.

As Jesus reflects the love and light of God, we are to reflect the love and light of Christ.  In so doing we are shining the light of hope and grace that comes from God, shining it on those who live in the darkness of ignorance and sin and hopelessness.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What do you do that reflects Jesus?

Tools - Flashlight 3

When I was first hired at an engineering firm years ago I was shown to my desk.  On the desk was a new trashcan and inside the can were a stapler, tape dispenser, pens, pencils, scissors, and notepads.  I was thrilled to find these items waiting for me.  I was starting a new job in a new place with new things.

But the collection of items on my desk were not just gifts from the company; they were tools for getting things done.  They were given to me, not to make me happy, but to equip me for what I would do.

We as believers are given new things from God.  In Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome he points out one of the basics of faith.  What did Christ do?  When did he do this?

We know in our faith that if we rely on ourselves we are unable to accomplish anything.  We need to have the love and grace of God so that we might move forward in our journey of faith and belief.  Paul has reminded all of us that God provided us with what we need to advance in our faith.

The sacrifice of Jesus was made when we powerless, when we were still immersed in our sin.  We were still far from perfect with no hope of goodness, yet Jesus in the compassion of God gave himself that we might be saved.  Through the salvation of Jesus we were each given new life.  Our faith was brought to life.

And what was the purpose of such a gift?  We can find joy in knowing that we are loved by God so much that He would send His Son to save us from sin.  But there is also a purpose in our life.

With our new life, with our salvation, we are able to do good work for God’s kingdom.  This refreshing of the soul, this washing clean of our spirit brings us new energy and new ability.  We are no longer bogged down by sinfulness and evil.  We are given new power and we are joined by the presence of Christ in our lives.

As new people blessed by the grace of God we are now pointed in the direction of sharing God’s love and grace with others.  God shines a light of hope and redemption on us and on our path.  He shows us that we should share this refreshing grace with all.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What can remind you that you have been renewed in spirit?

Tools - Flashlight 2

I remember one time when I was a child and our family took a tour of a cave.  The tour took us through many twisting paths among piles of rocks, stalagmites and stalactites.  And then at one point on the tour the guide stopped the group and told us we were about to experience total darkness.  The guide flipped a switch and all the lights in that underground cavern went out.

The blackness was complete.  I could hear others around me.  I knew they were there, but I could not see them.  I could not see my hand when I held it up to my face, just inches away from my eyes.

Life without God can be that dark, perhaps even darker.  When we are living a life separated from God we are completely isolated.  We experience the loneliness and emptiness I experienced in that cave.

The author of Ephesians offers a reminder of hope.  Where were we?  What did we NOT have?  Where are we now?

When the lights in the cave were turned back on we all experienced incredible relief.  Although we knew we had not moved and nothing had changed – other than darkness – there was an overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness in the dark.  It was easy to think that we were completely alone.

Before we experience salvation through Christ we are in the dark.  Ephesians reminds us that without salvation we are separate from Christ.  We are removed from the glory and love and comfort of our Savior.  Without salvation we are excluded from being children of God.  We are removed from the covenant, the pledge, the promise, of God’s love.

Without salvation we are without hope.  We are lost, wandering in a spiritual darkness.  We are alone.

But God has shone a light on us.  God has given us Jesus Christ as our Savior.  He has taken our sins through the crucifixion.  When we accept this love and sacrifice we are made clean and our sins are no more.

Through the gift of grace through Jesus we are brought into a relationship with God.  We are no longer alone in the dark, but we are bathed in the light of God’s love.  As we stand in that light we are in the company of all others who are saved by grace.

We are connected to Jesus.  We are connected to God.  We are connected to all people, and we are able to share God’s love with others.  In the light of God’s love we will also be able to see others, those who need to see God’s light too.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How can you remember the light of love God shines on you?

Tools - Flashlight 1

If you have any hope of getting somewhere it is helpful to know where you are going.  There have been times when our children have asked us to take them to a friend’s house – which we agree to do – but then discover they have no idea where it is.

One of the biggest challenges I have found in almost any job is knowing what it is I am expected to do.  I am more than willing to do almost any work, and usually capable of doing almost any task, I simply need direction.

The same is true of our faith.  If we have been provided with the backpack of our faith journey – the knowledge that God has loved us first and sent Jesus as our Savior – we now need something to put into our faith.  We need to know where we are heading with our beliefs.  We need a light to guide us.

What does this passage from Ephesians tell us about who we are as Christians?  What are we to do?  Why should we do these good works?

It may bring us a tremendous sense of comfort and confidence knowing that we are children of God and loved by God.  But now the question can arise – what do we do about it?  The author of Ephesians points out that we have been created by God to do good works.

We know in our faith that it is not good works that earns us a place in heaven.  We cannot achieve salvation through kind deeds and worthwhile efforts.  It is only through the saving grace of Jesus that we are given eternal life.

But there is a purpose for each of us.  God has prepared us in advance to do good in the world.  It is part of God’s desire that we are kind to other people, that we help those in need, that we make life better for those around us.  And part of that is sharing the love of God with others.

This is what God desires for us to do.  We should show love to others.  We should live out the teaching of Jesus.  Knowing that is like having God shine His light on our path.  As we take our faith journey God illuminates the way.  He shows us where we are to be going.

We should be moving ahead in our faith to take on good deeds, to do good and kind actions in the name of Christ.  God shines the light so that we may put our faith into action serving the Lord.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What good work do you feel called to do?