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Posts Tagged ‘Light of Christ’

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know the saga of my 43 year old corn plant. Today it taught me a lesson from God.

In my new apartment, I have the plant sitting in a south-facing window. As I drank my morning coffee, I noticed something unusual. One leaf had bent its way through the slats. It wanted more light. Evidently it wasn’t content like the other leaves to just get a smidgen that filtered through the window covering.

Can you see the lone leaf weaving it’s way through the wooden blinds? It is the brighter green one toward the middle of the plant.

Anyway…as I stared, God whispered into my spiritual ear, “Daughter, are you that tenacious?”

I wanted to answer, “Yes, of course, Lord.”

Instead I paused to reflect. Am I content to only get small doses of God, slatted and deflected by the world I live in, by my environment, and where I have been placed? Or do I stretch and reach out to grasp the full mercy and grace He offers so I can grow even more in His light?

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

As I gazed at my old corn plant, I wondered if the other leaves will eventually get the idea? Even more, I wonder if those around me will if they observe me constantly, consistently stretching to be closer to Him who is The Light of the World? To be totally exposed so I can soak in His goodness no matter what is going on around me or what obstacle blocks my path to growing in Him. To let nothing stand in the way of receiving my Savior into my life each day.

I nodded and closed my eyes in prayer. “Yes, Lord. Show me your presence more each day so I can be like that leaf and reach beyond my circumstances to You.”

 


One way God has stretched me is to become a digital missionary with The Life Project. However, to continue to grow in this ministry, I need to become fully funded by partners who will pray and financially support me. I am seeking 40 people who will pledge to provide  between $10-$25 a month.  You can learn more here.  Comment and I can send you more material to peruse so you know this cause is legitimate, why I am so passionate about it, and be assured your money will go to reach people around the world with the message of Hope in Jesus, one click at a time. Thank you for seriously praying about it.

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November 1st we celebrate all the saints, the faithful believers,  who have come before us. On November 2nd, the Day of the Dead, or All Souls’ Day is celebrated. Like other originally religious feasts, it has also taken on secular, macabre meanings.  It has become Halloween, Part Two in some cultures.

For the Christian, All Souls’ Day is all about remembering our loved ones who have passed before us and entered the eternal realm–we pray that is Heaven. If they confessed Jesus as Lord, then it is a day of celebration and rejoicing because they have crossed over into a life without pain, suffering, disease and death. They are in paradise forever.

We, who are not yet there, can rejoice in the rest – the rest of our lives knowing we, too, will one day be in Heaven with them and our Lord. We can also rejoice in the eternal rest our loved ones now bask in, and be thankful their earthly battle, no mater how brief or long, is over.

Not sure where they are now? I asked God that about a relative who I wasn’t sure ever crossed the threshold into accepting Jesus as her Savior before she took her final ???????????????????????????????????????gasp of breath on earth. As if He sat next to me, I heard the Lord whisper, “She saw my light, believed, and fell into my arms.”   In that immeasurable minute between temporal and eternity, I truly know our Lord, who Scriptures states does not want one soul to be lost, will try one last time to convince His creation that he or she is His child. Yes, some will deny Him even then. But seeds of faith, planted decades ago, can suddenly become beanstalks in the rays of His glory.

O ETERNAL Lord God, who holdest all souls in life; Vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to thy whole Church in paradise and on earth, thy light and thy peace; and grant that we, following the good examples of those who have served thee here and are now at rest, may at the last enter with them into thine unending joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.   BCP 1928

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Years ago I bought an LED nightlight that automatically shines when it is dark and dims when it is not needed. I keep it plugged in all the time, and to be honest, most times I don’t even think about it. It’s on when I need it, and more dimmed when I don’t.

AH- good theme for a devo! The Light of Christ is constant. No one can dim it. And, as long as we stay “plugged into” Him, His light will continually shine through us.

I decided to take a picture of it with my cell phone so I could show it to you. Funny thing happened.

Even though to my naked IMAG0228eye it gleamed, the little nightlight wasn’t bright enough to satisfy my sophisticated app’s sensor. My camera app on my phone detected a flash was needed. Each time I took a picture, the camera would instantly flash, which meant the “light” in this nightlight didn’t show up. It’s little glow was minuscule in comparison to the blast of light the camera emitted.

Frustrated, I took photo after photo, and then sent all to the delete box. I was at the point of giving up when the celestial 2 X 4 whacked me on the head – oh, so this is the theme for the devo!

I took one more picture. Here it is. You can barely tell the nightlight is shining. But if you look more closely, you can detect how it reflects around the edges of the back splash and the counter.

There are times when I feel as if I am barely glowing. Do you ever feel that way? Christ’s perfect brilliance so outshines the glow in my human heart. I know He is the Light and I am to reflect Him in all I do and say…but.  Well, I’m human. Sometimes, I don’t feel I measure up.

Even so, His light never leaves me. My human tendency towards sin may appear to dim in comparison, but it is always there–glowing around the edges, softly reflecting on the surfaces of my life. His Spirit shines without ceasing because I claim Him as Lord and Savior.

When His light momentarily blasts through me, I am okay with dimming into the background. As long as others see the illumination He emits into me and turn to Him as a result, I’m happy to be a small reflection of His mighty love and power.

May I stay always stay plugged into His source of strength and energy and keep glowing –just like that little light of mine–in case another needs it to direct them to my Savior. But may I never wish to “outshine” my Lord, or take credit for His merciful Light blasting into my life as an example to others.

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

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moonThis is a photograph taken by The Blind Photographer, a Christian named Steve Rebus who has an amazing blog. I hope you check out his other photos and blog entries as well.

As I gazed at the moon through “his eyes”, I discovered I want to be more like that moon.

Created by God, the moon is dead until it reflects the sun’s light. Then, it shines into the darkness and often provides direction for people on earth. As Christians, do we not strive to do likewise? With the Light of Christ bringing us to life, we can deliver hope to a hurting world enveloped in the darkness of sin and strife.

When I was little and looked up at the moon, I saw the “man in the moon” smiling back down at me. My mother used to sing us a lullaby popularized by JAMES MERRILL BRICKMAN,  –

“God bless the moon and God bless me. God bless the someone I long to see.”

As I grew into my teens, I visualized that man in the moon as my Heavenly Father looking down on me and smiling. He was who I longed to see. I’d sneak outside in the middle of  the night and talk to Him, cry to Him, and at times just gaze at Him, filled with a peace that I was not alone. It comforted me through those tumultuous years. And to be honest, every now and then full moons still have that effect on me.

The man in the moon affect is of course shadows from the craters –  bombardments of meteors which have scarred its surface. May even my scars from life’s battles reflect God’s image as well and may others be comforted when they see the Son of Man shining in me, knowing in their hearts that they are not alone.

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

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courtesy of Gordon Henry, photographer

In the church where I work, it is customary to leave a remnant of the consecrated bread and wine in a cabinet on the altar called the Tabernacle. (The white curtained area under the brass dome and the cross.) That way, Christ is always present in the Sanctuary. It’s a tradition that stretches back as far as the regulations in Exodus, which was carried into the early Catacombs where the first Christians worshipped, and is still practiced in many churches today where the Holy Eucharist (Communion) is celebrated.

Exodus 25:8, 30  “Then have them build a sanctuary and I will dwell among them…Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times..” 

A perpetual candle on or near the altar area is lit, to signify that the consecrated elements representing Christ’s body and blood are present in the Tabernacle. When the candle it a glow, it is customary to bend a knee before the altar to honor God and to recall that one day every knee a shall bend at the name of Jesus. (Philippians 2:10)

Throughout the week, I bop in and out of the Sanctuary. I straighten the hymnals and distribute offering envelopes, visitors cards, etc. I place bulletins  at the entrance and put one on the organ bench for the organist.  ON the lectern, I leave large-print Scripture passages as well as the prayer list for the readers. I change the hymn board numbers. I take deliveries of candles, unleavened wafers, wine and linens to be placed in the locked sacristy until they are needed for the services. At times, I pray in there as well.

Each time I enter, I can walk down the center aisle, bow to the Tabernacle, and then go about whatever it is I came to do. Or, I can sneak in the side entrance, go down the side aisles, and bypass the altar. Well, truth be told, if I am in a hurry, I often sneak in the side. I don’t take time to approach the altar, dip my knee reverently and quietly, and then proceed with the reason I entered. I’m just going to dash in and back out again.

One day, God convicted me. That quiet, booming voice inside my heart asked, “Why do you ignore my Presence?”

I slipped to the altar, knelt and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

How often do we skirt God during our day? Aren’t there times we feel Him tug on our shirt and say, “Hey, smile and nod to that person over there,  give that homeless beggar a dollar, call so-and-so because they need to hear your voice, or stop and pray for this person whose name I have flashed into your brain?”  But in our busy-ness we skirt His whisperings and go about our tasks. We  try to schedule a time to read His Word, to speak to Him, and hopefully to listen. But, much of our day is  – “I’ll get back to you on that, Lord.” That is, until we need HIm. Until we get that phone call, slam on our brakes in a near-miss, or feel anxiety inch into our chests. Then, we bow a knee, right?

God is always present in our lives once we have “tabernacled” with Christ and allowed Him to become a part of our hearts. We cannot escape God. Like Adam and Eve we don’t have the privilege of being able to hide from Him. He will seek us out.

The Psalmist wrote, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7

I found God (again) today in the church sanctuary where I work – a reminder that His presence is always there with me.  LIke the perpetual candle flame dangling from the gold chain to remind anyone who enters that God is in their midst, I have Christ’s light inside me to remind me His in in the midst of me.

Lord, let me never choose again to ignore you, or try in my hurriedness to skirt around You. May that tabernacle remind me to always bow a knee before You and acknowledge You in my day.

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IMAG0006A while back, my great-niece made me this rose. Rather ingenious, it is a silk flower and greenery glued around a tea light. She painstakingly hollowed out the rose, inserted the tea light, and then glued it all back together. You have to flip the switch underneath before it can softly glow from the inside out.

You see where my train of thought is going with this, right? You and I are that rose. When we ask Christ, the Light of the World, into our hearts He glows from within us and it oozes out of our countenance for the world to see. It enhances the beauty we were created to display because it comes from deep down within the center of our core. He has painstakingly glued us back together after we were broken and the world tore us apart. Now, we are a thing of beauty because we reflect Him as the center of our lives.

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

But, here is the thing. Christ allows us the free will to turn His glowing presence in our lives on for others to see, or to turn it off. We are not so attractive when we are not glowing with His love and mercy. Each day, each situation, each encounter, we have the option to turn our attitude over and flip the switch– to be His Light shining into the darkened hearts of a hurting and bewildered world or not.

Who will you glow for today? Will it be a child in tears over a bully’s remark, a store clerk who is having an unappreciated, frazzled day, the homeless man with the cardboard sign, or your family member who just walked in the door and barked at you after a tough day?

 

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Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.    Isaiah 60:1-3

How do you react when a bright light hits your eyes?  If it hits you too soon all at once, you  see nothing but the aura of the light. You may feel blinded and disorientated. Do you cover your eyes to block it out? Or, do you blink and squint as you wait for your pupils to adjust before you can take it all in?  I guess it depends on if you want to(pardon the 1970’s era pun, man) see the light or not.

For  many out there, Christ, the way some reveal Him, can just too bright for them. They are used to the darkness. So they won’t look. They turn their heads away. To try to gaze on Him can ache. His brightness makes them adjust how they see things. Why bother? 

But, two millennia ago, three kings, a.k.a. wise men, did look – and follow.  But you see, they had been searching a while. They had heard of the prophecies. They wanted to see the King of kings. They had trained their eyes to scan the heavens. Then they found a star which was brighter than the others, enough to be noticeable,  to lead them down that path. It took a while. Even then, when they found Jesus, he was not what they expected. 

I think too often we Christians blast our non-believing acquaintances with too much light too soon. They feel as if they are in a police interrogation room. They become defensive, nervous. Afraid their wrongdoings will be exposed, they squirm, look away, or refuse to react at all. True, it worked for Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, but that is not the norm. He was a radical man embarked on a radical ministry. He needed a radical experience to jolt him into changing directions. Most people are not that way.

God didn’t blind the earth with light to announce His coming. He spoke through prophets and told the people to watch for the signs. In His perfect timing, He sent a light in the sky pointing to Himself in the form of a human. Gradually over time, that Light shone in Him brighter and brighter as He grew into manhood, walked, talked, ate, healed, forgave and died.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 

That should be our example. Speak it, yes, but most of all  live it out.  Show what you know– walk like you talk– live what you believe. Give the non-believers’ eyes time to adjust. Those who have seen the signs and are searching will follow. The others may turn away for now, but most likely they will be drawn to look again at another time. 

Epiphany means to reveal. I think evangelism should be an everyday event–the natural outgrowth of our life in Christ. If we are living out the Gospel, then people adjust to that and it won’t seem so harsh and glaring. They will see Him softly shining through our attitudes towards our everyday ups and downs. They will see His love glisten through our actions as we put them, and others, before our own needs. They will see that we are different somehow. We have an unwavering strength and unconditional peace. Slowly, they will begin to watch, and then be drawn to Christ living in us, and finally follow.

Let’s not be a spotlight on their sins, but a warm-glowing  beacon that peaks their curiosity, and then, like the Epiphany star 2,000 years ago,  leads them to Him who can wash them white as snow

Shine, Jesus shine.???????????????????????????????????????

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