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Posts Tagged ‘light’

A friend of mine posted a picture of how well her new solar lights worked in her yard.  When I saw it, the double meaning flashed across my brain.  So, I asked her if I could use it.

Solar lights work because they store up the sunlight during the day. It’s very easy to correlate the storing up of Christ’s Light through His word in us so we also can shine.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:6

But what was unique for me was how each lamp shined in a circular pattern.

We all have a circle of influence. First, are the people with whom we are in close contact. These are the people who see us day in and day out and with whom we have the most influence. Close friends, coworkers, family. It’s hard to hide our true self from these people. The more we have Christ’s Light in us, the more we will reflect Him in our day-to-day lives and shine into theirs as well.

Moving out in the spiral, are the people with whom we have casual contact. Notice the specks of light are further apart and do not touch. Perhaps these represent friends on social media or distant relatives. Friends we went to school with or old neighbors that moved away.  We occasionally keep in touch with them, especially if there is news to share.

Further out still may be the people on the peripheral edge of our lives. Perhaps those who benefit from our charitable donations, or the cashier who notices we actually smiled and called them by name. They get tiny snippets of light, but it can be enough to encourage them to draw closer to the Source.

Now, notice that each lamp has its own circle of influence, and the spiral they cast barely touch. It brought home to me that God has me planted where He wants me to be, and in touch with those I should be.  It’s my job to shine His grace and mercy, and to keep replenishing the Source so I can still be of use, lest I grow dim.

It’s a dark world out there, and it’s growing darker. Let’s all work harder at shining into other people’s lives, whether it is most of the time or a chance encounter. Let us never pass up an opportunity to shed a bit of God’s love.

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.  2 Corinthians 4:6

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“God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times— to turn them back from the pit that the light of life may shine on them.” Job 33:29-30

A dear friend gave me a pothos ivy. The kind with wonderful green leaves that stretch into strands to dangle down bookcases, shelves or stair rails. I placed this one on top of my bookcase near a window so it could get some sunlight. Soon, the tendrils began to grow longer, curling down the side of my bookcase, leaves angled toward the light streaming through the blinds. After a while, all the leaves exposed to the light had turned toward it. Their leaves were lush and full.

However, on the “darker side”, the leaves stop growing, and several died. I decided to turn the plant so that side could receive the light. And sure enough, the thriving side’s leaves still began to turn toward the light, even though they were further away. They had gotten used to it and knew it was what they needed.

Now the botanists among you will nod, saying this is common. For plants, yes. But is it common for us humans?

Once we receive the light of the Son, we thrive on it. We know we need it to grow in our faith. To flourish, we need to be near Him daily. But Jesus wants all of us exposed. That means even our darker sides. The side that harbors our bad habits we try to hide from the world. The sins we have pushed to the back of our hearts and minds because we simply do not want to deal with it right now. Perhaps we gossiped, or unkind words slipped from our mouths. Maybe we left off some tiny thing on our tax return so we could get a bigger refund. Perhaps we told a lie because it sounded better, or we didn’t want to reveal the truth. Maybe worse.

Eventually, Jesus will nudge us to turn those darker things to Him so His loving mercy can expose them. Once that happens, His grace can pour in. We can begin to flourish again where we were once stunted, and in fact, shriveling.

My ivy taught me that though I may not wish to do so, I must expose my whole being to my Lord so I can reflect His Light in my life. All my thoughts, fears, desires, and doubts need to be turned toward Him. Full Son exposure!

Do you dare turn your darker side to His glory?

 

 

 

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For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

 

It happened…like it always does, I suppose. Murphy’s Law in motion. With a deep smile, I tuned in to TV program I’d been wanting to watch for weeks and in a split second–nothing.

No lights, no electricity, no sound.

I became enveloped in darkness. No street lamp shown through my living room window. I pulled back the curtains to see the whole neighborhood shrouded in black. For almost four hours…on a crystal clear moonless night.

I rarely think about how much I am dependent upon electricity. Most of the time I don’t give it a second thought. I enter the room and flick on the wall switch. I ask my Google mini to play the radio station and boot up my computer to check my emails. I adjust the room thermostat and nuke my food while getting cold water from the fridge. I recharge my phone and my tablet as I sleep. Electrical power is an essential part of my life.

But that night, nothing worked. No power came through the wires. I felt blind and helpless. I sat on the couch for several minutes trying to get my brain to kick in and solve the situation.  After a half hour, I realized the lights were not coming back on anytime soon. There must be a major outage. All I could do was wait. My phone only had 20% power, even on battery saver.  I had no entertainment options. No computer, music or lights. I reminded me of the time I rode out a hurricane. What did I do then? Ah.

I used the flashlight on my phone to dig out the battery-operated lantern, and then located a shoebox of candles in my closet. I lit a few (ignoring the prohibition of their use in my apartment complex, but I doubted the manager would swoop in at eight at night and evict me.) Recalling that if they are placed high up they let off a larger glow, I set them on top of bookcases and countertops. Much better. A soft yellow glow penetrated my apartment.

I prayed a while and mentally went through my prayer list of folks. Still no lights returned, though a few times the power tried to gin back up only to go back down again within a few seconds.  My phone was almost dead so I couldn’t pull up my Bible app. I went to the bookcase, found my old study Bible, blew off the dust, and began to read as my cat curled in my lap. Memories of an elementary school teacher explaining how Abe Lincoln studied to be a lawyer by firelight etched my mind.  I think it was in reference to there being no excuse for us not doing our homework. Funny how things like that surface.

Then Romans 1:20 jumped off the page.  It’s words whacked me in the heart.

How often do I take God’s power for granted? I deeply rely on it. Whenever I need Him, I flick on my prayers and He comes. I plug into His strength when I feel mine diminishing. I seek His warmth when the world feels too cold and harsh. I lean on His love as a widow who, being housebound, often goes for days without any human touch. Without my Lord, I am powerless. I need daily recharging, just like my phone. I rely on His light.

 

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to not have God’s power in your life? Do you expect it to be there whenever you need it, like turning on a  lamp?

Rest assured, unlike the electric company, the power of our loving Lord never goes out. We can always tap into it, and we should…throughout our day and our night.

 

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But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  Ephesians 5:13

At a women’s retreat about a year ago I won the door prize of an African violet. It bloomed for a while, then stopped. For months it kept putting out leaves but it never bloomed again. I figured maybe it was out of season. But this spring, though it still thrived, was pushing out new leaves…no blooms.

So I went on line and asked, “Why won’t my African Violet bloom?” The top three articles said the same thing– it needs more light. Oh. Okay.  I opened my blind slats a bit more. Within in a few weeks tiny buds appeared.

I realized, that’s me. I can read the Bible, I can pray, I can attend church. I will thrive and continue to grow, but will I blossom? No. Not unless I expose myself to His light regularly, daily.

Wait, you may say. Doesn’t all of that you said accomplish the purpose? Yes, if I don’t filter it out. If I don’t review my grocery list while I am reading about wheat in the Bible, or if my mind doesn’t wander when I pray, or if I concentrate less on the pew in front of me — the man with a cough, the wiggly child, or the woman whose clothes tag is dangling on the outside of her blouse– and more on worship.

We can be exposed to God and yet not bask in His light. We may think enough filters in, and yet we are not blooming the way we should. His power lies dormant inside of us, waiting to burst forth because something is in the way of the rays. Life-stress, anger, jealousy, an unforgiving attitude.

In order to reflect the Son, we need Him shining in our lives daily, unhindered by the blinds of world. If you are not blooming, maybe it is time you opened the blind slats a bit more. You may find what you really need is more exposure in order to bask more in His warm love and soak in His grace. Figure out what is blocking the light and how to adjust your focus. Soon, people will notice a difference in your face and attitude. You will be blossoming.

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Do you ever feel nearly burned out? Can’t really hum This Little Light of Mine with fervor at that moment? Yeah, I know the feeling.

One of my duties at church is to make sure the candles on the altar are filled with  liquid wax/oil so they do not burn out during the service.  Because it is hard to determine the amount of influence the AC vents will have on the burn rate Sunday to Sunday, we always “top them off”… just in case.

Today, as I squirted the liquid inside the cylinders, God spoke to me. “You are running low, Julie. You need to be filled anew. Let Me refill you.”

And I have been. I admit it.  My light isn’t shining as brightly as it should because I have been dimmed by physical pain and a questioning of whether or not I have a secure employment future in this new year. Being a missionary is tough, especially when the funds don’t roll in.

Yes, I know…God provides. But lately my trust has slowly burned down to below normal levels. And that is when the devil can slip into the dark corners of the mind and begin to whisper doubts.

Today, my task at church reminded me of the parable of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25. The ones who kept their lamps primed with oil were the wise ones. They were always ready for the bridegroom.

As Christians, we should strive to always have our lamps filled so we are ready to shine when God calls upon us to do so– and to ward off the darkness where doubt, envy, and pouting lurks.When we shine our light brightly, it not only helps another to see the path but us as well. God illuminates us both, as well as others off to the side whom we may not notice are watching and wondering.

We can be refilled with the Holy Spirit through prayer and by meditating on His Word.  If we don’t do so regularly, our levels of faith will drop. We will shine brightly for a while, but slowly start to flicker and dim.  And when the time comes for God to use us, we  may not have enough in reserve.

So, if you don’t want to risk burnout think about how you can constantly be refilled…just in case. Then ask the Lord to help refill you so you are always ready to shine.

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.  Psalm 18:28.

 

 

 


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:  Issues I Face  and The Life.   Our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

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I’m like a plant. Bet you are, too.

Our Bible Study Fellowship lesson on the Gospel of John made a great analogy: plants naturally gravitate to the light because they need it to thrive.

green-19817_1280I have to turn my house plants ever so often or they will grow crookedly. They will repeatedly bend towards the source of light coming into my apartment from the window. Pretty soon, if I don’t rotate them, one half of the plants will be bare. Those leaves on the dark side will shrivel and die.  The side aimed toward  the light will flourish and grow. However, it will be at a skewed angle, and some of the leaves may be crowded out. It won’t look very healthy because the whole plant hasn’t been exposed the same amount to light.

That made me realize I am like that plant. Plants are wise. They know they need light to grow. Shouldn’t we humans do the same?  Yet so often we don’t. We would prefer Christ’s light not expose certain areas of our hearts, minds and souls. “Let’s keep that one hidden, God, okay? Not ready to reveal that to myself yet.”  I have heard people state they are afraid to expose certain things they have buried ( in darkness) for fear of what might ooze up.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4-5

burning candle isolated on black background

burning candle isolated on black background

But if we only let Christ shine into parts of our lives–you know, the good sides of us we want emphasized–we will not grow correctly. We will be skewed. Part of us will flourish, but another part will wither. We will be spiritually deformed. People will notice.

It’s time I turned some parts of myself to God’s gracious light full on, and allow Him to lovingly expose some leaves in me that need to grow.  After all, as a new creation in Christ, it is my instinct to turn to the Son, just as a plant’s is to turn its leaves to the sun.

How about you? Has my house plant example helped “plant” the same idea in your heart?

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Reading Gail Pallota’s eye-opening novel about dealing with a chronic hard-to-diagnose disease, Barely Above Water, one sentence popped out at me. The alternative doctor told her part of the process of getting well was to bring her issues to light – letting in God’s healing touch.

???????????????????????????????????????Jesus said He is the LIGHT of the world. How many dark crevices do each of us have we’d prefer He not shine into? Areas of hidden shame, character flaws, deep hurts we cling to out of habit, justification, denial, or fear of letting go.  I have a few, don’t you?

“Let’s not work on that one now, Lord. Let’s work on an easier one. It would be too painful to tackle that right  now. I really don’t want to go there.”

But without LIGHT, how can we pinpoint the areas in our lives that are stunting our growth, our witness, our potential to do His will?  Doctors use lasers to help eradicate diseased cells. Jesus’ Spirit uses His healing touch to cauterize the places we secretly bleed.

Like peeling off a band-aid, we need to expose the area to the light so it can fully heal.  That means others may notice the  process. That’s alright. They will see LIGHT at work. And isn’t that what is supposed to happen? Perhaps it will encourage them to expose some areas in their lives.

And remember, scar tissue is tougher. So let in God’s healing touch to that wound, whatever it may be.

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