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Posts Tagged ‘light’

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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When the Light Goes Out

As I climbed the stairs a few cloudy and rainy nights ago, I noticed a difference. A veil of darkness blanketed my apartment complex corridor.  Halfway up the outdoor stairwell, the rungs disappeared into blackness. Ahead I could barely detect the light pole across the street, but its glow cast down to the pavement, offering very little help from my perspective. Needless to say, a chill clutched my chest for a second. What if someone lurked by my shadowed door?

IMAG0371Normally, a sconce hangs outside my entry to greet me. Via an automatic sensor, it flicks on when the skies darken. The same detector operates the ones at each of the four apartments in my unit along a sheltered, outdoor breezeway. I have become dependent upon its illumination when I come home after dark. It provides not only better ability to see the stairs and my door’s keyhole, but adds a sense of security. Tonight, that safeness I’d taken for granted didn’t exist.

The unexpected darkness unhinged me a bit.  I felt for the keyhole and worked my key into it. After several tries,at last it slipped into place. I turned it, heard the click, twisted the door knob, and sighed in relief as I entered my apartment with the table lamp lit to greet me. Safe.

Had I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dimmed glow emitting from street lamp across the street, I probably would have been able to detect the keyhole better and determine nothing evil lurked by my stoop.  But being a woman alone in the dark stairwell, I panicked –just a touch. That only made things worse. Time slowed as my anxiety increased. I became jittery with my fumbling to open the door as my brain hissed, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.”

As a Christian, have I become so used to the light of Christ that I become anxious when faced with darkness? Do I need to “see” evidence of  Christ in order to believe He is always nearby?  Now you may argue a Christian is never totally in the dark. However, there are dark periods in all of our lives simply because we walk the earth.

When difficult times hit me suddenly in life, may I not react the same way spiritually as I physically did in that dark corridor. Instead, let me wait patiently for my faith-eyes to locate my Lord, the One who calms, guides and protects my soul. In blessed assurance, may I stand firm in the knowledge that Christ has already won the battle over the principalities of darkness. I know He is my faith’s automatic sensor, illuminating me with truth when things appear darker than normal.

Unlike the one at my apartment, He will never fail to light my life.

Lord, keep the jitters at bey and thwart the desire to handle things quickly on my own. Even if I can’t see clearly with my eyes, may I always recall what the Psalmist states: You are the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path. (119:105) Amen.

 

 

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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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icon_1_image_x16 IMG_20131202_092238_869Our cat kept scratching his notched ear. He’d rub it against the carpet. Not all the time, just every now and then. Still, obviously  something in that ear was bothering him. So I held the squirming fur ball as my son peered into his ear cavity. But because of the curved folds, my son couldn’t really see.

“We need to carry him into the light so I can see deep inside of his ear,” my son suggested. So, we went  into the bathroom where the light was stronger. The cat really squirmed now.

“Hmm. I think there is some gunk in the cat’s ear, but I still need more light.”

My son got the pen flashlight and  aimed the beam deep into the cat’s ear canal.  “Aha. No wonder he was scratching it!”

He got a Q-tip and gently ran it along the inside folds of the cat’s ear as our beloved fur ball wiggled in my arms. One hind leg began to thump, as it tried to to stop him. But success.The Q-tip came out full of dark, yucky wax.

I let our cat down and off he skittered to hide under the dining table. I bent down and sweetly reminded him we loved him and we did that not to be mean or cruel, but for his own good.

okay- I know some of you are squirming right now as much as the cat did. Some may say, “Oh, they shouldn’t have stuck a Q-tip in there.” But instead of going there, read on…
 

Where did I see a God message in this? Am I not the same way when it comes to sin? It bothers me now and then, but do I really want to have it exposed to God’s light? Do I want Him to dig deep down inside of me to get it out?  Do I squirm in the process? And, like my cat, do I then hear Him gently tell me it has to be done because He loves me?

“This is the verdict: the Light has come into the world.. Everyone who loves evil hates the light,.and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19a,20

None of us want our faults exposed. But God know they are there. His Holy Spirit will keep reminding us of that one little area we have yet brought before the throne. Like  the gunk in my cat’s ear, it will irritate us now and then. Is it not better to let God hold us in His arms of love and gently pry the sin form deep inside of us? Sure, it will be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.

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