Monthly Archives: January 2020
Your Vision for 2020 – Part Three: Clothed with Strength and Dignity.
How does the Proverbs 31 Woman inspire our vision for 2020 and the years ahead? Was she someone that we can identify with today? What is it about her that intrigues us, three thousand years after Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs? What kind of a woman was she?
If you’ve ever wondered whether God has designed a place for you to express your talents, then you need look no further than Proverbs 31 to encounter the woman whom God sees as more precious than jewels. She is an example of a woman who is active and fulfilled in every area of her life - in relationships, in the home, and in the marketplace. Her ministry flows from wisdom and kindness and her hands are open to the poor and needy. She is creative, strong and cheerful because she knows that she is blessed. Her reputation is dignified, and her work is productive and valued.
We may think that this paragon of virtue is too good to be true but remember what we studied in Part Two of our series. This laudable lady had also drunk deeply from the well of grief and remorse. She understood pain and suffering, but she knew the joy of redemption and God’s unmerited favor. In so many ways she is like us. And in many more ways, she is exactly what God designed us to be.
She seems so fulfilled! How can we be like her? What does it take for us to discover and manifest God’s specific design for each of us?
Beloveds, it’s not about who we were, or what we’ve done, or how hard we are willing to work. Bathsheba didn’t go from the pit to the palace and from pity to praise overnight. And she didn’t become the Proverbs 31 Woman on her own steam.
She underwent a process of maturity from being the woman who cheated on her husband Uriah, which resulted in his being murdered, to being the woman whom Solomon described as an excellent wife, who does her husband David good and not harm, all the days of her life (v. 10-12). This wasn’t due to a simple change of location or spouse, but of a fundamental metamorphosis of character.
A transformative third party had to step in to effect this change. King David and Queen Bathsheba had to surrender to a higher authority, and place someone who was without sin on the throne of their hearts to govern them.
Of course, you already know that I am talking about our Lord Jesus, and that for us to be fulfilled in any way at all, we must first make him and him alone the Lord of our lives.
I’m also talking about something in addition to that. When we look at the Proverbs 31 Woman as an example of how much harder we should be working, and of how far short we always seem to fall no matter how much we are willing to do – then we are looking at her through veiled eyes.
She is not an example of what we should be doing. She is an example of what we could be receiving from God, if only we would settle down and let him manifest the unique blueprint he’s knit together in each one of us.
God made a way for Bathsheba to become the Proverbs 31 Woman. He made a way for David to become the husband and the king whose wisdom was known at the gates and who sat in authority among the elders of the land (Proverbs 31:23). And God wants to open that same way for us, not just for this year, but for all our years into eternity.
In Part One of this series we explained how God defined a plan for each one of us from before the creation of the world. God designed each of us to express the plan he knitted together in us, so that our good works would give him glory. God desires for his glory to shine into the world through his people, like a light on a hill.
King David wrote in Psalm 37:3-5, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (ESV).
The difference between Bathsheba and the Proverbs 31 Woman that she became is that Bathsheba followed the desires – or we could say, the lusts – of her “natural” or earthly heart, while the redeemed and sanctified Proverbs 31 Woman followed the desires of God’s heart for her. When we trust in the Lord, he gives us, not the lustful desires of our earthly hearts, but he aligns our hearts with his heart, so that our desires and God’s desires are a match. When the desires of our hearts are aligned with the desires of God’s heart, then the work that we do in the world is fulfilling for us and brings him glory. God makes a way for us through the alignment of our hearts with his heart and our desires with his desires.
God created the first man and woman in his image - to be in relationship with himself, to demonstrate his character, and to reflect his glory. The image of God in mankind was tainted by the fall, but God’s image in us was restored through our new birth in Jesus Christ.
As image-bearers, we are designed to express God’s nature through what he has fitted together in us as our giftings – the talents and abilities that God built into us from before the beginning of the world. God designed the eye to see, the ear to hear, the heart to pump blood, the feet to travel, the skin to defend us from outside invaders. Each piece of our bodies has its perfect part to play, designed to support the function of the whole.
We are the Body of Christ on earth, and each of us has been endowed by God with certain abilities. We have each been provided with the talents necessary to glorify our Creator, and to live out our own unique callings.
Knowing what God’s call is for our lives is not something that we have to struggle to figure out. When we examine our examples in Proverbs 31, we see that the man and woman described there are going about their day-to-day lives, doing all the things that are set before them to do, without worrying or complaining. The work that they do is fulfilling, whether it is in the home, the marketplace, or in service, because they are fully utilizing the gifts and talents that God placed in them. God placed unique gifts and talents in each of us so that by expressing them, we would give him glory and enjoy life more abundantly (John 10:10).
How does Solomon’s description of the Proverbs 31 Woman and her family present us with an example of the desires of God’s heart for us? Here are some examples:
Have you always dreamed of becoming a chef? See Proverbs 31:14-15, “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens” (ESV).
Do you work in farming or real estate? See Proverbs 31:16, “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”
Are you interested in promoting good health and wellness (or are you an athlete)? See Proverbs 31:17, “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
Are you skilled at working with your hands? See Proverbs 31:13,19, “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands…She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.”
Are you involved in ministry? See Proverbs 31:20, “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
Fancy a career in meteorology (or science)? See Proverbs 31:21, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed in scarlet [or in double-thickness].”
Are you interested in design? See Proverbs 31:22, “She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.”
Do you dream of running a business? See Proverbs 31:24, “She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.”
Do you find joy in teaching? See Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
Are you a homemaker? See Proverbs 31:27, “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
Are you raising wonderful children? See Proverbs 31:28, “Her children rise up and call her blessed…”
Are you a newlywed, or celebrating a golden anniversary? “…her husband also, and he praises her.”
Can you envision a career in law or politics? King David is our example in Proverbs 31:23, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”
Do you love composing and performing music? David is our example again! For inspiration, spend some time in the Book of Psalms!
And finally, if you feel called to work in writing and social media (like we do here at Speak Comfort!), take note of Proverbs 31:18, “She perceives that her merchandise is profitable, Her lamp does not go out at night.” (lol!)
As you can see, whatever the desires of our hearts, God’s plan has got us covered! The beauty of this is that we don’t have to excel at everything, but God has a blessing and an anointing for the unique gifts and talents that he intends for us to use. And we don’t have to wrack our brains to figure out what God’s call for us is about. All we must do is stop and recognize where our talents are and what brings us the most joy.
As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (ESV).
As our series continues, we will look at how God gives us provision, equipping, and anointing for the work he created us to do.
Please stay tuned!
Your Vision for 2020 – Part Two: The Story of the Proverbs 31 Woman.
Allow me to introduce you to the most intimidating gal in scripture – the Proverbs 31 Woman! She is so capable, let’s face it ladies, we just can’t compete! Have you ever wondered, “Who was this amazing woman?”
To find her, we must first have a look at the author of this chapter of the book of Proverbs. Verse 31:1 states that “these are the words of King Lemuel.” In the Hebrew, Lemuel means “belonging to God,” and many scholars are convinced that it refers not to some unknown king buried in the dust of history, but to King Solomon himself. Verse 1 goes on to say that chapter 31 is based on advice that the king’s mother taught him. If all these scholarly minds are correct, and I believe they are, then the author of the 31st chapter of Proverbs was King Solomon, and the inspiration for this final chapter of the book was his mother.
Who, you may ask, was King Solomon’s mother? It was Bathsheba, widow of Uriah, wife of King David, and ancestress of Jesus as listed in Matthew 1:6.
Obviously, King Solomon loved his mother, and she was a wise woman. But there’s much more to the story than that! In case you hadn’t heard, when it came to the ladies, King David had a roving eye. One balmy day, rather than accompany his troops to battle, David decided to take the day off from waging war with the philistines, stay home, and do a little sunbathing on his balcony. But oops! On that very day Bathsheba decided that since all the mighty men – including her husband, Uriah - were away from the palace being heroic, she’d enjoy a leisurely wash-up on her roof. After all, it was such lovely spring weather, and all the men were out of town.
You can read the full story in 2 Samuel 11 and 12, but to sum it up, tragic, beautiful Bathsheba was not alone on her rooftop as she thought. The moment King David clapped eyes on Bathsheba in her tub, he threw caution, good sense and morality to the wind and sent for her immediately. The result of their tryst was that Bathsheba became pregnant, David had her husband murdered by trickery, and the infant son of their illicit union died, even though David fasted and prayed for his life. Ultimately David and Bathsheba were legally married, and their youngest son Solomon was chosen by God to inherit David’s throne and build the first Temple in Jerusalem (See 1 Kings 1-11).
The prophet wrote in 2 Samuel that “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (11:26-27 ESV). Because of David’s actions, and in part her own, Bathsheba suffered through the stigma of infidelity, the murder of her husband, and the loss of her child.
A truth that leaps out at us as we study the Bible is that none of the men and women in scripture – except Jesus - was perfect. David and Bathsheba were no exception. In fact, if you listen to enough sermons about King David, you’ll find that two of the defining characters in his life story were the giant Goliath and the gorgeous Bathsheba, who represented both his greatest victory and his greatest defeat.
But as Paul reminds us, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV).
The Proverbs 31 Woman stands for us as a witness and a testimony of God’s uplifting power, even in the presence of unbearable sin and suffering. Bathsheba could have allowed the unfair things that happened to her and the part she played in causing her own heartbreak to destroy her. But instead Solomon’s description of his mother demonstrates that the Proverbs 31 Woman did not need to fear her future, or her past, because by the grace of God she had been redeemed and restored.
Now that we know a little more of her story, let’s read King Solomon’s depiction of the woman who was “far more precious than gold or jewels” (31:10):
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:11-31 ESV)
The picture of the Proverbs 31 Woman is a portrait of redemption. If we don’t know that about her we will miss the point, and think that all she was is a woman who worked really, really hard and was good at everything. But Beloveds, the Proverbs 31 Woman wasn’t blessed because she worked hard. She threw herself into every aspect of her life joyfully, because even though she had participated in terrible sins, by the goodness of God she was transformed.
Jesus said of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47 ESV).
Both David and Bathsheba paid a hard price for their mistakes. And their stories are interwoven with ours. When we are forgiven much, by the grace of God, we love much. When we receive restoration from the Lord, he equips us to do the work that he originally designed us to do.
As this series continues, we will explore how we can find inspiration in the husband and wife that Solomon introduced us to in Proverbs 31, and apply their joyful and productive vision to our own lives in the years to come.
Much love, God bless and please stay tuned!
Your Vision for 2020 – Part One.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote that the mystery of Christ was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, that it was given to him to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and to “bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things…” (Ephesians 3:1-9 ESV).
God has a plan that was begun in the garden with Adam and Eve, given to his people Israel, realized in Jesus Christ, and made available to all who believe in him and receive salvation by his grace. God’s plan didn’t end with the first century church. It continues to this day, and we are a part of it. Paul went on to state that the assignment given to him by the Holy Spirit was to “…bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:9-10 ESV). As the Body of Christ on earth, we are the continuation of the first century church and we play a role in the revelation of God’s plan.
Paul said, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Ephesians 3:11-12 ESV). It is God’s eternal plan that through Jesus we will have access to our Father in heaven and all his promises, approaching God with boldness and confidence in his unfailing love for us.
This is how The Message translation paraphrases Paul’s prayer for the church (and that is us!) in Ephesians 3:14-21, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”
Beloved Friends, God did not intend for us to sit on the sidelines. He especially didn’t intend for us to sit on the sidelines and worry! That was not his plan! His plan was and is and always will be that his children operate in a way that demonstrates his love and reveals his glory (see Ephesians 4:1-3). Jesus said “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b ESV).
You may be wondering how you could possibly fit in to God’s plan, and that even if we were meant to be a part of his plan, how are we supposed to know what to do about it! (Can I get a witness?) Thankfully, God has provided us with the perfect user’s manual, and we can find the answer to these questions in the Bible!
Before we get going with this, please be aware that I am not cherry-picking verses to prove a point. When we study the passages we’ll be referencing, we’ll see how the whole pattern fits together. The Bible is not a collection of single verses that are made to stand alone. It is the expression, through his Holy Spirit, of our Father’s will for his creation manifested through his Son, Jesus Christ, and his Church. Reading scripture is like putting puzzle pieces together and all the pieces are designed to fit together perfectly to reveal the Big Picture.
Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are also pieces of God’s plan. And just like putting together a puzzle, it takes all the pieces fitted together to make the picture complete.
So, in this series, we will explore what the Bible says about how we fit into God’s plan and from that, how we can each develop our vision for the year ahead.
Let’s begin by understanding who we are in Christ. In Ephesians 1, Paul gives us seven “in him” statements:
In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
In him we were chosen before the creation of the world to be made holy and blameless (1:4).
In him we were predestined for adoption as sons and daughters (1:5-6).
In him we have redemption and forgiveness through his Blood, according to the riches of his grace (1:7-8).
In him all things in heaven and earth will be united (1:9-10).
In him we have obtained an inheritance, according to the purpose of his will (1:11-12).
In him we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire full possession of it (1:13-14).
As we can see, God had a plan for us from before the beginning of the world. That is what is meant by us being “predestined”. Not that God created us to be marionettes who have no will to act on our own, but that each of us have been included in God’s plan from the beginning. In the book of Revelation (which describes the fulfillment of God’s plan on earth), John speaks about those whose names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the foundation of the world; and in the same verse, he describes the Lamb who was slain from before the foundation of the world. This is stated slightly differently in various translations.
For example, the King James Version tells us about the difference between saints whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and those people who have not accepted salvation, as those “…whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8b). Which helps us see that God had a plan for our salvation in Jesus (see John 1:29-51), even before he laid the foundation for creation itself.
The same verse in the English Standard Version reads, “…everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” This translation gives us a picture of our names having been written in the Lamb’s book of life from before the beginning of the world.
This may seem complicated, but simply put, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit already had a plan in place for our salvation before the creation of the world, and God already knew each of our names and the part that he would design us to play in his plan.
Every good carpenter knows that if he or she wants to build a house that will stand the test of time and the elements, they must begin with a plan, drawn by an architect. Before the first piece of wood is cut or the first nail is struck, the architect has already envisioned what the finished house will look like, who will inhabit it, and how it will best serve its purpose and function. Before building begins, the architect and the contractor have already chosen the people who will pour the foundation, lay the floor, build the frame, install the plumbing and wiring, and place the roof. The designer knows who will lay the carpet, paint the walls and install the cabinets. The names of the contractors and subcontractors are already written in their contracts. Once all this has been decided, the actual building project begins, and everyone involved does the work they are assigned to do within the context of what takes place at the building site. Each one, according to their talent and expertise, deals with events as they come up on the ground.
In 2 Samuel 7:27, we read that God promised King David that he would build him a house. That house is the Davidic dynasty, and Jesus is the promised King who sits on the throne of his father, David, forever (2 Samuel 7:16; Matthew 1:1). We are built into that house. Peter wrote that “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5a ESV). God did not decide to build his house without a plan.
King David understood it this way:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV).
In Part Two of our series, we will explore how God knits into us specific talents and abilities, and gives us the desires of our hearts, as a part of our architectural design for the fulfillment of his plan in each of our lives.
Much love, God bless and please stay tuned!
Pray for Australia.
Beloved Friends, if you have seen the images and heard the news reports about the incomprehensible devastation and loss of life, animals, homes and habitat that are coming out of Australia - and if your hearts are breaking for all the suffering there as ours are - we ask that you please take as many moments as you can over the coming days to join with us in prayer for that beautiful continent and all her inhabitants.
Sometimes, we can feel helpless when we see tragedy happening in a place that is so far removed from most of our daily lives, and we may feel that there is nothing that we can do to help. But the truth is that the most immediate, important, and effective action that we can take is to consistently hold those who are suffering up to God in prayer.
If you've ever called on friends and family in a time of crisis and felt their prayers strengthening and comforting you in the middle of a storm of circumstances that were out of your control, then you know how important it is for prayer warriors to intervene in a time of catastrophe. For Australia, this is one of those times.
So Beloveds, let's pray. Let's pray for those who have lost loved ones. Let's pray for those who have lost their homes. Let's pray for all the firefighters, first-responders and leaders. Let's pray for all those whose homes and businesses are in danger. Let's pray for all the animals that have nowhere to run. Let's pray for rain to put out the fires and for relief from the heat. Let's pray for comfort, for safety, for healing, for salvation, for strength. Let's pray for those who are sending help from all over the world. Whatever it is that God puts on your hearts to pray, let's pray for God's will to prevail on earth as it does in heaven. Let's pray and keep on praying until we see God move for Australia and all of her people.
As we pray, remember that none of us is praying alone, but through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit we are one body in Christ coming together in Jesus' name, and our Father in heaven is listening.
"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV).
The Light has Come!
Proverbs 4:18 says “…the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Psalm 119:105 reminds us that God’s Word is “…a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”, and in John 8:12b Jesus proclaimed, “…’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (ESV).
Notice that these Biblical truths about light have to do with walking, following a path from one place to another, and that even though the paths may be dark, God has given us his Word and his Presence to illuminate our way.
As Isaiah prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (9:2 ESV).
As we enter a new year and a new decade, the paths of this world are becoming increasingly dark. But this is not a reason for us to be afraid. If we light a candle at noon, we hardly notice that it’s burning because the light all around us is so bright. But when we light that same candle at midnight, the light of its flame can be seen from almost two miles away. * And that’s only one small candle. Can you picture a million or a billion points of light, shining in the darkness? Just look up at the night sky, and you’ll see what I mean. The stars are always shining in the daytime, but because our sun is so bright, we can’t see them! It’s the blue-black vault of the night sky that makes the breathtaking beauty of the cosmos visible.
In the Constitution of the kingdom of heaven on earth – his Sermon on the Mount – Jesus said to the people, “’You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house’” (Matthew 5:14-15 ESV). We are intended to be the light in this dark world.
Whoa, Nellie! Hang on a second! Suzanne, are you saying that we are the light of the world? I thought Jesus said that HE is the Light of the world! Yes, Beloved, I am saying that you, and I, and we, and the whole Body of Christ are in fact the light of the world, because Jesus, the True Light, the Light-Bringer, abides within us! Do you remember what happened on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem when God breathed life into his Church?
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:1-3 ESV).
In Revelation 1:20, Jesus explains to the apostle John that his vision of the seven candlesticks with Jesus standing in their midst represents the seven churches. This tells us that God intends his Church to be a lamp – like a menorah with many branches - and each believer a radiant light.
Therefore, we can picture ourselves as lovely candles with our flames shining in the darkness. The Light of Life did not come just to light the path for us, he also came to light us up, so that we can light the way for others. We are designed to shine.
How do we do this? Did Jesus give us any clues? I’m so glad you asked, because yes, he did!
Here is what John wrote about the time just before the crucifixion, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (13:1); and soon afterward Jesus said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:34-35 ESV).
The word for love in these verses is the Greek, agape, which means charitable love. The kind of love that puts the well being of another before one’s self. This type of love is filled with the Light of Life and it drives out the darkness. The light that God shines through us into the world is the Light of the Love of Christ. And he wants us to share it.
As we enter a new decade in 2020, we are going to hear a lot about how we can manifest our “20/20 vision.” That’s a wonderful thing and we will talk more about it too, in the coming weeks. But before we can see clearly enough to claim our vision, first we must turn on the light.
While our earth begins yet another revolution around the sun, let’s remember that God’s very first commandment to his creation was “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3); and at the very end of the Redemption Timeline, in Revelation 22:5, John foresaw that in the new heaven and the new earth, “…night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (ESV).
Until then, we are the light of this world because God’s Love-Light burns within us. As we prayerfully ask God to light the paths we travel in 2020, let’s make it our mission to let the light of Christ shine through us to everyone we meet.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV).
*”How Far Can a Human Eye See a Candle Flame?” MIT Technology Review, 31 July 2015. Web. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/539826/how-far-can-the-human-eye-see-a-candle-flame/ . 28 December 2019.
Blessed are Those Who Mourn
Please join us in prayer for all those who have been affected by the attacks on worshippers in the synagogue in Rockland County, New York and in the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas over the weekend.
We also hold up to God in prayer all those who are suffering under the cruel hand of persecution all over the world for salvation, protection, and healing.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Psalm 46 ESV