“Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
My wife and I enjoy helping our children memorize verses and talking about what they mean for our lives. Recently, while talking about Matthew 5:16, my five year old asked me a profound question that went something like, “Daddy, how do I shine my light?” What ensued was a great conversation and a reminder for me. How I shine the light of Christ matters.
It reminds me of a song I learned around the same age as my son that talks about how to let my light shine well. The song instructs me to not hide the light or let anyone or anything blow it out. Instead, I am to let my light be visible. I’ve since learned that the visibility of light is determined by, among other things, intensity, color, and direction. How light is shone determines how it is seen.
Jesus says we are the light of the world. As Christ-followers we all have an audience that needs to see, “The light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5a).” My son’s question is a good one. How will you let your light shine today?
In the Eyes of God
“Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people!” Psalm 113:5-8 NLT
How many times have you walked by and ignored a homeless person? Do you know the names of anyone homeless? What are your thoughts about someone begging on the street?
Several years ago, I met Eddie Torres. Eddie lived homeless on the streets of New York City for over 10 years. Hearing his testimony changed me. His story includes strangers setting him on fire while he slept in a park to standing at the entrance of Union Square subway station daily while almost 100,000 people walked by him without speaking or acknowledging him. Eddie would repeat his name over and over out loud because he never heard his name spoken.
I want to be different. My goal in life is to become an expert at loving others. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Romans 12:9 NLT I am certainly no expert.
As Christians, we are quick to judge and condemn others on their outward appearance. I pray that we can begin to see others through the eyes of Christ. Would you pray this prayer and join me in becoming an expert at loving ridiculously?
Prayer: Father God, help me to see people through Your eyes and not judge by external appearance. I want to see how You see and choose how You choose and value how You value. Help me to be a person after Your heart I pray. Amen.
“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing, he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.”
This is an incredible story. Most scholars think that this story happened directly after Jesus’ sermon on the mount and I think it’s a pretty powerful picture of the love and compassion that Jesus has for people.
Dr. Ajai Lall said that compassion is “shared suffering” and the “willingness to act upon it.” I love this definition of compassion and think that Jesus is the ultimate example of compassion. Jesus is all-powerful; he’s all-knowing; he’s the King of kings and Lord of lords; yet, as we see in this story, he’s “willing” to get involved with our mess.
As you may know, lepers were treated like dirt in this time. They were outcasts; they were forgotten. They had no civil rights; no one stood up for them. Jesus enters the scene; and not only is willing to heal this man; he touches him. He grabs him; he gets involved with the sickness, with the mess. This man probably hasn’t been touched in years. Who knows the last time anyone looked him in the eyes and talked with him. And we find Jesus, the son of the Living God, touch him and heal him.
Jesus gets involved in our mess. He came to save and to heal. He came to look at your worst scar, your worst sickness, your worst pain, and save you from it. He’s willing… that’s some of the best news we have.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 ESV
Freedom is not free. Tomorrow our country can celebrate its freedom because many men and women served, fought, and even gave their lives to protect our freedom. A great price was paid so that we can live in a free country.
Freedom from sin and death wasn’t free either. Jesus died for us to be set free from sin. He fought the battle for our freedom and paid the debt we couldn’t. Jesus paid the price for you and for me. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ and following Him can we truly be free.
Spend time today praying for the men and women serving this country right now to protect our freedom. Lift up their families in prayer. Pray for our veterans. Thank the veterans you know for sacrificing their personal lives and safety to protect what we often take for granted.
Also, spend time today thanking Jesus for the price He paid on the cross so that we can be free. Because He was resurrected and overcame death, we can be free from eternal death. This freedom can never be taken away from us!
Tomorrow celebrate the freedom we have in this country, but more importantly, celebrate the ultimate giver of our freedom – Jesus Christ.
“People before Plants”
And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a day. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons…?” - Jonah 4.10-11
It happens more than I’d like to admit, but I can be an avoider of people. Sometimes, I see someone across the store and choose an alternative aisle. Sometimes, I see someone in the car next to me and I avert my eyes. Sometimes, I notice someone in line and I pretend like something is on my phone.
I think you’ll empathize with why I do these things. There are times when I feel like I don’t have anything left to give. The people that I’m prone to avoid are people that I assume are going to ask something of me.
I’m working to increase the margin in my life and allow the Spirit to make me more compassionate. I’m not justifying my behavior.
However, no matter how tired, busy, or stressed I am, I always make a point to connect with a person that I feel will give me some life, energy or hope. In fact, when I’m especially drained, I seek out interactions with people like that to replenish my soul.
Jonah knew that Nineveh was needy. A pagan city needs more than a prophetic message – they need an everyday pastor. It’s one thing to preach repentance, it’s another thing to sort through its mess.
Jonah was mad that God took away his plant and gave him sunburn. He valued the plant more than he valued the people of Nineveh. The plant provided him a service while the people required a service of him.
A Church of ridiculous love puts the people before the plant. It’s the kind of Church that looks to serve before being served.
I want us to grow in our capacity to love – especially when it’s inconvenient.
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (NLT)
You have probably heard, or even experienced, that the older you get the faster time seems to pass by. This is so true. The bible says that our lives are like grass that grows up and then withers away (Ps 103:15-16; 1 Peter 1:24). In light of how long eternity is, spanning all of history and far into the future, our average lifespan of 70-80 years is but a blip on the timeline.
This is why this Psalm of Moses (who lived 120 years and still saw his life as brief) says that there is wisdom in recognizing this fact. When we understand the brevity of life, we focus in on what is important. We also eliminate the things that are not so important. We focus on our eternal home and growing, rather than our physical homes or physical treasures. Our eternal home will be filled with people who trust Jesus with their lives and have followed him. An eternal focus informs our choices for each day as well as our goals in life. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that an eternal focus will mean a super-serious approach to life – part of relationship with God and others is simply enjoying each other’s company and sharing experiences and laughter. But it will mean focusing on relationships that will last for eternity and who we will bring with us….everything else stays here.
So how does the brevity of your life affect your choices today, this week, this month?
Lord, please teach us to number our days.
“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13
Summertime means many things. For our family it means baseball, swimming, and cookouts. Our kids’ favorite side dish is corn on the cob. For us though, corn is not complete without salt, it makes dinner better. Some say salt makes everything better.
For our world, salt is one of the most widely used seasonings. Choose your favorite steak and one of the first seasonings of choice is salt. When used properly, it preserves, influences and distinguishes the best flavors and qualities of many foods.
Stott warns, “left alone, our world cannot stop itself from going bad.” This is true when Jesus spoke the words to his followers and it is true today. Our world desperately needs an influence that preserves, distinguishes, and redeems it. That influence is Jesus.
Author Larry Osborne says, “Without contact, there can be no impact.” If we are to be, “a fearless church of Christ-followers whose ridiculous love and dangerous witness are irresistible,” we must influence the world around us. The most powerful influence in our world today is a Christ-follower. How can you season the world around you?