Leading Light

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.8.12.csb

A lot of speculation has been laid out concerning the light which the Magi followed from the East to Bethlehem. You might recall that this light came in two phases. First, it was “His star in the East” which they saw and then followed. This star was probably a peculiar stellar phenomena that piqued their astrological curiosity. The second light came after the consulted with King Herod, for this light “came and stood over where the child was.” This light was likely a shekinah presentation, the glory of God revealed as light, though the text does not say this directly. It could simply have been an angelic being we are not aware of. Still, there is much speculation to both phases of this leading light that brought these men from the East.

Curiously no one has suggested that this was the “Light of the World.” Could this have been the glory of Jesus which He put aside to become flesh, guiding these Gentiles to his fleshly person? At the time of their visit, he was no infant, but more likely over a year old. This too is speculation, but points to Jesus’ mission throughout His life.

Jesus is the light of the world, shining forth in His brightness to lead all men unto Himself. He is the bright light in a dark world. He is the Illuminator against confusion and ignorance. He is sight to the blind. He is vision to despairing. He is hope for the future. No wonder He draws all people to Himself.

But like the Magi, you have to take the time to look. They were looking for this light because they expected to find it. Some speculate that Daniel had passed on this expectation to them from 500 years before. Because they knew where to look, they were ready.

Are you ready to follow Him? He’s been looking for you, and He is ready to lead you through the gloom of fear and doubt if you’re ready. Accept His leadership today, and you will never regret it.

God bless you today.

Work for the Good of All

www.bible.com/1713/gal.6.10.csb

What are you willing to do in the name of Christian charity? Would you feed the hungry? Would you serve at a soup kitchen? How about volunteer to help with disaster cleanup? Or maybe drop money into those red buckets around Christmastime?

What I find interesting about this verse is the word “all.” This good work is not limited to those I like or those I worship with. It is for all people that we have an opportunity to serve. But something else you may note: it is not working for what each person thinks is good for them, but working for “the good” of all people. What is the very best good for all people? For them to know the person and grace of Jesus Christ.

What’s funny about Christian charities is that people will always approach you with what they think will do them the most good, like paying a utility bill, rent, or money for gas to get to the next church. Is it “good” for a church or charity to subsidize or even fully support someone who cannot manage their money? I am not talking about the unable to work, but the unwilling to work.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of charity as I have, you know it isn’t a place you want to be. You are there out of necessity. And you certainly aren’t in any place to tell the giver what you expect. And yet I often hear the sad story followed by a list of demands. What have we done as givers that the receivers set the terms?

As Christians we are instructed to work for the good of all. All people should be able to expect good work from Christians, not just those in their fellowship, but no one should expect to define for Christians what good is. And no one ought to instruct Christians what “social justice” is, since it is God who invented Justice.

This holiday season as occasions arise, do good. Do what will help someone know the love of God in Christ. Do what Jesus would do in extending His love, but also his good into the lives of others. As a Christian you don’t have to accept what others think is good. Only God defined what is good. You have an obligation to share that good with others. It doesn’t always giving as the world thinks it is. Sometimes it’s not giving when you know it enables a bad behavior. Sometimes you have to give blind. It happens. But let God be the judge of that person and not you for withholding a kindness. I know. It’s confusing.

Take and study this passage. Take the time to understand it. But also practice it. A good word in your heart alone is useless.

God bless!

Kindness to the Unthankful

www.bible.com/1713/luk.6.35.csb

It really grinds my gears to give to someone and they are not only unthankful, but they ask, “Is that the best you can do?” Unthankfulness is on full display in our nation daily. People in other cultures would gladly receive the scraps we leave behind. They would love a cell phone from ten years ago. They wouldn’t need the latest and greatest. They would be content with not starving, or not having a draft in their home. Our casual tents are more of a shelter than in most third world countries.

So consider this the next time you don’t think God has been good enough to you. When He didn’t bless you as much today. Can we be thankful simply for our salvation? Can we be thankful alone that He sent His own Son for us? Remember that when we were unthankful, God was gracious. And we are instructed to have this same mind to others. We are to be kind to the ungrateful. Maybe it’s time we practiced.

May God bless you today.

Walk This Way

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.2.6.csb

In Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” the stranded party happens upon Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. They are met by the butler/ assistant to the young Dr. who tells them to “walk this way” to meet their host. Instead of just following their guide, the party apes the man’s walk as well, with a pronounced hunch. I wonder if that is what John had in mind?

John had literally walked with Jesus. He had followed Him around Judea and Galilee. John knew how the man moved. He would be able to recognize how Jesus walked. We recognize this today as kinesthetics, or identifying someone by the way their body moves. So for John, walking as Jesus walked had a different dimension to it. That causes me to wonder how much John intended is to walk like Jesus? Would He have walked like Jesus to show his followers how the Master did it? Would he have demonstrated, even into his old age, what Jesus was physically like? What He ate, how He slept, or how He prayed?

We have watered this concept down through 2000 years of church history, and we’ve probably missed some things along the way. The sound of His voice, the gentleness of His touch, all of those we’ve missed, but His message, His love and His joy remain. Would you follow Him? We may not know how He walked, but we know His walk was faithful and upright. And that’s probably more like what John was after anyway.

May you make today a day walking with Jesus. Follow in His steps, both mercy and sacrifice. Giving and loving. Sternness and encouragement. Offering wise counsel and stern rebuke when needed. Every day we face the same situations Jesus did. Like Jesus, we need to follow His counsel in dealing with them. Read His Word. Listen for His voice in it. You can hear it. He is saying, “Follow Me.”

God bless you today.

Grace is a Man

www.bible.com/1713/tit.2.11-12.csb

His name is Jesus. Paul’s oblique reference becomes immediately obvious. Only Jesus could bring salvation. Only Jesus’ example could instruct us to deny godlessness and embrace righteousness. So why call Him grace? Grace is a free, undeserved gift. But this man is a gift, a free undeserved gift from God. For we could not have earned this gift, and when we received it, we killed it. We have done everything possible to tell God we don’t want His help. We still do.

So what could God do? He raised His Son from the dead. He brought Jesus, who had done nothing to deserve death, into a life that cannot be killed. Why?

Because if God is infinite, and God is love, then God’s love is infinite. He sent His Son because He loves us. He raised His Son because He loves us. He raises you because He loves and there is no exhausting that love.

All of that to encourage us to holy living. Because He loves us into His presence. He wants to love us for eternity, where even then His infinite love cannot be expended.

May God bless you today!

Greatness

www.bible.com/1713/mat.23.11.csb

Do you want to be great? Sounds like the Bible has the perfect formula for you to follow.

Serve.

That’s it. Just serve. If you serve others, you will become great. Was just watching the Christmas Carol last night with Patrick Stewart. The Scrooge at the beginning was a wealthy man, with house and rooms to spare. He had more money than he needed and could afford anything he wanted. No one liked him.

By the end the story, he is buying gifts, spending time with others, offering to help where needed, and giving raises to his employee. The narration at the end said everyone loved him, and few were greater than he. Moral of the story? If you want to be great and loved, give. Hmmm.

Some men are great, and others have greatness thrust upon them. But few can actually be good people who are great. The “public servants” in Washington may be great, but they’re not that great. True greatness comes with humble and genuine service. In what ways can you serve today?

God bless!

Seeing God

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.8.csb

What a fantastic promise! God only permits Himself to be seen rarely, and then only in a limited capacity, such as when Moses saw His “back” on Mt. Sinai. Yet Jesus said to Philip at the last supper that if you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. Philip has asked him, “Show us the Father, and that will be enough.” Would that be enough to convince you that God is real, if He showed Himself to you? Surely we know God is love, and He demonstrates His love in this: He gave His Som for the sins of the world. If we have put our faith in Jesus’ saving work, His death, burial and resurrection, then surely we have seen God.

Strangely this verse seems to play along similar lines. God is not a god of magic, nor does He respond or comply with spells or rituals. God does as He sees fit. No one can make Him do anything. This making yourself pure in heart (which you cannot do) is not going to force God to reveal Himself. Rather, we receive purity because we receive the cleansing of Christ’s blood upon our heart. We cannot hope to be pure otherwise. We can only do this by faith, and receive it by faith and baptism. The promise for those who receive such faith is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those who become pure in heart in this way allow for the Spirit of God to dwell in you. You will see the house of God every time you look in the mirror. You will be in God’s presence continually, because He is continually in you. The Holy Spirit is the ever-present proof of our eternal home.

The Holy Spirit is the penultimate Presence, heralding our ultimate reception into the presence of God when we die and meet Him face go face. Those who are pure in heart will see God.

Do you need to brush up on yo it purity today? Does sin mar your heart? Confess your sins today and receive relief from your guilt. Jesus has already paid for those sins and welcomes you back with open arms. Won’t you come and be pure? May God bless you today.