Daniel 5-7; 2 John
In December each year, a neighborhood of 13 families near where we live sets up a dazzling display of 300,000 Christmas lights. People drive for miles and wait in line for hours to see the flashing, colorful lights and hear the music that is programmed to go with it. The sound-and-light display is so elaborate that it requires a network of 64 computers to keep everything synchronized.
When I think about these holiday lights, I am reminded of the Light that makes Christmas a holiday for many—a single Light so bright that it illuminates the whole world with truth, justice, and love. This Light—Jesus—is everything that the world is longing and looking for (Isa. 9:2,6-7). And He has told His followers to display His light so that others will see and glorify God (Matt. 5:16).
Imagine if Christians worked as hard at shining and synchronizing the light of God’s love as the families of that neighborhood work when they illuminate their street with Christmas lights. Perhaps then the people still living in darkness would make an effort to see this great Light. When Christians work together to display God’s love, the gospel will shine more brightly and attract more people to Jesus—the Light of the world.
O to be clothed with His power and might;
O to reflect my dear Savior sublime—
Always to shine as the saints in light! —Anon.
How sad on Thee they fall.
Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight . . .” (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.
The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man’s respectable “goodness.” Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person’s life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.
From: My Utmost For His Highest
[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]
“Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Ruth 1:21
When we meet Naomi in the Scriptures, her life is a mess. She and her husband had gone to Moab searching for food during a famine. While in that land, their two sons married Moabite women, and life was good—until her husband and sons died and she was stuck, widowed in a foreign land.
Though honest about her pain, Naomi obviously had a sense of who was in control: “The Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me” (Ruth 1:21).
The Hebrew word for “Almighty” (Shaddai) indicates God’s sufficiency for any situation. The word “Lord” (Yahweh) refers to His faithfulness as the loving covenant-keeping God. I love how Naomi put these two names together. In the midst of her complaint, she never lost sight of the fact that her God was a capable and faithful God. And, sure enough, He proved His capability to deliver her and His faithfulness to care for her to the very end.
If there seems to be no way out of your despair, remember that Naomi’s God is your God as well. And He specializes in managing our messes to good and glorious outcomes. Thankfully, He is both capableand faithful. So, when your life is a mess, remember who your God is!
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last. —von Schlegel
Stand back and watch the Lord manage your mess into a glorious outcome.
From: Get More Strength
strangers and foreigners
Read Job 31:32 and note the suffering man’s hospitable approach to caring for strangers.
Last summer, my son and I were heading to a connecting flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. As we walked briskly from one terminal to another, Wasswa said, “Look, Mommy, a Dinka!”
Dinkas comprise the largest tribe in South Sudan. They’re considered the tallest people group in Africa, and with their beautiful, deep skin color are fairly easy to recognize if you’re somewhat familiar with sub-Saharan tribes. We stopped to say “hello” to the man, and he was pleased, albeit surprised, that upon seeing him we identified his heritage.
Through broken English, the gentleman explained that a few years earlier he and his family had entered the United States as war refugees. He said they were thankful to be here, but they still felt like strangers in a foreign land.
Hearing this man’s plight caused me to reflect on Matthew 25:37-39, which states that the “righteous ones” will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
As members of the body of Christ, we’re called to:
• Show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (Hebrews 13:2).
• Remember those in prison, as if we were there ourselves (Hebrews 13:3).
• Remember also those who are being mistreated, as if we were experiencing their pain in our own bodies (Hebrews 13:3).
Today, let’s ask God to help us recognize the people, including strangers, to whom we can show true hospitality.
From: Our Daily Journey