From Darkness to Light
I remember a few years ago when I was at our cottage with my kids, and we drove the boat down the lake to visit some people at a nearby camp. By the time we left, it was dark. I hadn’t thought of what it would be like to be on the water in the dark. There were not many cottages on our lake at the time, so the shoreline was pitch black. I couldn’t tell the difference between the water and the land. The sky was also pitch black, clouded over with no shining moon. It was frightening, to say the least. To make matters worse, I could not find the flashlight that was supposed to be in every boat as a safety requirement! And I hadn’t remembered to leave a light on in my own cottage to guide me home.
As I headed out on the water in total blackness, I strained to look ahead. Suddenly, a small light appeared, coming from a cottage up on a hill not too far from our cottage. That little beacon became my guide. I knew if I pointed the boat directly in line with it, I would avoid any shorelines and I could then find my dock. I remember the relief when I slowly came up to our dock and parked the boat without incident. That small light from that cottage broke through all the surrounding darkness and showed us the way home.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Jesus broke through the darkness of this world, the darkness of sin that had separated us from God, the darkness of the demonic forces that were working against our knowledge of God to show us the way home. Without Jesus, we would be lost in the dark, out on the water, floating aimlessly, afraid and alone. He shows us the way out of our darkness and our brokenness. And in the next chapter, Jesus demonstrated this by healing a blind man:
“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:5-7).
When we follow Jesus, who is the light, He frees us from darkness, heals our spiritual blindness, and leads us safely home to the Father. Unfortunately, not everyone welcomes the light:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).
Satan wants to keep us away from the light, and sin has a way of blinding us. Because of our shame, we choose to hide in the dark. We don’t want to be exposed. When Jesus says He is light, it is to deliver us to safety, free us from shame, and bring us home to the Father. Just as a boat needs a lighthouse to safely reach a port at night, we need Jesus to light the way for us through the Bible and by His Spirit. If you’re feeling lost on the waters of life, look to Jesus who is the way home—because that’s courageous living:
Jesus, Light of the World, guide my steps. When the way is unclear and darkness surrounds me, light my path and grant me wisdom and trust to follow You.
Living in Grace
By Kyle Norman, crosswalk. com
As an Anglican, the words “The Grace” are ingrained in how we do Church. Many of our church services either begin or end, with these words. These words do not just appear in our services; they are also the standard close for any Bible study, meeting, or potluck. In fact, so familiar are we with these words, that some may not even recognize them as a passage of scripture.
Of course, when Paul penned these words, he did not have in mind potlucks, Bible studies, or liturgical services; nor were these words designed simply to conclude his letter in a crisp and poetic fashion. Rather, in writing these words, Paul pronounces a reality which encompasses the lives of all Christians. Simply, the words of the grace declare a truth about your life. This truth has three components.
Firstly, the grace of Jesus Christ is upon you. Scripture uses the word “grace” as a shorthand for the entire redemptive activity of our Lord. The entire arc of salvation history is contained in this small 5-letter word. Grace is Jesus entering your world in the most vulnerable of fashions; It is him walking toward you amid threatening storms; It is Jesus touching you in the place of your brokenness and offering his healing presence. Grace is Jesus weeping with you as you mourn the losses and struggles of life; It is Jesus journeying into the place of death and sin, violence and pain, to dethrone their power over your life; It is Jesus rising in the power of God, and extending that resurrection like a blanket over you. Grace is the intimate presence of the Lord precisely in the places where you feel that you do not, or cannot, deserve it.
When Paul writes “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .be with you” everything stated above is declared to be a truth for your life. In hearing these words, you are invited to live in this reality and to allow these promises to enfold you. Jesus, the exalted Lord, surrounds you.
Paul does not stop there. Paul also writes about the reality of God’s love over you. I encourage you to sit with the awesomeness of this proclamation. Consider the sheer delight in being able to declare, under the authority of scripture, that the love of the creator surrounds you. The declaration of God’s love isn’t just something quaint we say. It is not a slogan of faith that sounds nice but lacks reality. No, God’s love is extended to you. This is a fact.
Scripture is replete with declarations regarding the activity of God’s love upon our lives. No matter what is going on in life, no matter how far off course one may have gone, God surrounds us with the deepest expression of love that we can ever imagine. And to top it all off, such love will not change or diminish. It will not lessen in degree or intensity. The love of God is constant.
Lastly, Paul concludes this life-giving verse by invoking the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This statement refers to an active engagement with the Holy Spirit in our lives. This flows naturally out of the other two statements. If we truly recognize that we are immersed in our Lord’s redemptive work, and rooted in the sacrificial love of God, then how can we not see ourselves as filled with the power of Spirit? The Spirit invites us to participate in God’s activity in the world. We are invited to share in the work of the Kingdom.
Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel
Looking unto Jesus
“They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
See there he sits in heaven, he has led captivity captive, and now sits at the right hand of God, for ever making intercession for us. Can your faith picture him today? Like a great high priest of old, he stands with outstretched arms: there is majesty in his demeanour, for he is no mean cringing suppliant. He does not beat his breast, nor cast his eyes upon the ground, but with authority he pleads, enthroned in glory now. There on his head is the bright shining mitre of his priesthood, and look you, on his breast are glittering the precious stones whereon the names of his elect are everlastingly engraved; hear him as he pleads, hear you not what it is?—is that your prayer that he is mentioning before the throne? The prayer that this morning you offered before you came to the house of God, Christ is now offering before his Father’s throne. The vow which just now you uttered when you said, “Have pity and have mercy,”—he is now uttering there. He is the Altar and the Priest, and with his own sacrifice he perfumes our prayers. And yet, mayhap, you have been at prayer many a day, and had no answer; poor weeping suppliant, you have sought the Lord and he has not heard you, or at least not answered you to your soul’s delight; you have cried unto him, but the heavens have been as brass, and he has shut out your prayer, you are full of darkness and heaviness on account of this, “Look to him, and be lightened.” If you do not succeed, he will; if your intercession be unnoticed, his cannot be passed away; if your prayers can be like water spilt on a rock which cannot be gathered up, yet his prayers are not like that, he is God’s Son, he pleads and must prevail.
For meditation: The prayers of the true seeker and of believers are not a waste of effort; they are not like letters lost in the post, but reach the throne of God (Acts 10:4; Revelation 5:8). But only praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is accepted; prayers addressed to saints, to false gods or to the dead are always turned away—“not known here.”