Be the Light

This month we are looking at how Jesus is the light and how we can let His light shine through us. Today’s Bible Journaling is from Revelation 21:23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (NASB) It’s hard for me to imagine Heaven. There is no need of sun or moon, and it is light continuously. That to me is mind-boggling! But our verse tells us that what illuminates Heaven is the glory of God and that Jesus is the lamp used to reflect that light.

Jesus has told us in His Word that He is the light. (John 8:12) He goes on to say that if we follow Him, we will not be in darkness and will have the light. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord, Master, and Savior, He comes to live inside of us and our lives are filled with His light. When we allow His light to shine through us, we also become a light to others around us. Walking in the light of Jesus requires us to be obedient to His Word and live in such a manner that Jesus shines through us. We become a vessel for His light to shine out so that Jesus is seen in us.

The adage, “Actions speak louder than words” fits so well here. Many times, what we do screams louder than what we say. I remember my parents giving me the, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say” line. The only problem with that was, their actions spoke louder to me than their words. We are to be lights in this world so that others will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

It is so obvious that we live in a dark world. Everywhere we look the atmosphere around us is getting darker. There are times when it can get very scary when we hear of the things going on around us. It seems that Satan is having a hey-day. Sometimes I wonder how long God is going to let this nonsense continue. But then I remember that I must do my part to put light into this darkness. When I live according to God’s Will and Plan, I am allowing Jesus to shine through me so that those around me can see the right pathway to take.

We are to live in such a way that those who don’t know Jesus will find our lives attractive, drawing them to know who Jesus is, and desire to have what we have. Our lives are to be a witness to the unbeliever. When they see us living like Jesus, it attracts them, and they desire to know what it is in us that is different from themselves. This is the reason Peter says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…” (I Peter 3:15 KJV) We are to be that light in a dark world, guiding them to Jesus. When they ask us, what is so different about us, we can tell them it’s Jesus living in us, and then share with them our story of how we came to know Jesus and what He has done for us. We are to be a witness! We are to be that light!

When we act just as the world acts, it’s like hiding our light under a bushel. (Luke 11:33) No light gets out, and unbelievers can’t see any difference between them and us. Our actions speak louder than our words. As Believers, we are held to a higher standard. We are to be the example to them of what a Christian is and how a Christian speaks and acts. We must allow Jesus’ light to shine through us to them. Be that light that shines so that Jesus is reflected.

Embrace the Season You’re In

 

As we finish our series on seasons, our Scripture today is Psalm 30:5, “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning.” (CSB) As we go through the different seasons of our lives, we need to understand that, “This too shall pass.” Especially when we are going through desert times or times of great difficulty.

I am an impatient person. I’ll just start out with that. Waiting is not a strong suit for me. Right now, my husband and I are seeking God’s direction regarding making a move back to Montana. I lived there for 10 years and I loved it. I consider it home even though I wasn’t born there. Right now, we are in a period of waiting. Looking for God to tell us what we are to do, whether we move there or not, when to move if we are to move, and how we are to go about getting rid of the house we are in now. It seems as if He is being silent. Is it, “now is not the right time?” Is it “No, don’t move?” We don’t know what God has in store for us. Our house has been up for sale over a year and we’ve had a couple of people come to look at it, but nothing. Unfortunately, we live in a state no one wants to live in. That doesn’t help our situation any.

I must cling to the part of the verse that says that His favor lasts a lifetime. I know He has a good plan for me, and I know that if I stay in that plan, it will go well with me. I tend to jump out ahead of God and try to “help.” That usually goes sideways. I must remember what my husband always says, “Delay is not denial.” I also must remember that if I lag behind God’s leading, that also can end badly. I must be in step with God’s plan for my life. Therefore, I must embrace this season of waiting. Take each day, each moment, one step at a time, holding onto God’s hand.

What season are you going through? Is it something that is such a blessing that you want to never end? Is it a time of sorrow that you wish would pass quickly? Is it a time of waiting for direction?

David seemed to go through times when it seemed as if God was silent. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.” (KJV) David’s obedience paid off. He called out to the Lord and God heard him and answered. Notice it doesn’t say immediately, but it does say, God heard and answered. Embrace the time of waiting and know God does hear and will answer when the time is right. Know that the times of blessing are put in place to help us gain encouragement. We may want to stay in that time of “everything is going right”, but we must realize that we don’t grow in the good times, but we grow in the desert and valley times. It is in those times that our faith is strengthened. We must embrace them and value them as much as we embrace the good times.

Seasons change. We are in the time of the year when we go from Summer to Fall. Everything around us is changing. The trees are losing their leaves, the temperatures for some of us are getting cooler, everything is moving to prepare for Winter. I’m not a Winter girl, I’m a Summer girl, and the time of year we are in now is not my favorite. It just reminds me that Winter is coming, and I’m not very excited about it. Yes, I’m wanting to move to Montana and that means Winter comes in a big way. However, most of the time Winter isn’t too bad there, and I don’t mind it so much. I learned to embrace it when I lived there. So, I must embrace this season of my life right now.

Can you embrace the season you are in and know God has your life in His hands? Do you know that His plans for you are for your good, to give you a future and a hope? (Jeremiah 29:11) Take hold of this season, embrace it, and hold onto God’s loving hand and allow Him to lead you into the next season.

Who is in Control of Your Season?

As we continue our series on seasons, today’s verse is Daniel 2:21, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” (NASB) Some seasons are easily traversed while others are very difficult. Some we wish would stay longer, others we can’t wait for them to be over and done.

As much as we want to control the seasons in our lives, we can’t. Only God has control over the seasons of our lives. In our Scripture today, Daniel has been summoned by King Nebuchadnezzar to interpret a dream he has had. Daniel’s first action is to go to God and ask for wisdom and the interpretation to be relayed to the king. When God has given him what he has asked for, Daniel offers a prayer of thanksgiving and acknowledgment that it is God who establishes the seasons, places and unseats kings, and gives wisdom to those who seek it.

There are so many times in our lives that we wish we could orchestrate things to go the way we wish. The times of struggle are seasons that we would like to avoid completely, but once through them, even though very difficult, we have found that God allowed us to go through that season for a purpose. Maybe it was to stretch us so that we can grow stronger in our faith. Maybe it was so that our experience may be a blessing and comfort to someone who is going through the same thing. God knows our pathways; He directs each step we take. As much as we try to control each season, what usually happens is that we become frustrated because the path isn’t going the way we want it to.

When my first husband was so sick, I wanted that season of my life to be over with so badly. I wanted my husband well, back to the way he was before his strokes and seizures. I wanted him walking, talking in complete sentences, working on his pet projects, and I wanted his wacky sense of humor back. Taking care of him was very difficult and as much as I didn’t mind that assignment, after seven years of struggle, I was becoming overwhelmed. I wanted my husband healed! I prayed and cried, and still, God’s plan was not for him to be healed here, but in Heaven. I was so frustrated because I had no control over the situation.

When we try to take control of the season we are in, sometimes it can backfire. When I was in my 40’s an opportunity presented itself where my husband and I could possibly adopt. At that stage of our lives, we had already been married for 25 years. We had tried to adopt when we were much younger, but circumstances were such that the adoption fell through due to the situation in the country we were trying to adopt from. Now at this time, we had another chance, I thought, to try again. My husband wasn’t completely on board with the idea. However, I desired a baby so badly that I ran full steam ahead going through with the process of home study and interviews with the adoption agency. I got myself so off-track, that I rebelliously told God that I didn’t care if it was in His will for me or not, I was going through with it. However, God shut the whole process down through the agenda of a social worker who was not on board with our assessment of discipline and rearing children. Once she heard the words Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family, it was an uphill battle. She shut us down and would not approve us for adoption. It was only then that I realized that as much as I tried to control the situation (the season, if you will) I couldn’t. God did not have it in His plan for us to be parents. That was the hardest lesson I ever learned.

Once we realize that it is God who controls the season, and not ourselves, we find that as we walk through the season we are in, allowing God to orchestrate situations to fit into His plan for us, we are much happier. We must relish the seasons that we treasure and enjoy, and hold onto God through the seasons that are hard. Even if a season is one of great delight, we must relinquish control over that season and realize that our life is in His hands. He knows where He is taking us, it is ours to follow along and trust Him.

What are You Harvesting?

As we continue our series on seasons, we are continuing to look at the harvest. Hosea 10:12 says, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.” (NLT) As I was reading and thinking about this verse, I asked God to show me what I needed to focus upon. The more I looked at the verse, the second part of it seemed to come to the forefront. As important as it is to plant good seeds of righteousness, the thought came to me, “You can’t plant if the ground is hard or not prepared for planting.”

As I remember how my Grandpa worked in the fields on his farm, I know he had to prepare the soil for seed. The ground would be hard from the winter snows and he needed to disk it to loosen up the soil. Seeds don’t grow in hard soil, at least not very well. So, can we “plow up” the soil of our hearts on our own? The next part of the verse gives us the answer; “now is the time to seek the Lord”, why? So that He can shower righteousness upon us. We have no righteousness on our own, therefore we would not have the seed to plant unless it came from God. When we plant righteousness, our harvest is love.

To plow up the soil of our hearts, we must be willing to allow God to do a work in us that will provide a climate conducive to growth. I know in my case; stubbornness can be a real problem. God, at times, needs to work overtime to get me to understand what it is He wants of me. Even when I understand, it may be something I’m not really wanting to do. Sometimes there are things that I’m doing that may be a comfort zone for me and I’m not willing to give it up. But it may be just that thing that may be hindering me in my walk with the Lord. I must do the hard work of “plowing up the hard ground” of my heart so that I can sow the seeds of righteousness to gain a crop of love.

When we look to God, He will help us. We don’t have to try on our own to remove the seeds of unrighteousness from our hearts, in fact, we can’t remove them ourselves, and we can’t plow up the old soil on our own either. We must “seek the Lord”. It is only with His help that the unhealthy soil and unrighteous seed in our hearts can be removed and replaced with good soil and then He gives us the seed of righteousness to plant in our hearts. As we continue to seek Him, walk closely in the pathway He has provided for us, we will gain a harvest of love – love toward God and love toward others.

As I look at the context of this verse, Israel is being chastised by the Lord. Hosea was God’s “mouthpiece” to the Israelites, delivering a message from God. Verse 13 says, “But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies – trusting in your military might, believing that great armies could make your nation safe.” Israel turned their backs on God, deciding to do things in their own strength, not relying on God to guide them. Now, the Lord has come to the point where discipline must be meted out. Hosea Chapter 11 is God’s declaration of love toward Israel, and how He wants them to turn back to Him. He catalogs their sins, and in spite of all they have done, He still loves them.

God desires for us to walk with Him. He wants us to trust Him. He wants obedience from His children, and He desires more than anything to give us His blessings. He wants to shower upon us His love and righteousness. He wants us to harvest a thriving crop of love.

Rejoice in the Season of Harvest

My Grandfather was a farmer. He had a 96-acre farm in Central Indiana, and I remember Grandpa working with the dairy cattle and hogs and farming the land. When Spring came, he worked the land to prepare it for planting, then once the land was prepared, he would plant corn, hay, and other crops. When the crops were ripe and ready to harvest, there would be workers who would come to help him bring in the harvest. My Grandmother would make a feast for all the workers. It was like a celebration, because there had been a good harvest, and my Grandparents would get a good price for their crops and money to keep the farm running.

As we think about the Season of Harvest, our Scripture for today talks about rejoicing at harvest time. Isaiah 9:3 says, “You have multiplied the nation You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the plunder.” The CSB version says, “You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you, as they rejoice at harvest time, and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.” Just as in a physical harvest, there is rejoicing in the Spiritual realm when there is a harvest of souls. Like a farmer who does the hard work of preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering and tending the crop, and harvesting the result of all of that hard work, as we work to prepare others to know Jesus by planting and watering seeds of faith into their lives, harvest doesn’t come except through hard work. Harvest also doesn’t come quickly for the most part. Just as it takes time for the crops to grow and ripen before harvest, the seeds of faith must germinate and ripen before harvest can come.

We may never be able to see the fruit of our labors. God may have us at the planting or watering stages, and not at the harvest. This is not meant to be discouraging, but to bring encouragement in knowing that our hard work at witnessing, with God’s help, will result in a harvest of that soul in coming to know Jesus, and that when that one soul comes to Christ, there is a party going on in Heaven, (Luke 15:10) and we can rest in the knowledge that we had a part in that one soul coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

Especially when we are trying to reach a family member, the work can be very difficult. It may seem like they will never come to faith in Christ. But our job may only be to prepare the soil, (their heart) or plant the seed, (witness to them) or water that seed (giving the Word to them so that they gain understanding). We may not be called to be the harvester. However, if we are privileged to be part of the entire process of them coming to Jesus, know that it involves hard work, and the process is sometimes neither quick nor easy. It could be years before we see any evidence of a seed growing in them. As we patiently work toward helping them to salvation, we can rejoice with them when they make that important decision, and know we had a part in their decision.

When we look at television evangelists, it may seem that they came to notoriety over-night. But know that before they became famous, there was hard work involved in getting to where they are. Years of schooling, possibly many years pastoring a congregation and going through the struggles of shepherding a flock, before they became well-known.

Is there something that God has placed in your pathway, a ministry or a person to reach for Him? Are you in the middle of the process? Does it seem that you do nothing but plant but never see the results? Do not be discouraged. God has placed you just where He needs you, to be able to reach that person or a group of people to come to Him. As we talked about in our last post, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 WEB) Know that God has you where He can utilize your influence and talents and bring about a harvest, though you may never see the harvest. Rejoice in knowing that you had a part of the harvest.

In the Season of Planting – Never Give Up!

Ministry is hard! For all of those who have been in a ministry of one type of another, it is a given fact that doing ministry isn’t easy. Mostly it is long hours, little pay, and in a lot of cases, we don’t see the results of our efforts, ever. But today’s Scripture is an encouragement to each one of us because, even though you may not be part of a ministry, you do have a ministry just where you are.

As we continue in our study of seasons, today we are looking at the Season of Planting. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Another version puts it this way, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (WEB) In this section of the chapter, the Apostle Paul is talking about spiritual sowing and reaping. He says that we should not be deceived in what we do or how we live our lives, thinking we are doing great things for God when all we are doing is mocking God. Verse 8 says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Then he tells the Galatians not to become weary in well-doing.

This hits me hard. I have to be so careful not to let pride get in the way of my ministry work. I must examine myself regularly to be sure that the reason I do ministry is for God’s glory and not my own. The second thing that I see is in our Scripture for today is, not becoming weary! This is so easy to do, especially when it seems like there is no result in the work that has been done.

Ministers and people who work in large ministries especially can find themselves in burn-out so quickly. When my first husband and I were running a Christian television station in Northern Wisconsin, we ran head-first into burnout. For all the hard work we were putting in, it seemed like we were reaching no one. We were basically the staff, because we were a brand-new station, and couldn’t afford a staff. We had seven volunteers, my husband was Chief Engineer, General Manager, On-Air personality, Master Control Operator, and Production Manager. I was the station’s Secretary, Traffic Manager, Volunteer Co-Ordinator, as well as running Master Control, Cameraperson, doing editing and sometimes On-Air personality. What usually takes a staff of almost 100, we and our volunteers did it all for three years. We would be airing programs and sit and wonder if anyone was watching, and if it was doing any good. When we began producing a local program involving the Pastors of different churches in the area, we began to see some movement. Our program had Pastors come in and do a 15-minute devotional that aired Monday through Friday. At Share-A-Thon time, we would have all our Pastors come in and help us raise funds. This was an area where the Pastors and churches didn’t really associate with one another. There was no co-operation between churches in doing ministry together. When we had the Pastors come in for Share-A-Thon, we mixed up the denominations so that Baptist would get to know Lutheran and Assembly of God, Methodist, and Missionary Alliance, etc. They found out that the other guys weren’t as bad as they once thought. As my husband put it, “They found out the other guy didn’t have two horns and a tail.” By the time we left, we found out that our efforts were rewarded. An Assembly of God Church and a Baptist Church got together and sponsored a Focus on the Family film series. It was as if God was telling us,” See, all the work was worth it and because of the station, a new atmosphere is growing between the churches.”

I shared this story to let you know, that even when you are ministering to someone, or praying for someone to come to know Jesus, don’t give up! You may be praying for a family member, and it has been YEARS! Don’t Give Up! All your work is not in vain. God says that His Word will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) That seed you are planting must take time to germinate and grow. There is a Season of Planting, a Season of Watering, and a Season of Harvest. It could be that you aren’t meant to see the Harvest time. There will be some things that we have worked so hard for, that we will never see the results this side of Heaven. Don’t be discouraged. Just know that God has it all in His hands, He is the God of the results. “Do not grow weary” Do not give up!

It’s Only a Season

As we continue our study on seasons, today we look at the seasons in our life. Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Whatever we are going through, it’s just a season, it will not be forever.

This is comforting, especially when we are going through difficult times. Those times will not last forever, it’s only a season. Each season is given for a reason. Is there something God wants us to learn? Is what we are going through given as an example for someone else who may go through the same thing? Maybe God is preparing us for something greater. Whatever the case, it’s a season.

As I stated in my last post, I went through a season of grief when my first husband passed away. The grief was for a season. That was a difficult season. I am now in another season, one of happiness and learning. I have a friend who has lost her job, one she would never have resigned from on her own, but God is taking her on a journey. She is in a new season, one where she is at the beginning of creating a ministry to women. As scary as it is for her, there is a certain amount of excitement and anticipation as she makes a ministry plan and she is at peace with where God is taking her. I am excited to see what God has in store for her and to see what road He will take her down.

As we look at today’s Scripture, the first thing that I see is, “For His anger is but for a moment.” There will be times of discipline. When we look at Scripture, we can see how God would become angry with the children of Israel. Time and again they would test His patience, become disobedient, rebellious children and the Bible says God’s anger was kindled against Israel. But that anger was not forever. Discipline was needed to draw them back. When they finally came to their senses and repented, God’s anger would diminish, and He would lovingly draw them back into His arms, gathering them into His family. The next thing I see in our Scripture is, “His favor is for a lifetime.” I like how the King James Version puts it, “in His favor is life.” God’s favor is with His children forever and that favor brings life! That’s a season also! He loves us so much that He wants to grant His favor upon us. He wants to shower us with those things that will help us to grow in our relationship with Him, things and people who can help us become more like Him.

Then, our Scripture says, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” We may be going through a desperate time of darkness, one where we can do nothing but let the tears flow. That season is so hard to go through. My husband calls those times, “Job’s Trials”. God loves us, even when we go through the darkness, and He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5). If we can trust Him through the dark times, He promises us that it will end, and joy will come at the end of the trial. Often, this season seems so long, and it feels like it will never end, but the promise of joy coming at the end of the trial, is what keeps us holding on to Him. We must remind ourselves, “It’s Only a Season!”

As we experience the changing seasons in weather, we know that Fall will give way to Winter, Winter will melt into Spring, and Spring will change into Summer, and Summer returns to Fall. Each season is for a time, it will not be forever, the seasons are ever-changing from one to the other. So, when you go through something new, remind yourself, “It’s Only a Season!”