Light – AND salvation!

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” Psalm 27:1

I tend to be an ostrich-in-the-sand type person when things get messy. I mean it. Even down to my checkbook. I’d rather hand it over to my husband, and say, “Here, honey! I trust you to fix it and make everything bad go away!”

(I learned from Dave Ramsey that I couldn’t do that anymore, by the way.)

There are several times in scripture where God is referred to as our light, the light of the world, the light to our path. But here in Psalms, He isn’t just light – He is our salvation!

What an odd pairing. But maybe not.

Remember when the Hebrews were crossing the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was chasing them? And then as soon as the Israelites got across, the sea collapsed upon itself and drowned the mightiest army on the face of the earth? It was a faith builder for God’s people!

And Gideon? The scared little guy hiding out in a winepress with his wheat, who God sent into battle with fewer men than I had people in my high school graduating class? What two things did they take with them? A clay pot. And a torch. So they could see what God was doing!

God is our salvation. But He is also our light. He wants to show us what He is doing, so that our faith can be built and our strength renewed. It’s all well and good when He delivers us, but if we don’t recognize it, we miss a golden opportunity to grow.

He is our light – showing us His salvation. How cool is that?

You gotta move!

We pray for God to open doors for us, and He does. We stand amazed at the opportunities He brings our way that we never could have gotten to on our own.

But what about the ones He wants to open, but we are standing in the way?

My dogs want me to open my bedroom door each morning and let them out. But if they don’t move out of my way, I can’t open it! We all end up frustrated, because I want to open that door, but they refuse to move and let me act!

Sometimes we are praying for God to open doors, and His answer is move. God has created us with a free will, and we have a part to play! We stand in His way when we have things in our lives that keep us from a close relationship with Him. We stand in His way when we neglect time in prayer and the word. We stand in His way when we insist that He answer a prayer only in the way we think He should.

My prayer today isn’t just that God would open doors for His children, but that we won’t stand in His way and hinder His plan. He wants to work His plan in our lives. He wants to move mountains and open doors for us. I don’t want anything in my life to hinder His purpose. I pray we will learn to listen to His voice, and if need be, move!

Stock up!

“Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3

Oh my goodness. The weather in my neck of the woods has been ridiculous. Although I live in the South, we’ve gone through two rounds of winter weather in two weeks, with another storm on the way! And what is the first thing Southerners do when they hear the word “snow?” Why, we head to the store for milk and bread, of course!

We’re encouraged by weather forecasters, emergency management officials, and the guy behind us in line at Sam’s Club to stock up. After all, you never know how long you might be “snowed in!”

If only we were as diligent about filling our stores with the word of God.

Good thing the Israelites didn’t have to worry about snowstorms while they wandered in the wilderness. God’s instructions with regard to the manna He provided kept them from hoarding the miraculous stuff, or else it would spoil. They had to daily rely on God’s grace, His provision, His care for them.

And that’s how we “stock up” on God’s word. Daily. We don’t binge-read one day, and lay off the rest of the week, and expect to see results. It’s a daily walk, and daily we have to restore our faith stores.

Every day He wants to commune with us. The Creator is never too busy to meet with you! He designed us to have regular communication with Him.

His mercies are new every morning. His love endures forever. And we ask Him daily for manna from Heaven, His word giving life and light to our hungry souls.

What’s your logo?

“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” John 1:4

I spent several years in the media and promotions industries. And although that’s no longer my “day job,” I am still fascinated by the ways in which companies, people, and organizations choose to portray themselves.

Take a company’s logo, for instance. It’s supposed to be a short, sweet message to the world of what the company is all about. It’s supposed to be distinctive, memorable, and bring the company to mind whenever it’s seen. It should be simple and represent the essence of that company.

Sometimes, it’s clear that a graphic artist took great care to design a logo, and that the higher-ups actually took his or her advice! Other times, it looks like someone with a copy of Print Shop Plus put it together using clip art from a Google image search.

Which one is more memorable to the general public? Usually the one that had more thought put into it.

The word logo is very much related to the Greek word logos – meaning word. It’s what John used in the first chapter of his gospel to describe Jesus – the Word, there before the world was made, sent down to earth to be an example of how to live.

Jesus is our logos, and our logo. He is the epitome of what our lives should look like. When we put on Jesus as our logo and our logos, we are a simple, unmistakable sign to the world around us that points to Him. The people we meet every day should immediately thing “Jesus” when they encounter us!

That being said, what is your “logo”? What do you wear around each day, and what to those who encounter you first think of when they meet you? Is it Jesus? Or is it self, envy, greed, anger, or any number of other things? If we are to bring light to this dark world, we have to do it like Jesus. We have to use His image as the example by which we live.

Successful companies have standards by which to judge their logos – did you know that John Deere Green is actually a patented color? And successful Christians have standards to judge their effectiveness by too – the life of their Savior. My prayer is that when the world looks at us, they will at once recognize Him.

Liar, liar

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19

Every day, another bastion of truth seems to fall.

News anchors. Politicians. Educators. No one is immune from the temptation to bend the rules, to embellish the truth, to fabricate reality. It seems like there is not one person who can be trusted to be who they say they are.

But God.

Numbers chapter 23 reminds us that God is not a man. He isn’t ever tempted to toss out false truths. He doesn’t change His opinion with the direction of the wind.

He is steady. Sure. Unwavering.

That verse gives me such hope, such peace, such joy. Man can and will fail you.

But God.

The same yesterday, today, and forever. What He has spoken – through His word, in your heart, through His spirit – will never change. Can never change.

If people have let you down, don’t despair. If friends and associates have betrayed you, don’t give up. Place your hope in the One who is worthy, who cannot tell a lie, who will not change His mind.

When your trust is broken and the truth seems hard to find, remember – His word, His truth, His promises are forever. You can count on it!

I just want YOU

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33

My dogs have these plastic bones. They love them. I mean, really love them. They wore out one set already, and are on their second go-around! (Good thing they aren’t very expensive.) It amazes me how they can take a piece of plastic and it will keep them occupied for what passes for an eternity to their short attention spans. They are protective of them, to the point that if one tries to swipe a bone from the other dog, some growling and snarling will commence.

One morning, my dogs needed to be occupied so I could enjoy my cup of coffee in peace, so I doled out the toys. Wyatt took his and lay down with it between his paws, happily gnawing away.

But Annie, she didn’t want the bone. She brought it over to my chair, dropped it into my lap, and looked up at me, wagging her tail. She didn’t want the bone, she wanted ME.

I got a picture of how I hope I respond to my Heavenly Father. Not wanting His stuff, not wanting to have some “toys” handed out. Just HIM. Just to sit in His presence, enjoying the closeness, learning to rest in him.

His word promises that if I do that, I won’t have to worry about the “stuff.” It will come, right when I need it.

The next time I bring out my “wish list” when I’m speaking to my creator, I pray I remember Annie – no treat, no toy, just Him.

Time is relative

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” Ecclesiastes 3:1

My daughter may have just entered her teen years, but she still does the same thing she did when she was a grade-schooler when I tell her to “wait a minute.”

“One, two, three…” she’ll start to count.

To her, “waiting a minute” should take exactly that. Sixty seconds. (She’s very literal like that.) To me, that minute might actually be five minutes, depending on how long it takes me to complete whatever task I can’t get away from at the moment.

Don’t we treat God that way, too?

He has declared many times in His word that His timing isn’t the same as ours. When He says He will fix something, do something, or provide something, it isn’t always going to be right then-and-there.

But it will be when it’s needed most.

Let’s not get impatient like a certain young lady I know. Let’s try to stay away from the temptation to put the Creator of the Universe on a stopwatch. Let’s learn to trust that He has the whole scene in mind, not just our little corner of it, and He knows when that opportune time to act will come.

It’ll seem like an eternity to us, probably. But, it’ll seem like just the right moment to the One who holds eternity in His hand.

That’s what friends are for

Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.” Exodus 17:10-13

Let’s face it. We (especially Americans) tend to be independent folks. We can do it on our own, pull ourselves by our bootstraps, get it done, etc.

But even mighty men and women of God need support sometimes.

Moses certainly did. Without the support – literally – of Aaron and Hur, the Israelites would have been defeated by Amalek. Their story would have had a very different outcome.

We may not have friends who are praying over literal warfare, but we probably have plenty who are going through spiritual, emotional, physical, or other types of battles. And we can throw platitudes at them, and tell them to pray and praise their way through it.

But sometimes, they can’t. They just can’t.

Sometimes, they are weary from this battle and from bearing burdens we may know nothing about. That’s where good, Godly friends step in. We have to stand in the gap and pray when they are too tired to carry on. We have to praise God for their solution when they no longer can. We have to be the encourager, the prayer warrior, the praise leader they need to make it through.

Maybe you know a Moses. Maybe you are Moses at this moment. Don’t be afraid to help hold up someone’s hands, or to let someone hold up yours. We can’t do life on our own, and sometimes we need a rock to sit on and a couple of guys on either side to see us through till the victory comes.

The Outsiders

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.” Hebrews 13:13-15

As Christians, we’re called to be outsiders.

Now, I know if you look at the media, it seems like everyone wants to be “in the know.” People today want to know everything about their favorite celebrities; they want tips and tricks to get the most of of everything; and they want to be thought of as “insiders.”

But Christians realize we are different. Because if we are busy being insiders, that means some are left out. And Jesus taught time and time again that we were to go after the left out ones, the outcasts, the lesser-thans.

Because that’s what He did.

Jesus was an outsider, so that one day, we could all be insiders in His kingdom. That’s where it really matters, after all. Celebrities will eventually fade, tips and tricks will no longer work, and even those who know the most will find their knowledge fails them.

We’re called to be outsiders. We’re called to love the outsiders around us. We’re called to bring whosoever will into fellowship and love with the Father of us all.

Being an outsider doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Keep it handy

“Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction. For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart and always ready on your lips.” Proverbs 22:17-18

I had to run to the store recently to pick up some emergency supplies for a work function. As I left the parking lot, it started raining.

A lot.

And as luck would have it, there was not a single parking space anywhere near the entrance! I came back looking rather like a drowned rat.

Ironically, I have a perfectly functional umbrella. It’s cute. It was a gift from my mother, and has a print of newspaper comic strips (in recognition of my former life as a journalist.)

Problem is, that umbrella isn’t in my car. It’s under my desk. When is the last time I had to dodge a shower in my own office? How about never?

God’s word is like that too. It’s all well and good to have it sitting on a printed page or in our smartphone app, but unless we keep it handy in our hearts, it isn’t going to do us one bit of good.

I’ve made an effort this new year to not just read the word, but to hide it in my heart. I’ve made memorization a priority. Will I make my goal of 24 verses in a year? Who knows? But the main point is that every step I take gets me one step closer to Him, and one step closer to having a ready supply of His wisdom at my disposal.

What are you doing to keep His word handy?

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