Tag Archives: Grace

Epiphany! Shine On Christmas Star, Shine On!

The Christmas Star on the top of my tree reminds me of the Light of the world who in human form pierced the darkness and relative quiet of a stable so long ago. The tiny Light grew and illuminated the hearts of those around Him except those who would not receive Him. Incredibly two thousand years ago there were those who preferred to walk in darkness just as there are in today’s world.

Just as the Star lit the way to Bethlehem for the wise men guiding them on their journey, so Jesus lights the way for our journeys. In His own words He tells us that “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life”. (John 14:6) He is The Light that “shines in the darkness and the darkness has not (nor will it ever) overcome it”.

Darkness comes in different forms. Illness, loss, depression, war, hardship, hunger and thirst are a few examples. Imagine being lost alone in the dark. Terrifying right? But there is no darkness we can name, or think of, or experience that cannot be illuminated by the One Light of God. Some translations say the darkness cannot understand this Light and happily the darkness can never put it out. (John 1:5) I am grateful not to have to live in such Light-less hopelessness.

Can you see it?

Often we can’t see God’s Light until we have the 20/20 vision afforded by hind sight and reflection. Then we may be able to see the “AH! There – The light was there all along” moments. There is a light that shines steadfastly in the deepest darkness, and there is hope and peace beyond all human expectation and understanding in believing in God. I cannot answer the question no one can answer, the big “why” question; rather I want to suggest that we don’t even have to ask that question. It just does not matter. There are things in this life we will never understand no matter how intelligent or resourceful we are; we just have to accept things on faith in God alone. Once we have believed and acknowledged our need for God, we can begin to find the “peace that passes understanding” even in the hardest trial. And learn the lessons – because “pain is never pointless”.

If we have faith in God, then we also have the Light for this life to help us with whatever darkness we encounter. Whatever form darkness takes in our lives, we may be assured that the Light of Christ will penetrate it bringing grace and showing the way through. Will it be an unmistakable shaft of Light? Or a pin prick sized spot that grows slowly until all is illuminated? Yes to both. Sometimes we are graced with “Ah-ha! Moments” when all seems as clear as that shaft of Light. Other times the darkness is penetrated by a smaller Light, but a Light that grows and steadily warms the heart, clears the vision and points out the path.

I am often reminded of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as I reflect on Scripture. Today I am reminded of two very different songs, from two distinctive genres. The first is an old hymn text written by John Henry Sammis with music by Daniel Brink Towner in 1887.

Lyrics:

-1919

When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way; While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.

The full lyrics may be found at this link: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/582

And the other piece was recorded by country music artist Emmylou Harris, with harmonic vocals provided by Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt. It was recorded by Warner Brothers in 1979 but has been re-recorded several times by other artists.

Listen to the full piece here: http://www.metrolyrics.com/beautiful-star-of-bethlehem-lyrics-emmylou-harris.html

Oh, beautiful star of Bethlehem Shining afar through shadows dim

Giving the light for those who long have gone

Guiding the wise men on their way Unto the place where Jesus lay

Oh, beautiful star of Bethlehem, shine on

May the Light that brings life grow in your heart today, illuminating new corners of your life with the One True Light. The Light came into the world – to its very own people – but they did not receive it. But to those that did (and those that will today and tomorrow) the Light became the Light of the world. John 1:1-18.

Slow Down! Let His Light Shine!

The Apostle Paul in  2 Corinthians said something like:  The light of the glory of God shines from the faces of those who turn to God. (those who repent). They can’t help it.  The glow is a result of the relationship – the close relationship between God and His beloved.

When Christians see other Christians neither has to veil their faces – for neither is blinded by the Light, yet each  recognizes what the Light means in the other.  It means there is a personal relationship with the Creator God through His Son, Jesus the Christ.   It should be clear Whose we are.

But we live in a world that turns away from and even violently rejects the Light.  We live in a fallen world – at least for now – that provides distraction after distraction with so little effort it seems.  Some of our distractions are good things, things we should be concerned about.  But it is possible to become TOO busy.  So busy that we don’t notice the things we should.

Our lives are FULL of things to do, places to go, things to plan, people to care for, lists to make and then carry out….it just keeps going!  And it’s about to get much worse – if we let it.  We can be so tied to schedules and our own lists that we might not notice what is there for us to see – the life that needs God’s glory to shine on them. From you.  Could be that homeless lady at the food pantry, or the child looking up at you in the grocery store.  Could be the driver of a vehicle close to you in snarled traffic.  Could be that loved one…but will you notice? …  Will I?  Have we left no time to listen to the voices of those who need us?  Will we just rush right on past an opportunity to be a blessing? or to receive one?  Are we looking for those who need the Light to shine on them?

Maybe we need a fresh dose of His Light in our own lives, perhaps we are blinded by distraction.

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we approach the most wonderful time of the year when our hearts need to be stirred to remember the Greatest Gift ever given we confess that we are too busy.  We need Your Grace to fill us and overflow from us onto all the people you place in our lives.  We need to stop and listen for Your Word that speaks softly so that we may find that comfort and JOY choirs will soon sing about.  We need Your guidance to know when to say the little word “no” to over committment so that we can make room for You in our celebrations.

If the WORD lives in your heart, it will shine out through your eyes

be in the words you speak, the thoughts you think,

and the actions you take. 

Is the PC (USA) looking for the Way, the Truth and the Life?

 

PC (USA) leaders encourage those who are disaffected by the recent decisions of their General Assembly to stay with the denomination and try to effect change from within the system. But the system itself has become a forum for political debate instead of spiritual awakening.  One of the several points seemingly up for debate is how to obtain salvation.   Really? If that isn’t enough there are others – Israeli divestment issues, abortion, same sex marriage, and so much more.  To stay inside this PC (USA) under these circumstances communicates to the world that we are okay with creative non answers to basic questions of salvation that cater more to the culture than to Scripture.  They would have us to believe that pretty much anything “loving” is acceptable.  How sad!  Just an anything goes attitude is very definitely not acceptable.  Not just to some of us, but in the eyes of God.  Consider these verses, try different translations, or go back to the source material.  The implication that just about anything goes cannot be found here.

“This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God”.            John 3:19-21

We need to be careful not to “conform to the pattern of this world” so that we may find “His good pleasing and perfect will”.      Romans 12:2.

People have always sinned.  Some ask for forgiveness out of repentant hearts, receive it and continue in grace.  Others look for excuses and choose to spin the Truth seeking justification for their acts done in the darkness. But there is only ONE justification for our sins:

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”. (Romans 4:25)

“Through Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the Law of Moses”. (Acts 13:39)

There is no justification without Jesus, who said,

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well”.  John 13:6-7a

And of course there is John 3:16 which is so crystal clear:  “For God so loved the world  that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him might be saved”.  Try something here, read it this way:  “For God so loved (insert your name) that He gave His only Son that (your name) might be saved”.  Pause now and take a moment to realize in your heart that He would have done this for you even if you were the only human on earth to rescue.

When you have been rescued and forgiven, God places a desire deep within you to serve God, to study His Word, pray, fellowship and serve with other believers.

Some would instead encourage us into useless debate.  Are you aware of a 2010 report published by the PC (USA) entitled “Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians” which revealed that “less than half (of Presbyterians in the PC (USA))…believe Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation”?  Less than half? Only 35% of pastors and 45% percent of elders agree that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  This is an incredible report.  is this acceptable to you?  And do the rest of the people think they have just joined some kind of social club? What’s the point without the saving grace found only through Jesus Christ?  Why would God sacrifice His only Son if there was any other way to save us?  If there was another truth?

Additionally PC (USA) leaders have been asked for the Biblical justification for one of their recent decisions.  Their answer was a non-answer.  They referred to a couple of books written by non-seminarians with agendas to forward. There was no Light and no Truth, therefore, there is no Way that they gave an acceptable answer. Maybe they were doing their best to satisfy the requirements of their jobs. Call me naive but when you have found the Way, the Truth and the Life why would you willingly turn away? When you have been forgiven and freed from the guilt of your sins why would you want to throw that away in order to return to the deeds done in the darkness?

They point out that we can stay and continue our missions wherever we feel led and the decisions of the General Assembly should not be an undue burden to us.  But friends, one can only share the salvation story and introduce people to Jesus and His grace when the effort is soaked in the love of God and carried out under God’s direction.  I fear if we abandon sound Biblical teaching in favor of that which “itches the ears” perhaps God’s voice and leadership will not be heard among us at all.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations”.  2 Timothy 4:3-5a

Further, we are asked to stay because they need conservative voices to contribute to the conversation.  Clearly The PC (USA) does not really want to hear or heed conservative voices.  Read today’s news to see that the world desperately needs to experience the Truth in action, not just in words.  We need to carry the truth to the world and to the neighbors in our back yard far more than the PC (USA) needs us to stay and debate. How is it that God’s truth is debatable anyway?   But Thanks Be to God! There is forgiveness – consider again the Sacred Scripture references previously mentioned, open your Bible, you will find forgiveness and so much more.  The Way, the Truth and the Life waits.  Don’t let it wait too long.

 

 

“Jesus” – Spray Paint on Canvas by Me….

I found this image today created by Ray Ferrer and wanted to share it.
I am amazed by the way artists can create images with various media. In this face I see suffering and obedience. It hurts but He is determined to carry out God’s plan to redeem the world. I also see love in the eyes. Love for you and me and it gives me a wonderful sense of awe to realize that He would have suffered as He did even if I was the only one on earth that needed it. Or if you were the only one. That love is what held Him on the cross, not the nails. Thanks Ray.
What do you see?
Blessings

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

“Jesus”

Spray Paint on Canvas by Me.

The original has sold but I have made a limited run of Signed Matte Prints that are ready to frame!

Grab one here before they are gone….  —>>>     JESUS PRINTS FOR SALE

Ferrer - Jesus

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Sister Elaine: 4 & 1/2 feet of Grace

He could not sleep last night. His friends and even his parents were able to doze and rest, but he sat up all night alone in a strange city with his thoughts and fears–in the company of his God. What went through his mind as he contemplated the range of outcomes after this surgery?  He must have found some peace because he was ready when the time came to walk to the hospital. He was trusting people and technology, but most of all he was trusting God to return his young life to fullness. At 23 he faced life and death and everything in between.

Before the earthly surgeon could appear, the family and he had a visit from above. She came in the form of a 4 & 1/2 foot tall, 80 year old sister-angel with the unmistakable bright light of love in her eyes! The chaplain’s office had assigned her, but we all know Who sent her. She asked if he would mind if she prayed for him or if he would prefer she give him her best wishes for his health and wellbeing. He said it was all right for her to pray. And pray she did! Holding his hand in both of hers, she lifted her face heavenward and talked to God as to a friend, loving adoration in every phrase. She prayed for the doctors and nurses, and for his recovery. She asked that this surgery might be the start of a new beginning in his life. 

She shared that she liked to think of God as a loving and faithful dog, One that will not let you out of His sight no matter where you go. One who will always come to find you just to be with you because the love is unconditional.   Everyone in the room could identify with the imagery she brought to hearts and minds. She left them then with the grace of God pouring over their spirits and leaking from behind tightly closed eyes. 

She was the physical representation of all the prayers being lifted for him on this day. She was God’s messenger just when a messenger was needed most.  Praise Him for His provision!