Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Route 66: Light the Way

I love, Love, LOVE how “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” in all things. [ Romans 8:28] Each lesson he showed me yesterday had a common theme of living a fully surrendered life. Even the songs at Bible study lent their words to reinforce the fact that my life is best lived in total obedience to my God. One thing that God has been showing me through this is, when you give yourself over to the idea you are going to follow the road ahead becomes smooth. I don't know what it is but I have a feeling is is we who place those rocks in our way when we question God's wisdom. Hmmm...
Today, our reading in Route 66 took us though the beginning of Jesus' teaching. Found in this group of verses is the teaching on salt and light. I really love his concept on both these things but it was light that God wanted me to consider at the moment. How do I know? This is the picture I received from a friend on Facebook this morning. Isn't it amazing? It gave me a picture of exactly what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:14
 I saw some thing similar when flying to Seattle a few years back only there was quite a bit of cloud cover that night. It did not, however, block out the lights of the towns and cities I passed over. I could see their lights glowing through the mist. It was an equally beautiful sight. Just think, we are light in our families, neighborhoods and communities. Just as in this picture, we stand out and draw attention. When we gather there is more light but even separately we illuminate the dark spaces. It's a beautiful thing.

If I may, please let me give you one more thing to consider. How did you feel the last time the lights went out? Lost, fearful, uncertain? We need to embrace our roles as light in a world living in darkness. Let's draw attention to the One we draw power from. Plug into Him and SHINE your light!
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house."
 Matthew 5:14-15
[This incredible image of the Wilmington area at space as taken from the International Space Station. To see an incredible full video fly-over of the US at night, check this out:! ]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Route 66: Merit Badge

When I was a young girl I was privileged to be part of the Girl Scout program. My favorite part was earning the badges for all sorts of activities but it wasn't the experience I valued. It was the proof of completion that I really held dear. That little emblem that I had accomplished the assigned task was the so important to my young heart. There it was on my sash for all to see. It's award was the signal move on to earning the next patch to add to my collection.

In this morning's Route 66 reading through the Bible we started the New Testament. Matthew opens with a genealogy, a cliff note's version of the birth of the long awaited Savior and then we drop in on John the Baptizer doing just what he was born to do- preparing the way of the Lord. In the crowd he spots those troublesome religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These men were stellar in going through the motions of religious ritual and rule keeping. I'm sure their sashes had many merit badges to show for their efforts but John would not mince words with them about the important people they thought themselves to be. He called them what they were – a pack of poisonous vipers.

That seems so harsh in my estimation but John knew them and their hearts. God and his ways had become something that they added to the outside of themselves to look as though they had it going on on the inside as well but it just wasn't true. He told them, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” It wasn't the religious ceremony that was going to save them. It would be the change of heart, one that was fully surrendered to God and that would only be evident through the fruit of their lives.

We as a culture of Christians need to be careful not to operate in the same way as these religious men. We cannot just add Jesus as another of our life's achievements. We have to be fully in him and he must reside in the proper place as Lord over our lives. What we can add is fruit and everyone will recognize this fruit of God by its characteristics -

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Verse 23 of Galatians ends with “Against such things there is no law.” There is no limit to how much you can do when it comes to producing fruit of the Spirit. If I must collect something for others to see why not it be acting in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. And one last thing, unlike that little girl of the past who just wanted to get through the task to earn the praise of accomplishment, I now savor each moment in each experience with the Lord. That's the true pay off.

"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice."
Proverbs 21:3-4

Monday, October 1, 2012

Galatians: Joy: The Sparkle in Life

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.  Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4

I along with my Bible study girlfriends are currently studying Galatians through a Beth Moore study called Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. And I am so...well, full of joy to be looking at the characteristic of  JOY this week.  Crazy I know, if I take into consideration all of the stress and turmoil life brings each day. But when we set our eyes on the Lord the struggle diminishes and the joy increases because we know that ultimately our sufferings are part to moving us  forward to that "hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 talks about. This shift in focus from ourselves onto God draws our attention to purpose of life's experiences but there is more to be seen. We begin to see something that is beautifully purposeful and the result is joy. It is exactly what is shown in the story of Paul and Silas of Acts 16:16-40 where their beating and imprisonment ends in the salvation of a whole family.

I would like to use one of my friends, Julia, for a moment here-- Julia has a knack for taking an ordinary even somewhat worn out pair of shoes and turns them into a sparkly expression of joy by embellishing them with crystals. She does beautiful work and her creations certainly grab your attention. I can't help but think that no matter where those shoes may take her, they have to give her some measure of joy when she happens to look down and catch their glimmer.  I think that is how God works in our lives, too. Life can be a drag, wearing us out and leaving us discontented and even hopeless but if we take time to glace at him even for a moment we will see the glimmer of his light. A sparkle of truth will catch our attention and we will be drawn in and reminded of the joy of living in His presence while walking out His will no matter where it takes us. Delight in the Lord and allow him to show you the joyful expression of his work in you. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything...
for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
  James 1:2-4, Nehemiah 8:10