#HOPE for Every Day – January 14, 2017

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Today’s blog post also serves as today’s dose of HOPE. It contains two Scripture passages that to me are related because our ultimate HOPE is in Jesus our LIGHT.

John 1:4-5, NASB:
In Him was life, and the life was the LIGHT of men. 
The LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

…….Isaiah 51:3-5, NLT:
The Lord will comfort Israel again

and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.

“Listen to me, my people.
Hear me, Israel,
for my law will be proclaimed,
and my justice will become a LIGHT to the nations.

My mercy and justice are coming soon.
My salvation is on the way.
My strong arm will bring justice to the nations.
All distant lands will look to me
and wait in HOPE for my powerful arm.

Lamplighters

 Photo credit: The Victorianist

Photo credit: The Victorianist

Lamplighters

By Patricia Knight

Before the innovation of electricity, the local lamplighter was a familiar figure at dusk and dawn. It was his responsibility to illumine and extinguish city lights. Initially, oil or candles were used, eventually progressing to gas lights. Whatever the type of lamp, the citizens gained a modicum of security at night from the predictable illumination of their walkways.

Every night at dusk the lamplighter walked or rode between individual lamp posts spaced throughout city streets. Some lamplighters carried a ladder, while others gained the appropriate height to reach tall lamp posts from the back of a horse. Still others carried long poles with a source of combustion at the tip, providing the length necessary to reach the lamp post. A sole lamplighter extended his staff to ignite each secluded, dark lamp stem with a small flame. Light flooded the space behind the lamplighter as he continued forward to punctuate darkness along his route.

The original source of light penetrating darkness occurred at the creation of the world when God commanded, “ ‘And, let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:3-5).

Exclusively by His power, God led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He promised His children He would guide them on their journey to the Promised Land. “You {God} go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14). Just as God’s pillars of cloud and fire consistently led the Israelites long ago, Jesus provides His guiding light in our world today. As Jesus reflects His light to us, we absorb it and disseminate love to others. Jesus said, “ ‘You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven’” (Matthew 5:14a,16). Jesus fulfilled His mission as the Light of the World when He walked this earth. Now that He has returned to heaven, Jesus commands His followers to continue His light-bearing work.

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We are admonished to “Shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15b).When we gaze at millions of stars piercing the night sky with dazzling points of light, we are reminded that God views Christians as His own beacons of light piercing a dark world. It is our purpose to bring glory to God by expanding His outreach of light to others.

In the summertime, twittering fireflies shower the night sky with thousands of sparkling lights. In a similar way, Christians radiate Christ’s light in a dark world. If each of us were to introduce one flicker of sovereign light, soon individual flashes would be so numerous, they would coalesce to form a massive glow of love. Kind words, intercessory prayers, or warm smiles convey encouragement, distributing the light of Jesus into all areas.

In the Old Testament, light was symbolic of life and blessing; darkness represented evil and death.  Darkness is projected in the expression of a grumpy, foreboding person, whereas light shines through those who are positive and encouraging.

By New Testament times there was no further need of a symbolic representation of God’s presence like the pillars of cloud or fire. Centuries later, God’s Son, the Light of the World, came to earth to shine His love, power, and grace on His followers. By sacrificially offering His unblemished life to redeem us from sin, Jesus transferred His light to those who believe in Him.

As Jesus’ disciples in current times, God’s glory shines His infinite light through our lives. Like a magnet attracts metal, we are drawn to heavenly light. Those who trust in Jesus depend upon Him to illuminate lives and to light walkways. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), without which we would only grope in darkness.

The old lamp lighter left a linear trail of visible light in his path, but we have the ability to perpetuate light in all directions from our hearts. We reflect love and grace from Jesus to those whose vision needs the supplemental light of guidance and mercy. Immersed in Jesus’ light, we are then prepared to minister Christlikeness to others.

Just as the sun supplies the physical light of our world, Jesus embodies spiritual light. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5b, 7). The moon has no illumination of its own, reflecting light from the sun.  So too, Christians have no inherent light source. Jesus’ light is reflected in His followers. We are feckless without a personal infusion from the Light of the World, enabling us access to His profuse energy, irrepressible light, and dynamic power.

Light symbolizes the glory and radiance, beauty and love, splendor and majesty of God the Father and God the Son. Light represents the absolute purity and holiness of God, who moves without casting a shadow. His characteristic is light; His light and glory are harmonious. Christ is the lamplighter of our souls. Once His light lavishes our hearts, we are filled to capacity with the inherited qualities of Jesus, spreading the goodness of spiritual light wherever we go. As we identify with Jesus, we appropriate His attributes of love, kindness, and humility.

“It started when God said, ’Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful” (2 Corinthians 4:6, The Msg). Through the love and enthusiasm we share, people we meet breathe in the exquisite fragrance of the Savior. Like a perfect flower blossom in form and fragrance, our spiritual transparency allows the Light of the World to shine through, illuminating the darkness of this world one small light beam at a time. Let us make heavenly light distribution our high priority.

“In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on their way to salvation—an aroma redolent with life” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15a, The Msg.).

Living in Deep Darkness

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I will give you the treasures of darkness. —Isaiah 45:3

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty of any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Galations 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. –J. R. Miller (from Streams in the Desert Devotional)

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Valley of Vision

This wonderful devotional was written by Joni Eareckson Tada and included in her Pearls of Great Price book. Joni has always been an inspiration to me, and I hope you are touched by this as much as I am.

Valley of Vision

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Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 

—Psalm 84:5-6

In the days of the conquest of Canaan, the Valley of Baca was known as a dry, waterless place where only balsam trees could grow. Some have called it “a place of weeping.” However, when we trust God during dry, parched times, we can turn our valley of weeping into a refreshing “place of springs.” 

My favorite Puritan prayer about valleys has seen me through many a dry place in my spiritual journey:

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision… Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine; Let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty,Thy glory in my valley.[1]

Psalm 23:4 says, “… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” We fear no harm in the valley because death can only cast its shadow on us. Evil has no grip on us. Truly, we find God’s brightest glory in our darkest valleys. 

Lord, You are the Great Shepherd who leads me through every dark valley. I trust You to turn my valley of weeping into a place of refreshment and encouragement.

www.joniandfriends.org

[1] Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision… A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, Pennsylvania, PA, 1997, Preface.

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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My Lamp in the Darkness

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“You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light. —2 Samuel 22:29

David had many names for God: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Horn of Salvation, Stronghold, Savior … Lamp. What a strange way to refer to God, as a common household object. But the meaning is clear when we read on, “the LORD turns my darkness into light.”

I have always loved to read. When I was a young girl, I used to read late into the night. I tried to find ways to keep my bedside lamp from shining too brightly, thus attracting my mother’s attention to the late hour. Sometimes I was successful, but most often my efforts would be curtailed. Without that lamp, I wouldn’t have been able to read in bed at all.

What would we do at night without our lamps? We couldn’t read or write or do a host of other things in the darkness. Even the light of the moon is not strong enough to enable us to see certain things that are right in front of us.

Many of us have what is termed night vision. We can navigate our homes in the middle of the night without turning on a light. That’s because our eyes become accustomed to the dark after a few minutes of turning off the light. I can walk into the kitchen without a light on, but once there I need to turn on the light so I can see the details around me without knocking something off the counter. Without the light, I wouldn’t be able to navigate further without injuring myself.

Beloved, that’s the way God is with us. Without His light, we can only add to our own pain and misery, never seeing His goodness for all the darkness surrounding us. We need to focus on Him as our lamp in the midst of all our pain and frustration.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we’re so blind when it comes to trusting You. How often we seem to be groping around on our own rather than relying on You as our Guide. Help us to always look to You as our lamp shining through the darkness of this life’s painful circumstances. Remind us to trust You to navigate us through the dark waters of our earthly existence. Amen.

Never Doubt…

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Never doubt in the dark
what God told you in the light. 

—V. Raymond Edman

 

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.