Seeing Clearly

“For now we see as in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part;  then I shall know fully, even have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

In Sunday School last week we were discussing the term enlightenment, and what it means to be enlightened.  My husband, our pastor, mentioned that it was Transfiguration Sunday, a commemoration of the event recorded in Matthew, Chapter 17.

“…Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the son, and his clothes became as white as light …” (Matt. 17:1-2)

On the mountaintop the three disciples were enlightened:  they saw Jesus as he really was, the son of God.  So, when we are enlightened, we see things clearly and differently then we did before.  We see things as they actually are, not as the world tells us they are, or the way we want to believe they are.  We see and understand reality.

Another synonym for enlightenment is illumination.  The Bible is God’s word and has been called:

“…a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105

and Jesus called Himself

“…the light of the world.”  John 9:5

The apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians tells us:

“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” (5:13)

He was enlightened in a big way on the road to Damascus.

“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” Acts 9:3

He was blinded for three days and he never saw things the same way again.  His life was turned upside down.  He went from persecuting Christians to evangelizing for Christ.

Exposure to the light of Christ and the words of Scripture is the only thing that will truly enlighten us. It comes from the Holy Spirit.  Seek that light daily.  Then you will see clearly.

 

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Back to Back

This is a poem I wrote years ago to describe how my busy, overactive brain works.  Maybe some of you will identify!

In front of my house is a busy street

Cars race by

Sometimes the drivers roll the windows down and loud music spills out.

They are all in a hurry to be somewhere else.

I fall asleep to the cacophonous lullaby of traffic

The world never stops.

Behind my house are cool, green trees

Birds sing

I wake early when dark and dawn touch lips in a lingering kiss

Behind my house is the sweet aroma of roses and lilacs

The sun is warm and there is time to rest.

In the front of my mind ideas explode like fireworks, dazzling, sparkling, too high and hot  to touch

tumbling over one another, antlike, impossible to catch and contain.

But in the back of my mind is a still, silent place

God.

 

Run Away

In addition to telling us what to pursue, the Bible gives us quite a list of things to flee, or run away from.  Chapter 6 of 1 Timothy lists some things to avoid:

  • Craving for controversy
  • Quarrels about words
  • Envy
  • Dissention
  • Slander
  • Evil suspicions
  • Love of money

Ending with the admonition:

“But as for you, O man of God flee from these things.” 1 Timothy 6:11

In the first letter to the Corinthians Paul says we are to:

“Flee from sexual immorality …”(6:18)

“…flee from idolatry.” (10:14)

Most of these things, sadly, come up in everyday life.  If you think they don’t, remember looking lustfully at another person can lead to adultery and anything we love more than God is an idol.  That makes them pretty common, not to mention the “lesser” evils mentioned by Timothy–envy, quarrels, etc..  So how exactly do we “flee” from these things?

Well, we all know our own weaknesses.  If yours is gossip, don’t hang around with the folks who like to do that.  Take a walk instead of indulging in idle words with coworkers at lunch.  Is it greed?  Make a resolution to tithe or better yet, support a worthwhile ministry in addition to your tithe. Is it lust?  Throw away the magazines and avoid the internet sites that encourage it. Read something worthwhile instead. Tactics like this are well known to mothers of toddlers and teenagers:  we call it “distract and replace.”

Dwell on God’s Word instead of your sinful inclinations.  When you notice yourself falling into quarrelsome or suspicious thinking, have a Bible verse ready for meditation.  If things get really bad, call a godly friend you know will calm you and guide you in the right path.

Will fleeing always work?  Of course not.  I fall into bad habits of negative thinking and speaking all the time.  However, when we consciously lean away from sinful behavior, in time an improvement is visible.

“..beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1

Run from sin.  Run hard.

Aim for Higher Ground

 

This song has been on my mind recently, so I thought I would share it. I assume it is taken from Psalm 61:2:

“from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Does this song and verse speak to you?  Let us know with your thoughts and comments!

Running Faster

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

In my previous post, I talked about what we Christians are to pursue or run after.  That made me think about how in a number of places, the Bible describes the Christian life as a race.  In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul gives some advice on how to run that race.  First he mentions the need for discipline:

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.” 1 Corinthians 9:25

We can all testify to this.  It takes self-control to follow  God’s rules when sin is our default position.

Paul goes on to say that as Christians we have a goal, better than any worldly prize.  We do not run aimlessly, but with purpose.

“They (athletes) do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Even with an eternal reward in mind we can get tired, lose focus, or feel like giving up.  Here are some words of wisdom from the author of Hebrews:

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith …”Hebrews 12:1-2

On our own, we can never win the prize, but

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

Run with discipline.

Run with a goal.

Run with perseverance..

Run toward Jesus.

 

In Hot Pursuit

According to the dictionary, to pursue means to chase or run after something or someone.  We pursue the things we really want and are interested in. What are you chasing after in your life?  Is it money?  A beautiful home?  A prestigious job? An expensive car?  A certain someone who attracts you?  If we’re honest, we realize many (if not most) of the things we pursue have to do with worldly approval or success.

The Bible tells us to pursue a whole different set of things.  For example:

“Turn from evil and do good;  seek peace and pursue it.”  Psalm 34:14

Pursue is a verb, an action word.  This means I must not only think peace is a nice idea, I must do what I can to promote it.  Maybe this means compromise, or putting another person first.  Certainly it means caring more about the other person than winning or getting my own way.

Here’s another one:

Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…” 1 Corinthians 14:1

Pursuing love means behaving in a loving way to all of God’s children–not just the ones I care about or the ones who treat me well.  It means using my gifts to encourage and support others, not to promote only myself and my own interests.

Finally:

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”  1 Timothy 6:11b

Pursuing righteousness and godliness means going against my natural inclination by doing God’s will instead of my own.  Pursuing God’s way means trying to be selfless instead of selfish.

I know I’ll never completely stop pursuing the wrong things;  but staying close to God through study, worship and prayer will help me remind me of the things I really want.

“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18b

Run after God.  Pursue the eternal.

 

 

 

At All Times

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

I was a little upset with a friend a few days ago.  Do you know what terrible sin she committed?  She didn’t agree with me, and she told me she didn’t. Now I certainly wasn’t furious.  But I was hurt. I got defensive.  I felt frustrated.  I didn’t see why she couldn’t “get” my position.  I don’t like conflict, and even this minor disagreement made me feel out of sorts for the rest of the day.  Sunday of all days.  How annoying.

This morning I remembered this verse and I got over myself.  You see, the Bible tells us to love our friends at ALL times.  Not just when they’re supporting us.  Not just when they’re behaving the way we think they should. Not just when they follow our advice.  Not just when they AGREE with us.  So I wrote my friend a note. I still don’t agree with her, but  I told her I cared about her and valued our friendship (I do).  I told her I appreciated all that she does for me and our community (I do).  I realized that loving each other doesn’t depend upon complete agreement.

Here’s the bigger lesson in all this.  In John 15:15 Jesus says,

“No longer do I call you servants….but I have called you friends.”

Jesus is my friend, and he loves me at all times.  Not just when I am being “good.”  Not just when I’m paying attention to Him.  Not just when I’m praying or praising Him, but all the time.  I‘ll fall down and disappoint my friends.  I’ll get annoyed and say angry words without thinking.  I’ll be inconsistent and bull-headed.  Jesus won’t do any of those things.  He is my one constant, yesterday, today and forever.  And He is my friend.  How wonderful is that!  What does He ask in return?  Just this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you,  you are also to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 12:34

What does this loving friendship look like?

“Love is patient and kind;  love does not envy or boast;  it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

If Jesus is my friend who loves me at all times, shouldn’t I try to be the same kind of friend to others?

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