Light of the World: A Light Will Shine

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Isaiah 9:2 (NLT) reads, The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

Because we live in a broken world, we all experience brokenness. It doesn’t matter how strong somebody’s marriage, friendships, career, or any other area in life is – nobody is immune to experiencing some level of spiritual darkness. 

What is the cure? Many try to find a cure by ignoring the brokenness. We may binge a tv series, spend our money on something we think may change our lives, or numb it in other ways. But ignoring or numbing the reality of our brokenness doesn’t help much. In truth, it doesn’t help at all. 

The good news is that God still provides a cure. But God didn’t say, “follow these rules or laws and things will get better!” Instead, Jesus came to earth, and in John 8:12 said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

READING & JOURNALING:

ISAIAH 8:20-9:6, JOHN 8:12

What is one area of your life that is currently in spiritual darkness? 

What are some ways you try to avoid thinking about this area of your life? Does avoiding it help much? 

 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that there are times I try to numb or ignore the darkness in my life. Or there may be times when I don’t ignore the darkness, but I try to find the solution somewhere other in than in You. This week, I simply pray for wisdom and strength and turn to Jesus. To look at His life, His teachings, His grace, and His love, and to know that all spiritual darkness has already been defeated by Him. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: Hiding from God

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Psalm 139:11-12a reads, 

I could ask the darkness to hide me; and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

Think about a time when you just wanted to be alone. You were tired, depressed, anxious, and/or lonely, yet being around other people was the last thing on your mind. Maybe you were so emotionally exhausted that you didn’t even want to be in the presence of God. 

In Psalm 139, David, referred to my many as the greatest of the kings of Israel, confesses that he is in a dark place. Yet he also acknowledges that even if he allows the darkness to completely surround him, he cannot hide from God. As the Psalm continues, he even comes to recognize that he shouldn’t even want to hide from God, but should instead allow God to shape him into the person God made him to be. 

The Psalm ends with: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

READING & JOURNALING:

PSALM 139:1-24

Which verse(s) in this Psalm speak the most to you today? Why do you think that is?

 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I don’t like to think that I’m trying to hide from You. But I recognize that there are times when I’m doing just that. Today, I’m simply grateful for the reminder that I cannot hide from You. And I pray the same prayer David prayed; Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: Understanding God’s Word

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Psalm 119:130:

The teaching of your word gives light,

so even the simple can understand.

In 2005, author and teacher Beth Moore talked to a group of over 15,000 college students. As she talked through the impact the gospel has had on her life, she said, “Christianity is not a stupid man’s religion, but it is a simple man’s religion.” 

This was her way of noting that wisdom and intelligence aren’t always aligned. Somebody may not have a high IQ, but this doesn’t mean they cannot understand the gospel and choose to be a follower of Christ. 

Similarly, Jesus’ disciples were not selected by other teachers to continue their education. But Jesus knew that if He took them as His students and opened their eyes to the wonders of God as they lived life with Him, they would see light. He knew they would come to understand God more fully. He knew they would come to understand the Scriptures more clearly. And He knew they would give up everything to help others know God more fully. 

READING & JOURNALING:

PSALM 119:130

Do you sometimes feel like you don’t understand some aspects of the Scriptures? If so, what steps can you take to better understand God’s Word? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize there may be some aspects of Your Word that I may not fully comprehend in this lifetime, but the simple truths of Your love and grace can – and will –  continue to permeate deep into my soul. Today, I simply pray that the truth of your love will not only shine on me, but will shine through me for others to see as well. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: Why Be Afraid

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Psalm 27:1:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

so why should I be afraid?

In his book Everybody Always, Bob Goff shares a story about his neighbor being diagnosed with cancer. While the diagnosis was heavy on her heart, Bob did something a little unusual – he purchase a pair of walkie talkies, keeping one in his house and one by her bed at all times. His plan was a success. At the push of a button she could talk with her trusted neighbors. No longer did she feel isolated and alone. No longer did she feel afraid. 

Our world gives us many reasons to be afraid. Companies use FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in advertisements by saying things like, “This product will change your life!” News Media outlets use fear in their broadcasting, “If so-and-so is elected, here are all the horrible things that will happen!” We may not even recognize how many messages we hear every day that are based in fear. 

It’s no wonder the most issued command in all of Jesus’ teachings is this — Be not afraid. 

READING & JOURNALING:

PSALM 27:1, 1 JOHN 4:18

If you had to guess, how many “fear-based” messages do you think you hear every day? 

What can you do today (this week, this month, this year) to better limit the amount of fear-based messages you hear every day? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize that there are probably more fear-based messages I hear every day than I may realize. Help me to recognize unhealthy, ungodly fears, and instead keep my focus fixated on You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: God is Light

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1 John 1:5 (NLT): This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

Have you seen the popular Star Wars show The Mandalorian on Disney+? For those who may be unfamiliar with the series, all of the Mandalorian people live by a certain code. They each affirm this code by declaring, “This is the way.” This statement is affirmed over and over again to testify that a Mandalorian cannot deviate from this code and forge his own path. There is only one way – one path to follow. 

Use of this phrase, “the way,” has its place in many ancient cultures. In Jesus’ day, many teachers would say, “Follow me, and I will show you the way.” 

Jesus, however, shocked his disciples by declaring, “I am the way…”(John 14:6). This was Jesus’ way of saying, “There is no other code or decree to follow. There is no other path to take. If you really want to know what it means to be holy, righteous, good, and true…if you really want to see that God is light, then follow me.”

READING & JOURNALING:

1 JOHN 1:5-10, JOHN 14:6

How would you explain to somebody what it means to be a follower of Jesus? Be specific. 

What’s one way you’re planning to live as a follower of Jesus today? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I’m simply thankful for the reminder that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and my primary purpose in life is to follow Him. May you continue to provide me wisdom and discernment to fulfill this purpose well. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: Being Light to Others

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Vincent van Gogh is one of the most influential artists in history. While his life story is one of much tragedy and loss, many are unaware of how much he loathed the Christian church. 

Earlier in his life, Vincent was captivated by the gospel message and began to be trained in full-time ministry. While we may not know all of the details, historians have learned that he did not have the talents needed for ministry. But instead of training Vincent for other roles, those responsible for his education sent him away. In short, the Christian church hurt Vincent more than it helped him.

In the years to follow, we see these hurts communicated through his art. Starry Night, for example, reveals a small town in the distance. Lights are seen in the majority of households and buildings, but not in the church. The church is completely dark. 

Seemingly, this was Vincent’s way of saying, “I have seen light and beauty, but not where I most expected to see it.” 

READING & JOURNALING:

     ROMANS 15:2

Those you interact with today may be seeking hope and encouragement in the same way Vincent van Gogh was. In what ways is God inviting you to be a light to others? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize that we live in a broken world, and that because we live in a broken world there will be pain, suffering, and hurt. Continue to help me to be the kind of person others can turn to for support when they are seeking hope and encouragement. May I reflect the goodness of who You are to them. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: God’s Word Gives Light

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Imagine what it’s like to walk through a forest after dark. Even if you have a small flashlight, you have to keep the beam of light fairly focused on the path in front of you. While you’re likely to hear dozens of forest creatures, you’re not able to see the rest of the surrounding forest. You may have a vague idea as to how thick the forest is on either side of you, but for the most part all you can see is the small path in front of you. You want to see more, but there isn’t enough light to do so. Still, you’re able to continually take steps in the right direction because you can see the path. 

Psalm 119:105 (NIV) reads:

Your word is a lamp for my feet, 

a light on my path. 

You, like everybody else, likely want to see the bigger picture around you. You want to see the entire forest, not just the path in front of you. You want to know when the path will turn to the right or left, and when it may go uphill or down. But God is inviting you to simply stay on the path, and trust Him at His word that He will continually reveal the next step. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     PSALM 119:105

Do you ever find yourself straying off the path God has placed in front of you, desiring to see more, or to forge your own path? 

How would your life be different if you simply allowed God and His Word to be the light for your path? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father,  I’m regularly reminded that life is not like a football field that is well-lit after dark. Instead, it’s like a dark forest with a narrowly lit path to take. While I may want to see more, You continue to lead me on the best path. May I rest today in You and Your Word in order to see the next step to take in every situation I face. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Light of the World: The Path of Righteousness

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Proverbs 4:18-19 (NIV) reads:

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, 

shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 

But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; 

they do not know what makes them stumble.

If somebody were to ask you what it means to be righteous, how would you respond? 

Some may respond by saying, “Well, it just means to be a good person. Opening the door for little old ladies, being a contributing member of society, and not doing anything really bad.” Others may take it up a notch, and point to other people. “Billy Graham was a righteous person. Mother Theresa was a righteous person. So I guess to be a righteous person means to live like they did.” 

The Scriptures offer more clarity. For example, the Proverbs regularly speak about the difference between a righteous person, a foolish person, and a wicked or evil person. While the differences are many, Proverbs 4:18-19 shows us that the righteous person has a well-lit path before him. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     PROVERBS 4:18-19

What do you think it is that makes the path of the righteous so bright? 

How well are you currently able to see the next step on your path? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, it is You and You alone that lights the path before me, and You and You alone have the ability make it shine brighter and brighter. Forgive me for the times I try to forge my own path, which regularly leads to darkness and despair. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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