Daily Light – November 30, 2018

Being Complete

(a writing shared with me this past week from a special person…gi-normous truth herein 😊)

We can’t be perfect but we can be complete. “…you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:10.

Sometimes we use the fact that we’re not perfect as an excuse for sin. It’s not. “You have been made complete in Christ.”Let’s understand what this means and purpose to live by this eternal truth. First, by saying we are “complete in Christ” Paul is explaining how God views us after we’ve received by faith the complete forgiveness for all sins offered us through Christ’s death. 

When we accept Christ as our only means of salvation and our Savior we are made “complete in Christ.” Paul explains in Colossians 1:22 that after receiving Christ, God then “has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” 

What it means that we’ve been “reconciled by Christ’s physical body” is that through Christ’s sacrifice for our sins God then views us as “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” John says that anyone who would “receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

Jesus’s death accomplished this. Paul explains in Romans 3:23-24 both our sinful condition and what God’s forgiveness means that He offers us through Christ. He says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” 

If we accept God’s forgiveness and are then complete in Christ we are forever God’s child. Said another way, when we accept the total forgiveness offered in Christ, God declares us innocent of the accusation of our sin, thus we are reconciled back to God. 

The word “justified” here literally means, “to bring about that which a person is not, one is not righteous is made righteous.” Paul is telling us that we are “made complete in Christ” because through his forgiveness we are made “holy and without accusation.” 

Christ was judged for us and God then declares us innocent of the accusation that our sin would bring against us. Being complete in Christ means we are completely forgiven, saved, freed from guilt, reconciled, made holy, His children, secure in Christ and the list just get’s longer… Being complete in Christ means we can live in the freedom from penalty that our sin brings us. It means when we do sin that if we confess our sin, God “…is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

Being complete in Christ means we are free to love as Christ loves. We are free to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. Being complete in Christ means total freedom from all that would hold us captive. Being complete in Christ means we belong, forever as His children, to the God of our salvation.

“Father help us to live in the freedom that being complete in Christ means.”

Daily Light – November 29, 2018

In the Beginning Was God

Where Atheists Go Wrong

(article by John Piper)

In the beginning, before there was anything else but God, there was life. This has two huge implications. First, ultimate reality is living. Ultimate reality is alive. Original reality, absolute reality is a living person. How can I help us begin to feel the wonder that we should at that raw fact, that ultimate, original, absolute, from-which-everything-else-comes reality is a living person?

If your child — which he or she will do eventually, if you have children — says to you at about age 4 or 5, “Where did God come from?” you will answer, perhaps, “God didn’t come from anywhere. He always was there. He never had a beginning. He was there before anything else was. He made everything else. There wasn’t anything before God to bring him about. Got that little 4-year-old?”

“God didn’t come from anywhere. He always was there. He never had a beginning.”

And then the 4-year-old will say, “But how did he get to be the way he was?” And you will say, “He just is the way he was. He didn’t get to be that way. He always has been what he is. Nobody made him the way he is. No force, no power made him what he is. He has just been there as he is forever and ever and ever and ever — as far back as forever. That’s what it means to be God.”

And one of the themes that he has been forever and ever and ever is life. He’s alive. He’s a living person. There has always been a living person without beginning. This reality takes your breath away. As far back as you can go in eternity, forever and ever and ever, there’s one changeless reality: life — divine, personal life. Ultimate reality, absolute reality, original reality is alive. “In him was life” (John 1:4).

Second, physical matter did not give rise to life; it’s the other way around. Life gave rise to physical matter. Once there was only life and no matter. All there was was life, and no physical matter whatsoever existed. And then personal life created matter, and there was both life and matter.

Here’s a great division between atheists and Christians, the atheistic worldview and the Christian worldview. For atheists, everything begins with inanimate matter and energy. That’s where it begins. Matter is just there, like God. It’s just there. And since there was nothing there before to make it what it was, it could have been anything. I’m not sure they think about that very much.

It could have been anything. There is no statistical probability one way or the other, because there was nothing there to create a statistical probability. It just could have been anything.

And they choose to believe in stuff and energy. That’s just an act of faith. There’s zero proof for that. They just have faith. They believe that matter was the first thing that was there. They don’t know this; they guess. They say impersonal matter, impersonal energy are original, they’re absolute, they’re ultimate.

“You have never met an ordinary human being. There aren’t any.”

And then for billions of years, with no Creator, no intelligence, no design, no purpose, no plan, there emerges from this mindless, lifeless, random matter and energy not only irreducible complexities of interdependent biological structures, but also this glorious thing called living personhood — you and me. That’s their account.

For Christians, it’s the other way around. First, there was life, and then there was matter and energy. First, there was living personhood, and then there was matter and energy. In the beginning was the Word, and in him was life. Before there was anything else, there was life.

Wherever you turn on this planet and see a living person, you see an image of absolute reality — absolute, eternal, ultimate, original reality — the Word: God. You have never met an ordinary human being. There aren’t any. They’re all extraordinary. I don’t care how degenerate they have become. When you look upon a human being, you’re seeing something staggeringly extraordinary in the image of life: an echo, a reflection of infinite, ultimate reality.

Daily Light – November 28, 2018

Lift Her Chin with Love

(article by:  Greg Morse, Content Strategist, desiringGod.org)


She sat staring at me, wondering if I still found her attractive. Her hair was undone, her pajamas on, with what appeared to be two tennis balls stuffed in her cheeks after oral surgery. My eyes became her mirror: Was she still beautiful? Without waiting for an answer, my wife asked me not to look at her.

The request stayed with me for hours. Where had I heard this before?

Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. (Song of Solomon 1:6)

She was a shepherd girl made to work the fields by domineering brothers as a Hebrew Cinderella. She worked with her hands. She sweated. She had dirt underneath her fingernails. She didn’t sit around in embroidered dresses. Evidence of her social class was stained upon her skin. She kept to the vineyards, but her own vineyard of beauty was less tended (Song of Solomon 1:6). Eventually, when her Prince Charming found her, she requested, “Don’t look at me.”

Daughters of ‘Don’t Look at Me’

We live in a pornified culture, where beauty is digitally, and professionally, enhanced. The new standard is beyond reach for those unwilling to starve, inject, photoshop, and undress. The world has set up its beauty pageant, banishing those unwilling to participate, like Queen Vashti of old (Esther 1:10–19). We rarely have a commercial for candy without exploiting some woman’s looks.

We’ve created a culture that expects unwilting beauty. Girls are pressured to become (and remain) Barbie. Women can’t grow old. They can’t gain weight. Can’t have health complications. Can’t have too many children. Can’t work in the fields. Can’t be seen recovering from surgery. Can’t wear gray as a crown of glory (Proverbs 16:31). Their beauty must be undiminished, unwavering, plastic.

And the devil has done his damage in the church as well. God’s daughters — our queens and princesses — are tempted to ask God why he made them this way. Too many inwardly cry to Adam’s sons, Don’t look at me. Such shatters the heart of God and all righteous fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons.

As Christian men, we not only lament this tragedy; we challenge it. We rebuke a society which gives worth to women not based on the imago Dei but the imago Victoria Secret. We resolve, with God’s help, to be men after his own heart, detoxed from the drug of pornography and women-debasing lust. And we do what the husband does in the Song of Solomon: delight in the very place she fears is undelightable.

Love Quiets Insecurity

He addresses her, “O most beautiful among women” (Song of Solomon 1:8). He lifts her sunken chin, surveys her weathered skin, and tells her emphatically, “Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:14).

He delights in what she fears will be undelightable. While heathen men may be so bold as to blaspheme God’s breathing portrait, the son of God looks at his beloved and sees such loveliness and beauty that he must exclaim, “My beautiful one!” Not just once but again (1:15). And again (2:10). And again (2:13). And again (4:1). And again (7:6).

With every new imperfection that the mirror shows her; with every new sag, scar, and wrinkle; for every stammer of “Do not gaze upon me because . . . ,” her husband corrects her in earnest, “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes . . . Your hair . . . Your smile . . . Your lips . . . Your breasts . . . You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:1–7). He is a connoisseur of fine art, and, in the glorious confines of lifelong covenant, God has given him a masterpiece to enjoy.

Such is not just a husband on his wedding day, but on the day he wheels his wife down the hallway towards chemotherapy. A man staring at his aged, nearly-deaf dove will say, “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart” (Song of Solomon 4:9) His captivated heart makes for captivated eyes. His speech teaches others to cherish her as he does (Song of Solomon 5:96:1).

Fighting Back Roots

The Christian husband is not called to flatter, but to be the world’s greatest lover. A kind of “lover” whose affection reaches beyond the bedroom into the hospital wing, the pew, the small group gathering, the car rides, the kid’s soccer games, and into — and through — the funeral home. A lover who speaks for God when his words quiet her insecurities. A lover who is an inebriated man, drunk off of her love, always (Proverbs 5:19).

A man like 90-year-old Roy. Traveling recently to the UK, my wife and I visited the resting place of C.S. Lewis. There we found Roy tending the grave of his wife, fifteen years deceased. He came every morning to fight back the roots of the tree neighboring her grave. He was there so often that the church asked him to be the groundskeeper and give the Lewis tours. When we inquired about his wife, his face lit up, and story after story told us the same from a new angle: “She was the most beautiful among women.”

Lift Her Chin with Love

Brothers, your wife may never be the “most attractive” to lustful men in a KFC world of breasts and thighs. But they cannot see what we see. We behold her as God does: as a creature with imperishable beauty (1 Peter 3:4). An untainted, untouchable, unfailing beauty, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. A beauty that is renewed day by day — though the outer frame wastes away. A beauty that survives longer than a century. A beauty that grows more effervescent the nearer it gets to bursting through its earthly cocoon. An eternal beauty that her God adorns her with even now.

Our Groom sees his church in such beauty. The world’s dead eyes find little beyond a despised and ignored group of unremarkable people — but she is God’s delight. The apple of his eye. She is his “beautiful one.” His lily amongst brambles (Song of Solomon 2:2), his wheat among tares. She is unique, transcendent, superlative. His love has made her so. She bears the beauty of being his. Forever.

And he says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Delight in her beauty. Speak tenderly to her insecurities. Lift her chin with your love.

Daily Light – November 27, 2018

Bend Every Pleasure Back to God

Enjoying Gratitude with C.S. Lewis

(article by Jon Bloom:  staff writer desiringGod.org


God takes great pleasure in helping us grow in the happy grace of gratitude. And the almost unbelievably wonderful thing about this is that he uses pleasures to do it. This casts a whole new light on the blessing, often used as a table grace, “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.”

One gift among many we can be truly thankful for today is the life of C.S. Lewis, who pointed so many of us to a life of joy-drenched faith and gratitude. Jack (as he preferred to be called) spent much of his adult life learning to look up the sunbeams of God to their Source, and write what he saw so we could learn to do this too. Such looking caused him to ponder,

What would it be to taste at the fountainhead that stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating? Yet that, I believe, is what lies before us. The whole man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy. (The Weight of Glory, 44)

Fifty-five years ago today, Jack Lewis drank at that fountainhead for the first time and finally saw unfiltered where all the beauty came from. And he experienced in full force what he knew here in part, that “joy is the serious business of Heaven” (Letters to Malcolm, 124).

Would you like to be a more joy-drenched, thankful person? Learn, with Lewis, how to bend every pleasure back to God.

A Cruel Twist on Grace

When I was in the fourth grade, I was in a local production of the musical “Oliver” (adapted from Dicken’s Oliver Twist). The musical begins with poor Oliver incarcerated in a dungeon-like London workhouse for orphans, managed by the terribly stern, even cruel, Mr. Bumble. Every meal the orphans eat is a single small bowl of thin “gruel” (think icky oatmeal). And before the orphans are allowed to partake of their pitifully meager meal, Mr. Bumble threateningly proclaims, “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.”

Mr. Bumble’s version of this table grace is a tortured one. He believes “truly thankful” means something like a cowering, complaint-less, resigned subjection, and God’s way of making people truly thankful is via authoritarian decree with a not-so-subtle threat of punishment — such as taking away what little one has. The “Lord” to whom Mr. Bumble refers bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Bumble himself — “a hard man” (Matthew 25:24).

We too can be tempted to think of God as an austere, severe overlord, who, when he commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), is expecting his poor, oppressed subjects to wring thanksgiving out of the dry rags of their weary, malnourished souls for the rather parsimonious portion of gruel he gives them. This, of course, renders the act of thanksgiving about as pleasurable as paying taxes to Caesar.

At one time, C.S. Lewis held such suspicions of God. But the more he delved into Scripture and the world, the more he saw how wrong such views are.

Shafts of Glory

Lewis discovered that God doesn’t make us truly thankful by threatening us; he draws it out of us with pleasures. And these pleasures are pointers to something greater — they become our tutors in thanksgiving.

I was learning the far more secret doctrine that pleasures are shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility. As it impinges on our will or our understanding, we give it different names — goodness or truth or the like. But its flash upon our senses and mood is pleasure. (Letters to Malcolm, 119)

Pleasures are shafts of God’s glory. What kind of pleasures? “No pleasure [is] too ordinary or too usual for such reception; from the first taste of the air when I look out of the window — one’s whole cheek becomes a sort of palate — down to one’s soft slippers at bed-time” (120). No pleasure is too small to be a preacher of the kindness and mercy and goodness of God. This means we are bombarded by shafts of the glory of God all the time. All around us is fuel for the fire of thanks, if we will but notice.

Objections should come quickly (if we’re thinking). Surely, not all pleasures are shafts of glory. We’ve indulged in too many forbidden pleasures to believe that. Lewis agrees, but clarifies something important:

Certainly there are [bad pleasures]. But in calling them “bad pleasures” I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean “pleasures snatched by unlawful acts.” It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse. There is sacrilege in the theft. We have abused a holy thing. (119)

Looking Up the Sunbeam

So how exactly do pleasures — these shafts of God’s glory — become our “tutors” in gratitude?

We learn very early in our Christian life that Scripture commands us to feel grateful to God (Psalm 106:1Colossians 3:15). Very often, we learn this before we really understand how thanksgiving works. So we try to work up a sense of thankfulness and worship over abstract things like “God’s beauty,” or goodness, or blessings, or love, but we wonder at the wispy, ephemeral quality of our gratitude. The problem is, we can’t emotionally connect with an abstraction that isn’t sufficiently grounded in specifics. As Lewis said,

[We] shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have “tasted and seen.” Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “patches of Godlight” in the woods of our experience. (122)

Pleasures teach us about God like patches of forest sunlight teach us about the sun. The golden glow in an autumn wood, the happy laughter of a beloved child, the bright red cardinal alighting in the snowy white bush just outside the kitchen window, the savory bite of hot Thanksgiving turkey with just the right amount of cranberry sauce — these are patches of Godlight.

And it’s in glimpsing these “shafts of glory,” these specific pleasures, for what they are, that the glory of the greater abstract realities begins to dawn on us. We discover that “to experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore” (120). And it makes us wonder, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this! One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun” (120).

Tutors in Thanksgiving

That’s the key to understanding pleasures as tutors in thanksgiving. They are sunbeams filling the woods of our experience with patches of Godlight. And as we follow their beams up to their Source, they point us to far greater glories. When Lewis made this discovery, he made it his goal “to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration” (119). And he has been so helpful to us in seeking to do the same, thanks be to God!

Does God command our thankfulness? Yes. But it is not the exacting command of a tyrant. It is the loving command of a father whose desire is his children’s highest happiness. Therefore, unlike Mr. Bumble, God does not coerce thanks out of us with threat. He draws it out with pleasures. For he takes pleasure in pleasing us. And the more pleasure we have in him (resulting in more thanksgiving to him), the more glorious he becomes to us. That’s the purpose for all these patches of Godlight.

Daily Light – November 26, 2018

Climb The Mountains of God’s Mysteries

(article by John Piper)


I have read writers and heard speakers who try to turn our ignorance about God’s ways into the main ground for our amazement and worship. They usually do so by using the positive word mystery to refer to the depths and heights of God so that we are supposed to be moved with wonder and awe at how much we do not know about God.

This has always seemed misleading to me. I’m not drawn to people who do this. The approach of Paul, for example, is very different. He would say that God is most glorified when we are stunned and admiring and worshipful and joyfully submitted to him because of what we do know about him, not because of what we don’t know about him.

Your admiration and wonder at a mountain range might be based on your glimpse from the foothills, where you see the range rise and disappear into low-lying clouds. Or it might be based on years of expeditions into the mountain range only to discover that every time you reach the top of one unimaginably high peak, another entire range of mountains soars before you and above you.

It is no great honor to God to spend your life in the foothills, writing essays and poems about how much you don’t know above the cloud line. Far better to let God put your hand into the hand of Paul — or any of his other inspired writers — and then spend a lifetime climbing with him on the high paths of revelation.

“Unsearchable and Inscrutable”?

One of the most misunderstood and misused passages in Paul’s writings is the great climactic section at the end of Romans 1–11:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
     or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
     that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36)

Here’s the key observation: Paul does not write this soaring admiration of God’s riches instead of revealing those riches, but because he had just laid out those riches in eleven chapters of mind-boggling revelation. He soars because of what he had just unveiled, not because of all that remained veiled. These words of amazement come at the end of eleven chapters in which Paul has taken us into the depths and heights of God’s ways beyond what any of us thought possible.

Just reading the preceding three verses boggles the mind about God’s ways. Not because they are behind a cloud of unknowing, but because they are revealed as utterly unexpected and counter-intuitive and shocking and God-exalting. Paul sums up God’s plans for Jews and Gentiles:

For just as you [Gentiles] were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their [Jewish] disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (Romans 11:30–32)

Take five minutes to reflect on those verses, and you come away at first dazed, and then amazed, not because you are left in the dark, but because the light is so dazzling you can scarcely believe what you are seeing.

“Unsearchable” but Brought to Light

Paul describes his revelation of God’s ways as unsearchable one other time. And the point is not that he leaves us in the foothills without knowledge.

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things. (Ephesians 3:8–9)

This text does not mean, “Sorry, folks, the riches of Christ are in the darkness of mystery, and they can’t be revealed.” The text says the opposite: “God called me,” Paul says, “and gifted me to bring the mystery to light! The things I write about Christ are the unsearchable riches of Christ!”

They are unsearchable in three senses: (1) They have been “hidden for ages in God” — but no more! (2) They can be known only by divine revelation, not mere human wisdom — and Paul is writing that revelation. (3) There will always be more to see as you climb into the meaning of inspired revelation, and then into the Himalayas of heaven.

To Know What Surpasses Knowledge

This last point is confirmed in Paul’s prayer in the next chapter of Ephesians. He prays that we

may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18–19)

This is it! Because of God’s stunning revelation of his ways in Christ — through the writings of the apostle Paul — we are granted “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” We are taken higher and higher into the mountain ranges of God’s wonders so that we really know what was unknowable, only to find that the mountains rise ever higher.

Sure-Footed Sherpas

Paul was not one of those people who is content to live in the foothills of revelation, waxing eloquent about the value of “mystery” above the low-lying clouds. Paul knew that God gave him a calling not to hide, but to preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

Paul knew that God is honored not when we linger in the valley, endlessly extolling the value of unexplored mystery. God is honored when we accept his invitation to lead us into his unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways — when we treat the authors of Scripture like sure-footed Sherpas in the Himalayas of God’s revelation.

Daily Light – November 23, 2018

He Is Better Than Our Best Dads

(excerpt from message by John Piper)


Jesus encourages us to pray by showing us that our heavenly Father is better than our earthly father and will far more certainly give us good things than any human father would. There is no evil in our heavenly Father. There is evil in every earthly father. This is very important. Fathers need to hear this. Wives need to hear this. Children and grown children need to hear this.

Let’s read Matthew 7:11 carefully and think on it deeply. “If you then, who are evil . . .” Now that’s quite unflattering and blunt — the way Jesus is most of the time. Just picture yourself in the scene here: “I’m John. I’m the apostle of love. If you talk to me that way, I feel beat up.” Why did Jesus do this? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

“God is ten thousand times better than any good father.”

The Bible not only often draws attention to the similarity between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood; the Bible also often draws attention to the vast differences between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood. Can you think of any other places? Hebrews 12:10: “For they [earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” The Bible is not unaware of this pain of this reality in the world: that all human fathers are evil — all of us.

So, Jesus goes beyond the encouragement of saying, “You have a Father in heaven.” He goes beyond that and he says, “You have a perfect father who has no evil,” and he contrasts God without evil with all fathers who are evil. Even if you had the very best father, you still have a good thing coming. God is ten thousand times better than your good father. The difference between a good earthly father and a bad earthly father is a millimeter, but the difference between God and the best earthly father is infinite.

Do you think there’s a huge gap between the bad father and the father you wish you had? Well, compared to how much better God is than the best father, it makes that difference very small. Don’t ever limit your understanding of the fatherhood of God to the experience of your own father — no matter how good he was or how bad he was. Rather, take heart that God has none of the sins of your father — none.

God has none of the limitations of your father. God has none of the weaknesses of your father, and he has none of the hang-ups of your father — none of them. The point Jesus is making is that even fallen fathers give good gifts, usually. Almost everywhere in the world — in spite of sin, in spite of evil — fathers are generally jealous for the good of their children. They would say, “If you try to mess with my kid, you deal with me.” That’s inside almost every father — sin or no sin. He’s on the side of his kid when his kid is in trouble. That’s what Jesus is picking up on.

“Take heart that God has none of the sins of your father.”

Jesus says, “If your father — sinner though he be, though you’re all evil — if he knows how to do anything good for his kid, just think of how much more your perfect heavenly Father is eager to do good things for his children.” Let that land on you. Jesus is laboring with people who have imperfect fathers to help you feel hopeful in prayer. That’s what he’s trying to do here.

He’s trying to get kids, grown kids, forty-year-old kids, who have nothing but horrible memories, on their face, full of hope, that the one in heaven is ten thousand times better. That’s what he’s trying to do.

Daily Light – November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving … 2018

God Is Bigger Than Your Problems  

(article by Scott Hubbard, Editor, desiringGod.org)

The promises of God often lose their power in our lives because God himself has become small in our eyes.

We may be able to recite God’s promises by the dozens. But in our hearts, God is no longer the King who conquers armies and cuts a valley in the sea. He is no longer the Shepherd who seeks his sheep and keeps them safe behind his staff. He is no longer the Lord who walks on waves and calls the dead back from the grave. Slowly, subtly, we have forgotten God’s power, God’s wisdom, God’s tenderness.

When the promises of God seem powerless to quiet our fears, soothe our grief, lift our worries, or motivate our obedience, we need to do more than simply hear his promises again. We need to behold the God who gives them.

Promises Buried

In Isaiah 40, the prophet speaks to a group of broken Israelites. The nation that once shone like the stars in the sky had been blackened by exile.

As Israel looked back from Babylon, the promises of God seemed buried. How would God give Israel an everlasting kingdom when they were slaves in a foreign land (2 Samuel 7:13)? How would God make Israel a blessing to the world when a curse had fallen on them (Genesis 12:3)? How would God raise up from Israel a serpent-crushing king when they were under Babylon’s heel (Genesis 3:15)?

We can ask similar questions when we remember God’s promises from the wreckage of our circumstances. We can look ahead to a life of unwanted singleness and ask, “How can God satisfy me?” We can look back at a devastating failure and ask, “How can God forgive me?” We can look up from the crater of some loss and ask, “How can God comfort me?”

In those moments, we need God to do for us what he did for Israel. We need him to come alongside us, remind us of his promises, and then say, “Behold your God” (Isaiah 40:9).

Behold Your God

Who is the God who gives his promises to us? He is the God of might, who created the world by his word. He is the God of wisdom, who makes a way in the wilderness. He is the God of tenderness, who carries his children home. And he is bigger than all of our problems.


Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him. (Isaiah 40:10)

Behold the God of might, who created the world by his word.

The God who speaks his promises to us is the same God who said, “Let there be light,” and the darkness fled (Genesis 1:3). When he speaks, stars burn and planets lock into orbit; rivers run and oceans fill earth’s floors; valleys sink and mountains race to the sky. The grass in all the world may wither, and the flower on every hillside fade, but the word of him who made them will stay and stand forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Are your troubles as untamed as the ocean? God holds them in the hollow of his hand (Isaiah 40:12). Are your sorrows as vast as the heavens? God measures them like a carpenter at his workbench (Isaiah 40:12). Are your burdens as heavy as the hills? God picks them up and puts them on his scale (Isaiah 40:12).

Your problems may be massive, but your God is mighty. The sun will fail to shine sooner than his word will fall to the ground — no matter how big our problems.


Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? (Isaiah 40:13)

Behold the God of wisdom, who makes a way in the wilderness.

The Israelites thought their future as a nation had fallen with Jerusalem’s walls, and that not even God could raise them up again. “My way is hidden from the Lord,” they said. “My right is disregarded by my God” (Isaiah 40:27).

But Israel’s exile had not taken God by surprise, nor had it cast them out of his sight. “Have you not known?” Isaiah asks. “Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God. . . . His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28). When Israel was lost in the wilderness of exile, and saw no way of getting back home, God paved a highway right through the desert (Isaiah 40:3).

No trouble is too tangled for God to untie. No path is too twisted for him to straighten. No heart is too shattered for him to gather up and put back together.

Your problems may be bewildering, but your God is wise. He sees you. He knows every detail of your trouble. And he knows how to come alongside you as you wait for him and make you rise up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).


He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

Behold the God of tenderness, who carries his children home.

Before God thunders forth his majesty in Isaiah 40, he speaks to Israel with the gentleness of a mother’s hush: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). God is not eager for his people to be tormented and storm-tossed. He wants us to know him as the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

If God’s might shows us that he is powerful to fulfill his promises, and if his wisdom convinces us that our circumstances are no exception, then his tenderness assures us that he delights to use all his might and wisdom in love for weak people like us. He is the Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find his lost and wandering one. And when he finds him, he bends down, gathers him up in his arms, and carries him all the way home (Isaiah 40:11).

Your problems may be agonizing, but your God is tender. Place all your fears and frailty before him, and ask him to quiet you with his love.

Every Valley Shall Be Filled

Seven hundred years after Isaiah told Israel to behold her God, John the Baptist picked up the prophet’s words and preached them in the Judean wilderness: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low . . . and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:5–6Isaiah 40:4–5).

Then John stepped aside as a man walked over those valleys and hills and made his way through that wilderness. He was a man of might, who bound hell’s armies and brought heaven’s kingdom. He was a man of wisdom, who silenced the scribes and spoke the very words of God. He was a man of tenderness, who healed the sick and heralded God’s favor.

And then he lay down beneath the biggest of our problems, and allowed them to beat him, bludgeon him, bury him. But only so he could carry our curse to the grave, sink it deep into the ground, and then rise up in the power of an indestructible life. Every promise from God comes to us now through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), the God with scars on his hands.

Your problems may be big, perhaps even bigger than you know. But your God is bigger, and his promises to you are stronger and surer. So, look up from your problems. Listen again to God’s powerful, wise, and tender voice. And then ask God to help you behold him.

Daily Light – November 21, 2018

Anywhere But God

The Suffocating Hunt for Happiness

(article by Greg Morse:  Content Strategist, desiringGod.org)


Men have killed to have it. Kings have gone mad trying to find it. Wars have served it. Affairs have worshiped it. Its pursuit binds us all together.

I can remember my own desperate search for it.

The best experiences in this life would feed my craving for it. Sunny days at the beach, Friday nights on the field, caresses of beautiful music, summer evenings dancing at Latin clubs, Christmas mornings with family. Although these mesmerized for a moment, the spell was soon broken with their departure. Summers turned to winter. Laughter turned to silence. The sun vanished from the horizon. Full rooms emptied. The music stopped.

Play as I would with sports, dance, women, and entertainment — the cacophony of all of earth’s enjoyments didn’t silence the still small whisper: There is more. When the scrolling ceased, the season passed, and the sin was spent, something still beckoned in the silence.

So, I set off to find the enchanted flower on the next hillside: that pleasure, this girlfriend, that achievement. When I would get to the end of each rainbow, I discovered the cheat afresh. All is vanity, a chasing after the wind.It was the small fire perfectly placed between my soul’s shoulder blades. Reach as I may, the throbbing remained.

Joy Is Not an ‘It’

I doubt I describe an ache you have not felt. I wager that all can give their personal testimony to what Pascal wrote so long ago:

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

We all, to varying degrees, are conscious of this yawning cavern placed within us by Someone without. Inexplicably, we hunger for a meal we have not yet tasted; we thirst for streams our lips have never touched. And we cannot shake it. We try to appease the appetite with earthly snacks or distract ourselves with cheap thrills, but silent rooms still scare us. There, the whisper finds us. There is more.

That voice finally caught me one silent evening in my dorm room. Exhausted and mostly unwillingly it brought me to a Book. And there I read the secret it had prepared me to hear my whole life: Unfading joy, the kind that does not wilt or flee, that cannot be stolen or destroyed, the indomitable, the unrelenting happiness I longed for was not an impersonal it, but existed in relation to a him.

Joy, the Bible said, was not a philosophical idea or chemical reaction; it was that which is chained unchangeably to the presence of God: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). It is experienced in his orbit, the atmosphere of his presence, the aroma of his fragrance.

Fullness of joy, it claimed, was found nowhere else. What many call “true joy” — a noun so battered and bruised that it needs the crutch of an adjective — does not originate or terminate in this world. God revealed that billions of us have spent our lives digging for stars.

Hidden Terms of Happiness

But God also revealed that he had terms for this happiness to be mine. Terms that, for years, I couldn’t believe I needed to receive to be happy. I would find a different door. I believed the myth that Satan started so long ago: The happiness I craved lived outside the kingdom of the Happy God. I did not need God to have heaven. I did not need Christ crucified.

Nothing but boredom and drudgery, I thought, stood on the other side of repentance and faith. And I was dying clinging to this fiction. I would not surrender. Joy without atonement was my idol. Joy that did not make me bow, did not deal with my Maker, nor face my treason was my golden calf. I was like a rabid dog running from the day to chase after the moon, hiding from the daylight’s warmth — joy — as I shivered in my night. Man’s small fires could not replace the sun.

Laughter’s Invitation

We can look under every rock and chase after every wind, and we will not find this joy we hate to need apart from that carpenter from Nazareth. We pant for a resurrected joy that stands on the other side of payment for sin. A joy that required blood to attain — the flow from God’s own veins. The joy all longings whisper lives prostrate before the cross, offered freely to those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus. The happiness that all other pleasures speak invites you to kneel.

Perhaps you have not yet tired of exploring this world’s wells. You have not grown desperate enough to knock at heaven’s door. You still have hope to find a world elsewhere. But let God bring you to your senses, and you will realize that this tormenting thirst was given to you that you might hear this invitation from Jesus:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)

That you might consider his promise:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

That you might find the completion of your joy in receiving his:

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

I have found that God is the end of all joyful craving. He is the heaven, the life, the joy of all those who are forever happy. Paradise is to know him, to experience his glory. And his desire: to be seen in that glory. He received a thorny crown, five wounds, and a wooden cross to safely show us that resplendence which shall soon shame the sun into extinction. Eternal joy is not an it, but a He. Will you turn from sin and go to him?

Daily Light – November 20, 2018

What the Law could never do   Acts 13:38-43  


 (My pastor and friend of almost 45 yrs…David…uses the S.O.A.P method in his daily quiet time.  Study, Observe, Apply, Pray.   He shares each day’s S.O.A.P with some folks…I wanted to share this one with you.  He is studying the book of Acts at this time.  If you have asked Jesus Christ to be ‘your’ Savior…then the truth, joy, and thanksgiving that David proclaims in his prayer is yours as well.)

13:38 “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. 39 Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight—something the law of Moses could never do. 40 Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said, 41‘Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”  42 As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. 43 Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God.   NLT

Paul is in Pisidian Antioch, speaking in the synagogue to convince Jews (and some Gentiles) that even though the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah, that God had raised Him from the dead to prove He was the Messiah and Savior. The Jews had the highest regard for the Law of Moses, but Paul tells them that the Law could not do for them what Jesus could. The Law showed God’s righteous standards, but it could not provide the will or power to keep those standards. So, the Law was designed to convict lawbreakers, but not to acquit them. It could never make anyone right in God’s sight. By paying the penalty for our sin, and by imparting His righteousness to us, only Jesus can deliver us from the judgment of God.

In :40-41 Paul quotes from Hab 1:6 warning the Jews that God promised to bring judgment on them if they did not repent. His point in using that warning here is the same as in Habakkuk -if they scoff, if they don’t believe in God’s Messiah they will face His judgment like Judah did in 586BC. So in :43 Paul encourages them to remain in the grace of God – not their confidence that they could be justified by keeping the Law.

Lord Jesus, Thank You that You lived a perfect and sinless life, keeping all the Law of Moses Your whole life, and that You were willing to be our substitute in death, and in life. I praise You for Your power in rising from the dead to prove the validity of Your claims and Your promises to do for us what the Law could never do. Help me make this message of righteousness by grace through faith in Messiah Jesus clear to people everywhere. It truly is the best news anyone has ever heard!!!  Amen!

Daily Light – November 19, 2018

Fill Your Wandering Heart with Thankfulness

(article by John Bloom:  serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God)

Do you know what’s stronger than lust? Thankfulness.


Let me illustrate before I explain. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, why didn’t he succumb to her advances? He explains,

“Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8–9)

Joseph received Potiphar’s remarkable favor on him as a gift from God. Gratitude was occupying so much space in Joseph’s heart that there was not enough room for the ingratitude of sexually sinning with Potiphar’s wife.

Too Full to Indulge

Now look at your own experience. You have not indulged in lust when your heart has felt full of thankfulness to God. Why? Because lust is a form of coveting: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17). And coveting, in all its forms, is a fruit of ingratitude. It’s a desire for something you want but don’t have, or can’t have; it’s a desire for something God has not provided for you or forbidden to you (James 4:2).

So lust, being a form of ingratitude, is incompatible with gratitude — they cannot cohabit the same space at the same time. It’s one or the other. And thankfulness is the stronger power. Lust might feel powerful, and thankfulness might feel meek. But when thankfulness is truly present, lust is no match for it.

Thanksgiving is not merely a “nice” Christian character trait. It is a sin-conquering force. Gratitude is both a vital indicator of our soul’s health and a powerful defender of our soul’s happiness. Which means we should intentionally cultivate the healthy, happy habit of thanksgiving.

What Thankfulness Says About Us

How thankful we are reveals the health of our souls. When the apostle Paul describes what our being filled with the Spirit looks like, he doesn’t point to ecstatic experiences or miraculous spiritual gifts; he points to thankfulness:

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18–20)

When Paul describes what our being governed by the peace and word of Christ looks like, he doesn’t point to an absence of conflict or our level of theological sophistication; he points to thankfulness:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15–16)

When Paul describes what our living in the will of God looks like, he doesn’t point to how well our rolls match our strengths and aspirations; he points to thankfulness:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

When Paul describes what our freedom from sexual sin, or other kinds of defiling sin, looks like, he doesn’t point to the absence of temptations; he points to thankfulness:

Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:3–4)

If we want to know how healthy our souls are, we should check our levels of gratitude.

How Thankfulness Protects Us

We should monitor our gratitude, not merely for our spiritual health, but also for our spiritual protection. Gratitude is immensely (and subtly) powerful.

Gratitude is what we experience when we perceive that what we have received is an undeserved gift of God’s grace. It is a fruit of humility; it’s inherently unselfish. We don’t feel true gratitude toward ourselves, but only towards someone else who treats us better than we deserve. That’s how Joseph felt being entrusted as Potiphar’s chief steward.

Sins like sexual lust, however, are a fruit of pride; they’re inherently selfish, exploiting others for our own narcissistic purposes. That’s how Potiphar’s wife felt looking on the attractive Hebrew house slave.

Pride always looks more powerful than humility on the outside. But in reality, it’s not. It’s not even close. Humility is stronger than pride like heaven is stronger than hell. Like the cross was stronger than the Roman Empire. Like the Resurrection and the Life was stronger than the grave. In the same way, thankfulness is stronger than lust, and serving is stronger than exploiting.

The more thankfulness is present in us, the less vulnerable we are to sin. 

That’s why the Bible talks so much about thanksgiving. Thankful people have set their eyes on God (Hebrews 12:2), recognizing to some degree how much grace we are receiving right now (2 Corinthians 9:8), trusting him to cover all our sin and work our painful past for good (Romans 8:28), and looking to him for all we need tomorrow and into eternity (Philippians 4:19). Souls that learn to be content in God “in whatever situation” (Philippians 4:11) are souls that are the least vulnerable to temptation, particularly covetous temptations.

Be Thankful

Therefore, cultivating thankfulness should be one of our core strategies in helping each other fight sin. In our small groups and accountability groups, we should encourage each other to “be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Not out of guilty obligation, but out of an unashamed desire to be happy! Thankful people are not only the most spiritually healthy and spiritually protected, but very often the happiest.

Cultivating thankfulness is not easy. We all need help, and thank God help is available. But there is no thankfulness hack — no four easy steps to a grateful heart. It’s as hard as habit-building. We begin to train our heart-eyes to look for God’s grace — in all circumstances. This looking must become habitual. And habits are built by doing them every day. We get incrementally better at them as the days gradually accumulate to months, and months to years. They become more and more a part of us over time.

But it is worth the effort. Thankfulness is one of the most powerful affections God has given us the capacity to experience. It is far stronger than lust or any bondage of sinful pride. The more it grows in you, the more spiritual health you will experience, and the less power sin will wield over you.