Daily Light – Oct 12, 2020

Nothing Is for Nothing 

Accepting Loss and Finding Peace 

Article by, Vaneetha Rendall Risner, Author, Writer 

I brace myself as I walk into the house and hold the door frame. It’s a tiny step, if you could even call it that, but I can’t do it without help anymore. I almost lose my balance. My husband steadies me. Last month it wasn’t a problem, but now it is. 

When I get into the house, I plop down into a chair in frustration. I sigh heavily. Losses are constant nowadays, and I scarcely remember doing things that were effortless before my post-polio diagnosis. Painting into the night. Making a new gourmet meal that everyone loved. Going for walks and enjoying the outdoors with friends. None of that is part of my life anymore. 

Some days those things don’t bother me, but others, like today, it’s easier to dwell on what I’ve lost. The ‘can’t do anymores’ keep stacking up, and I wonder how I will get used to this life of continual loss. I know some people do, and sometimes with incredible grace. I want to be one of those people who accept everything easily, never seeming to question what’s given or taken away, grateful for everything they have. 

As I grieved the life I used to have, I silently asked, “Lord, show me what to do with this. I don’t want to let this frustration overwhelm me. I want peace.” Immediately, the familiar words came to mind: “in acceptance lies peace.” 

Ways to Forfeit Peace 

The four words are from a poem by Amy Carmichael entitled “In Acceptance Lieth Peace,” which she wrote after a broken leg left her bedridden, and in great pain, for the rest of her life. In the poem, Carmichael detailed the futile ways we often deal with loss. 

The first approach is to avoid any reminders of the past, trying to forget the hurt and move on. The second is to stay so busy that there’s no time to think about anything else. The third is denial, putting up a facade and pretending that there never was any pain. The fourth is to grimly resign ourselves to a life of unceasing misery. I wonder which of those four feels most familiar for you. The fifth and final approach is to accept this new way of living, knowing that God will walk us through. 

Though the first four options sound depressing, I confess I have tried them all. While they promised relief from the pain, they left me numb, strangling any hope for healing and joy. Life was reduced to mere existence as I plodded along from day to day, hoping the dull ache would go away. 

Indispensable Hardships 

But acceptance is different. It stops the turmoil, and leads to peace. This peace can only be found in Christ, in surrendering to his will, in trusting that every experience is part of his plan. He keeps us in perfect peace when we trust him and focus our minds on him (Isaiah 26:3). 

Elisabeth Elliot would agree. In a letter to her parents shortly after her husband Jim was murdered in 1956, she wrote, 

I know you are all wondering how I am getting along. I can only say that the peace I have literally passes all possible understanding. . . . “The Lord Jehovah is my strength and song.” I have learned, I believe, the lesson which Amy Carmichael speaks of in her poem — “In acceptance lieth peace.” How true. I accept, gratefully, from the hand of God, this experience. 

Gratefully accepting everything from God’s hand, including losing your husband, makes no sense apart from Christ. But because of her faith in a sovereign God, Elliot was able to experience God’s peace in tragedy. And almost fifty years later, she wrote, 

God included the hardships of my life in his original plan. Nothing takes him by surprise. Nothing is for nothing. His plan is to make me holy, and hardship is indispensable for that as long as I live in this hard old world. All I have to do is accept it. (Be Still My Soul, 32) 

All I have to do is accept it. It sounds simple. And in many ways, it is. But this acceptance is not fatalistic surrender. The kind of acceptance that leads to peace requires faith and trust in God. It involves looking at life through the eyes of faith, faith in an all-powerful, extravagantly loving, and incomprehensibly wise God who is engineering every detail of my life. 

Our powerful, loving, and wise God doesn’t make mistakes. So if he has allowed something into my life, it is the very best thing for me, all things considered. It will maximize my joy and deepen my faith. One day in heaven I will see how everything that God brought into my life was love. 

Dailiness of Loss 

While I am convinced of God’s love and purpose in my pain, I must repeatedly remind myself of these truths. Doubt and discouragement creep in as I struggle with the dailiness of loss and pain, with no apparent reprieve. 

At the beginning of any trial, I often feel buoyed by God’s Spirit, able to face the struggle ahead courageously. But after a while, I grow weary and impatient. I forget that the Lord is in my suffering and will walk with me through it. I must deliberately turn to God and ask him to help me — to accept the situation, to know his presence in it, and to have strength to endure it. In essence, to trust him. 

Only then can I truly find peace — a peace beyond understanding that guards my heart and mind in Christ (Philippians 4:7), that keeps me from fear (John 14:27), that transcends the troubles of the world (John 16:33). That is a lasting peace. 

In All My Circumstances 

Like many others, I have felt weary during this pandemic, wondering how long it will last. I am anxious for it to end and have this all-encompassing cloud lifted, so that I can resume life as it was before. I must constantly remind myself of the beauty and peace in joyful acceptance. These circumstances are not random or out of God’s control, but are all part of a loving Savior’s design. He is in all my circumstances and is using them to change me into the likeness of Christ. 

My husband and I went out to the front porch to talk and watch the sunset. As I walked through the doorway again, I was grateful. Looking around, I asked God to give me eyes of faith. I was reminded of all that God has done through my pain. Although I may always miss what I have lost, I do not long to have that life back. God is in my present life, and it is only here, in today’s circumstances, that I can meet him. 

I am embracing this life God has given me, deeply aware that in acceptance lies peace. In this joyful acceptance I find the Savior himself, who will one day transform my enduring suffering into my eternal joy. 

Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Desiring God, who blogs at danceintherain.com. She is married to Joel and has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. She and Joel live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Vaneetha is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering

Daily Light – October 31, 2018

The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World

(by Voddie Baucham)


(Voddie Baucham  is dean of the seminary at African Christian University and previously served as Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX. He has authored numerous books, academic journals, and magazine articles. He is married to Bridget and they have nine children. They currently live in Lusaka, Zambia.)

This message appears as a chapter in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.

Friends…this will be a 9 Part series.   Here we go…Part 2…..  Please, please, take the time to work through this series. dh

Part 2:

The Question of God

Christian theism answers the question of God by positing a necessary, intelligent, all-powerful being. Postmodern secular humanism, on the other hand, is fundamentally and functionally atheistic. Man is the starting point in this convoluted worldview. That is rather ironic, because while secular humanism is the overriding worldview of most of the people in our culture, the overwhelming majority of Americans report to pollsters that they believe in God.

The Question of Man

Christian theism answers the question of the nature of man by seeing man as a special creation made in the very image of God (compare with Genesis 1:26–289:6). In contrast, postmodern secular humanism sees man as a single-celled organism run amuck — a glorified ape who has lost most of his hair and gained opposable thumbs, a cosmic accident with no real rhyme or reason.

The Questions of Truth and Knowledge

Christian theism views truth as absolute. If something is “true,” that is, if it corresponds to God’s perspective, then it is true for all people in all places at all times. However, postmodern secular humanism views truth differently. The previous generation of humanism — what we may call classic secular humanism — viewed truth through the epistemological (theory of knowledge) lens of naturalistic materialism (the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world)”. It was inherently atheistic, as nothing could be known apart from this closed system called “nature.” If nature is a closed system, then by definition there is no such thing as the supernatural. Such thinking is the functional atheism to which I referred above. The majority of Americans claim to believe in God, while espousing an epistemology that rejects the possibility of such a being. If nature is a closed system, then the God in whom one believes cannot possibly be the God of the Bible.

Despite the fact that postmoderns reject naturalistic materialism in favor of philosophical pluralism (theory that reality is composed of a plurality of entities) and experientialism (the philosophical theory that experience is the source of knowledge), the end result is the same. Both worldviews reject the absolute, objective truth of God’s Word and, in the case of postmodernism, objective truth in general. Classic secular humanism rejects truth in favor of matter; the postmodern version rejects truth in favor of experience.

Now if you believe in this sort of naturalistic materialism, how can you presume to refer to yourself as a Christian or anything like a Christian? Why say that you have a belief in God when, from an epistemological perspective, you have excluded even the possibility of God? Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, in his book A New Christianity for a New World, does just that, openly arguing from the perspective of naturalistic materialism (John Shelby Spong, A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith Is Dying and How a New Faith Is Being Born [HarperSanFrancisco, 2002]).

He argues that what we need to do is move toward a non-theistic view of God. Spong claims that humans have evolved into the current theistic perspective, and we need to continue to evolve towards a nontheistic view of God. Here is a man who spent thirty years in pastoral ministry and was a lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, saying things such as:  I do not believe that Jesus entered this world by the miracle of a virgin birth or that virgin births occur anywhere except in mythology. I do not believe that a literal star guided literal wise men to bring Jesus gifts or that literal angels sang to hillside shepherds to announce his birth. I do not believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem or that he fled into Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. I regard these as legends that later became historicized as the tradition grew and developed and as people sought to understand the meaning and the power of the Christ-life. (Ibid., 4)

That’s what happens when you cloak yourself in priestly robes but hold on to this kind of secular human epistemology that views nature as a closed system and man as nothing more than an evolved beast.  (Part 3, Con’t tomorrow 😊)

Daily Light – October 30, 2018

The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World
(by Voddie Baucham)
(Voddie Baucham  is dean of the seminary at African Christian University and previously served as Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX. He has authored numerous books, academic journals, and magazine articles. He is married to Bridget and they have nine children. They currently live in Lusaka, Zambia.)
This message appears as a chapter in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.
Friends…this will be a 9 Part series.   Please, please, take the time to work through this series.  I promise that if you will take the time to read and pray over each day’s post, that you will grow in faith and understanding and be able to share the light and love of Jesus Christ more effectively.   Blessings to you as we journey through this series together.  dh

Part 1:  (An overview of the series)
There should be little doubt that contemporary culture is in crisis, hurtling toward destruction. Questions that were once considered settled issues are now up for grabs. One hundred years ago, it would have been difficult to anticipate a genuine debate about the nature and definition of marriage, the morality of killing a child in the process of delivery, or whether a man is “too religious” for public office. However, these issues are not only being debated, but they are being practiced. Gay marriage is happening, partial-birth abortion is a common procedure, and political candidates regularly tone down their religious affiliations at the behest of their handlers.
It is in this context that the stark contrast between our culture and our Christ is seen most acutely. There has perhaps never been a better time to see and proclaim the supremacy of Christ, particularly in the area of truth. It is against the backdrop of this culture that calls evil “good” and good “evil” — where sin is celebrated and righteousness is mocked — that the Christ of Truth shines most brilliantly.
Postmodernism is an elusive term — even for its advocates! But if we can say anything for certain about postmodernity, it is that the concept of accessible, knowable, objective truth is antithetical to standard, postmodern epistemology. The ultimate goal of this chapter, however, is to give neither a detailed description of postmodernism nor an extensive defense of objective truth, but rather to celebrate and advocate the supremacy of Christ. Postmodernism is not supreme in this world. Christ is the one who is, and always will be, supreme. So if there is a conflict between Christ and postmodernity, Jesus wins all day, everyday, and twice on Sunday!
Two Competing Worldviews
We can identify two major competing worldviews in our culture. Those two worldviews have been referred to by many different titles, but for our purposes I will refer to them as Christian theism on the one hand, and a postmodern version of secular humanism on the other. Recognizing that this is an oversimplification, it is still helpful to consider these as two broad, competing views on reality. My plan in this chapter is to address “life’s ultimate questions” from the perspective of each of these two worldviews. We’ll look at them through five major worldview categories, asking how they answer:
  • the question of God,
  • the question of man,
  • the question of truth,
  • the question of knowledge, and
  • the question of ethics.
We will then turn to examine how these two competing worldviews answer the existential questions that each of us has.  (Part 2, Con’t tomorrow)

Daily Light – October 29, 2018

When the Future Feels Impossible

(Article by Vaneetha Rendall Risner)

A dear friend of mine is walking through a heartbreaking illness.

When I heard the news, I was shaken. I, who write about suffering, had no words to offer. What could I say anyway? Words seemed inadequate. Trite. Even condescending. How do you encourage someone who is beginning a devastating journey into the unknown?

It takes me a few days to process what’s happening. Our friends are all struggling to process it too. As we pray, we try to remind ourselves of the truths we know. Bedrock truths that have carried us through our own grief. Truths that every Christian can hold onto. Truths that will bear the weight of our sorrow.

He Controls the World

First and foremost, God is sovereign. Nothing that happens to us is a surprise to him. Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father’s will (Matthew 10:29). On the contrary, everything that we face has been put there with a purpose. We can trust that it is the best for us. And hard as it is to understand, the struggles that land on our doorstep are also for the good of our family, for our friends, for everyone we love, if they love God.

“Everything that we face has been put there with a purpose.”

Yet even as I write this, thinking that our suffering ultimately will be best for our loved ones sounds crazy. Guaranteeing it sounds impossible. But the God of the universe, who keeps the earth spinning on its axis, who tells the ocean to come this far and no farther (Job 38:11), who commands the wind and the waves (Mark 4:41), who clothes the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:28–30), and who has numbered the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) can ensure that all things work together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28).

God loves us. He watched his Son die a horrible death, separated from him in his last hours, so that we would never be separated from him. He wants to be with us, to take care of us, and to give us good gifts. How could he, who did not spare his own Son, not give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

He Walks with Us

God has numbered our days. All the days ordained for us were written in his book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). Nothing can cut short our lives. No one will live one second less than God determined before the foundation of the world.

God walks with us every minute of our lives. Jesus says, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). God says to Joshua, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). When we walk through the rivers, they will not overwhelm us, because the Lord walks through them with us (Isaiah 43:2).  We never drink the bitter cup or endure any pain without him.

He Will Come Through

“We never drink the bitter cup or endure any pain without him.”

Christ is with us and will give us the comfort and strength we need each day. As Deuteronomy 33:25 assures us, “As your days, so shall your strength be.”

Octavius Winslow, a preacher in England in the 1800’s, reminds us that God gives us more than we need in our hour of suffering. He says, “Has not the Lord always been better than all your troubling anticipations, quelling your fears, reassuring your doubting mind, and hearing you gently and safely through the hour of suffering which you dreaded? Then trust him now! Never, never will he forsake you!”

Yet despite God’s past faithfulness, one of our biggest concerns is whether the Lord will be with us in future trials.

John Ross MacDuff, a Scottish contemporary of Winslow, understands this fear.  He says, “God does not give grace till the hour of trial comes. But when it doescome, the amount of grace and the nature of the special grace required is vouchsafed. My soul, do not dwell with painful apprehension on the future. Do not anticipate coming sorrows; perplexing thyself with the grace needed for future emergencies; tomorrow will bring its promised grace along with tomorrow’s trials . . . and the strength which the hour of trial brings often makes the Christian a wonder to himself!”

No Matter What Happens

We don’t need to understand now how we will face the future. God will give us all we need every day we have breath. And when we breathe our last on earth, the Lord will bring us safely to heaven so that we can enjoy him forever.

“We don’t need to understand now how we will face the future.”

One day our eyes will close in death and open to the breathtaking reality that we are in the presence of our Savior. We will feel more alive, more vibrant, more energetic, and more joyful than we ever have on earth. The God whom we have known but never seen will be before us. We will behold his glory with our own eyes, with no distortion or filter. Our souls will be completely at rest and at peace, filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. It will be glorious. That is our hope. Our promise. Our anchor.

These are the truths we as Christians base our lives on. They are sure and unchanging promises, guaranteed by the One who holds the universe. No matter what happens, we will never walk alone.

(Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Desiring God. She blogs at danceintherain.com, although she doesn’t like rain and has no sense of rhythm. Vaneetha is married to Joel and has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. She and Joel live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Vaneetha is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering.)

Daily Light -October 26, 2018

For Every Prayer That Goes Unanswered

(article by Greg Morse – Content strategist, desiringGod.org)


I prayed to God every day to heal my little brother.

Like Jacob, I planned to take hold and not let him go until he blessed my brother with freedom from the captivity of autism. My knees sored. My back ached. Accidental sleep ended my prayer sessions. Days grew to weeks, and weeks to years. I pled daily, and as a result, I nearly lost faith.

Never before had I questioned whether God heard me or not. Never before had I prayed with enough detail to know how he replied. I would ask to hate my sin more vehemently. I would ask for his kingdom to come. I would ask to know more of his love. To see his glory. To serve his people. I prayed appropriate prayers, God-inspired prayers, but safer prayers. Prayers with no expiration date and no final clarity as to whether God had said no.

Until the diagnosis came. Necessity, not courage, brought me to ask specifically that my brother be healed. My request had a name, a laugh, a confused expression as we talked. God’s answer to my prayers would be observable, testable, public. God’s yes or no would be seen by more than just the eyes of faith. He would heal my brother, or he would not.

And after eighteen years, he has not.

Taking It Personally

After countless prayers, what I never anticipated happened: I started to take God’s “no” personally. Not only was he not healing a loved one — a pain that is harder to bear than enduring one’s own afflictions — but he also was not answering me. My prayers had begun with excitement, but as the rains fell and the winds blew, as my legs started shaking from exhaustion and my hands bruised from knocking, the voice of a desperate man echoing upon the door frame was the only one heard.

My thoughts spiraled. I wasn’t doubting, mistreating a spouse, asking from impure motives — why did he prolong his refusal? Surely his sanctifying work had been accomplished in years of asking. Surely the stage had been set for him to glorify his name with a miracle. Surely he hated autism too. Somewhere along the way, I began to cringe a little as I began my prayers with “Father.” Somewhere along the way, my petitions for my brother’s healing became co-mingled with a cry to know that my Father heard me, wept with me, cared. What started with a childlike request soon matured into an orphan’s resentment.

And I was not alone with my thoughts. Satan sat with me. As you know, the prayer of the righteous man has great power to heal (James 5:16). You’ve prayed for years now. Are you really a righteous man? Or, Your “Father” seems to answer his other children’s prayers. Why do you think he isn’t answering you? Since “he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3), do you think your brother’s healing might not please him after all?

Answers in the Silence

“But as I was wallowing in the pit, at the proper time, God healed my brother” — the sentence I wish I could end this article with. I would love to fast-forward through the struggle, doubt, and confusion to a hard-fought happily ever after. My prayers still linger in a quiet place. I still fight whispered doubts. I still am tempted to succumb to what Jesus encouraged against: losing heart and ceasing to pray (Luke 18:1–8).

But as I ask God for the hope needed to endure pleading over what he might be pleased to withhold, he has been teaching me to cling to two truths from Matthew 7 that have made all the difference. I hope they might encourage all who wander in the valleys of unanswered prayer.

1. God Answers with Good

While Satan whispers that God has failed both my brother and me — as he may whisper to you that God is indifferent to your angst for a spouse, ceaseless pleas for your son, endless cries for him to save your friend — Jesus promises that his Father is not inattentive to us, and he will give us “good things” when we ask.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 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!” (Matthew 7:7–11)

Prayer, fired from the needy hearts of his children, is an arrow shot into the air that God always returns to us with fresh blessing, somewhere. Our asking, knocking, seeking is not in vain. It is doing something — for my brother and for me. He may not have opened the front door of healing, but how many other doors and windows of grace has he opened as a result of prayer? Only heaven will tell. Our God never gives his children worse than we ask, and rarely exactly what we ask, but always, somehow, better than we ask.

2. God Answers as Father

This is crucial to hold by faith: Our God gives (and withholds) as Father.

I imagine that we could endure lifetimes of unanswered prayer if God should sustain our felt experience of his love. If he remained “Our Father, who is in heaven,” as we waited for his kingdom to fully come (Matthew 6:9–10). All disappointment would be eased (if not swallowed) by his smile and embrace.

But unanswered prayer often robs us at this very point. Hope deferred can abduct us from our Father’s house. It can persuade us that God is a stingy employer, our blessing’s warden, a puppeteer who marionettes us for sport. But with one word, Jesus fortifies his waiting people:

“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!” (Matthew 7:11)

Retaining the sense that God is Father, when all other good is withheld, is one of the greatest blessings we can receive as we travail in unanswered prayer. God does not answer unanswered prayer as an annoyed waitress or unfeeling judge. God answers his people’s unanswered prayer as Father.

We Will Not Pray Much Longer

You and I are traveling — more quickly than it often seems — to the coming kingdom of answered prayer. To our Father’s kingdom, which he has been pleased to give to his Son and other sons and daughters. We are but days from home. We may not remember all that we prayed for along the way, but God does, and rest assured, he will prove his faithfulness. He will show the unseen blessing of every well-disguised answer to prayer that, while squinting in this world, we only saw as unanswered. And his wisdom, as he peels back his dealings with us layer by layer, will satisfy our questions and arouse in us a love that unbelief tells us now cannot be.

And we will sing what we could sometimes only stammer on earth: “He works all things for good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes” (see Romans 8:28). All things includes unanswered prayers. No prayer, like none of his lost sheep, will go unaccounted for or overlooked. For now, sore knees and aching backs cry, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Soon enough death will end our prayer sessions, and we will wake to see our Lord face-to-face and find our prayers answered better than we could have asked.

Daily Light – October 25, 2018

God’s Glorious Love

(article by Don Hester)


When Jesus was questioned by one of the experts of the Jewish law with the question of … “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”…. Jesus responded…”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:34-40.    Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament Law and commandments:  Deuteronomy 6:5, and Leviticus 19:18.

We all are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth where in chapter 13 he defines the manifested outcome of possessing God’s divine level/type of ‘love’, which is called Agape ‘love’..which is a ‘love’ of type that ‘is’ God and comes from God. Paul is saying that the most excellent way to express the glory of God is to receive and express this ‘love’ of God in an out-bound way to people that we come in contact with in our life.  This level of, type of love expressed in our lives demonstrates our love for God and for people and is a clear demonstration of His glory.

Paul wrote about how this level/type of love ‘can be’ manifest and expressed in and through our lives in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13:“Love is patient and kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

This level/type of ‘love’ has a distinct purpose, function, and meaning. Agape is used to describe the love that is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God does not merely love; He is love itself.   John is saying that God and His love are the ‘exact-same’…expressed as an idiom…one cannot be deducted from the other.  God-is-love is an equivalent.  Everything God does flows from His love.  God’s love is His glory.  God’s glory is revealed in His love.

The type of love that characterizes God is not the ‘falling-in love’, human/emotional/sentimental feeling such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. God loves the unlovable and the unlovely, not because we deserve to be loved or because of any excellence we possess, but because it is His essential nature to love and He must be true to His nature.

Agape love is always demonstrated by what it does in action. My wife Jeannie has a wonderful little saying… “love is an action verb.”  God’s love is displayed most clearly at the cross. “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4,5 NIV). We did not deserve such an act of love from God, “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Bible says we are the undeserving recipients of His lavish agape love (1 John 3:1). God’s demonstration of agape love led to the sacrifice of the Son of God for those He loves.

We are to love others with agape love, whether they are believers (John 13:34) or enemies (Matthew 5:44). Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us. Agape love as demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the cross is not based on a feeling; rather, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own.

When we come to faith through God’s provision of Agape love (Jesus) we are better able to love everyone around us.   Agape love gives us the indwelling of God’s Spirit which comes to live inside us and He gives us the ability to love deeper..to love better…to love ‘more’….for our spouses, our kids, and all of the people that come in and out of our lives.  And in ‘so doing’ we are demonstrating that we have experienced the ‘love’ of God through Christ Jesus and that we are loving Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and thus we experience and express the type of love that is the love of our Glorious God. 

Daily Light – October 24, 2018

Praying to Your Father

(Excerpt from message by John Piper)


A Prayer For Every Hour

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven.’” Jesus is teaching us how to pray to our Father. It’s amazing that the Creator of the universe is our Father.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13)

So Jesus is teaching us how to pray to our Father — not to God in general, but to God as our Father. Now, I used to read and pray the Lord’s Prayer with this conception: the first three statements I thought were acclamations or praises, not requests. And then it was followed by four requests. So here’s the way I used to think:

I praise you, Father, that your name is hallowed. I praise you that your kingdom is coming. I praise you that your will is going to be done on earth. And I have four things that I need to be a part of that.

I need food every day. I need forgiveness for my sins. I need freedom from temptation that would destroy me. And I need you to deliver me from the evil one so that I can be about these amazing things that I’ve just acclaimed.

“It’s amazing that the Creator of the universe is our Father.”

That’s not right. I never even computed what I was saying in these first three: hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done — those are requests. Those are petitions. They are just as much “I need and I want you to do this in me and through me” as the other four are. So that was a huge change.

And when I saw that, then I had to ask, “How do all these seven petitions relate to each other?” And I’m going to suggest to you that the hallowing of God’s name is first because it’s ultimate, and all the others are going there. So let me re-pray it the way I pray it now, and see if you don’t think that’s the way Jesus wants us to be thinking when we pray.

Father, cause your kingdom to come, because when everybody is gladly bowing down to your kingly authority, the central act of every human heart in that kingdom will be the hallowing of your name.

Father, subdue all rebellion to your will. Bring every human will on earth into submission to your will. The center of every human will, then, will be the hallowing of your name.

Father, grant me enough food.   Grant me enough food so that I have life and breath in order to hallow your name.

Father, forgive my sins, because if I don’t have forgiveness from you, I’m going to be swept away in condemnation, and I’ll spend the rest of my life blaspheming you in hell rather than hallowing you in heaven. O God, please forgive my sins and make me a forgiving person.

Father, keep me out of destructive temptation that would ruin my life and take away every inclination I’ve ever felt to hallow your name.

Father, guard me from the evil one, who wants more than anything that I would live for my name and not yours.

That’s the way I think he wants us to pray. I think hallowing his name is number one because it’s ultimate and the goal of everything — everything, forever, for everybody. That’s the goal. “Hallowed be your name” means “Cause your name to be hallowed in my own life first, in those around me next, and through us, our region, state, all of America, and all over the world until Jesus comes, as far as we can make it happen.”

What does hallow mean? The word is literally sanctify. It’s used all over the New Testament for “sanctify,” or “make holy,” or “regard as holy.” We don’t make God holy. We regard him as holy, see him as holy, sense him as holy, stand in awe of him as holy. That’s behind the word hallow. Our modern translations keep the word because we’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer in English for five hundred years, and so you can’t change the wording. But nobody knows what hallow means. We just think of Halloween, and that’s not helpful.

“Hallowing happens in the heart, not in the hands first.”

But I want us to see this word for what it is. “Sanctify your name. Cause your name to be regarded as holy. Cause me to see it as sacred, and revered, and esteemed, and honored, and valued, and cherished, and treasured.” Those are words that unpack hallow.

And not just see it. The devil sees it. Remember, the demon said to Jesus, “I know who you are — the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). So they regard him as holy. Big deal. It’s so much more utterly crucial that we not just regard him as sacred, and holy, and revered, and cherished, and honored, and treasured, but that we feel it.

Hallowing happens in the heart, not in the hands first. The hands go up as the fruit of hallowing, but if the hands go up without the heart, Jesus has some nasty words to say about that: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). He holds his nose at that worship.

So if you’re lifting your hands, and your heart is not hallowing, cherishing, esteeming, honoring, treasuring him above everything, then those hands are hypocrites’ hands. The hallowing of his name is an act of the heart, not just a regarding of the head like the demons do, and not just the lifting of the hands like the Pharisees did, but the cherishing of his name above all things like Christians do.

Daily Light – October 23, 2018

Prayers for Christ’s Increase and Our Decrease    2 Part Article

Taken from an article by John Bloom (John serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He is author of three books, Not by SightThings Not Seen, and Don’t Follow Your Heart. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.)

Part 2:  14 Prayers for Christ’s Increase  (7 prayers in Part 2)

Drive: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my zeal to do your will and my urgency to make the best use of my time during these evil days.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)

Distraction: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to pursue only what you call me to do and deliver me from the fragmenting effect of fruitless distraction.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

Distress: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my distress for perishing unbelievers, the persecuted church, and destitute poor and my resolve to do what I can to bring them the deliverance and relief of the whole gospel of Christ.

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” (Romans 9:2)

“Remember those in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3)
“Remember the poor.” (Galatians 2:10)

Declare: Whatever it takes, Lord, decrease the hold that unbelieving fear has over me and increase my boldness to declare the gospel to everyone you send me to or bring to me.

“Grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” (Acts 4:29)

“He . . . welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness.” (Acts 28:30–31)

Dynamis (Greek for “power”): Whatever it takes, Lord, fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit and any gifting you might be pleased to give me that I may be an increasingly fruitful witness to the reality and gospel of Jesus Christ.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)

Decrease: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my love for your supremacy and trust in your wise purposes so that when it’s time for me to step out of a role to which you had appointed me for a season, I will receive the decrease in personal influence with joyful faith.

“Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29–30)

Death: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my faith and joy in the truth that death is gain for me so that I can “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” Do not let the fear of death cause me to resist your will for me and enable me to die in a way that declares that Christ is gain.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” (John 17:24)
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
“So we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

Daily Light – October 22, 2018

Prayers for Christ’s Increase and Our Decrease    2 Part Article

Taken from an article by John Bloom (John serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He is author of three books, Not by SightThings Not Seen, and Don’t Follow Your Heart. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.)

Part I:     14 Prayers for Christ’s Increase (7 prayers in Part 1)

 John Bloom writes….At the risk of appearing more impressive than I really am, I’ll share with you the list I’ve compiled over the years of things that I regularly ask God for so that Christ will increase and I will decrease. Perhaps you will find it helpful, or it will encourage you to compile your own list.

All the requests begin with “D” to help me remember. And I’ve ordered them not so much in sequence of priority but to roughly move from heart to action. And since there are fourteen, I’ve grouped them so that I can pray for two similar or related requests per day each day of the week.

Please know that these are prayers of aspiration, not achievement. I am very far from having arrived.

But I can say that I have seen God answering these prayers over twenty plus years, some more than others. And I can also say that I have never once regretted praying “whatever it takes,” even though many answers have come through pain or adversity. Increased joy and hope in Christ’s increase, whether in us or around us, is worth far more than whatever it costs.

Delight: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my delight in you as the greatest treasure of my heart.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Desires: Whatever it takes, Lord, increasingly align the desires of my heart with yours.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9–10)
“I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 5:30)
“Not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Dependence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my awareness of my dependence on you in everything so that I will live continually by faith.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Desperation: Whatever it takes, Lord, decrease my proneness to wander from you by keeping me desperate for you.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

Discipline: Whatever it takes, Lord, discipline me for my good that I may increasingly share your holiness and bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

“He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10–11)

Discernment: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my ability to discern good from evil through the rigorous exercise of constant practice.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)

Diligence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to do your will with all diligence.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16)

(con’t tomorrow 😊)

Daily Light – October 19, 2018

Marriage:   God’s Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace

(5 Part Message by John Piper)  Part 5


Jesus Died For Your Spouse’s Sins

Colossians 2:13–14: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with [Christ].” Now, how did you do that? On what objective basis could he do that for us rebels? Here’s how: “having forgiven us all our trespasses.” Think of it. That’s a big word: all. All the sins past, all the ones you’ll do tonight, all the ones tomorrow, until you die and are perfected.

“Having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” The law says you’re a sinner. Cursed is everyone who does not abide in the law to do all of its commands (Galatians 3:10). Nobody has done that. We’re all under a curse. That record stands against us and he canceled it. Start to breathe, dead heart. My dead heart now is breathing. Start to breathe, dead heart. “Canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

“Jesus bore my penalty as my substitute, my Mediator, my God.”

Would that God would grant you to believe that for the sake of your marriage — and everything else. When did it happen? It happened two thousand years ago. It didn’t happen when you got saved. It happened two thousand years ago. It happened before you. It happened outside of you. It happened on behalf of you. It was totally objective, not subjective. Your salvation, the forgiveness of your sins, was purchased totally independent of your existence.

You didn’t exist before a hundred years ago. This happened two thousand years ago. God nailed your sins to the cross. This isn’t something you do. This isn’t something you earn. This is something you receive. And there’s only one receiving word: it’s called faith. “You mean, Father God, you’ll give that to me? You’ll give this verse to me, if I would receive it?” And God responds, “Yes, that’s why I did it. I didn’t do it for nothing. You will have it. You will rest in it. You will cherish it. I’ll give it to you.”

I hope that you see the most wonderful and astonishing thing here. God took the record of your husband’s sins, and your wife’s sins, and premarriage sins that made you a debtor to wrath. Sins are not primarily offenses against people. Sins are primarily offenses against God, which is why wrath is an issue. So God took those. He took the record. All those sins are written down, and he’s still writing them all down. He writes them all down so that he can glorify his Son’s death because he takes them — this piece of paper — folds it as many times as he has to, and puts it in the palm of his Son’s hand, and drives a spike through it and him. That’s what he did for you.

If you say, “I’m not forgiven,” you’re saying that he’s not worth it. That spike didn’t do its job. God blew it at Calvary. He didn’t blow it. You can reject it, but he didn’t blow it. What a picture. This is a Bible picture. If I made this picture up, you might say, “Well, nice picture,” but the Bible made this picture up. God spoke to us to say, “When you see my Son’s hands stretched out and nails in his hands, remember there’s a big record — a record of your sins — and I’m canceling them and nailing them to my Son’s hands, so that, inasmuch as my Son is infinitely valuable, your sins are covered and gone.

“Your salvation, the forgiveness of your sins, was purchased totally independent of your existence.”

Whose sins are there? The husband’s sins. Whose sins are there? The wife’s sins. My sins and Noël’s sins. We should be concrete here now to make this work. My sins and her sins are nailed through Jesus’s flesh. Whose hands? Jesus’s hands. There’s a name for this. It’s called substitution. If you want to get really fancy, it’s called penal substitution. He bore my penalty as my substitute, my Mediator, my God.

(Let’s finish with a repeat of yesterday’s message)  And if we reach back into Romans and draw out all of our understanding of justification, we can say more, because justification goes beyond forgiveness. Not only are we forgiven like Colossians 2:13–14 says, but justification is the act by which God declares us righteous.

God requires two things of us as sinners: one is that we be punished and the other is that we be perfect. I cannot provide for my own punishment. I cannot provide my own righteousness, my own perfection. God knows that and, therefore, he puts forth his Son to do two things: to bear my punishment and perform my righteousness, perfectly.

And by faith, this husband and this wife look away from ourselves and from each other, and receive not only a slate being wiped clean, but a righteousness being counted as ours, which is His and is perfect.  (end of article…wow! 😊)