Walking in the light
1John 1: If we walk in the light…
John the Apostle is a man who enjoyed a close relationship with Jesus. At the Last Supper he’s the one who leans against the Lord to ask about the betrayer. His unofficial title in history is “John the Beloved.” The short letters he wrote focus on God’s love being active in us. He says that as a person who walked with Jesus, knowing him intimately, he wants to tell us how we too can experience an intimate relationship with the Lord. The key, he says, is our “walking in the light.” Immediately he defines that for us. To walk in the light is to walk with God. Obviously, there’s a way of living that nurtures a close, abiding relationship with the Lord. That way of life has wonderful benefits for me. For one thing as I walk in the light I find myself in the company of God’s people. For another, it’s in that relationship that the blood of Jesus is applied to my life, making me clean of all my sin. As I live in the light, I join the multitudes that have been made clean by the work of Christ. John is remembered as “the beloved” and as I walk with the Lord I join countless others who can be rightly called “beloved.” What a wonderful prospect!
Take Away: It’s such an amazing blessing to be one of the “beloved.”
When Jesus shows mercy
Luke 18: Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!
On the outskirts of Jericho a poor blind man spends his day listening for the sound of footsteps that he might beg for some loose change from some passing person. On this day, though, voices raised in excitement are drawing near and he begins shouting out the question, “What’s going on?” Finally, someone responds, “Its Jesus of Nazareth, the miracle worker. He and his disciples are coming this way.” The blind man begins shouting at the top of his voice, “Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Several tell him to be quiet and the sound of the crowd nearly drowns him out anyway. He shouts all the louder, “Have mercy on me!” Then, a calm, authoritative voice is heard. Jesus is right there in front of him. “What do you want from me?” he asks. The blind man answers, “Master, I want to see again.” “Okay, do it,” Jesus replies. Light, color, and movement flood in as sight is restored. As I read this story, I’m the blind man. Life is empty, desperate, and hopeless. Then, Jesus passes by. In my own words, I shout out “Have mercy on me!” And he does. Thank you, Lord, for your light giving mercy in my life.
Take Away: Its mercy we need and its mercy we receive from the Lord.
A speck of light in an otherwise dark sky
Ezekiel 28: They’ll live in safety. They’ll build houses.
For the next year or so after the unmourned death of his wife, the prophet Ezekiel turns his attention to the nations associated with Israel. God is displeased with them too and therefore judgment is coming to the whole region. The nation of Tyre, especially, is a target of Ezekiel’s condemnation. As Ezekiel finishes up with Tyre and Sidon, and just before he turns his attention to the juggernaut that’s Egypt, there’s a short paragraph concerning Israel. In an almost off hand way the Lord describes a renewed Israel that shines like a jewel among the nations, living in safety even as all the nations around are in turmoil. I think that if this paragraph was elsewhere that it wouldn’t get my attention. However, being here, surrounded by words of condemnation and judgment I find it very uplifting; something to hold on to. I also think this is a reflection of life. We know that each life has its share of trouble: days of pain and hurt and betrayal. In the darkness a tiny light shines like a beacon. This passage may not shine like John 3:16, but in this setting its light seems brighter than it would otherwise. And in the darkness of life, I want to keep my eyes open for that small light shining in the dark place giving me something to hold on to. Take Away: Even in the hardship of life God’s people have hope.
Isaiah 52: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news.
They live in darkness, separated from God and without hope. Then, off in the distance a light is shining. At first, it’s barely visible, but in time bright enough to create excitement in all who’ve longed for this darkness to end. Then, coming out of that light is a runner, silhouetted by the glow behind him. He advances toward them and the crowd gathers, wondering what’s going on. They then hear him shouting something and the broken people strain to hear his words. He’s shouting, “Good news, good news.” With the light brightening behind him the runner races into their still-darkened camp. The people are quiet as everyone gathers around the runner who shouts out “Good news” one last time. He then catches his breath and cries out at the top of his lungs: “God reigns!” At first the people are stunned, and quietly speak these words among themselves, “God reigns. God reigns.” Then, without really thinking about it, they begin saying those words in unison: “God reigns. God reigns.” The chat becomes a shout as hands and voices are raised, “GOD REIGNS, GOD REIGNS.” Their sins have separated them from God. It seems that all that’s left is darkness and hopeless death. Now, a new day is dawning, a day of salvation. God is once again stepping into their lives. “God reigns.” Thank God for messengers of Good News. Praise God, who is God, reigning in our lives.
Take Away: God reigns!
Not blind trust
Isaiah 45: I am God. I work out in the open.
Isaiah speaks to people who have incorporated idol worship into their religion. The religions of other nations have greatly influenced them, causing their view of God to include lots of mystery and magic. In his message, Isaiah includes the words of the Lord who reminds them that he’s never told them to, “Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.” In fact, the Lord has done just the opposite. He’s told them his plans ahead of time. He’s even offered them choices: “do this and I will do that, or do that, and I will do this.” This God doesn’t work in the darkness and serving him doesn’t involve a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. Serving God certainly requires faith on our part. There’s much about that Almighty that’s transcendent, beyond our understanding. However, his desires for us are an open book. As Isaiah says it, “Turn to me and be helped —saved! — everyone, whoever and wherever you are!” Living in a relationship with God isn’t an exercise in ignorance. This God partners with us, directing our lives, but, at the same time, allows us to operate freely within his purposes. This God prefers light to darkness and is, in fact, the Creator of Light (both physical and spiritual). We serve him in absolute trust, but, since his purposes for us have already been clearly stated, it isn’t blind trust.
Take Away: Living in a relationship with the Lord isn’t an exercise in ignorance.