One-a-Day Thursday, 10/24/13

number 1For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… (Ephesians 5:8)

Right now our neighborhood is decorating for Halloween.  Witches, ghosts, tombstones, zombie creatures, bloody body parts—they cover the lawns and hang from the windows of houses up and down our street.  If ever there was a time that glorified darkness, this is it.

As children of God, we are called to be different.  We are light. Notice that the verse doesn’t say that we have light, but that we are light.  Light has nothing to do with darkness.  I’m not saying that it shouldn’t, but that it can’t.  Go into a dark room and flick on the light switch.  What happens to the darkness?

Gone.

Just as sin can’t exist in the presence of God, darkness can’t exist in the presence of light.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can play the games that the world plays.  If you dabble in darkness, you can’t live as light.

Does that mean that you can’t be living for Christ and have witches hanging from your windows and zombies bursting forth from your lawn?

Pretty much.

Look, I don’t want to step on any toes.  I’ll let God do it.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Where there is no light, there is darkness.

Where light is, darkness cannot be.

Go, Beloved of God, and live as a child of light today.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 10/23/13

number 1…live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Ephesians 5:2)

This verse goes along with yesterday’s.  One of the most powerful features of God’s character is his unending, unstoppable love.  If we imitate him, as verse 1 tells us to do, we will live a life that mirrors that love.

And what an example we have to follow.  Jesus loved us, and he told us in a way that goes far beyond words.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (John 15:13)

So how do we do that?  I mean, laying down your life is all well and good if you’re rushing into a burning building to rescue people, or if you dive into traffic to save a toddler.  But, that opportunity doesn’t arise very often, and frankly, you can only do that trick once.

There is another way to lay down your life—but you probably don’t want to hear about it.  This is the daily act of dying to yourself, of putting other people first.  It’s the little things—taking out the trash even though it isn’t your turn, letting someone else have the last doughnut even though you’ve been salivating over it all morning, letting the other car in front of you even though it means you have to slow down and why should you have to slow down why can’t they just wait their turn like everybody else—

Yeah, it’s that kind of stuff.  Not terribly dramatic; nothing to get you a mention in the paper, but loving nonetheless.  That’s your challenge.

So, what will your fragrant offering be today?

One-a-Day Tuesday, 10/22/13

number 1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children… (Ephesians 5:1).

Have you ever watched a son watch his father? The boy studies the man, soaking up the Dadness of it all.  Words, clothing, even mannerisms—the child models after what he observes.  Often, the child does not even realize what is going on.  He is simply watching, and becoming what he sees.  This can be dangerous, because not all of Dad’s ways are worthy of imitation.  Thus the origin of the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

We have a Father who says, “Do as I say; do as I do; do as I am.”  All his ways are perfectly worthy of imitation.  Study him closely today.  Look for him in his Word, in his world, and in his people.  Then, do your best to be what you see.

Go ahead—be a copycat.

One-a-Day Monday 10/21/13

number 1Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Eph. 4:32)

There’s an interesting thing about forgiveness.  It works for the forgiver as powerfully as for the forgivee.

Some of us—by that I mean me—have trouble in the forgiveness department. Oh, we’re pretty good about forgiving those who apologize to us.  We can be gracious and charitable—no problem.  But as you know, most people who offend you don’t apologize.

Because they’re jerks.

And yet we’re called to forgive them anyway.  The passage says, “Forgiving…just as in Christ God forgave you.”  He didn’t wait for us to apologize before acting to forgive us. If he had, he would have been waiting forever, which he could do, because he’s eternal, but what’s the point of that when we never would have made the first step?  Romans 5:8 says that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  While we were still hurting him, he was offering forgiveness.

Does this kind of forgiveness heal the relationship?  Not necessarily.  The offender needs to acknowledge their sin and accept the gift of forgiveness in order for that to happen.  Kind of exactly like it was with you and God.  But forgiveness does more than release the offender from guilt; it releases the offended from bitterness.  Forgive, as an act of obedience to God, and you are free to move on, regardless of what the other person does.

If you need to forgive someone today, may I humbly suggest that you follow God’s command and forgive.  They hurt you once; don’t give them the power to hurt you over and over again.

There’s no one in your life you need to forgive?  Don’t worry; you’ll get your chance.  It’s only a matter of time.

Connection

electrical plugNever underestimate the power of a good connection.

A couple of weeks ago, the power went out in two of our rooms.  It was puzzling. Why, I wondered, would the power go out in only two rooms, and only to the wall sockets—and only some of the sockets, at that?  Yes, you probably know all about electrical circuits and how contractors always put sockets on a separate circuit from the lights.  You’re very smart that way.  Where were you when I was trying to figure all this out? Continue reading

One-a-Day Friday, 10/18/13

number 1You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

You probably give great thought to what you wear each morning.  How much thought goes into the “self” you put on?

One of my favorite stories is “Ragman,” by Walter Wangerin, Jr.  In it Jesus appears as a peddler trading fresh, clean clothes for old, filthy ones. You can see where this is going, because you are very perceptive.  As he travels, Jesus meets people broken in body, mind, and spirit.  He takes the old, foul rags with which they cover themselves.  As he does so, he takes their infirmities as well.  In exchange, he gives fresh, clean garments, and leaves healthy, whole people.

I love that story.  I love it best because of the truth in it.  God has a fresh, clean you for you to put on this morning.  Take the time to put it on.

Oh, and if it doesn’t quite fit yet, don’t worry.  You’ll grow into it.

One-a-Day Thursday, 10/17/13

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you number 1must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (Ephesians 4:17-18)

It’s amazing how often I catch myself thinking, acting, behaving, “As the Gentiles do.”  Remember, Beloved of God, that you have been freed from all that.  You have a whole new frame of reference for living. Let’s work this verse backwards…

He has given you a new heart,

So you are free of the ignorance which separated you from God.

God has enlightened you and made your plans and thoughts fruitful.

Go and live your Thursday—in the world, yet free from it.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 10/16/13

number 1Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  (Ephesians 4:14-15)

When is “Then?”  As in, “Then we will no longer be infants..?”  Scripture tells us it is when we become mature in Christ.

Ah.

And when will that be?

Good question.  How many times have you felt like you were being blown hither, thither, and yon by people claiming to know what’s what?  I remember, as a baby Christian, being caught up in a group of people who taught that the Rapture was imminent—like, right now imminent.  One woman came into work and told me, with great excitement, that she had heard the trumpets begin to sound that very morning.

Twenty-six years later, it would appear that she was wrong.  But what did I know?  I was an infant, maybe two or three months old in Christ.  I was tossed about quite a lot in those days.  God, however, is faithful, and over the years he’s taught me to surf.

Here’s a promise—you will grow.  You are growing, right now, even as you think about and chew on his Word.  Every day, moment by moment by moment, God is conforming you to the image of his Son.  Your words are growing richer in wisdom, and fuller of love. Not always, but often, and more so as the days go by.  You will grow, by his grace and in his time, into the person he has called you to be.

In the meantime, hold on tight when the waves get high.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 10/15/13

number 1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1).

I know; I keep coming back to this verse.  It’s just too powerful to let go.  Paul is leading the way here—he is living his calling, though it landed him in prison.

So, what is your call?  Let’s keep it simple; after all, it’s only Tuesday.  Your call, beloved of God, is to bring him glory.  How do you do that?  Well, the context of the verse says that you do that by keeping the peace.  At the cross, God brought peace between Man and Man as well as between Man and God (Eph. 2:14-18).  Our job is to live in such a way as to help maintain that unity and that peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:23).

Think about the people you are likely to see and deal with today.  How can you glorify God by being, “completely humble and gentle…patient, bearing with one another in love”? Yeah, I know it isn’t easy—and they’re probably thinking the same thing about you.

Hmmm…prison…solitary confinement…maybe Paul had it easier than I thought.

One-a-Day Monday 10/14/13

number 1Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.     (Eph. 3:20-21)

Now, there’s a kick-start to your week!

I have quite an imagination.  I mean, I can be pretty creative, you know? But I serve a God who can do “immeasurably more” than I can even think of asking for.  Once again, Paul reminds me that God is too big for me to wrap my brain around.  And yet, that power—the power that created the universe—lives in me.  That sound you hear?  That is my brain exploding.

Yes, to him be glory for ever and ever!!!