When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 (NIV)
A pilot spent his entire military life flying combat choppers in Vietnam. He was assigned to a secret mission one night, which required him to fly in complete darkness, totally by instrumentation, hovering above the jungles of Southeast Asia.
Try to imagine flying a chopper in utter and total darkness. When it came to landing, he had to be so meticulous and precise, an error of even five feet could crash the chopper and kill all who were on board. It was like aiming for a postage stamp in the middle of that blackened jungle.
Enveloped in darkness, he radioed to the man on the ground and said, “What can you give me down there?”
For stealth reasons, the man on the ground could not light up the landing area. In fact, he didn’t even have a flashlight. Reaching in his pocket, he told the pilot, “All I have in my pocket is a Zippo lighter.”The chopper pilot responded, “Well, if you don't mind, can you come outside and flick the Zippo lighter?”
The man did, and in the middle of the jungle, on a top-secret warfare mission, our combat pilot landed a chopper by the tiny light of a Zippo lighter,which pierced through the dominant darkness.
If the pilot had only focused on how dark it was, he would not have landed safely. Instead, he focused his attention on that little flame and allowed its light to dominate his concentration. And because he did, he was guided to safety.
I don't care how dark your past is. I don't care how dark your relationships may be. I don't care how dark your medical diagnosis is. I don't care how dark the government is. I don't care how dark the economy appears. I'm here to tell you, you can fly your faith right to the landing of God's express will if you learn how to fly by the light of His presence.
Jesus’ light is a whole lot bigger and much more brilliant than a Zippo cigarette lighter. Jesus is the light of the entire world. His light is your access to all things eternal. Keep your eyes focused and your mind stayed on Him.
Everything was created through him;
nothing not one thing!
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
John 1:3–5 (MSG)
It’s frustrating to see just how close darkness hangs around when we so sincerely desire and pray that the Lord would shine His light in our lives.
You can be excessively patient with people on Monday, and come Tuesday, they are instantly on your nerves. You can want all of God’s will in one moment, and suddenly you turn around and want to avoid most—if not all—of His will the next moment. You can be so powerfully vision-oriented one week and then feel so narrowly constricted the next week. You can be high on possibilities in one conversation, and then feel hopelessly blocked in another. You can exude boundless energy in one season and feel completely exhausted in the next. You can be excited when you wake up in the morning, and as soon as you get to work, you are ready for the day to end.
If that describes you, here’s the good news that I see in the first chapter of John: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
IYou see, our faith is not a surrender to a light that completely and permanently dispels darkness—at least not this side of heaven. Our faith is a surrender to a light that shines in a darkness that is also present in our lives.
We want a life where light shines without any darkness being able to hang around, but the truth of our lives is this: Jesus is in your life to shine the light of His presence in your darkness because the dark part of who you are is still present.
Paul said that he had to surrender to daily crucifixion. He felt so trapped by the darkness in his life that he didn’t just need strength or courage. He said he needed to be delivered from the darkness, and that only Jesus could deliver him.
You will not, for the remainder of the span of your human existence on earth, experience the total eradication of darkness in your life. But know this: Jesus can shine the light of His presence in your life until darkness will not dominate.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV)
The Apostle Paul teaches that we’re in the race of life not just to run, not just to survive, not just to show up, but to win the prize.
What does that mean, spiritually? It means we should run at a pace that allows us to win.If that pace involves running uphill at times, so be it. If it means running through dangerous terrain, or if it necessitates going around runners who distract and obstruct, we do so. Sometimes in the race of life, we are called to motivate others to pick up their pace, orto have the crucial conversations with those who keep crossing over into our lane.
We should expect all of these things and none of them should cause us to quit, because we’re not in the race for the comfort of the track. We’re not in the race for the ease of the run. We’re not in the race for whowe’re partnered with. We are in the race to win the prize, which is to be conformed to the image of Christ.
I want my calling to outpace my fleshly desires. I want my prayers to outpace my inner drives. I want the Lord’s will to outpace my will. Don’t you? We have to win the race that matters.
I'm not trying to live a good life; I'm trying to live my best life. I'm not trying to live stress-free; I'm trying to honor the adventurethe Lord designed for me. His racecourse will be fraught with Pharaohs and Goliaths and mountains and vipers and Judases and Calvarys, but none of those things can stop us unless we make the choice to change our pace. If you are in the race to win it, none of those obstructions will hinder you from keeping your eyes on the prize.
Your motivation for running is to get what God’s will has for you, to get His good pleasure, to grow closer to Him through it all. You are in it to win it! And you can win it, because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.
When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!" "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Mark 11:7-11 NIV
Jesus’ entry on this side of the city of Jerusalem signaled something different from the government-sponsored entrance that Pilate was making on the other side of the city. On one side, the city was celebrating their oppressive leader. On the other was Jesus on the back of a colt. For half of the city, the way things were would never change, and for the other half was the one who would come and bring deliverance to the captives.
A relationship with Jesus teaches us is how easy it is for us to give into our inherent weaknesses. This is how we know that there is no correlation between depth of spirituality and overinflated egos. The more we know Jesus, the more we know that we need his help.
This is where we are in the world today. We’re trying to collect our breath and trying to keep this virus from consuming us. No matter how great we are, we are still susceptible to this virus. But a belief in Jesus means that help is on the way. He is riding into our lives and He calls for us to offer to Him spontaneity. We have to be willing to be led in the moment to be flexible and let the Lord change our plans.
The whole city was supposed to be pressed shoulder-to-shoulder watching Pilate come into the city with pomp and circumstance. Jesus’ entry stands in rebellion to that. The people knew that the offering that was appropriate for God was spontaneity. When they saw Jesus riding into the city, they took of their cloaks and laid them before him. They waved palm branches for him.
One of the many things that we must accept that we cannot plan our way through life. We can only respond to where God is leading us. Today information changes minute by minute—we can’t follow God as faithful disciples if we need everything to go according to plan. We must be willing to run out to the city gates and throw our cloaks on the ground and wave palm branches because Jesus, our help, is on the way.
The LORD had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
Genesis 12:1-4 NIV
One fateful day Abraham encountered God and was given these instructions: “Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.” On the surface, this sounds so simple and neat. There is no mention of fear, drama, or inner doubts.
It seems simple for us because we know that Abraham becomes progenitor of an entire nation. This makes it easy make the jump from where God is taking Abraham from to where God is taking Abraham to.
However, God asked Abraham to make an abrupt change that required discomfort and sacrifice. Abraham was hit with change so quickly that we would be stunned with shock if God asked the same of us. Maybe for the first time in our lives, due to this pandemic rocking the globe, we understand the cost of change.
Change is challenging, and it is all the more challenging when it is imposed on our lives without warning or approval.
Every one of us are managing change that we never thought would be ours to manage. We are all nervous and curious as to what this change will mean for us. We may not have thought that we had time for God to demolish some things or implode some things, but when the pandemic hit, it became necessary time for spiritual and emotional construction.
This change is uncomfortable, especially when we will never go back to life as we knew it, and the changes for life as we know it are still unfolding. The world in front of us is nothing like the world behind us.
We must nurture a healthy spiritual filter through which we strain all of our human decisions. When life forces change on our expectations, we must be able to sift out purpose beyond shock and pain. Then we can anchor in on divine purpose.
This is the only way that we can testify that the enemy meant this for our demise, but God meant this for our development.