The Lamp of Our Body

The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34 NKJV)

Isn’t it amazing how these words of wisdom still ring true today – 2000 + years later. People are people and there are deep truths that will stand the test of time. These truths do not change because of our Author, our Creator. He put his signature in our DNA.

This is a major reason for my attempt at daily devotionals. What are we looking at daily? What do we set our eyes and, therefore, our minds on? The lamp of the body is the eye. When our eye is good and we set our eyes on good things, we are filled with light. When we set our eyes on bad things, whether by choice or not, we are filled with darkness.

It makes me think of stumbling around in the darkness at night, trying to find the kitchen for a drink of water. If I turn on a light, my eyes receive the light which overwhelms the darkness. It’s even hard to adjust to the difference at first. Both light and darkness have an affect on us. Let us set our eyes and minds on good things.

Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed Be Your Name

One of my favorite passages is Jesus’ response to the disciples when they ask him how they should pray. It breaks down like this:

– Sacred is Your Name
– Your Kingdom Come
– Your will be done
– Let it be on Earth as it is in Heaven
– Give us our daily bread
– Forgive us our sins
– As we also forgive those who are indebted to us
– Do not deliver us into temptation, but away from the evil one

Perfect. That model has influenced and guided our prayers ever since.

So He said to them, When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Luke 11:2-4 NKJV)

Walk Upright In Righteousness

If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3 NKJV)

Ever since my wife and I decided to grow a garden, I have learned more and more about the nature of this life on Earth. Our garden is very small compared to some and I must not have had any prior experience growing fruits or vegetables. I am a beginner and we are learning so much.

The more work we put into the garden, the better it seems to grow. When we are busy and therefore, work the garden less, it’s tendency is to go wild and do whatever it wants. Last year, we dabbled in gardening and we barely had any produce at all. This year has been an entirely different story because of one change: the foundation.

We live in Kansas and the dirt here is extremely dry. It is almost like rock or clay in some areas. And the weeds, bugs… Let’s just say that last year, our garden never stood a chance. This year, I brought in soft, irrigated soil. I would call it a 180 degree turnaround.

I believe that we are like the plants in that garden. It seems that there are many things that try to tear down a plant – fungus, wind, insects, heat, hail, etc. It seems like it takes a lot of work, good conditions, patience, hope, despair :-), to make it grow.

Much like the plants in our garden, it is not easy to stand upright in this life. I believe that standing upright is to live in righteousness. It is doing the small things right everyday. Trust the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind. We must labor to build strong foundations: in our gardens, in our homes, etc. Do we think it is going to be any easier in our faith? We must have strong foundations to not be beaten down, pushed aside, made irrelevant. Righteousness must be able to stand on firm foundations.

Whether we like it or not, wickedness exists on the Earth; both in spirits and in people. Their joy is violence and their goal is to aim their attacks at the “upright in heart.” Stand boldly with confidence in the Lord. For He looks gladly upon the upright and loves the righteous.

The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. (Psalm 11:5-7 NKJV)

Judgement of a Group of People

I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know. (Genesis 18:21 NKJV)

This passage clearly shows that a group of people can take on an identity, a culture; therefore, that group of people can be judged according to their actions. It also shows that we can make personal decisions about our behavior and be judged according to those actions. This is relevant to us today. Society, leaders, our culture can pull us in a certain direction. Nations, cities and even families can take on an identity. Our leaders are important and we need to pray for great leadership.

But, I truly believe that we need to look at the person in the mirror first. We need to have strong roots, feed our faith and live for the Lord. We need to take care of our brothers and sisters. When we do those things personally, it feeds over into a group of people. The spheres of influence become bigger and bigger. The Lord is looking for those who are righteous in His eyes to do His work.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And he said, He who showed mercy on him. Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise. (Luke 10:29, 37 NKJV)

Boy, doesn’t that sound familiar. “…wanting to justify himself…” I know that I do that. I love Jesus’ response: another parable. It’s a very clear picture describing who your neighbor is: even a stranger.

Although I doubt that’s what the lawyer wants to hear in in this passage, it says a lot about God’s kingdom, who we are to be like and what we normally act like. Many of us live in a place of fear or selfishness. We are either to afraid to act (it’s possible that we will either fail or succeed), or we are contempt with who we are and are without compassion towards others. Sometimes I am both; I feel like I am usually so busy with my own schedule that I don’t take the time to help someone I don’t know.

I thank God that there are compassionate people who would help even a stranger. I pray that God will work on my heart and give me both discernment and compassion when someone needs help.

Who do the crowds say that I am?

“And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18 NKJV)

I am baffled by the marvels of God. So many people followed Jesus, witnessed His miracles and his teachings. Yet, many did not know who He was. God can perform “big” signs and wonders, and yet have a lasting impact in the small details of everyday lives.

The events surrounding Jesus’ life were an appointed time – meant to be and definitely filled with purpose. In this example, the good student Peter answered and was correct: Jesus Christ was before them even though most people did not realize it. Jesus commanded them to tell no one. He knew His purpose on Earth: to become the perfect living sacrifice for our sins. He knew he would suffer and be rejected, as this would lead to His persecution and death; thus fulfilling prophecy.

It was a combination of many little things surrounding Jesus’ life that made it possible for us to know the Kingdom of God today: His relationships with the disciples, the miracles that speak to us so long after His life, the confusion of the masses that knew of Him in that time.

I don’t concern myself with who the masses say that Jesus Christ is. I do not want the Lord to be ashamed of me when He comes in glory. Let us not be ashamed of Christ Jesus and His words. Let us appreciate and proclaim His words and the art of God’s design in everyday lives.

Where is Your Faith?

Luke 8 5-18

What an amazing parable to teach us how to receive God’s word. Seed to us is the word of God and we our like the ground. Some hear the word, but the devil comes to steal the word out of our hearts so that we may not believe and be saved. I would understand this as stealing our trust in who God says He is. Any doubt that removes us from our place of trust in the Lord steals our opportunity to be saved.

Seed on the rock – listens to and “receives” with joy, but they have no root. The root is our foundation. Who are we and what do we really believe? Can we trust in the Lord? Temptation pulls us when we lack strong roots to keep us anchored and nourished.

“…choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life.” Many of us struggle with this one. We are human. We are flesh. It is important for us to feel safe and secure. Beyond that though, we enjoy pleasure and consistency in what we like. We don’t like to wait patiently.

Note that I don’t believe that this is saying that riches and pleasure are bad. To be blunt, God is the author of marriage and intercourse. He created the seed that lead to wine. Look at the Old Testament and the materials that God used to design the temple. I don’t believe those who have should be resented or coveted.

However, when we receive pleasures and riches, how does that affect our faith? Does it choke out the Word of God that is our seed. The purpose of our lives is to hear the Word, receive it and nurture it to the point of bearing fruit. The thorns in our lives catch us and choke our faith – stopping the outward expression of our internal faith.

My hope and desire is to love the Lord, receive the Word of God (both written and spoken), build strong roots in myself and nurture those around me with seed and encouraging strong roots – bearing fruit in this life, building treasures in the next.

Using the parable Jesus gave, we can learn so much about our own faith.