Be Lights in Our World

By the way you live let your light shine to all people. By speech and actions tell your story.  There must be brightness in your character that casts out the darkness of doubt.  You must shine like the sun, twinkle like stars, and be at peace in the world.  Remember to share love, and spread it to everyone – the happy and unhappy, rich, poor, hungry, and the homeless alike. Let your speech spread wisdom when you meet friends, strangers, and the brokenhearted of this world.  An author Wilferd Peterson (1900–1995) wrote, “Let your light shine.  Be a source of strength and courage.  Share your wisdom.  Radiate love.”

Another poet and writer Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919) said, “The man who radiates good cheer, who makes life happier wherever he meets it, is always a man of vision and faith.”  Are you able to forgive the indiscretions of people?  Must you forgive hurt when it’s done?   Can you forgive the wrongs of those who are rude, cruel and offensive?  Despite the nature of these wrongs you must still be willing to forgive your friends, neighbors, and enemies.  A professor of psychiatry of the State University of New York, Thomas Szasz (1920– 2012) wrote, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget, the naïve forgive and forget, the wise forgive but do not forget.”

Thoughts & Actions

As the saying goes, “Be kind to others.”  It’s always good to acknowledge acts of kindness.  Remember to send thank-you cards, notes of appreciation, and even peace offerings to those you don’t see eye to eye with.  By doing what’s right you’ll be expressing kindness by taking the high road.  It’s always wise to do favors to the least among us.  Encourage your friends, pat them on their backs, and say a few words of encouragement.  Never give up on people.  When conflicts arise with them think about what you can say and do to appease them.  An unknown writer wrote, “We greatly influence others with our thoughts, if our thoughts are kind, peaceful and quiet, turned only toward good, then we also influence ourselves and radiate peace all around us.”

You must bend over backwards by doing a favor, and building confidence in others.  It’s always time to compliment, support, and acknowledge the good people do.  This is what Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), a Roman Catholic nun often did.  It was she who said, “Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness.  Kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

 Our Demeanor

Like Jesus we must be an example of lights in the world.  By modeling Christ we ought to be living symbols of the good news to mankind.  Your lights mustn’t be hidden nor dimmed, but shine brightly on those we encounter.  Why hide your light under a bushel?  A Christian’s work is for all to see.  It’s hoped that through your lives people will come to know the Lord and glorify his name.  For all things you must be thankful.  When reaching out to people do so with joy, and by make his Word known to them.  In ministering if you’re able to reach one lost sheep, consider this was what you were called to do.  The hallmark of your faith is simplicity and humility.  In encountering people be a positive experience, for your walk is crowned by our Savior, a truly brilliant light.

 

Live in Peace

Hezekiah prayed for peace and security for his people (2 Kings 20:19).  “It is honorable to refrain from strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Prov 20:3).  King David encouraged his followers to “depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Ps 34:14).  Eccl 9:18 states wisdom was better than weapons of war.  But in being at war, it is best to surrender to the power of God (1 Sam 14:1-14). An Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) prayed, “Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”  To Francis, prayers of love drive out hatred.  People will fear no one.  There’s the realization that men and women are able to live peaceably.

Who must offer the gift of peace?  It’s important that these gestures be made by peacemakers.  Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973), president of the United States said, “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must take one step at a time.”  Undoubtedly Johnson must have been thinking about lasting peace.  Peace for the wrong reasons won’t endure.  It’s fitting that everything comes together, one at a time.  Then nations can delight in well-drafted peace treaties.

Peace with Ourselves

The current Dalai Lama (b. 1935), of the newest school of Tibetan monks wrote, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”  This is where the peace processes begins.  We’ve to do the work and ask ourselves the tough questions about living up to these challenges.  Such questions aren’t necessarily easy.

A rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970) said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”  Hendrix viewed power as a stumbling block to peace.  It’s only when we recognize this we could see artificial divisions crumble.

Peace without Force

Albert Einstein (1879–1955), a German-born theoretical physicist wrote, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”  This fact is essential when nations come to the bargaining table, when all underlying grievances must be ironed out in coming to a meaningful agreement.

Negotiators’ attitude is essential during peace talks.  St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622), a Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva said, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”  During peace negotiations there are usually bumps in the road, but it’s wise to remember having the right attitude is essential.

Dada Vaswani (b. 1918), an Indian spiritual leader wrote, “Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality.  It is a state of mind.  If your mind is at peace, you are happy.  If your mind is not at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy.  If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.”  Indeed, Vaswani was referring to having personal peace, but part of this journey requires courage, for our peace might well depend on others.

Victory in Suffering

No one likes to suffer.  Yet it is through the suffering of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who died on the cross at Calvary, our victory was won.  Jesus died the most excruciating and humiliating death.  As we learned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John he was condemned by a council of religious leaders, beaten, nailed to a cross, pierced, died, buried, resurrected, and ascended to heaven.  He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Like him people continue to suffer for various reasons.  To sinners such sufferings are like days of doom and are hopeless.  They gain nothing, save the disgrace, torture, misery, and death.  To Christians however suffering has meaning.  It may come as chastisement from Our Lord Jesus Christ for wrongs we’ve done and continue to do.  Over and over again the Holy Spirit may be warning us not to go down our chosen sinful paths.  Yet we insist in doing exactly how we feel, for many say they are having fun doing these unsavory deeds.  It’s then that the Lord may step in to try to change our minds because he loves us.  He brings us afflictions so as to guide us back to his flock (Heb 12:5-11).

Our Own Will

Still people have their own will and may decide not to listen to God’s voice.  He however will never give up on us.  God may decide to turn on more pressure when we refuse to listen.  People generally know when they are going astray.  Their consciences serve as uniquely accurate barometers concerning the way they live.  If they insist on being obstinate after being warned, and being prodded time and time again, the Lord may eventually give up on them.  This is when people’s hearts have grown hardened with sin.  The results of flagrant disobedience could lead to eternal damnation.

Gift of Suffering

Suffering might well be for our own good (Ps 94:12-13).  Saints and believers have learned vital lessons from such afflictions.  For one, they would have obtained insights of the relationship between their suffering with sinful behavior.  In times of illness they could well have experienced the love and tender care of their caregivers.  More likely they depended on family and friends who constitute the body of Christ. Physically and psychologically weakened they come to realize their limitations of their bodies, and  place their dependency upon a loving God.

In sickness these ailing persons become like gifts to all those who minister to them.  In their state of weakness they are living testimonies of what it means to be broken in Christ (1 Pet 4:12-16).  In their anguish the Lord gives them strength to show his love in the world.  These individuals are certainly outstanding Christians.  People most likely  recall the agony of family members, friends, and acquaintances while visiting hospitals and nursing homes.  These involved individuals joyfully embrace the Christian faith because they know that their victory has already been won through Jesus Christ, who willingly gave his life for us (1 Cor 15:57).

Praise for Creation

God made the first human beings Adam and Eve, all other created things, and they were good.  The first humans in whom he breathed life were formed of ordinary materials of the universe.  They were created in the image of God and given dominion over the fish of the sea, birds of the air, cattle, wild animals of the earth, and every creeping thing upon the earth (Gen 1:26-27).  Adam and Eve’s home was in the Garden of Eden where they were to take care of all these God-given gifts.  Concerning their nature of life and death, there was a covenant with God.  On breaking this covenant came a death sentence, toil, afflictions, and they were expelled from the garden.  Their children Cain and Abel became our ancestors, and their broken promises were passed down to us.

King David wrote, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visited him?” (Ps 8:4).  We were delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:21).  For these blessings we must praise the Lord from the heavens, in the heights, praise all his angels, hosts, the “sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.  Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens” (Ps 148:1-4).  With the Lord’s command they were all created.

Victor Hugo (1802–1885), a French poet, dramatist, and novelist said, “Involve all your soul in creation!”  What we must do is embrace the wonders of God’s creation.  Praise his name for his mighty works that are animate and inanimate and glorify him.  How wonderful is God!  “Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith.  Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes.  But if one believes, then miracles occur,” wrote Henry Miller (1891–1980), a novelist.

Human Creation & Divinity

However, there’s a difference between human creation and that of the divine.  Miller explained, “The great joy of the artist is to become aware of a higher order of things, to recognize by the compulsive and spontaneous manipulation of his own impulses the resemblance between human creation and what is called ‘divine’ creation.”  Divine creation captures natural manifestations which grace our environment.  These exist in their glorious nature and impact us with sublime bedazzlement.

In Paradise Lost John Milton (1608–1647), an English poet captured the essence of God’s creation in this vivid description of light and darkness:

 

O goodness infinite, goodness immense!

That all this good of evil shall produce,

And evil turn to good; more wonderful

Than that which by creation first brought forth

Light out of darkness!

Through light we’re able to see clearly.  We can differentiate good deeds from bad.  These are some of God’s blessings and amazing gifts to mankind.  With this goodness and with these gifts we can mount to the summit of creation.  They tell us to have a time for contemplation and the amazing thing is, all creation is invited to honor and praise him.

 

 

 

God’s Precious Gifts

It’s good for us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:1), because God is good and his gift of love endures forever (1 Chr 16:43).  With joy and delight praise him with the harp (Ps 43:4).  Trust in God in whose Word we must praise (Ps 56:10).  He has performed great and awesome wonders for Israel whom he redeemed from Egypt (2 Sam 7:23).  God’s people will have plenty to eat until they are filled (Joel 2:26).  Of these things they will speak about his righteousness and praise him all day long (Ps 35:28).

With these gifts of God we glorify our Lord.  A Gospel singer and record producer Fred Hammond (b. 1960) said, “We sing inspirational songs, songs of praise and worship, and about how good and how big God is.  We are magnifying the Lord.”  God is mighty and good and we must praise him abundantly. St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622), a bishop of Geneva wrote, “Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you.  Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs.”  Ascending to such spiritual realms God will always be with us, and guiding us to be at peace with him.

Look to God

Whosoever we are – regardless of our station in life, we must look to the Lord.  He’s the only true source of our existence and is our precious gift.  A sportscaster Ernie Harwell (1918–2010) acknowledged, “I praise the Lord here today.  I know all my talent and all my ability comes from him, and without him I’m nothing and I thank him for his great blessing.”  It takes a wise man or woman to know this truth about our Savior.  It’s true that without God we’re nothing.

Early Roman Catholic Church father and bishop of Caesarea, St. Basil (AD 329–379) said. “As we are baptized, so we profess our belief.   As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise.  As then baptism has been given to us by the Savior, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed.”  These are unique gifts when we’re buried and raised with Christ.

Friends as Gifts

Friends too, are important gifts to us all.  They can build us up and break us down.  St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), a prominent Roman Catholic mystic wrote, “I had many friends to help me fall; but to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder how I was not always on the ground.  I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only Who stretched out His hand to me.  May He be blessed for ever!”  Many Christians know that only the gift of grace from a loving God would give us the assurance to stand in his presence.

God has empathy for us.  He’s always there and willing to help when our situation is desperate.  A Christian pastor and spiritual mentor Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897–1963) explained, “In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we are pleased.  He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.”  Knowing God is an indescribable gift, bringing joy to our hearts, and blessing our souls.  So reach out and receive the precious gifts of God.