Shine Bright in the Darkness for the Glory of God

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Jesus is our hope. When we hope and have faith in Him, He renews our strength.

Isaiah 40:31

It’s officially Autumn – the season that teaches us that “change” and “letting things go” can be beautiful! It’s also the time of harvest, a wonderful reminder to be a fruitful Christian and the work we have to do for the Lord! Fall is definitely my favorite time of the year, and it can be busy for many. It’s important for us to remember to take the time to stop and listen to the Lord for renewal and direction. So this morning grab that cup of coffee – read your Bibles, pray, and listen quietly for the Lord to speak to your heart. When we do this – our fears and doubts will be replaced with peace and strength in Him. A changed mind brings a changed heart and a new you!

During my quiet time with the Lord, he often shows me pictures in the spirit that lead me on a “learning journey” afterwards. You can find more of these here if you enjoy them.

Yesterday he had me place my hand in his, and we walked up a stairway. At the top of the staircase I could hear prayers coming up to Heaven, there were many of sadness and despair. Jesus pointed up towards the stars in the sky – more numerous than you could count. He singled out one star, and said “that one is you.” I reached my hand out towards the star, as if to touch it. The star was then placed upon my finger. It was a tiny plain star, much like a child draws a star. It was then placed into the palm of my hand, and it grew bigger and brighter … like a bright glowing ball of light. Jesus had me blow the star away from the palm of my hand… and it was scattered across the sky and multiplied.

How Majestic Is Your Name!

The song “Psalm 8” from Shane & Shane came to mind. You can read Psalms 8 here.

“Look up at the sky and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed

Genesis 15:5-6, 26:4

He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Exodus 15:26

So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons,  then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.

Deuteronomy 30:1-5

Figs have been on my mind all this week, so I decided to look them up in the Bible. Here is what I found.

Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

Luke 13:6–9

In this parable, the owner (Father God) had a fig tree planted in His vineyard and came seeking fruit, but found none. The gardener in this story is Jesus, and offers to cultivate the tree so it will produce fruit. The parable reflects how Jesus offers a chance for repentance and forgiveness of sin, showing his grace toward his believers. He helps us to produce fruit by grafting us in (Rm. 11:17-18, 20), feeding us (John 15:5), lifting us up, and pruning us (John 15:1-2).

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:19

When we are saved by grace through faith we are adopted into the family of God and become siblings with the children of Israel. As such, we are fellow heirs to both the blessings and the curses connected to the covenant the Most High made with his people. This is an issue of fundamental importance for all believers to understand. Romans 11 is a key passage in explaining the significance of the role gentiles play in our Heavenly Father’s plan, as well as our place in his family.

Jesus is the True Vine, We are the Branches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15 : 1-17

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Revelation 22:16

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations —  that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ —just as I have received authority from my Father.  I will also give that one the morning star.

revelation 2:26-28

The Word Became Flesh

A scene from the Chosen, In the beginning was the Word…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-5, 9-14

“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

For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,

Proverbs 6:23

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Proverbs 13:14

Come sit under the shade of the fig tree

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John 1:47-51

Without actually spelling it out, Jesus was telling his Jewish friend, “I am the living embodiment of Jacob’s ladder. I am the connecting point between heaven and earth. I am the bridge between God and man.

The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree

Jesus used a parable, that speaks of what a fig tree does in springtime, to illustrate what happens before His Second Coming

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Matthew 24:32-35

Jesus is Coming – The Harvest is Coming – Bear Fruit by Abiding in Him

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

The Harvest is Plentiful, the Laborers Few

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful (x3), but the laborers are few therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus is not indifferent to our struggles, nor does He blame people for the mess they’ve found themselves in. Jesus gives us a challenge: to see people as He sees them… and to feel deep, gut-wrenching compassion for people as He feels.

Our world is crying out for God’s Kingdom to be made real. Each one of us has a part to play as bearers of God’s Good News in our broken world.  On the one hand we know that our Sovereign Lord will accomplish all of His purposes for the world; and yet, at the same time, He chooses to work through us to achieve His purposes! 

Reflect: Where might God be revealing to you that He needs you to really see.. and feel the needs around you, or help with the harvest around you right now? 

“When we pray as He commanded, we will see what He saw, feel what He felt, and do what He did. God will multiply our lives as we share in the great harvest that is already ripe.”

Warren Wiersbe

Signs of the End Times

Thus what we see unfolding is that as new leaves each spring signal the return of summer, so the signs Christ reveals will signal His return. Eleven signs can be found in Matthew 24

The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.

Isaiah 13:10, 34:4

And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. And those who have insight will shine like the glow of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Daniel 12:2-3

Where, O Death, Is Your Victory?

Now I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O Death, is your victory? 

Where, O Death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

 1 Corinthians 15: 50-58

Pomegranates and Their Symbolism

Another fruit that has been on my mind this week are pomegranates! There are several places in the Bible where pomegranates are mentioned, below are four examples and what they symbolized in the Bible.

  1. Pomegranate in the robe of the High Priest

“Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.”

Exodus 28:33

The pomegranate fruit was first mentioned in the book of Exodus as God was giving instructions about the robe that would be wore by by the High Priest. It was to be put with alternating gold bells and which was required by God so that the High Priest would not die.

But why use a pomegranate? The pomegranate is a peculiar fruit. Upon opening, the person will immediately see the numerous seeds inside it. It is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds to the number of commandments of the Torah.  The numerous children of Israel can be symbolized by the many seeds of the pomegranate which is being carried inside the fruit.  So it could be interpreted that when the High Priest enters the Holy Place to minister, he is bringing with him the whole nation.

Jesus is the Great High Priest

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

2. Spies brought pomegranate, figs, and grapes from the Promise Land

“When they reached the Valley of Eschol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.”

Numbers 13:23

Pomegranates, figs, and grapes were mentioned on the account of 12 spies exploring the land of Canaan. In order to prove that the land is indeed flowing with milk and honey, the spies decided to bring some produce of the land to show to Moses and the people of Israel. The fruit symbolize fruitfulness. God in His amazing goodness and provision desires to richly bless His children. The pomegranates along with other fruits of the land that the spies has taken were deposits that God has made to prove to the Israelites His provision in the land where He will take them – in short, His faithfulness. It could be a direct allusion to what the Bible says about God making a deposit in us through the Holy Spirit guaranteeing what is to come. And along with the Holy Spirits are the fruits of ‘joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22)

An abundant fruitful life involves both giving and receiving from God. Generosity is an act of faith, and God stretches your faith to activate your faith. He fills us up to be poured out to others, and poured out to be filled up.

3. Pomegranates in the two Bronze Pillars of Solomon

“He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital.”

1 Kings 7:18

The two bronze pillars of Solomon is another prominent place where pomegranate has been given special mention. Solomon used patterns of pomegranate fruit to decorate the two pillars. Interpretations have been offered that the two pillars means, “God will establish in strength.”  Solomon is known to be the wisest man who ever lived, and in his wisdom decided to use the pomegranate fruits as decoration to symbolize the fruitfulness that is being provided by wisdom.

“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.

Job 12:13

4. Pomegranates and the Temple (the Mind)

“Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.”

Song of Solomon 4:3

Pomegranates were mentioned several times in the book of Songs of Solomon. It should be clear by now that the main symbolism that the pomegranate gives is fruitfulness. Solomon used the fruit to compare with the temple – and could be related to what the Bible teaches that the mind that is controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) A mind that is controlled by God’s Spirit will result in success and abundancefruitfulness.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And just like what the pomegranate symbolizes – fruitfulness is reserved for those who are connected to the tree – JESUS.

“Relying on God has to start all over every day, as if nothing has yet been done.” – CS Lewis

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

Daniel 12:3-4, 10

What does it mean to shine a light for Christ?

Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding firm to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 

Philippians 2:12-16, (emphasis added)

We are to shine like stars by taking on the mind and attitude of Jesus. In the same way Jesus died for us, we must sacrifice for the good of others. We take on the mind of gentleness and the mind of a servant in the midst of a corrupt and uncaring world.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is called “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). Throughout the New Testament, the followers of Jesus are called to be lights in the darkness.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? – Corrie ten Boom

How do we shine?

True change is about renewal, and that takes time. How do we renew our minds in a loud world where time is scarce?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Being counter-cultural.  We live in a dark world, full of lies, hate and confusion. But God’s Word tells us that while others are chasing after physical pleasures and selfish gain, we are commanded to live differently.

The Day Is Near

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13:12-14

As we live our lives faithfully for Him, we reflect His glory. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” All good comes from the Father, so our good deeds reflect His glory.  Through Christ, His light flows through our lives, reflecting the goodness and glory of the Father. 

The more time we spend with God, he works in our hearts… and we grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2)

God accomplishes His work on earth through the Holy Spirit, and also renews our hearts through the same Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you live a righteous life, change you, and lead you into all truths.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

May you shine like stars in the universe this week as you take what God has done in you and work it out in the world for His glory!

This Little Light of Mine

LETTING GO OF YOUR PAST

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

You can’t determine your course of action based on where you have been. You need to intentionally and accurately anticipate where you are going next in order to triump. This is why we need to abide in Jesus, and stay connected to him. He is our good shepherd. Jesus’ sheep are in his hand. And as if that wasn’t enough, our Lord adds, “No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:29-30).

As Christians, we must forget what is behind and press forward to what is ahead. We cannot idle our brains in the past, whether by exalting in the good times of glory days gone by or by wallowing in disappointment over what has transpired. Don’t beat yourself up for a past mistake when you’ve already sought God’s forgiveness. We must choose to forget the past, and then keep our eyes fixed firmly on Christ and the future He has for us. The gospel changes our view of the past, and it changes us.

Reflection

Jesus has forgiven us of all our past sins, and every sin we haven’t confessed to, and every sin we will make in the future. His grace is sufficient, his victory is complete. Ask Jesus to meet with you, and speak fresh revelation into your heart, and renew your confidence in the benefits of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

We are encouraged to strain to what is ahead. To strain assumes and exertion of energy. Where do you need to be more intentional in your life to move towards your goals and Kingdom pursuits?

Many of us feel a sense of shame and regret at past failures and mistakes. Your failures don’t make you a failure. Allow the Holy Spirit to draw near and deposit a fresh revelation of God the Father’s love for you into your heart. So you feel God’s approval over you, and not any sense of Him feeling angry at you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you tell us to take off anything that hinders, and run the race onwards towards Heaven. I pray that I will fix my perspective on eternal things. That I would focus on whatever is true, pure, nobel, praise worthy. I will not let my past define me. Nor will I let it dictate what I step out and do for your Kingdom. I am forgiven, I am righteous. I am yours, and you are mine. In Jesus Name, Amen

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My name is Elizabeth. I'm a single mom raising my 2 daughters Althea and Cordelia in Kansas

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