May 7: The Morning Star

Read 2 Peter 1:1-21

“I am…the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16)

If you are up before dawn on a clear morning and you look to the east, you may see the “morning star.” Actually, it is the planet Venus…technically not a star. You see, from our earthbound perspective, Venus, as the second planet out, does not wander too far from the sun. On many early mornings, then, Venus is visible for the sunrise. It serves as a reminder that the night is coming to a close and that the sun is about to rise.

Jesus intentionally chose the “Morning Star” title in reference to Himself. As the “Morning Star,” He is a light in a darkened world. He represents the dawn of a new day. His second coming will bring with it the end of sin, suffering, and Satan’s influence. We look forward to that day. But, while the hope is future, the promise is real. In that regard, the Morning Star is already visible through the assurances of His return.

Until the actual day of His return, however, Peter reminds us that our attention should be riveted on the truths about Christ as prophesied through the Old Testament prophets and as realized in the gospel accounts. Peter himself had heard and been eyewitness to the majesty of Christ at the transfiguration. And until He returns, we must give attention to the Scripture. Here is how Peter drives home the importance of our devotion to biblical truth:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (vv. 20, 21)

While we wait for the Morning Star’s second appearance, we can rest in the fact that the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are much more than the attempt of men to write about spiritual things. In reality, the Spirit of God directed these authors in what they recorded. The result, then, was infallible information and instruction that is essential for us to understand as we anticipate the Morning Star’s second appearance!

sbk

May 6: What the Light of World Showed a Blind Man

Read John 9

The Light of the World crashed through blind darkness with His hands.

(H)e spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes (v6).

The hands that made dirt on Day Three of Creation mixed mud with His spit. Then spread it on two blind eyes and wiped away the only thing that man had ever seen. Darkness. Nothing.

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world (v4).

The work of God is to bring light to the blind. He was doing the Father’s work. Jesus got dirty so the blind man could see.

He got dirty for us, too. For the blind who think they can see but really can’t.

For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see . . . (v39)

Like the Pharisees who asked and prodded and still just didn’t get it.

What? Are we blind too (v40)?

Jesus let Himself get soiled through and through so that we, the spiritually blind, might see by the Light of the World.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Perfect, holy Son of God got dirty with our sin so we could know the One True Light. He allowed Himself to be shunned by His Father.

When the Light of the World gave light to the man who had physically lived in darkness his whole life, that man’s spirit saw light, too. The Savior opened his spiritual eye and let him see his own need and the One True Savior.

“Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him (v38).

That man saw more in ten minutes than the Pharisees had seen in a lifetime.

How about you? How will you respond to the Light of the world and what He reveals? What will you do with Jesus’ dirty hands that can heal your diseased and darkened heart? Like the blind man, will you see Him for Who He is and worship?

brw

May 5: Shining the Light of the World

Read John 8:12-30

I am the light of the world. (John 8:12)

John’s gospel is known for recording many “I am” statements of Jesus. He is “the bread of life” (6:35), “the light of the world” (8:12), “the door” (10:7, 9), “the good shepherd” (10:11, 14), “the resurrection and the life” (11:25), “the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6), and “the true vine” (15:1, 5).

When Jesus came that first Christmas Day, one might say He brought the very first Christmas light. Himself. It follows, then, that perhaps like no other holiday, Christmas is noted for its lights. Festive strings of lights adorn Christmas trees and outline houses. They are part of the season.

But the Light of the World came for every day of the year. In fact, His illumination of this world reminds us that:

1. The world is dark without Christ’s presence. The darkness of sin is not just a dominant theme in the Scriptures. It is a discouraging reality in this world. But Christ’s presence enables us to get a clear view of righteousness that, like even a small light in a dark room, provides a stark contrast with evil.

2. The light of Christ is to be followed. During the time of the Exodus, God led His people with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In other words, God used light to safely direct the way of His people during the nighttime hours. They had to be careful to follow that light. Things are no different today. If you want to be able to safely journey through this world, you must follow Christ.

3. The light of Christ must be reflected. Not only did Jesus make this “light of the world” statement about Himself, but He also made it about His followers. He points out that “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14-16). Through your good works, you are to illuminate the niche of the world where you are present and have influence. The desired result is that others “may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

The Light of Christ is meant to shine all year long through you and me. How are you letting that happen?

sbk

 

May 4: When Light Became Man

Read John 1:1-18

God revealed. Made known to us in flesh and bone. The same Word, Who spoke Creation into created, enfleshed Himself so that mankind might see and know Him, the very God.

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (v18)

Not just with God in the beginning, but God Himself in the beginning. God spoke the Word and created life, the light of men. Then that same Word made Himself human. Walked with human feet. Wore human clothes. Spoke human words. Cried human tears. Aged in human years.

God. Himself. In the flesh.

All of this so that He could show us the way to sonship with God. So He could reveal our need for real Light. So we, His own creation, might become His children, full heirs of real life.

Because the Light of the World made Himself a man, we can know Almighty God, the One and Only. We can see His glory. We can know His grace and truth. We can live in it and know real life. We can see by the true Light.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (v14)

So we look to Jesus, God Himself. The expression of God’s essence, the Who-He-Is of God, articulated Himself to mankind and made Him known.

Having given life to all that is, the Life-Giver joined mankind on the globe and brought the real Light of life.

Mankind didn’t get it. Many of us still don’t. We need light to illuminate. We need the Light. That’s why He came.

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world (John 1:4,5,9).

He made Himself revealable. So that by receiving Him, believing in His very name, we could not merely know Him but also live.

The Word, the Light, became flesh, just like us. Fully God and fully man. Full of grace. Full of truth. All at the same time. Jesus Christ, the very Word of God. Oh, the great measures He took to show us our desperate need and know Him.

So we might live according to the true Light of Life, the One and Only Jesus. The I Am.

brw

May 3: Eyes of a Shepherd

Read Matthew 9:1-38

  • A paralytic was made to walk.
  • A sinner was forgiven.
  • A man of reputation was invited to follow.
  • A dead girl was raised.
  • A suffering woman was finally made whole.
  • Two blind men were given sight.
  • A mute man was given speech.

The truth is, there was no disease or sickness that could withstand the healing power of Jesus. As He travelled, He restored them and taught about a kingdom, in which He was King.

Did it ever get old? Did the needs ever seem overwhelming? Like the exhausted parent who has given and given and given, did He ever lose His sensitivity? It would seem not. Verse 36 indicates that the thing driving Him was the compassion of a shepherd’s heart. Compassion was this gnawing emotion that He felt deep inside . . . an emotion that kept Him teaching, proclaiming, and healing. The action, you see, flowed out of an emotion.

And the emotion stemmed from an observation. When He observed the people, He did not make the first glance observations that assessed appearance and assets. He did not see well dressed, young, upward mobile, professionals who had life by the tail. He did not see people who seemed to know where they were going and how to get there. No, the Good Shepherd saw sheep. Sheep that were troubled. Sheep that were harassed by life and by their own ways of thinking. Sheep that were dispirited, having lost a sense of direction and purpose in life. He saw sheep without a shepherd. He saw people who needed Him as the Good Shepherd.

You see, it was that observation of needy sheep that led to the emotion of deep compassion that ultimately gave rise to the action of teaching and healing.

There is no doubt that the ministry needs around you are overwhelming. Jesus said it Himself and He invites us to pray that God would raise up workers (vv. 37, 38). But for those already serving, make sure that the steam, the motivation for your ministry is not depleted. Ask God to enable you to once again see people the way He does. It is out of that observation that compassion and action will flow.

Perhaps this YouTube video will help you express that desire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

sbk

May 2: Good Shepherd / Dragon Slayer

Read Revelation 12:1-17

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” (John 10:11, 12 NIV)

Medieval stories typically include beautiful princesses, brave knights, cold stone castles, metallic armor, life-threatening jousting, and . . . oh yeah . . . don’t forget the fire-breathing dragon. This mythical throwback of a dinosaur has killed more than his share of imaginary characters.

John’s reference to this creature, however, is not a reference to some mythical animal. He is referring to our very real spiritual enemy, Satan. This rebellious, fallen angel has sought to destroy the nation of Israel and the very Savior of the world. Even now, he is a thief seeking to steal, kill, and destroy (Jn. 10:10). He is a roaring lion on the prowl for his next meal (1 Pet. 5:8). He is a wolf, who wants to attack and scatter the flock (Jn. 1:12).

But the ministry of our Good Shepherd is not only one of leading and guiding sheep. He also carries a role of protecting the flock. Others cower and run for their own protection as the dragon/lion/wolf approaches. Not the Good Shepherd / Dragon Slayer. Unafraid to lay down His very life for His sheep, He rose to meet the enemy.

While Satan and his forces are still active, there is no need for fear.   Greater is the One in us than the one at work in this world (1 Jn. 4:4). At our disposal, we have spiritual armor for the battle (Eph. 6:10-18). And, ultimately, the Good Shepherd / Dragon Slayer has conquered the dragon/lion/wolf through His own death and resurrection.

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony . . .” (Rev. 12:11)

sbk

April 30: The Lord Is My Shepherd

Read Psalm 23

(An interpretation of Psalm 23 based on Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and biblos.com.)

The LORD pastures and tends the flock in which I belong. He rules it and is my constant overseer and companion. I lack nothing.

I will never become empty or want for anything I actually need. I can stretch myself out in pleasant places of tender grass and repose peacefully because He guides me to such places. He gently leads me to them. (If only I will look and see them.) He leads my very person to quiet resting places, to still pools.

He turns my very being, my who-I-am, back to the entrenched path of His right ways. He does it for His own renown, for the purpose of His own reputation and acclaim. Because I bear His Name.

Doubtless, I will and I do come into the narrow gorge that is the very shade of death itself. Even so, I am without dread and fear. I am not frightened by the affliction or even the calamity that this horrible death-colored shadow reveals because I have You, the Eternal, self-Existent God Himself. Because I take unto You, Jehovah God. That shepherd-stick of Yours, the one you use for punishing and writing and fighting and ruling and walking, that shepherd stick and the staff you carry to keep us all going, it makes me sigh in relief. I find great ease and comfort in them.

Right here, right in front of those who bring me distress, my adversaries, right here you set the table and get all ready to give me dinner. Even right in the middle of affliction, you provide abundantly for me, your little sheep that you care for so perfectly. You have accepted me, anointed me, taken away the ashes I bear with the richness of Your oil. This abundance you have poured out on me, so much of it that, like a wet dog, I shake my head with the excess. If I were a container, I couldn’t contain all of this rich oil of great wealth that you have poured out on me. That’s how much there is.

Indeed, bountiful and beautiful, the absolute, very best will run after my whole being for every single today. Surely, Your merciful kindness and good favor will pursue me, will hunt me down. And this favor of Yours, it will chase me altogether eternally, for a lifetime, continually, every time it’s called today. And I will sit down and make a home in the very home of God Himself. I will tarry there always. Forever at home with God in His house.

Oh LORD, may it be.

brw

April 29: Like A Sheep

Read I Samuel 17:34-37 and Psalm 23

I wonder if David wrote Psalm 23 after he killed that lion.  Or maybe the bear.  I wonder how many times that happened.  Or maybe he realized the truth of God’s shepherd deliverance shepherd even as he recounted the incident to Saul before going before Goliath to fling a stone into his forehead.

The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine (I Sam. 17:37).

We don’t know when David wrote this particular Psalm, but we know without a doubt that he wrote it with the full knowledge of what it meant to be a shepherd.

The Lord is my Shepherd . . .

He wrote with great certainty.  Because David had experienced firsthand the Lord’s great hand that delivered him even as David shephereded his own sheep.  Because he knew those sheep of his needed a shepherd to survive.  And he needed his own shepherd as well.  To provide pasture and water and food for him.  To guide him with His rod and staff.  To deliver him from lions and bears of a different kind.

Truth is, we need that kind of Shepherd too.

First Peter tells us that we have an enemy (Satan) who prowls around like a lion ready to pounce (I Pt. 5:8).  So we need a Shepherd who will pursue that enemy for us and, like David did for his baa-ing sheep, grab him by the beard and pluck us out that lion’s mouth.

Our enemy is sneaky and stealth and we need a truly great shepherd, the only Great Shepherd, to save us and protect us.  Not only that, but we need him to lead us to real water, which is the Holy Spirit of God.  We need Him to restore our soul through faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  We need Him to guide us paths of righteousness through His very Word, the Bible.

Those sheep under David’s care had but one care in the world.  To follow their shepherd’s voice.  To watch his rod and staff.  And to know that he cared for each one of them.  Can we say the same?  Do we have more than that one care — to follow our Shepherd’s voice?  Are we looking for his rod and staff?  Do we truly trust that His care is unwavering and is always for our best (Rom. 8:28)?

Oh, that we might be more like David’s sheep and truly trust in the One Who truly cares.

brw

April 28: Shepherds . . . Self-Seeking or Sacrificing?

Read Ezekiel 34:1-31

The flock of God had been scattered from their promised pasture. God’s people, the Israelites had been conquered. Many of them had been carried off as exiles from their land given them by God. They were taken to Babylon, the home of a pagan people.

But the sheep didn’t just change pasture fields to Babylon because an enemy wolf had herded them off. They had wandered there (v. 6), straying from the God of heaven. We sheep are like that, you know. We are prone to wander and go our own way (Is. 53:6a). With the help of the Spirit of God, each of us must self-shepherd. The Holy Spirit equips us to self-lead so as to curb and reign in our propensity to wander (Gal. 5:16-26).

And as the sheep of Israel wandered, the self-seeking shepherds did nothing to rescue them. The nation’s kings and spiritual leaders treated the people harshly. They neither cared for the weak nor went in search of the wandering. These shepherds cared only for themselves. Leaders must guard against that tendency to feed only themselves, to fuel only their own passions, and to fatten their own bottom line.

But God promised to shepherd His people (v. 11). In fact, He would send an offspring of David (v. 23; 2 Samuel 7:16). He would look after the flock. He would rescue and gather them. He would tend them, bind up the injured, and strengthen the weak. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will do all of this for the lost sheep of Israel.

But our Good Shepherd also does this today with those who follow Him. Though we may wander, He wants to turn us back to Himself. Though earthly leaders may fail us, He never will.

“Gentle Shepherd come and lead us, For we need you to help us find our way

Gentle Shepherd come and feed us, For we need your strength from day to day

There’s no other we can turn to, Who can help us face another day

Gentle Shepherd come and lead us, For we need to you to help us find our way”

sbk

April 27: The Good Shepherd

Read John 10:1-21

“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11a)

Just hours after His birth, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary received visitors in their humble, barnyard accommodations. Shepherds stood there asking if they dare enter. Although they may have seemed out of place as commoners visiting the Creator, they were likely not strangers to mangers. They fit in the barnyard motif. Fast forward roughly 30 years and you discover that Jesus uses “shepherd” imagery in describing Himself.

Few of us in the Wayne County area have an experiential hook onto which we can hang this statement of Jesus. Although we live in an agricultural community with crops and livestock, the livestock consist, more often than not, of cows, pigs, or occasionally chickens. It is true that sheep are shown at the fair, but you typically don’t see large flocks of them along the countryside. And, at least in our area, the first-century shepherd has been replaced by some kind of fence.

Thankfully, Christ’s description of His own role as the Good Shepherd allows us to appreciate nuances of the shepherd’s care that may be foreign to us. According to Jesus, He, as the Good Shepherd,…

• Knows His sheep (v. 3, 14, 15). This is an intimate relationship with His followers. He knows them personally, calling them by name. And they know Him, recognizing His voice.

• Leads His sheep (vv. 3, 4). He goes out ahead of them. His leading sometimes takes the sheep past a quiet stream. At other times, it may be into the valley of the shadow of death. No worries, though. He is with them.

• Lays down His life for the sheep (11-13). Because He cares so deeply for the sheep, He is willing to give His all for their eternal welfare. He did not flee when the risk was greatest, but surrendered His life so that the sheep might live.

He is a good shepherd. David was right when He said in Psalm23, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want.” (v. 1) With His intimate concern for, careful leading of, and sacrificial love for sheep like me, I can be completely content. He provides all that I need.

sbk