If you’ve ever lost power at night, you know how disorienting it can be to try and find your way to a flashlight or candle. You think you’re heading for a doorway but unexpectedly bump into a wall. This is what our life was like before we met the Light of the World. In fact, we didn’t even know what real light was and had become comfortable in the darkness because it kept us from seeing how sinful we truly were.
An amazing transaction occurred when we finally believed the gospel, repented of our sins, and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We were rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Light. And now Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, has come to dwell within us (Col. 1:13; Eph. 3:17). So how are Christ’s followers supposed to live? Today’s passage outlines three basic responsibilities:
- Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2). As the Savior sacrificially loved us, so we are to love others. If we are at odds with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t claim to be walking in Light (1 John 1:7).
- Abstain from sin (Eph. 5:3-7). Believers aren’t sinless, but they don’t habitually practice deeds of darkness.
- Learn what pleases God (Eph. 5:8-17). The fruit of Light is goodness, righteousness, and truth. These are displayed in our character, conversation, and conduct when we are living out our faith.
Let’s make it our aim to move ever closer to the Light, letting Jesus expose and remove any areas of darkness so we can reflect His glory and goodness.
Bible in One Year: Galatians 4-6
Bible in a Year: Daniel 3–4; 1 John 5
The God we serve is able to deliver us.—Daniel 3:17
Due to an injury that occurred in 1992, I suffer from chronic pain in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. During the most excruciating and disheartening moments, it’s not always easy to trust or praise the Lord. But when my situation feels unbearable, God’s constant presence comforts me. He strengthens me and reassures me of His unchanging goodness, limitless power, and sustaining grace. And when I’m tempted to doubt my Lord, I’m encouraged by the determined faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They worshiped God and trusted He was with them, even when their situation seemed hopeless.
When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a blazing furnace if they didn’t turn away from the true God to worship his golden statue (Dan. 3:13–15), these three men displayed courageous and confident faith. They never doubted the Lord was worthy of their worship (v. 17), “even if” He didn’t rescue them from their current predicament (v. 18). And God didn’t leave them alone in their time of need; He joined and protected them in the furnace (vv. 24–25).
God doesn’t leave us alone either. He remains with us through trials that can feel as destructive as Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. Even if our suffering doesn’t end on this side of eternity, God is and always will be mighty, trustworthy, and good. We can rely on His constant and loving presence. —Xochitl Dixon
Lord, thank You for being with us, no matter what we’re going through.
Faith relies on our Almighty God’s unchanging character, not on our circumstances.
The ethics of regifting is always a hot discussion at Christmastime and the weeks that follow our various office parties and family exchanges. Apparently, there are those who insist that regifting is a tawdry practice, and there are those who have practiced it for years and see no harm. For those who might not be familiar with the concept, Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary offers a helpful definition: To regift is “to give an unwanted gift to someone else” or “to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift.” In any case, two out of three people say they have either regifted or are considering regifting. And while there are no doubt many successful regifters among us, there are also unfortunate stories to show for the less successful, which make the discussion entertaining. Imagine opening the very gift you had given your mother-in-law a year earlier.
The concept of regifting is similar to a word coined by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit. “Anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom,” writes Tolkien. “Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.” Whether Hobbit or human, regifting is evidently nothing new.
Even so, when a colleague of mine referred to Christmas as the “season of regifting,” I was certain he had been the victim of too many unfortunate gift exchanges. Except he wasn’t talking about unwanted scarves or random gift-cards. He was talking about the mysterious gift that is resurrected each Christmas and presented again as if new. Year after year, we reopen the story of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the magi, and the star. “God is a regifter,” he said. The child is the gift.
And so each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God.— Romans 14:12
Too many people never get around to fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives because they’re so busy keeping everyone else happy.
The world is filled with people who think they know what you should be doing with your life.
But the Bible says you will give an account to God, not anyone else, of how you’ve lived. That’s why we need to live by God’s grace each day, doing our part to live in a way that pleases Him.
Are you daring enough to follow your heart rather than the crowd? Are you focused on Christ even when many voices try to draw you away from your purpose?
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who wait for something to happen and those who make things happen. God has called you to do great things for His kingdom—and He’s given you everything you need in Christ to fulfill them.
So be intentional and live life on purpose. Don’t just wait around to see what everyone else is going to do and then follow the crowd. Stir yourself up, make a decision, and get going!
“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler for them that walk uprightly” (Proverbs 2:6,7, KJV).
One of my brothers and a sister and I recently stood at the bedside of our 93-year-old mother. The doctor and nurses had just left the room after informing her that she needed a pacemaker for her heart.
After the doctor left, she called us around her. “Now I want you to join with me in prayer,” she said. She began to pray, her countenance radiant from the joyful assurance that God was listening and would answer:
“Father in heaven, I need Your help. I do not know if I need a pacemaker, but You do. Tell me what to do, because You know what is best for me.”
“Mother,” I asked, when she had finished praying, “how will you know when God answers you?”
She replied, “God will tell me what to do as He always does.” Later in the day she informed the doctor that she would not need a pacemaker. The doctor was disappointed, and he encouraged her to reconsider.
After he left, I inquired, “Mother, how do you know that you’re not to have a pacemaker?”
“Well,” she replied, “before I prayed I had an impression that this was the right thing to do because the doctor and nurses felt so strongly, but as I prayed God seemed to take away the desire.” Months later we all agreed that she had made the right decision as her health was greatly improved.
For more than 75 years this beloved saint has known the faithfulness of this promise for wisdom. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous. He is a buckler for them that walk uprightly.”
Is Christ real? Does He give answers to practical problems of life? Inquire of one who has walked with Him for more than three-quarters of a century and you will have no doubts. To achieve this wisdom, you must seek it with all your heart. The world’s wisdom, great as it may be cannot begin to measure up to the divine wisdom available to one who faithfully reads, studies, and meditates upon God’s Word and who has a close intimate relationship with Him in prayer.
Bible Reading: Proverbs 2:1-5
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will seek God’s supernatural wisdom by diligently studying God’s Word, through prayer and through fellowship with others who walk with God.
It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. God became a man! Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. Jesus came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were un-manicured, calloused, and dirty. For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt…weak; weary; and afraid of failure. His feelings got hurt.
To think of Jesus in such a light seems almost irreverent. There’s something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant and predictable. But don’t do it! For heaven’s sake, don’t! Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out!
Read more In the Manger
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard what Eric Metaxas calls “perhaps the most important free speech and religious freedom case in our lifetime.”
Eric explains the case succinctly: Jack Phillips is an artist who designs cakes. His business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, is an expression of his faith. He has refused business in the past that conflicted with his faith—for instance, he won’t design Halloween cakes or cakes that celebrate divorce. The Satanic Temple recently asked him to create a cake for Satan’s birthday, but he refused.
When a same-sex couple asked him to design a cake for their same-sex wedding, he declined. He offered them any cake or other product in his store.
But the couple was infuriated and brought him before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It fined Phillips and ordered him and his employees to go through a “re-education” program. He has since stopped making custom wedding cakes, a decision that has cost him 40 percent of his business.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that government cannot force citizens to make, say, or do something that carries a message they reject. For example, the Court has ruled that the government cannot compel Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag. Now the Court is being asked to extend this religious freedom to the rest of us.
Can businesses “discriminate” against customers?
Writing for The Hill, Emilie Kao states, “At stake is whether the First Amendment to the Constitution protects all Americans at all times.” When Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the decision legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, he stated, “It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”