Light of the World

by Don Merritt at Life Reference–  14 Comments

Low Lying Mist Over River Spey, Strathspey, Scotland

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 deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

You and I: We are the light of the world!

Our light however doesn’t simply come from our own ‘greatness’ but rather, it is the reflected light of the truth of God.  If we fill ourselves with Christ, if we fill ourselves with His love, His righteousness and His attitude of service, then we reflect these attributes to a world that is desperate for them.  But wait… isn’t that easier said than done?

The answer to that question is a definite “maybe”.

If we are willing to put self aside, to serve others and to immerse ourselves in His Word, then it isn’t so difficult; in fact it will come naturally.  On the other hand, if we can’t get over looking out for number one, or always putting self first… or if we are simply too busy to pray and study God’s Word, then we will never grow enough.

With that said, the choice is ours.  Will we commit ourselves to something greater than self, or will we live in a small world dominated by the unholy trinity: Me, Myself and I?

Would you like to live a happy, full and satisfied life?  If so, reflect the light of God’s love.


No Distasteful Duty: Rejoicing in the Lord Always

by Mike Riccardi at TheCripplegate

Rejoice in the Lord Always 2

Last week I shared some passages about the centrality that joy has in the Christian life. Today, I’d like to think more about the nature of joy so that we know precisely what it is we are to pursue in our walk with Christ.

Joy is a Duty

First, we must recognize that we are commanded to rejoice. Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4; cf. 1 Thess 5:16). He is not making a request, nor merely offering a suggestion as if to say, “If you’d really like to make progress in your Christian life, if you really want to be a mature Christian, you might consider diligently pursuing your joy in God.” No! He’s speaking to all the Christians at the church of Philippi (1:1), and by extension to all Christians today. He is informing us of our duty. It is a present imperative, and so even if he didn’t include the word “always,” the original language would still have the force of: “Be continually rejoicing.”

And Paul is not innovating here. There are numerous other places in Scripture where God’s people are commanded to rejoice.

Psalm 33:1 – “Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones.”
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the LORD…”
Psalm 97:12 – “Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, and give thanks to His holy name.”
In Matthew 5:12, the Lord Jesus Himself commands us to “Rejoice and be glad” when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
And in a very similar fashion, the Apostle Peter commands the churches under his care, “…to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing.” (1 Pet 4:13).

Scripture makes it emphatically clear that joy is a duty of the people of God. But in spite of that crystal clear emphasis, so many Christians continue to believe that joy is some sort of ancillary, incidental footnote to the Christian life. And I’m sure that response was as old as the commands themselves, because Paul feels the need to repeat himself before the end of the verse! It’s as if, as he sits there and pens this command, he can already anticipate the objections. “Well, surely he can’t mean rejoice in the Lord always! Doesn’t he know what we’re going through?!” And so he repeats himself: “Again I will say, Rejoice!”

I love the comment Spurgeon makes on this:

“Do you not think that this [repetition] was intended also to impress upon them the importance of the duty? ‘Again I say, Rejoice.’ Some of you will go and say, ‘I do not think that it matters much whether I am happy or not, I shall get to heaven, however gloomy I am, if I am sincere.’ ‘No,’ says Paul, ‘that kind of talk will not do; I cannot have you speak like that. Come, I must have you rejoice, I do really conceive it to be a Christian’s bounden duty, and so, ‘Again, I say, Rejoice!’”

Well, if Scripture is so clear that joy is a Christian duty, we need to clearly understand thenature of true, Christian joy. What is it that the Word demands from us here?

The Emmaus story

I just read the last of Luke in my devotions this morning. Like you I almost always still find a new insight as I go over these stories I have read many times. As I thought about this story of two dejected guys heading home rather beaten down and discouraged, I see Jesus saddling up to them. I sense a grin and almost a chuckle in his heart.

I know many always see him stern and rebuking of the disciples’ problems with understanding and faith, but I often sense he has a great winsomeness about him. I don’t picture him ranting and raving at them – and especially these two. Instead of a stern rebuke, I think he came across as a totally upbeat companion who got to give an incredible special uplift to two otherwise defeated individuals. I think he found this contact to be one of great joy to him as he picked out these two out and changed their down hearts to exploding joy as they raced all the way back to share with the others. He didn’t just happen upon them. He went out of his way to pick them out for this experience.

He even beat them back. I bet their trip back was faster. Instead of scraping the dusty  road, they probably hardly touched the ground. I can’t imagine Jesus not smiling or even laughing as he watched their joy – I think that brought him joy, too.

Their experience was so incredible, they couldn’t contain themselves – they had to share. Would that I, too, would have such a revelation of him.

I bet this wasn’t the last time they shared that experience.

Living in an Imperfect World

Interestingly, I came across this blog and the one following this morning – one after the other. Wonder if God is saying something to me this morning – maybe you, too. This is by IAmFashioned.

We are imperfect living in an imperfect world; mistakes are simply part of the price we pay for being here. But, even though mistakes are an inevitable part of life’s journey, repeated mistakes should not be. When we commit the inevitable blunders of life, we must correct them, learn from them, and pray to God for the wisdom not to repeat them. And then, if we are successful, our mistakes become lessons, and our lives become adventures in growth, not stagnation.

If you have made a mistake, even serious mistakes, there is always another chance for you because this thing called “failure” is not falling down, but the staying down. -Mary Pickford


Lord, I know that i am imperfect and that I fail You in many ways. Thank You for Your forgiveness and for Your unconditional love. Show me the error of my ways, Lord, that I might confess my wrongdoing and correct my mistakes. And, let me grow each day in wisdom, in faith, and in my love for You.


Be Kind To Yourself

Sometimes we really need to back off and realize we are not perfect and will stumble, fail others and our false expectations of ourselves.  Fortuantely for all of us we have a Godknows us and extends great mercy to us as this thought by 

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

It’s another crazy week. (shock face) No worries, because all is right in my world. I am walking by faith, trusting my Lord and Savior. Still working on breathing calmly, because I have another button that I didn’t know existed. (gritted teeth smile) I’ll tell you later. (smile)

It’s a beautiful thing when we can end a bad day and be kind to ourself. (smile) It has become my new habit on challenging days!

Replaying where we stumbled and why we stumbled gains nothing. (shock face) Thanking God that we survived is cause to smile and be kind to ourself and enjoy a peaceful night’s rest. (smile)

Learn from it and move on! Mercy and grace. We have God’s mercy and grace! Praise The Lord!

I am hanging in there with things and stuff, by faith, because this too shall pass. (smile)

Be blessed and roll with it. (smile) Remember to keep your sense of humor. (smile)


Quotables ~ Repentance

from Heavenly Raindrops

Heavenly Raindrops ~ Images

It is not something you do to make yourself feel better before God,
It is something you do to make your obedience better before God.

by Sue Nash © 2014

Proverbs 28:13
He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Crosses along the highway ~ photo taken while we drove past.

Feel free to share or use on other websites ~ no fee.  Just don’t use for commercial purposes or monetary gain.
Attribution back to this site would be nice, but not required.


The Difference Between Believing the Gospels and Trusting the Gospel

A blog and videos by J Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity

The Difference Between Believing the Gospels and Trusting the Gospel

I leaned over and said, “I think it may be true.” “What may be true?” asked Susie. “Christianity,” I responded. “The more I look at the Gospels, the more I think they look like real eyewitness accounts.” I spent months examining the claims of the Gospels, evaluating them with the template I typically apply to eyewitnesses in my criminal investigations. At the end of my examination, I was confident in their reliability. I believed the Gospels were telling me the truth about Jesus. But I wasn’t yet a Christian. I had what I often refer to as “belief that”. I examined what the Gospels had to say about Jesus, and after testing them rigorously, I came away with confidence in their accuracy, early datingreliable transmission and lack of bias. But I still had a profoundly important question: “What is the cross all about? Why did Jesus have to die that way?” My wife, Susie, had been raised as a cultural Catholic, and although she was familiar with the language and doctrines of Catholicism, her answer was simply, “I don’t really know.” After months of investigation, I believed what the Gospels told me about Jesus, but I wasn’t yet ready to accept the Gospel of Salvation.

Yesterday, CBN posted the story of my journey from “belief that” to “belief in”. It’s really the first time I’ve told the story this completely, and I hope it will help you see the role evidence can play in moving someone from intellectual assent to volitional submission:

See the rest and videos at his blog:

Death Before the Fall

from Jesus Creed By   – Read a comment or read them.

I recently received a copy of a new book Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering by Ronald Osborn courtesy of the publisher (IVP). This is not your typical coffee table book, although the imagery with which Osborn starts, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, would fit right in … aside that is from the lions feasting on a fresh killed Cape buffalo.

Three young females had taken down a Cape buffalo, which they had not yet dragged into the cover of the bush. Its legs were splayed at odd angles and its side was opened, exposing an impressive rib cage in shades of white and crimson. The lions were feasting on the carcass in the middle of the road, panting heavily as they tore into its body, their chests and muzzles soaked in blood. … At last we continued on our way, dipping into the sandy shoulder of the track we navigated about this scene of beautiful carnage. The lions paid us little notice. (p. 12)

A picture of Mana Pools taken from the article in Wikipedia is below, no lions, but a couple of elephants are seen.

Ronald Osborn was raised to believe in a young earth, with creation in six 24 hour days. In the original creation there was no mortality and no predation. The attraction the lions have for a young Cape buffalo is a consequence of human rebellion in the sin of Adam and Eve. This sin produced not just death, but also a myriad of anatomical changes in the animals populating the garden and the world.

The idea that the lions in Eden were docile vegetarians with dagger-sharp claws originally designed by God for tearing the bark off trees appeared downright silly. Somehow those massive canine teeth and retractable claws for taking down living prey had got there. This seemingly left one possibility: God himself was responsible for the transformation of all nature in what amounted to a hostile second creation after Adam and Eve’s fall. All mortality and all predation in the animal kingdom were the result of a divine punishment or “curse.” (p. 16)

Osborn has a way with words, this book could be interesting. The topic certainly is. The earth isn’t young – ice cores, lake varves among other things demonstrate this whatever one might think of radiometric dating and evolutionary mechanisms for speciation. Nor were animals all originally docile cuddly kittens, lambs, and bunnies. Lions, hawks, scorpions, tyrannosaurus, and even parasitic wasps – or the like –  were part of God’s good creation before humans were in the picture.

Creation in Genesis. In his book Osborn first lays the ground work for the more significant discussion of animal suffering through what he sees as the difficulties with Biblical literalism. This begins with the creation narratives in Genesis. Raised with a view of young earth creationism as a Seventh Day Adventist Osborn knows the arguments made in favor of such a reading of the text, and also their weaknesses. He has read widely and brings insights from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth,  John Stott, John Walton, Alister McGrath, and Walter Bruggeman among others into his discussion of the text. (John Walton wrote the forward to this book.)

Osborn makes several specific points regarding the creation narratives:

Creation occurs both ex nihilo and from existing material. In Genesis 1:11 the command is let the land bring forth vegetation, and Adam and the animals in Genesis 2 are formed from the ground, from the dust or clay.

In Genesis 1 mankind (male and female) is given the charge to subdue the land. The term in Hebrew is the language of military struggle. This isn’t simply tending a country garden.

The creation is described as good and very good, but nowhere is it described as perfect. The words used do not convey an image of divine perfection other places in the Old Testament text.

In fact, Mark Whorton writes, nowhere else in Hebrew Scripture is tob or tob me’odinterpreted by biblical scholars “as absolute perfection other than Genesis 1:31, and in that case it is for sentimental rather than exegetical reasons.” There are other words in biblical Hebrew that are  closer to the English sense of “perfect” than tob me’od that might have been used instead. (p. 29)

In order for the warning “you shall surely die” to have meaning, Adam and Eve must have known what death was. Otherwise the threat is meaningless.

He follows the path taken by John Walton that Genesis conveys theological meanings in “the prescientific worldview of the original hearers rather than our modern one.” This theological vision is crucial and it does provide constraints for how we should think about creation, but it remains a prescientific presentation. We shouldn’t read science into or out of the text.

Genesis tells us that humans are intimately related to this world and to other creatures, but that we are qualitatively related to God in a unique way that includes dimensions of moral awareness, reasoning and responsibility that cannot be grasped in reductive or purely materialistic terms. It tells us that creation has been marred or distorted as a result of human rebellion. And it reveals that we are now alienated from each other and from God as a consequence of our fallen natures. (p. 38)

Much of the discussion in this first chapter on Genesis covers ground that has been covered in my posts many times over the last several years, although Osborn brings new insights as well. Over a series of posts we will dig deeper into the book and into the theological problem of animal suffering and death before the fall.

What are the most significant questions raised by death before the fall?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

Be of sin the double cure

Anytime I come across a blog by Sam Storms I take the time to at least consider reading it, no matter what my time schedule is. Some I re-post for readers, such as this one.  Comments

Rock of Ages is one of those older hymns of the Christian faith that one rarely hears anymore, even in churches that are more traditional in their approach to worship. It was written by Augustus Toplady who died in 1776. I’ve always been fascinated by the lyrics in the first verse.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.”

It’s those last two lines that I have in mind: “Be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.”

Toplady is obviously trying to tell us that in his view sin has caused us two massive problems, both of which are overcome by the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. We need, says Toplady, a double cure from the debilitating and destructive power of sin. First, we need to be saved from divine wrath: “Be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.”

In other words, sin has exposed us to divine wrath. We have violated, in thought, word, and deed, the will of God. We are alienated from our Creator. We have incurred the penalty for breaking the law of God, namely, suffering the wrath of God. The appeal in the hymn is for the blood of Christ to save us from divine wrath and judgment.

But then Toplady makes a second appeal. “Be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.” It isn’t enough to be delivered from the penalty of sin. We must also be set free from the power of sin. We need the redemptive work of Christ, through the Spirit, to be applied to us in such a way that we find strength and power to overcome the presence of sin and to resist temptation and to grow in likeness and conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.

Both of these dimensions of the work of Christ on the cross are in view in 1 Peter 2:24-25. There we read that “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25).

When Peter says that Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the tree,” he has in view the fact that Jesus was regarded by God the Father as guilty of every sin you’ve ever committed. Jesus was reckoned as the one who deserved the punishment that should have fallen on you and me. But by God’s grace it fell, instead, on him. By enduring the wrath of God in our place, as our substitute, we have been saved from divine wrath, just as Toplady described it in his hymn. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will never suffer the wrath of God for one reason and for one reason only: it is because Jesus has suffered and satisfied the wrath of God in our place.

But Peter doesn’t stop there. He goes on to speak of a second result of the death of Christ: it was to make it possible that we might “die to sin and live to righteousness.” In other words, Christ’s death and resurrection were designed to make available to us, through the Holy Spirit, the power to resist sin, to say No to temptation, to live free from its power and dominion, and to walk in righteousness and holiness of life.

Be of sin the double cure: Yes, by all means, save me from wrath. But also, by all means, please, make me pure.

Now here’s the problem. There are many who believe that if by Christ’s death we are forever set free from the wrath and judgment of God, we will take advantage of that fact and live however we please. We will immerse ourselves in every kind of evil and sinful self indulgence. After all, if I can never endure God’s wrath because Christ has endured it in my place, what difference does it make how I live? Why should I bother worrying about temptation? Who cares if I watch pornography or commit fornication or become addicted to alcohol or cheat on my wife or steal or gossip or lie or allow my life to be conformed to what the world says is the way to live?

Peter’s perspective is utterly opposite to this. He couldn’t be any more explicit than he is: Christ died for you and bore the punishment you deserved and endured God’s wrath for sin precisely so that you might find the strength and motivation and incentive for saying No to sin in your daily life and Yes to righteousness and purity and godliness.

In fact, Peter says it three times in this paragraph.

He first said back in v. 21 – “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” One of the primary goals in his death for us was to enable us to live like him. He walked a certain path. He has left behind for us, spiritual and moral footprints. “Walk in them,” says God. “Live like Jesus.” And of course, one of the ways in which we do that is by not retaliating against those who treat us unfairly or persecute us unjustly.

He says it a second time in v. 24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” Another of the primary goals in his death for us was to make it possible for us to be as dead people when it comes to sin. Here’s the analogy he has in view. With regard to sin and temptation, think of yourself as a corpse. You are utterly dead and lifeless and incapable of responding and insensitive to every attempt by sin to get the consent of your will. Temptation walks up to you and says, “Hey, have I got a deal for you.” But there is no response. You can’t hear it speak. You can’t watch it as it approaches. You can’t smell it. You can’t touch it. You can’t think about it. You can’t taste it. Why? Because you’re dead to it. You have no capacity to respond to it.

Now, that’s the ideal. Unfortunately, we are all too much alive to sin and temptation. But the aim of our growth as Christian men and women is to become increasingly insensitive to sin and temptation; to become increasingly unresponsive to it. We’ll never be totally dead to sin until we are fully alive in heaven. But that’s the goal toward which we are striving.

Once again, Peter’s point here is that Christ died for you and bore the punishment you deserved and endured God’s wrath for sin precisely so that you might find the strength and motivation and incentive for saying No to sin in your daily life and Yes to righteousness and purity and godliness.

We’ve seen him say this twice already, and now in vv. 24b-25 he says it a third time: “By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

We’ll try to come to grips with the meaning of this in the next article.

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The Costly Freedom of Redemption

I wanted ready access to the series I list below by Trevin Wax at Kingdom People. I think you may find it worth reading and studying, too. If you are busy, Like I am today, this will give you a way to dig into it later.

Wax Header

This spring’s Gospel Project for Adults and Students leads participants through the “Atonement Thread,” which helps people put the Bible together to see how the theme of atonement runs from Genesis to Revelation.

For the past several Thursdays, I’ve featured contributions from some friends who are examining the beauty of the atonement from different angles. Here’s how the series has shaped up so far:

Today, Bryan Loritts contributes an article on freedom as it relates to redemption.

Bryan Loritts is the Lead Pastor of Fellowship Memphis and the author of A Cross-Shaped Gospel and editor of Letters to a Birmingham Jail.

Continue at