SHINE! That’s what I’ve been hearing that the Church must do and we are the church. John Lennon said that “We all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun.” But most of us don’t. Matt Redman said “We will shine like stars in the universe. Holding out Your truth in the darkest place.” That’s much closer to where things are. No matter how dark or dismal it seems, we are to follow what Christ said in Matthew 5 when He told us that “You are the light of the world. You are to shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Something needs to burst forth in us so that light is released!

In Judges 7, Gideon is listening to God’s orders in preparation for war against the Midianites and the Amalekites. The army of Gideon is finally pared down to 300 so that all would know that it was God, not man, that brought this victory. Each man carried a sword which can be seen as a metaphor for the word of God in Ephesians 6. They also carried an empty pitcher in which they would put a torch, and upon breaking, would burst forth and shine. At the command to attack, they all yelled, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” They then broke the pitchers and ran into battle with a sword in one hand and a torch in the other. The enemy was routed. This is what we are to envision when we face great odds and overwhelming circumstances. We must embrace what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us.” When He touches us to reveal His son to others, we are actually broken open to overflow to those He has appointed for us to touch with His glory. As a vessel of God, this light that has been revealed must shine forth.

No matter what the odds, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory. Quitting, because we feel beat down and persecuted, is not an option. Even though we feel our outer person is wearing out, we need to remember that our inner being is being renewed daily. We need to believe that we are overcomers. That regardless of the circumstances, we will stand. We all watch and read things on a daily basis that cause us to wonder what will become of this world and our place in it. What we believe in and who we follow is crucial to overcoming. Read Isaiah 58 and see that we are required to watch for the less fortunate and at all times do your best to worship the Lord. Then your light shall break forth like the morning. And He will guide you. Jesus said in Luke 8 that we are to shine forth. We are not to be put under a basket, but on a lampstand for all to see. But to some, you may appear as a nuisance and they will try to extinguish you. Now, more than any period in a long time, we need to stand up and proclaim who we are. If you wish to follow what man says, then expect to be quite disappointed when you see the end result. Many, who say they represent Christ, are walking hand in hand with politicians and merchandisers and will lead you into a ditch. That is counterfeit light. And all that shines there is a spirit of deception.

Ephesians 5:8 says, “You were once in darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children light.”  We are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of those who remain shrouded in darkness. Speak truth that will expose what they are doing. Remember, Jesus promised us that if you follow Him you will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. And that which is being perpetrated by so many that are called to be leaders, is to only cause confusion and division. In the midst of brutal and perverse culture, be innocent of evil and that which harms your fellow man. Represent Christ so that He is seen in you and attracts, rather than repels, those who are lost. As it says in Philippians 2:15, “Appear among them as shining lights in the universe, offering them the words of eternal life.” Blessings.

Follow Me

Someone says to you, “follow me.” Do you know what that entails? Where are they going? What is it that they want from you? What will be the cost of following them? After all these years of doing things a certain way, do I just make a drastic change in my life, and forsaking all, just follow that person?

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Jesus posed this question to His disciples. In most cases the word for “follow” was the Greek word “Akoloutheo.” It basically is an invitation, but also an exhortation to follow Him. This man, Jesus, who tells them that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, is showing them a new path. It leads to all they’ve heard or read about, but it’s a scary path into the unknown. Following this Christ is going to upset a lot of people. Especially religious people. But these new followers have been doing things a certain way for a long time. But in the words of Bono, they “still haven’t found what they’re looking for.” But now, here it is – and not how they’d ever imagined. This Jesus seems to not only know the Word, but is the living Word. And He seems to be able to use it at times that really upset the religious hierarchy. He’s doing things that were previously contrary to the Law. Healing on the Sabbath. Touching lepers and healing them. Talking with a Samaritan woman and even having women follow Him. But He could also be tough and to the point, as seen in His biting rebuke of Peter in Matthew 16 and in John 21. These rebukes are lessons to Peter, the disciples, and to us. Lessons that we are to be mindful of the things of God and not the world, and that even if someone else seems to be in a position where they may forgo death, we are to just pay attention to His command. “Follow Me.”

They did follow Him. Right to the cross. Then, everything seemed to be out of order. They no longer made sense. How could this be? But He had told them this would happen and that He’d return and would not leave them orphans, but give them the Holy Spirit as guide and Helper. All but one followed. Most to their deaths as martyrs. They followed when words He spoke in John 6 caused many to fall away. And that same command of “Follow Me” echoes resoundingly now. His word is still a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. But are we following this path? For some reason, too many seem to follow after darkness and shun the light.

We have the words that give truth and life before us, but we follow the dictates of an unsettled life. Anger, wrath, malice, filthy expressions of what we feel, and basic disregard for His command to love one another, while completely disregarding His words in Matthew 28 to “observe all that I’ve commanded you.” Jesus said in John 15 that we’re His friends if we do what He has commanded us to do. For some reason, people seem to believe that they can follow others who act in ways contrary to the teachings of Christ, yet still abide in the vine. That cannot happen. Rather than asking God to search our hearts and see if there is any wicked way in us, we go about carrying a banner with His name on it, while at the same time doing great harm to His Kingdom. That’s a double minded person.

Every day in the news, and constantly for the past 1 and 1/2 years, we have seen things masquerading as being in step with Jesus. They are not. Men clothe themselves in holy robes and presume to tell us that this is God’s will. Those same men, clothed in holy robes 2000 years ago, said Jesus was not to be followed and was false. What we are seeing today in politics, government and too many church circles, is to be prayed for but not followed. Judge it by the fruit you see. These trees are twice dead. Plucked up by the roots. We are either children of light or darkness. You can’t have it both ways. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6 that we are to avoid disputes, arguments and strife, and instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. I see so little of this being done. In the book of Hebrews, we are told to pursue peace with all people. If you listen to many of our government and spiritual leaders today, you seldom hear that. A most terrible root of bitterness has grown in our midst, and no matter the command to “Follow Me” by our Lord, we are out of step. That command has no expiration date. And if you have fallen short, then repent and get right back into line. As John tells us in 3 John: 11, “Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.” Ask God to cleanse you from even your secret faults. Jesus told us that His sheep know His voice. Do not follow the voice of another. You can truly find what you’re looking for. His way is the only way. Follow Him. Blessings.