John 9:5-7 (NIV) – While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”… So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
“Chapter 9 can almost be described as a ‘case study’ of Jesus’ message in the second half of chapter 8. He is the true light that surpasses anything available in the temple; he is a messenger from God, bearing God’s word for the world and giving life to all who believe… The man who once lived in darkness now has light (in both eye and heart), while those arrayed against him have sound eyes but nevertheless live in spiritual darkness.” [John, NIVAC]
Jesus is not only able to claim that he is the light of the world (you/me/us), but he can also do it – he can make it so in our lives. He is able to create something out of nothing, order out of chaos, just as God did it at the beginning of the world, Jesus does it now by being the light of the world. We are not of or in darkness, we are of and in THE light. We can see truth, make right judgments, and be spiritually discerning.
Prayer: Jesus, we thank you for healing our spiritual blindness. Forgive us for acting out staggering in the darkness. Empower us to stand, walk and be in the light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
“A second way God’s light broke in during that time was about that dark, heavy cloud… After an intense night of wrestling with this I called my pastors to ask for help. They instructed me to pray and memorize Psalm 91. I spent that week writing, reading aloud, praying, singing, memorizing that psalm, clinging on to it. It was through these times in the Word – actively choosing the Word over my own thoughts or emotions, actively drawing near and seeking to dwell in his shelter and experience the intimacy of being covered with his feathers, actively asking for faith and choosing to believe he is my refuge and will save me from danger and destruction that I experienced the lifting off of that weight and darkness… I felt it lifting off of me, and I have never felt that weight or that darkness since then.” [excerpt from Kim Woo’s testimony]
Let’s worship with the song “Obsession” by Hillsong. The only verse repeated over a dozen times in the song are these six words, “and my heart burns for you.” It is both a declaration that it is so and a prayer that it would be so.
Prayer: Father, burn in us, burn in our hearts, burn in our minds, burn in our souls, a love for you greater than the darkness, the brokenness, the emptiness. Help us to do the things – reading, singing, praying, memorizing – that place us before you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.
“He was, a few days before Christmas, airlifted to intensive care and we began to fight for Jackson’s life… and a couple weeks into the fight we got a text one night from Joel that they weren’t sure he was going to make it through the night. And as soon as I heard and read the message, it was like this giant of unbelief stood in front of me. And I just thought Jackson’s gonna die tonight, we’re not going to see the miracle. And as this giant stood in front of me, all of a sudden, out of my gut, this song started coming out right in the face of the giant – ‘I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies, I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief.’ ” [excerpt of Jonathan Helser’s sharing, Bethel Music]
Let’s consider that in our darkest moments, God breaks through with his light. In the face of a giant of unbelief, a giant of rebellion, a giant of pain, the Lord helps us to advance, to fight, to defeat these very giants.
Prayer: Father, help us to sing a little louder, read a little longer, prayer a little deeper for surely you alone bring us moments of saving, healing, and transforming breakthrough. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
2 Samuel 22:29 (NIV) – You,Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.
“I learned faith from… a praying mother. One night I was in my room and we were in the middle of a situation about to be evicted… I heard my mom crying in the middle of the night and I wondered what was up so I got up out of my bed and I went over to her room… the crying that I heard wasn’t the kind of crying that I thought it was. She was kneeling next to the bed thanking God for his faithfulness. Even though she may not see the situation changing she was declaring, ‘God, you’re still good and I thank you for what we do have. We may not have all that we’ve been asking for, but we thank you that we have everything that we need because we have you Jesus.’” [John Wilds’ testimony, Jesus Image ’19 Choir]
Let us learn faith. Let us learn and experience that Jesus turns all our darkness into light, all our situations into light, all our thoughts and emotions into light. Let’s worship with the song “Way Maker” and you can listen to John Wilds’ testimony at the 7.31 mark.
Prayer: Father, help us to believe, even when we don’t see it, even when we don’t feel it, you never stop working. You never stop being the I AM, in presence and action in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 8:12 (NIV) – 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.”
“Jesus says it very clearly, ‘whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ Here, as Jesus commands us to follow him, the language is of journey and direction; that as we follow Jesus – we will NEVER walk in darkness. The darkness is not knowing who Jesus is, not knowing his saving and intimate presence, not knowing that we are the children of God, not knowing that we are his church. Sadly in this world, those who live in darkness eventually learn how to navigate within that darkness. Yet, something incredible happens when we’ve been exposed to real bright light – when we come into any darkness, it seems even darker than we had previously perceived. Meaning, we are a lot more sensitive in discerning what darkness when it is exposed by true light.” [paraphrased from P. Gus’ message]
Let’s worship to the song, “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong. In the fiery darkness of different circumstances – Jesus, the light of the world, is with us.
Prayer: Lord, when we follow you, when we are with you, there can only be light. Help us to see the truth of this, that we do not and never will walk in darkness. May your light expose the areas that need your loving transformation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Matthew 10:28 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
“At a time when none of the Christian families in our area owned a Bible, my dad purchased a Bible for me before I was born. One day when I was eleven, my dad told me about the Bible and shared… “‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Mal. 3:10).
“Hearing my dad read this scripture moved me deeply, and I committed myself to the Lord. I did not inherit gold or silver from my parents, but they gave me a great love for God and for scripture. The blessings I have enjoyed throughout my life are the result of this spiritual inheritance. Now, as a father and grandfather, the goal of my life is to do the same for my children and grandchildren. I teach them that if we have the whole world at our disposal but do not have the Lord, we have nothing. On the other hand if we have nothing but the Lord, we are richer than we would be if we had the whole world.” [Ishwarbhai Dabhi (Gujarat, India), The Upper Room, 7.17.18]
1. As biological/spiritual parents, what should we desire to pass on to our children?
2. How do we teach and model having the correct fears, the correct pursuits?
Father, may we burn for you so that fire will pass on to our children.
Let’s worship with Obsession (click here) by Hillsong.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
“Hi. It’s Bonnie,” said the voice on the phone. “I just wanted you to know that I’ve come back to the Lord.” The ring of excitement in her voice when she said these words identified her as the Bonnie who once attended a Bible study I’d taught… “And you won’t believe this, but I’m helping with a ladies’ Bible study.”
“Bonnie’s story warmed my heart and reminded me that the time and energy I had spent in our Bible study mattered. When things or people don’t turn out as we’d hoped, we may feel as if our work has been in vain. We may even become discouraged and give up. But that day, I learned that nothing we do in the name of Jesus is meaningless. If we do not lose heart and give up, then someday when we’ve forgotten our efforts or written them off as a loss, our “reward” may just ring the doorbell and tell us stories of grace that will fill our hearts with praise.” [Rose Brandon (Ontario, Canada), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 6.10.19]
1. What is our place in influencing the decisions people are making that count for eternity?
2. How can we live with greater intent to make disciples of all peoples?
Father, empower us and send us to affect lives for eternity.
Let’s worship with Build My Life (click here) by Passion.
1 Timothy 2:4-5 (MSG) He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free.
“After examining my eye, the doctor diagnosed me with a floater… She instructed me not to focus my gaze on the floater but to look beyond the shadow. If I were to focus on the floater, the nerve impulses would be directed toward it — further distorting my vision. The brain is wired to strengthen what we focus on. As I pondered this, I discovered a spiritual truth. If I focus my thoughts on murmuring and complaining about the negative things in my life, I will see only the negative. But if I choose to turn my gaze and focus on Jesus through prayer, praise, and scripture, my vision will clear. I will be able to see beyond my circumstances to God’s greatness and goodness.” [Joanie Shawhan (Wisconsin), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 8.23.18]
1. What do we tend to focus on when we consider the doctrine of hell? To whom does Scripture point us to?
2. What does 1 Timothy say about God’s desire for all people? How can we make this our focus?
Father, change our focus from “what and where” to “who and how.” May we gaze upon you, lovingly, adoringly, that our hearts would be filled with overflowing praise.
Let’s worship with Lion and the Lamb (click here) by Leeland.
Isaiah 55:9 (NIV) 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“I was with my son his entire life. Two minutes. He entered the world of light and air at 8:20 p.m. on November 22, 1991. And he departed, the doctor said, at 8:22.
“Do you have a name for the baby?” asked one of the nurses.
“Toby,” Susan said. “It’s short for a biblical name, Tobiah, which means ‘God is good.'” We had long thought about the name for this child. We didn’t particularly feel God’s goodness at that moment. The name was what we believed, not what we felt. It was what we wanted to feel again someday.
The words of C.S. Lewis, describing the lion Aslan, kept coming to mind: “He’s not a tame lion. But he’s good.” We clung to that image of untamed and fearsome goodness, even as we continued to struggle with the question: Why would God create a child to live two minutes?
He didn’t. He didn’t create Toby to live two minutes … God created Toby for eternity. He created each of us for eternity…” [Marshall Shelley, “Two Minutes to Eternity,” Christianity Today, July 2011]
1. How does Isaiah 55 speak to our seeming need to ‘understand’ God, especially in relation to the doctrine of hell?
2. When was a time you were challenged to believe God is good and what has been the fruit of that?
3. “God created each of us for eternity.” – What do you think about that?
God, our lives testify that you are good and we humbly declare your ways and your thoughts are higher.
Let’s sing to the Lord, proclaiming He is the Good Good Father (click here) by Chris Tomlin.
Psalm 96:13 (NIV) 13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
“The picture of Jesus as the coming judge is the central feature of another absolutely vital and nonnegotiable Christian belief: that there will be a judgment in which the creator God will set the world right once and for all. The word judgment carries negative overtones for a good many people in our liberal and postliberal world. We need to remind ourselves that throughout the Bible, not least in the Psalms, God’s coming judgment is a good thing, something to be celebrated, longed for, yearned over…
In a world of systematic injustice, bullying, violence, arrogance, and oppression, the thought that there might come a day when the wicked are firmly put in their place and the poor and weak are given their due is the best news there can be. Faced with a world in rebellion, a world full of exploitation and wickedness, a good God must be a God of judgment.” [N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, Kindle 2179-2203]
1. In the psalm, creation is pictured as eagerly awaiting the Lord’s coming judgment. What is our reaction to the truth that Jesus will come to judge?
2. How should the promise of the Lord’s coming to judge affect our lives today?
3. How are we to understand justice in this world in light of God’s coming judgment?
Father, may we join with all of creation in the longing for your coming.
Let’s worship with Raise a Hallelujah (click here) by UPPERROOM.