Beauty in Darkness, the Hidden Treasure

 Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the    world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I have a Friend, Blake, he takes amazing pictures; he captures images that some artists can only dream about painting.  I have often told him when I see his pictures I see God. I feel like I’m in the presence of a Van Gogh, or Leonardo. When you talk to Blake you will find humbleness, gentleness, and a wealth of knowledge of capturing the perfect shot. (More than I can comprehend.) One of the things he will be quick to tell you, despite what camera you’re using, is it’s all about the light. He will tell you about shutter speed and how that when you slow it down it will capture the most light possible.. Also he will inform you to shoot RAW, not JPEG, to capture all the color and light possible. I just love that! (I love his pictures, as you can tell if you have read any of my blogs.) If you a shoot Raw you can capture the most color and light, with the right shutter speed, to make even a photo in the darkness of night seem like as it was in the light.. Catch it.. This is why I love his pictures..

“See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” Isaiah 60:2

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19

Blake is helping the world around him see the Beauty he sees. Even though it is all around us, we don’t catch it unless he shows it to us. See, we are busy. Our eyes are on other things. We aren’t looking what is being shown.  We have eyes but we aren’t seeing.. The world needs Blakes.

What are we, as Christians, showing the world around us? What are they seeing? What are WE seeing? Do we see the darkness around us? IF we do, do we hide from it? Are we showing and capturing the beauty and color around us for a world to see? I think we need to adjust our shutter speed. We need to slow down, wait. Not rush head long in to the next big thing and miss the beauty in front of us. I think we need to start shooting in RAW, not putting on our “church clothes” on Sunday playing church, but not living like Christ. We need to live our lives in RAW, so that everyone around us can see the light and beauty we have to display in this darken world.

There is actually great beauty in the night, but you have to be willing to search for it. Wait upon the moment. Look around.. To often we run to something else and are easily persuaded to brighter things that are already glowing. Something that doesn’t take so much effort, something we don’t have to readjust our settings for. Something we can shoot in Jpeg and not RAW. RAW you see, takes more Memory. RAW isn’t as simple as JPEG. You have to work with it before you can use the image. You have to download software to manipulate and edit it. But with JPEG it is so simple, so shallow, you just point and click and can post immediately. But!! You can’t capture the true colors. You can’t expose the riches of the hidden treasures. Isn’t that so much like true discipleship? We want to do JPEG because anyone and everyone is doing it. It’s not as hard, doesn’t take up as much time or space, and we can take a lot more shots. It is when we are shooting RAW, discipling in truth, that we capture the deep and hidden beauty normally passed by. We invest that time and that energy so that all the Color and Beauty can be exposed in that picture, that soul.

There is great beauty all around us. We only need to capture it. The world will see the light when we expose it, in RAW, when we display it! We are “the light of the world.” We are, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”  See, people don’t “light a lamp and put it under a basket.” No!!! They Light it and put it on a “stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”  Maybe if we were the light, people would see the beauty. The Shadows. The colors reflecting with the various particles and elements displaying a splendor that only a Creator can create. Let our lights Shine. Let our images be captured and framed so that people may see the art of the Creator and Glorify our Heavenly Father.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

We show them images. We show them Christ. We shine as the light at night, not to blind, but to wash into Color that which has been hidden by the darkness for so long. Let the images we leave, the shots we take, reflect the glory and splendor of the One who is the Father of Light. For light itself is made up of colors and there are many forms of light displaying the various hues. The Son, sun, being the brightest.. But even the Stars have their glow, and moon shine forth from the reflection of the Son, sun, so we to each have our place. We each shine in darkness. It is our nature to do so. Let it be that we use this light to bring beauty to darkness. Rays of Hope in the place of shame and regret.  Reflect Grace and Mercy, like a rainbow against the stormy sky, showing Forgiveness and love instead of blame and condemnation.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you..(Ephesians 4:32)

 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 5:16)

You Were Born Again For This

3. Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  John 3: 3-8

Come on, We all dream of more don’t we? Especially as kids? You know, girls playing dress up and with dolls, living that perfect dream life. Boys, pretending to be Superman or Spiderman, or being that star player winning the big game.  Since childhood we have a desire, a God given desire, to be more. To matter! To make a difference. To be a Game Changer, a Life Giver!!  For a few that dream comes true, A few.. But for most, we are left with an empty bag of dreams. Hopes beaten and bashed on the rocks of life.  Helping ourselves, our family, seems to be all that we can muster, so why is it I long for more? How can I ever be that life giver/changer in the state I am in?

There is a part of you that needs to be awakened. It lies dormant like bear in winter. The heart cold and callous, winter breathing its cold bitter air on your soul. But spring is coming. Things come alive in spring. Things burst forth in a new life, with vibrance. Let me shake you awake. Let me rock your thinking for a moment, and knock of the frost that keeps you in hibernation.. You ARE Created for Greatness!! It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, you are a Life Giver, a World Changer. You were Created for Sooo Much More!! I know what your thinking.. ”Whatever!” “Stop the Drugs Michael.” “Get Real.”  So, here we go.. Buckle your seatbelts, put your chair in the upright position, and hang on.

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have Life and have it more Abundantly.”  “ I am the Way, The Truth, The Life! And the Disciples all tried to hold on to Him. They protect Him from the crowds, and tried to keep away the annoying children. So, when He told them He would be leaving them, they tried to talk Him out of it. But Jesus assured them, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” ( John 16:7)    

Oh there’s more.…  “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

Wait, It GETS BETTER!!

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) And to top it off,  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22)

I’m not a scholar but it seems to me that Jesus is telling us we should WANT the Holy Spirit more than Him staying on earth. “It’s to your ADVANTAGE that I go away.” What??? Really?? Come on Jesus.. Are you on something??? From John 14 and John 16 Jesus is really building up this Holy Spirit thing. Seems like He’s doing a sales job for him, even marketing it. What are we missing here?  The Apostle John seemed to know something more of it than we do, for he said, “Greater is He that is in me that he that is in the world.” Paul wrote, “I can do ALL Things thru Him who strengthens me.” Paul also tells the church in Galatians  “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” (2:20) and then “Those that have been baptized in Christ have been Clothed in Christ.” (3:27)

Let’s recall in Luke 24:49 “I am sending forth the promise of my Father,(Holy Spirit) upon you; but  you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from On High!”

So, Let me get my, our, mind wrapped in this. 1st Christ lives in me. 2nd I have the Holy Spirit, 3rd Greater is He that is in me. 4th I am Clothed in Christ and Power!! And the Kicker is, “The works I do you shall do also, and Greater works than these shall you do.”  If this doesn’t awaken the grizzly inside us then it’s not Dormant, It’s DEAD!!

    If this is true, the Bible correct, and Jesus didn’t lie, then we have not even begun to live the life God calls us to. We really havefallen short of the Glory of God.” If Christ is in us, then we in the Church are capable of MORE than we have Ever Dreamed of. (Ephesians 3:20) We have the power of the resurrection inside us. (Romans 8:11) why aren’t we seeing it..??

How bound are we? How we undersell God’s Ability in us. How we have minimized His Power!!  Jesus has given us His Glory, The Holy Spirit, and the best we can do is attend church on Sundays??? (And sometimes that dependent on our feelings.) If you’re really feeling empowered you greet people, and a select few even teach.. BUT We were Born again for So Much More!!  Why do we balk at sharing? Why do we believe we can’t affect lives? Why do we think so little of the Holy Spirit? Christ didn’t come from Heaven to Earth, endure a beating of a lifetime, and die on the Cross, so we could just attend church and pay tithes. He didn’t give us His Holy Spirit so that we could just sit on a pew.  NO! We were reborn for So Much More!

When we get a taste of the Greatness of our God, and the Power of the Holy Ghost we will be His witnesses as commanded.  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be (not might be) my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Paul even warned Timothy “They will hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power. Stay away from such people.” (2 Timothy 3:5) Are we denying the power of the Holy Spirit??

   Our lives will reflect the God we believe in. IF we don’t believe that God is great and can and will do great things, then we will live reflecting that.  Our lives will be shallow and partial. We will live with little or no risk for God, because we believe that  all we have is what we can get and hold on to.  We will not go where it’s uncomfortable, because God can’t, or won’t help us, so we only associated with those who are like us. Financially, we will be stingy and non-giving because we don’t trust that God to bless us, or take care of us, he has other issues to mind. So, Our Lives will reflect the God we believe in!!

But, if we believe “Greater is He that is in me,” and “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me,” then our lives will reflect that of an All Mighty God! If God is Almighty and Cares for us as His dear children then let’s give!! Knowing “My God shall supply all my needs according to His Riches.” Let’s “Go into all the world,” knowing, “For low I am with you Always even until the end of the age.”  Lets Love unconditionally, not expecting anything in return, “for God so loved the world He gave his Only Son,” and “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Let’s live Risking it ALL on a Great God, knowingAll power in heaven and on earth has been given to me, (Jesus).” And “ To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  See, we were Born Again for this.. to do “even greater things than these!”  To display the Power of the Cross, and a Love that is reckless and unashamedly foolish. We were reborn for this..

Let the coldness of our winter hearts melt. Let the streams of the Spirit swell with the melting snow. As a bird singing in spring, so let our lives echo the song of David
I exalt You, my God the King,
and praise Your name forever and ever.
I will praise You every day;
I will honor Your name forever and ever.
Yahweh is great and is highly praised; His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation will declare Your works to the next
and will proclaim Your mighty acts.
I will speak of Your splendor and glorious majesty and Your wonderful works.
They will proclaim the power of Your awe-inspiring acts,
and I will declare Your greatness.
They will give a testimony of Your great goodness
and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
                                                                     (Psalms 145)

May our lives be lived that it displays that Greatness, Awe-inspiring Acts, and Great Goodness of a Mighty God. WE were Born Again for this!

Prayers of the Saints

“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” (Revelations 8:3-5)
Is this how you view your prayers? Do you feel your prayers RISING UP to the Throne of God? That an Angel is mixing it with Fire from the Alter? If you’re like most, myself included, we wonder if our prayers are even getting past the ceiling. Some don’t even bother to waste the time to pray. (Of course we have more important things to do, don’t we?) But reading this there is something magical about us praying. Something Heavenly is going on! Angels are getting involved. Heaven is reacting.
What is it about prayer that we deem it as “The Last Resort”? How many times have you heard people say “we have tried everything else, might as well pray”? Why is it that Prayer has fallen to “the last straw?”
We have stumbled and fumbled in darkness for so long, groping for a light. We are continually beating our heads against so many walls trying to get something accomplished, while the whole time Jesus said, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) How have we lost sight of this truth? I believe it is thru a variety of things, history of experiences with unanswered prayers, delayed answers to prayer, or flat out unbelief. We have been taught that Prayer is no more than a mental state of meditation for calming our minds and spirits, nothing more.  But, if we look at all the Bible says about prayer, we have to have a total different out look. We cannot allow our thoughts, experiences, or church history to dictate to us something different than what the Bible says. (Why have we allowed others to have final authority over God’s Word?)
Let’s get real, Jesus said, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) or “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14)

“On that day, you will not ask me for anything. Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, whatever you ask the Father for in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23)

Now, according to Jesus, prayer and asking from the Father is a privilege given to His followers. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us come boldly to the Throne of Grace.” Jesus made a way for us to enter into the Throne of God, and come before Him as a son would his father, as Jesus did and showed us how… “Our Father who is in heaven..” He goes on and tells us.. “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:26-27)  Jesus even gave us stories telling us that we are to come persistently asking from God. Luke 11 being one of those.
“Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 

     “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
      Just this alone should change our attitude of Prayer, if we never looked at anything else! The Amplified Bible lays it out like this, “Ask and Keep on Asking, Seek and Keep on Seeking, Knock and keep on knocking.” But some how we have allowed others to tell us not to bother God. We don’t need to keep praying about something. Or we hear, “I’ve tried prayer and it didn’t work.” Well, That might be their story, and there might be some truth in that. For there are definitely some qualifications for answered prayer that people don’t like to talk about..  John 9:31 says “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.”   So, if your prayers aren’t getting answered it may be you are in Sin. What have you not surrendered to Him? Most want to live and do whatever they want and then expect God to answer when they get in bind, then if God doesn’t answer us we get mad at him. But really, is our life reflecting His Glory?
  Like James said, ““The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Other translations even Add, “The insistent, (persistent, continual, fervent) prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.”
       Another stipulation we need to look at is faith.. Do you really believe God is going to answer you? Do you really believe He loves you? James 1:6-7 says “But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubts is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,”
       Jesus put it this way, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Or another translation “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:2  This should charge your batteries. This should put the coin in your slot and pull your leaver. Because according to the Bible God answers the prayer of a Righteous person, if we have faith believing we shall also receive, and if we are persistent we will be heard from our Father in Heaven. So let us “Come boldly to the Throne.” Let us bring our requests unto God. Let us believe that our God is not Deaf. He is not stone or wood with no ears to hear, but Alive and Active.
With Paul, let us cry out, “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is Able.” Let us rush foolishly into a loving father’s arms knowing that “we who are evil know how to give good gifts, how MUCH MORE does our Heavenly Father know how to give good gifts to His Children.” Let us like Abraham, “Believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Even if his only son died, the promise and answer to all his prayers died, “God was able to even raise him from the dead.”
      Hear the Father’s heart. Hear His love for you. “Ask and you Shall Receive.” No Maybe’s here. No if I have time to get to you. No!! “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20