Tag Archives: darkness

2 Chronicles 14, 15; Revelation 4; Haggai 2; John 3

As much as I can, I try to be honest. I want to be the same person in church, at work,  home, sitting in traffic, with my believing and non believing friends and family.  I try to use the same language and have the same overriding purpose.  That being said, there are moments of personal duplicity that leave me feeling like a fake. I want Jesus to own my heart no matter what the circumstance. He knows that,  he loves me and hangs in there with me. Enter Nicodemus.

Nicodemus seeks out Jesus under the cover of the night. Maybe because Jesus was not easy to be alone with during the day, but more than likely because he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus.  I love how Jesus skillfully weaves his words concerning the new order of the day to a personal challenge. He dares Nicodemus to leave the darkness he hides in and be the person he was created to be.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. John 3:19-22

So I ask myself, why and what am I trying to hide from God? from others? I ask God to make me his, 100% and keep me from being afraid of the light; after all, he knows and understands EVERYTHING that was and is and is to come.  When I fall and look to the one who loves and forgives me, He is gives grace and restores what I have broken. I pray God gives me a love for him that is far stronger than the fears that would keep me in the dark.

Kathy

PS You can read the rest of Nicodemus’s story in John 19.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 18; Psalm 105; Isaiah 45; Revelation 15

When I read these verses, I don’t think of Cyrus the Great and a massive empire. I think of a farm field that shines golden from a sunburst through the clouds; I think of a flock of birds in flight–that look like a sheet shaken in the wind; I think of a woman who’d gotten bit by a dog in front of a (former) house whose knock at my door brought  a word of encouragement from God; I think of a good cup of coffee and socks on my feet.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
    secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3 NLT

I didn’t know how people could thank God for trials that came their way–not when it felt crushing and oppressive … not when the waiting was accompanied by doubt and a growing depression … or when it seemed the bottom dropped out in a numbing free fall. I didn’t know how to thank God for that. But I sought him daily, for any sign that he was there–and it was the closest I had ever walked with him. Each of these little things, gratitude in the every day, secret riches–treasures hidden in darkness.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.
    I create the light and make the darkness.
I send good times and bad times.
    I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. Isaiah 45:6b-7 NLT

I would understand what it meant to be hated. What it meant to be powerless. What it meant to be lonely. What it meant to be mocked. What it meant to surrender. What it meant to persevere. And how would I learn any of that in only good times? I would learn how to walk by faith, to trust in God, to hope. And in my weakness, he would reveal power.

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
    ‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
    ‘Why did you make me this way?’”

11 This is what the Lord says—
    the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
    Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 I am the one who made the earth
    and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
    All the stars are at my command.

I am years away from that time. Healing didn’t come overnight, but rather as a result of painful steps forward in a spiritual rehab. I am still (and often) thankful for a good cup of coffee and socks on my feet. And while it took time, I learned to be grateful for the trial.

Father God, those dark days were full of you. I am closer to you and know you in such a personal way, that I otherwise wouldn’t. Your word comes to life to me in ways that go deep. I am so thankful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament

2Chron.35; Rev. 21; Malachi 3; John 20

It looked and smelled like Christmas: wreaths on doors, tree decorated, cinnamon pine cones, iced rolls from the oven. I was glad to be at home with family, kids merrily occupied with gifts, music playing, sun shining. It felt warm and cozy. Yet, there was a sad undercurrent in a season centered on joy.

I’d recently read an article about a book called The Devil in Pew Number Seven. I thought of the people involved in the real-life account of tragedy, and how each one’s thought took him down a road he’d probably never thought possible.  That a single thought of hatred, slight, injustice would have life-altering consequences.

Sadness because it’s everywhere–bitterness, anger, resentment–and often masked, but consequences of it evident in families divorcing, friendships ending, jobs terminated–lives changed and altered because a thought takes root and grows wild.

Sadness lingered in me when I saw how negative thinking (whether my own or someone else’s) has broken things in my life. A nighttime walk to get the trash can … dark, windy, cold. I thought about darkness and evil in contrast to heaven and never-ending light.

And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. Revelation 21:23-25 (NLT)

Today’s chapters thick with sacrifice, repentance, salvation and light. From Old Testament to New Testament–Christ’s story deep in the pages.

As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:2-23 (NLT; emphasis mine).

Once the boxes are broken down and wrappings recycled, once the breakfast is over and dishes cleared, once life gets back to its steady pace, a season of joy can fall flat. Without Christ, what is Christmas? I end the year reflecting on John 20 and forgiveness.  Some say that forgiving others sets us free … perhaps it does in some ways. But I don’t think God forgave me because He needed freedom. Christ died so I could be free.

Father God, I am so grateful for a slate wiped clean, for righteousness because of Christ’s sacrifice for me, for mercy and grace I don’t deserve and could never repay. Forgiven not because you needed it, but because I did. Forgiveness, because who could stand before your judgment? Lord, I press on for joy–that Christmas is here daily because Christ came to take the sin of the world–joy that lasts. Help me, please, to be aware of my negative thoughts against others, to take them captive and make my thinking obedient to you–so that your mercy can flow through me. I want to forgive because I know what freedom feels like.

Courtney (66books365)

(Happy new year all! See you back here January 1 for a new reading plan. Thankful for a fourth year with you.)

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1Kings 8; Ephesians 5; Ezekiel 38; Psalm 89

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
Psalm 89:15
I am something of a night owl. When evening comes and the kids are all put to bed, I can relax without the tug of responsibilities. All day long I am accountable to others:
  • Clients depend on me to provide service.
  • Employees expect me to provide direction.
  • My family is counting on me to provide an income…and service…and direction.

While I relish all of my roles, I often enjoy the solitude of darkness more. The darkness doesn’t ask anything of me. It permits me to hide my impure thoughts. It allows me to waste time without any obvious consequence.

But Paul says,

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. Ephesians 5:9-14a

I am convicted that I use the cover of darkness to facilitate my own selfish interests.

Lord God,

I confess that too often I am drawn to “the darkness” for all the wrong reasons. It is my sincere desire to live as a child of light. Expose the darkness in my own heart, that I may walk in goodness, righteousness, and truth. I want to shine for your glory. Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Filed under 66 Books, Ephesians, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Psalms

2 Chronicles 21, Zechariah 5, John 8, Revelation 9

Light vs Darkness

I love light. One of the first things I do in the morning, when the sun rises, is to open up the blinds and curtains and let all the glorious light in. On those cloudy days, when the sun doesn’t make much of an appearance, I can feel gloominess trying to push its way in.

Today’s passages give us a glimpse into the darkness of sin, but on the opposite side, the gloriousness of the Light of Life.

2 Chronicles tells the story of King Jehoram, firstborn of Jehoshaphat, who did not walk in the way of his father, but rather walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and led Judah and the people of Jersusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did. Verse 20 says: “He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.”

Zechariah 5 gives the account of 2 visions that Zechariah received. The first about a flying scroll that acts as a curse that will go out over the whole land. The second about a measuring basket, which contained the iniquity of the people throughout the land. In it was a woman, whose name was Wickedness.

Revelation 9 tells about a light that had fallen, in actuality the antithesis of light.  “I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.” (vs. 1b – 2)

Then words about light and truth, that sooth the soul and give joy and meaning to life, from the mouth of Jesus in John 8.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (vs. 12)

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (vs. 31b – 32)

__________

This world does have its share of darkness as we look at the sinfulness that plagues our planet, but despite the dreariness that we feel, the ultimate truth is that Christ is always there, just waiting to envelope us in His light.

A quote from yesterday’s devotional reading in one of my books titled, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. “Come to Me with all your gaping emptiness, knowing that in Me you are complete. As you rest quietly in My Presence, My Light within you grows brighter and brighter. Facing the emptiness inside you is simply the prelude to being filled with my fullness. Therefore rejoice on those days when you drag yourself out of bed, feeling sluggish and inadequate. Tell yourself that this is the perfect day to depend on Me in childlike trust.”

__________

Thank you Father for being my Light when the darkness threatens to push its way into my soul. I want to rely on you in total dependence in all things and in all ways.

Amen.

Beckie (look2thehills)

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation, Zechariah

2 Chron. 2; 1 John 2; Nahum 1; Luke 17

Today, seeing unforgiveness as a start into darkness.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:3-5 (NIV)

I just finished reading a book called Recovering from Losses in Life by H. Norman Wright. About giving up anger and resentment, he includes a comment a client made: “Each day I wrote the phrase ‘I forgive you for …’ and then put down the first reason I could think of for not forgiving … Then I thanked [the Lord] for what He was doing, even if I didn’t feel like it. I discovered many things through this: I was full of bitterness. It kept me pinned down and stuck. I didn’t want to forgive. They didn’t deserve it.” (Recovering from Losses in Life, H. Norman Wright, chapter 10, pg 185.)

Sometimes, “I repent” is never uttered. Sometimes wounding continues intentionally. And sometimes forgiveness is not feeling, but action. I am learning this daily, and often it’s not easy. Sometimes I feel like a big fake, putting on smiles and kindness when inside I groan and grieve. A persistent weight that does pin and stick, unforgiveness. But where does it lead? Bitterness? Hatred?

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. 1 John 2:9-11 (NIV)

My study notes read: In the Bible hatred and love as moral qualities are not primarily emotions, but attitudes expressed in actions.

Lord, I don’t want to be blinded by darkness. I’m not sure I can trust my feelings, but you are trustworthy. When you tell me forgive, I want to.  Even if it means writing it out on a piece of paper every day, or smiling and acting despite the difficulty. It would be a lot easier if I felt like it in the face of circumstance, but I pray that I will act first–in forgiveness, in love–in hopes my heart will soften enough to feel later. Thank you for forgiving me! And thank you for showing me the very real danger of unforgiveness.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 John, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament