Day 19 – Jesus I AM- Matthew 5:14-16

19 I AM“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. 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 didn’t go out thinking “be a light” –it was just dinner and book club with a gathering of friends.

They are great people – fun, raucous at times, educated, intelligent, good parents, caring, volunteers – just great women. They run circles around me in a 100 different ways – basically, I got nothing on them. Of this gathering maybe one other person is a believer. It’s a secular group though many of these women go to various churches and post spiritual and uplifting things on Facebook. None of them are shy. In fact sometimes I might be more comfortable if they were a tiny bit more reserved on some topics. But they are not.

One of the gals was missing – the other believer- “S”. (Come to think of it she is the quietist of the bunch.) It was the first anniversary of her teenage son’s tragic death in an auto accident. Everyone was genuinely sympathetic as they spoke about it but the buzz never waned – one voice over another, like we were on some limited schedule to get everything told.

Then the leader spoke up to get us started and said the most unexpected thing. “I think we should say a prayer for “S”.” And then she asked me to pray. When I agreed, they spontaneously all held hands. The room got quiet and I prayed.

This was my question: why, of all the competent women in the room, did she ask me to pray? For the most part these people know very little of my personal life. I met most through PTA.

Here’s all I can figure. Jesus said “You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.”

We are the light because Jesus is the Light.  If you don’t hide out from the world, He shines.

Day 18 – Jesus I AM- Isaiah 9:2-6

18 I AMThe people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The word that comes to mind is HOPE.

May I live in the reality of what Jesus has done and what will ultimately be seen by all.

“Our Father, may Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…on earth as it is in heaven.”

Day 17– Jesus I AM – Genesis 1:1-5

17 IAMIn the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.       Genesis 1:1-5

Thoughts on Light and Darkness

God never said darkness was a bad thing. He just says here it is where He started. In fact, He did not remove darkness, instead it was now the beginning of each new day.

In my mind’s eye I can see God, the artist, looking down on the blank canvas he has prepared. He is about to create and the Spirit hovers, almost like He is thinking… Then, when the time was right: “Light”.

The darkness does not overcome the light but neither does the light exceed its boundaries. In the perfect world, before brokenness and corruption, they are partners. Darkness, the lesser leads and Light follows. Together, they are the first dancers to God’s sacred and cyclic rhythm.

I want to say, life was not complicated then. It was easy to hear the cadence but now there are too many sounds, too much clutter. It’s too confusing.

But maybe I need to take my cue from the darkness and let it lead me into the Light.

 

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Gen. 8:22

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lam. 3:22-24

Day 16– Jesus I AM – John 8:12 & 1 Peter 2:9

16 I AMAgain Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

So today I feel in the dark. It’s not a dreadful darkness or a horribly bad place; it’s more like a place of foggy confusion. It’s like things are not tied down and even if I grab a floating chair I don’t know where to reattach it.

I’ve been reading lately about the apostle Paul and his view of walking in the Spirit. Paul experienced the leading of the Holy Spirit and His miracle presence daily. The Holy Spirit was the evidence of his own redemption and the proof that others were hearing the Gospel and joining God’s family.

It was this tangible and visible experience that made the church different from everyone else. So Paul and his people did not shy from the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power that gave them the ability to live a heavenly life now. I can’t even imagine how amazing it would have been to be living then.

Paul also lived in weakness. I don’t mean he was weak because of a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. There was no longer any contest there. That was the condition of his former life where he willed himself to follow the Law. No, this was weakness that came with the frailty of being a broken human living in a broken world. There were/are limitations just because this is “the now but not yet.”

So how did Paul deal with his weaknesses? He boasted about them.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-10

So today:

“Lord, thank you for today’s confusion. Thank you for the Holy Spirit’s power at work in me. You are Light and darkness is not a problem for You. I can proclaim Your ways are excellent –even from within the fog. Amen.”

Day 15– Jesus I AM – I John 5:1-13

15 I AMWhoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Three points come to mind.

  1. Without the Son there is no life. There is no middle ground. John wanted to assure his listeners of this distinction.
  2. The Spirit testifies to the truth. This confirms the first point. How does one know they have the Son? Because in having the Son they have been given the Holy Spirit. This is the supernatural presence of the living God within. You know that you know.
  3. Obeying God’s commandments is the outcome of the work of the Spirit.       There is an assurance that comes when one realizes that these commands are not a burden but a consequence of a Spirit led life.

I would have to say that being able to face life’s challenges by the guidance of the Holy Spirit right now is a great comfort and a reality I wish I could grasp fully. Eternity is the end game but at that point the challenges are over.

Day 14 – Jesus I AM – John 19:10-30

14 I AMSo Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”

Ellicott’s Commentary rephrases: “Thy life is in my power; yea, and Thy death also.”

While Pilate’s authority and even ability to hold Jesus was allowed him by God, his mistaken words echoed the Father of Lies. It is the Enemy who wants us to believe he is the powerful one.

He is relentless in his proclamations. And especially, when pain and suffering can be avoided, there is the temptation to buy his claims and follow the blinking signs to our own ruin. Do not be fooled. He just cannot deliver what he does not have.

Interestingly, the One to whom Pilate speaks, does hold that power. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Rev. 1:18

Knowing those He loved were helpless and only He alone could offer them Life, He embraced suffering until He could speak these words: “It is finished!”

 

Day 13 – Jesus I AM – Ezekiel 37:1-14

13 I AM“I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Someone prophesied over me once. Their words came from Jeremiah. While I remember the significance of that moment in my life, I haven’t actually looked at those words for a long time.

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

As I reread them this morning I feel the Holy Spirit’s quickening and again I have no doubt this is the Lord speaking straight to me.

The first time these words addressed particular fears in me. I was afraid I would not know how to speak what He was asking of me. I was afraid to believe He knew me so well and yet still was calling me to be His own. I was afraid I would get it wrong. I was afraid people would mock. And though my Giving Key says, “FEARLESS”, I’m not so sure that these fears don’t still pop up even now – 30+ years later.

By accepting the prophecy I did not think God had anointed me for some special ministry or that I would somehow become famous. I simply – though it did not seem so simple at the time – prayed out loud the words the Holy Spirit gave me.

I guess, in retrospect I believed Ezekiel’s words to Israel:

I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

It is clear to me that the words from the LORD to Jeremiah are not just his – nor are they just mine. They are the promise to anyone in whom the Spirit dwells.

“I know all about you but I chose you to be my own. I set you apart to be a prophet in your own land – to your own little nation. Do not believe you are too young or too old or unqualified. You should go and speak the words I give you. I will be with you. I have put my Spirit within you and you will know what it is to really live.”

Day 12 – Jesus I AM – Genesis 3:8-19

12 I AMThe Lord God said to the serpent, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.

Calling original sin “the fall” is a euphemism for “by these actions you have just doomed the entire human race to be separated from God.”

Falling off a cliff to your bone smashing death is all I can think of. But in that very moment of free-fall, when arms are flailing and there is nothing to grab, Jesus intervenes.

It is not a rescue without pain – He will be bruised. He will suffer the impact of landing on a wooden beam and His wounds will bleed. He will lapse into the coma of death but He will overcome it. And when He stands He will step squarely and crushingly on the head of our adversary.

Our rescue is made complete. Resurrection for all time.

Unfortunately, like Martha, I’m inclined to see my rescue as theology instead of a daily reality. I regularly find myself in the tug of war between the flesh and the Spirit.

So, I remind myself of these things:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8: 11 

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, John 16:13

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Day 11 – Jesus I AM – John 11:1-27

11 I AMJesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha knows there will be a day of resurrection. It’s out in the future and all who believe will be a part of that day. But a couple of days ago, death swept away her brother and Jesus, the miracle worker, was not there to stem the tide. So she must be content to wait for the Resurrection Day of the future.

But Jesus is not the one who performs resurrections one day – He IS the Resurrection. He does not simply have the power to resurrect and give life – these are His very nature. In Him death gives way to life like darkness must yield to light.

Here is Jesus’ question: “Do you believe this?”

It is the question I am asked as well. Do I live in such short supply of Jesus that hope must be deferred to some future time? Or, will I live believing – not in what things look like, but in what Jesus says is reality?