Living in God’s Light

People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for. -Harper Lee

When you set out to purposely find something, it’s interesting how apparent it becomes. I am looking for light. All sorts of light, really. It is a suggested Christmas activity in a book I am reading.

Of course, this time of year we see Christmas lights on trees, in neighborhoods and in shopping malls. There is sunlight, fluorescent light, and screen light from our many electronic devices.

There are lights that don’t physically glow, but instead brighten our spirits. They shine, for example, when other hurried shoppers make conversation with us or when we enjoy the outdoors. We feel them when we meet a friend for lunch, hear of a good deed, or spend time with family.

The word “enlightenment” itself contains “light”. Gaining insight from Scripture, meditating, or praying for understanding brings this light.

In the New International Version of the Bible, the word “light” appears 232 times, and closer to 300 times in other versions. Clearly, light reigns as an important theme in faith. What does “light” mean in the Bible, and how does it apply to us?

What does light mean in the Bible?

Light’s significance in the Bible starts immediately in Genesis 1, with the story of God creating the earth.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. Genesis 1:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

On the very first day, God set out to separate light from dark. Then, throughout the Bible, light continually refers to God and to the removal of darkness. It becomes a metaphor for many things including life, love, goodness, truth, and salvation. In the stories told, God’s goodness is always sovereign over evil. In no instance is darkness ever equal to the light that is God’s power.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT

Unquestionably for the Christian faith, God’s greatest work of light is Jesus. As the Son of God, his life models the way to live in God’s light.

The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9

Light in the Bible is synonymous to God and all of his good. Proclaiming faith in God’s light illuminates the darkness in our lives and works to extinguish it. 

What does darkness mean? How can we find our way out of it? 

When we think of darkness, we think of death and sinful, evil, or awful things. But, darkness may also exist due to a lack of knowledge, unintentional circumstances, or choices made. And, sometimes busyness, distractions, and self-centeredness can lead to us dark places as well. Life is good at dishing out darkness and we often find ourselves lost.

But, every day Jesus offers us a new opportunity, with no expiration date, to see and live in his light.

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.” John 8:12

Taking steps to follow the life Jesus modeled helps us start seeing more light around us. We become more mindful and recognize when life is becoming muddled. We get better at noticing the slick spots around us and find surer footing to meet our goals. Bettering ourselves and serving others gradually become higher priorities.

Packed with Jesus’ words and teachings, the Bible lights the way as we walk through life. It reveals the things in this world that trip us up, and it shines light on every situation we come across.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT

We can find our way through darkness by following the life Jesus modeled for us. By learning about him and believing in him, we experience his guidance through the Holy Spirit. 

Living in God’s Light

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” Matthew 1:23 NLT 

This week we celebrate Jesus’ birth, an event which divided darkness from light in this world. His life delivered light and hope; his death and resurrection wiped away darkness by offering believers eternal life.

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT

Jesus, Immanuel, is God with us. He shines through us by way of the Holy Spirit as we mature in faith and reflect Christ’s nature. We are works in progress while we are here. Through faith we can work to understand how God’s plans help us contribute to his light. We live in light through fellowship with God and with others who help us find goodness in a world that is often dark. 

Christmas is more than festivities and time spent with family. It is more than understanding the story of Jesus’ birth. Christmas celebrates light – the light of Jesus, and the light of you and me. There is a lot of light in this world. It is found all around us and inside of us. We can see it. People generally see what they go looking for…

A Prayer for Your Week:

Dear God,

Thank you for another Christmas to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus, who brought light into our world through his life, his teachings, and ultimately his sacrifice. Teach us and guide us as we strive to model his character more each day. Help us to clearly see the opportunities you place in our paths to do your work, and to recognize the work of others. We pray to see your goodness shining bright in the midst of the darkness this world so often delivers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Resources:

Making Pie with the Holy Spirit

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Today I made a pie. A most delicious pie, laden with the freshest fruits of the season, piled high in a flaky crust, and jelled into place with a delectable glaze.

This is my favorite pie. I’ve eaten it every summer for a long time. My mom made it for dessert when I was a kid. It tasted so good after a long hard day of make-believe, bike riding, and kick-the-can.

Today’s fruit pie, however, differs somewhat from the ones in the past. Because, while I was making it a well-known piece of Scripture came to mind. Do you know the one about the “fruit of the Spirit”?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 English Standard Version (ESV)

I paused to look this Scripture up and then tried memorizing the nine character traits as I worked. Yea, definitely a good mental exercise considering my hands were busy slicing fruit and not available for counting.

I started wondering if I really understood the meaning behind the words. So, when my hands were clean, I did some research on the Scripture and the Biblical definitions of these traits.

It was Paul the Apostle who highlighted these nine traits or attributes of Christian life in his letter to the Galatians. The Galatians were people living in Early Christian communities in a region called Galatia.

Paul’s teachings sought to convince people to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit rather than selfish desires. The Holy Spirit, he explained, produces these nine traits or fruit within us. When the Holy Spirit leads us, we become more Christ-like and our faith grows.

Becoming more like Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, means we do not seek just one or a few of these traits, but all of them. The nine attributes together, as a sum, are the “fruit of the Spirit”. The following Biblical definitions of each trait help us understand why they belong together and how they work in tandem.

Love: Agape is the Greek word used to describe God’s love in the Bible. This love is not the warm, fuzzy, romantic love we normally think of. It is loving as Christ loved – freely and unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. Loving this way means our attitudes convey goodwill, and we seek the best for others despite their actions.

Joy: Happiness hinges upon the good and bad things happening in our lives, but joy is different. Joy wells up from a reservoir deep within and offers us a settled feeling of well-being. It comes from knowing that we are cared for. Sadness still impacts us, but we feel an awareness of strength, protection, and stable love because of joy.

Peace: Knowing God controls the events of our day creates an equilibrium or inner stability known as peace. Worldly pressures and conflict still exist, but peace keeps us calm. Even in the midst of conditions that are normally upsetting and traumatic, we trust that God will work all circumstances together for our good.

Patience: Perseverance, steadfastness, long-suffering, and endurance are other Biblical text translations for patience. We demonstrate patience by maintaining a steady pace in the midst of life’s ups and downs. It allows us to find hope in difficult times, and endure poor treatment from others without retaliating.

Kindness: Kindness is looking for ways to serve and praise others without expecting anything back. Seeing things from the perspective of others develops compassion and helps us identify what we can do to serve their needs. Kindness is sympathetic, considerate, and diligently works to encourage others.

Goodness: Displaying Christ’s character in your life and helping others experience God in their life is goodness. We work towards goodness by identifying and using our gifts to love others. Sometimes, goodness requires frankness and honesty with ourselves and others.

Faithfulness: Faithfulness is a resolve to serve God and a commitment to praise others for the good work they have done. Others look to faithful people for examples of integrity. When we are faithful, we surmount feelings of doubt and help others find hope in belief as well.

Gentleness: A tranquil disposition that forgives, kindly corrects, and remains even-tempered is known as gentleness. When we display the trait of gentleness we let others make decisions on their terms; we respect their relationship with God. We also weigh our own decisions carefully and strive to stay humble in our accomplishments.

Self-control: Releasing the desire to be in charge and allowing guidance by the Holy Spirit is known as self-control. Showing self-control means we trust that God has a plan and his ways are better than our own. When we practice self-control we continually consult the Holy Spirit regarding our thoughts, actions, and reactions.

Nine character traits is a lot to work on, wouldn’t you agree? The good news is we don’t have to do it alone. In fact, the Bible says we cannot do it alone.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

This Scripture tells us the fruit of the Spirit grows within us when we have a relationship with Christ – knowing, loving, and imitating him. Joining our life to Christ ignites the Holy Spirit which leads to a fruitful life. A fruitful life, displaying the sum of these nine characteristics, in turn helps fulfill our two most important commandments – loving God and our neighbors.

This pie I made, it’s chock-full of fruit! Wouldn’t it be great if our lives, and all the lives around us were just as chock-full…overflowing with the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Hmmm…the recipe for a fruitful life – we know it’s not an easy one to follow. And, we know with certainty, it won’t turn out perfectly.

But, the Holy Spirit will help us. It’s worth a shot, right? Yea, it’s so worth it. Have a bite…

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Inspiring Resources:

Fruit Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

1 C sugar

2 Tbls cornstarch

1 C water

3 Tbls peach jello

4-5 C fresh fruit (I used nectarines, strawberries, and blueberries)

1 frozen pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome wheat pie crust)

Directions:

Bake pie crust according to directions and cool.

Mix sugar and cornstarch well. Add water and mix well. Cook on medium-high heat until boiling thick and clear. Boil 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the jello. Set aside to cool.

Cut the fresh fruit, removing skin if using nectarines. Pile fruit into the baked pie shell. Pour the cooled jello glaze over the top of the fruit. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Share with family, friends, and neighbors!