Allowing Jesus to Be the Light at the Center of Your Life

What is the most important thing in your life? What is at the center? Is it your spouse? Your job? Your recreational activities? Your electronics and gadgets? Or is it Jesus Christ?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light… (Ephesians 5:8)

Have you invited Jesus into the center of your life? If not, what are you holding onto? Until He is the center of your life, providing light to all areas of your life, there will be dark areas in your life. Sometimes it is when our lives seem darkest that we are most able to experience God’s light. When Jesus is the center of your life, darkness is dispelled.

Sometimes Christians go through difficult times. Jesus said these things would happen. But He also said He loves us. He wants to be the center of our lives so that no matter what is happening to us, we are filled with His light, and others can come to His light. John testifies to Jesus, the Word and Light of God:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
4 Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1)

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The Light is the truth, the Word of God – Jesus. Satan wants us to stay in darkness, but Jesus wants to deliver us. If you have dark areas of your life, you will always justify what you’re doing to make it seem ok. But if Jesus is at the center of your life,

Right believing will cause you to live right. If you believe wrong, you won’t see the things in your life you’re hoping for. If you were a tree, what fruit would you bear? Good or bad?

Right believing requires trust in Jesus. Right understanding starts with hearing the Word. You don’t do a bunch of things to get holy. Rather, as you hear the truth, your beliefs will change, and produce right living.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths. (Proverbs 3)

Are you living with a fear? God is greater than ANY sin. He is greater than ANY problem or emotional burden you struggle with. If you’re afraid, that is a dark area where the Light is required. Make Him the center of your life, and He will be able to bring Light into these areas of your life.

There was a man named John
who was sent from God.
He came as a witness
to testify about the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but he came to testify about the light.
9 The true light, who gives light to everyone,
was coming into the world. (John 1)

Do you carry a burden from your childhood? Placing Jesus at the center of your life will prevent you from walking the same painful path a parent walked. People will always let you down. Even a great friend, parent, or mentor will fail you at some point. But when Jesus is at the center of your life, He will not fail you.

The one who lives with integrity is righteous;
his children who come after him will be happy. (Proverbs 20:7)

“I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)

Let me experience
Your faithful love in the morning,
for I trust in You.
Reveal to me the way I should go
because I long for You. (Psalm 143:8)

How do we bring Light to others? By sharing Jesus. It isn’t fancy. Jesus Christ is all that is required. Can you pray for someone? Can you encourage them?

“The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2)

Contrast the church described above (the church of Ephesus) to this church of the Thessalonians:

We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing your election, brothers loved by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit, and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit. As a result, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For the Lord’s message rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out. Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, for they themselves report what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Faith, hope and love – these are the things of the Light. There is no magical formula, no preset actions you must go through.

For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be serious. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

 

Facing the Future with God’s Peace

Today, we honor and encourage our high school graduates!

When someone is pregnant, what can they do to cause that baby to grow? Nothing, except take in food and water. The same is true in our spiritual life. All we can do is to pray and read God’s Word – it is God who does all the rest of the work.

This is what the Lord says:

The wise man must not boast in his wisdom;
the strong man must not boast in his strength;
the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.
But the one who boasts should boast in this,
that he understands and knows Me—
that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love,
justice, and righteousness on the earth,
for I delight in these things.
This is the Lord’s declaration. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

…how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

God did not come and do what He did to simply patch us up. He came to make us entirely new.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Some translations call us to “submit to Him in all your ways.”

Hearing the Word of God is a daily act. Just as we need water every day, we need the Word of God every day. Don’t resist what He tells you.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

When we manipulate circumstances and try to make it happen, it doesn’t. It’s as though He steps back and says, “Go ahead. I will wait until you allow Me to work.” If we stop struggling and rest in Him, in prayer and reading His Word, then He takes our burden and He does the work.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

The Lord wants us to experience His peace every day, not just a couple times a year. It is a peace that cannot even be explained. If you are fully dependent on God, you can fully have His peace.

Fear is the opposite of peace. There are over 300 scriptures that tell us not to fear. If Christ is in your life, you do not have to live in fear.

17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4)

“…we are as He is…” And where is Christ? He is seated at the right hand of God, in His presence. You don’t become more holy by fearing God’s punishment. “…fear involves punishment…” (Some translations say “torment” instead of punishment.)

Your character does not produce righteousness or blessing. Only resting in Christ does that.

I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me
and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17)

I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers,
height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

 

Do Not Be Afraid – Christ is Risen

Read Isaiah 53 — all of it! Read Matthew 28, which says:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men.

But the angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”

So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell His disciples the news. Just then[a] Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.” (Matthew 28)

We can come in the church doors on Sunday and be attacked with fear as soon as we leave. But Jesus has overcome fear:

This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,
who has abolished death
and has brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel. (1 Timothy 1:10)

Fear is “a strong emotion caused by anticipation of danger.” What are you fearing? Political events? The economy? Ecology? Disease? Family events? Violence and crime? Someone else’s salvation?

And what does God say?

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

The most frequent command given throughout the Bible is “Fear not!” He is with us in every situation. He is always sufficient.

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

Fear causes many things: ulcers, cancer, heart conditions… addictions, as you try to relieve or escape feelings of fear… strained relationships… But Jesus will supply all of your wants needs.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:18)

26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14)

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said:

This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him.
Listen to Him!

When the disciples heard it, they fell facedown and were terrified. Then Jesus came up, touched them, and said, “Get up; don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 17)

35 While He was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” 36 But when Jesus overheard what was said, He told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” (Mark 5)

Fear no man and no thing. Fear only God.

The Holy Spirit always leads you into victory! Jesus loves you so much that He gave up His life — He descended into hell to take all authority away from the enemy!

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1)

Prayer

When we come to God in prayer, we need to be ready for Him to prune us, like a gardener pruning fruit trees.

16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5)

The Spirit is always desiring to lead us out of bondage and into greater freedom.

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6)

Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

This prayer is for us, on earth, today. His will is prepared in heaven for the purpose of being released on earth. He wants to work through His people, in prayer, to accomplish His will. This prayer invites the prophetic to take place on earth.

31 “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. 32 Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12)

Hatred comes right on the heels of fear. People who have been in abusive relationships of any kind know what this is like. This is the sort of fear that many of us think of when we see the word “fear” or “afraid.” But Jesus’ definition of fear is worship. In Matthew 4, He says to satan, ““Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” This comes from Deuteronomy 6:13, which says, “Fear Yahweh your God, worship Him, and take your oaths in His name.”

When you pray, what comes from the heart is even more important than the words you choose. If you refuse to pray, you are living in self-righteousness, relying on yourself for that which only God can provide.

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. (Matthew 6)

People praying in this way have no relationship with God. The Lord’s Prayer humbles us. It reminds us of Who He is. It builds our faith, hope, and trust in Him. It allows us to worship Him. It allows no room for compromise. It invites the miraculous to happen. It shows us grace and protection from that which we deserve. It tells us that we really must forgive.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.”“Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14)

Jesus tells us not to be troubled. He gives us permission not to be troubled.

““Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.” (Daniel 10:12)

Stop and listen to His voice. He hears us! The second half of the story in Daniel is that the angel was delayed 21 days because of the enemy. Even though Daniel waited for 3 weeks to hear a response from God, the Lord heard him right away.

“But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus,[i] because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1)

Joseph was afraid and didn’t know what to do because his fiancee was pregnant, and not with his child. Things were not going as he’d planned in his life! But he heard the Lord’s word telling him not to be afraid. Why? Because Jesus was coming! In Luke 1, the Lord also tells Mary and Zechariah not to be afraid.

“17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4)

Fear is a thief. It will steal your joy, your health, your purpose.If you’re gripped in fear, God’s will cannot be fully realized in your life. God does not operate in our strength; He operates in His strength.