The Rising Sun

“Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:78-79 NIV)

For those of us who have had to navigate through some really dark moments this year, I’m once again reminded of why Jesus came. He is “the rising sun [who came] to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the path of peace(Luke 1:78-79). Every time we thought there was no way out of the dark, there He was, shining His light on us, showing up when we were ready to give up. And this is the image that comes to mind when I listen to Zechariah’s song in Luke’s Gospel. “The beautiful imagery…is derived from the magnificence of an Eastern sunrise. In his temple service at Jerusalem the priest [Zechariah] must have seen the ruddy dawn rise grandly over the dark chain of the distant mountains, and lighting up with a blaze of golden glory the everlasting hills as they stood round about Jerusalem” (Pulpit Commentary).

Because of the light Jesus brings, I enter the Advent season with hope. Without Him, I would still be dwelling in the dark. The Rising Sun is the reason to look forward to better things to come. He is still the hope of Christmas. He is still the light when the world looks dark (“Hope of Christmas,” Matthew West). So, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

Behind Closed Doors

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 NIV)

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV)

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! (Psalm 116:2 NLT)

In our social media-driven world, I’m once again reminded that oftentimes what happens in private is just as important as what happens in public. Incredible things begin to happen when we pray together behind closed doors. I’m blessed to be part of a small prayer group that chooses to pray in secret. Not because they’re embarrassed or shy – because believe me, they’re not – but because they understand the importance of keeping things between us and God. And while no one sees what we’re doing behind closed doors, amazing things are happening beyond those doors. Most importantly, however, there’s an inner peace that permeates my heart and soul as I join in prayer, even if on the surface it may seem like the storm is still raging. Because unlike the world that wants to promote your problems but does nothing about them, God is willing to bend an ear to listen and act on your behalf. So take your requests to Him with a trusted group of prayer warriors who will carry them to His throne of grace. You won’t be disappointed!

If you don’t have anyone to pray with, you’re welcome to submit your prayer requests on this blog. We’re standing with you in prayer!

He Still Shuts the Mouths of Lions

“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.” (Daniel 6:22 NIV)

Daniel was promoted, but with that promotion came opposition. When his opponents couldn’t find anything wrong with him, they created it. They asked the king to create a law where everyone was supposed to pray to the king and anyone who didn’t was to be thrown into the den of lions. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Daniel sure thought so because he refused to pray to anyone but God, the true King. However, that seemed to warrant Daniel being thrown in the lion’s den. What I’ve come to realize is that the lions in the den with Daniel are also symbolic of his real opponents in the story. Is it any wonder that at the end of the story they’re the ones who are thrown in the den? “At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones” (Daniel 6:22).

I’m not sure what lions you find yourself surrounded by today, but all I know is that God still shuts the mouths of lions. One of my favourite Scriptures says, “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD (Isaiah 54:17). So don’t worry about what the lions around you are saying or accusing you of because it’s God’s job to shut their mouths. When He does – because He still does – make sure to give Him the glory, just like Daniel – and the king – did (see Daniel 6:22, 25-27).

Plan on Giving Thanks Daily

 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1 NIV)

A few years ago, I started counting my blessings using a “Blessings Jar” that someone had gifted me. Every time I was “blessed” with something, I would write it down and store it in the jar. At the end of the year, I would go through the jar and read each blessing, giving thanks for God’s blessings over the year that had passed. Earlier this year, I planned on being thankful every day. When I found a spare planner sitting around the house, I started using it to jot down at least one thing that had happened during the day and that I was thankful for. Believe me, there’s always something to give thanks for!

Photo by Holly Kooi on Unsplash

I’m not sure what your thanksgiving looks like, but I’m sure that we can all find the time to be thankful for God’s blessings in our lives on a daily basis. I encourage you to plan thanksgiving in your life not just on that one day in the year, but every day of the year. When you realize you are blessed every day, you will plan on giving thanks daily too. An attitude of gratitude will change your altitude. Because a thankful heart is a happy heart.

Claim Your Inheritance

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:15-17 MSG)

There were mixed reactions when Queen Elizabeth II firstborn son and heir to the throne became King Charles III. Whether you’re pro-monarchy or anti-monarchy, you would agree that regardless of general opinion, an heir is entitled to their rights and privileges simply because they inherited them. The heir assumes their new roles and responsibilities with anticipation and excitement. God save the king and long may he reign.

I often think about the “unbelievable inheritance” we have as children of God, His heirs, and co-heirs with Christ not just in heaven, but right here on earth. Sadly, not many Christians are claiming the blessings and privileges that come from their association with Christ, and I’m not just talking about material blessings because, yes, God can and does bless us in those areas too when we depend on Him and are good stewards of the resources He has given us. I’m talking about the more important blessings that money can’t buy, such as love, joy, peace, perseverance, etc. Because without peace and perseverance in our lives, we won’t be able to cope with the hardships in life and won’t have joy while we go through them. I’m unapologetic about my blessings because they are my right as a child of God and co-heir with Christ. I encourage you to claim your inheritance too. It’s your right!

Keep Calm and Stay Royal

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

I’ve been a royal enthusiast ever since I was a little girl, and in the wake of the Queen’s death, that enthusiasm has only grown stronger. As beautiful as the crown and palaces may be, my fascination with royalty goes much deeper than that, and I admired Queen Elizabeth II for pointing it out. In the book, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, the Queen made it clear that she was serving a Sovereign. God was her King and she was His subject. It was her faith and trust in God, as well as, her service to others that I admired and will treasure. Her role pointed me to God and that’s the kind of life that I celebrate and honor along with many others that she has inspired over the years.

A life that honors God is a life worth honoring.

1 Samuel 2:30

Royalty is something that is embedded in every one of us. As sons and daughters of the Heavenly King, we’re “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Until we realize who we truly are, we will never act like it. The Bible says that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). When we begin to look at life from that position of authority and privilege, we will live the abundant life that Jesus came to give us and be more than conquerors through Him (John 10:10; Romans 8:37). It’s then that we will point others to Him! So keep calm and stay royal. Never complain, never explain. Always take the high road. Remember who you are and Whose you are. As sons and daughters of the King, let’s always walk in a manner worthy of our calling.

Wait and See

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)

I’m amazed at how life can take a different turn in the twinkling of an eye. When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away just last week, quick changes happened that many of us had a hard time keeping up with. Some of them being her oldest son becoming King Charles III and his oldest son the Prince of Wales. And although most of us saw it coming, a few of of us expected it so soon. For many years, people wondered when it was going to happen until it finally did.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In the Bible, we’re often encouraged to wait for God to act, something that I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve continued to walk with Him over the years. Just when people least expect it, God begins to fulfill His promises for their lives. “Wait and see,” is a true and tried phrase. Listen to today’s verse in The Message translation, “Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God.” Just when we’re ready to quit, we’re reminded that God will come through for us in some amazing way, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT). Good things do come to those who wait, especially those who wait on God. So “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

See a Need, Meet a Need

The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing. The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon’s Porch to see it for themselves. (Acts 3:8-11 MSG)

He spent most of his life watching people go to the Temple to pray while he remained outside its gates to beg. And as people passed him by every day at three o’clock in the afternoon to pray, only two of them stopped and took real pity on him. Peter, with John at his side, said to the crippled man, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” (Acts 3:6). And it was this kind of prayer that God was willing to answer!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I wonder how many of us go through our Christian duties while neglecting the needs of those around us. Isn’t it ironic how everyone went up to the Temple to pray – probably about their own needs because let’s face it, that’s what the majority of us do anyway – while overlooking the man who sat there in need of not just money but healing! It’s obvious from the story that only Peter and John said a prayer for him. We know this man was eager to go in the Temple and praise God because that’s exactly what he did right after he was healed. The people only recognized him after seeing him inside the Temple.

The crippled man reminds us that the things we often take for granted are often the things that others are praying for. He couldn’t walk since birth, but they could. But while being carried to the Temple gate where he sat to beg every day, he prayed for his miracle until it eventually came. And when it did, he did what we don’t hear many of the people inside the Temple doing: being full of joy, dancing and praising God. It was this reaction that got their attention. It doesn’t matter if we have eyes to see, ears to hear, mouth to talk and feet to walk, if we’re not willing to use them to see the need and meet the need of the people around us.

Rest in Jesus

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV)

It’s Labor Day long weekend here in Canada; a time to rest and rejuvenate. But physical rest is simply not enough because as spiritual beings, spiritual rest is just as important. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Jesus promised His hearers who were carrying the heavy burdens of laws and traditions imposed by the religious institution of the time. Listen to the same scripture passage in The Message paraphrase: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (vv.28-30). Jesus assured them – and us – of His rest.

We’re still seeking that same kind of rest, but try to find it anywhere and in anyone other than Jesus. But what was true thousands of years ago is still true today: we won’t find real rest without Him. He is the only one who promised a rest that no one else can give, just like He promised an inner peace that only He can give (John 14:27). Take His word and come. Let your soul find its rest in Jesus.

God is For You, Not Against You

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16 NIV)

The prophet Elisha could see what his own servant couldn’t see: God was for them, not against them. When the army of the king of Aram surrounded the city in order to capture Elisha (because the prophet was disclosing his war plans to the king of Israel), the servant panicked, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked” (2 Kings 6:15). Meanwhile, Elisha was praying that his servant would see what he could see. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vv.16-17). While the servant saw an army of the king of Aram surrounding them, Elisha saw the army of the heavenly King surrounding them. God answered the prayer of His prophet and opened the eyes of the servant so he could see that reality.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

As God’s children, most of us struggle to see that God is for us, a truth that could actually set us free from fear and anxiety. It’s no wonder the devil wants to hide it from us. He wants us to see a God who is against us, but that’s a lie. God is on your side, fighting for you. I pray that your eyes will be opened to this truth today because it will change your life forever. No matter what you’re facing, may you see that God is for you, not against you.