Let Your Light Shine

These are some if my favorite verses in the Bible. The metaphor of letting the light of Christ shine through our lives for others to see resonates deeply with me.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

Called to Be Witnesses

I’ve started a new year-long Bible reading plan in the free YouVersion Bible app. It’s called “For The Love of God” and has a short commentary which accompanies each day’s readings from both the New and Old Testament.

This verse stood out to me today:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)

In these last words of Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, he reminds us that we are all called to be witnesses. But we are called to be witnesses when we are filled by the Holy Spirit, and his power comes upon us.

Dear God, I pray you would fill me this day and this year with your Holy Spirit. Make me attentive to your words and your will. Mold me into a good listener, who is not afraid to share my witness of your power and your love. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

Angels and Signs

A reading today from the Gospel of Luke:

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:9-12 NLT)

Reading these verses this morning, I am reminded of how the shepherds were struck with fear when they first heard the Angel of The Lord speak. The first words of the Angel were to not be afraid, however. Many people today deny or fail to understand the reality of angels, and the reality of God speaking directly to his people throughout history and continuing to speak today through his Holy Spirit.

I’m also reminded of how God chose to speak to the shepherds, who were among the lowliest of people living and working at that time in the Holy Land. God did not come in a vision to the king, and he did not come to the newsagency of the day and ask for an all points bulletin. I think God came to the shepherds to help us understand that his son, Jesus, comes for all of us, no matter what our station or situation in life may be.

God, I pray you would reveal yourself to us this day, and help us to understand in our hearts the joyful gift you gave us through your son, Jesus. Through the commercials and the gifts and the food and the distractions of this season, help us to clearly see and embrace the gift of Jesus in our hearts. In the holy and powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Family Advent Service

Today for the first time in as long as I can remember, our family stayed home on Sunday morning and didn’t go to church. There was a lot of ice on our cars, and although the roads were clear it seemed right to stay home. We had a wonderful morning together and decided later we’d have a family church service together. We have shared short family devotionals together previously, especially before Christmas during the Advent season, but it is not (unfortunately) something we have done often. Tonight’s family church service, then, was particularly meaningful and special. I’d hoped it would be a time when everyone could participate: sharing, singing, praying, and reading from God’s Word. It was.

Family Advent Service

We used our AppleTV to project the lyrics to “The First Noel,” which we opened with, and these words from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)

We used this description of the four candles of advent (though it differs slightly from our church tradition) and read a meditation from “God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Flipboard magazine: On Faith, God & Jesus

I love the iPad app Flipboard. It is, without a doubt, the best way to read information that others share with you via social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The only other iPad magazine I currently read which can compare is National Geographic, but that is written and curated by professional journalists.

I started a new @flipboard magazine today: “On Faith, God & Jesus.” The description I wrote is:

A collection of articles and posts related to Christianity, religion, and faith aggregated by Wesley Fryer. Including an article here does not constitute the endorsement of or agreement by the aggregator (Wes) with the topics addressed or opinions expressed. For the opinions of Wes related to issues of faith, see his Christian blog, “Eyes Right” on http://pocketshare.speedofcreativity.org

I hope you subscribe and share this with others. I won’t post to this Flipboard magazine as often as I do to my edtech Fipboard magazine, “iReading with Wes,” but I’ll post periodically when I find and read / watch / listen to thought provoking content related to faith, God and Jesus.

No Christ in Our Public School Christmas Program

Not a surprise and not inappropriate either, but this scene from today’s 4th and 5th grade Christmas program at our public elementary school rather dramatically shows how there is “no Christ” in the program, songs or messages.

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If kids aren’t learning about Jesus at home and/or at church, they are likely not learning about Him.

I fully support our separation of church and state. It would be inappropriate for our public school to have a religious program. The secularization of Christmas and our society more generally were brought to mind this morning in our school program.

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May God Be Praised for Good Deeds

These verses from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount remind us that we want praise to flow to God as we do good deeds and as others see our good deeds:

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)

We do not and should not seek the praise of others as we perform good deeds in the world, but always keep in mind it is God who deserves the praise!

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