You Shine

“I’ve seen the light!” It’s the stereotypical expression of the religious experience. We say it more in exaggerated, joking tones than anything else. But you know what? I have seen the light! You have, too.

Of Jesus, John writes, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”1 The apostle teaches us who Jesus is—the Son of God who lived among us in human flesh for a specific time and for a specific purpose before returning to the Father in heaven. He came and He left, but His presence remains; it always will. Says John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”2 True enough, we see Him beaming all around us, and truth be told, He glows through you.

Jesus shines from you who have known Him all your life and from you who discovered Him later in life. He shines from you who turn to God in grief, and He shines from you who comfort the brokenhearted with care. The Light shines from you who struggle against the dark powers of addiction and from you who faithfully walk beside these daily victors. He shines through you on the left and through you on the right who share eternal citizenship in a Kingdom not of this world. Jesus shines from you who stand boldly as mighty oaks of faith; He shines from you who cling to Him with seed-sized belief. He shines through your faith; He shines through your forgiveness. He shines through your compassion; He shines through your humility. He shines through your brokenness; He shines through your healing. He shines through you.

“You are the light of the world,”3 taught Jesus to the eager crowd. In this confidence and in this joy, we step into a new day and, once again, “shine like stars in the universe as [we] hold out the word of life.”4 For we have seen the Light, and, in Him, we are light, too.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

Father, send your Spirit, that I may shine today in what I say and do. Be pleased with your people; be glorified in us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is life.

1 John 1:4
2 John 1:5
3 Matthew 5:14
4 Philippians 2:15

Listen to John proclaim Jesus Christ as God in John 1:1-14.


Who Wins, Really?

“He who dies with the most toys wins.” Someone had embraced the idea to the point of proclaiming it from his rear bumper, his nearsighted worldview trailing along behind him—unsafe at any speed—baiting the gullible wherever he went: “Game on! It’s me against you, Sucker!”

Why do we benchmark our lives to the traits and accomplishments of others, anyway? Instead of savoring our successes or dealing with our difficulties at face value, we evaluate the acceptability of our existence against that of other people. If possessions, achievements or fame tilt in our favor, we go about our merry way in our “life is good” gear, but if we fall short of someone else’s good fortune or their outward signs of success, our narrative nosedives by comparison into, “I lived life and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” And if those around us are winning by cheating, well that’s just plain intolerable.

There is a more peaceful way to live life, and it has everything to do with where we look for validation. “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong,” writes David the psalmist, for our quality of our life is not determined by that of anyone else, least of all “those who carry out their wicked schemes,” whatever form their treachery may take. Instead, David redirects us to God, in whom exists life itself: “Trust in the Lord … Delight yourself in the Lord … Commit your way to the Lord … Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” For God is never against us, but always for us.

If this life were all there was—if death were the finish line of all things—then the materialist motorist, his toys in tow, might be right. But Jesus lives forever, and for all who live in Him by faith, this life is only the beginning. And he who never dies always wins.

Father, my life is safely secure in you through Christ, and you’re all I need. Send your Spirit to remind me to set my sights always and only on you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is life.

Read today’s Scripture in Psalm 37:1-7.


Where You Look

The man was recalling the time he tried his hand at motorcycle racing. Before he took to the track for the first time, a friend shared with him this crucial piece of advice: “If you begin to lose control, do not look at the wall; look to the infield, because where you look is where you’ll go.” (“Thanks, I think.”) The same is said more generally with regard to influence of any sort—“We become what we behold.”

Life comes at us, fast and furious, and it changes in an instant. When our wheels of self-control go wobbly, we can easily find ourselves looking at the “walls” of this world, be they greed and gossip, lust and lies, or rules and religiosity. This is how Peter went from defending his Lord when among friends in the Garden to denying the Christ when on his own in the courtyard. It’s how he went from savoring dietary liberty amid the Gentiles to choking on dietary legalism among the Jews.

Where, then, do we look when temptations come our way? How do we avoid “crash and burn”? To the church, Paul reveals the reality of our race, “Your life is now hidden with Christ in God,” and there is no safer place in heaven or on earth than in Him. The apostle then coaches us with his own crucial piece of advice: look to Jesus. “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God,” he writes, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” For Christ Jesus is our infield, and we look to Him always, because where we look is where we’ll go.

Father, thank you for saving me and giving me new and forever life in Christ. Transform me and strengthen me, so that I look to you — first, only and always. Be glorified in this life. I ask this in Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Christ in me is life.

Read Colossians 3:1-4—Paul’s amazing declaration of our life in Christ.