Does God Control “Random” Events?

What about seemingly random events? Does God control them?

THE FLIGHT OF AN ARROW

First Kings 22 contains a striking case. Micaiah, speaking as a prophet of the Lord, predicts that Ahab, the king of Israel, will fall in battle at Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:20–22). Ahab disguises himself in battle to avoid being a special target for enemy attack (v. 30). But God’s plan cannot be thwarted. The narrative describes the crucial event:

But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he [the king] said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” (v. 34)

“A certain man drew his bow at random.” That is, he was not aiming at any particular target. An alternative translation would be that he drew his bow “in his innocence” (ESV marginal reading). The alternative translation might mean that the man shot at Ahab, but he did not know who it was (he was “innocent” of knowing it was the king). Whichever interpretation we take of this detail, we should notice that the arrow struck in just the right place. Ahab was dressed in armor. If the arrow had struck Ahab’s breastplate, it might have simply bounced off. If it had struck his scale armor, it would not have wounded him. But there happened to be a small space between the scale armor and the breastplate. Perhaps for just a moment Ahab turned or bent in such a way that a thin opening appeared. The arrow went right in, exactly in the right spot. It wounded him fatally. He died the same day (1 Kings 22:35), just as God had said.

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God showed that day that he was in charge of seemingly random events. He controlled when the man drew his bow. He controlled the direction of his aim. He controlled the moment the arrow was released. He controlled the flight of the arrow. He controlled the way Ahab’s armor was put on earlier in the day, and the position that Ahab took as the arrow came nearer. He controlled the arrow as it struck in just the right spot and went in deep enough to produce fatal damage to organs. He brought Ahab to his death.

Lest we feel too sorry for Ahab, we should remind ourselves that he was a wicked king (1 Kings 21:25–26). Moreover, by going into battle he directly disobeyed the warning that Micaiah the prophet gave in God’s name. It was an act of arrogance and disobedience to God. God, who is a God of justice, executed righteous judgment on Ahab. From this judgment we should learn to revere God and honor him.

Ahab’s death was an event of special significance. It had been prophesied beforehand, and Ahab himself was a special person. He was the king of Israel, a prominent leader, a key person in connection with the history of God’s people in the northern kingdom of Israel. But the event illustrates a general principle: God controls seemingly random events. A single outstanding event, like the arrow flying toward Ahab, has not been narrated as an exception but rather as a particularly weighty instance of the general principle, which the Bible articulates in passages where it teaches God’s universal control.

COINCIDENCES

We can find other events in the Bible where the outcome depends on an apparent coincidence or happenstance.

In Genesis 24, Rebekah, who belonged to the clan of Abraham’s relatives, happened to come out to the well just after Abraham’s servant arrived. The servant was praying and waiting, looking for a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac (Gen. 24:15). The fact that Rebekah came out at just the right time was clearly God’s answer to the servant’s prayer. Rebekah later married Isaac and bore Jacob, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Years later Rachel, who belonged to the same clan, happened to come out to a well just after Jacob arrived (Gen. 29:6). Jacob met her, fell in love with her, and married her. She became the mother of Joseph, whom God later raised up to preserve the whole family of Jacob during a seven-year famine (Genesis 41–46). When God provided Rachel for Jacob, he was fulfilling his promise that he would take care of Jacob and bring him back to Canaan (28:15). Moreover, he was fulfilling his long-range promise that he would bless the descendants of Abraham (vv. 13–14).

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Daniel in the Lion’s Den Daniel 6:19-20

In the life of Joseph, after Joseph’s brothers had thrown him into a pit, a caravan of Ishmaelites happened to go by, traveling on their way to Egypt (Gen. 37:25). The brothers sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites. They in turn happened to sell Joseph to Potiphar, “an officer of Pharaoh” (v. 36). Joseph’s experiences were grim, but they were moving him toward the new position that he would eventually assume in Egypt.

False accusation by the wife of Potiphar led to Joseph being thrown into prison (Gen. 39:20). Pharaoh happened to get angry with his chief cupbearer and his chief baker, and they happened to get thrown into the prison where Joseph now had a position of responsibility (40:1–4). While they were lying in prison, both the cupbearer and the baker happenedto have special dreams. Joseph’s interpretation of their dreams led to his later opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41). These events led to the fulfillment of the earlier prophetic dreams that God had given to Joseph in his youth (37:5–1042:9).

After Moses was born, his mother put him in a basket made of bulrushes and placed it among the reeds by the Nile. The daughter of Pharaoh happened to come down to the river and happened to notice it. When she opened it, the baby happened to cry. The daughter of Pharaoh took pity and adopted Moses as her own son (Ex. 2:3–10). As a result, Moses was protected from the death sentence on Hebrew male children (1:16, 22), and he “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). So God worked out his plan, according to which Moses would eventually deliver the Israelites from Egypt.

Joshua sent two spies to Jericho. Out of all the possibilities, they happened to go to the house of Rahab the prostitute (Josh. 2:1). Rahab hid the spies and made an agreement with them (vv. 4, 12–14). Consequently, she and her relatives were preserved when the city of Jericho was destroyed (6:17, 25). Rahab then became an ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:5).

Ruth “happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ruth 2:3). Boaz noticed Ruth, and then a series of events led to Boaz marrying Ruth, who became an ancestor of Jesus (Ruth 4:21–22Matt. 1:5).

During the life of David, we read the following account of what happened in the wilderness of Maon:

As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. (1 Sam. 23:26–28)

David narrowly escaped being killed, because the Philistines happened to conduct a raid at a particular time, and the messenger happened to reach Saul when he did. If nothing had happened to interfere with Saul’s pursuit, he might have succeeded in killing David. The death of David would have cut off the line of descendants leading to Jesus (Matt. 1:1, 6).

When Absalom engineered his revolt against David’s rule, a messenger happened to come to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom” (2 Sam. 15:13). David immediately fled Jerusalem, where otherwise he would have been killed. During David’s flight, Hushai the Archite happened to come to meet him, “with his coat torn and dirt on his head” (v. 32). David told Hushai to go back to Jerusalem, pretend to support Absalom, and defeat the counsel of Ahithophel (v. 34). As a result, Hushai was able to persuade Absalom not to follow Ahithophel’s counsel for battle, and Absalom died in the battle that eventually took place (18:14–15). Thus, happenstances contributed to David’s survival.

When Ben-hadad the king of Syria was besieging Samaria, the city was starving. Elisha predicted that the next day the city of Samaria would have flour and barley (2 Kings 7:1). The captain standing by expressed disbelief, and then Elisha predicted that he would “see it… but… not eat of it” (v. 2). The next day the captain happened to be trampled by the people who were rushing out the gate toward the food (v. 17). “He died, as the man of God had said” (v. 17), seeing the food but not living to partake of it. His death was a fulfillment of God’s prophecy.

When Athaliah was about to usurp the throne of Judah, she undertook to destroy all the descendants in the Davidic family. Jehosheba happened to be there, and she took Joash the son of Ahaziah and hid him away (2 Kings 11:2). So the line of the Davidic family was preserved, which had to be the case if the Messiah was to come from the line of David, as God had promised. Joash was an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

During the reign of king Josiah, the priests happened to find the Book of the Law as they were repairing the temple precincts (2 Kings 22:8). Josiah had it read to him, and so he was energized to inaugurate a spiritual reform.

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The story of Esther contains further happenstances. Esther happened to be among the young women taken into the king’s palace (Est. 2:8). She happened to be chosen to be the new queen (v. 17). Mordecai happened to find out about Bigthan and Teresh’s plot against the king (v. 22), and Mordecai’s name then happenedto be included in the king’s chronicles (v. 23). The night before Haman planned to hang Mordecai, the king happened not to be able to sleep (6:1). He asked for an assistant to read from the chronicles, and he happened to read the part where Mordecai had uncovered the plot against the king (vv. 1–2). Haman happenedto be entering the king’s court at just that moment (v. 4). A whole series of happenstances worked together to lead to Haman’s being hanged, the Jews being rescued, and Mordecai being honoured.

Blessing.

Have a great day Brothers and Sisters of the CJCN, The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Today, we are asking you to donate $50 cents to our church and our worthy causes…………

May God bless you all and ‘The Church of Jerusalem and the Christian Nation’, Amen.

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Another great question…… Can We Still Believe in Life After Death?

An answer by Pastor Don Roy Hemingway….

Wow, what a great question and I think we must be very careful how it is answered. Let’s take a look at some evidence of life after death, as presented by Jesus himself.

Tell me, have you ever met a Sadducee? Don’t bother to answer by e mail, I already know the answer and to your answer I say, Me neither!

That’s not surprising considering that the last one died 2,000 years ago. And even back then, there were never very many of them. It was always a very select group, like a club for the very wealthy. If you lived in Jericho, you were much more likely to run into a Pharisee than a Sadducee. They were a very select group with some very strange views.

And that’s part of what makes this story so interesting. It starts with a weird question and ends with a very surprising answer. If we just skim it on the surface, we might assume that it has nothing to say to us in the 21st-century. But we would be wrong about that.

This story presents us with an issue of profound importance. Can we still believe in life after death?

*The Sadducees said no.
*Jesus said yes.

CBS News poll revealed that 78% of Americans believe in life after death.

The most religiously observant Americans are most likely to say there is an afterlife: about nine in 10 of those who attend religious services weekly or almost every week believe in it. This view is shared by seven in 10 of those who rarely or never attend services. Americans of all age groups believe in an afterlife. So do most men and most women.

The poll went a step further and asked if science will ever be able to prove there is life after death. Here the response was even more overwhelming. 8% said yes while 87% said no. That leaves us in a fascinating place.

*Most people believe in life after death.
*Most people believe it will never be proven by science.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of this question. If there is no life after death . . .

*Death really is the end.
*There is no heaven or hell.
*There is no reward or punishment.
*There is no resurrection of the dead.
*There is no purpose to history.

And if there is no life after death, then those of us who believe in Jesus have been profoundly deceived. We are, to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, of all men most to be pitied. If there is no life after death, then we have believed a fairy tale, a nice story that has no real meaning. If there is no life after death, why pray? Why believe? Why live for Jesus? Sometimes I hear well-meaning Christians say, “Even if it’s not true, Christianity is still the best way to live.” Count me out. If it’s not true, then I want no part of it. I know some people say that Christ is so wonderful that even without heaven, it’s good to be a Christian. Listen, if this life is all there is, then what we call “Christ” is just a figment of our collective Christian  imagination. To borrow some words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

So is there life after death? Thousands of years ago Job raised the same question. “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14). That is the question, isn’t it? We all die, but what then?

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
Is that all there is?

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And that brings us to our text, an encounter that took place two or three days before Jesus was crucified. It was around the weekend and just before the onset of the national shabbat of passover, in the time we now often refer to as Passion Week. Jesus has come to Jerusalem for the final time, he knows only too well the fate that awaits Him. Pilgrims crowd the city in anticipation of Passover. Because of his rising popularity with the people, the Jewish leaders have already decided to find a way to put Jesus to death. Knowing that his time is short, Jesus takes every opportunity to confront evil and to present himself to the people so they can decide whether or not to follow him. Everywhere he goes, crowds gather to listen as he debates the religious leaders of that day. Mostly he deals with the Pharisees who were the largest religious group in Judaism.

But on one occasion he faced off against the Sadducees who were very much unlike the Pharisees. Luke 20:27-40 tells us what happened when they came to him with an absurd question about a woman with seven husbands. From Jesus’ answer we learn a great deal about life after death.

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I. The Sadducees’ Insincere Question   

In order to get a handle on the strange question they asked, we need to know something about the Sadducees. They were not the Pharisees. In fact, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were two different groups of Jewish leaders who had no use for each other. The Sadducees came from a small group of aristocratic families that represented the “old money” of the Jewish nation. As such, they tended to congregate around the temple in Jerusalem. You could find the Sadducees in the priesthood and in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. Because they were sticklers for law and order, the common people didn’t like them. And because they collaborated with Rome, they had power and influence.

When you think of the Sadducees, you need to know what they didn’t believe.

They didn’t believe in angels.
They didn’t believe in heaven or hell.
They didn’t believe in life after death.
They didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.
They didn’t believe in the immortality of the soul.

The Pharisees believed in all those things, which was a major reason why the two groups didn’t get along. In 21st-century terms, the Sadducees would be like today’s religious liberals who don’t believe in the supernatural. It was a rich man’s religion that offered power with no accountability to God. You live, you die, and that’s it.

Jesus was a direct threat to all they believed.

This passage is notable because it records their only direct run-in with Jesus. By definition a Sadducee couldn’t become a follower of Jesus without giving up what he believed. So that’s why they came with a question that seemed absurd in that day and sounds ridiculous in our day.

“Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” (vv. 28-33).

This is not a sincere question. It’s obviously a made-up situation designed to trap the Lord and discredit him in front of the crowds that followed him during his final days in Jerusalem. The Sadducees intended to ridicule the doctrine of the resurrection. They often used questions like this to tie the Pharisees in knots.

In order to understand the question, we need to go back to Deuteronomy 25:5-10 which describes the law of levirate marriage. Because of the importance of preserving the family name, the law provided for the brother of a man who died childless to marry the widow and have children in the name of the deceased brother. It was a sacred obligation.

So the question is, after she marries seven brothers, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? In her case, Jesus’ answer was reassuring. Besides saying in essence, “That’s a stupid question,” Jesus says there is no marriage in the resurrection. She was probably happy about that. Seven husbands is plenty-and probably a few too many. The good news is, she won’t be married to seven men at the same time. The Sadducees framed the question precisely so we would laugh about it.

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“Maybe she’ll be married to the first one.”
“Or the last one.
“Or the best-looking one.”
“Or the one with the most money.”

You could imagine the snickers in the crowd. The point is, you can’t say for sure whose wife she will be. The Sadducees used questions like this to show what they considered to be the absurdity of believing in life after death.

But behind the question lay an important (and wrong) assumption that the afterlife is only a continuation of this life. People often wrongly assume that eternity is nothing but the extrapolation of time into the future. They think the conditions in the age to come are the same as the conditions here. But that is not the case. In this life things are so messed up that we can’t imagine how God can straighten them out. But as someone said, “God has an eternity to make right what has gone wrong in this life.”

So the question, though insincere, does raise some important issues regarding what heaven will be like. And the answer is, it won’t be exactly the same as life on earth.

That’s good news-even if we don’t totally understand it all

Four Ways in which God Leads His People.

By Pastor John Piper.

I see at least four methods that God uses to leads us in his will. I put them in four “D’s” to help me remember them.

1) Decree: God sovereignly decrees and designs circumstances so that we end up where he wants us to be even if we don’t have any conscious part in getting there. For example, Paul and Silas found themselves in jail, and the result was the salvation of the jailer and his household (Acts 16:24-34). This was God’s plan, but not Paul’s. God does this often—putting us in places that we did not plan or decide to be. This is the leading of decree. It is unique above the other three leadings because it includes them (since God’s decrees include all our decisions) and because it happens infallibly (since “no purpose of [God’s] can be thwarted,” Job 42:2). The other three leadings of God involve our being consciously led.

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2) Direction: This is simply what God does for us by giving us the commands and teachings of the Bible. They direct us specifically what to do and what not to do. The Ten Commandments are one example. Don’t steal. Don’t kill. Don’t lie. Or the Sermon on the Mount: Love your enemies. Or the Epistles: Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Put on humility. This is the leading of direction. God reveals his directions in the Bible.

3) Discernment: Most of the decisions we make are not spelled out specifically in the Bible. Discernment is how we follow God’s leading through the process of spiritually sensitive application of biblical truth to the particularities of our situation. Romans 12:2 describes this: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” In this case God does not declare a specific word about what to do. But his Spirit shapes the mind and heart through the word and prayer so that we have inclinations toward what would be most glorifying to him and helpful to others.

4) Declaration: This is the least common means of God’s leading. He simply declares to us what we should do. For example, according to Acts 8:26, “An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” And according to Acts 8:29, “The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’”

Notice three implications. First, we should always rest in the decrees of God. They will always be for our good if we love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). This should remove worry from our lives and put us at peace as we seek the “directed,” “discerned” and “declared” leading of the Lord.

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Second, there is the implication that God’s leading of decree may bring about acts that are contrary to his leading of directiondiscernment or declaration. In other words, he may direct, “You shall not kill,” but decree the murderous death of his Son (Acts 4:28). There are mysteries here, but it is manifest in dozens of places in the Bible that God wills that some things come to pass which he forbids in his word.

Finally, our confidence that we are tracking accurately with God in each of these leadings increases as we move from the bottom to the top of this list. Subjectively perceived declarations from God are the least common and most easily abused of all the ways God leads. Our confidence that we have known the will of God in this method will not be as great as in the other methods which relate directly to God’s written word. Discerning what to do on the basis of biblical principle when we do not have a specific command for our exact decision will yield less confidence than when we have an explicit direction in the Bible. And the truth that God is sovereign and guides all things is the rock bottom confidence under all others. It is a good place to rest.

Blessing.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

May God bless you all and ‘The Church of Jerusalem and the Christian Nation’, Amen.

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DONATE.

Are you making your daily focus a Jesus priority???

Most of the entirety of my life could be defined as a Christian self-help struggle. Typically, you could always find me with a book in my hand on how to become a better Christian, how to increase in purity, decrease in sin and become a more Godly, improved version of my inherently lacking self.

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can tell you that in this flesh and spirit fight, I’ve never won the battle because I read a 5 step self-help book on conquering sin.

It’s good to be introspective at times and it’s necessary to evaluate our lives to see whether they are producing fruit, but what I’ve found is that often as we continue to look within, there’s a tendency to get stuck there, and then we stop seeing anything else.

We stop seeing others, we stop seeing God, we only see our struggles and that’s right where Satan wants us. Stuck on the sidelines of the abundant Christian life we’re meant to experience because we don’t feel worthy. Once we fix ourselves up, then we can join a Bible study, go on that mission trip, write that blog, serve in the Children’s ministry. Otherwise, won’t we be a hypocrite?

That is a lie meant to keep us believers living a discouraged life, ineffective for Christ, wholly focused on self. Every single one of us, even your seemingly perfect pastor or that softly spoken friend who never seems to struggle with anything, are all broken, sinful, pretty screwed up individuals within and of ourselves. The Bible compares our own righteousness to that of filthy rags. God looks down at us and declares that there is none righteousness, not even one us.

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But thankfully verse 24 goes on to say, “and we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” God actually boasts that He chooses to use the weakthings of this world to accomplish His purposes.

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It’s the prostitute who protected the spies, it’s the women at the well, it’s the disciple who murdered Christians, it’s the tax collector, it’s the adulterous king. It’s in our weakness that He is made strong and it’s in our weakness that He receives all of the glory.

God convicts us of sin in His mercy, but it’s the enemy who condemns us. The difference is, in the conviction there’s light, there’s hope and in it we are drawn closer to God for His help and restoration.

When we’re experiencing condemnation, we are brought to despair and it leads us away from God, away from others, and instead, it sinks us into isolation and feelings of hopelessness.

There’s a proverb that so poetically says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  The more we look within, see our hopelessness to change those besetting sins, those sins which have kept us locked up in chains for our entire lives, those struggles which we feel as if we can never be freed from, the sicker our hearts feel.

Because of the fall, in this world there will be suffering, we will always be struggling with our propensity to wander far from grace, butgreater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world. When God gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins, and then rise again, He defeated sin, He defeated death on that hill on Calvary so long ago. The battle has already been won, my friend, your chains are broken and you can walk in freedom and victory today.

What I have found to be the most powerful in this battle, is to stop trying to struggle and strive in my own strength. To stop trying to stop. But instead, when I can’t help but sorrow when I look and see the broken parts of me, I then take my eyes off of myself and I put them on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith and of my story.

We are not meant to clean ourselves up before we go to church or serve or have Christian friends. If that were the case, we’d all stay home every day. When we read God’s Word, it changes us. When we pray, God answers. When we serve and spend time at church and in community, it’s only then that our hardened, sick hearts and affections are stirred toward Christ, not the other way around.

The enemy tells you to stay away because you’re not worthy, but God says you’re worthy because His blood cleanses, covers, and makes all things new.

When we start to add all of the good things in our lives, when we seek to know God, to know who He is, what His character is, the miracles He’s performed, the promises He’s given, and what He personally has to say to us each day through is Word, in that, the Holy Spirit begins to transform us and sanctify us. He fights the battle for us, He gives us the strength we need each day and then the good begins to take over the bad.

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The old hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, says it perfectly.

O soul are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free:

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Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

 

Through death into life everlasting

He passed, and we follow Him there;

Over us sin no more hath dominion

For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

 

His word shall not fail you He promised;

Believe Him and all will be well.

Then go to a world that is dying,

His perfect salvation to tell!

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

 

When we can stop bleakly staring into our own inner darkness and instead, stare into His glorious light, our eyes are then opened and we begin to see and feel God again. In spite of our imperfections, we become the light that we are designed to be as Christ followers. Lit up because we are free from the burdens of sin and shame, and overflowing with redemptive joy, that which we can’t help but share with a lost and hurting world, a world so desperate to hear the message of hope that we all hold within us.