Light


This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. -1 John 1:5-7 NIV



Do you find it interesting how John describes God? I have heard it said that darkness is defined as the absence of light. Evil as the absence of good, Sin as the absence of righteousness. In a real sense spiritual darkness, sin and evil can be summed up as the absence of God in one's life. These things cannot exist when God is present.

So what does it mean to walk in the light? Is it a matter of following external rules? The truth is that rules themselves can be a form of darkness placing us in bondage instead of making us free, I think that walking in the light is allowing our darkness to be exposed by the light of God's Spirit. We find freedom to follow Jesus when we do.

We need to be purified each day Lord. Teach is what it means to walk in the light as you are in the light.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Love


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. -1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

I was getting frustrated with a slow driver yesterday and I heard this in my mind: "Love is patient Bob". Yikes. It is so easy to embrace an intellectual view of love and forget that love is best defined by attitudes and actions. Paul speaks to us in these verses instructing us with regard to the attitudes and actions of love. He tells us that real love never fails.

I love the four "always" statements as they speak to us of the true nature of an attitude of love. When we love we are on such firm ground. We protect. We trust. We hope. And we persevere. Love is the lighthouse in the storm guiding us to safe shore. These verses instruct us and tell us what love really looks like. They tell us how to live a life of love.

Teach us Lord what it means to love and to develop an attitude of love as we travel through our lives.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Dominion


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,
and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28 ESV   



The Hebrew word radah can be translated reign, rule or have dominion. Interesting how God gave the world to mankind. He could have retained dominion over the earth but chose to delegate dominion to those he blessed and created in his image. Nothing seemed to be withheld in this dominion. Whatever the choices that humans made stood.

I suspect that a part of this delegation of authority is rooted in the idea that we are made in His image. As such we have the freedom to choose how we rule. Yet, unlike God, we do not seem to have the ability to always choose rightly. We choose bad over good. Hate over love. Our lives seem to point us to the reality that we are created good but often choose bad. And when we choose to do bad the earth, humanity and all we have dominion over suffers.

We have failed Lord. Our wars are evidence of our failure to exercise godly dominion. Help us to rule as you would.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Justice



Justice is a great word. I think that some would differ in how they define it. I like what the bible says about justice:
  • Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)
  • This is what the LORD says: “Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.” (Jeremiah 21:12)
  • This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)
  • Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. ( Isaiah 30:18)
That said, I think the definition many have of justice might resemble the human view which includes retribution and satisfaction. This is the way that a favorite author of mine puts it:
"There is a biblical concept of “judgement” or “wrath.” Jesus warned frequently that the people were calling judgement on themselves and called them to turn (repent) from the course they were on. Judgement or wrath is the consequence of sinful or hurtful action. It follows from sin like falling is the consequence of jumping off a cliff. Paul writes in the Romans that “the wages of sin is death.” The wage, the thing you get as a result, what you have coming to you, is death. “but the gift of God is eternal life.”

God who is a God of love (compassion) and justice (making this right) desires not to see us die, but to give us life. God desires to break us out of the vicious cycle of consequence and to therefore bring about justice—to make things right again, to restore us to where we where meant to be. Not by saying that it is of no consequence that we are bleeding and broken, but by taking us out of the treadmill of death, by liberating us from the tyranny of hurting and being hurt. That is what biblical justice is all about. It is not in conflict with compassion, it is rooted in compassion."
Yes, rooted in compassion, not in conflict with it. Not in conflict with the nature of our God who ever seeks to reconcile.

Lord, help us to live justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly at your side.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Times and Seasons


Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. -1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 ESV


There are two Greek words in the New Testament that are interpreted as 'time'. Kairos is translated as 'time' 64 times. In this passage, and 12 other places, it is translated 'seasons'. Chronos occurs 33 times and is mostly rendered as 'time'.

Two interesting words with different nuances of meaning. Chronos is the root of our English word chronology and denotes the passage of minutes. Kairos seems to focus not on the passage of minutes put on the value of them.

When I consider kairos, I remember that life is all about making time count. There are seasons of our life that pass and never come again. The clock still ticks but seasons of young children and youthful bliss pass on to new things.

It reminds me to make this season of my life count because it will never come again. Instead of counting the minutes I am encouraged to live fully into, and get the most out of, each hour. It is what Jesus did when he entered earth's time.

Teach us Lord, to be wise stewards of our time, to count our days and live fully into them.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Created


By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. -Hebrews 11:3 ESV

I think that the issue is not so much the "how" of creation but the "Who" of creation. By faith we can understand that God created all things. But faith does not necessarily dictate the how of creation. There is a mystery to creation regardless the way you interpret it. We only understand in part. We see it in glimpses through that proverbial cloudy glass.

There is a unity of faith in the many interpretations of the Genesis account of creation. Though they do not agree on the specifics, these views agree that God is the creator. It is important because the idea of a divine designer gives meaning and purpose to life as it is presents our existence as intentional and not random. On that people of faith can agree.

Marvelous are your ways Lord God. Teach us revel in the people that you have created us to be.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.

Image


He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; -Colossians 1:15 NRSV

Often we cannot reconcile our different views because we begin with different images of God. Some use the image of primitive people who saw God like Job saw him. One who metes out good and evil. One who gives and takes away.

Some begin with the view that the life of Jesus is the defining image of God. One who did not create the storm but spoke peace to it. One who did not cause anyone to suffer but suffered in their place. One who did not hurt but healed. One who showed us that God only did good and loving things and never did one bad thing.

In this world where religious people often paint a picture of a fallen God, there is nothing that speaks more deeply to me about God than the things that I read in the gospels. When I wonder what God is like I am reminded that Jesus Christ told Phillip that anyone who has seen Him has seen God. Jesus began his ministry by saying that He had come with:
  • good news for the poor;
  • freedom for prisoners;
  • sight for those walking in darkness;
  • liberty for those being oppressed and 
  • a message of favor and acceptance.
These words teach me that many have a skewed image of God. Some well meaning people simply teach bad news about God and paint him as one who causes bad things. These folks walk in bondage and seem to embrace a blind darkness about the true nature of God revealed in Jesus Christ. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.


... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.