Let there be Light

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

My previous post mentions that “Let it Shine” is my theme for 2018. God dropped this little nugget as I restarted my Bible reading in Gen1 and I had to share it! This is just the tip of the iceberg for me and I plan to study it out. If you have insights please also share!

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When we first read this scripture Gen 1:3 we are tempted to think of the light as the sun and moon. Especially when it says God called the light Day and the darkness Night. But in Gen 1:14-19 we see that the sun, moon and stars are not created until the 4th day!

““Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Genesis‬ ‭1:14-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

So then what was that Light that God created from the darkness, that preceded the Sun, moon and stars? James 4:6 tells us that God made this light to shine in our hearts so we could the glory of God that is seen in Jesus!

As glorious as the sun, moon and stars are – especially as they reveal themselves to us every morning and evening- they are not as splendid as God’s first created light that reveals the glory of God that is seen IN Jesus.

Let that sink in….

The very first thing that God created, Light, He makes to shine in our hearts for the purpose of knowing the Glory of God.

This original first light precedes and goes beyond the physical, natural lights that we see via God’s creation of the sun, moon and stars. It precedes the foundation of the world! As one commentary noted “Light was created first and attached to the sun and luminaries on Day4 Thus the sun is merely an obedient light-bearer and its magnificence is only understood in relation to its Creator.”

Jesus is the source of that light, THE creative force, that allows us to supernaturally know the Glory of God. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Remember when Moses asked God to see His glory? God tells Moses that he cannot “see” His face, His glory and live.

“And he said, “Please, show me Your glory. .., But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”” Exodus‬ ‭33:18, 20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God instructs Moses to stand by a rock and when He (His glory) passes by God hides him in the cleft of the rock, covers him with His hand and then takes His hand away and allows Moses to see His back but not His face. Moses was completely transformed physically and spiritually by this encounter with just the backside of God’s glory!

Jesus is the light of the world. When we receive Him, God makes this transformative light shine in our hearts and as we allow it to shine through us, it transforms others. This is that creative power that sparked creation itself.

My 2018 prayer today is to connect with Jesus more intimately so that I don’t hinder the flow of His light to shine through me. Lord, Help me to align my thoughts, actions, plans etc with Yours so that I am that conduit and vessel of that light. Thank you for clarity of purpose and creative ability and resulting actions to execute your will in its various manifestations that give praise and glory to Your name! In Jesus name!

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Let it Shine: This Little Light of Mine

This old Negro spiritual came to me about a week ago and has stayed with me. As I hummed it in my head, I heard “Let YOUR light shine- stop hiding it! ”

I am reminded of two separate occurrences in college from two different strangers 2-4 yrs apart, saying they SAW the light of God’s glory in me. The very first time occurred within the first few weeks of my coming to Washington DC as a freshman at the McDonald’s on Georgia Avenue. My sister and I were sitting down eating and this lady came over with a wide smile and said “You are going to serve the Lord and it will be beautiful to see. It may not happen right away but you will really love the Lord and it will be so beautiful.” I was so scared I called my mother and told her God was coming after me, since I was not even thinking about God and church at that time. That second semester my cousin would come to visit Howard for spring break and tell us about how Jesus was the answer to all of our problems. My sister and I later gave our lives to the Lord that summer!

The second time years later, I was walking home from class and just said hello as I passed a lady by and she said “Wait a minute, I see the glory of God all on you, all up in here” motioning around my head. I thought it was hilarious at first (because it WAS wacky) but because I had then given my life to Christ, I realized that not everything is by accident.

At my ordination 5 years ago, something similar happened as a minister with prophetic gifting prayed for me.

I realize that I am personally very uncomfortable shining – I’m more comfortable in the background. But the impression was very clear this time. Stop hiding your light- Let it shine!!

After looking up several scriptures about light shining, I realized that this is not optional for us as Christians and especially for me as a minister and elder. This is not about my comfort level! This is God’s command:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

http://bible.com/114/mat.5.16.nkjv

Why?

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/2co.4.6.nlt

It is time to really let the light of God’s glory shine through me (us) in every way. In these seeming dark times, all of creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons(daughters) of God”, This world needs to see God’s light shining through us in all that we do – our God given gifts/talents, our God given “Let there be” creativity, our God given purpose & calling. We have the solutions because He has given us Everything to life and godliness.

So Shine On!

This Little Light of MineThis little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Hallelujah
This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Ev’ry where I go
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, ev’ry where I go
I’m going to let it shine
Hallelujah
Ev’ry where I go
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

All in my house
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, all in my house
I’m going to let it shine
Hallelujah
All in my house
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

I’m not going to make it shine
I’m just going to let it shine
I’m not going to make it shine
I’m just going to let it shine
Hallelujah
I’m not going to make it shine
I’m just going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Hallelujah
Out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Why Do I Watch Plants Die

image
This is a recurring thought of mine that brings a tinge of guilt and sadness- and a stirring. I can be so conscientious sometimes about plant care- once keeping a poinsettia plant alive for a year at my office. But it was at the office and not at home.

And I have watched several of my plants die at home. It’s like I have so many things competing for my attention when I get home. I’m not deliberately not watering them, but regardless of my intention the plant dies because they are not watered. I will sit on my sofa and say, I need to water my plants and then plan to do it LATER. When later comes, I’m no longer thinking about watering the plants.

But I love plants! I adore flowers and living green things inside of my home! And I know how to keep them alive. But now having watched my plants die, I very rarely buy house plants. That is sad. We have a nice garden outside and nature plus my husband’s attention keep it beautiful. But it’s not the same as having  a living plant inside the house.

Then the phrase “planted by the waters” came to me.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17‬:‭7-8‬ KJV)”

Plants in the ground have multiple water sources other than our remembering to water them. When you take them out of the ground they are dependent only on external water sources. And all living things need consistent water to keep on living.

So hope awakens with this thought, and I believe I’m finally going get a little plant. And it shall live and not die! Not this time. I will make sure that it stays watered and say a little prayer with each watering. That way we can grow and thrive together!

Laissez les bon temps rouler! What shall I render

I am refreshing /updating this note I wrote after Ash Wednesday 2009.  It still blesses me because it refocuses my mind in the Lenten season as a dedication and cultivation of my relationship with Christ right before He paid the ultimate price for our salvation and ultimate reconciliation with our Heavenly Father.  

“Laissez les bon temps rouler!” Let the Good Times Roll right into Lent

As a native of Louisiana,  Ash Wednesday was a huge deal because of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) whose whole existence is based on the big day of revelry and excess before the Lenten season begins.  Let’s live it up, before we have to give up everything.  What shall I give up is really tired, old, deficit thinking. The Good Book says obedience is better than sacrifice.  Obedience is a forward looking act of your will – acting on a requirement.   All sacrifice should come from a place of obedience rather than convenience.    This Lenten season, I am challenged to think deliberately of how I will prioritize my time to honor and cultivate my relationship with God in every area.

what shall I render


Ps 116:12 says in the Amplified version: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for all His bountiful dealings?]” 

The Lenten journey is marked by sacrifice – in recognition of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before he began his ministry, facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance.

Many times we “give up” things, to sacrifice as Jesus did – to discipline our bodies and ultimately conquer it’s desires so we can focus on our purpose, goals etc. It’s very self-focused about getting ourselves right before God.

But this passage provokes me to ask the question ” What shall I GIVE, rather than “give up” — it is directed as an act of thanksgiving for God’s goodness rather than my own failures and struggles.  We don’t have stop having a good time during Lent, we can celebrate and honor our relationship with Him!

Of course, we can never repay God for what He has done for us – but psalmist offers a few suggestions in the following verses 13+. It’s a wonderful place to start

1. Thank God for His Blessings and partake of His saving grace

  • Ps 116:13 says: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and deliverance and call on the name of the Lord. Per one of the commentaries: To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship, and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which the Lord had filled with his saving grace.

2. Boldly commit to do what you have vowed before God, and proclaim His goodness to others. 

  • Verse 14. “I will pay my vows to the Lord, yes, in the presence of all His people.
  • Another commentary writes: The Psalmist has already stated his resolution, to devote himself to the worship of God evermore, and here he commences the performance of that resolve. The vows which he had made in anguish, he now determines to fulfil. “I will pay my vows unto the Lord.” He does so at once, “now,” and that publicly, “in the presence of all his people.” Good resolutions cannot be carried out too speedily; vows become debts, and debts should be paid.

In this age of lack of commitment and betraying on ones word, “Do what you said you would do – no excuses, and don’t be ashamed of witnesses.” It’s liberating to live out your faith, to you and those around you. 

3. Rededicate your service to God, and as we do this we are free AND stay free

  • vs: 16 says: “O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds .   As explained, David in paying his vows rededicates himself unto God; the offering which he brings is himself, as he cries, O LORD, truly I am thy servant. We are liberated when we declare that we belong to an all mighty, all knowing, omni-present God. We can really boldly say, ” I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me”

4: Continue to give thanks to God for everything and seek Him on ALL things. 

  • vs: 17 says “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord.”   This posture reminds me that there is always a reason to give thanks even if I’m not feeling any gratitude at the present time. It is not about me but who God is. Think of how we teach our children to say thank you – many times because they are so focused on the gift. But acknowledging the giver is just as important. That’s why sometimes its a sacrifice, not conditional on how we feel at the moment but always celebrating the sovereignty and graciousness of God.

As Matthew 6:33 reminds us, as we seek Him first, everything else is taken care of. 

There will be times for introspection in this Lenten journey, that’s a necessary part of our daily walk. But God always encourages us that He is also focused on our destiny, our future, the limitless possibilities of walking with Him.

What shall I render means that I  ALWAYS have something to GIVE. In Christ, we are earthen vessels of HIS limitless GRACE, unsurpassed PEACE, unspeakable JOY. – conduits of His Love. Let this Lenten season be filled with the awesomeness of and gratitude for Christ’s great sacrifice, His ministry to others – especially the least of these, His great love for us. 

So over the next week as many of us will be celebrating Mardi Gras or not,  also plan for your Lenten journey.  And while sugar may be off the menu for the next 46 days,  giving our time, service, and thanksgiving to God is going to be the best sugar substitute.  

Unmerited Favor (Musings from Spring of 2009)

This a re-post from a note I penned in Facebook in late Spring 2009.  (you can find the original post Here 

Found a brief note I had written to myself on the back of an ATM receipt immediately after arriving home from my trip to the Middle East in mid February of this year 2009. It was entitled “ The Grace of God” – unmerited favor.

I jotted down 2 distinct times in my life where I experienced a profound sense of God’s grace – a distinct knowing or acknowledgement in my heart that I was the recipient of favor that was unmerited, unearned, unsolicited and feeing greatly humbled and unworthy of it. It was a knowing that I was profoundly loved and cared for by God Himself and wondering why.

My first remembrance was when I was 16 yrs old at a retreat that my Catholic all-girl school required for rising seniors. Unbeknownst to us, they had asked our parents (one or both) to write letters to us, which we then read during a one on one reflection time with the priest. Because I was not Catholic, and not particularly religious other than singing sometimes in my church’s youth choir (AME Church)- it was more of a discussion.

The retreat was held at a beautiful simple place in the woods and we were in a peaceful contemplative room. I can’t remember how the conversation started but I remember being handed my letters – my Mom and Dad wrote separate letters as requested. The letters were not lengthy, but they packed all the love they had in every sentence. As I read the letters I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed. Not in the trite way that Christian folks say it now, because I really felt that I had literally been touched by God Himself. Tears started to well up in my eyes and the priest gently asked about what was going on. I told him that I was not worthy to be so blessed but I knew I was. I told him that I didn’t have a perfect life, but that I knew I had a great life with generous, wonderful parents who loved me unconditionally. I felt unworthy of this blessing – understanding that most folks don’t have this life. I knew I didn’t deserve any of it, but for some reason God had placed me in this environment just because. Everybody knows their parents love them, but somehow I KNEW it was from GOD. Before this time, my only thoughts about God were making sure He knew I didn’t need a personal visitation from the Virgin Mary. (That was really popular back then –No thank you. )

Fast forward to 2009

The second time of experiencing a profound sense of God’s unmerited favor was just a few months ago as I traveled to the airport leaving Dubai UAE. I knew that God had arranged the trip when I least expected it, did nothing to earn it, was completely unsolicited, and yet He wanted me to go. In fact, I entered into the New Year with huge challenges before me: drying up contracts, promising job interviews that the economy shut down, finishing up school applications for my kids for next year wondering how it was going to be paid and really REALLY missing my mother. Out of the blue, I was asked by a friend to attend this conference with her in Kuwait which was starting in 3 weeks with a few days afterward to see Dubai – I thought she was joking. Did she remember that I studied the subject matter in grad school? No – God just laid it on her heart to ask me to go.

God literally took me out of my circumstances and sent me half way around the world to relax with a skyline view in Dubai – no conditions. Like the first time when I was 16, tears welled up in my eyes because I knew that God had chosen me. In every view of the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait and then the Dubai skyline, I saw the hand of God in the gift of my friend. Through her willingness to obey God’s voice, I heard His voice saying I was very dear to Him, and that He wanted to show me so in a deliberately profound way. It also wasn’t just about me either – others were blessed to by this favor toward me.

What I know for sure it that God uses us as the vessels to bless others. We go day in and day out ignoring, discounting, and sometimes berating the conduits of God’s blessings in our lives and the lives of those around us. We need to cherish and honor these relationships, everyone that we come in contact with. We need so see them for the gift from God that they are and seek to share that gift to others. Grace comes in the smile of stranger, the hug of a child, a beautiful bloom in an unexpected place, a random compliment from your spouse. It is really all around us, if we have eyes to see.

Jesus did not wait till we deserved salvation to give His life for us – He extended grace when we needed it. Unlike Will Smith’s character in Seven Pounds, He is not going through our records and proving our character to see if we deserve the gift of life, grace, healing, provision. No- He says come to Him as you are, where ever you are, however you are.—and He’lll do the work in you as we allow Him access. In fact, He says “Come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in the time of need”

And sometimes, when you are least expecting it – He sends a fresh breeze of His grace and perhaps a fresh rain, to water and cool the dry places of our souls. Just because He can.

On the Arabian Gulf at dusk

On the Arabian Gulf at dusk