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Come with me on a spiritual Journey!

This Is A Test

This is a test. How many times have we heard these words in our lifetime?  Usually it comes from that crazy radio message stating “this is a test of the emergency broadcasting system, this is only a test”.  It is followed with a siren sound for ten seconds.  Then the voice comes back and tells us what to do if this were a real emergency.  It is kind of like the fire drill tests we got so accustomed to in our grade school.  Line up single file we were told as the alarm loudly went off.  Then we calmly marched out one of the exit doors and ended up on the playground far away from the school.

I have this recurring dream.  It is a dream that I am back in college and there is a class that somehow I have just discovered that I have.  I have missed the whole semester and now they are having a test on the day I walk into the room.  I am not prepared and fear starts to set in.  The nightmare continues as the professor hands out the test and I am totally stumped as I sit there in a cold sweat.  Needless to say this recurring dream is not fun and it seems to play into a fear within me of not being ready for a test.

As a student I recall many times the teacher would surprise the class with a pop quiz.  It was bad enough to get tested when you were given warning, but these pop quizzes seemed to be totally unfair.  Looking back I’m sure that there was a reason for these surprise quizzes.  Perhaps the teacher wanted to find out how many of their students were following the lessons.  How many were comprehending what was being said and were able to apply the lessons to their knowledge?

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Looking back on those school day tests today I can their value.  There has to be a time when the rubber hits the road.  There has to be a time when the teacher grades their students on what they have learned.  Being there and listening to the messages aren’t enough.  Maybe I was there in body but my mind was on the ball game we were going to organize after school.  Maybe my mind was on a million other things besides the subject at hand.  I may look like I was there all of the time but my test scores could tell another story.

In our Christian walk some people expect life to go smooth all of the time.  They might think that when we become Christians we won’t have anymore problems.  Like the teacher, God lets us go through tests.  We may be on the proverbial mountain at times but we also find ourselves in the low valley.  The valley is meant to be a temporary place that God lets us enter. When we find ourselves in the valley we sometimes go on an emotional roller coaster.  Why am I in this place?, we might ask.  It’s easy to get down and depressed.  This is not the will of God for us.  He wants us to be content wherever we are.  He wants us to grow while we are in the valley.  Have you ever noticed that mountain tops have no growth?  Down in the valley is where we find the healthy grass and beautiful flowers.

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Life will take us to both mountain tops and low valleys. The test is in both instances.  How do we give glory to God when we are on an emotional high?  What is our attitude when we are in the valley?   Like the radio warning “this is only a test.”  When we are content and happy in whatever situation we are in it makes God happy.  It is not true that circumstances can totally make us happy.  We have seen miserable lottery winners and famous people that kill themselves.  The happiest that you and I will ever be is not based on outside circumstances but who is on the inside.

One time Jesus was on a boat with his disciple’s but he was peacefully sleeping in the back.  A storm came up suddenly and the boat rocked.  The disciple’s got scared and feared that they were going to die.  They woke Jesus and said Teacher don’t you care if we die?  Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm.  “Quiet be still”, he said and the storm subsided.  The disciples failed this test but the message is clear for us today.  When we have Jesus with us there is no need to be afraid no matter what situation we are in.  God loves us and like he calmed the storm he will calm the storm inside us when we put all of our trust in him.  Remember this is only a test!

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My Spiritual Exam

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Just like I need a physical
to find out how I am
It’s time for me to ask my Lord
for a spiritual exam

He’ll ask me many questions
Can I be honest with myself?
Thinking that I’ve got it made
could be harmful to my health

Is my gear shifted into drive
or is it stuck in park?
Does my light shine on others
or do I leave them in the dark?

Is my salt being poured out
or is it all for waste?
Does it flavor when it’s poured
or has it lost its taste?

When he gives me the vision
to see how I can be
will I make excuses
or let the Lord use me?

Will my spirit be broken
so my life he then can mold?
Or have I pushed the button
to put the Lord on hold?

When I leave the great physician’s room
will I be better than I came?
Or have I made my mind up
to keep my life the same?

“…I desire to do your will, O my God,
your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:8

The Proving Of My Faith

by Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

It’s easy to praise the Lord
when I’m on a mountain high
or I’m soaring in the air
up where the eagles fly

It’s easy to praise him
when life is going right
and it doesn’t seem the devil
is putting up a fight

But what will I do when troubles come
and I’m not feeling the power?
Will I cling to my faith in him
when I’m in my trying hour?

When I reach my lowest depth
will I take time to pray
or will I lose my grip on faith
and let it slip away?

Unproven faith is not faith at all,
this truth of faith I’ve found
The proving of my faith comes only
when I’m on my lowest ground.

Therefore, among God’s churches we
boast about your perseverance and
faith in all the persecutions and trials
you are enduring.

II Thessalonians 1:4

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Roll Away The Stone

He has risen!  It is the story of our faith.  Without the fact that Jesus has risen from the dead our faith would be dead too.  Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and discovered that the Stone had been rolled away.  It was a massive stone that had been put in front of the opening to make sure Jesus’ body was not stolen.  So Mary goes into the tomb only to find that Jesus is not there.  She runs to John and Peter two of Jesus disciples with the sad news.  “They have taken our Lord and I don’t know where they put him.”  The two disciples run to the tomb only to find that Mary was right.  The stone is rolled away and Jesus’ body is gone.  Not knowing what to do next the disciples end up going back home.  Mary is standing outside the tomb crying.  As she wept she looked into the tomb and saw two angels dressed in white seated where Jesus’ body had been.  They asked her why she was crying?  “They have taken my Lord and I don’t know what they did with him”, she stated.  Suddenly Jesus appeared but Mary did not recognize him.  Thinking he was the gardener she said “sir, If you have carried him away tell me where you have taken him and I will go get him”.  Jesus said “Mary” and Mary realized that it was Jesus and he was alive.

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Like the stone blocking the tomb there is another story years before of how God symbolically used stones to give Moses a lesson for his people.  Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt and had just crossed the Red Sea that God had parted for them.  That was the miracle where he made the sea part for them to get through but roll back to swallow up their enemies that were after them.  Going through the desert they came to Mount Sinai. God called Moses to the top of the mountain so they could talk.  The rest of the people were to stay down below and clean themselves up to prepare for when Moses came back with instructions from God.  Moses went up to the top of the mountain to meet God.  He stayed for 40 days and nights.  God wrote in his own writing the 10 commandments and put them on two tablets of stone.  When Moses came down from the mountain with the two stones in his arms he noticed that the people had grown impatient and had made an altar with a brass calf.  Moses was so upset that he threw the tablets to the ground breaking them in hundreds of pieces.  God ended up having Moses chisel two more rocks down to tablet size and gave him the ten commandments again to write on them.  The commandments were never symbolized as a way to salvation.  They were given because God loved them and gave them rules to follow that would be best for them.  It’s like loving parents telling their children to get home by 11 or don’t eat all of that junk food.

Ten Commandments (Decalogue) - Large 10 Commandments - Photo Museum Store Company

How many times do you tell your kids not to do something only to find that they disobey?  How many times in the spur of the moment do we make the wrong choice and for that moment we don’t consider the rules.  My dad used to tell me a story about a day that he was driving and came to a yellow light.  It was one of those lights where it was a 50-50 as to if he should go through or stop.  He decided to go through.  Just after he went through the light there were blinding lights in his rear view mirror.  He was getting pulled over.  When he mentioned to the officer that the light was yellow the officer told him that while he was under it the light turned red.  It was the letter of the law and the officer was determined to enforce it.  That ticket greatly affected my dad’s view of traffic lights from that time forward.  If he were driving up to a light and the light turned yellow you could bet your life his car was stopping.  Sometimes he stopped that car so suddenly it almost threw me on the floor.  This was before the time when we all wore seat belts.  One time dad made one of his stops and the car behind him rear ended his car in the back.  The driver mentioned that he thought dad was going through.

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A friend mentioned the other day of an episode with his dad.  His dad was driving with the family along narrow winding roads in the mountains of Tennessee or Kentucky.  As he was winding down the mountain he noticed the blinding lights of a police car in his rear view mirror.  The officer asked “Do you know how fast you were going?”  Truthfully the father did not know.  The officer had pulled him over in a loving way reminding him of how dangerous it is driving down the mountain.  “We have had many cars not make a turn and I just wanted to make sure you were not one of them.”  That story stayed with my friend all of these years.  The officer in his memory pulled them over because he cared about them.  He did not recite the letter of the law to them.  He did not give his father a ticket.  He just wanted to warn them to slow up and be safe.

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Almost invariably with rules there are exceptions to the rule.  If you are racing to get someone to the hospital in an emergency you might run a red light or two.  Is this lawful?  No, but it might be practical because you are doing it in love.  Even though God gave the ten commandments out of love he knew that they would be broken.  Symbolically when Moses became upset and broke the 10 commandment tablets it was like the ten commandments would be broken too.  There is a difference however in breaking a rule in love and in hate.  One day Jesus came by a pool where an invalid man had been laying on his bed by it for 38 years.  (You can find this story in the Gospel of John chapter 5 verses 5-15.)  Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well.  The man answered saying “I have no one to put me in the pool.”  You see an angel had stirred the pool waters and anyone entering the pool would be healed.  As you can imagine there was always a stampede to get into the water.  The man however had no means to get in.  Jesus did not say “Here let me help you into the pool.”  Jesus knew the real source for healing.  What he did do was command the man to take up his bed and walk!  The man on command took up his bed and started walking.  I can imagine the excitement that came into his life and the amazement others around him were feeling.  They had seen this man laying there by the pool for years and now he was carrying his bed and walking.  After he advanced for awhile with his bed on his back the religious lawyers called Pharisees stopped him.  It happened to be the Sabbath day and they told him it was unlawful to carry his bed on the Sabbath.

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n 2013 in the United States alone 2,220,300 adults were in federal, state, or county jails.  That is almost 1% of the adult population.  Those people are in physical bondage as they are locked up with no place to go.  We can find statistics on the number of these people there are but nobody knows the statistic on how many people are in spiritual bondage.  I can only tell you that the number is in the millions.  The spiritual bondage comes from people trying to live by the rules.  You might say “Shouldn’t we live by the rules and isn’t it a good thing?”  The answer is yes but we have to realize that if our heart is in the right place the rules will take care of themselves.  When the religious rulers asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was he answered this way…37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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So my questions to you today are Do you live your life in love?   Are you concerned with others obeying the rules and holding them accountable when they don’t?  Are you willing to forgive and forget or do you hold grudges? How is playing by the rules affecting your life?  Has religion made you miserable?  Are you trying to please God because you fear him or because you love him?  Do you go to church in fear or in love?

When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb it was a sign of hope!  It was a sign that something supernatural had happened!  When we give our life to Christ something supernatural happens to us too!  No longer are we living in bondage blocked by doubt and fear with no hope.  Now instead of depending on religious rules to justify us we have a loving heart and the voice of the Holy Spirit telling us we are saved.  Our life that was once a dark tomb blocked by a large stone is now an unblocked lighted vessel for his use. Let God roll that stone that is blocking your way and let him empower you to change the world!  Go in love and peace and let his love freely shine for all to see!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Galatians 5:1

 

Let There Be Light

You may be surprised to know that Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb.  Edison came out with his patents in 1878 and 1879 but the light bulb was in the works since 1802.  Many inventors sought to improve the light bulb.  The trick was to make a bulb that would light and also last.  While many attempted this feat through the years it was Edison who came up with just the right combination.  He had to find the right filament and have it vacuumed just right so that it would sustain light.  Edison’s pursuit of making the light bulb work was looked at as strange.  Someone once asked him “Aren’t you discouraged that you tried 1,000 different times to make the light bulb work and each time you failed?”  Edison’s answer was on the contrary.  He found one thousand combinations that didn’t work.  In his mind it was a process of eliminating what wouldn’t work which led him to what would.  So Edison did not create the light bulb but he did create the first one that would shine brightly for a long period of time. Original Edison Bulb

Today we take the light for granted.  We walk into a room and without thinking we turn on the light.  Only when the light does not come on because of an electricity outage or a burnt out bulb do we give it a second thought.  It’s not like it was when the electric light was experienced for the first time.  Can you imagine the first time someone attempted to read a book under their new electric light?  I’ll bet they were used to reading under a kerosene lamp.  You’ve probably seen them in old movies and how the light would flicker.  It had to be just a little better than reading in semi-darkness.  “What a miracle”, they must have thought.

In the same way Edison was a miracle for bringing physical light God wants us to be spiritual light to all we see.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:15-16 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  We may ask How we can be a light to others? 

I have a friend who stopped to buy gas a couple of weeks ago.  He went into the gas station after pumping his gas to pay.  There was a feeling in his heart that he should talk to the lady behind the counter about Jesus.  Right away doubt started to creep in to his mind.  The lady will probably think I am weird, he thought.  Still he decided to listen to that small voice within him.  He started talking small talk to the lady and then asked her if she liked to talk about spiritual things?  When she commented that she did he went further.  He asked her if she were a Christian?  He got her to talk about what she thought a Christian was and found out that she had not actually asked Jesus into her heart.  He led her in prayer to receive Jesus Christ as her personal savior.  When they finished praying the lady surprised my friend.  He was happy that she came to know Jesus but what she said made him do a double take.  “You are a miracle!”, she exclaimed.   “For the longest time I have been so depressed and down”, she admitted.  “Then you came in and brought light to my life”.  “You are truly a miracle!”  Image result for gas station worker

Like Edison we have something to share with the world.  However our gift is far more valuable than his.  He only made light in a physical sense.  We have the power through Jesus to give people light for their soul.  That lady that my friend talked to is not an isolated case.  There are millions of people out there who do not know Jesus.  The Bible states in 1 John 5 verse 12 “Whoever has the son has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

I’m afraid that many of us take God’s miracle in our lives for granted.  We have lost our excitement and desire to share our light.  We don’t even think about people living in darkness.  We’re glad that we are in the light and condemn others who aren’t.  God is calling us to be a light in the darkness.  He is calling us to be that miracle that enters someones life and brings hope.  We can only be that miracle if we are connected to the power source and desire to share his light.

When Edison and his team finished the first light bulb he asked a young boy to carry the bulb up the stairs.  The boy was super careful knowing how precious the bulb was.  The boy was too cautious as he climbed the stairs.  As you probably guessed he tripped and dropped the bulb and it tumbled down the steps and smashed.  It took Edison’s team 24 hours to re-make the lighting miracle.  When they finished Edison asked the same boy to take the new bulb upstairs.  That is the kind of forgiveness God has for us.  If we mess up he is always willing to give another chance.  Too often we don’t do anything because we don’t want to take a chance.  In the spiritual realm if we follow the Holy Spirit’s voice we always carry  a bright light.  The light he gives to us shines on forever and instantaneously replenished if we get tripped by the enemy.

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As we begin this new year I challenge you to do something different.  Instead of making New Years resolutions that soon will be broken try this.  Pray every day for an opportunity to spread his light to a dark world.  Look for opportunities and ask God to lead you.  Listen to his still small voice within you.  The Holy Spirit will speak to you if you are willing to take the time to listen. This will feel strange just as Edison was looked at for being strange.  However, if we are persistent we will realize that we are not alone.  The Holy Spirit will be working with us.  Edison’s gift of lighting up a room was rewarding, but God has a reward far greater to those who are willing to shine his light in someone’s inner darkness.  Don’t hide his light, let it shine, let it spread, and become a miracle in someone’s life today!

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:3-4…Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.…

#1 A Missing Light On My Computer

#1 A Missing Light On My Computer (August 22, 2017)

Lightenload story of the year for 2017

She entered my life through the internet.  But her light was far brighter than any computer.  It inspired me and comforted me in my time of stress and doubt.  The eclipse came and went but the sun didn’t stop shining.  Much the same as my friend Lydia.  https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/a-missing-light-on-my-computer/ -c8f08eb35ac5e929.JPG

#2 The Lost and Found (July 12, 2017)

#2 The Lost and Found (July 12, 2017)

The memory of our missing dog reminded me of the lost and found.  https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/the-lost-and-found/

#3 Restoration (April 16, 2017)

#3 Restoration (April 16, 2017) When my car was repaired and restored it reminded me of the restoration job that God is willing to do in our lives.  https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/restoration/

 

#4 Accident Forgiveness

#4 Accident Forgiveness (November 5, 2017)

A recent car accident made me realize that all things do truly work for our good!  (Romans 8:28) https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/accident-forgiveness/

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#5 God’s Party

#5 God’s Party (March 10, 2017)

This story compares the Wonder Years disastrous party episode with the party that God will be giving.  https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/gods-party/ 

#6 Lifeboat Skills Salvation Thrills

#6 Lifeboat Skills Salvation Thrills (February 18, 2017)

The old saying I wish I knew then what I know now applies here.  Over 90% of Christians have never led someone else to Christ.  I regret not offering a friend of mine named Steve many years ago.  As Christians we need to have a plan and let God lead us through the plan.  This story explains….https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/lifeboat-skills-salvation-thrills/

#7 Secret Agent Man!

#7 Secret Agent Man! (February 11, 2017)

I think this poem and video was popular because people see themselves in this.  It’s time to rise up and quit being a secret agent!

https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/secret-agent-man/

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