The Lord Will Be My Light

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. — Isaiah 50:10-11

At sundown, July 21, Jews around the world will commemorate Tisha B’Av, a time of mourning that marks the many tragedies that befell the Jewish people throughout history on this particular date. Yet from this time of sorrow comes a ray of hope. This is one of 12 devotions exploring the depths of tragedy, and what we can do to transform darkness into light. To learn more about Tisha B’Av, download a copy of our free Bible Study.

In today’s verses from the book of Isaiah, known as “The Seven Weeks of Consolation” that are traditionally read after Tisha B’Av, and before the High Holy Days, the prophet reassured the people that God had neither forsaken nor forgotten them. He affirmed that although the situation looked bleak as they were in exile, everything would turn out right in the end. God would bring them back to Israel and the nation would be restored. In verse 10, Isaiah called on Israel to have faith. He proclaimed, “Who among you fears the LORD . . . Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD, and rely on their God.”

This reminds me of another time in Jewish history. During the time of the Maccabees, the heroes of the Hanukkah story, there were those in Israel who trusted in God and there were those who sided with the Greek oppressors. The second group of Israelites embraced the Greek culture, although it contradicted the Word of God, and considered themselves “enlightened.” They had Greek art, philosophy, mathematics, and science. Who needed God’s Word?

Mattityahu, the head of the Maccabees, issued this cry: “Whoever is for God come to me!” The time had come to make a choice. Times were dark in Israel. Everything seemed to be falling apart. Who would save them? Would it be God? Would they have faith in Him and trust Him to be their light leading them through the darkness? Or would they side with the Greeks, trusting in that which they could see, instead of having faith in He who is hidden?

The reward of those who sided with the Maccabees is that God led them to victory. The few defeated the many; the weak defeated the mighty. As an additional gift, God took the tiny flask of oil that the Maccabees found in the Temple, and while that light should have only lasted one day, it burned for eight nights until new oil was ready. God was demonstrating that those who let Him be their light will be blessed with everlasting light!

When we go through darkness in our lives, we may be tempted to go against the Word of God. But the prophet continued and wrote that those who made their own torches – their own source of light instead of trusting the light of God – would not succeed.

Let us establish God as our guiding light today. Make these your verses to live by today: “Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light” (Micah 7:8), and “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

Learn more about the darkest day on the Jewish calendar in this free issue of our Bible study series, Limmud (“study” in Hebrew), “Tisha B’AV: A Time to Weep.”

Hebrew Word of the Day

Hebrew Word Transliteration English Meaning
שבע נחמות Sheva Nechamot Seven Comfortings

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Bible Gateway

What Amazes Me

What Amazes Me

I find it amazing how people reject Jesus Christ without even taking time to consider His claims. Talk to someone about the Christian faith, and they sometimes will say, “Well, I am not into that. I don’t believe that.”

“Well, have you ever read the Bible?
“I actually have a Bible here right now. Would you–“
“Put that thing away!”

Bring up the name of Jesus or the fact that you are a Christian, and it often will stop a conversation cold.

A while ago, I was visiting a city for some meetings in preparation for a Harvest Crusade. As I was walking around, I decided to stop at a place for some clam chowder. The guy who had taken my order was very sociable and chatty, so as we were talking, I said, “Hey, I was wondering if I could put up one of these flyers? We are holding this event.” Then I handed him a flyer for our crusade.

He read it and said, “Wait . . . wait . . . that is a Christian band.”

I said, “Yeah, it is a Christian band. It’s a Christian event. We are here to talk about Jesus Christ and how to come into a relationship with Him.”

This guy came unhinged. I just listened to him. I didn’t interrupt. I just let him go for a while as he told me why he did not believe in the gospel, the Bible, and so forth. Then I asked him what he believed in, and we talked a little more.

And here is what I have found. Christians are accused of being intolerant, yet I find that is actually not the case. Instead, I have found that the most intolerant people are those who talk the most about being tolerant.

Summary sentence: Have you found that the most intolerant people are those who talk the most about being tolerant.

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

The Best Is Yet To Come

The Best Is Yet to Come

Maybe you sometimes feel the way Peter did. Speaking on behalf of the disciples, he said to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27).

Jesus replied, “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then” (verses 29-30).

You might say, “Well, Greg, I have given up some things to follow Jesus. So where is the substantial return?” That is coming later.

Here is the thing you have to acknowledge. Whatever you have given up, hasn’t God made it up to you? You gave up a few friends. Hasn’t He given you better friends in their place? You have given up so-called pleasures. But in retrospect, you realize now they weren’t pleasures at all, but addictions–and destructive ones at that. You have seen how your life has changed, and God has already made it up to you.

Even so, the best is yet to come. Because when we go to heaven, we will have rewards waiting for us. Then heaven comes to Earth, and we will have the millennial reign of Christ. Then ultimately, we will have the rule and reign of Christ on the Earth in the new kingdom, and we will be a part of that. We will be ruling and reigning with Him then. And that statement of our Lord in response to Peter’s question will be fulfilled then.

So whatever you have given up–or whatever you are giving up–will be more than made up to you.
Summary sentence: Whatever you give up, will be more than made up to you by Christ.

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

More Important Then God?

More Important than God?

If you have ever planted a seed and watched weeds grow around it, then you know that weeds don’t suddenly lunge out of the ground and start violently shaking the plant. It is a gradual process–so gradual that you wouldn’t even be able to see it if you were watching. But if you were to place a camera by the plant and set it on time lapse, you would see the weed in action, strangling the plant in slow motion.

Jesus told a parable about seed that fell on different types of soil. The seed that had been scattered on ground that was imbedded with weeds was choked out as it began to grow. Jesus explained, “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced” (Matthew 13:22).

There are some people who reject Christ for no good reason–just excuses. For some, it may be a concern over their career. They have a living to make. They have responsibilities. They have things to do. And sometimes those things can be more important to them than God.

Others will choose people over Jesus. Peer pressure doesn’t end with high school; we still care about what people think. We still want people to like us. We want them to approve of us. And sometimes we make the worst compromises imaginable out of fear of what others think. Peter denied Jesus for fear of what a complete stranger thought of him.

But if you give up some friends or a position or some pleasures or any other thing for the sake of Christ, know this: God will more than make it up to you.

Summary sentence: What is more important to you than God?

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.