Seeing with Spiritual Eyes

Seeing with Spiritual Eyes

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light.   Luke 11: 34

 

In this passage, Jesus addresses his hearers’ inability (through their sins) to appreciate and see the truth of who Jesus is–to see with spiritual eyes.  Jesus is foreshadowing that his death and resurrection will be a sign for all generations and peoples of the earth. He would indeed become a light upon the stand.

Jesus says that if our eyes are healthy, then our whole body will be healthy.  I think Jesus is addressing our life perspective—how we see and perceive life around us.  When we see life from the wrong perspective, our eyes become dull (so to speak) and our perceptions become our reality.  When we live and dwell on a reality that is not based on God’s truth, it can literally affect our whole body, make us sick spiritually, emotionally and even physically.    But, the scripture tells us that when we embrace God’s perspective, our whole body is full of light—that means health, wisdom,  and love—and then people around us will be drawn to the light—like a moth is drawn to a lamp—and we become agents of drawing all men to Christ.

Lord, I know that maintaining a Godly perspective on my life and my circumstances is so hard.  Daily I am confronted with competing perspective on life—from the news, from my unbelieving friends, or the devil who is always trying to twist and contort your reality.  The only way I can fully embrace the right perspective on life is when I am in fellowship with other believers but even more when I immerse myself in your Word on a daily basis.  Your Word is my plumb line.  Lord, as I read your Word, clear my vision and show me life through the lens of faith and truth so that my eyes remain healthy and my whole body radiates your light to those around me.

 

Adjusting My Vision

Pastor Amy

Clothed in Humility

Clothed in Humility

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away 1 Peter 5:1-4

Clothed in Humility

Vital to the health and well-being of that church life is the role that the pastoral leaders play in it. They are the shepherds that God has appointed to lead His people, and teach them, and equip them, and protect them as they seek to stand faithful for the Lord Jesus. And the reason for the role of the shepherds is so that, when the Lord Jesus comes, He will be able to richly reward the faithfulness of His sheep.

But having said all that, Peter goes on to say;

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (vv. 5-7).

When Peter says “Likewise . . .”, he’s still talking about the way that the church family is to function in times of trial. He had called the pastors to be faithful in their conduct toward the people of God; and now he “likewise” calls the rest of the church family to be faithful in their conduct toward each other.

And we’re to be “clothed with humility”. That’s what we’re to be wearing to church. This isn’t just important in times of trial and difficulty, but always. But it’s especially important—particularly strategic—that we be ‘clothed with humility’ toward one another during these difficult times in which it is culturally hard to be a follower of Jesus.

In other words, we are to be clothed with humility in the household of faith. ‘Humility’ is the proper attire for church life!

God, help me to walk in submission to you and with humility and grace toward my whole church family.

Setting aside my pride

Amy
Women’s Ministry Pastor

A Powerful Faith

Dynmite

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:20‬

I think Christians today talk a lot about their faith, but seem to be lacking in power. This reminds me of another verse:

having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  2 Tim 3:5

A Powerful Faith

As I ponder these Scriptures, I wonder about the power of God in my own life, and in our church, and in The American church as a whole. I suppose I see it visible in the fruits of his spirit growing in me. But I have to admit that when I think about the word, “power,” I don’t think of it as a slow and steady power that causes growth. I think more of the power that Paul suggested when he said: “the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us and gives life to our mortal bodies”

This big miracle-working power is what I feel lacking in my life, and in the church’s life. I certainly don’t feel like I’m living by God’s power. This causes me to ask a question of how. How does one live by God’s power? To me the most simple answer is through prayer and the Word of God– two things which I could have more of in my life.

Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that you would help me to discipline myself to spend time talking and listening to you. Show me how to live in your power in my every day life. Your kingdom come your will be done. Amen

Putting my Faith into Action,

Karina
NLC office administrator
Nursery Coordinator

It’s Not About Me

woman praying over bible

It’s Not About Me

Acts 16 is full of people who practiced disciplined obedience and submission

Submitting To God’s Agenda

Timothy submitted to circumcision

The Lord called Timothy to circumcision—and he submitted to the painful process because the call to reach others with the Love of Christ was more important to him than his own comfort—even more important than his own body

Result:  So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily

Paul follows God’s instructions to go to Macedonia even though it was not his original plan:

Result:  Many families and people came to know the Lord.

Paul and Silas remain in jail and don’t try to escape.

Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

It would have been easy for Paul and Silas to escape thinking God instigated another miraculous jailbreak. But to them, the lives of others were more important than their own personal freedom and comfort.  This shows such discernment and discipline. The circumstances said, “escape.” But love said, “Stay for the sake of this one soul.” They were not guided merely by circumstances, but acted in total selfless love.

Result:  The jailor’s whole family was saved.

Application

God never promises that he will make our path easy or light.  He never promises that we won’t be tried and put to the test.  He never promises that we won’t be hurt or even beaten or face terrible trouble.  But He does promise to walk with us and to to be with us always.  God calls us to radically be about others before ourselves.  And our job is merely,  praise and acknowledge God in all circumstances..  This is our posture.    We are not to look for the easy path—we are to discern the divine path that God has called us to walk—We are not to seek our own comfort but we are called to be a comfort and light to others—even sometimes at great cost to our own detriment.

Lord, help me to put myself and my own needs for comfort and security behind me so that I can reach all the people who you call me to.  I need the courage and strength and perspective and discernment of the Holy Spirit alive in me because I can’t do that on my own.  I so easily default to what is easy or comfortable and I so quickly justify my choices.  Lord, bring conviction to me when I’m making life about ME and not about YOU.

 

Laying down my own agenda,

Pastor Amy
Women’s Ministry

Seeking the Doctor’s Care

Doctor holding a patient's hand

Seeking the Doctor’s Care.

In Luke 5, we read about Jesus feasting with a group of tax collectors and other people who were obvious sinners.  The Pharisees and scribes grumbled and complained that Jesus was hanging out with such people.  They asked why.  Jesus answered them,

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have come not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.  Luke 5:31

So, Jesus makes it clear by his answer that he cannot serve those who walk in a spirit of pride–those who consider themselves righteous and those who cannot recognize their need for grace and forgiveness.  If we consider ourselves well, then why call the doctor?   It’s when I become aware of my own weakness and vulnerability,  that I am in a position to receive healing.

Jesus  tells us to take a submissive position and acknowledges our need for help.  That’s true humility.

“That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” James 4:6

It’s humbling to visit the doctor and hear that I am overweight or out of shape or that I have high blood pressure, but I am wise to submit myself to the wisdom of my physician.  It’s tempting to become self-righteous and think, “What does that doctor know.  I can take care of myself!”  But this kind of  prideful thinking will only make me more sick or unhealthy.   How much better it is to admit my weakness and change my habits.

Lord, forgive me for an attitude of self-righteousness.  I want to remain humble and aware of my need for You.  I never want to take the position that I don’t need the healing and expert care that You provide.

Seeking my Doctor’s care,

Amy
Women’s Ministry

 

God’s Holiness

God's holiness in the sky

 “And he stood between the dead and the living so the plague was stopped.”  Numbers 16:48

God’s Holiness

Observation:  This verse is the culmination of the rebellion by the Isrealites and God’s punishment. They were sentenced to live in the desert because they lacked the faith to overcome the Canaanites.  This passage reminds me of the  Indiana Jones movie, where the people who opened the ark of the covenant melted before God.  Aaron runs through the camp, watching people die before him and live behind him as he carried the holy censor.  Rarely do we hear and rarely do we see such an account of God’s holy presence judging the sinful heart of man in such a dramatic way here on earth.  It is a scary, sobering thing to witness.

Application:  I am so thankful that I live in a time where I am covered in grace, patience, and long suffering thanks to the blood of the cross.  Yet, I am reminded in this passage that one day there will be a reckoning for all we have said and done.  Our God is a holy God. We need to be careful not to take His amazing grace for granted.  It would be wise to live for that one day!

This passage a sober reminder of the holiness of God.  It inspires me to be about my Father’s business and leave behind the petty distractions of my human sin nature.  Today I will be different because my focus will be on God’s will and His perspectives rather than my own.

Prayer:  Lord help me to move past my fleshly judgments, and my own priorities.  Lead me according to what You say is important for today.  Your awesome majesty overshadows my simple concerns for the day.  Help me to have a sensitive heart and sensitive eyes to see the Spirit leading and to follow it wholly devoted to you alone!

 

Devoted to Him

Pastor Chris

Cast Your Cares on Him

Cast Your Cares on Me. fisherman casting a net

 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22

 

Cast Your Cares On Him.

Observation:  The Lord is the one who carries our burdens. He will never let us down.

Application:  Thank you Lord for this verse. Sometimes I carry concerns for the church, or for my family, and for my friends that are not mine to carry.  You remind me that this is Your family, your church, and your children. Most of all, thank You that You alone provide all I need, and You alone protect and cover me.

Prayer:  Finally, Lord, Thank You that our time here on earth is the worst it will ever get. By your Son Jesus, we who believe, have heaven to look forward to, where there is no pain, no tears, and we will see You face to face! I lay my burdens down to You.  Thank you that I am not shaken, am not moved, and that you hold me and love me .   Amen!

 

Relying on Him

Pastor Chris

 

 

No Holding Back

“And straight away coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him”. “And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness”
Mark 1:10 &12

No Holding Back

In the gospel of Mark, the word “immediately” is used over 40 times.  In the first four chapters, I circled the word 14 times!  It’s a very odd writing style to see the same word repeated over and over again in  so many sentences.  It certainly stands out.

In the Greek the word is “Eutheos” which means ‘straightwaway’ or, straight from point A to point B.

Imitating Jesus

It is a very suggestive and expressive term, revealing the character of Jesus by showing us how He served. There was no slacking, but he responded “straight away” He was ever about His “Father’s business.” (Luke 2:49)  Jesus did not hesitate to do what God was asking him to do. He did not delay or procrastinate. He did not hold back, he did not act reluctantly.  He did not slack off.

Application

I need to learn from Jesus’ perfect example.  How often do I hesitate to do the thing God asks of me?  How often do I pause, question, or procrastinate?  My procrastination often leads to inaction.  I put off the very thing God asked me to do, and then I fail to follow through.  My lackadaisical attitude overcomes my obedient response to God.  This is called sin–pure and simple, no way around it!

Prayer

Lord, I want to be available “staightway” when You calls me action. I must be ready because  my response is the test that determines if I really trust You or follow my own desires.  I want to make myself ready and available today when I hear Jesus say to “Follow Me”.

 

Acting Fast,

Amy
women’s ministry

 

 

The Full Armor of God

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. – Ephesians 6:11

 

Observation–The Full Armor of God

The Apostle Paul, at the end of his letter to the Ephesians, gives a final charge & reminder that we are in a battle. This reminder comes at the end of the letter – a letter that Paul has carefully established our place in Jesus, and then the basics of the Christian walk. This is his last section dealing with that walk. That in light of all those things, we must fight. That we are fully, 100% in a battle against a real enemy who hates Christians and wants nothing more than to see Christ’s Church defeated.

Paul also reminds the church (body of believers) that we are NOT ill equipped. That God has given us all the weapons and tools necessary to fight against an already defeated enemy. To withstand the attacks of the enemy, we must depend on GODS strength and use every piece of his armor (which he in detail explains in v.14-20) The Key also comes in the word “All”. The whole body needs to be armed. This armor is of God both in the sense that it is from Him, and in the sense that it is His actual armor. In the Old Testament, it is the LORD who wears the armor (Isa 59:17). He now shares that armor with us – no wonder we are more than conquerors! (Rom 8:37)

Application

The reality is that many of us feel “ill-equipped” to fight anything. At times in our walk, we feel like we are dragging and the although we have suited up and ready for battle, the armor itself seems to be too heavy and we feel weak fighting.

Paul reminds us earlier in v.10, a key point, “Be Strong in the Lord…”  Before a soldier is given a gun or shown how to fire a missile, he goes through basic training. One great purpose for basic training is the build up the recruit’s physical strength. It is as if the army says, “Soldier, we are going to give you the best weapons and armor possible. But first we have to make sure that you are strong, and that you can use what we give you.”

Same is true with spiritual warfare. Being Strong in the Lord & Putting on the Whole Armor, go hand in hand. We relay on Gods strength (Holy Spirit in us) & His armor (His Power) to defeat the enemy.

Prayer

Lord today I put on the ENTIRE Armor. I put on the Sword of the Spirit, The Shield of Faith, The Breastplate of Righteousness and the Helmet of Salvation. I put on the Belt of Truth and wear the Boots of Peace. Lead me in your Might, Strengthen me with your Power. In Jesus Name,

AMEN

Pastor Fernando

(NLC Student Ministries Pastor)

Our Good Shepherd

“Even though I walk in the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23

Our Good Shepherd

I looked to the hills of Santa Barbara on a sunny and bright day. I imagined a shepherd leading a flock of sheep through a treacherous ravine. Though the day shined bright, this area was shadowed by the tall hill. In my mind’s eye, I could see the shepherd, sometimes leading the way, at times bringing up the rear. I imagined that their might be parts where the sheep might stop, scared, uncertain of their footing. The shepherd would stop and help the sheep – it might take an encouraging word or maybe a prod or a poke with the rod. Maybe he would use that shepherd’s crook to pull the sheep – like a bad performer off the stage – from the boos and hisses and rotten tomatoes of the bullying crowd! I don’t doubt that at times the shepherd may even need to pick up the sheep and carry it from one place to another. Such has been my experience in the dark valleys! No wonder the sheep takes comfort in seeing the rod and staff

Application

During the sad years when my marriage was troubled and eventually ended despite my best efforts, I could do nothing in my power to change it, even after years of trying and praying and hoping and wishing. I sank down deep to a place where I was almost unreachable. I seemed that no one could understand what I was going through – all around me were what appeared to be happy, normal marriages and happy, normal families. I struggled to hold my head up; I struggled to be a good mother to my little ones and my every action took a great deal of effort. I felt as though I was waist deep in quicksand. I was convinced that no one could understand or relate to me.  The few times that I picked up the phone to call a friend or confidant, it seemed that there was never an answer. I finally cried out to God. In His kindness and love, He met me right there. He opened the eyes of my heart. He took me from the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock.

I realize that I never really truly understood what God was able to do in my life until I reached “the valley of the shadow of death!” Thankfully, we don’t all have to get to that place. But I don’t for a moment regret having gone there because I can say with all faith that He goes there with me. It was there that I received His comfort, it is there that I found I am never alone!

When faced with life’s inevitable lows, how do you respond? Is crying out to God the first thing you do or the last resort?

Do you wait until you are stuck or do you call on Him as soon as you begin to approach trouble? What about when things are going fine? I pray to cultivate a heart gratitude at all times, through all circumstances because of the One who gave His life for my shortcomings.

Have you ever heard the saying, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day at the office?” Well, that is how it is for me. My worst circumstance walking with the Lord is better than my best circumstance without Him!

Prayer

Lord, today let me run to You first before anything! Let me rely on you completely. We can never know what the day will bring, but it is never a surprise to You. Let me take comfort today and at all times knowing that You are there no matter what the circumstance, no matter how treacherous the path ahead of me. You are  our good shepherd and I am assured in knowing that you are my beacon, my guardian, my disciplinarian, my leader and my strength.

 

Following my Shepherd,

Laura (Lead teacher Children’s Ministry)

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