“You are the light of the world.… Let your light shine before men” Matthew 5:14-16
I have a lot of favorite stories, but this one has to rank near the top. My friend Paul Eshleman is the founder of the Jesus Film Project, which arguably has been the most important evangelistic outreach of the last 50 years—perhaps in the history of the church.
When Paul was strategizing how to market the film globally, he got an audience with the marketing group of a major Hollywood media conglomerate to get their advice.
The meeting provided the impetus for the international launch of the film. In fact, as of today the Jesus Film has been translated into over a thousand different languages and millions have come to know Christ as their Savior. But as significant as the extraordinary outcomes have been, God had an additional plan for that meeting in Hollywood. The marketing executive who chaired the meeting pulled Paul aside afterward and asked, “Could I talk to you for a minute?”
They went into his office and the executive began his story. “My wife and I had a child that was deathly ill. One day as I was walking down the hall, I noticed through the crack in my maid’s door that my maid was on her knees. Later I asked her, ‘Are you okay?’”
“‘I’m fine,’ she said, ‘Why do you ask?’”
“‘Well, I saw you on your knees in your room.’”
“‘Oh, I was praying,’ she replied. ‘Every day since your baby took ill I have been praying that God will heal your child. In fact, when I came here to work I started praying every day that when you and your wife leave and go out to work that you would be successful and that God will prosper you.’”
The executive explained to Paul, “After that we brought her down to the front door every morning to pronounce a benediction on us when we left. And more importantly, thanks to our maid’s prayers, our baby recovered.”
“And then,” he continued, “not long after that my wife was diagnosed with what looked like incurable cancer. One night, as she lay in the hospital, I was deeply troubled and decided to walk down the street to our synagogue hoping to talk to my rabbi. But it was bingo night so I kept walking. A couple blocks later I noticed a church with the front doors open.”
“When I walked in, the pastor said, ‘Can I help you?’ and I poured out my heart to him. He put his arms around me and prayed for me.”
“The next day I went to the hospital and my doctor said, ‘I thought you were Jewish.’”
“I am Jewish!”
“‘Well if you’re Jewish, then what was that pastor doing here all night sitting next to your wife’s bedside ministering to her?’”
The executive concluded the conversation by saying: “Paul, last week our maid died and I have nobody to get me to God. Can you help me?” And before Paul left, that executive was on his knees asking Christ into his heart.
Don’t miss the heroes of the story—three people who lit up Hollywood with far brighter lights than those on the silver screen: a praying maid, a compassionate pastor, and my friend Paul who had the privilege of turning on the light of Jesus in a Jewish executive’s heart.
And don’t miss the point of the story—you and I, regardless of our station in life, can be lights for Jesus by taking every opportunity to faithfully bring the love of Jesus to those who need it most!
- Who are some of the “lights” God used to draw you to Him? How did they impact your life?
- Take a few minutes to do an honest self-check on how bright your light for Christ is. What steps can you take to brighten the witness of your actions in the week ahead? Be specific. Check up on yourself!
- List out some of the people who need to see the light of Christ in your life. Pray for specific opportunities to encourage, bless, and serve them today.
When He was alone . . . the twelve asked Him about the parable —Mark 4:10
As you journey with God, the only thing He intends to be clear is the way He deals with your soul. The sorrows and difficulties in the lives of others will be absolutely confusing to you. We think we understand another person’s struggle until God reveals the same shortcomings in our lives. There are vast areas of stubbornness and ignorance the Holy Spirit has to reveal in each of us, but it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now? Or are we more concerned with our own ideas, friendships, and cares for our bodies? Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.
For children, the world is a magical place. Everything is new and exciting. They marvel at the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky. They relish the opportunity to watch something as simple as a ladybug crawling across a leaf or a butterfly fluttering from one flower to another. They see the world with fresh eyes, and through their eyes, everything is amazing!
By the time we have been on the planet for a decade or two, much of the magic has been lost. We take it for granted that we live in a beautiful world that is both mysterious and wondrous. We hardly notice the magnificent sky above or the lush grass on the ground. As we walk around our planet, we aren’t even cognizant of the fact that we are on a sphere that is spinning around in outer space and yet everything around us remains completely still!
It’s so easy to spend a lifetime on this planet and miss out on the beauty of God’s creation. In the Jewish tradition, we set aside a special time each month to step back, look around, and say, “Wow! This place is amazing, God!” Every month when the moon is new, just a sliver in the sky, we celebrate it and all of nature. One of the things we do is read Psalm 104.
In Psalm 104, King David reflects on the wonders of our world. He speaks about how the waters once covered the entire world, but then God separated the waters and placed them in oceans and rivers so that people would have land to live upon (vv. 6–9). David delights in the fact that God created a world complete with delicious fruit and vegetation that can sustain both man and animal. But not only that – God also created things such as oil and wine – items that are not necessary, but are gifts that bring joy and relaxation to people (v.15). David marvels at the day and night cycles that form a working rhythm in the world. The most dangerous beasts hunt at night when people are home, and return to their habitats in the day when people are out (vv. 20–23).
The flawless harmony in the natural world leads David to exclaim, “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Indeed, God created an amazing and diverse world for us to live in that reveals intelligence beyond our comprehension.
Today, let us look at God’s world and appreciate it with new eyes. Every wonderful thing that you will discover is a manifestation of His love for us and a testimony to His glory.
When David asked, “Is any one left of the family of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan‘s sake?” And there was a servant of Saul named Ziba. When they called him before David, he said to him, “Are you Ziba?” He replied, “Your servant.” David said, “Is there any one else belonging to the family of Saul to whom I may show kindness like that which God shows to us?” Ziba answered, “A son of Jonathan is still living, but he is lame in his feet.” David inquired, “Where is he?” Ziba replied, “He is in the house of Machir in Lodebar.”
Then David sent and brought him from the house of Machir; and when Meribaal the son of Jonathan came to David, he bowed down to the ground before him. David said, “Meribaal!” He answered, “Here is your servant!” David said to him, “Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will give back to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall always eat at my table.” Meribaal bowed down and said, “What is your servant that you should look favorably upon one as unworthy as I?”
Then David called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given to your master’s son all that belongs to Saul and to his family. You with your sons and servants shall cultivate the land for him and harvest the fruits, that your master’s son may have food to eat; but Meribaal, your master’s son, shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants; and he said to David, “Your servant will do all that my lord commands.”
So Meribaal ate at David’s table like one of his own sons. Meribaal also had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in the house of Ziba were Meribaal’s servants. So Meribaal lived in Jerusalem, and though he was lame in both feet, he always ate at David’s table.
Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in at my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.
Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in “the furnace of affliction.” —C. H. Spurgeon
Pain’s furnace heat within me quivers, God’s breath upon the flame doth blow; And all my heart in anguish shivers And trembles at the fiery glow; And yet I whisper, “As God will!” And in the hottest fire hold still.
He comes and lays my heart, all heated, On the hard anvil, minded so Into His own fair shape to beat it With His great hammer, blow on blow; And yet I whisper, “As God will!” And at His heaviest blows hold still.
He takes my softened heart and beats it; The sparks fly off at every blow; He turns it o’er and o’er and heats it, And lets it cool, and makes it glow; And yet I whisper, “As God will!” And in His mighty hand hold still.
Why should I murmur? for the sorrow Thus only longer-lived would be; The end may come, and will tomorrow, When God has done His work in me; So I say trusting, “As God will!” And, trusting to the end, hold still. —Julius Sturm
The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls. –Richter