Arise and Shine

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? And the follow-up question is, did you choose something realistic? I would love to be 5’ 10” tall and have long, silky, naturally blond hair. But God gave me brown curls, my hairdresser provides my blond highlights, and no matter how hard I try, I will never be 4 inches taller. Wider, sure, but taller? Nope.

The new year causes us to pause and reconsider. We are reconsidering our lifestyles, our habits, our choices, and our daily routines. “Choose a goal and change” is the message of early January. Every new year brings a chance for a do-over.

Whatever you set your mind on this week, I hope daily scripture reading is a part of your makeover. This truly is one thing you CAN change. At Water’s Edge was developed to help you in this quest. It is in your inbox every morning and will always offer you a lectionary scripture and some musings. You can take or leave the musings, but the scripture is guaranteed to speak into your life every day.

Today’s passage encourages us to arise and shine. Think about that for a moment. God is trying to free you from whatever imprisonment has you locked up. Most of the time what imprisons us is of our own making. What are you currently doing that has you feeling trapped and hopeless?

Isaiah 60 (New Revised Standard Version)

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

When we read this proclamation of the Lord “rising upon us,“ we know it refers to his healing mercies, his power to overcome all oppression, and his unconditional love for his people. We are invited to tap into the ONE force that can truly obliterate the darkness we are all fighting.

For darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will appear over you.

When Isaiah wrote this, he was forecasting the return of the Israelites to their homeland and their place of worship. They had lived in darkness long enough. A savior was on the way to deliver them. We are still in the process of seeing this come to full fruition, but in faith we know that every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess him as Lord when the fullness of time has come at his second coming. Then nations will all live in light, and kings will bow down as well.

Nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn

So while we wait, let’s get better. Let’s do better. Let’s live better, love better, give better, speak better, wait better, and study God’s Word together.

Let us arise and shine in 2021.

Arise and Shine by Michelle Robertson

By Another Route

I suppose it’s time to talk about New Year’s resolutions. First, let me state that I hate New Year’s resolutions. Psychologists tell us it takes at least six weeks of sustained discipline to either make a new habit or break an old habit. They also tell us that six weeks is the average length of time that it takes most of us to abandon a well-intentioned New Year’s resolution. So why bother?

On the other hand, resolutions are like mini-Lents. We analyze our behavior, feel God leading us to change, and make a good effort to follow his guidance. So maybe what I hate is my inability to make a New Year’s resolution stick longer than Lent.

OK, so let’s give it a try. After all, New Year’s resolutions are biblical. Think about it! A resolution is based on:

1. Acknowledgment of a harmful behavior.

2. A confrontation of that behavior.

3. A repenting of the behavior.

4. A conscious decision to turn away from the behavior.

5. A change in direction.

One of the most poignant parts of the story of the three Magi who follow the star to see Jesus is what happens at the very end of the passage:

Matthew 2 (The Message)

9-10 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

11 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

12 In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

“They worked out another route.”

Having experienced the Messiah and encountering him PERSONALLY, they changed direction.

I suppose that is a New Year’s Resolution in a nutshell. Encountering Jesus in a personal, life-changing way…and then never going back to the old things. And by personal, I mean the on your knees, heart open wide, spilling your guts, and pleading for mercy kind of personal. Followed by accepting him as Savior and changing direction so that you commit to following him for the rest of your days.

Where is God calling you to work out another route? Where do YOU need to change direction in your life?

Christmas was all about encountering the Christ child. New Year‘s is all about finding different routes in your behavior.

And so we begin.

New Routes by Michelle Robertson