Facing ForwardJon Burgess
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.’ ”3Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord commanded Moses. Numbers 8:1-3
28So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.”30For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense."He welcomed all who visited him, 31boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him." Acts 28:28-31
Paul lived his life facing forward as he walked into the future God had hand-crafted for him. Like the tabernacle lampstands of old, Paul burned bright in the presence of God illuminating the way to Jesus. Like the lampstands of old he knew he had been pounded, shaped and positioned by the master to reveal the mystery of Jesus to the Gentile nation. A people once kept in the dark about Christ were brought into the light because Paul kept facing forward. He never turned his attention inward no matter how hard life became. Whether he was facing an angry mob bent on killing him or an amazed crowd seeking to worship him he always pointed towards the source of the miracle, the true provision of salvation!
The last words written of the Apostle Paul in Acts are a fitting epitaph on a life of faith well lived: "He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him." I want the same to be true of the light God has given me to shine. How often do I turn inward when life gets hard or I am rejected by someone? How often do I think the position God has given me is for me instead of to illuminate the One who saved me? Jesus makes it very clear that I'm not here for me but rather to help all around to see Him: 14“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matt. 5:14-16) In fact the model of the tabernacle lamp, the life of Jesus and the testimony of Paul reveal that the light of our lives shines brightest on the God I serve when the oil is burning, the heat is on and the faith is tested! When I am most tempted to hide is when I truly need to shine. When I want to face inward out of fear God calls me to face forward in faith.
When I am facing me that's all people will see. When I am facing forward I see You and others do too! The positions of influence You have given me in my family, in my church, on this island are to reveal who You are especially in these times of trial and testing. When people see me I want them to praise You. Forgive me for how quickly my focus turns inward and backward instead of forward through faith. You have given me a light to shine in the darkness. Let me tend to the oil of Your Spirit, track with Your leading, throw open the door of relationship so that all who come in contact with me will see you no matter how hard life may be!