Sunday, November 4, 2007

How Bright Is Your Light?

How many of you like it when we change time? I wish they would set it and leave it alone!

Now it will be getting dark at 5:00 pm. But I guess we could be like those in Alaska where it’s dark most of the 24 hours this time of year.

This week I got to thinking about light and how it applies to our spiritual life. So I looked again at Matthew 5 and read what Jesus said. "You are the light of the world."

Jesus said this during His ‘greatest of all time sermon’ there on that hillside…to the disciples. Now, you’ve never seen a more common group of guys, by the world’s standards, than this group. So ordinary, and extremely unimportant, humanly speaking, of course. When Jesus said they were the light of the world, it was in spite of the fact that it was the Greeks who were known world-wide for their superior knowledge, architecture, art, and philosophy. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates had already given their teachings centuries before Jesus told this unassuming group of men that they were the light of the world!

And Jesus is saying that to all His followers, even us. It makes me want to lift up my head and realize what a grand and glorious thing it is to be a Christian and a child of the King! We live in a darkened world, and we were left here to disseminate light into the darkness!

Light is miraculous. It’s almost impossible to define light… it’s a mystery.

Webster’s Dictionary will tell you that ‘light is that which makes it possible to see.’ Thanks so much!

A footnote in my Bible says, "We are to be reflectors of the knowledge of God and His salvation."

The Bible says that God is light.

  • Intellectually that means the knowledge of God is light.
  • Morally that means the holiness of God is light.
  • Physically that mean the glory of God is light.

When Jesus says that we are the light of the world, it means God has deposited His nature inside of us, and we are to let it out. It’s in there! It just needs to be allowed to shine forth. The Bible says that Jesus is the light of the world and when we receive Him into our heart through salvation then we become a part of Him and His Light.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. --John 8:12
So, Christ is in us, and we aren’t really, in and of ourselves, the light, but the light is in us! That tells me that as long as I am in the world, I am the light of Jesus in the world if I follow Him.

The Power of the Light

Like moths to a flame, this world is drawn to the light. It’s hard to resist. It’s part of man’s nature to seek out truth and fill the God shaped void in his heart. Now many people love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil…but many are seeking the truth. Will they see your light, set on a hill?

Here’s how it happened. Man started in the light, for God is light, but chose to sin, and sin plunged him into darkness.

Humanism says the opposite, that man starts in darkness, but is getting better and better, and closer and closer to the light. We know better. Sinful mankind is in darkness, but we are to be the light of the world, showing them the way out.

So, God loves man so much, and wants to help people in darkness to see His light, so He deposited the light in 3 places…

  1. The scriptures. Psalm 119:105. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." But not everyone will see the light in the Bible.
  2. The Savior Jesus came as the light of the world. But many rejected Him. And then He left.
  3. Christians.
Like fireflies across your yard in the evening, Christians are to shine as the lights in this world. The first Bible some people in your life will ever read will be the Bible of your life. The first sermon they will ever hear will be a sermon you give by your actions as professing Christian!

"You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day
by the deeds that you do, by the words that you say
men read what you’re writing, whether faithless or true
Hey, what is the gospel according to you?"

The only way they will get to know Jesus as the true light is through us.

Our lives are to reflect the mind and will of God!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. -- 1 Peter 2:9

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth. --Ephesians 5:8-9

The light will expose that which is not truth! This is why Jesus tells us to follow Him, and why we are told to be holy, and why we are told to do His will and obey His commandments. We are the only Jesus that people will see. They will base their thoughts about Jesus by the way that we conduct ourselves, or what kind of light we reflect. If we understand that we are reflected light, then it helps us to see why we need to conduct ourselves as Christ’s followers.

Also the further that we get away from the source of light, the dimmer our reflection will be. Understanding that we are reflected light should help us to understand why we need to diligently work to stay near to Jesus.

The Position of Light

"A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
The Christian is not to be ashamed of their confession. It is the duty of the church to stand out, not for prominence sake but for the spreading of the gospel, for light into a dark world. Jesus proceeded here to show his hearers why they were given the opportunity to hear and participate of the Gospel. It was not because of their place of birth, or because of the way that they looked! God was blessing them with the gospel so that they could be a blessing to others. We are not to waste our light. It is to shine brightly for all to see!

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. -- Phillipians 2:14-16

The Radiance of Light

How does the light radiate? The light is radiated through our example, or our good works. People want to see a sermon before they listen to one.

As newsman Clarence W. Hall followed American troops through the war in 1945, he and his jeep driver came upon a small town that stood out as a beautiful example of a Christian community. He wrote, "We had seen other villages... down at the heels and despairing; by contrast, this one shone like a diamond in a dung heap. Everywhere we were greeted by smiles and dignified bows. Proudly the old men showed us their spotless homes, their terraced fields... their storehouses and granaries, their prized sugar mill."

Hall said that he saw no jails and no drunkenness, and that divorce was unknown in this village. He was told that an American missionary had come there some 30 years earlier. While he was in the village, he had led two elderly townspeople to Christ and left them with a Japanese Bible. These new believers studied the Scriptures and started leading their fellow villagers to Jesus. Hall’s jeep driver said he was amazed at the difference between this village and the others around it.

He remarked, "So this is what comes out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus."

What the Light is to Shine Toward

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The proper motive to influence us to let our light shine is not simply that we may be seen, but that our heavenly Father may be glorified. Our light should be a light that is reflected from Jesus, back to Jesus. People need to know that we do what we do for the glory of God! If the last point was not added, then it would seem that we are to be self-serving, self-glorifying, but our works are not to our own credit, but for God.

I came across a story that I think showed this scripture to me a very real way . It showed me how important my Christian life is to others and how important this church is in this community. I want to share it with you in closing.

Many years ago there was a little village on a rocky seacoast, where storms often battered and seas were ever treacherous. Many ships were driven onto the rocks by the storms, and the lives of many sailors were lost because of the raging seas.

One day the people decided among themselves that they should establish a lighthouse and life saving station on a little peninsula on the coast, to warn ships away from the rocks and to save the lives of those who were cast into the icy waters. They approached the government and began to secure the necessary funds for their project. Soon they set forth and built a tower, and set a beacon in it; they organized a lookout system; and they bought boats and learned how to man them; and soon they were in business. The business of saving lives!

Soon the effects of what they were doing became known far and wide. Fewer ships went on the rocks; and when such a tragedy did occur, and the alarm was sounded, the people risked their own lives to rescue those who had been cast into the raging, icy waters. Within a few short years, people came from great distance to study their lighthouse, and to use it as a model.

One day someone suggested that, since they all spent so much time at the lighthouse that they should gather there occasionally and enjoy good fellowship. And soon they began to get together (at first infrequently, and then more often) at the lighthouse. In fact, many people began to build their homes near the lighthouse. Then when the lookout sounded the alarm, they were there, ready to go out.

Next, it was decided that if they were going to spend so much time there, they must make the place more comfortable. So arrangements were made to heat the lighthouse. The gray walls were painted a brilliant white. Some of the walls were paneled; rugs were put on the floors to disguise the bare concrete; a fine kitchen was installed with a handsome stove; and generally speaking the lighthouse became a nice place to spend your time waiting for the alarm to be sounded. Everything about the lighthouse was made comfortable and nice. The lighthouse soon became the center of life in the little town that grew up around it.

One night a fierce storm blew in, as storms had blown in for years. Many ships were tossed on the jagged rocks, and the men at the lighthouse spent long hours picking sailors from the bitter cold icy waters and taking them to the lighthouse, where they were fed and provided with dry clothing. This had happened many times over the years, but this time, after the storm subsided and the sailors had all left the lighthouse, there were some men who were angry. It seems the storm had made them leave the comfort of the lighthouse, and go out into the wet, dangerous seas; and they got cold; very cold. The sailors, when they were delivered to the lighthouse, soiled the carpets. The kitchen was a mess, not to mention the stove. After a brief meeting it was first decided that sailors, when they were brought to the lighthouse, should be taken to the basement, not to the nice upper areas.

Some time later, another storm blew in; and about one half of the men went out in the boats, and again picked sailors from the frigid waters. This time the ship, which had broken apart on the rocks, was from another nation; and the men who manned her spoke another language, and even worse were of a different color. After this storm, a few more men joined those who refused to enter the sea. They decided that men like these did not belong in the lighthouse at all; some said they felt that the lighthouses’ job was not supposed to be saving sailors from other lands, because they were so much different. There were those, too, who objected to leaving the comfort of the lighthouse to go out into the storm. These men petitioned the government and they also agreed. So, finally, it was decided that the beacon would be kept lit, but the rescue work would be discontinued.

A small group disagreed, however, and went down the coast, a short distance, and started a new lighthouse. This small group decided that they should establish the biggest life saving station on the little peninsula, and so they did. Every day they warned ships and sometimes attempted to save lives from the icy water. Fame of the new lighthouse grew and the lighthouse back up the bay eventually turned out its beacon.

Some people say the beacon can still be seen today in you and I. Oh yes, they also say the small group running the new lighthouse were those once rescued from the raging seas.

We as God’s people all have a choice to make with regards to our rescue work. We can choose to allow our lives to become comfortable and we can find ourselves very content.

And often times we may find that we have turned out our beacon of hope for one another. Or perhaps, I hope and pray that we find ourselves lighting and saving the path of others both in our words and deeds.

Let me ask this question this morning? If the whole world turned dark and the only light that would shine would be every Christian, how much light would you be or how bright would this church be?

"You are the light of the world!"

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