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Let Your Light Shine – Part Three

Matthew 5:14-16

As a young child, Robert Louis Stevenson watched through a window as night covered his community.  His nurse said, “Come sit down, it is so dark you can’t see anything now.” “Oh yes I can,” he replied as he watched the lamplighter coming up the street igniting the gas street lights, “I see a man making holes in the darkness.”  That is exactly what Christ wants us to do spiritually.

When A.W. Milne, missionary to New Guinea died, the natives erected a marker: “When he came to us there was no light.  When he left there was no darkness.” May it be said of your sphere area of influence.

Joni Erickson Tada, observed “The world does not get it’s concept of Christianity from the Bible but from believers.”

Let your light “so shine” not as to dazzle nor to obscure.  Light can be used to blind or guide.  Don’t use your light so as to offend, but to guide.

The reason is “…that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

That they may see “your good works, not you, the worker.  People don’t look at the sun, but they marvel over its effects.

There are two Greek words for good: “agathos”meaning good in quality, and “kalos, meaning good in quality, but also beautiful and winsome.  The latter is used.

Let your good works be done spontaneously and naturally, not demonstrably.  That they may “glorify your Father….”

Light, literally, is a form of energy.  Solar panels on satellites capture rays of the sun and convert them to energy.

Plant life is energized by capturing the sun’s rays and by a process called photosynthesis, transforms it into life.

A missionary in China had his meager hospital which he had worked years to develop burned by General Chaing Ki Sheck when the General’s army occupied the territory.  The doctor followed the General’s army treating his wounded soldiers.  The General later asked the doctor’s wife why he did this.  “It is because he is a Christian,”  she replied.  “Then I, too, must become a Christian,” was the General’s reply.  That doctor was one of the three influences that brought Chaing Ki Sheck to Jesus by letting his work glorify the Father.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4: 6)

As Jesus prayed so might we: “Father, glorify Thy name…I have glorified you on earth.”

Light shows.  There’s nothing secretive about the Christian life.  This appeal by Christ is a call to demonstrate the joy of fellowship with Him.

Let Your Light Shine – Part Two

Matthew 5:14-16

Little Gail in church for the first time was amazed by the characters depicted in the stained glass windows. “Who are those people,”  she whispered to her Mother.  “Those are Saints,” replied her Mom.  After church Gail said, “I know what saints are.  They are people the light shines through.” Right Gail!

All colors are caused by objects filtering or reflecting light.  Blue light is one of the shorter wavelengths and is dispersed by the atmosphere that makes the sky blue.

Lives are colored by Christ.  Filter out the bad and reflect the good.

Don’t put your light under a bushel, that is, hide it.

        A)      Unbecoming speech

        B)      Compromised lifestyle

        C)      Complaining nature

        D)      Unforgiving spirit.

“Let your light so shine…”  You are to let.  He is to enable.  We do not have to provide the light, Jesus produces it.

Light is not corrupted by what it shines on.  It may seem God has put you in an extremely dark place.  Where is light needed? Everywhere there is darkness!

James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”  Its ratification was unlikely because it gave no protection to religion.  A Baptist pastor, John Leland, was going to run against Madison.

At the time Virginia had imprisoned 500 Baptist preachers.  Their crime was simply not being a member of the state church of Virginia.

Leland and Madison met under an Oak tree in Richmond.  Today two streets corner at that spot.  Those streets are Leland and Madison.  There Madison pledged to Leland he would assure him the Constitution would have an amendment added to insure religious freedom if he would not oppose him.  Leland consented and thus the First Amendment resulted, guaranteeing religious freedom.  Unfortunately some modern jurists have failed to read it carefully.  It begins “Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion…”  Notice it restricts “Congress” not individual citizens.   Only Congress can violate the amendment.

Leland’s light shown.  Today many are trying and some with success to put it under a bushel.

“Your light,” not all are alike.  We differ depending on the light we reflect.  There are many rays of light.  As a prism breaks light down into different colors, so various personalities reflect different aspects of God’s glory.  We are not all expected to be alike. Let your light shine in the darkness today.

Let Your Light Shine – Part One

Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world….”

John the Baptist said of Him:  He is “the true light, which lights every man that cometh into the world.”  (John 1:  9)

Jesus said of you: “You are the light of the world….” The verb tense and sentence structure used in addressing this statement to believers means “You and you alone are the light of the world.”  That means you are rare, purposeful, important, unique, distinct, and valuable.  All are qualities that speak of worth.

Jesus is THE light.  We are lights.  We are stars – He is the Sun.  A star’s light is merely a reflection of the sun.  Christians shine by derived light.  Our radiance is to be gathered from the Son.

This is illustrated by a young, sullen nurse who attended a revival meeting in Columbus, Ohio.  On about the third night she gave her life repentantly to Christ.  On her way home she stopped in a drug store where she was known.  A friend said, “You look like someone has just lit a candle inside you.” “They have,”  she said.  “What I mean,” said the friend, “is you look like you just fell in love.”  “I have,” she said.

John 1:4, 5 describes Christ, the light, as shining in “darkness.”  The word for darkness is “skotos.”  It is used of evil.  It is a summary reference to fallen mankind.  Verse 10 indicates it is synonymous with “the world.”  Darkness, the world, is the antagonist of Christ, the light.  The expression doesn’t simply mean the world behaves negatively toward Christ, it means the world hates the Light.

John said the world didn’t apprehend the light.  It didn’t take it in.  The darkness didn’t defeat the Light.

The Greek word “katalambano” which can be translated as comprehend, or apprehend, or overcome, is a strong word literally meaning an attack by evil powers.  It actually means “to pounce upon to bring it under its power.”  Surprisingly it is in the aorist tense, meaning at a point in time. Here as the aorist verb it is a reference to a single occurrence.  The reference is to Calvary. 

There the two forces engaged in mortal combat and Light won over darkness.

You can let your light shine with assurance of its visibility and potential victory.

The essence of light is to shine.  If it is light, it shines.  All deep convictions demand expressions.  All personal experience of the power of Jesus on our character shows in our conduct.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 16) 

Ready for a Good Fight

Do you ever draw out of your mental archives experiences of your youth? Do it. You will be amazed if you let your little boy or girl self come out and play in your memory. Did you have a childhood nemesis? Most folks did.

John was my adversary; a real bete noire.

John and his mom moved back to our little home town. His dad had died or something. Kids don’t always get the details.

Mom often told me just before I went off to school not to hit John Vail or say anything bad about him. The instruction always ended with, “You know what the Bible says about how we are to treat orphans.” I really didn’t, but since mom said it and it came from the Bible I figured that meant to be nice to him.

That was hard to do. What mom didn’t know was John Vail was a fighter. A brash little dude at that.

It was common in that era for boys to fight. They didn’t do it because they were mad and though it often resulted in a real whipping it rarely ended in anger. It was as natural as playing marbles, tops, mumbly peg or some other exotic game. In reality it was simply a right of passage.

I didn’t like to fight. I wouldn’t even hang around and watch my friends duke it out. Never did like it, but neither did I like the idea of being a chicken-liver or wimp. That was before the age of the wuss. 

John was there every afternoon when school let out. He was a cocky little guy with a David complex. Guess who was Goliath he felt obligated to take out. I was his target to be picketed on. Perhaps he knew I didn’t like to fight or maybe he knew what my mother told me about what the Bible said and he could pick on me without fear of retaliation.

I never could get mom to tell me about how little orphan boys were supposed to treat us. Obviously his momma wasn’t versed on this feature of the Bible either. If she taught him anything about loving one another he had it worked out in his mind that I was the one to do the loving and he was another, which I was supposed to love him.

One afternoon I backslid. He pushed me over the line and I forgot all about what the Bible said about how we are to treat little orphan boys. I whipped up on John Vail real good, and then walked him home — my new friend.

Somewhere in all of that I guess my temperament was being forged for life. I never have liked confrontation. I have always tried to avoid it, but when necessary, I never have cowered away from it. 

This memory of John Vail is infrequently awakened when a conflict occurred that demanded addressing.

As adults our “fights” are rarely ever physical, rather they are conflicts of a different kind and degree, often ideological. 

The apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.” His reference was not to how he fought, but to the worth of the cause for which he fought. His statement did not simply mean he had fought well, though he had. It meant he found a cause worth fighting for, the “good fight,” and fought it well.

Those live most fully who have found a cause worth fighting for and have given themselves to it. Be sure your cause is worth fighting for.

Live in a Day Tight Compartment

Watches and calendars have very little control over us if we control them. Resolve now to become the keeper of both. If you don’t control the others who don’t know your priorities will.

Start now realizing yesterday’s glory is ancient history. Past failures are to be forgotten. Don’t live the life of a peacock whose glory is behind it.

Tomorrow is only potential. Don’t waste today worrying about tomorrow. Whatever you do don’t rush by today to get to tomorrow, neither pull tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine. 

Against this background read the following heavenly insight letting it soak as you read. 

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’’or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 24 – 35)

Pause and ask for divine guidance in making the spirit of those verses your new or renewed lifestyle.

In this passage Jesus instructs us to live in the present. It is good to plan for tomorrow, but not to worry about it. It is good to enjoy reflecting on the past, but not to worry about it. You have enough to deal with today. It is easy to become so focused on the past or future that we waste the opportunities afforded by today.

The equation is to remember the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.