By Verse : Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:12-16 Topic :

 January 14, 2018
LIGHTS THAT SHINE

Carole and I were heading home the other night from church when I remarked how dark it seemed to be. In fact, I think winter nights seem darker than summer nights, unless there is snow on the ground. This particular night it was cloudy and once we got away from the city it seemed really dark. But when we saw the lights of the city it seemed a little bit brighter and you could see where you were going a little better.
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells us that we are to be salt to the earth and a light to the world. We are supposed to let our light shine so that others can feel safe in many ways. We aren’t to hide that little light of ours but put it in a window, where it is like a miner’s light on our foreheads, so others will where they are going, or know there is another person that is close by for help.
Matthew writes, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Salt of the earth, light of the world, I wonder how many of us think of ourselves as those items. After all we aren’t very important people, right. We’re ordinary. We look ordinary. We feel ordinary. We work most ordinary jobs. We might not even go many places, or work in places where one could make a difference. But none of that counts. Jesus says that we are the salt and the light. It doesn’t matter where we live or what we do or where we go. Look at it this way. Jesus calls us to be his witnesses. When he commissioned his disciples in the last chapter of Matthew, Jesus said for them to go into all the world baptizing the people in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In other words, go be the salt, the preservative, the healing ointment if you will, that the world needs. Ever take a bath and add Epson Salt? I learned that as a child. It is soothing to the body, and if you have some aches and pains, cuts or bruises well, that bath seems to help ease some of it. And how many of you gargle with salt and water when you have a sore throat? Or use a sinus rinse? Old remedies that still work today. I remember when I was hanging around with a few buddies while I was in high school that we often had to take their grandfather to Revere Beach just, so he could walk along the beach and smell the salt air that was there because he had a hard time breathing. It seemed to loosen whatever it was that bugged him, and he often felt better as we drove with the windows down and that cool, salt air filled the car and his lungs. Salt is like that, and as far as Jesus is concerned, we his followers, should be like that to those who are hurting around us.
And that light? Well we all know what a lighthouse can do in a storm at sea. It leads ships to safety. It can be a beacon where one can focus knowing if they follow that light it could get them out of trouble. As kids, or during VBS some of you remember raising your finger singing, “This little light of mine. “I’m going to let it shine.” Our hymnal has that hymn. Part of that hymn says, “Everywhere I go I’m gonna let it shine.” And for some who remember this little ditty there was added, “I won’t let Satin blow it out” as you covered your finger with your other hand protecting it from Satan’s breath. That’s what this is all about. We are the light to the world. We, not as a person, but spiritually, are to be a light to the world and let our light so shine that others will see the hope that we have that comes from our faith, from our Father in heaven, from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We witness to our faith not by words, but by our actions, or even our re-actions.
What did the wise men follow? They followed the star. Where did it lead them? It leads them to Jesus. What did the shepherds see? The star in the sky. Where did it lead them? To Bethlehem to see the baby that was born who the angels said was their Messiah, their Savior, born to a young girl and her carpenter husband. During Christmas aren’t we pointed to that same star in order for us to have a relationship with the baby that is at the end of that star?
Years ago, there was a wonderful song that seemed to have a double meaning, if you will. Debbie Boone sang, “You light up my life, you give me hope to carry on.” I believe it was her only hit. If you heard that song, though it was secular, most felt it had a Christian message like so many other songs that some sing. That “You” she was singing about in troubled times when things were rough, was of course her God. It was He who gave her hope in the midst of those struggles in life. Another song sung in Carousel says, “Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you will never walk alone.” Isn’t that the hope we have today? It doesn’t include Scripture, but it sure has a Scripture message.
Have you ever noticed God uses many ways to light that path to him? It’s not just things that happen in a church, but things that happen anywhere, at anytime. He can use a pop song, or a country song, or a bee bop song to touch people. The Wesley’s used the tune from old bar songs that the people knew and sang and put Scripture and testimonies to them so that the people who heard them heard the gospel of hope and salvation repeatedly.
John’s gospel tells us that in the midst of a darkened world the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Later in Scripture Jesus says to those who were following him, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
What does that light offer? Think of it this way. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was speaking to ordinary people. Now if you include the disciples, they too, were ordinary folks. When you think about whom Jesus calls, it seems most are ordinary. Not kings or queens, nor presidents or those in high places, though they aren’t exempt from being his followers either. Most are normal you and I type people. We become the light of the gospel through our lives and as we travel along life’s highway we light the path of the gospel and bring praises to our God, and hopefully, touch a life or two.
Jesus didn’t look over his crowd and ask for a volunteer or two. He didn’t give an altar call and say those who wish to be a light come forth. He didn’t do any of that. Matthew says that during his sermon on the mount Jesus looked over the crowd and said, “YOU, (Yes each one of you sitting here) ARE THE SALT…. YOU ARE THE LIGHT.” That was all inclusive. It was every ordinary person who had ordinary jobs, who had ordinary families, who were of all ages and gender, who fished for a living, was a carpenter, a weaver of wool, a market worker, a boat dock worker, a fish cleaner at the fish market, even a student or two, or someone serving as a custodian, or worked in the palace, or had no job at all, or those who were working out of their homes. He wasn’t looking at college grads, educated with theology, or had been to rabbi school. Just ordinary folks like you and me, called to be a light in a world where there is no hope at all. Ordinary people that would believe and trust him to turn them into the salt of the earth, and the light to the world. It’s like when we have Christmas Eve service and we begin with one light in the darkness of the sanctuary, and then one after the other passes the light on to another and before you know it, the whole sanctuary has turned from darkness into light as we often sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king.”
YOU are the light to the world. You are God’s witnesses.
Now we turn to Paul many years after the death of Jesus, called by Him to be a light to the Gentile world sitting in a prison waiting to be taken to Rome to be on trial. In his only joyful book Paul says to the Philippian church, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which YOU SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE, as you hold out the word of life- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”
When God called Abraham, he promised him a few things. One, the land that he was on would be his and his descendants forever. Second, that since at this time he didn’t have one child, and he was nearing 100 years old and his wife Sarah was almost 90 and childless, that they would have a son that would begin them being a light to the world through generations after generation. In fact, God told Abraham to count the stars in the sky and that’s how many would eventually be part of his heritage. Ever try to count all those stars? Impossible. And I wonder how many are added from time to time, just like those who are added to God’s Book of Life through believing in His Son.
Here Paul says to those who became followers of Christ, who listened and received the Christian message, that this new life that they had was being watched by those who were not believers, so stop acting like non-believers, but, now here it is, “shine like stars in the universe.” Could we not say, shine like you are a child of God? Shine like one who has met and been changed by the gospel message. Shine like a new person who has new perspectives, new hopes and dreams. Shine like all those other stars whose lives have been transformed by Christ and so light up the darkness of the night so others can follow the way. Be the beacon in the storms of life where others can find safety, hope, peace and even new life.
That’s what it means to let our lights so shine. Going back to that little ditty of a VBS type song that you once sang as a child, “Everywhere I go, I will let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
Here are some suggestions I found:
When we turn the other cheek when we are attacked, our light shines. When we respond in kindness to our enemies our light shines.
When we give erring employees another chance when the world wouldn’t, our light shines.
When we tell others that the most important thing in our lives is Jesus Christ and not success, and then live so they can see that it’s true, our light shines. When we go the second mile when others wouldn’t, our light shines.
When we risk looking the fool for Christ
where others dare not, our light shines.
When we wish genuine good to all men, with the greatest good being their salvation, our light shines. When we would rather see men saved than to make a profit from them, our light shines. When we keep our word in spite of the fact that it costs us dearly to do so, our light shines. When we honor all men, even those of much lower place than God has called us to, our light shines. When we don’t demand the privilege that our position affords us in the eyes of the world, our light shines. When we take no advantage for ourselves even when we could, our light shines. When we use our money to build people, rather than people to build money, our light shines.
When we do just what Jesus would do in the same circumstances, our light shines, and He is glorified. We need to let his light shine in us, and through us so that folks who walk in darkness, who have no hope can find new hopes and dream. Jesus living in us as we let him shine in our good works.
A Christian song writer wrote a chorus to a song that says:
“Shine, Jesus, shine Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze, Set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow Flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth Your Word, Lord And let there be light”
So, let us not hide our light under a bowl, or under a basket. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
So, may it be in this new year wherever one goes or whatever one may face. Let the light of Jesus shine, shine, shine, shine Jesus shine.

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Jon Hampton & Shannon Becker announcing their engagement...congratulations!

Jon Hampton & Shannon Becker announcing their engagement…congratulations!

 

 

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