Shine As Lights (Phil 2: 13-16)

By | Sep 14, 2017

At the time of creation the world was in the state of chaotic night and God said, “let there be light.” Six times in the first chapter of Genesis it is said that God moved from evening until morning. He always moves from darkness to light. Following the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, once again conditions were not only chaotic but the darkness seemed impenetrable. But God gave man a ray of light when He promised that “the seed of the woman would bruise the serpents head.” That promise came to fruition when Jesus went to the cross and offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of man.

Three words are dominant in John’s message to the world and they are life, love, and light. He has the message of life for those who are dead, the message of love for the depraved and the message of light for those who sit in darkness. It is the message of light that I want to emphasize in this article. When Jesus was made flesh and dwelt among us we read, “in Him was life; and the life was the light of men. The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (The darkness could not put it out) John 1: 4-5.

Darkness describes the moral condition of this sinful world, Isaiah 9:2 says, “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light….upon them hath the light shined.” “Jesus was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” It is in Him that we see the “light of the knowledge of God shining forth in the face of Jesus Christ.” Jesus, who is “the light of the world,” exhorted His disciples, “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” In Philippians 2: 16 the Apostle Paul reminds them that they were in the “midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” In this dense darkness God wants us to shine for Him. Without which the world would be a gloomy dungeon.

Light serves many purposes. It is a disinfectant for both the body and mind. It is used by those who battle with depression. While darkness breeds disease of all kind, light is a deterrent. A study was done of cities with a population of 1000 or more concerning the correlation of crime and darkness. They discovered where there was adequate lighting crime decreased as much as 90% and the average decrease was 43%. This teaches us that there is danger in darkness and safety in light.

The same God that said, “let there be light” and brought cosmos out of chaos in the beginning; is the same God that has shined into the darkness and chaos of our hearts and has illuminated us by His glory and we are to shine as fixed luminaries in this dark world.He has called us to live radiant lives in this world filled with darkness that others might be lead into His glorious light.

My text reveals characteristics of radiant living. It is a life that finds a pleasurable obedience in doing His will. Obedience will always be done without murmurings and disputings. Murmuring reflects an undercurrent of discontent and disputing is more of an open defiant attitude against the will of God. The Apostle, in speaking of his own experience in Phil. 4:11 says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” We find that there is not only contentment but great pleasure in doing His will.

As the moon is a reflection of the Sun’s light and can only give light to the earth as it remains in the full light of the sun. The radiance of the Christian’s life can only continue as one maintains a clear view of the face of our Lord. Paul admonishes us to be “blameless and harmless, and without rebuke in this dark and perverse world.” It is only through the holy living of God’s saints that the radiance of Christ can break in on this dark world. We are only able to do this as we “hold forth the word of life.” It is the written word that is our guide and inspiration. It reveals the living Word in whose image we are being restored from glory to glory.  The best it yet to come, for “the path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18) When we enter into that celestial city it will blaze forth with eternal light, for “the Lamb is the Light” in that grand city. If we stay faithful and shine as lights in this world, we will sit with Him on His throne, and shine with Him forever.

In this dense darkness God has called us to be lights. In this immoral, ungodly, and pagan world, God has placed His children as sentinels. The light that they reflect is challenge to the darkness because it cannot extinguish that light and therefore the darkness must flee. Like the Philippians we have seen a new vision, heard a new voice and that voice has called us to “shine as lights in this world.” If we are faithful to this call God has declared, “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” The promise follows that if we continue to be obedient and shine as lights in this dark world we will “rejoice in the day of Christ, that we have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” Let us, like the five wise virgins, keep our lamps trimmed and burning with the oil of the Holy Spirit until we move into that Perfect Day where we will behold the effulgence, glory, and luster of our Lord and Savior, the original and eternal Light!

Don’t Hold Your Peace (II Kings 7:9)

By | Aug 15, 2017

Samaria was in the grip of a terrible famine. Benhadad, King of Syria, had laid siege to the city and the consequences beggared description. They were facing one of the seven-fold curses which God predicted would befall Israel, if she departed from His commandments. “Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, of thy sons and of thy daughters.” (Deut. 28:53) This prophecy was fulfilled in this incident. (II Kings 6:28-29)

In verse six “the Lord made the hosts of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots, and the noise of horses” and they thought the King of Israel had hired the armies of the Hitites and the Egyptians to come upon them. In fear they fled, leaving their tents, horses, and everything else in the camp as it was.

There were four leprous men who were not allowed to enter the camp since they were unclean. Because of a lack of food they knew they were going to starve to death so they made a decision amongst themselves. Not knowing the Syrians had fled, they decided to take their chances and go into the Syrian camp. They concluded that a quick death at the hands of the Syrians was more to be desired than a slow, agonizing death by starvation. When they entered their camp they were shocked to find the Syrians gone and all their food and resources left behind. In the eighth verse we read that “they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it.”

As they were indulging themselves in all the bounty that the Syrians had left behind, their consciences began to trouble them. They felt obliged to share with the others, who also did not know that the Syrians had fled and were in the same predicament. The fact that they were troubled is revealed in the text, which says, “Then they said one to another, we do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry til the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go tell the King’s household.”

It seems their motive for sharing this good news was mixed. It was not so much a feeling of sympathy for the starving people, but was rather due to the fear of punishment that they might receive for withholding this glad news. They would have been guilty of the ‘sin of silence’.

These four lepers had filled their aching stomachs and were at last satiated. They serve as a warning for all Christians who want to enjoy the benefits of salvation without sharing it with others. Having tasted the good Word of God they themselves then refuse to give the good news of the gospel to others. Proverbs 11:6 says, “he that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse.” We must not withhold the food of the Word of God.

Scripture records that when the early church was baptized with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost they that were “scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4) Paul said, “for to me to live is Christ.” Life to Paul was Christ and Christ was life. Jesus told them that they would “be witnesses unto me…to the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The reason that the early church grew so rapidly, even under great persecution, was because the early Christians felt it their duty to tell everyone they met the good news of the risen Christ. With the Spirit of Christ within, they were so moved with compassion that it inspired them to action. Nothing could stop them. Paul said, “I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also.” (Romans 1:14-15)

All christians, not just pastors, missionaries, educators, evangelists and such like, are called and commissioned of God to be witnesses. God has no other means of winning a lost world to himself apart from the christian. The very existence of the church is for this purpose. The Church is not a place for us, as believers, to go and feed our mind and our emotions on sermons, hymns and songs and then walk away fully satiated and refuse to share the gladsome news with a spiritually starving world. Oh, that the consciousness of this ‘sin of silence’ might dawn upon us as it did the four lepers. May we, like them, feel that retribution and judgment will come to all who follow such course.

If we are going to be the witnesses that God can depend on, we must have a vision and passion that will move us to action. We need a vision of God’s holiness which will result in a vision of man’s sinfulness. In the sixth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet got a vision of God’s holiness and cried; “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” It was his vision of God’s holiness that enabled him to see his own sin and the sin of the world. This vision gave him a passion for lost souls and it in turn moved him to action.

Do we really see that souls without God are eternally lost? William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once said that if he could, he would finalize the training of every man in his army by suspending him over hell for twenty four hours. Perhaps that is the kind of vision we need!

Many of our friends and family do not attend church and they desperately need to hear the gospel message. Each of us has relationships in which we are responsible for showing Christ to others. It may not always be by audible words but sometimes by deeds of kindness, acts of generosity, and even giving a sympathetic ear to their concerns. There are various ways of witnessing for Christ. A tract given with a tip to a waitress or waiter is a witness. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Perhaps the greatest motivation of all is for us, as believers, to come to grips with the reality that a soul without Christ is eternally lost.

LET US NOT HOLD OUR PEACE!

“We’ve a message to give to the nations
That the Lord who reigneth above
Hath sent us His Son to save us,
and show us that God is love.”

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