Monday, March 12, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 11, 2018

Sermon: “Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine”

I am sure you are familiar with the song “This Little Light of Mine.”  Doing a bit of research this week on this song, I came to find out that it was first comes into the public eye in the early part of the 20th century.  It was written by hymn writer Harry Dixon Loes who also wrote the popular hymn Blessed Assurance.  But “This Little Light of Mine” really became popular and imbedded in popular conscience when it was used by many in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. 

I want to let you in on a little secret.  I’m afraid of the dark.  When I was a kid I could only go to sleep if my nightlight was on.  For some reason the light gave me a sense of security and comfort.  But, to be honest, I really haven’t fully grown out of it.  Next to my bed on my nightstand are a flashlight and a camping lantern.  I try to justify it by telling myself that it’s in case of an earthquake and power loss in the middle of the night, which I guess is partially true, but down deep I am still afraid of the dark. 

So far this season of Lent we have talked about the life of faith being one of repentance and the fear of the Lord.  If you missed those, make sure you catch up on the podcasts.  This morning I want to talk about the life and walk of every Christian being one where our light shines in the darkness of our sin filled world. 

I read this just the other day in my Portals of Prayer devotion:

When God said on the first day of the creation “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), the light miraculously appeared out of nothing.  The only source of light was God alone, shining in the darkness.

The apostle Paul used the first day of the creation as a way of describing the miraculous gift of faith that has been given to us in Christ.  The same God who spoke light into the darkness has likewise spoken the miracle of faith into our hearts.  By the power of God’s Word alone, faith comes into the midst of nothing good, for ‘I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh’ (Romans 7:18).

Just as the only source of light on the first day of creation was God alone, shining in the darkness, so also God alone in Christ is the only source of our faith.  Praise be to God!  The Light of Christ now shines with unending brightness for us and within us, giving us His gifts of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. 

For some of you the moment that light shined on you and in you, was when the Word of God entered your ears and created faith.  For many that happened when that word was combined with water at the fount as you were claimed as a child of the King. 

Until that day that we are called home to heaven, we will live in the reality that the darkness is real and it is scary.

I’m still afraid of the dark, and so should you.

This season of Lent is a time for us to at least peek at the dark parts of our lives, to do some soul searching of those places we don’t let anyone see.  I want you to take a moment and go there, go to that place, locked in your heart; that place no one knows about.

It is for those places that the light of the world came.  The only source of light that can banish the darkest parts of you has come.  For all that is dark and no good in your life, a light has come. 

Listen to how John says it in the Gospel lesson for today, “This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil.  People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed.  But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen.”  (John 3:19-21)

Perhaps it’s true, we all really love the darkness as well.  Our sinful nature longs for it and all too often we given in to it.  But, for you, light has come.  For all those who believe in Jesus, the light of Christ now resides inside you. 

Here at Bethany and indeed in many other churches on the day of your baptism you received a candle and perhaps heard these words or ones similar to them, “Receive this burning light to show that you have received Christ who is the Light of the world. Live always in the light of Christ, and be ever watchful for His coming, that you may meet Him with joy and enter with him into the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which shall have no end.”

Even in your darkness, even as you struggle with sin, you are filled with light and are ready to live always in the light of Christ. 

That darkness you carry around with you, it’s all been forgiven at the cross.  God has paid your debt in Christ; there is nothing you need to do.  Why are you still holding on to it so hard? 

Your sins are forgiven; the light of Christ is in you. 

But the life of faith is also one where that light is to shine for all to see.

That light, deposited in you by the power of God’s Word alone is not meant to be kept hidden or locked up.  It’s meant to be shared. 

Living a life of faith is a call to action, to do the good works that have been set out for you to accomplish by our Lord (See Ephesians 2:10).  But let’s keep this in its proper perspective.

God doesn’t need your good works.  Your good works do not gain you anything special, because you already have it all, grace and mercy on account of Christ. But your neighbor needs your good works.  Our light shines in this dark world when we serve our neighbor. 

Jesus put it this way in Matthew’s Gospel, You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house.  In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Did you catch it?  When we shine that light that is within us for others, they will see your good works, but it’s not you that they give praise. 

Look at what it says again, “Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

The goal of shining your light is not about you, but so that someone else can praise God.

It Martin Luther who once said, “Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.”

The goodness of humanity is dependent not on our works but upon God’s mercy declaring us to be good.  Once we have been declared good, the works we do (however imperfect they may be) can be used for the good to point others to Jesus and give glory to God.

So, this season of Lent, contemplate on that light that is already in you and Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.   
 -Pastor Seth Moorman


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