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Living in Sonlight

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Text: Ephesians 5:8-14

 

Introduction:

Charles Colson and several other Christian leaders once met with President Borja of Ecuador to discuss Prison Fellowship International's ministry in Ecuadorian penitentiaries. They had no sooner been seated in luxurious leather chairs when the President interrupted the conversation with the story of his own imprisonment years before being elected to the presidency.

   He had been involved in the struggle for democracy in Ecuador. The military cracked down, and he was arrested. Without trial, they threw him into a cold dungeon with no light and no window. For three days he endured the solitary fear and darkness that can drive a person mad.

   Just when the situation seemed unbearable, the huge steel door opened, and someone crept into the darkness. Borja heard the person working on something in the opposite corner. Then the figure crept out, closed the door, and disappeared.

   Minutes later the room suddenly blazed with light. Someone, perhaps taking his life into his hands, had connected electricity to the broken light fixture. "From that moment," explained President Borja, "my imprisonment had meaning because at least I could see."

   Even more important than the light we see with our eyes is the light that Christ brings to our hearts, giving our lives the understanding and meaning only he can give.

   -- Ronald W. Nikkel in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

I.       We Need to Reflect the Transformation of Light

A.     A change of reality

* We ought to be Christians in large type, so that it would not be necessary (for others) to be long in our society, or to regard us through spectacles, in order to detect our true discipleship.  The message of our lives should resemble the big advertisements which can be read on the street-boardings by all who pass by.

B.      A change of activity

-- From deeds of uneighteousness to righteous deeds.


Acts 19:18 through Acts 19:20 (NIV)
18Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.£ 20In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

C.      A change of obligation

-- No longer do we feel obliged to satisfy our own desires, but it is what He wills that we feel the need to satisfy.

               

*  The essence of sin is the refusal to recognize that we are accountable to God at all.

   -- Oswald Chambers, Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 11.

*   The true pupil, say of some great musician or painter, yields his master a wholehearted and unhesitating submission.  In practicing his scales or mixing the colors, in the slow and patient study of the elements of his art, he knows that it is wisdom simply and fully to obey.

   It is this wholehearted surrender to His guidance, this implicit submission to His authority, which Christ asks.  We come to Him asking Him to teach us the lost art of obeying God as He did. ... The only way of learning to do a thing is to do it.  The only way of learning obedience from Christ is to give up your will to Him and to make the doing of His will the one desire and delight of your heart.

Andrew Murray in With Christ in the School of Obedience.  Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 13.

*   Even the most mindless pastimes can be offerings to God when you are expected, by family duty, to engage in them. How free you are when you do all things simply to the glory of God. ... There is nothing simpler or more faithful than learning to accept the will of God apart from your personal taste--your likes and dislikes and impulses.

-- Francois Fenelon in The Seeking Heart. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 3.

II.     We Need to Reject the Transgression of Light

A.     Deeds that are Fruitless


Matthew 12:33 through Matthew 12:35 (NIV)
33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

B.      Deeds that are Shameful

*   It was your great American wit, Mark Twain, who once said, Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only animal that needs to. We are ashamed, are we not, of things we've done in the past. Nobody is free who is unforgiven. Instead of being able to look God in the face or to look one another in the face, we want to run away and hide when our conscience troubles us.

   -- John R. W. Stott, "The Up-to-the-Minute Relevance of the Resurrection," Preaching Today, Tape No. 79.

C.      Deeds that need exposed


John 3:19 through John 3:21 (NIV)
19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

*   I preached to my home congregation some time ago, and I talked in the sermon about how much I appreciated and admired my father because his mother died when he was three and his father, my grandfather, had a real drinking problem. In spite of that, my dad became a great Christian.

   In the service was an aunt of mine who has always been a supporter of my ministry. But she and others in the family have repeatedly been in denial about my granddad's drinking. It's kind of a family secret.

   After the sermon, my aunt came to me and said, "That wasn't true what you said about your dad's family."

   When I said, "What's that?" she paused for a minute and said, "I think your dad was four when his mother died."

   She just couldn't bring herself to discuss my grandfather's drinking--and that's forty years after his death. People can go a lifetime covering up. I think that's denying the truth. Love admits the truth and begins to erase it. Admitting your feeling is the beginning of healing.

   -- Robert Russell, "Releasing Resentment," Preaching Today, Tape No. 136.

III.  We Need to Receive the Transfusion of Light

A.     Darkness repelled

               
John 8:12 (NIV)
12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”


John 12:46 (NIV)
46I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

               

2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)
6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.


1 John 1:5 through 1 John 1:7 (NIV)
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

B.      Dead awakened


John 5:21 through John 5:24 (NIV)
21For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

C.      Directly enlightened


2 Corinthians 4:6 through 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

*Every morning for two years I battled with my son Jordan to get him up for school. Everything changed when he left his window shades up at night. In the morning, the light filtered in and quickly awakened on him. The presence of light solved our problem completely.

   As I read the Bible one morning, my struggle with Jordan came to mind. I asked the Lord to show me how to let his light awaken the places in my heart I was content to leave sleeping in the darkness. To expose myself to God's light, I must leave the window shades of my heart open and willingly allow him to change me.

   -- Debby Boone, Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

Conclusion:

I don’t have to light all the world, but I do have to light my part.

 

You and I are to be such that as we walk up and down the streets of life, people will be struck and attracted.  You have seen them turn and look at a well-dressed person. ... They should be struck by us, and look at us, and think, "What is this person?  I have never seen anybody quite like this before!" ...

   That is the kind of people we can be and the kind of people that we must be.  And when we become such people, believe me, the revival we are longing for will start, and the people outside, in their misery and wretchedness, will come in and will want to know about it.

   -- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Growing in the Spirit. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 3.

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