Fourth Sunday in Lent (2023)

Lent--Our Greatest Needs  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:00
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Whatever happened to blushing? When hearing words embarrassing or shameful, a person’s cheeks may lighten with color. That is, the circulation of blood in their face intensifies. Blushing is a sign of a lively sensitivity to evil and moral darkness. In our day, it seems people blush less and less.
Is this a sign of a deadening of spiritual life in our society?
Is our consciousness, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, becoming dimmer?
Even Christians—exposed nowadays by TV and movies to so much that is vulgar, sensual, and violent—seem less aware of the difference between deeds and words that flow from darkness and those that flow from light.
Is the light which emanates from Christ and his words “dimming out” in our souls?
This is who we once were, before Christ became our Lord. Now we are admonished to

Walk As Children of Light

The most vital change possible has occurred in your life. Jesus Christ reconciled you to God through his death on the cross. You have heard the word of truth; Christ’s light has shone upon you. The Holy Spirit enabled you to believe and be saved.
Once you were darkness. There was no mixture of darkness along with some inner light inside you; rather, your whole being was darkness personified. You were “dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph 2:1).
NOW, you have become “light in the Lord.” You are no longer darkness; you now belong to the kingdom of God and have an inheritance in God’s kingdom (Eph 5:5 ). Don’t forfeit it! This great transition happened because “Christ loved [you] and gave himself for [you] as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1). Jesus said you “will not be condemned” because you have “crossed over from death to life” (Jn 5:24).
In Holy Baptism, your old nature was buried with Christ, and you were raised with him to newness of life. Christ who is the “firstfruits of those who sleep,” will himself raise you bodily on the Last Day, completing the spiritual resurrection that has already taken place in Baptism (Eph. 5:14).
So, walk as a child of the light, for this is who you are!

Light-persons vs. Darkness-persons.

If the lines of demarcation are blurred, even believers may become confused.
Instead of immorality and greed (idolatry), light-persons seek to live with integrity and love. You are equipped not only to love a few likable people, but to “live lives of love” (Eph 5:1).
People of darkness have no other goal for their existence than self-satisfaction. Therefore, “they have received their reward in full,” said Jesus (Mt 6:2). Having been made into light-persons, we have the Spirit’s power to “live as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).
To live as children of light literally means to “walk around as children of light.”
It is more than just having a sign that says “I’m a Christian.” As a matter of fact, light-persons don’t need a sign at all, because it is their life.
We also need to be wary of the light growing dim, for light-persons strive to be alert, wanting to find out what God’s will is. Ever been caught sleeping in class? You may have been a good student. Still, your teacher shocked you with his wake-up call.
We all need to be awakened from time to time. In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, the wise ones (Christians) also fell asleep (Mt 25:1–13).
God shouts to you to be alert, to discover what pleases him, so that you may do it. This involves a transformation in your thinking and imagining process, as Paul explains in Rom 12:1–2. Instead of tuning out God’s voice, actively look for opportunities to receive input from him through his Word.
People of the darkness — worldly people — are always embracing the standards that the world sets forth. Faith that is alive and active is foreign to them.
God is shouting to us to be alert, to not just know what pleases him but to do it.
The text continues, Instead of doing shameful, dark deeds, light-persons seek to expose them, avoiding if possible, talking about them or even hearing about them.
That doesn’t mean we always walk around pointing out someone’s faults and missteps, but that we cling to the light so much that the shameful dark-deeds are automatically exposed.
In TV and the tabloids, much is made of exposing scandals. Actually, by the way they print them, the publishers are reveling in them.
Christians at times may secretly nourish their “flesh” by reading and watching in the media scenes which depict actions they say they would never do. Then why read and watch them?
God strengthens his people to expose evil. He strengthens us by granting us the power of his light: “In his light we see light” (Ps 36:9). Persons who are internally flooded with Christ’s light have been given the resources to resist and expose evil. As when dead logs in a forest or rocks are overturned to reveal little creatures which quickly scurry away, so Christ’s light sends dark things running (Jn 3:20).
Therefore, instead of disobeying God, light-persons strive to imitate God. God’s gifts and values are full of light: goodness, righteousness, truth, and aesthetic beauty such as is found in art and music done to God’s glory. And God’s light and peace have a protective benefit: “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). In a practical way we may imitate God by emulating other light-persons. Paul encouraged the Philippians to follow his own example (Phil 4:9).

Christ will Shine on You.

The prince of darkness — the devil — tries to intimidate us, fanning our fears about the future—fears that somehow, we might not have enough light to function. Paul promises in our text that “Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).
As we sing in A Mighty Fortress is Our God, the lyric goes like this: “The prince of darkness grim; we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure; for lo, his doom is sure; one little Word shall fell him.” — Friends, we do not need to fear those things the world fears, nor be intimidated by the devil’s raging.
In Christ, God has sent the light that still shines on us: his grace, forgiveness, and life.
God will provide all the light you need for any situation that may arise: “And if on some point you think differently that too God will make clear to you” (Phil 3:15). God’s light will illumine every future step, enabling you to bear more and more fruit to his glory.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, affectionately known as “Grandma Moses,” started painting when she was 78 years old. Her work was first discovered when a man named Louis Caldor saw her paintings displayed in a drugstore window in Hoosick Falls, New York, in 1939. After that, her paintings were displayed in over 100 exhibitions around the United States and in Europe as well. She lived to be 101 years old.
What a tragedy it would have been if she had not taken up painting in those last 23 years of her life. Instead, responded to the Lord’s prodding and took up a brush. So many beautiful colors that filled her mind and spilled out on her canvases! She painted not only for her own enjoyment, but she also enhanced others’ joy by her work. Light from God did not dim out when she got older, that light beamed brighter than it had before!
God is calling us —
Matthew 5:16 NIV84
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
May your and my new life in Christ glow and produce increasingly more fruit—beautiful fruit by the power of the Father of lights, his Son, and the Holy Spirit, who enlightens us with his gifts daily.
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