Christ's Lights All Year Long

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Jesus said we should be "the light of the World." But just how and why should we shine that light?

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Christ's Lights All Year Long
By Jeff Strite
Summary: Jesus said we should be "the light of the World." But just how and why should we shine that light?
I asked the congregation: “How many of you have already taken down your Christmas lights?” (This was 7 days after Christmas Day, and about a 1/3 raised their hands)
“Well, how many of you will take down your decorations NEXT week? (a few more raised their hands).
How many of you plan to keep your lights up all year round? (nobody raised their hand)
OPEN: It’s fairly obvious none of us intend to leave our Christmas lights up all year round. But there is one family in Baltimore, Maryland that did exactly that. If you drive down their street after dark, any month of the year, you’ll see Santa driving his sleigh on their roof surrounded by so many Christmas lights it lights up the night sky. And it's been like this ever since last year about this time.
Apparently, last year just before New Year's, somebody called into a local radio station and complained about their lights still being up (it hadn't even been a week yet). This was followed by several other callers complaining about the same thing.
The Morgans thought: well, if they're gonna to complain if we didn't get them down 5 days after Christmas we're just gonna to leave them up all year long. And they really wanted to do that anyway.
Mary Morgan – the wife - had had several strokes and also needs to use an oxygen tank for her emphysema. That was one of the reasons they’d been a little slow getting the lights down last year.
“I’m a fanatic on Christmas. I love Christmas,” said 63 year old Mary Morgan. “The way I look at it, with me and my emphysema and all, I never know when I’m going to take my last breath. I’m going to enjoy what I want to enjoy.”
That’s the reason you’ll find holiday decorations all over the their home - (inside and out) and - all thru the year - their lights are timed to - go on at dusk - and turn off at 10:30 a.m.
“Christmas lights have a special meaning,” Mary Morgan said.
“They symbolize brightness, love. That’s what Christmas is about.
APPLY: Now most people probably wouldn't leave their Christmas lights up all year long but on the internet I have read of several ideas that might get you to reconsider that. What I read was that some experts say Christmas lights are great for creating ambience. That’s a fancy word to describe setting a mood with soft lights.
These experts talked (for example) about how you could use Christmas lights in your kitchen, dining room, the Living Room or Bedroom, along your stairs or walkways or on a porch or around a gazebo. Some experts have even told you can use these little lights behind your TV set can make your viewing experience more pleasant and satisfying. I read where at least one TV manufacturer is considering putting a soft lighting effect on the back of their monitors for just that reason.
In addition, if your Christmas lights happen to be LEDs, they last at least ten times as long, and are 90% more efficient than regular bulbs.
Now my point is this – Christmas lights can be used all year long for all kinds of things. And, in a lot of ways, they’ll be more satisfying and efficient than regular lamps and bulbs.
Jesus said: "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 its 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.
When God used lights – He used them for more than just holidays.
· When God created the first lights (the Sun/Moon/Stars) He created them to shine all thru the day and night.
· When God had the Israelites put lights in His tabernacle, He declared: "Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept BURNING CONTINUALLY.”
· And when God told us about Heaven, He said He wanted us to know its light would be continuous: said “There will be NO MORE NIGHT. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
The lights that God creates and commands have always been more satisfying and efficient than any of the lights that this world has ever known.
And what that means is that – when Jesus called you the Light of the world – He was saying that (as far as God is concerned) there isn’t any other light that can be as satisfying or efficient as what you and I can be for Him.
As I was studying for this sermon, I came across some interesting insights into this idea of our being the “light of the world’.
1st – The light Jesus was talking about wasn’t something we came up with on our own.
Paul writes: “For 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. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
We’re just jars of clay.
We’re containers into which God pours His light.
Whatever long-lasting power or glory or influence we have in this world is not our own it all came from Him.
Jesus said: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
So... without Jesus I can't do anything?
Now, that doesn’t mean you and I can’t do things that might be impressive.
It doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish things that will make a mark in this world
But what Jesus was saying was this:
If you want to do something that will last for eternity and have importance that’s going to count for something then you need to get attached to HIM.
ILLUS: It’s like the speaker on my phone (I played a part of a tune I had stored on my Android phone). Can you hear that music? (They could, but it was faint because I was merely holding up in front of me). You can hear and even recognize music from my cell phone if you’re close enough but to really get the power of the music, my phone has to be amplified (I held the phone up to mic). Can you hear it better now?
The phone can play any kind of music I can download to it.]
But in order for me to enjoy that music fully, I need something to amplify the sound.
Essentially, Jesus is our amplifier.
Jesus is the one who takes our puny efforts and gives them lasting significance.
As one man said:”I’m just a light bulb. But there’s a power line. His name is Jesus.”
So, the first thing I learned about our being the “light of the world” was that our ability to be that light hinges on our holding HIS light inside of us. The light that makes us valuable to God comes from Him – not ourselves.
Then I learned something more: Jesus gives me this ability to be His light for a very specific purpose:
"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 its 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.
What’s the purpose of our light?
To help us do good things that will make people see God and glorify His name..
ILLUS: During WWII Desmond Doss had a problem. He was a devout follower of Christ, Doss believed that it was not right for him to kill others but he wanted to serve his country so he volunteered as a medic.
During boot camp, his fellow soldiers ridiculed him for refusing to fire a rifle. They mocked him when he read his Bible and knelt beside his bunk at night to pray. But when they went into combat, it became a different story.
During the battle for Okinawa in May 1945, Doss repeatedly risked his life to rescue scores of wounded men. Through his unselfish acts of heroism, he gained the gratitude and respect of his former critics and of those whose lives he saved.
Corporal Desmond Doss was the only the 2nd conscientious objector to ever earn the United States' highest military award - the Congressional Medal of Honor.
(Our Daily Bread 6/6/10 David McCasland – Alvin York was the first to receive that honor)
Desmond Doss built his entire life around serving His savior.
And he his faith exposed him to ridicule and rejection... but that didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that he be allowed to serve both his Jesus and his country.
And his righteous deeds led others to glorify the God he served.
That’s the Hallmark of Christianity.
True Christians are known by their good deeds - because we are driven to glorify our Father by reflecting the light of His love to the world around us.
And the Bible tells us that this is God’s goal for our lives
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do GOOD WORKS, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
And tells us this is so important we do this that church should lead us to “... consider how we may spur one another on toward love and GOOD DEEDS.”
So, I learned that being the Light of the World comes by my shining Jesus’ light (not my own) and my purpose in shining that light was so that God would get the glory. But then, I also learned that this shining of light is so important to Jesus that He gave us an example of someone who did just that.
Jesus said: “John (the Baptist) was a lamp that burned and gave light....”
John the Baptist was a light of the world!!
And because John was a light of the world - Jesus was impressed.
Jesus was SO impressed that He lifted him up as an example to us.
But, what had John done that so impressed Jesus?
How had he become a lamp that burned and gave light?
Well – it occurred to me that John gave off his light in two basic ways:
1st, John the Baptist stood up for righteousness.
You can’t stand for Jesus if you’re not going to stand up for righteousness.
When people came to him to be baptized John didn’t just take them down to the river. He drove home the fact that they needed to change their lives. He called them to live righteous lives. And (even more than that) he himself was so righteous that even his enemies couldn’t find anything to accuse him of.
Shining for Jesus means that we His righteousness is something we want to stand up for.
ILLUS: In the last church I had a man who worked as a salesman for a major soft drink company. He made good money and supplied well for his young family. But then he started going to our church, and became so convicted by what he heard that he allowed us to baptize him into Christ.
And that’s when he was faced with a conflict.
His job required him to take customers out to bars and supply them with all the alcohol they could drink (this from a soft drink company). Many of his customers stumbled out of those bars, or passed out inside.
He finally quit his job.
He found he couldn’t work for that beverage company without betraying his newfound love for Jesus. That man understood that you can’t stand for Jesus if you’re not willing to stand up for His righteousness.
John the Baptist was so convicted of the need for righteousness that never compromised – even when it cost him. “...John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.”
When it became obvious that King Herod was an immoral leader... John confronted him. He stood up to the most powerful leader of the country... and called him on his sin.
Have you ever wanted to “rebuke” a government official? (Me too).
And that’s John did with the ruler of his land.
But, why did he do that?
Did he hate Herod?
I don’t think so.
I think John cared what happened to this leader of his people.
He “rebuked” him - which means he was calling for Herod to change.
II Peter tells us: “(God) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
John was calling for Herod to repent/change.
If he hadn’t cared about Herod... he never would have bothered. Let him go to hell, why should he care? If you compromise on righteousness/ if you don’t expect change in others.
But John cared, because he knew that God was patient even with Herod.
So 1st John shined his light by standing up for righteousness with the intention of having people change their lives for Jesus.
And 2ndly - and most importantly - He stood for Jesus.
Jesus was the most important thing in John the Baptist’s life.
When people wondered if he might be the promised Messiah, John replied
“OH NO! I am not worthy to untie his sandals”. (Loose translation of )
Later, when it became obvious that Jesus was becoming more popular than he was John said: “He must become greater; I must become less.”
For John, the most important person was Jesus and thus John served his ministry for God by standing up tall for HIM
You can’t be the light of Christ if you don’t stand up FOR Him.
You can’t be the light of the World, if you’re not willing to stand tall for your Savior.
You can talk all you want about how often you’ve been in church.
You can talk all you want about having attendance medals for Sunday School
You can talk all you want about how much you’ve give to the Church
But if people don’t know you that Jesus is the most important thing in your life you’re not there yet.
As Jesus said: “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men”
In order for our light to truly shine we need to hold the light of our commitment to Jesus way up high so that everyone can see. And that’s what John the Baptist did.
CLOSE: When Jesus said “you are the light of the world” He wasn’t calling for holiday lights. He wasn’t calling for Christmas and Easter followers (show up periodically). He was telling us He wanted us as lights that would shine all year round.
Mary Morgan said “Christmas lights have a special meaning,”.
“They symbolize brightness, love. That’s what Christmas is about.
If people could put that into their hearts the whole year round instead of just one day a year a lot of things would be different in the world.”
And Mary was right:
Christmas lights DO have a special meaning.
And if people could put that meaning in their hearts the whole year round a lot of things WOULD be different in this world.
But the Christmas lights that have that special meaning... is us (Light of the World)
And the special meaning of that light, is the brightness and love that Jesus puts inside of us.
And if more people would put the brightness and love of Jesus inside of them - all year long then a lot of things would be different in this world...starting with us.
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