putting skin on the sermon: walk in the light

 

Sunset-2013-11-11Yesterday morning’s sermon worked out of John 12.35-36. In that passage, Jesus paints a mental picture for the crowd:

“The light is with you for only a little while. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going. As long as you have the light, believe in the light so that you might become people whose lives are determined by the light.”

The image is of someone walking with purpose, and perhaps with a bit of hustle, trying to get to their destination, before nightfall (“walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you”). Their way may not be familiar to them and could even hold any number of problems that could leave them vulnerable. Such a person has one objective in mind: to avoid the delay and the possible dangers that would come from getting lost (“those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going”). Consequently, every decision they make, every step they take along the way, they make on the amount of light they still have at the moment. They are “people whose lives are determined by the light.”

Jesus claimed to be the light in our life:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8.12)

There is no time for delay in choosing to believe him and walk with him, in his light. Time is not our friend and neither is darkness. He urges us to “… believe in the light so that” so that we will “become people whose lives are determined” by him. If we do so, he will bring us safely to where we belong: home with him.

So how can we walk daily, and all day long, with such clear purpose and determination? Here are three things that can assist you in your journey.

1. Start each day well in your heart. That is, start with Christ your Lord clearly in focus. Get your mind right and the rest will follow. One way to do this is to make a portion of Scripture a point of reflection and meditation as soon as you get up in the morning. Here’s an exercise to get you started with that habit: take a few minutes to watch the day dawn, moving from darkness to light, meditating on Ephesians 5.8-9 as you do so. Do this every day for a week. This passage reads:

“You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth.”

2. Take a few moments throughout the course of each day to deliberately recall the true Lord to whom you belong. Think of such as something like a soft reset or reboot of your operating system, your spirit.

“All of you are children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to night or darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5.5)

Remember some of the horizontal blessings you enjoy because of your walk with the Lord and thank him for such.

“… if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other …” (1 John 1.7a)

Pray a brief prayer of thanksgiving as well for the ultimate vertical blessing we have because of our Savior:

“…  and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.” (1 John 1.7b)

3. End the thoughts of each day well. Consider your last conscious thoughts of the day as your way of preparing and supplying your mind for it’s effort and rest while you sleep. You might do this by going for an evening walk with someone. Try deliberately walking toward the setting sun and discussing John 12.35 as you go. Remember it?

“Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going.”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian perception & persecution: * The Difference Between Persecution and Being Corrected by Robert Cargill; * Christians and Persecution, Then and Now by James McGrath [required reading]

* “Just because you didn’t get what you want doesn’t mean that you are ‘persecuted.’ It means you can’t have everything.”

* “American Christians have no idea what they are talking about when they cry persecution. And as someone married to a Romanian, and thus who experienced something which, if still not like Nero’s time, was far more truly persecution than what most Americans have ever experienced, I do not find it merely inaccurate. I find it offensive. It is cheapening the term and thereby minimizing the plight of those who really do face persecution.”

Confrontation, courage & fear: Courage is Not the Absence of Fear by Michael Hyatt

“Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.”

Facebook: Facebook’s Privacy Settings

“With the latest privacy update, however, Facebook has made it easier to find some of the most important privacy settings. When you’re logged into Facebook, you’ll notice a new lock icon with three horizontal lines in the top toolbar.”

Noise, silence, silent retreats & stress: The Buzz on Silent Retreats

“If you feel bombarded by emails, phone calls, text messages and the daily stress that comes with them, there could be a solution for you. Some people have found relief in perfect silence.”

Prayer: Why Some Prayers are Answered and Some Aren’t?

“If every petitionary prayer were answered on the time specified by the petitioner, God might even be thought of as an instrument or tool for earthly benefits.”

this went thru my mind

 

Arguments & debate: Winning Arguments by Ted Gossard

“I prefer to think in terms of sharing, as much preferable to debating.”

Decision-making: Why Basing Your Next Ministry Decision on Precedent Might Lead You to the Wrong Choice by Eric McKiddie

“When a leadership team faces a dilemma, ‘What did we do last time?’ is a question that tends to pop up. The assumption is that past precedents help you make the right decision now. While this is true, it’s not true as often as leaders expect. Here are five reasons why arguing from precedent might lead your ministry in the wrong direction.”

Politics: A Visual History of the US House poster and Interview [infographic]

“It depicts the progression in political ideology of every House seat from 1789 to 2010.”

Shepherding: Ministry Inside.97 by Jim Martin

“Shepherds should expect people to change. … Shepherds move people toward Jesus when they practice being authentic believers. … Shepherds need to remember that the goal of ministry is discipleship, not pacifying the least mature. … Shepherds who will compromise their integrity in order to keep people happy will find that in the eyes of the immature no compromise is ever enough. … Shepherds are called to help a congregation move toward maturity in Christ.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading: 10 Signs You’re Not Reading Your Bible Enough by Trey Morgan

“You’re just sure that ‘Do not dance’ and ‘Do not gamble’ are two of the ten commandments.”

Conversation: How to Connect in a Conversation by Brad Lomenick

“Whether with someone you are meeting for the first time, or a follow up meeting, or a longtime business associate, it’s important to not just greet properly, but also connect. So here’s your cheat sheet for connecting in a conversation.”

Evangelism: * Becoming More Evangelistic by K. Rex Butts; * Tongues: We Won and We Lost by Terry Rush

“…there are some practical things that every Christian can do to be more evangelistic.”

” I see two glaring traits among us: (1) our people speak to those they know and struggle with using their tongue to speak to a stranger (in the church), and (2) fundamentally our tongues have gone mute when reaching to the unchurched.”

Marriage: * Does Your Marriage Have a Mission Statement? by Michael Hyatt; * Five Surefire Ways to Kill Your Marriage by Sophie Reinhardt

* “Ask, ‘What can I do within the next two months to get closer to the big goal? What steps can I take within the next six months?'”

* “Most marriages don’t fail because of the obvious reasons of violence or cheating. Sure, those may be the climax or breaking point, but really, marriages end because of a slow process of drifting apart.”

Odd/unique: 12 Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains by Caleb Wilde

“So here – without further ado – are twelve names and twelve creative methods of cremation disposal.”

Public prayer: A Plea for Pray-ers by Gordon McDonald

“Can I be frank? I’m distressed by the low quality of public prayer that is being heard in too many worship services today. Too often, prayer is used as a transition from one event to another. But what if the pastoral prayer was (as some like to say) a main event?”

St. Patrick: Saint Patrick of Ireland, parts 1, 2 & 3 by Patrick Mead

“… I’ve received requests to write about St. Patrick. I can do that!”