Jesus: Light of the World

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shone” (Isa. 9:2, Matt. 4:14-16).             

                The opposite of light is dark.  Darkness is associated with ignorance, folly (or acting the fool), evil, and death (Ps. 82:5, 107:14, Eccl. 2:13-14, John 3:19, Prov. 2:13-15). There’s nothing scarier than trying to find your way around in pitch darkness.  I get a feeling of unease when I’m alone at night in a dark, unlit area. I usually try to make my way as quickly as I can to get into an area of light.  With light there’s protection.  One is more apt to be mugged in a dark alley or unlit parking lot at night than in an open, lit area.  My husband John also recommends that I carry a flashlight with me. He has a collection, or rather a ‘family’, of flashlights. Mind you, these aren’t cute, fun flashlights—they’re bright, high-lumen, powerful flashlights.  I know that I’ll never (physically) be in the dark when John’s around.

                Spiritually we require just one light.

God doesn’t just emanate light, He is light. In Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  His light is pure, absolute, genuine, and true. It’s underived, meaning it doesn’t come from some other power source—it is the source.  It doesn’t rely on batteries or electrical power and it’s the highest lumen of brightness. “Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). God, Who is light, commanded light to shine out of darkness to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is the express image of God and the brightness of His glory (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:15).  As the spoken word reveals the invisible thought, the living Word reveals the invisible God. Because of the Father’s great love for the world, He sent His only begotten son into it so that through His Son, the world might be saved (John 3:16). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12, 12:46).

                “And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). It’s sinful man’s natural response to hide from God rather than come to Him (Gen. 3:8, Ps. 14:1-3, Rom. 3:10-18, 23).  Things hide in the dark—light exposes. Once they’re exposed to the light they can be seen (Eph. 5:13). I never think my house is as dirty as it is until my vacuum light exposes dust (and dog hair) where I didn’t see it hiding. Just like dust that’s exposed and sucked up in a vacuum, darkness and evil will be completely exposed and dealt with (1 Cor. 4:5, 1 John 3:8).

It’s the god of this age (the devil) who has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe so that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (who is the image of God) will not shine on them (2 Cor. 4:4). For believers, the struggle is against rulers of darkness, who masquerade as angels of light (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 11:14). The believer doesn’t need to be fearful  or try to withstand these dark forces on their own because they have two powerful sources on their side: (1) the all-powerful Armor of Light (that darkness cannot overcome), and (2) the Word of God (that guides their feet & illuminates their path (Eph. 6:13, Rom. 13:12-14, John 1:5, Ps. 119:105).

                So come out of the darkness, into the Light.  Give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:12-14).

Let the Light of Christmas shine in your heart!

Laura

AFRAID OF SCARY THINGS IN THE DARK?

fear-not-armor-of-god
Fear Not: Armor of God by Laura Kestly

If we really believe in just what we see in our world today, we can be filled with fear.

One only has to look at the events going on in the news every night (not to mention the Presidential election) to realize we live in frightening times.

                The truth is that we do wrestle against some pretty scary things–things that we don’t actually see but are pretty mighty like: “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age–spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The enemy or bad guy in our scary movie, the devil, is a wily one with ‘tricks’ that may appear as ‘treats’ as his mode of operation (Matt. 13:39, Eph. 4:14, Gen. 3). The fact is that he was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). This prince of demons (Matt. 12:24) wants us to believe that it’s “flesh & blood” (the physical human person) that we wrestle with, instead of the very real, dark spiritual forces behind it. Satan is an incredible illusionist– a master of disguises. He is able to deceive many when he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). That’s why God has provided us with a costume of sorts for our protection—it’s called the armor of God (aka the Lord Jesus Christ). When one chooses to put on this protection, they will become ‘hid in Him’ and able to stand in strength & mighty power against the devil’s tricks (Col. 3:3, Eph. 6:13-17).

Believers can take comfort that greater is He who is in their inner man than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4, Eph. 3:16). When we ‘put on’ the Lord Jesus Christ, we also put on love (Col. 3:14, 1 John 4:7-12). God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. The one who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

                When we’re fearful we rely on our own fallible understanding & ways rather than trust in an almighty infallible God, Who moves in mysterious ways that we do not always understand. It’s helpful to be constantly mindful that God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose (Isa. 55:8-9). A Christian believer is someone who trusts in the knowledge & the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities or in man’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:20-21, 2:5, 3:19; 2 Cor. 1:12). If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of a child of God.

                Who hasn’t given their all physically at a time or two (or three…) and become exhausted? But when one gives of themselves spiritually (relying on an almighty, powerful source) their strength is enhanced, not depleted (Isa. 40:29; Eph. 3:16 6:10). Fear & worry steal the strength that God freely has available for us to be utilizing each moment of our day.  

                As we look to the Author & Finisher of our faith, we can be motivated to move in love, not fear (Heb. 12:2).

I find it helpful to consistently ask myself, “Are my words and actions motivated by love or by fear?” If I find they are motivated by fear, I pray to cast down this false thinking & renew my mind in the right spirit (2 Cor. 10:3-5, Eph. 4:23, Rom. 12:2).   There is some truth in what the character Yoda, in the movie Star Wars said,

“Fear is the path to the dark side,

Fear leads to anger,

Anger leads to hate,

Hate leads to suffering.”

The suffering referred to is not the suffering that is patiently endured in the Christian faith (Col. 1:24, Phil. 3:10, 2 Tim. 1:8), rather it’s the suffering that’s rooted in fear and doesn’t lead to a peaceful resting in God.

                So let’s pursue love, not fear and cast off the works of the dark side, and put on the armor of light–the Lord Jesus Christ–making sure there’s not any room for the flesh (or fear) (Rom. 13:12, 14).                     Laura