Let your light shine


“Let your light shine in front of men.” Matthew 5:16 NLV  It has been the source of many sermons and studies calling Christians everywhere to stand up and share their faith.  We have all encountered people who jump in and share and push and prop people to listen to them and often pressure people to believe with them.  We have all even seen people walking around carrying a bible big enough to choke a mule trying to engage people in conversation hoping to convince them that they need to believe what we believe.

Unfortunately this has caused people to write us off a religious nuts who run around pressuring people to believe with us.  And so we try harder to share, because we know it is what God wants us to do, or we simply go quiet and hide.  Neither option is worth it.  God does want us to share with people about who He is, but He doesn’t want us running around badgering people doing everything we can to convince people that what they believe is wrong and what we believe is right. 

Evangelism is a biblical requirement for us a Christians.  It is something that we are all called to do.  Jesus said “Go and make disciples”.  We have a mission while here on earth and it is the same as Jesus had.  Jesus said His mission was ” For the Son of Man[a] came to seek and save those who are lost” Luke 19:10 NLT and He stated that He was passing on His mission to us ” As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you..” John 20:21 NLT.  So evangelism is a requirement for us if we wish to follow Jesus.  But badgering people with doctrine isn’t working, and isn’t evangelism.

Jesus went all around Israel and shared of the goodness of God with people.  He allowed His light to shine before everyone He encountered.  But His light was His salvation as many people profess today.  It had nothing to do with the cross because the cross hadn’t happened yet.  It had everything to do with His relationship with the Father.  “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5 NIV.  In Him (Jesus) was life.  And this life was the life of God.  His connection to the Father.  The life and power of God flowing in and through Him.  And that life was the light of men.  It puts an interesting change to evangelism.  Do you have the life of God flowing in you?  Are all you offering people is a doctine they need to choose to believe or are we sharing with people something that we have in us that is transforming us and making us different.  If we don’t have God’s life, we have no light to share with others. 

” you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”  1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG  Time for us as followers of Christ to get plugged in to Him and allow His life to fill us.  Then we can let our light shine and talk about the transformation that God is doing in us.  It will completely revolutionize our evangelism if we do it the way Jesus did.

When God serves us

1392627-hubble-telescope-images-of-planetsIt is an amazing phenomena that we have in North America that we try to serve a God who serves us.  I find it amazing the amount of people who have expectations that God needs to fill.  It isn’t a new concept either.  There have been people for many decades that treat God like a genie in the sky.  Just say the right prayers, have the right amount of faith, and God is obligated to move and fulfill our expectations.

It sounds a little ridiculous I know, but there are whole doctrines being taught today in churches which in essence teach this very concept.  We see it when people leave churches because God didn’t answer their prayers.   Someone didn’t get healed.  Someone they cared about passed away.  We see it when God begins to move in our lives and we disregard what God wants to do because He didn’t follow our plan.

The biggest concern I have with this idea is when we try to obligate God into doing things our way, and we do it in so many many ways, we shrink God down until He is beneath us.  We remove Him from being supreme, sovereign creator, to being, I hate to say it, a butler required to do what we wish.  One of the greatest tragedies we have in churches today is the fact that God has become so, so very small in our lives.

We do what we want, when we want, and expect that God simply will bless us.  We set our schedules and plans, and create our programs and turn our eyes to heaven and say, “look at what we have accomplished, come and place your seal of approval on it.”  I know we don’t consciously think this way, but our actions demonstrate this very thought.  We don’t just plan our churches this way.  We live our lives this way.  Just look at our budgets and schedules and the time we have for the lost around us and it doesn’t take much searching to see that we are serving a really small God, reduced to following our plan, and using our wisdom.

And then we turn to the world and say, “Come and follow God with me.” and wonder why no one wants what we have.  I believe it is time for us as Christians to re-evaluate our view of God.  Is your God to small.  Have we diminished Him so that He has to follow us?

I believe in a God who spoke the entire universe into being.  A God who planned me and you from before creation happened.  A God who knew He was going to have to enter our world and die in our place before He said let it be.  A God who holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand and sustains it with the power of His word.  I believe in a God who is so deeply in love with us that He freely chose to enter our world and open the door again to knowing Him and His abiding presence to us, and who calls each of us by name to accept His invitation.  I believe that we are called to serve a God who exists outside time, who knows the beginning from the end.

I believe we need to see God again as He is, that we are called to follow Him.  Not just in word, and by going to church when we feel the need.  But to be a people who come to know Him as He is.  To be so captivating by the awesome and terrible presence of God again.  The that so many people who have encountered Him have immediately fallen on their face and worshiped.

We, as Christians, have lost the awesome, powerful, majestic nature of God in our lives and substituted it for something of worthless value.  I believe that God is again moving on the hearts and lives of His people, calling us to again know Him for who He really is.  To again know and walk in the power of His abiding presence.  To follow and walk with the One who simply said “Let it be..” and it was.  It is my prayer for all of us that like David we could “magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalms 34:3 NLT 

It is time for us to stop diminishing God and begin to magnify Him.  To open our eyes and hearts to the majesty of who He is once again.  We serve an amazing, incredible, awesome, powerful God who desires us to know Him.  Will we remain as we are, or will we begin again to magnify God and see Him as He truly is?

When God doesn’t follow your plan

image What do you do when your plans come apart and everything seems to go wrong. When all your hard work seems to have been a waste and your left feeling wasted and confused by life. Every one of us has had times in our lives where this is exactly what has happened. Life for everyone of us has it highs and its lows. And sometimes the lows can be extremely difficult and painful. There are times in all our lives where life simply sucks. There is no other way to describe the feeling inside.

Often when things fall apart many of us tend to blame God, especially when things are extremely painful. The death of a loved one can be extremely traumatic. And often when we have prayed and prayed and prayed for God to do something and they still die we can become very angry with God. Or when a major business deal falls through. Or maybe it is the ministry you felt called to do has come apart. As Christians this can be an extremely sensitive area we face as we talk with people about Christ, because everyone, everywhere faces extremely difficult lows in our lives. Some more painful than others. I cannot say I understand the pain of a child or a spouse passing away. That is a pain I can’t say I would wish on anyone. But in my own life there has been some extremely painful experiences. Some where I wished I could simply just die so the pain would stop. No one is able to corner the market on pain. We all face it. The pain you face may be different, but it is still pain none the less.

The most common question people ask when things go wrong is “Why?” Why did this have to happen? Why didn’t You heal her? Why, why, why…. The why’s can be endless and are as various as the pain we face. We all wonder why, and then look for some reason to justify the reason for the pain we are in. I have heard many Christians as God why, and get very frustrated when there is no explanation. I know I have been angry at times when God explain Himself in my life. We may never know the answer to the question why.

In my own life I have come to understand that there is purpose in my pain. It may not be pain for a purpose, as many suppose. Sometimes it is just pain. I know that God may not have caused the pain in my life. The pain usually is my fault, or the mistakes of people I care about. We all cause a lot of pain for ourselves, and pain for those we hold close. So God often doesn’t cause the pain, but He did allow it. If God is sovereign He could have simply said no and stopped it from happening. So then the pain has purpose in my life. God always is able to use our pain and turn it into something beautiful. One of my favourite scripture passages is Romans 8:28 ” We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.” (The Voice)

The pain we face can have purpose. We will probably never be able to understand why because God doesn’t think like we do. His wisdom completely supersedes our wisest of wise. ” because the wisdom of this rebellious and broken world looks like foolishness when put next to God.” 1Corinthians 3:19 The Voice, and ” This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1Corinthians 1:25 NLT. Asking God to explain Himself to us is like a three year old asking for an explanation from their parents. The level of understanding isn’t even close.

We may never know the purpose of our pain in this life. But one thing I do know is God always has our best in mind for everything He does or allows, and it will all work out in the end. Sometimes the pain we face today is what pushed us to achieve the best we achieve tomorrow.