8-28-16 DARK DAYS
August 28, 2016
Believe it or not, Randy provided the inspiration for this morning's message. We often communicate on workdays via messaging, and about a week and a half ago he messaged me that he had just turned off one of the battery-operated candles on the altar. Then he said, and I quote, "There is a storm approaching and the sanctuary is dark as night! If it weren't for that, I probably would never have noticed that candle". To which I responded, "Sometimes God needs to send the darkness so we can truly see the light (I see a sermon in there somewhere...). And yes, this is that sermon!
For indeed, there is a storm approaching. There is a darkness that is spreading across the entire world. Satan is doing everything in his power to instill fear and dread into as many human beings as he can, using every conceivable means that he has devised over the millennia. The evil spirit of terrorism is growing exponentially, as ISIS targets more and more countries; and anyone who serves our Lord and Savior is a prime target. There is now a bacterium that is resistant to all antibiotics, including colistin, the one doctor's call the "last resort antibiotic and is reserved for use against what they call 'nightmare bacteria'." Suicide rates in the United States are the highest they have been in three decades, having increased 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, and the highest rates are among those between the ages of 45 and 64. The leading case of accidental death in the US is not car accidents “ it is drug overdose. And in 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease. And if that isn't enough, natural disasters also appear to be on the rise. In addition to the recent catastrophe flooding in Louisiana, this past week a powerful earthquake devastated a string of mountain towns in central Italy, trapping residents under rubble, killing at least 73 people and leaving thousands homeless.
Now I am not telling you all of this to dishearten you any way. On the contrary, we, as the children of the light, should be shining brighter than ever! For the more the world plunges into darkness, the more the hope and the joy that we have through our faith in Jesus Christ should become apparent to those who are desperate for some good news. The apostle Paul told us to "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world." (Philippians 2:14-15). I know sometimes it is difficult to not complain when it seems as though everything in your life is in chaos. But remember, it really isn't! God is still on the throne, and He is still in control. Nothing happens to you that He isn't aware of. The promise of Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" is just as true today as it was when it was first given. Has Jesus called you to be one of His disciples? He told His disciples they are the light of the world. As the world grows darker, even those of us whose light is the dimmest, should be more visible to those around us. According to experts, the human eye can see the flame of a candle on a dark night at a distance of up to 2.76 kilometers. But what if we let our light go out? Jesus said, "If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" Without Christians, who have the Holy Spirit living within them, the world would be in complete spiritual darkness. All light would be gone, and with it, all real love, hope, and faith. Timothy warned that "In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power." (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
But until the Lord calls His children home, we are to remain here to be the light in this world. No matter how dark the storm, how loud the thunder, how ferocious the howling winds grow, we are the shelter for those who don't know where to turn. We are the ones who have the good news of the Gospel to share with them. If there was a tornado coming, and one of your children was playing outside, wouldn't you run out to get them, and bring them in so they would be safe? Likewise, we should care enough about those who do not yet know Christ, to go after them and bring them in, before the storm sweeps them away into a place of eternal darkness.
Or could you possibly be one of those who do not yet know Christ as their personal Savior? Do you know of Christ, but don't know Christ? If you have never truly repented of your sins (which means to feel genuine remorse for them and have the desire to live a life that is pleasing to our Lord), and asked Jesus to forgive you and be your Savior, putting your faith in His shed blood upon the cross as an atonement for your sins, then I truly pray you will do so before the darkness completely overtakes you. Unfortunately there will be those who refuse the light, as it says in the John 3 (19-21) "Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God." Do not choose to remain in darkness. Sin may seem worth it at the time, but it ultimately leads to anguish, despair, and death. And only those who have the light of God within them through faith in Jesus Christ will be allowed to enter the Eternal Kingdom of Light, which is heaven. The rest will be cast into the outer darkness forever, by their own choice (see Matthew 22:13).
So if you have not come to Jesus yet, join us in the light. If you have, then let your light shine for others to see, so they can find their way in the darkness of this world. Amen.
Please join me now in singing "This Little Light of Mine", which is printed as an insert in your bulletin.
Youc can barely see the light of this candle in a well-lit room, but if we put the candle inside this shoebox, and you look through the hole in the side, does the candle look brighter?
Yes, it does! It is still the same candle, but because it was in a dark place, it appeared to shine brighter.
Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, shine a spiritual light, that shines the brightest when we let it shine in a dark world that needs Jesus.