The Encourager

The Encourager

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Let Your Light Shine

Saturday, May 30, 2020

“Let Your Light Shine”

by Jeff Curtis

    “You are the light of the world.” These words tell us that, as Christians, we not only participate in God’s plans and purposes but, to some extent, we also share in the characteristics of God and Jesus. John said, “God is light” (1John 1:5). Jesus said, “I am the Light of world” (John 8:12). Through these verses, Jesus points to His followers and says, “YOU are the light of the world.”

    What did Jesus mean by the expression? “You are the light of the world?” Consider a contrast between salt and light. The primary purpose of salt in those days was largely negative: to prevent decay. The primary purpose of light is positive: to dispel darkness.

    Jesus’ imagery tells us something about the world and something about Christians. This world is in darkness. Those in the world don’t like to admit this. Sometimes when people reject the Bible, they say, “We live in an enlightened age.” You may have heard the expression “New evidence has come to light.” The fact, however, is that this world is shrouded in the darkness of sin. Every intellect not illuminated by God’s holy Word is a darkened intellect.

    The world actually prefers darkness. Light exposes “the hidden things of darkness” (1Corinthians 4:5; KJV). Jesus said that the people of His day “loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). When I worked in the pest control industry, it was common for people that had roach problems to describe them as running all over the place when the lights would be turned on. Roaches don’t like the light – and neither does a sinful world. Nevertheless, light is precisely what this world needs.

    Our text not only declares that the world is in darkness, but it also says that Christians are the light of this world. Christians are the ones who have the light. If you know Jesus and the Bible, then you know more about marriage, parenting, how to deal with problems, and what life is all about more than an PhD who is not a Christian.

    As Jesus’ followers, we are to let our lights shine. We let it shine by leading the right kind of life. We let it shine by teaching God’s Word.

I don’t like the moral and spiritual darkness in the world. The darkness can be so thick the it discourages us, and we feel like giving up. We have to remind ourselves that light has no purpose if there is no darkness. That is why God put us in this place at this time.

    An important passage is Philippians 2:15,16. Here Paul challenged his readers to be “become blameless and [a]harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

    The blacker the darkness is, the more brilliant the light appears. An appliance that burns a bulb all through the day is not bright. In the daytime, the light is not even noticeable. At night, however, after our eyes have adjusted to the darkness, we can see everything in the room, due the soft glow of the appliance bulb. Even a tiny light has value when everything else is dark.

    We are not “light” because of some inherent illuminating power within us. Rather, we are “light” because of our connection with the sources of light: God and Jesus. Christians are comparable to the moon as it reflects the light of the sun. We may also be compared to light bulbs that shine because of an external power source. But Jesus has greatly honored us with the words “You are the light of the world.”

 

Having Peace

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Having Peace

by Jeff Curtis

 

The peace offering that we read of in the Old Testament reminds Christians of the need for peace today. We live in a world that is constantly at war. Our world is upside down now with the Corvid-19 pandemic. So, with all this going on in our lives, how can we find peace?

 

We want peace with God. When we sin, we separate ourselves from God and become His enemies (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 5:10); but God wants to be reconciled with us. The message of the new covenant is “Be reconciled to God” (2Corinthians 5:18-21). Reconciliation was made possible by the grace of God, who gave His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to remove our sins – or to be a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:23-25; 1John2:2). Because of His death, we, who were once enemies of God, can become His friends (Ephesians 2:12-14). We can be at peace with Him (Romans 5:1).

 

We want peace within. The cases of the world drag us down. Depression and discouragement weigh heavily upon our souls. However, because we are peace with God, we can have peace within. Knowing that we have been forgiven of our sins and that we are on the way to heaven gives us “peace… which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7; NKJV). We believe that when Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27), He was talking to us as well as to be His Apostles. The peace we receive from Jesus doesn’t consist of life lived without problems; rather, it is life lived with help to overcome our problems. It is not the same kind of peace worldly people enjoy; because our Lord said, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give you” (John 14:27). Even though we may have tribulation, in Christ we can have peace (John 16:33). The peace that Christ gives is the truest peace, the best peace, anyone can enjoy in this world.

 

We want peace with others. Too many of us have problems with other people. Because we are at peace with God, we can also live in peace with others. Problems may arise because we live among worldly people, but we are to do our best always to live in peace with our neighbors (Romans 12:18). Also, if we live as we should, if we do unto others as we would have them do to us, it is unlikely that we will have much conflict with our neighbors. It is in the church that we enjoy real peace with others. Bound to others by our common love for God and our common salvation in Christ, we can love and be loved; we can comfort others and be comforted. Brotherly love produces peace in our relationships with other human beings.

 

For the Christian, the prospects for peace are good! We are at peace with God; we can experience peace within; and we can live in peace with others. What should we do in response to the great blessing of peace? (1) We should make sure that we ourselves are enjoying the peace that is available to us. (2) We must take the message of peace – of reconciliation with God – to others.

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Suffering

Richie Thetford

    Job 5:7 tells us: “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Yes, suffering is the burden of humanity.

    Perhaps, your heart is aching today, and you say, “What can I do with this burden?” Often God allows us to have burdens to exercise our faith. People who run from problems, for example, those who try to fill the valleys in their lives with drugs or alcohol, are really missing a blessing.

     God works to make us more valuable through difficulties and hardships. A bar of iron may be worth $5.00. Make it into horseshoes, and it will be worth $10.00. Make it into needles, and it might be worth hundreds of dollars. Make it into balance wheels for watches and its value might run to tens of thousands of dollars.       

To be worth more, it has to be refined, superheated, drawn out, and purified.

    Our faith is like that; it grows under pressure (disappointments, trials, difficulties) far more than when things are comfortable. Paul underlined this in Romans chapter 5 where he tells us to rejoice in our sufferings because they are good for us. They teach us patience, and patience develops strength of character and helps us to trust God more each time we exercise it until, finally, our faith and hope are strong and steady.

    Accordingly, we’re able to hold our heads high no matter what happens. We know all is well because God loves us. Therefore, strengthen your faith, bear your burden gracefully; trust in God, and He will see you through to the end.

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