Shine Your Light So People Will Want to Know God

By on July 25, 2018

Jesus said this about us in Matthew 5:14 – 16: “You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

Ok, so what’s a light actually DO? For one thing, a light dispels darkness. Where the light is, darkness leaves. So, to understand what’s so important about being a light, you have to think a little about what the problem is with being in the dark.

Specifically, when you’re in the dark, you can’t see where you’re going. You have to go slowly, you shuffle your feet, grope with your hands, grasp ahead of you, you slip, stumble, bump into things, you even get hurt.

You can get your sense of direction messed up when you’re in total darkness. You can think you’re going one way, when actually you’re going the opposite way. That’s a real problem.

Then, there’s the foreboding sense of danger. You can’t see the potholes, ditches and traps that might be set for you. Maybe there are poisonous snakes, spiders and rats just waiting to bite you. Or, worse yet, a thief or mugger lurking in the darkness, poised to attack you.

Thirdly, when you’re in the dark, you can be surrounded by good things, helpfulness and opportunity, but you just can’t see them. You can be literally within reach of the things that you have need of, and miss out on them, because you can’t see them.

Imagine this: You’re broke, cold, hungry, scared, afraid to move, and in the dark. The electricity is out, and you’re in a neighborhood you’ve never been in before.

All of a sudden, the lights come on! Right in front of you is a bag full of money, and there’s a clothing store, a restaurant, a police station, and a nice warm motel! All within a few yards from you! Imagine how happy and relieved you’d feel! You were within just minutes from having all your needs met, but you never knew it!

That’s what’s important about light. It brings comfort, answers, security, protection, satisfaction and safety. Jesus said that YOU are the light of the world. You are a SECURITY light!

But what happens is, that our natural shyness, not wanting to interfere, our reluctance to talk to people about spiritual things, all these hold us back. We forget how awful it is to be groping in the dark, even though, for US, it’s like noon time! “They meet with darkness in the daytime and grope in the noonday as in the night.” That’s what Job 5:14 says.

What about people who have gotten USED to the darkness, to the point that they actually LIKE it? That DOES happen to people, it says so in John 3:19. They’ve learned to use the darkness for a cover to do all kinds of things that aren’t right. The light would expose what they’re doing, so they reject the light.

What do you do then? First off, realize that a person gets into self-destructive behavior usually because of frustration, pain or disappointment. In other words, the fear, pain and hurt of the darkness causes them to seek comfort in whatever they can find at hand.

How do you deal with it? First of all, you DON’T blast them with a spotlight right in the face. That’s what MOST religious people do. They either say NOTHING, or they blind the person with the light!

Do you ever have that happen? When you’re sleeping and in the middle of the night someone walks into the room and turns on the light? If you’re used to the dark the light seems blinding! Who would want that?

So, how do you do it? You start with a glow! Jesus said to let your light SO shine…Or, “Let your light shine in a way that people may SEE…” NOT let your light shine in a way that it fries their eyeballs and blinds them!

Aren’t you glad?! You don’t HAVE to, in fact, God doesn’t WANT you to go over and shine stadium lights in your friends’ eyes! As humans, we’re natural extremists. We have this tendency for “all or nothing thinking.” That means we either say nothing or we blow them out of the water!

See, the goal ISN’T to just let them know that you love Jesus. The goal is that THEY would want to love Jesus, too! The point is for them to see that having God in your life makes it better, that your “good” WORKS in your life. Then, for them to want Him in their lives, too.

A person sitting in total “cave blackness” ISN’T going to appreciate or think good of someone who is so thoughtless as to blast them in the face with a floodlight! Jesus said for us to let our light shine in such a way that they can see, AND to think well of God, as a result!

That’s right, the goal is for them to see the good in your life and to think well of God; for them to clearly sense that a person’s life goes better when God is in charge of it. It’s for them to note that when God is in your life, good results come. That walking with God makes you happier, calmer, more satisfied and generally just better off than you would be without Him.

You HAVE to know this, so you can understand what I’m going to bring you next. This is one of the big reasons that God wants to bless you, help you, heal you, prosper you and make things go well for you.

He WANTS to “put a difference between the holy and the unholy. Or, as it says in 1 Timothy 4:15, after telling us that “godliness is profitable in all things,” that God’s will is for your “profiting to appear to all.”

God wants it to be plain and obvious to anyone who is familiar with you, that He is at work in your life. And, that it’s GOOD to be associated with Him. He says in Deuteronomy 8:18 that, HE “giveth thee power to get wealth…” Why? That “He may establish His covenant.”

In other words, God WANTS to help you, even in your finances, so you can be blessed, so people can recognize His hand in your life and so you can support His work in establishing His covenant to seek and to save people who are lost and in darkness.

It’s NOT selfish to ask God to bless you, prosper you and promote you, if you’re letting your light shine in a way that people will be able to see the hand of God in your life. The GOODNESS of God, Romans 2:4 says, is what leads people to repentance. Not the judgements of God and not the anger or wrath of God. It’s His GOODNESS that draws people to Him.

That’s why Psalm 35:27 says to let God become BIGGER in your life. “Let the Lord be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity (not poverty) of his servant.” He wants you to be in a favorable condition. Then, others will want to have his blessing in their own lives and families.

You NEED to know this, if you’re going to be a good light. You need to know that God wants to bless you and all that pertains to you; that He wants to bless the works of your hands, to meet your needs and to work on your behalf.

It’s OK to pray and ask for help, not just for you, but for the sake of your family and friends. These are people that you have an obligation to help and guide. Of course, God wants to help you in it!

Last, is your mouth. Give God the credit. Let people KNOW where your blessings, your ideas, your opportunities and open doors come from. That, “He it is that giveth thee power (Duet. 8:18).” Let them know of the blessings that have come into your life through the people and teaching you get here at church.

Let them know that they, too, can enjoy a more fruitful and satisfying life through their relationship with God and his people. Invite them to receive what YOU’VE received.

And, to meet who YOU’VE met. Ask them to join you in worship and service, to “come to the Light,” walk in the light, and to BECOME a light! LET your light so shine, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven!

A Morning Prayer Time With God. Here’s How To Do It!

By on July 17, 2018

STARTING EACH DAY WIITH God in prayer! What a neat idea! How much better would your life be if you could do it! How much happier you’d be; how much more victorious over your sins and bad habits! How much better of an attitude you’d have towards the mean people in your life! Probably everything would be better, if you could get in the habit of starting each day with God!

But here’s the hard part: How do you do it? if you’re like me, starting the day off with God doesn’t come easy. And, I confess, it didn’t come naturally. I had lots of false starts and failures for several years before I discovered some of the basic principles of starting the morning with God.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Jesus said that in Matthew 6:33. When He said that, He was telling us the secret of receiving the things that we have need of in life. Every need that you and I have is connected to our relationship with God.

That’s the key to receiving; putting God first. Putting God first is impossible if we don’t give Him first place on our daily schedule. That’s what causes good things to be ADDED unto you.

So you start each day declaring (or prophesying!) “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).” You recognize that the day you’re beginning is a unique gift from God.

In this day, God has prepared specific opportunities and people for you to meet. Ephesians 2:10 says we “are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” See? He’s ALREADY planned for some good things to happen in your life. You just have to be in tune so you don’t miss them.

By meeting with God each morning, you remind yourself that you can’t live on yesterday’s blessing. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God fed them with manna each day. Manna gathered the day before would go rotten overnight. That’s how they learned to build a daily relationship with Him, admitting their dependence on God.

Then there’s the fact that He’s your Heavenly Father, and He wants to get time with every one of His children each morning. The Father is so interested in your life and in helping you to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. He’s more than willing to be there for you as you follow Jesus as your pattern in all things.

The Holy Spirit in your heart yearns to guide you into the daily Presence of God. He wants to cleanse you, refresh you and fill you with His grace and strength – so you can get through the day without failing short or slipping back.

A few years ago, a lady was at our church giving me a piece of her mind. (Not that she could afford it…) I was thinking of some pretty appropriate things I COULD have said to her. I was thinking, “I bet you’re a real treat to live with. BUT, I didn’t say any of the things I was thinking. You know why? Because I had already made up my mind when I was in prayer that morning that I was going to be SWEET!

When you search the Scriptures, you’ll find that the men and women in the Bible whom God used the most were people who put Him first each day.
Abraham, the father of faith, wherever he went, the first thing he did was to establish an altar, and worship God. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3).” His FAITH caused him to first erect an altar to God wherever he went.

In Exodus 24:4, we read about Moses building an altar early in the morning. That was his habit, to pray first thing each morning. What did God say to Moses in Exodus 32:2,4? He said, “Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto Mt. Sinai, and present thyself to Me in the top of the mount.”

Job, who went through the most intense trials a person could go through, went through them successfully. What was his habit? Job 1:5 says that he continually rose up early in the morning and prayed, offering sacrifices for his family. He developed the practice of “rising up early in the morning” and praying for his family.

Isaiah the prophet testified that it was his morning times with God were he got his learning and knowledge. “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth my ear to hear as the learned.”

So, how do we DO it? David tells us the first key in Psalm 143:8. “Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning. For in Thee do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for lift up my soul unto Thee.”

You ASK God to move in your heart to draw you to prayer. Let Him know you trust Him. Then, ask Him to reveal to you throughout the day the way you should walk.

Second, focus on the things that are going RIGHT in your life, rather than dwelling on your needs. Psalm 92:1,2: “It’s a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High. To show forth Thy loving-kindness in the morning…”

That’s how you get into the presence of God. You “enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His Name (Psalm 100:4).” Start with praise and thanksgiving.

Third is staying focused, awake, in touch and in tune. Some people tell me they can’t sleep at night. Two of the best ways I’ve ever found to fall asleep is to either read my Bible or to pray!

But, in your morning time, you WANT to stay awake. So, HOW do you do that? First off, get to bed at a decent hour, keeping in mind that you’re going to get up and pray first thing in the morning.

Then, follow these cues given in Psalm 5:3. Pray out loud. “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning…” Find a place you can actually TALK to God out loud. Maybe in your bedroom, family room or garage. Maybe even in your car, or out in the yard somewhere. But, talking out loud is one of the best ways to pray well.

The next tip in Psalm 5:3 says to keep your eyes OPEN, if you don’t want to fall back asleep. “In the morning I will direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up.” With your eyes closed, your praying will end up becoming snoozing. Talk out loud to God and keep your eyes open.

Psalm 63:1, “O God, Thou art my God: early will I seek Thee.” That’s the secret to walking with God in a real and satisfying way. Have a private visit with Him first thing in the morning. Enter into His presence for a time of fellowship with your oldest and best friend, Jesus.

Seek God first, and walk in righteousness – then God will fill your life with every good thing. Jesus says so!

Using Your Faith To Help Others…(And Get Your Own Needs Met)

By on July 10, 2018

You and I are surrounded by people with needs. People who are tired, worn and empty in life. They’re hungry for meaning, hungry to be loved, hungry to be accepted, and hungry for God. Even if they don’t realize it.

What do you do? How can you help people? What if you’re just barely making it yourself? You might be inadequate to help other people!

Well, on your own, you ARE inadequate. Me, too. But, fortunately, you and I aren’t on our own, but we have the Holy Spirit of God backing us up, speaking through us, preparing the other people around us, and working in all our situations.

One time, I was praying and was really feeling the weight of trying to bring God’s Word to so many people…trying to bring a touch of God’s love to people who were rejected and outcast. I was telling Him I just didn’t have what it takes.

Then, He led me to Mark 6:37, where the disciples were in the same situation. They were out in the desert with Jesus, and multitudes of hungry people were there with them. Jesus turned to the disciples and told them to feed the multitudes.

The disciples told Jesus they didn’t have enough to feed the hungry multitudes. They had figured what it would take to meet the peoples’ needs, and KNEW they didn’t have what it takes.

What they had wasn’t enough. And, they knew it. Then Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

When they knew that they didn’t have what it took to meet the peoples’ needs, Jesus told them to find out just what they DID have.

That spoke to me. We feel so inadequate, and that we don’t have what it takes to meet the needs of the people, but we really aren’t sure just what we DO have.

So, Jesus says, “Find out what you DO have.” He isn’t so interested in what you have, on your own, without a miracle from God, isn’t going to be able to help anybody very much.

What ELSE do you have? You have salvation. If you have salvation, the Holy Spirit, the Bible says, lives on the INSIDE of you. And, you have faith. You also have wisdom available to you from God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit. THAT’S pretty good!

See, YOU’VE got more than you think! You’ve got more to offer than you realize. That’s what Jesus was preparing the disciples for.

Next, He told them to speak to the people, and get them ready for what Jesus was planning on doing for them. Jesus has plans of GOOD for people.

He has good things He wants to DO in peoples’ lives.

Jesus knew EXACTLY what He was going to do. He was going to take the LITTLE that the Disciples had, and BLESS it, so that the multitudes could be fed.

When the disciples got the people prepared for what Jesus was going to bring to their lives, Jesus did the next step. He DIDN’T do it first.

That’s important. Notice, He didn’t make several baskets pf “wonder” bread, and THEN tell the disciples to go take it to the people. No, He told them to use their faith, to be obedient, and have the people get in a position where God could bring blessings from Heaven into their lives.

Jesus then, in v.41, took what the disciples had given Him, and blessed and told the disciple to bring it to the people. And, guess what?

Everybody, including the disciples, ate until they were full! Not only that, but they had twelve baskets full of leftover bread and fish!

What you have to do is have a heart for people and their needs. That’s where it begins. Caring about people other than yourself. You go to Jesus, you bring their needs to Him. You care about them, and you KNOW He cares.

Next, offer yourself and all that you have to Jesus. Even though it seems like a lot. Or, even though it seems pitifully small.

When you’re hungry, five loaves of bread and two good sixed fish seems like a lot. When you’re realizing that needs of people around you, what you have seems like almost nothing. Not even worth offering!

The disciples used their faith! You’ve got to use YOUR faith! They gave Jesus what He would do SOMETHING GOOD with it. You’ve GOT to USE your faith!

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says that “Faith is the substance of THINGS…” What kind of things? “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for!” And, “the EVIDENCE for things not seen.” It says that right in your Bible.

The disciples were HOPING for FOOD! They had NO EVIDENCE in the NATURAL sense that what they were HOPING for would come to them. But they had FAITH!

You’ve got to listen to Jesus, and know what He’s calling you to be and do. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by using your faith. FAITH ATTRACTS GOOD INTO YOUR LIFE.

You can either use your faith, and live by it, or you can operate in doubt and unbelief. I can tell you, though, that faith will bring good into your life. Doubt and unbelief will repel good from you. Your life is shaped by either faith or by doubt and unbelief. Faith will turn you into a bigger person, a giver. Doubt will cause you to shrink back, and become a taker in life.

You either sow seeds of faith or seeds of doubt. You’re either going to be feeding the people the bread of Jesus, or you’ll end up sending them away, tired, broke and disappointed. That’s what the disciples were GOING to do, in Mark 6:35 & 35, before they acted in faith.

What EVER you sow, Galatians 6:8 says, that what you’re going to reap. What you sow in the now, how much you sow, and WHERE you sow, these are what determine what your crops will be tomorrow in your life. When you exercise great faith and sow bountifully into the lives of others, God will send a generous and bountiful harvest into YOUR life (Luke 6:38). That’s what happened to the disciples. They gave all that Jesus gave them, and they had plenty for their OWN needs and THEN some!

Some people use their faith for a while, but then when a storm comes, they draw back, and lose faith in their faith. They stop walking a faith walk. When the storms in life come, they can pound on you and sweep you back into doubt and unbelief. But, God’s best comes and rests in the lives of those who just keep using their faith.

This is the bread of Jesus that you want to feed those around you. They have been feeding on fear, hurt and doubt for so long.

Doubt is the major cause of failure. It causes people to give up, to not try hard enough, or long enough, or to start late and to stop early.

Doubt causes people to see a pothole on the road and think it’s a canyon they can never cross.

Feed them the faith that Jesus gave you. Faith is what tells you to keep on. To win the race. To overcome. To always believe and never doubt. It ALWAYS has a solution. It causes you to hang on, find God’s answer then ACT on it. (Faith is only day-dreaming if it’s not followed through with consistent action.)

Sure, you’ve got needs, too. So did the disciples. Everyone has rocks on their road, mountains to climb and rivers to cross. But whether you let them stop you, or cause them to strengthen you is your choice. Jesus isn’t going to let you starve! He didn’t take their bread and fish and turn around and give them rocks and snakes!

When you use your faith and begin to pass it on other people, you’ll find your problems turning into opportunities to demonstrate the power of God in this life. You’ll find that God WILL meet the needs of those you care about, and the needs that YOU have. He’ll give you all you need and more than you need, because that’s the kind of God He is!