Ask Yourself Today

Written by gregdenham on July 19th, 2010

To a small band of Jews who had no financial or political leverage and who had lost hope nationally and personally Jesus said, “You are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Isaiah spoke of Israel as a light. God had created Israel to influence the world with its highest expression in Messiah! But the remarks Jesus made were so, personal. “YOU are …” And so purposeful “…the light of the world!”  He was saying, “Let me tell you why you are here …” “Let me tell you how God views you …”

Today, if you follow Jesus Christ, “YOU are the light of the world …”

But what does that mean?

In short it means that God has put YOU in the world so that the world can see what God is doing and that the world can begin to connect the dots to who the Heavenly Father is!

This means that we’re going to have to “DO” something …

In fact, the Father invites us to leave HIS FINGER-PRINT on EVERYTHING we touch. Is. 43:7 “I have created (you) for my MY glory … I have formed (you).” Glory? The Father has created us for His “glory?” What does that mean? Glory is what emanates from God! Glory is to God as wet is to water. Heat is to fire. Light is to the bulb. For example, although we can’t see God we can see His glory in creation and in HIS PEOPLE. And as follower of Jesus Christ we can DO works that glorify the Father. We can do works from which the glory of the Father emanates!

Jesus also said that we are a “city SET on a hill!” (not built on a hill!). This tells us that every Christian is strategically placed! God has strategically placed you in your neighborhood, workplace, family, church etc etc to “do” works that glorify the Father! This is your purpose in life. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

There is only so much glow that emanates from a new job, relationship, or recognition. You were wired to know the Father through the Son. You were wired that your life would express the glow that emanates from your Heavenly Father! So ask yourself today, “What can I “do” with the opportunities that God has given me today to glorify the Father? What can I do that would draw attention to the heavenly Father?”

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jim Mc Farland says:

    When the Messiah preached His message on the mountainside at the beginning of His ministry,
    He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in store for His faithful followers.
    As we look at the eighth and final beatitude, many of us would like to take a pass on persecution and suffering, me included.
    Go look yourself and read from Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
    A friend has suggested that there are at least six reasons why we can’t ignore this instruction
    • It’s the last beatitude and serves as a test of all the others. Persecution is as much a normal mark of discipleship as being merciful is.
    • It’s the longest one because it’s the hardest to embrace.
    • It’s the only beatitude with a command: “Rejoice and be glad.”
    • It’s the only one with an explanation.
    • It’s the only one repeated twice. The word “blessed” is used two times as though Jesus is saying, “You are doubly blessed when you are persecuted.”
    • It’s the only beatitude addressed directly to us. The tense changes from “blessed are those” in verse 10 to “blessed are you” in verse 11.
    In the previous Beatitude, the focus is on the applause that comes from heaven when we do the hard work of making peace in the midst of conflict.
    It may seem out of place that Jesus would move from peacemaking to persecution, from harmony to hostility.
    But not all attempts at reconciliation succeed, and no matter how hard we try to make peace with some people, they may refuse to live at peace with us.
    Actually, if we live according to the first seven Beatitudes, we will automatically experience the eighth. These Beatitudes are conduct characteristics of the kids of the Kingdom.
    It’s like an equation. If you are the person of verses 3-9, you will get the persecution of verses 10-12.
    If you are “poor in spirit,” some will think you are self-righteous.
    When you “mourn” over sin, others will feel convicted and not want you around.
    The “meek” person might be run over.
    When you break out of the spiritual status quo and “hunger and thirst” for God, some will label you a religious fanatic.
    Be “merciful” and people will call you gullible.
    Strive to be “pure in heart” and feel the tension of a world that lives on lust.
    And strive to be a “peacemaker” and get ready for war.
    Our faith begins, develops, and matures as we live out the first seven.
    Our faith is then tested when we come to the last one.
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote the book called, “The Cost of Discipleship,” referred to the “extra-ordinariness” of the Christian life: “With every beatitude the gulf is widened between the disciples and the people, and their call to come forth from the people becomes increasingly manifest” (As quoted by John Stott, “The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,” Page 55).
    What’s hard about this beatitude is that we all like to be liked.
    Once again, we see that following Jesus is often a paradox.
    He applauds us when we are in agony and sees great purpose in our persecution.
    As an interesting side note, those who were listening to Jesus probably had a real difficult time with this one.
    It was a common idea back then that all suffering, including persecution, was an indication that God was not pleased and that the one who was suffering was somehow to blame for what was happening.
    This is particularly evident in the Book of Job.
    Jesus reverses this view, the 8th Beatitude is the blessing no one really wants,
    I see what looks like paradoxes related to persecution.
    [1] Persecution is a Given; [2] Persecution is a Gift; [3] Persecution Brings Gladness.

    Paradox #1: Persecution is a Given
    Some of us have bought into the belief that once we have Jesus in our life, everything will go great. Maybe we’ve even thought that we should be successful and financially well off.
    Actually, the Bible says that the exact opposite will happen for those who honor and obey Christ. Jesus never taught the “prosperity gospel,” but He did preach the “persecution gospel.”
    Look at Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
    The word “righteousness” refers to living the “straight” way, of following Jesus.
    Why is persecution so pervasive?
    Simply put, according to John Piper, it’s due to the nature of True Christianity and the sinfulness of human beings. There is such a tension between the message and way of life of Christians and the mindset and way of the world, that conflict is inevitable.

    This Beatitude tells us that there are two reasons why we will be persecuted.
    1. Because of the life we live. Verse 10: “those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” Some of us might feel mistreated but it may have nothing do with righteousness. Its been said, “If you don’t use deodorant, don’t claim persecution because no one wants to sit next to you at work. If you’re rude to your employees or disrespectful of your boss, don’t be surprised to find yourself ostracized.”
    Some of us believe we’re being persecuted for righteous reasons but it may be because we are self-righteous and are therefore repelling people. Chuck Swindoll writes, “There are certain reactions we can arouse simply because we adhere to some fanatical extreme that is based on personal or private opinion” (“Simple Faith,” page 35).
    Sooner or later, a sold-out Christ follower will be persecuted somehow.
    2. Because of the Lord we love. In Verse 11 Jesus says that people will insult, persecute, and say false things, “because of me.” This helps us define the word “righteous.” To be righteous simply means being like the Lord Jesus Christ. For one reason or another, some people are so upset with Jesus that they take it out on those who love Him.
    Warren Wiersbe writes, “Jesus was different, and a world that thrives on conformity cannot tolerate differences.” The early Christians were confronted with a choice, “Caesar or Christ?”
    They chose Christ, and with that choice they were automatically outlawed and branded as disloyal citizens.
    We will be persecuted because of the life we live and because of the Lord we love. According to verse 11, this harassment takes three forms. Notice the change of tense from the third person to the second.
    We move from “those” who are persecuted to the much more personal “you” are persecuted.
    God congratulates you, and applauds from heaven, when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Christ.
    • Verbal Insults. The word “insult” means to chide, taunt, or defame. Luke 6:22: “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you, and insult you, and reject your name as evil, because of the son of man.” Biblically speaking, to be insulted speaks of misrepresentations that degrade another’s reputation and is closely related to slander. This often takes the form of verbal abuse and insulting language. As an example, the early church was accused of cannibalism as it gathered to observe the Lord’s Supper. Matthew 27:39 tells us that people “hurled insults” at Jesus, “shaking their heads” as they passed by the cross. Friend, when you are insulted for what you believe, you’re on the right track!

    • Physical Attack. The word, “persecute” means, “to chase away or pursue with hostile intent, to be hunted down as an animal.” The tense of the verb suggests those “who have allowed themselves to be persecuted” or “have endured it.” It can be defined as repeatedly raiding another, or as continually annoying someone. One of the most famous martyrs was Polycarp. When he was dragged before the Roman authorities and given the ultimate choice to sacrifice to Caesar or be burned to death, he replied: “Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” He was then brought to the stake where he prayed his final prayer: “Oh, Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy well beloved and ever blessed Son, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee…I thank thee that thou has graciously thought me worthy of this day and of this hour.”

    One writer described the persecutions that Christians have faced in these words: “All the world knows of the Christians who were flung to the lions or burned at the stake; but these were kindly deaths. Nero wrapped the Christians in pitch and set them alight, and used them as living torches to light his gardens. He sewed them into skins of wild animals and set his hunting dogs upon them to tear them to death. They were tortured on the rack; they were scraped with pincers; molten lead was poured hissing upon them… eyes were torn out, parts of their bodies were cut off and roasted before their eyes; their hands and feet were burned while cold water was poured over them to lengthen the agony. These things are not pleasant to think about, but these are the things a man had to be prepared for, if he took his stand with Christ” (From a sermon by Bill Prater,
    Intense persecution still takes place in our world today.

    • False Accusations. After verbal assaults and physical pursuit, followers of Christ will also face those who “falsely say all kinds of evil….” I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone saying something false and hurtful, but it doesn’t feel good. The psalmist cried out in Psalm 35:11: “False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.” Jesus faced false charges as well, and according to 1 Peter 2:23, “He did not retaliate.” Some people like to say things behind our backs, but remember they did the same to Jesus as His enemies tried to destroy his good name.
    Maybe that’s why Paul in Romans 1:15 said. “ I am ready.” Spurgeon wonders if Paul didn’t use the words “I am ready” as his motto. Almost the first words out of his mouth when he was saved were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)
    • Paul was ready to preach and to serve (Romans 1:15)
    • Paul was ready to suffer (Acts 21:13)
    • Paul was ready to do unpleasant work (2 Corinthians 10:6)
    • Paul was ready to die (2 Timothy 4:6)
    “A Moravian was about to be sent by Zinzendorf to preach in Greenland. He had never heard of it before; but his leader called him, and said, ‘Brother, will you go to Greenland?’ He answered, ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘When will you go?’ ‘When my boots come home from the cobbler;’ and he did go as soon as his boots came home. He wanted nothing else but just that pair of boots, and he was ready to go. Paul, not even waiting for his boots to come home from the cobbler, says, ‘I am ready.’ Oh, it is grand to find a man so little entangled that he can go where God would have him go, and can go at once.” (Spurgeon)
    Then, Paul introduces his “thesis statement” for his letter to the Romans. Leon Morris says of Romans 1:16 and 17: “These two verses have an importance out of all proportion to their length.”
    I am not ashamed of the gospel reveals Paul’s heart. In a sophisticated city like Rome, some might be embarrassed by a gospel centered on a crucified Jewish savior, embraced by the lowest classes of people – but Paul is not ashamed. Are we ashamed? Are we afraid? Does it look like our world, our country is being turned inside out? People will need answers for the hope that lies within us. God will use all of these things for His glory, and He will use you and me too. If, well if we are the salt and have the purity inside by the Holy Spirit. And the light outside, by the Holy Spirit. Then we will have an influence on those around us. But; if we grieve Him- that internal influence is hindered. And if we quench Him that outward light is dimmed down.
    Don’t be dimmed by sin. Don’t let the purifying agent in side be distressed by flesh, take it to Him, brush against His face and renew your salt, grab a hold of His garment and relight the fire again. Get close and get personal with Jesus.
    Someone in your care, your sphere of influence needs you to do that- thy are eternal. C. S. Lewis said that everyone we meet is eternal! Its the location of where they will spend it that is at stake. If I am a Christian- God has set me here to be an influence on those around me. I do not need to go to another Country- if that’s His call, He will guide me. But, I just need to be all the Jesus I can be for those who are watching me here. That’s what he desires! Can we stand together on this? Can we be comforters in a world that’s really gonna need comfort?

  2. Bob Tedford says:

    The series has been great and “Influential!”

  3. Joe says:

    It’s incredible to think of how Christianity has been salt and light throughout history. The new atheism has to admit that the compassion and the value toward one’s fellow man is a Christian foundation. The teaching have lit up my life in many ways!!!!

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