Saturday, August 5, 2017

Rise and Shine


In about the year AD56 the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the leadership and congregation who attended the Church he had started in Corinth. Corinth was an important Roman port city that connected international trade routes from East to West and was situated in what we now know as the nation of Greece. The letter Paul wrote contained strict instructions for the Church to deal with the evident sin and the disunity which had been allowed to exist and grow among the people in the congregation. The Church family was divided and some Believers looked down on the poor Christians imagining themselves to be more spiritual than others. Paul rebuked them and told them to stop being so worldly. He threatened to visit them and correct these things personally if they did not straighten up and start acting more like Jesus.

About a year later Paul heard that that first letter he had written had been well received and that the Believers in the Church at Corinth had followed his instructions. Paul was well pleased and so he wrote a second letter to commend them and to further encourage them to continue to be a good witness to those who had not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

Our key scripture today comes from this second letter and I offer it to you this morning so that we can begin to examine our Christian lives. It is God’s continued hope that we might start acting just a little more like Jesus and a little less like the world. Let’s begin our journey today with:

2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul was not impressed with how spiritual a person claimed to be if their life did not reflect the basic elements the fruits of the Spirit. Those fruits which should be evident in the life of every Believer are: Love; Joy; Peace; Patience; Gentleness; Goodness; Faith; Humility; and Self Control. (Philippians 2:15 … you shine as lights in the world) We need to be light to a lost and hurting world. God wants us to Rise and Shine!

Paul contended that if these fruits of the Spirit aren’t visible in the life of a Christian then there is little reason for anyone else to want to follow Christ themselves. Why would anyone want to be like us or follow our beliefs if we are filled with hate, unhappiness, pride or lack of self-control? Our lives are supposed to change when we become Followers of Jesus. To help explain this change to the Corinthian Church Paul’s referenced Genesis 1.

Genesis 1
1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

In the chaos and darkness of a world without a direction; a world without hope; an empty world without a future, God commanded light to shine. Life began; hope rekindled; the world changed when the light began to shine! This is still the hope of God for our friends, family and the world.

What a picture of the eternal hope of God. New hope; new faith; new life is made possible when the light begins to shine in the darkness. My life was changed because someone shinned the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ on my path. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world! (John 9:5) And indeed, He is. However, Jesus also told His followers:

Matthew 5
14  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15  “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The prophet Daniel foretold the future of those who proclaim the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ. Lead others to the saving grace of God.

Daniel 12:3  Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

Conclusion: Rise and Shine! You are the light of the world … and the world needs Light! [Join Team COTR this Fall … “Every Heart - Every Home!”]