Hopelessness is a common characteristic of broken people. They have nowhere to turn. They feel they can do nothing to improve their circumstances.
The theme of light shining in darkness is the most powerful message to give to such hopeless people, no matter how black the darkness. In order to shrug off some difficulty, one needs only think of how turning on a light can bring a whole change to some dismal situation. We of course are not this light even in our best moods or modes. The true light comes from God. Jesus Christ is this true light that shines into this dark world. He is the Light that shines in every Christian life.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. (Isaiah 60:1-5).
To open our eyes and make necessary changes in our hearts and lives to enable God's glorious light to brightly shine in and through our lives to those around us.
A) Instilling the Mission (Isaiah 60:1a)
The two commands are to arise and shine. We are not allowed to live passive lives. This is why entertainment and other such activities, though not wrong in themselves, easily become moral issues. We need to think concretely what the Lord would have us do: Arise and Shine.
Arise. We need to cease walking with the world. This might not be comfortable or easy. The world might even demand that we live with them. But we must refuse. We are mission oriented. No matter what the costs, we must step out of line from the world and live by God's heartbeat. We need to arise from compromises of the world where we become indebted and strive for the glory of God's kingdom.
Shine. It is not good enough if we only arise. We must shine. We must get involved. We must become active. I recently heard Paul share how he was urged to sign up for two professional baseball teams. Instead of the fame and the riches, he chose to work bringing the gospel to the Chinese getting by on a bare minimum of substistence. We must refuse to sift through our treasures before putting them away. We must consider it sin to be easily offended and give up on the task God has set us to. We must shine at all costs.
What then is this great occassion that calls us to sacrifice all? What is this call that demands us to drop all for the sake of all?!
"For your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you."
Life change is demanded because of God's revelation of His glory in our lives. Our focus once upon the earth is now turned to the heavens. Light has come. No matter how dark or dim our circumstances might be, our light has come. This light is nothing less than the great and glorious presence of Jehovah.
Indeed we confess with John the Baptist that we are not that light. Christ Jesus is the light of the world. We are not boasting about our own lives but of the glorious presence of the Lord.
The clarity and power of our mission will come as we remember the source from which we gain our light and are not confused by the presence of the darkness.
Many others have through the ages suggested political, legal, economic or religious agendas. They have fought for them and even died for them in some cases. They have all drastically failed us. Instead we need to stand up and let God's light shine through our lives. Only then will light shine in the darkness, order overcome chaos, and clarity rule over confusion. How much more time will we waste through our self-efforts?!
Our call is to learn more about this Light. He is our hope. In Christ, the Light of the world, we will fully discover the glory of God. We must insist on knowing Christ and none other. We have nothing unless we have Christ.
"For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you" (Isaiah 60:1-2).
Living in God's presence will change our lives. either we will turn from Him or flee from our sin and turn to Him. Each of us are born into this world full of darkness. It is so deep that we cannot see our way out of it. We are saved by grace. Jehovah rises upon us much as the sun arises in the sky. And we can then see how everything is made for His glorious purposes.
We are not to gain our identity, purpose or strength from those around us. The Cambridge Seven gave up their wealth and fame for the sake of bringing this Light to those in far and distant darkness. In this sense we need to clarify our mission to let God's light shine in our lives.
The Lord is not at all troubled by the darkness. In His own time He carries out His plan for distributing His Light throughout the world. He is not at all threatened by the Enlightened Age. He waits and shows the results of their socalled knowledge and expertise. Man's problems are not solved but compounded.
Early on He decided on the means He will dissolve the darkness. He could have shown forth His light and awed all. Instead, however, the Lord chose to have His light shine through vessels that will reveal His light. The degree that the vessel's reception of the light be clear and the windows that open to the world clean, God's own light will shine into the world.
The change we should look for is when people come and request our help in improving their lives and society. They will be able to see that they can do nothing but will see that God in us can do something for them.
We usually spend our money, time and effort on our agendas and solutions instead of waiting for the Lord. We need to get to the point of letting God first transform us and those around us and then let God's Spirit do His work around us.
We will see that nations will come to our light which is really God's light in us. Our rising will really be God's rising in us. Although there are not a few who decry spiritual lives as too heavenly to be of any earthly good, we challenge them with God's model:
Don't force the governments and organizations. Focus on living righteous lives where you are. As people are touched by God's work in our lives, then we must in turn introduce them to the Lord Himself. There will be those who reject God's light just as they rejected Jesus' miracles. But our duty is to have a genuine hope for the worst of societies that if they see the Lord's light, they will change.
The problem is with us. We do not show forth God's light. We are carrying out our agendas rather than God's. Our light is our wisdom, knowledge and experience, rather than the presence of God.
Week Study: "Reviving Our Spiritual Devotions"
Daily Study: Gospel of John "Light"
Study the theme of 'light' in the Gospel of John. Look up all 16 references to light in that book. How is light connected to God's glory? What is light's relationship to darkness? What special insights about this light do you gain from your study? In what ways do the light themes in the Gospel of John link to Isaiah 60:1-5?
Daily Study: Matthew 5:14-16 "Being His Lights"
What does Jesus exhort His disciples to do through this passage? How is this passage connected to Isaiah 60:1-5? What happens if God's people hide their light? What is the result of living out the light? What is the goal of living out the light?
Our purpose is to shine and the means to do this is to put away all those things that would cover up the light of God's glory in our lives and extend ourselves into the world as the Lord would lead us. We have no greater purpose.
Recently I saw a satellite picture of the earth at night where each area's light shone. Some areas were very bright. Some were dark depending on the amount of electricity used in those areas. What does your home area look like if this was a spiritual light map? Why?
Daily Study: Genesis 1 "Light and Darkness"
Examine carefully the interaction of light and darkness in this passage. What does the creation of the two lights do? How does the world revolve around the lights? How might creation prefigure a redemptive creation (His kingdom)? How does Revelation conclude the Bible's theme of darkness and light? How does this conclusion differ from Zoroastianism? Why so?
Genesis 1 sets the basis for a number of NT teachings. Just as there is a physical creation, so there is a redemptive creation - a spiritual light that overcomes the darkness (John 1) that sets everything in proper place to bring glory to God.
When light comes, it forms darkness. Unity becomes a show of disunity or disformity. Light is organized communication where as darkness is miscommunication or falsehood. Power is connected with light rather than darkness. And though darkness might have a time to show its effect, it is limited and will be overcome. (Illustration: computer binary language 0 and 1).
Daily Study: Ephesians 1 "Enlightened"
Examine the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1:15-23. Especially focus on verses 18-19a. How is the world 'enlightened' used. Study the Greek word for enlightened and how it is used throughout the NT ( check synonyms for this word in a commentary or Strong's Concordance). What should come out of a greater enlightenment? Do you pray this prayer? Do you know anyone who does? How would regularly praying this affect a Christian or church's development?
Pride and True Worship
We often think that the solution is from us. Our wisdom, our strength, our vision, our .... In fact, we are but the vessel. We are the point of reflection. As priests we direct God's light into the world. The source of healing, truth and love come from the Lord and is to be reflected through our lives. Because of this, we can give up trying to impress others with our ability to get ahead and put all our efforts in allowing Christ to dwell in our lives.
Striving for Light
We often think that we need more light. In one sense this is true. We need to be enlightened. But it is not something we strive for. The Light is already shining. We no longer need to wait but act. We need to focus more on uncovering the way the light reaches us. A Christian by definition has the Light in his soul. (Illustration: We often use mechanical devices (things) to block out light. What are some spiritual things that might hold the shining light from reaching us? The word 'occult' means hidden. Christianity is wide open with the teachings from God.
The mistaken notions that reforms in religion, politics and economical areas will bring great help to our society. In fact, the greatest blessing comes from God's change in our lives and the way this change is reflected in our society around us. We are not saying that we should abstain from taking steps to improve our society. Down deep, however, we must remember that society will change when the people change. Changing laws only act as a taskmaster. The changing of hearts brings about the real change in lives. Read through accounts of what happened during Christian revivals.
A) Instilling the Mission (Isaiah 60:1a)
What things do we treasure most in life? What would we give them up for? We see the disciples forsook all to follow Jesus Christ? Have you taken up this road? What challenges hold you back? What have you given up for the Lord?
B) Clarifying Our Orders (Isaiah 60:1b)
Where is this light to be found? Have you met Him? Why is 'light' used to describe Him? Has He become 'your light?' What books do you use to receive counsel? How is the light connected to the glory of God? How does God's light and glory dwell in your lives?
C) Transforming Our Lives (Isaiah 60:2)
In what ways have you taken to allow His Light to shine in you more? How do the spiritual disciplines of fasting, praying and meditationg on God's Word maximize this purpose? How does the flames in Pentecost help us understand how God means for His disciples to be His light?
D) Transforming Our Societies (Isaiah 60:3-5)
What changes are said to take place when the light arises? Where have you seen this in your personal life? What about in those around you? How would you define what this light is? How do governments and other organizations like religions simulate this light? Does it work? Why or why not? What should we do in response to our ailing society around us despite in many cases millions of dollars be spent to help?
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Biblical Foundations for Freedom