Today is Sunday, the 18th of December, 2022, the fourth Sunday of Advent.
May the peace of Christ be with you always!
Seven days until Christmas!
And our house is Covid-free! S tested negative, yesterday morning. They did it a day before we had planned, and I am glad. I got the news while I was at work at the library, and the rest of my day was fantastic.
Nevertheless, the family Christmas Eve celebration will remain postponed until early January, some time. I might suggest New Year’s Eve, but C and I will discuss that first.
Today’s header photo is from Paul Militaru. Please visit his site at the provided link.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. (Psalms 119:58 ESV)
Lord our God, our Father, out of reverent silence comes the praise that is due to you, O God in Zion. It is right for us to praise you and to keep our promises to you. People everywhere shall come to you, for you answer prayer. Protect us your children in the task you have given us. Watch over us so that we can serve you in the right way and receive from you the gifts we need in order to go toward your kingdom and witness to your name. Help us on every step of the way. May our lives be entrusted to your hands, and may we always find our strength in you, our God and Savior. Amen.
Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. Psalm 65:1–2, NIV
Today I am grateful:
- that God hears and answers prayer
- for the strength that I find in Him and His presence
- that, though we, like sheep, all went astray, the Lord laid our iniquities on Christ Jesus; by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53)
- that darkness cannot overcome the Light
- that our home is Covid-free
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. (Psalms 139:9-10 NRSV)
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
(Judges 13:8 NIV)
Jesus said, at different times, recorded by different people, both, “I am the light of the world,” and “You are the light of the world.”
There are, of course, different definitions of “light.” When I looked it up, the first definition that came up was, “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.” Okay, that’s interesting.
Next was, “an expression in someone’s eyes indicating a particular emotion or mood.” Probably not applicable in this case.
But the third one? “Understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment.” Very interesting.
“I am the light of the world.” “You are the light of the world.” In John 8:12 (“I am the light”), the word for “light” is “phos.” It means, “to shine or make manifest;” “luminousness;” “fire, light.”
It turns out that Matthew 5:14 uses the same Greek word.
I find it interesting that Jesus makes both statements. How does that work? Pardon me while I think “out loud,” here.
If we begin with the premise that Jesus is the light, and that if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness, and we will also have that same light, then we become the light of the world, as well. We take on His light. Or, I suppose, it could be said that He shines through and in us.
In an oversimplification, it might be said that He hands over the light to us, but I don’t see that as quite accurate, because He is the light, and, therefore, cannot hand the light over to us.
I have to come to the conclusion that this is a great mystery. I’m looking up some other verses that deal with this meaning of light.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
(Ephesians 5:13 NIV)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
(2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV)
“Everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” That NIV translation is interesting, because the other main translations say something to the effect of “everything that is illuminated becomes visible.”
I’m not helping myself here. Haha.
The mystery is this: When we begin following Christ, becoming believers in Him, He becomes light within us. God, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, becoming our light and making us the light of the world.
Jesus left this world, physically. He is no longer here in bodily presence, but only spiritually. We are His “body.” The Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, the Church, and each individual within, is the light of the world, because we embrace the light of the world.
And, frankly, our job is not to understand this. Our job is simple. “Let your light shine before others.” Why? Not so that we can be noticed and boastful. “That they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” It’s all about the glory of God.
Father, help us to let our lights shine. Help us to understand that “letting our light shine” does not consist of trying to blind people with it or forcing it into their lives. That kind of behavior will not cause people to glorify You. Jesus encourages us, nay, commands us to let our light shine, so that people will see our good deeds. To me (and I will always entertain the notion that I might be wrong), those good deeds are the kinds of things that Jesus talked about in His story about the sheep and the goats; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and in prison, working to free the oppressed, caring for widows, orphans, and refugees, things like that. Things of which it may be said, “Whenever you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.”
I also believe that letting our light shine consists largely of following that “Golden Rule” and treating people the way we would like to be treated.
In short, Lord, letting my light shine means love; loving You and loving others, and doing it visibly, not from behind the curtains. Once again, though, intent is everything. If, by doing a good deed, I am seeking any kind of recognition other than Your glory, shut me down, faster than instantly. I don’t want to be guilty of that.
May You be glorified in Your Church, Father. May people see the Light of the world through us.
All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Grace and peace, friends.