Light Up the House – You are the Splendor of the World

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lightbasket“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).

“Who said your light was little?” Ted Dekker

As we seek to follow Jesus in fullness, there may be no greater quest than to fully understand who we are in Him; to define our unique identity by His Word of declaration. I would suggest that from this proper understanding comes the freedom and power to live out the high calling to which God-Jesus Himself has called us (1 Thessalonians 5.23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2.16-17).

Our identity first comes from a relational understanding of who Jesus is – a task intended to start in this life and launch into eternity. It says much about the transforming power of the Christ message that Jesus describes himself as the light of the world (John 8.12; 9.5) and now here in Matthew declares that you and I are that light as well. He bestows upon us his nature because that is the outcome of His relational union with us. His mission has become our mission; His nature, our nature; His splendor – ours!

Notice the absolute Word of declaration that Jesus gives in the opening words of these verses – “You are the light of the world”. In seven English words, he tells us who we are without making conditions to it. He’s teaching a large crowd of people who are following after Him; people at varying levels of discipleship. He doesn’t single anyone out based on a higher degree of holiness and say, “Look at this woman! She is the light of the world because of her great deeds.” No, he is declaring to the whole crowd that they are the “light” prior to any acts of righteousness done on their part. He doesn’t say, “Follow me for 20 years and prove yourself…. Clean up your act and then you might have a hint of a shine…. Go to the right church…. Have your doctrinal beliefs fine-tuned – and then you will be the light”. No, He pronounces us as the light of the world separate from any accomplishment of our own. The next sentence takes all this a step further. The nature of a city built on a hill is that it is easily seen. Jesus speaks in the absurd when considering what it would take to hide such a city; to camouflage its place – it’s identity.

So it is with the follower of Christ. Not only is our identity not based on our works, it is ridiculous to think that that identity is hidden when we or others try to camouflage it by sin, condemnation and failure. Jesus’ Word of Declaration is so unequivocal that even the scars of this world cannot dim us or change who we are. What is more, collectively WE are the light of the world. One light is bright, two is better, three better still, a body of Christ followers – wow! It is the identity and purpose of the entire family of Christ to illuminate the whole world. May we reject with the authority of the Word any other false identification other than the one announced by Jesus – you (we) ARE the light of the world.

This understanding of identity does not lead us away from acts of righteousness but is the actual thrust toward them. All human beings live out of who they believe they are. Therefore, if I understand and believe that God has already defined and elevated my standing through Christ (“You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city set on a hill”, etc.), works of love, kindness and radiance are mine, simply needing to be released.

Now what does this have to with marriage? Jesus said, “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.” There are many assumptions we have to make when we read Scripture as to what certain characters fully had in mind when they said the things they said. So, I’m not sure, but doesn’t it make sense that Jesus would be thinking of our families when he uses the metaphor of physical light in the house. In fact, shouldn’t our identity as light bearers be first practiced within the relationships of our households? And don’t you see how understanding our identity and purpose given to us by Christ would radically affect how we esteem our wives/husbands? How we invest in our children?

Finally, it is our calling as believers in Jesus to let our light and our deeds shine in such a way that Abba is glorified. It has nothing to do with people looking at us and saying, “Oh, what a good husband he is! What a good wife! Or parent! If there is something supernatural happening in our house it is only because of the supernatural splendor of God who abides there with us. May His name be honored! Amen.

“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)

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I Don’t Know What to Do But My Eyes are Set on You

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“Begin to rejoice in the Lord, and your bones will flourish like an herb, and your cheeks will glow with the bloom of health and freshness. Worry, fear, distrust, care-all are poisonous! Joy is balm and healing, and if you will but rejoice, God will give power.” A.B. Simpson

After this, the enemies of my soul came to make war on me – the degraders of man, the haters of love and the hordes of lust and misguided trust. My friends came to me and warned me that this vast army was at hand and had already made entry into the land of my influence.  Being in a state of fear, I was determined to seek the Lord and so I called to my family and friends and asked them to join me in a time of fasting and singleness of mind in order to hear from God clearly. So they joined me in seeking the Lord – in believing that He would be true when everything and everyone else appeared false. I stood before the “gathering” and said:  “O Lord, God of Jesse and Edith, Robert and Jean, are You not the God who sits enthroned in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations – both physical and spiritual. Power and might are within Your hand and no one can bring a charge against those You have declared as righteous. If Your word declares that my enemies are defeated – they are defeated. O my loving God, have You not been faithful in driving out the imposters of this present culture and entrusting it to the faith-filled – Your friends? We have lived in the presence of Your Name and power, so if devastation and collapse come upon us, whether by Your hand of discipline, disease, or barren cupboards, we will stand firm in Your presence and hold to the promise that we are the dwelling place of the Living God. We will believe that when we call out to You in our despair You will hear us and save us.”

“Lord, my enemies stand at the gates of my home; enemies that I have not been successful in defeating when in the past I had the opportunity. Since it seemed that You had not given me an easy victory, I turned in retreat and did not eliminate my foes. Now my enemies have taken advantage of my fear and have come to enslave my family – the family You gave me as a possession to protect as an inheritance. O my God, my Mighty Warrior, will You not do what my weak efforts could not and destroy them? My friends, my family and least of all I have no power to do battle against the forces set against my soul. I do not know what to do, but my eyes are set on You.”

All my friends and family – my brothers and sisters – took their stand before the Lord.   As I stood in the gathering, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, the son of Jesse, the son of Jesse before him.  He said to me, “Mark and all who love him, do not be afraid or discouraged because your enemies are encamped around you – for the battle is not yours but God’s.   Tomorrow you will face your enemies of condemnation, hate and deceit. They will be found in your house, in your office and in your car. They will lie in wait while you shop for produce, play tennis and when you gather together with the saints. DO NOT FEAR THEM! You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your position – stand firm – and witness the deliverance of your soul. I will take great delight in bringing this to you. Oh sons and daughters of Jesse, do not be afraid; do not be disheartened. Go out and face them and know that I, the Lord am with you.”

I bowed with my face to the ground and worshipped before the Lord and the entire gathering with me. Then some of my brothers and sisters rose up to praise the Lord with a great cry.

Early the next morning we left for the lonely places of the wilderness. As we set out the Word of the Lord came to us and said: “Listen to me you sons and daughters of the Most High God! Have faith in Me, your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his servants and you will find your victory.”  We encouraged one another with this Word and began to praise God for the blinding splendor of His holiness. This became our battle cry as we faced our enemies – “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”

As we began to sing and worship, God pulled from my mind the ill thoughts of self-condemnation and defeat. He tore down the barriers set up against my marriage, my children and all of my love relationships.  As believers we set our hearts and minds on God and a revolution of thought consumed us and we were released from the enemies of deceit and false hope….

And the gathering was truly filled with the joy and fear of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20 – According to Mark