His Love Is Our Light
Mark 4:21 “And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?”
Just as a candle or lamp is not to be hid, but rather displayed so that everyone can benefit from its light, so a Christian must let his light so shine before men that they might see his good works and glorify his Father which is in heaven. God has ordained us to go and bring forth fruit, John 15:16. The great commission of the Church is to reach the world.
The early Christians experienced the love of Christ in an intimate and life-transforming way. This motivated them to reach their known world with the Gospel of Christ more than any other generation of Christians has since. They didn’t have the benefits of our modern technology, but they did have the benefit of being full of the love of Christ. Experiencing the love of Christ causes us to be filled with the fullness of God, Ephesians 3:19, and makes us a witness that the world cannot resist, John 13:35.
Today, much of the emphasis of the Church is placed on techniques of evangelism or spiritual warfare. We motivate people to witness through feelings of guilt or punishment if they don’t. Much of our evangelism has become as dead and non-productive as the efforts of the cults whose people knock on doors and argue others into their way of thinking. The Church today needs a revival of our personal relationship with the Lord. When we can truly say with Paul that the love of Christ constrains us, then we will impact our world for the Lord, too. We can’t give away what we don’t possess. We need to personally know the love of Christ in an experiential way before we try to share it with others. Let Him love you, and let His love flow through you to others. The world is hungry for love, real love.
Mark 4:16 “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;”
The second type of person Jesus describes is one who does receive the Word, even with great joy, but his commitment to the Word is shallow. Just as a plant must establish a strong root system to sustain its growth, so we must become rooted and grounded in God’s Word. Too much attention on visible growth will cause us to become impatient and not take the time to become firmly established in the truths of God’s Word. This will always result in fruitlessness.
A seed planted in shallow earth will germinate and grow faster than a seed planted in deep soil. The seed in deep soil will put all of its energy towards the roots first while the seed in shallow soil has no choice but to put its effort into the growth of the plant above the ground. The plant in shallow soil will look like it is far ahead of the other seed for a while, but that will not last. It soon withers and dies, while the seed with roots grows and brings forth fruit.
Notice that afflictions, persecutions, and tribulations are instruments of the devil and are used to stop God’s Word from bearing fruit in our lives. They are not good things that God brings our way to improve us. They are instruments of Satan. These things are designed to take our attention off of God’s Word, thereby stopping the Word from taking root in us. It’s like the runner who spends all of his time in the grandstands arguing with the hecklers over the way he’s running the race. He may win an argument, but he will lose the race. We must not let anything distract us from meditating on God’s Word day and night, for only then will we make our way prosperous and have good success, Joshua 1:8. By consistently putting God’s Word in first place in every area of your life, you will let that Word become so rooted in you that nothing can get it out.
Matthew 12:37 “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
God created the heavens and the earth and everything that is in the earth by His words, Hebrews 11:3. The whole creation was made by, and responds to, words. Our words, when spoken in faith, release either life or death, Proverbs 18:21, and will affect people, things, and circumstances. We can release the power that is in faith by our words.
Every word counts. There is no such things as an “idle” word which will not work for us or against us. Our words can be our most powerful weapon against the devil, or they can become a snare of the devil, Proverbs 6:2. Faith-filled words can move mountains
The faith that made Jesus marvel was a faith in the authority of the spoken word, Matthew 8:8, 10. We are to believe in the power of our words. If we begin to speak words in faith that line up with God’s Word, then we will have the positive results that follow. But if we continue to speak words of doubt, we will eventually believe them and have the negative things that these words produce. Death or life are in the power of every word we speak.
Faith is released by speaking words. Jesus encouraged us to speak to mountains or to whatever our problem might be. Most people speak to God about their problem, but few follow Jesus’ instructions and speak directly to the “mountain.” God has put certain things under our authority and we must exercise it. When a problem stands in our way, we must speak to the problem and command it to get out of our way in the name of Jesus. Speak God’s Word today. His Words will produce life.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Yokes were made of wood with two hollowed out sections on the bottom portion that rested on the necks of oxen, which used to plow or to draw a cart. Figuratively, a yoke symbolized servitude or submission. Jesus is admonishing us to submit ourselves to Him, for true rest comes from serving Him – not ourselves.
A new ox was often trained for plowing or drawing a cart by yoking him with an experienced ox. The yoke kept the young ox from “doing his own thing” and he soon learned obedience to his master. In like manner, we are to commit ourselves to being yoked to Jesus. “… it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”, Jeremiah 10:23. Therefore, we have to “bear the yoke in our youth”, Lamentations 3:27, if we want to become mature Christians. The comparison ends at this point, though. Unlike the, sometimes, harsh treatment oxen are given to bring them into subjection, Jesus is “meek and lowly in heart,” and wins us by love. Jesus pulls more than His “share” of the load; therefore, our burden is light.
The most loving father in the world cannot compare with the love our Heavenly Father has for us. And yet, many times we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus assures us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship. Not only does He want our love, but wants you to let Him love you today.
More Than Just Sowing And Reaping
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
This verse reveals one of God’s cardinal laws that will work in the spiritual realm, as well as the physical world. Just as we “give” seed into the ground to receive back multiple seeds, so it is with everything we give. Whether it’s money, possessions, an emotion such as love or hate, prayers, or our time, we will reap a harvest of whatever we give. We reap exactly what we sow and proportional to the same measure that we give, Galatians 6:7-8.
“…He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully, 2 Corinthians 9:6. This law works on positive or negative things that we sow.
Although this is an unchangeable law of God, it can be overcome by a greater law in much the same way that we can escape the law of gravity by using the greater laws of thrust and lift. The negative things we have given don’t have to come back to us if we apply the greater law of forgiveness, 1 John 1:9. Likewise, the good things we have sown can be voided if we don’t continue in well doing, Galatians 6:9.
God is our source, but God uses people. If we pray for finances, God is not going to make counterfeit currency and put it into your wallet. He will use people to get the money to you. So, it is not always as simple as praying for money and receiving it the next minute. We need to believe the Lord hears and answers our prayers, and then pray for the people He’s going to use to deliver the answer. This could mean any number of people such as our employer and the people who buy our goods. Ultimately God is your source, trust Him.
John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
In saying this, Jesus shows that sin causes the tragedies that come into our lives. The reason for holiness in the life of the believer is that when we obey sin, we yield ourselves to Satan, the author of that sin. Yielding to sin is yielding to a person – Satan. God doesn’t impute the sin to us but the devil does. Our actions either release the power of Satan or the power of God in us.
Although God is not imputing our sins unto us, we cannot afford the luxury of sin because it allows Satan to have access to us. When a Christian sins and allows the devil opportunity to produce his death in their life, the way to stop it is to confess the sin, and God who is faithful and just, will take the forgiveness that is already present in our born again spirit and release it in our flesh. This removes Satan and his strongholds.
The sins of a Christian don’t make him a sinner any more than the righteous acts of a sinner make him righteous. Sin is a very deadly thing that even Christians should avoid at all costs, but it does not determine our standing with the Lord. A person who is born again is not “in” the flesh even though he may walk “after” the flesh.
What is the motive for living a separated life? We live a separated life because our nature has been changed. We were darkness, now we are light, Ephesians 5:8. Many people argue for holiness in order to obtain relationship with God. We need to live holy lives because of the relationship that we already have. It’s the nature of a Christian to walk in the light and not in darkness. If Christians were rightly informed of who they are and what they have in Christ, holiness would just naturally flow out of them. It’s their nature. It’s our nature.
Let Christ Live Through Us
Matthew 9:9 “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.”
To “follow” means to come or go after; move behind in the same direction; to come or go with; to accept the guidance or leadership of; to adhere to the cause or principles of; to be governed by; obey; comply with.
When a person first comes to Jesus, it is impossible to know everything that following Jesus entails. No one, however, should be fearful of making a total commitment because of some imagined problem that may never come to pass. There should be a willingness to forsake everything to follow Jesus. Once we make that decision, then Christ begins to live through us and we find a strength that is not our own, equal to whatever test we may encounter, Galatians 2:20.
It is Christ living through us that is the secret of victorious Christian living. It is not us living for Jesus, but Jesus living through us. Failure to understand this simple truth is at the root of all legalism and the performance mentality. The law focuses on the outer man and tells it what it must do. Grace focuses on the inner man and tells it what is already done through Christ. Those who are focused on what they must do are under law. Those who are focused on what Christ has done for them are walking under grace.
Just as the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found to be in union with Christ. The Christian life is not just hard to live, it’s impossible in our human strength. The only way to walk in victory is to let Christ live through us.
Matthew 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
The way that you can tell whether a person is genuine or not is by the fruit they produce. This fruit is speaking of lifestyle. Jesus made the point that you don’t get bad fruit from a good tree, and you don’t get good fruit from a bad tree. Many people say one thing, but their actions speak so loudly that you really can’t hear what they are saying. If you are in doubt about whether a person is genuine or not, or whether you should receive from them and follow their teaching, look at the fruit they are producing.
In evaluating ministers and ministries, more attention should be given to the fruit that is being produced. Failure to do this could lead someone to reject and even discredit a minister who simply makes a mistake or is wrong in one area. Every minister has shortcomings, just as every other member of the Body of Christ does. But that doesn’t mean his ministry is bad. Look at the fruit.
Fruit is the true test of ministers and ministries. If people are being saved, if lives are being changed, there is good fruit. Even though the minister may say something bad and make mistakes, the fruit is good.
Therefore, you can say that the tree is good. When a person says all of the right things and may seem sincere, but you see the lives of people around them shattered and torn, and in confusion and distress, then the fruit is bad. You can judge the effectiveness of a person by the fruit that they are producing in their life. In ministry you can judge the effectiveness of a minister by the fruit that his ministry is producing.
Today, make sure that the fruit that comes from your life is positive. Make sure that you are making a positive impact on people’s lives, that you are turning people to the Lord and not leaving them hurt and confused. People are looking at you to see what type of fruit you are bearing.
MATTHEW 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
We do not have to live a beggarly existence here on this earth and just wait till we all get to heaven to begin to experience the benefits of our salvation. Jesus told us to pray “thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” In heaven, He will “wipe away all tears from their eyes”, Revelation 21:4, so here on earth we can pray and believe to receive “joy unspeakable and full of glory”, 1 Peter 1:8. Healing, prosperity, and all the other benefits of heaven are ours here on earth to the degree that we can believe and receive them.
It is God’s will to deliver us from this present evil world. The Lord didn’t save us from our sins so we could be “saved and stuck” until we go to heaven. He made provision for our success in this life as well. Our salvation is effectual in this life too, not just the one to come. Some people have relegated all the benefits of salvation to, “when we all get to Heaven.” But that’s not so. Through the atonement of Jesus, we have been delivered from sickness, poverty and demonic control, as well as sin, in this present life. To the degree we believe that, we will begin to experience the physical benefits of our salvation in the “rough now and now,” not just in the “sweet by and by.”
Our salvation is not just “pie in the sky,” but it is victory in this present life. Today believe God to start receiving every benefit of your salvation here in this life, and help others to receive what has been purchased for them also. We don’t have to wait until we get to Heaven.
Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Which would you rather have – God defending you, or you defending yourself? That’s the choice that Jesus is offering us here. “Turning the other cheek” is not a prescription for abuse but rather the way to get the Lord involved in your defense.
Many people feel that these instructions of Jesus guarantee that others will take advantage of us. That would be true if there was no God. But when we follow these commands of Jesus, the Lord is on our side. He said in Roman 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
When we fight back, we are drawing on our own strength. But when we turn the other cheek, we are invoking God as our defense. Once we understand this, it becomes obvious that these instructions are for our own good.
James 1:20, says that the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Regardless of how appropriate our anger may seem, and regardless of how we think our wrath could make a person or situation change, we will never achieve God’s best that way.
When we defend ourselves, we stop God from defending us. It has to be one way or the other. It cannot be both ways. When we turn the other cheek to our enemies, we are loosing the power of God on our behalf. Let God defend you today.