Faith Church

Don’t Miss It – Don’t Miss The Light | Sermon from 12/24/2017

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Don’t Miss The Light

In the beginning, there was only darkness, but then God spoke – let there be light and light was born. Then, that word and light of God became flesh in the person of Jesus and that is what we celebrate in this season. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss the light. While we can’t miss the lights on all the houses and trees this time year, we can miss the light of God in the darkness.  We can miss the comfort and peace and joy that God’s light brings, which is why we need to pay attention and make sure we don’t miss it.
As we have heard, most people missed the birth of Jesus, because they were either too busy to notice, or they were so familiar with the story of the coming of the Messiah that they failed to give it any thought, or they were too empty of hope that a Savior would ever come to free them, so while there were signs and songs all around them – they missed it. They missed the light and continued to live in darkness.  People lived in the darkness of fear, fatigue and failure. They lived in the darkness of despair, division, and death. They lived in the darkness of unmet expectations and unfulfilled dreams. They missed the light of God.We still live in the darkness of fear, fatigue and failure. We still live in the darkness of despair, division, and death. We still live in the darkness of unmet expectations and unfulfilled dreams, but we don’t have to because we don’t have miss the light of God, we can open our eyes and our hearts to receive the gift of Jesus who is the very light and word of God.  John 1:1-5, 9, 14.

There are two images that John uses here that are tied together, the word of God and the light of God and what we need to understand is that it is God’s word that brings forth light and life. In the darkness God said, let there be light and there was light and that light brought life into the world. Generations later that word became flesh and blood in Jesus and so through Jesus we not only have the word of God but a light that brings us life. God’s light and word are here for us today – don’t miss it.

The word of God that brings light into our darkness are all the promises of God and while most people missed out on these when Jesus was born, there were a handful who did not. If we don’t miss it, then we can experience the fullness of God’s promise, a promise that brings confidence into the darkness of uncertainty.

Life is fragile and uncertain. Whether it is our health, our jobs, our finances or our relationships, we don’t know what tomorrow brings. We all know people who have felt just fine and then suddenly get a diagnoses of cancer or suffer a heart attack. Or, people who go into work one day only to find that the business is being sold and their jobs phased out.  While this year has been great year with the stock market – we remember those days when the market dropped and our retirement plans suddenly changed. Every facet of life has its own uncertainties, but into this darkness God promises us a confidence that helps us face the future unafraid. This confidence doesn’t come from a promise that everything in life will stay stable and strong, our confidence comes in knowing that whatever we go through – we do not go through it alone.  God is with us.

Hebrews 10:19-25.  Jesus gives us confidence because it is through Him that we are connected to God, so no matter what is going on we do not need to be afraid. Joseph didn’t miss this. Joseph was in a pretty dark place, when he first heard that Mary was pregnant.  There was great uncertainty about the situation and what he should do.  He was faithful and so the law said he should punish Mary, but in love he didn’t want to hurt or shame her. He faces an uncertain future and into that darkness God speaks.  Do not be afraid, Joseph, to take Mary as your wife. Be confident Joseph. Know that what is taking place is the work of God. Joseph took hold of that promise and the light of God pierced his darkness and gave him the ability to move forward.

What I love about this passage from Hebrews is that while it tells us we can find confidence and courage in our relationship with God, it also says we can experience the presence of God in the life of the church. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

When it is hard to draw confidence from God alone – we can turn to the people of God for that power. Confidence in faith and courage in life is a gift we can receive from others, if we will continue to stay connected and not neglect meeting together. This is why worship and service and small groups are so important.The second promise we receive in Jesus is strength in the darkness of weakness. Mary didn’t miss this promise. When Mary was told that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah she asks – how can this be? Mary felt weak. How was she going to do what God was asking of her? Have you ever faced a situation and asked yourself something similar? How can this be? How can I possibly do this?  I don’t have what it takes, I don’t have the strength, I don’t have the ability, I don’t have the faith. When we experience this kind of darkness, we need to remember that God promises to be our strength.

The Apostle Paul struggled with some kind of weakness in his life, he called it a thorn in the flesh, and he asked God to take it away, but God’s answer wasn’t to take the problem away but to be Paul’s strength in weakness, to be Paul’s light in the darkness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace is what makes us strong when we are weak. God’s grace was what held Mary together and helped her do what she thought was impossible.

The story of God is always the story of God’s power being seen in those we are weak. Abraham, Ruth, David, Mary, Joseph, Paul – they were all people who didn’t have what it takes to accomplish God’s plan on their own. They each lived in their own darkness and had to ask God to be their light and strength. Jesus has come to be the light of strength in our darkness of weakness. He has come to help us do more than we ever thought possible.  Philippians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. When we get to that place where we feel in over our heads – that is the very moment we need to remember the promise that God is with us to be our strength.  Don’t miss it.

The third promise of God that brings light is the goodness of God in the darkness of sin, brokenness and evil. The shepherds didn’t miss this light. They were living in the darkness of brokenness and sin. They were often separated from others and living isolated and alone, out in the fields at night – in darkness, but the light of God appeared and shone around them and it literally brought them good news of great joy. The goodness of God came to them first and told them that sin and brokenness and evil were going to be defeated in Jesus and that his light would bring peace on earth, good will toward men and women.The shepherds didn’t just experience this light and goodness in Jesus, they shared it. After they saw the baby Jesus, Luke tells us they returned to the fields praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:20. They were now the light of God’s goodness in the darkness of the world and God calls us to be this light. Jesus said, you are the light of the world and so the church needs to be a light of goodness in a world of evil.  The Bible says we are to be the aroma of Christ in a world that is dying, the image of goodness in a world of evil. The goodness of the church is a reflection of the light of God and is a reminder of the promises God makes to be with us.

I am thankful for all the ways Faith Church has been the light of goodness this year.  We have been a light to the church in Sierra Leone by making sure every UM pastor will get paid.  We have been a light to all those people effected by Hurricanes and floods and earthquakes by providing flood buckets. We have been a light to those hungry and hurting in our own community and in our offering this evening, we will be a light to those who are hungry and hurting on the other side of the world. Tomorrow, we will be the light of God to those who have no family, no place to go and need to have food and love and hope on Christmas Day. We are a light shining in the darkness and you are part of sharing this promise of God’s goodness. As we share it we also experience it, so don’t miss what God is doing in you and through us.  Don’t miss being that light in the darkness.

The last promise we are going to talk about has to do with an actually light that appeared in the sky, when Jesus was born because that star gave direction in the darkness of confusion. The Magi from the east literally followed the light of a star to Israel, and while they went to Jerusalem to find the king, assuming the king would be there, the light eventually led them to Bethlehem and then to the very place where Jesus was living. The light of God gave them direction in their confusion.

God’s word still guides us in life. Psalm 119:105 says, God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.  God’s word illuminates our path and can guide us through the confusion of life.  As we enter into the New Year, we need to read and reflect on God’s word every day. Make this a promise to yourself to allow God’s light to shine into the darkness of your life and to give you direction.

So in Jesus, we have the light of God’s word which is full of promises that are ours.  In Jesus, there is the promise of confidence, strength, and goodness; and in Jesus, there is a light that gives direction to our lives. These are all gifts given to us in Jesus, but they are no good unless we use them.  I’m curious… how many of you have a gift card on you right now?  How many of you have purchased a gift card to give as a gift this season?  How many of you think you will get one?  Gift cards have become very popular but how many of you have ever thrown one out without using the entire amount given?  Do you know how much money is thrown away in unused gift cards each year?  About 1 billion dollars!

God’s gift of light and God’s promises are similar to those gift cards. We have them, these promises are for us to use and they bring light and hope and power to our lives, but we forget or discard them and never receive all that they offer. We miss the light of God’s promise and live in the darkness, this year, don’t miss it. Don’t miss the light. Don’t miss all the promises God gives us, in his word and in the word made flesh – Jesus.

Next Steps
Don’t Miss the Light

Read John 1:1-9

Jesus is both the word of God and the light of God in the flesh.  This means all the promises God makes are gifts given to us in Jesus

1. The gift of confidence in the darkness of uncertainty.

  • The story of Joseph.  Read Matthew 1:18-25
  • What uncertainty are you facing today?
  • Health, Job, Relationships, Finances?
  • How does knowing God is with you give you courage?

2. The gift of strength in the darkness of weakness.

  • The story of Mary.  Read Luke 1:26-56
  • When was the last time you said, “I can’t do this?”
  • What was the situation?
  • How did God get you through?

3. The gift of goodness in the darkness of evil.

  • The story of the Shepherds.  Read Luke 2:8-21
  • There is a lot of evil, brokenness and sin we see around us.  What evil troubles your heart the most?
  • How can God shine His light into this darkness?
  • How can you be a light of goodness in this situation?

4. The gift of direction in the darkness of confusion.

  • The story of the Magi.  Matthew 2:1-12
  • Where do you need God to guide you in 2018?
  • Commit to a reading plan for 2018 that can help you read God’s word daily.

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