Don’t Miss The Light
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)
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.
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.
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.