reading is from Isaiah 60:1-3 and here we read, “Arise, shine, for your light
has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the
earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
In a land far away in a fog enshrouded city a
lone traveler lost his way to meet some business partners. The fog was so thick
that he could not find any familiar landmarks and while wandering around trying to find his way a young man carrying a lantern
approached him and asked if he could assist. The gentleman explained that he
was lost and needed to get to a meeting. So the young man escorted the man to
where he needed to be and refused a tip when offered by stating this was his good deed.
The man was so impressed that after the meeting he had the young man take him to find out more about the origination
he belonged to. The man’s name was William Boyce, an American business
man and the young man was a British Boy Scout. Because of that one selfless act,
that good deed, and the interest that it sparked in William Boyce, the Boy Scout program was brought to America. On February 8th, 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was born.
of you already know and in case you are not sure and have not yet figured it out, I am very closely associated with the Scouting
program. I have had the privilege of serving as a Scout leader for about 18 years
now serving as a Webelos leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster and District Chaplain. Now I love working with the Scouts and going camping and having lots and lots of fun. I’m not quite sure of who is having more fun, the boys or me, but Scouting is a blast. Now there is one thing that every Boy Scout has and uses on a regular basis that just about every home
has one. And that’s a flashlight.
I am quite sure that almost everyone here in this room has used a flashlight at one time or another.
A flashlight is a really neat invention and it
has many uses and comes in so many different forms. We have hand-held, pen lights,
spot lights, headband lights that you wear on your head, ones that are flexible, water-proof, shock resistant, and on and
on. Some use a regular flashlight bulb and some a krypton bulb and now there
are even some that do not even have bulbs but use instead a crystal that a laser shines through.
Now just why do we use flashlights? Most of us keep one or two in our homes in case we have a power failure at night and need to get around
in the dark. My wife usually keeps one on the night stand next to the bed at
all times just in case. Some people keep one in their cars. The Scouts carry them for several reasons. It can be used
at night to show the way while walking in the dark. Another reason is to play
games such as flashlight tag and another reason is to illuminate the inside of a tent so a Scout can find things. And there is another reason a younger Scout carries one. When
we go on camping trips I usually get up once or twice each night and while up I usually check the on the boys camp area and
invariably there is a tent that glows in the dark as a young, sometimes new camper, leaves his flashlight on as a nightlight. It helps him feel safe in an unfamiliar area.
is a very simple device being made up a several components. It has a bulb by
which light is produced, a body or housing containing batteries and some type of switch.
Basically that’s all there is to a flashlight. You flip the switch
and the batteries produce an electrical current causing the bulb to produce light. It’s
a very simple device and it’s very simple to operate. Maybe that’s
why they let me use them.
Now I tell you
about flashlights because we, as Christians, are very similar to a flashlight. Let
me explain. The body of the flashlight is us.
And who do we get our charge from – our energy? Jesus. The switch is the Holy Spirit which directs the power in us. And the bulb is our lives shining brightly
for all to see.
A flashlight is something that produces light
and from that light people can find their way in the dark and also find comfort. We
Christian flashlights should operate in the same manner. How we live our lives
and how we conduct ourselves should show the light of Jesus shining through us.
to be living examples of Christ’s love so others can see Jesus in us. But
how do we do that? How can we live lives like Christ? Well, it’s not easy but God’s Word does give us guidance in this area. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 beginning at verse 12 we read, “Now
we ask you brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live
in peace with each other. And we urge you brothers, warn those who are idle,
encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that
nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for
you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, do not treat prophecies
with contempt. Test everything. Hold
on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
There are twelve
points in the Boy Scout Law. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, brave, kind,
courteous, and so on. There are words in these verses that remind me of the Boy
Scout law. Respect, hold,
live, warn, encourage, be patient, make sure, be joyful, pray continually, give thanks, do not, test, hold
and avoid. There are fifteen
points here, well actually sixteen because there are two ‘do not’s.
We are to respect
our church leaders, those who are appointed over us and guide us. We are to hold
them in high regard. We are to live in peace with each other. Nothing will turn off a witness faster than Christians bickering among themselves. But now we come to the good stuff. Warn the idle, encourage
the timid, help the weak. Warn, encourage, help – what type
of words are these? They are action words.
They are ‘do’ words. Not sit back and watch words. We have to do something. We have to be
involved and be action oriented. It has been said that faith is an action. This
is where the rubber meets the road. Faith in action. But it doesn’t stop there. Scripture goes on and says
for us to ‘make sure’ no one pays back wrong for wrong. There
is an old saying that goes like this: “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.
We learn here that we are not to give ‘tit for tat’. We are
to be kind to each other and everyone.
These are actions
of how we should interact with others. The next three actions are interactions
between us and God.
In verse 16 it says to “Be joyful
always”. Now I don’t know about you but don’t you wonder
about people who are constantly happy. I mean those who seem to walk around with
a perpetual smile on their faces. It makes you wonder just what they are up to.
Does to be joyful mean that we walk around always in a cheerful mood? No it doesn’t. There are lots of different things that happen to us on a daily basis that gets on
our nerves and drives us up the wall. An unexpected car repair bill, too much month at the end of the paycheck and so on.
But these are our circumstances. But
our joy should not depend on our circumstances but from the blessings that are ours because of our relationship in our Lord
Jesus. We need to put our trust in God.
Our circumstances are temporary but our salvation is eternal through Jesus. When
we place our trust in God our outlook on life will change.
“Pray continually”. We need to be in constant,
continuous fellowship with God. This doesn’t mean that we walk or drive
around with our heads bowed all the time. There is a song that says that when
we say amen the conversation doesn’t have to end. Just talk to Him. Have a conversation with God.
have, “Give thanks in all circumstances”. As a Christian we need to give thanks to God no matter the circumstance.
We have no idea of what God is up to. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know tht in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…”.
Then there are
two do not’s. Do not “Put
out the Spirit’s fire” and “Do not treat prophecies with
contempt”. The Holy Spirit is alive and well and working in us. He warms the heart, enlightens the mind and empowers people’s spirits. Acts chapter 1 verse 8 says, But you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”. We are
warned here not to squelch the leading of the Spirit.
Also we are
warned not to treat prophecies with contempt. In God’s Word there is prophecy
after prophecy, many of which see far-fetched. There were many ancient wise scholars
who scoffed at the prophecies concerning the birth of a Savior but they came true in birth of Jesus didn’t they. There are still many unfulfilled prophecies in Scripture. Don’t blow them off because you might just wake up and find the person next to you gone and you are
left behind. Not a good thing.
sums everything up in these next three statements. “Test everything. Hold on to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
In our modern,
enlightened society we are told that almost anything goes. We are told that morality
is old fashioned and is too restrictive. It used to be easy to tell right from
wrong but there seems to be so many grey areas now. We need to hold everything
up against the Word of God and be in prayer about it. We need to stay the course
doing what is good and right in God’s sight – not the world’s view.
The world is near-sighted looking only at short-term pleasure but God’s view is the big picture of eternity. Don’t associate with evil, run – don’t walk – in the opposite
direction. Test everything, hold on to the good and avoid evil. Three basic steps in living a life that shines forth – living a life of a flashlight.
Colossians chapter 3 God’s Word gives another list of how we a God’s chosen should live. Look at Colossians 3 starting at verse 12. Here we read, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each
other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive
as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds
them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dewll in you richly as you teach and admonish one other with
all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, give thanks to God
the Father through Him.”
another list like the Scout Law on how we are to live and conduct ourselves. It’s
not the fifteen or sixteen we saw in Thessalonians. There are eight listed here. First
we are to clothe ourselves
with compassions, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Think of that
word ‘clothe’. When we get dressed, clothe ourselves, we are covering
our bodies with things that protect us, keep us warm and so on. Our clothes cover
us. When we clothe ourselves, cover ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience, how do you think you will treat others – with the same virtues.
Next we are
to forgive each other just as
our Father has forgiven us when we were dead in our sins. It doesn’t matter
what someone has done to us, we are called to forgiveness – the forgiveness of God to us through faith in Jesus and
our forgiveness of others whatever the fault.
are to put on love because its
love that holds all this together perfectly. Love is the greatest of all virtues. I Corinthians 13:13 says that of faith, hope and love, the greatest is love.
Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts. The closer we are to Christ, to becoming like Him, the closer our relationships to each other become.
And we are to
be thankful. Remember in Thessalonians we are told that we should be thankful in all circumstances – well here
we are told that we need to be thankful. You have no idea of how an attitude
of gratitude will contribute to your walk with Christ and with others.
Let the Word of Christ dwell richly. How many of us just read the Word during our daily devotions and then don’t give another thought
about it? Well, I’ve check my spiritual block today – I did
my morning devotion for three minutes. We need to do more than just check the
block on God’s Word. We need to do more than just read it. We need to internalize it. We need to take it into our hearts
and minds, meditate on it. It needs to be our banquet not our drive-through happy
meal. Read and live God’s word.
Then we have
the building block on which everything is tied together. Verse 17 reads, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name
of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Whatever
we do, how we talk or whatever we say and anything and everything we do, we must do it in Christ’s name giving Him the
glory. It’s an ‘attitude of gratitude’. In everything we need to be thanking God.
witness is how we live our lives not just on Sunday morning here in church. Our
witness in how we live our lives from the moment we wake till we lay down to sleep.
It’s on view at home, work and play. We are the flashlights of God and our battery is Christ Jesus and the switch
for all this power is the Holy Spirit.
How are you
living your life? Are you living according to God’s Word or by your own
will? Is the light of Christ flowing out of your lives for all to see and to
help them draw near to safety? Are your lives a nightlight giving comfort in
a dark and dreary place?
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life
of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” An imitator is one who tries to be like someone else.
I want to be like Jesus. I want to imitate Jesus. Who do you want to imitate? “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Be a flashlight for God.