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Our Scripture 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.


As many 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.


A flashlight 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.


We are 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. 


Then we 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.


Paul then 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.


Over in 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.”


We have 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.


Then we 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.


Our Christian 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?


Ephesians 5:1, “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.