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Little Lights in a Darkened World

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PRAY WITH ME PLEASE TO THE HOLY AND JUST GOD OF GRACE AND GOODNESS
Monday morning news broke of a chaotic scene occuring the day before. As darkness had fallen over what is called sin city, evil begin to reign down, literally upon thousands of people. At the end of the week the count of those no longer living had reached 59 and the injured well over 500. As the news continued to unravel the details in front of us, some of you may have been like me, pondering the pettiness of other events on Sunday, and just how insignificant they were in the bigger picture of a world filled with sin.
The church shooting in Nashville. Hurricanes and Earthquakes. Car crashes. Drunk driving accidents. Riots in Charolettsville and St. Louis and CA. On and On
Thursday, I attended a Bible study class at River to River with some of the ladies from here. Mrs. Ann Landis brought a book that delved into a question that has crossed the minds of nearly every human being at some point.
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Like the author of the book, it usually arises out of personal experience. First let’s set ourselves on the right footing when discussing such things and let’s believe Jesus in his Word when he said in , “No one is good except God alone.”
Mark 10:18 CSB
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone.
So the question is now re-framed or rephrased to ask, “Why do bad things happen?”
From the text we were set to study today in our series through Philippians, we find the true answer in God’s Word. Look in .
Philippians 2:15 NET
so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world

The Great Deception

Because of the tarrying of Jesus regarding His second coming, we are still living in a “crooked and perverted society.” Would you say that to be true or false?
“crooked” - that which is curved as opposed to that which is straight.
“perverted” - that which is permanently distorted and twisted.
God gave, in His Word, a straight line and clear truth regarding marriage between one man and one woman, and intimacy b4 - yet society has sought to turn and twist that line of truth in so many ways
God gave, in His Word, a straight line and clear truth regarding marriage between one man and one woman, and that intimate relations between individuals is to be only as married men and women - yet society has sought to turn and twist that line of truth in so many ways
God created Adam and Eve as different yet equal for the purpose of complementary, not equal roles in marriage - yet society seeks to distort that truth by emasculating men and elevating women against God’s design.
God established two genders, determined by the science of biology and not the self of psychology - yet society has added curves where they do not belong and distorted curves where they were intended by God in Transgenderism, even to no-genderism.
The clear truth of scripture is that Earth and the Universe were created by God, only a few thousand years ago - yet the science of society has twisted and distorted that truth for years through evolution, but when science is used against them to declare things such as abortion and transgenderism being against God and His holy standards, they dismiss it as unimportant.
Jesus declared Himself as God and the Way, the Truth, and the Life as the only path to God the Father and Heaven - yet society wants to curve the straight way of Jesus by declaring that a loving God would not send anyone to hell, that even people living in sexual and ethically immorality will go to heaven, or that Jesus is just one path to heaven, we find our own way.
God gives a strict standard for respecting the life of human beings, pre-born or close to death, each one as image bearers of God, converted or not - yet society has ignored the 10 commandments. People don’t bother twisting the truth, they tell lies. Property is stolen. Lives are killed. Adultery and fornication is rampant.
The straightest of all standards are regarding God, his name, and His due worship -yet society has all but removed God from everything, even the church.
Bad things, even in nature, happen, and always have because of sin, and the presence of satan until the return of Christ to make things right.

The Great Difficulty

2 Timothy 3:1–4 CSB
1 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
2 Timothy 3:1-4
The great difficulty Christians in the church face is not the fact of converting the world to Christ, rather the warning we are given is to fear God after our conversion to serve Christ.
The great difficulty Christians in the church face is not the fact of converting the world to Christ, rather the warning we are given is to fear God after our conversion in order to reach the people of the world for Christ.
The great difficult Christians in the church face is not the fact of converting the world to Christ, rather the warning we are given is to fear God after our conversion to serve Christ.
You spend enough time in church with a preacher worth his salt, you will hear often the word “Sanctification” or Christian perfection through spiritual maturity. Through your time you will learn that it is a process or journey of each Christ-follower, and perfection is never achieved this side of heaven.
Paul, in - Here he gives us the Human responsibility and the divine responsibility of salvation and sanctification.
Philippians 2:12–13 CSB
12 Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.
- Your responsibility:
Philippians 2:12 CSB
12 Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
“Just as you have always obeyed” - The Philippians obeyed God, His Word, Paul and their church leaders, beginning the moment Jesus saved them. Your spiritual maturity begins with your obedience and continues with your obedience as you obey in the same way, they and Jesus did.
“work out your own salvation” - first salvation was theirs personally and it must be yours personally. Biblical salvation involves deliverance from the penalty of sin, and your evidence of salvation, is your work striving to over come the power of sin. Someone claiming membership yet living in constant immorality does not make a good witness. Someone claiming membership yet hardly involved at church, not good witness. Someone claiming membership yet lacking a Christlike affection, attitude and actions for others over self, does not make a good witness.
“fear and trembling” - without a show of hands, how many of you found the kneeling of NFL players during the anthem and flag ceremony horribly rude and disrespectful to country and flag? How many of you who said yes, give God the same reverence and respect you demand others to give the country and flag? Seeing God for who He is, brings comfort, but when it brings conviction we often want to see God as we want Him to be.
- God’s Responsibility:
Philippians 2:13 CSB
13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.
Here is the great comforting encouragement in this passage. God doesn’t expect you to do the work, he just expects your to submit to His work in you to do it. The Father prunes and cleanses each believer, the Holy Spirit works in the heart and soul of each to bring forth Spiritual fruit, and Christ lives by our faith in our hearts.
The Greek word is ho energon - transliterated as “the one who energizes.” While you work on your conduct, God is at work on your character from all areas. The incentive - God is at work. The imperative - so get busy!!
We find in - a call to read the employee handbook - to keep us from compromising with the world we are to stay focused on Christ through attention to His Word.
to keep from compromising with the world and ignoring Christ.
Philippians 2:16 CSB
16 by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.
- says in the Beginning was the Word and the Word we know to be Jesus. Then John describes what Jesus does for those who are saved by Him, and for the world through those he saves.
John 1:4–5 CSB
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.
John
A few months before we moved here, I went with Silas’ 3rd grade class to the Florida caverns near by, and after we all gathered in the farthest one, the guide huddled us close and warned us to stick together and not move. He then turned of the lights. I could not see my hand in front of my face an inch away, until he turned on the light of his phone. One by one, people turned on their phones, and little by little as those phones worked together that cave got brighter and brighter.
Paul tells the Philippians in that God wants us to work and allow Him to work in us, making us spiritual clean and morally upright, or blameless and pure. God wants us as Christians to be little lights in a world of darkness.
Philippians 2:15 CSB
15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world,
God wants his children to be little lights together causing the world to get brighter and brighter.

The Great Dilemma

Does society seem to be getting less or more perverse and crooked?
Does society seem to be getting less or more perverse and crooked?
Is the world getting brighter or is the world getting darker?
If you answered yes is the deficiency with the power source or the light bulbs? Is the power plant or the lighthouse broken? Is the problem to be found in God or the house of God?
We find the answer in - “do everything” -
Philippians 2:14 CSB
14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing,
A light bulb and a lighthouse continues to shine as long as there is a continuous action of doing what God commands in His Word, .
James 1:22 NASB95
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
But we have all had those bulbs that have become so dim that they are pretty much useless. If a lighthouse has too many dim bulbs in it then the lighthouse is useless to God for keeping the ships/sinners from crashing on the rocks.
One of my favorite scenes in Finding Nemo, the little lost clown fish sought by his dad, is when he is caught in the net. His dad has swam the ocean for thousands of miles, finally sees Nemo in the distance, and just before he gets to him, Nemo is caught up with a bunch of gray fish who begin to panic. You hear them grumbling and complaining all swimming around in a frantic in different directions as the net is being pulled up by the boat. Suddenly the dad remembers something he learned along his path. He yells out to Nemo and the fish, “You have to swim in the same direction.” Nemo, finally calms them down, and they begin to swim together in the same direction toward the bottom of the bay. The boat tips. The net hits the bay floor, burst open, and Nemo and the fish go free.
Paul warns of a satanic attitude that can creep into a church causing it to abandon God’s design to shine. As each individual light bulb begins to grumble and complain in God’s church the light from God’s church grows dimmer and dimmer until suddenly God’s house is no longer a shining city on a hill.
Grumbling and complaining is rejecting and criticizing God’s will and ways. The world grows a little darker each time one of God’s lighthouses closes up shop and seeks its own way instead of God’s.
But you know, it is far easier to point to the grumbling and complaining of others than it is to our own isn’t it. God has a way of bringing it back around to us.
I got to thinking about my calling. I have been called to plant one church and to pastor 4 churches either plateaued or in serious decline and in need of revitalization, and those were all totally different situations. Each with its own painful experiences. In each experience I found myself grumbling or complaining on occasions, yes it takes me a while to learn at times, but God taught me from Jesus’ example, this passage and from the example of Nehemiah.
Just like building the walls back in Jerusalem was painful for both leader and members, church revitalization is painful. - after he heard the report of the distress and disgrace he wept because it was painful

The Great Decision

But we can rebuild God’s lighthouse and make it shine again if we decide to look at the word PAINFUL this way
Prayer - Rest of chapter 1 is prayer of Acknowledging God, Confessing sin of self and group, repentance of sin, and asking for restoration/revitalization. Nehemiah was spontaneous praying leader.
Assessment/Acknowledgement - Nehemiah gathered leaders to help see the condition of the greatest strengths but focused on the greatest areas of concerns. We can’t fix problems we won’t admit exist. - “You See” and “We” I am asking you to allow Jerry Day help us to see clearly our needs and our solutions.
Intentionality - - they all said “Let’s start rebuilding, and their hands were strengthened to do good work.” Just as Paul said in Phil. We must intend to do what Jerry Day will suggest that will help revitalize our church.
Non-resistance - The Israelites did what God was leading them to do through Nehemiah. They saw it was God at work and they allowed him to work even if it meant uncomfortable change. Chapter 3 they got busy.
Faithful - - they had the will to keep working in the face of opposition and discouragement by others, and - he challenged them not to fear and to fight for each other. Whatever Jerry Day may tell us we need to do, I have confidence it will be God’s desire, and God is calling you and me to be faithful not fearful in doing it.
United - The rest of shows how they united together for the work of God and - they gathered as One for the Word of God. Chapter 9 they united in repentance.
Christianity is an individual journey walked together with others.
One of my favorite scenes in Finding Nemo, the little lost clown fish sought by his dad, is when he is caught in the net. His dad has swam the ocean for thousands of miles, finally sees Nemo in the distance, and just before he gets to him, Nemo is caught up with a bunch of gray fish who begin to panic. You hear them grumbling and complaining all swimming around in a frantic in different directions as the net is being pulled up by the boat. Suddenly the dad remembers something he learned along his path. He yells out to Nemo and the fish, “You have to swim in the same direction.” Nemo, finally calms them down, and they begin to swim together in the same direction toward the bottom of the bay. The boat tips. The net hits the bay floor, burst open, and Nemo and the fish go free.
Everyone listen to me, I am Nemo and my Father is shouting at us that we need to swim in the same direction if we are going to break free from the trap satan has over this church. We have to swim together, and repentance is where we begin. Let love be your motivation.
I got to thinking about my calling. I have been called to plant one church and to pastor 4 churches either plateaued or in serious decline, and those were all totally different situations. Each with its own painful experiences.
Let love be your motivation.
Love - - Let your love for God’s church as His lighthouse move you to embrace what God is trying to do here, because as reminds us God has shown much faithful love to His church.
Nehemiah 13:14 CSB
14 Remember me for this, my God, and don’t erase the deeds of faithful love I have done for the house of my God and for its services.
Conclusion: Whether God has called you to be a teacher, a bus or truck driver, a stay at home mom, a painter, a store clerk, a retired senior adult, a kid learning how to adult, an adult learning how to adult, a business person, or a pastor; God calls you to obey Him, to work out your own salvation. Turn those painful experiences into shining moments by looking at it the way I just shared.
Do what He has called you to do inside and outside the church without grumbling or complaining. Obedience is the cure for it. Why most we obey?
Whether God has called you to be a teacher, a bus or truck driver, a stay at home mom, a painter, a store clerk, a retired senior adult, a kid learning how to adult, an adult learning how to adult, a business person, or a pastor; God calls you to obey Him, to work out your own salvation, to do what He has called you to do inside and outside the church without grumbling or complaining. Why?
Because we are to proclaim a straight and pure way. We are to be the salt of the earth, preserving society so others can be saved. Because bad things happen in the world. Because the world is growing darker and darker, and God wants his children to be little lights together causing the world to get brighter and brighter.
Just look how his church has shined after hurricanes and mass shootings.

Time of Decision and Call to Prayer

Where do we need to shine? Has your light grown dim?
Where do we need to shine?
Do you need to begin with Repentance? Do you need to come and pray so others will begin to swim in the same direction?
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