Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Artist: Karen Harvey
Have you ever read Scripture, perhaps a familiar passage, and suddenly the Holy Spirit enlightens you to something that was hidden before? In reading through Jesus’ prayer for the believers in John 17, I was astonished at verse 19: “For their sake I sanctify myself [to do your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth” (Amplified Bible). In all my years of reading the Bible, I never let that part sink in. Part of God’s plan was for Jesus to surrender Himself wholly through obedience because He knew that all believers would be IN HIM, and His holiness would become ours.
So often I find myself striving, fighting, attempting to overcome this sin or that sin on my own. “If I can just stop ________, I’ll be a better Christian, and God will be pleased with me.” And yet this thought is the exact opposite of what we need to do. We need to rest in the work Jesus has already done, surrender to Him, and not strive to accomplish that work for ourselves.
“It is finished.” I have come to realize that my work, my striving to please God by my own wits or power, is what is finished. Jesus did it all on the cross once and for all, and now I cease my striving and rest by accepting His work for me. Now I only need to count myself dead to sin and alive to God and choose to live with Him daily. Watchman Nee, in his book entitled “The Normal Christian Life,” (1977, Tyndale House Publishers) put it this way:
“Man’s way is to try to suppress sin by seeking to overcome it; God’s way is to remove the sinner. For years, maybe, you have tried fruitlessly to exercise control over yourself, and perhaps this is still your experience; but when once you see the truth you will recognize that you are indeed powerless to do anything, but that in setting YOU aside altogether God has done it all. Such a discovery brings human striving and self-effort to an end. The normal Christian life must begin with a very definite “knowing,” an opening of the eyes of the heart to see what we have in Christ. You have died! You are done with! The self you loathe is on the cross in Christ. And ‘he that is dead is free from sin’ (Romans 6:7, AV).” (pg. 46, 47)
“Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6, 11, NLT).
PRAY: Father, what a relief it is to know that You have done it all for us! Show us how to rest in Christ’s work lest we begin striving on our own.
LISTEN: “Jesus Paid It All” by Kim Walker-Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ymkl0t0FOcw
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry
“You are the light of the world, A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:14-16)
This well known and often quoted scripture testifies to the necessity of light in our lives and to our responsibility to demonstrate the light and life of Christ in an often very dark world. Indeed, there are ample reasons for us to consider the world today and believe that it is in a state of decline, -- of moral and spiritual decline. And if this be true, then our lights are becoming dimmer.
It is very easy for us to look around, identify failures, examine statistics, turn away from the ugliness, decry the depravity, and become depressed at the state of our world and ask, “What is the solution; will we ever be able to turn it around?” But what did Jesus say? “You are the light of the world.” He also commanded, “Let your light shine before men!” This is a call to action. It is a call for us to assure that the light He has called us to be, not only is lit, but that it shine brightly for all to see. It means, that Christians need to stand up, be identified as Christians, and demonstrate how brightly a Christian world can shine.
Jesus also said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees for; “bearing witness of yourself, therefore your witness is not true,” (vs. 13) Jesus countered by testifying that he does not bear witness only of Himself, but also carries the authority and the testimony of His Father. And when pressed further by his accusers who asked, “Where is your Father?” Jesus once again turned their argument back on them; “You know neither Me nor My Father: If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” (vs. 19)
Here Jesus has identified the problem. The people living in darkness do so because they know neither the Father nor the Son. And as the Gospels also testify, they won’t be able to know them unless the Holy Spirit reveals them. “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him;” (John 6:44) and “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
You have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He resides in you to empower you to shine with the light of Christ. In this Holy Spirit Power, Christ lives in You and you in Him, and there is no power on earth sufficient to diminish your light; not when you go in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
So, go; let your light so shine before men that you bring a little brightness to a darkening world and in the process demonstrate the truth that Jesus our Lord, is “the light and the life of the world.”
Go without fear, but with the certainty that your Christ-light is sufficient to snuff out the darkness which is trying to diminish your world.