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RECEIVING AND SHARING THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
24 DECEMBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Isaiah 60:1-9, 20
Preparation Verse: (Matthew 5:14)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Our Advent season is coming to a close, but our expectation of Christ's second coming should not end until He comes.
Because of His first coming, His love should so shine within us that others will know that He lives, and have the assurance that he will come again.
When we make room for Jesus Christ to be born in our hearts, we also receive the enlightenment, the knowledge of the truth, and a light of assurance and joy that shines forth from us in love.
Jesus tells us this in Matthew 5:14-16.
14. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15. "Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Have you received the Light?
If we have, we must always remember to let it shine forth from us. We must share this very precious Christmas present with others.
We must share it in abundance, so that those who have not received it may desire to receive it, and thus receive it.
And the more of us who share the Light with each other, the brighter everything becomes, for there will be no darkness.
Also remember that the corruption, deception, injustice, indifference, and cruelty that cause so much suffering and death to millions of our fellow human beings and billions of animals every year are all part of the darkness.
Our light must shine brightly against such things, and truly bring peace on earth.
In our Old Testament lesson for this morning we heard the message of God given by the Prophet Isaiah, 60:1-9 and 20, to Israel of what they would begin to see when they returned from Babylon, and to both them and us of what we would see following Christ's Second Advent.
Let's listen to these words again:
1. "Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Jesus Christ did come, and He has risen, and His glory is shining upon us. Therefore, we are also to arise and shine; for the world does not understand because they have not received the light.
2. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
To those who have seen the light and received it, these words bring encouragement; but to those who have not received, these words have little or no meaning; but we who have received are to keep our light shining.
3. "And nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
The light of the truth will come to the nations, and many will come to the light of salvation through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Remember what we saw in Isaiah 61:6 last week?
We were told that because we have received the Gospel of truth, and live in it, we will appear as priests of the Lord to the non-believers.
So, what we are being told here is that by shining forth the Light within us, we will lead nations to God.
4. "Lift up your eyes round about, and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
Parents, it doesn't matter what wrong we may have done to our children that may have turned them away from God. If we have now received the light of Jesus Christ, and let it shine forth from us in love, they will return.
It doesn't matter if we have done everything right, and the cares of the world have turned them away; for if we, as Christians, will truly let our light shine forth, it will shine on the lost ones in each of our families and of families all over the world, and many will return.
5. "Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations will come to you.
6. "A multitude of camels will cover you,
The young camels of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba will come;
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the Lord.
7. "All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered to you,
The rams of Nebaioth will minister to you;
They will go up with acceptance on My altar,
And I shall glorify My glorious house.
8. "Who are these who fly like a cloud,
And like the doves to their lattices?
9. "Surely the coastlands will wait for Me;
And the ships of Tarshish will come first,
To bring your sons from afar,
Their silver and their gold with them,
For the name of the Lord your God,
And for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you.
The names and places may have increased, and most people may not travel on camels today; and even Isaiah, 2,700 years ago, said that they would come from the lands across the sea and would fly and come in ships.
Israel was not restored as a nation until 1948; thus we have just recently entered the age when this prophecy could have come true.
But the truth of Jesus Christ has always been the same.
Where there is light, sensitive people will migrate. Where there is extended darkness, sensitive people will desire to leave.
Part of the reason for this is that many evil people like the darkness, which makes us even more uncomfortable.
We may sleep and do other activities in the darkness, but we just don't like staying there all the time. But when we are finished with the pleasures of these things, we seek the light.
Jesus Christ restores the light of God to all believers when He is born unto us; and because of His life and death and resurrection, His light will continue to shine for His own, eternally.
But sadly, to others who have not come to the Light, there will be given only eternal darkness.
Thus Isaiah tells us in verse 20,
20. "Your sun will set no more,
Neither will your moon wane;
For you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning will be finished.
That's quite a promise, isn't it?
Scientists have recently confirmed something that God has been trying to tell us since the beginning of creation: When we are in the light we feel better than we do when we are in the darkness.
The scientists found out recently that one of the major causes of wintertime depression is the lack of sunlight.
So, they placed a light panel four times brighter than room-lighting before people who were suffering from this form of depression, and they began to feel better after sitting in front of the light for two hours, and continued to feel better with daily doses of this light.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and if people would spend even less than two hours before Him each day, they would not be depressed either.
God's Christmas gift is a gift of Light that we should desire to receive.
And from the very beginning, God's Word has told us this.
Let's take a second look at how John tells us this in John 1:1-18.
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. He was in the beginning with God.
3. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
It is really sad to realize that God created us in His own image to be a vessel of His light, so that He would be glorified through us, and that so many people have rejected the light.
There is such an abundance of the Light, that no one need be without it.
The more we ourselves receive and share with others, the more there is for us all to receive. Jesus is a never ending supply.
6. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John.
7. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him.
8. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light.
9. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
Do you hear what we are being told?
John the Baptist was not the only witness sent from God to bear witness of the Light, for when we have become enlightened, we are also to become witnesses.
10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
12. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13. who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Our physical birth brought forth our physical life, but one day this life will end.
Our spiritual birth brings forth our spiritual life, which is eternal.
This is our true Christmas gift!
14. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15. John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' "
16. For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
17. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
18. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
All the light we could ever want or need is right here with us. God has given it all to us.
All we have to do is receive it, and be thankful for it, and then share it with others.
But this Light that we are talking about is not an "it," like the light coming from these fixtures or even from these candles.
Jesus Christ is our Light. He does not burn out like one of these candles, nor is He turned on and off with a switch, except in our own hearts, for His light is eternal.
Never cease receiving the Light, and never cease sharing Him with everyone else.