Now You Are Light: Be Light!

Ephesians 5:8-11 NIV

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

One of the things that was missing from my discipleship as a new believer is found in the verses above: “Live as children of the light . . . find out what pleases the Lord.”

I’m afraid that among Baptists there continues to be an erroneous pride in being known for what we are against over and above what we are for. In other words, we often have an unbalanced emphasis on verse 11: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

In these verses, Paul surely tells us to be separate from wickedness, but he also gives us balance. Notice the pattern: dark, light, light, dark. His instruction isn’t only a message of “don’t do”; there is also the positive imperative to “do.” Holiness isn’t just not doing fruitless deeds of darkness; that’s only one side of the coin.

Some might portion these verses out as a measure of theology followed by a dash of the practical.

The theological: First Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, then he contrasts that with what we are after salvation: light in the Lord.
The practical: First Paul tells us to live as children of the light by finding out what pleases the Lord (and by implication) to do that! In contrast, he says that fruitless deeds of darkness are not how we do what pleases the Lord. Stay away from them, and do the other!

Hezekiah’s Life and Death

A study of King Hezekiah’s life is one that can be greatly beneficial for us.

In his life we can see a man of great accomplishment: He restored the Passover observance immediately upon ascending to the throne. He undid all the idol worship that his father Ahaz had promoted throughout the land. He withstood the pressure to submit to Assyria. He rerouted the Gihon spring into what we now call Hezekiah’s Tunnel. He accomplished so much. In fact, “He succeeded in everything he undertook (2 Chron 32:30).”

The foundation for these many accomplishments was a faith in the LORD. One of the reasons I think it is beneficial to study the life of Hezekiah is to see Hezekiah’s sin, the time his pride directed his trust away from the LORD and toward himself.

Yes, it’s possible for a godly person to fall in that way and to be restored. So often people think that being godly means never sinning or wavering in faith. However, we see from the life of Hezekiah that even godly men at times lose their way. That’s not to excuse anyone’s sin, but it is to say that we need to be careful in the way we define godly. And the definition isn’t “being perfect.”

Godliness deals with the heart. Certainly, the more God matures us toward godliness, the less we should sin. However, the focus of godliness is on the heart’s desire to obey and trust the LORD. Notice that God mercifully restored Hezekiah when he repented. And, in spite of his sin, he is described as a good king.

What Would You Think If . . .

What would you think if you received a note from your pastor with the following “prayer”?

Our Father, who art in Lawrence,
Hallowed be thy Game.
Thy bracket come.
Thy upset will be done, In Syracuse
as it is in Allen Field House.
Give us this day our deserved game.
And forgive us our turnovers,
As we forgive Roy who double-crossed
against us.
And lead us not into defeat,
But deliver us from East Coast bias,
For Kansas is the basketball kingdom,
And the tradition,
And the glory,
Forever and ever,
Amen

Thankfully, my pastor didn’t send this out, but I did receive it from somebody’s pastor.

My initial thought was of the Old Testament story of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2 NKJV):

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them to do. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

I realize it is “that time of year” when Americans are swept up in the excitement of the NCAA basketball tournament. In fact, there might not be a more exciting season of sport than that of the “Final Four.” However, “prayers” such as the one above offered by a pastor and Kansas Jayhawk fan seem to go beyond propriety, at least, in my mind.

I doubt very much if said pastor would really pray such a prayer, and I assume he was just having fun when he sent this one. But, is the pattern of prayer that Jesus offered the disciples something we should have fun with?

I think Leviticus 10:3 answers my question:

And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying:‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.”

Happy New Year!

Psalm 1

How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners, or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. (HCSB)

Want to have a Happy New Year? Really? Well, the psalmist offers us the way.

To offer any commentary here seems to wrongly imply that the psalmist’s words are difficult to understand. However, I will suggest that by delighting and meditating in the LORD’s instruction we will find that the unhappy areas of our lives will be changed.

Beware, though, the necessary change may be a painful process of transformation. But be certain, true happiness will be the end result.

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