Light of Life

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Do you consider yourself a follower of Christ? I’m not asking if you believe in him. No, I’m asking whether you follow him, because there is a difference. By following him we make every effort to be like him - to take on his characteristics. We try to act like him, talk like him, pray like him and love like him. I don’t mean to imply that we are to try to be him, but we should want to aspire to be like him and to follow his words and commandments - kind of like his disciples did. And he tells us that if we truly follow him that we will have the light of life. It says in John chapter 8 verse 12:

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

I encourage you to think through what it really means to follow Christ. His disciples were his followers. They listened to what he said and tried to be molded into that likeness. The good news is that we don’t have to do this on our own. The Holy Spirit is there to help us with the renewing of our minds. When we accept Jesus, we are automatically a new creation - we are “born again”. But to follow Christ is a daily effort. He says that we need to take up our cross daily and follow him. And if we do, we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

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Jesus tells us that he is the light of the world. He says that if we follow him we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. I don’t know about you, but that sounds good to me! I know I don’t want to walk in darkness. And if you don’t either, you need to follow Christ. Like his disciples, we need to hear what he says and obey. He gave us the bible to read, the ability to speak to him through prayer, and he left us the Holy Spirit which lives inside of every believer. We have the means to follow him. I encourage you to make every effort to be a follower of Christ because if you do, you will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Unashamed

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I remember when growing up how much I wanted to be like my older brother. I wanted to be like him so much that I’d listen to the same music he’d listen to, I’d try to act tough like him, and I always wanted to hang out with him and his friends. But for him, it wasn’t cool to be seen with me. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t like me, it’s just that he was embarrassed to be seen with me in public. Maybe you can relate. But even if we feel this way about our brothers and sisters here on earth, we need to be careful not to treat Jesus this way. We should never be ashamed of being associated with him. In Luke chapter 9, verse 26 Jesus says: 

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Even though it is becoming more and more unpopular to let people know that we are followers of Christ, we should never be ashamed. On the contrary, we should be honored to know the creator of the universe - the one who gave his life so that we may live in eternity with him. Unlike the little brother we don’t want to be seen with, we should look at him the way we look at someone we’re in love with. We should want to show him off to our friends because we are the lucky ones to be associated with him, not the other way around.

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We should never be ashamed to call ourselves Christians, to let others know that we love Jesus with all of our heart and that we want to be like him. We should never want to hide the fact that we are Christians even if there are negative consequences if we do. Jesus says that if we are ashamed of him and his words then he will be ashamed of us in heaven. I don’t believe any of us wants that. So I encourage you, let your light for him shine brightly. As the bible encourages, we should let our light shine on a hill for all to see. We shouldn’t hide it under a bowl.

Live For Jesus

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One of the first Christian bands I ever heard was Stryper, a heavy metal band that showed me that Christian songs can be professional, powerful and fun all at the same time. One of their songs is “Soldiers Under Command”. Every time I’d hear it, I’d feel like a man on a mission - that my mission was greater than myself. When I would hear the lyrics I’d be reminded that I should no longer live for myself, but for Christ who saved me through his death on the cross. I was ready to live for him, and in my mind, I was also ready to die for him. When I read second Corinthians chapter 5 verse 15, those same feelings of living as a soldier for Christ bubble to the surface again. It says:

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again."

In first Corinthians, Paul reminds us that our life is not our own. That we have been bought with a price. And that price was Jesus’ death on the cross. In second Corinthians, he goes as far to say that we should no longer live for ourselves but for Jesus. Do you have that mindset? Do you still hold on to your life, your desires, your plans, your happiness, your success? Or have you chosen to live for Christ? To seek out his desires, his plans, his mission for your life? I encourage you to live for Christ and focus all of your aspirations through the lens of his mission for you. After all, our life is not our own. Our lives belong to him.

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“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Are you living for him, or are you still living for yourself? To live for self is ultimately fruitless. You may find a level of happiness on this earth, but it is either fleeting or will end when you die. But if you live for Jesus, you will be storing up treasures in heaven, treasures that will last forever. So I encourage you, live as a soldier for Christ here on earth. He will give you purpose with an eternal focus. And when you die, you will find your treasure in heaven.

Bodily Temples

Do you believe that you have the Holy Spirit literally living inside of you? You can’t see Him on an X-Ray scan, and if you cut your body open you can’t remove him with forceps. But I believe that just like our soul is in us but can’t be seen, so is the Spirit who enters us when we choose to accept Jesus. I’ve heard it said that the soul literally weighs 21 grams. That when we die and our soul leaves our body, we actually become 21 grams lighter. If you don’t believe that, that is your choice, but it is the scripture from first Corinthians chapter 6, verses 18 through 20 that make me believe that the spiritual world and the physical world do actually converge inside our bodies. It says:

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commit are outside of the body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

I believe that the Holy Spirit, like our soul, is literally inside of us. When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Other words for grieve is to mourn, lament, sadden, upset, destress, cause pain or feel sorrow. This is what the Holy Spirit - the third part of the trinity - feels when we sin. How much more so, when we sin with our bodies - or as the bible puts it, his temple or home? If you struggle with sexual sins, I encourage you to remember this verse and pray that the Holy Spirit break any stronghold Satan has in this area. Paul tells us to flee from sexual immorality, and this is one huge reason why.

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Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” We need to take this scripture to heart. When we sin sexually, Paul tells us that we are sinning against our own body - the temple where the Spirit of God lives. I encourage you, if you are struggling with any kind of sexual sin and are finding it difficult to stop by your willpower alone, ask the Holy Spirit, the spirit living inside of you, to help you stop sinning against His temple. He will hear you, and if you’re serious, I know that he will respond.

Two Sides

There are likely verses or portions of scripture that you may have heard or read so many times that you remember the well-known part, but you may have forgotten the context, what verses come before or after or even the complete verse. One such example comes from John chapter 15 verse 20 where Jesus says:

"Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."

The part where Jesus says that if they persecuted him, they will persecute us also has been branded on my brain. And yes, it is certainly something we need to remember. But don’t forget about the rest of the verse where he says, that if they obeyed his teaching that they will obey ours also. So, there are two sides to this statement. One giving us a heads up about persecution that is bound to come our way, but the other encouraging us that when we share about Jesus - when we teach the words and concepts that he shared, people will believe and obey. I encourage you to remember this truth. Yes, we will be persecuted, but we will also find that if we boldly share what we know about our faith, that some will hear, they will come to Christ, and they will ultimately obey.

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Jesus tells us that if people persecuted him, they will persecute us also. But he also says that if people obeyed his teaching, they will obey ours also. I hope this truth encourages you to share about Jesus. We are to do it in love, and we should do it as we ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance. And if we do, Jesus tells us that there will be those who will hear and obey - not by our persuasive words, but because it is his pleasure to draw people to himself. And that is what the “great commission” is all about - spreading the good news about Jesus and the salvation he offers us. If you want to store up treasures in heaven, if you want to be used by God, you need to be ready to be persecuted but you also need to be ready to share about him so that people can believe.