Are You a Spiritual Eclipse?

eclipseThe idea for this post came from an article written by Joe Slater who preaches for the Lord’s church in Justin, TX.  I thank brother Slater for his work in reflecting the light of Christ.

The sun is approximately 400 times bigger than the moon.  It is also approximately 400 times farther away from the earth than is the moon.  Because of this, the sun and the moon appear to be the same size when viewed from the earth.

The moon ordinarily reflects the light from the sun.  But when the moon’s orbit is aligned in such a way that it passes directly between the sun and the earth a solar eclipse occurs somewhere on earth.  In the area of a total eclipse daylight is replaced by darkness.  Bright stars become visible.  The temperature may drop as much as 10-12 degrees.  The eclipse may last 2-3 hours, although the darkest period of the eclipse may only be 2-3 minutes.

Tomorrow, August 21, 2017, an eclipse of the sun can be seen from a large part of the United States.  A path approximately 70 miles wide extending from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse.

What spiritual lessons can we learn from this eclipse?  We live in a world of darkness.  Darkness is often used in the Bible to represent sin.  Notice these words from John 3:19 – “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  One does not need to look neither hard nor long to see that our world is fool of darkness.  The news is constantly filled with reports of war, terrorism, etc.  The media is saturated with pornography, corrupt speech, etc.  Observe people around you and you will notice people involved in adultery, lying, etc.  Truly, this is a world of darkness.

Jesus is the light of the world.  John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  We understand the purpose of light.  Light illuminates a desired path (such as the lights along an airport runway that allow a pilot to safely land).  Light protects us from harm (a night light can keep us from stumbling in the dark if we get out of bed during the night).  Because Jesus is the light of the world, He illuminates a desired path for us and keeps us from harm (Psalm 119:105).  Luke wrote that Jesus came into the world to “give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Notice Jesus did not say He is a light of the world.  Nor did He say He is one of the lights of the world.  Jesus is the one and only light of the world.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world.  Just as the moon reflects light from the sun, we are to reflect Christ’s light to those around us.  Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Paul wrote, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

Sadly, we sometimes fail to let our lights shine.  We sometimes fall into the trap of acting, talking and thinking like the world.   When we do, we fail to reflect Christ’s light to others.  Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”  But we sometimes build our “cities” in the dark deep valleys.  We sometimes hide our light under a bushel.  When we do, we become “spiritual eclipses” and hinder others from seeing the light of Christ.

It has been said that mere words cannot describe the excitement of an eclipse.  In “Get Eclipsed, The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse,” Pat and Fred Espenak wrote “When rating natural wonders on a scale of 1-10, a partial solar eclipse might be a 7.  But a total eclipse would be a 1,000,000.  Exciting, isn’t it?

But just as exciting as watching a total solar eclipse might be, it is just as saddening to see a Christian who fails to reflect the light of Christ and consequently becomes a spiritual eclipse.

It has been said that mere words cannot describe the excitement of an eclipse.  In “Get Eclipsed, The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse,” Pat and Fred Espenak wrote “When rating natural wonders on a scale of 1-10, a partial solar eclipse might be a 7.  But a total eclipse would be a 1,000,000.  Exciting, isn’t it?

But just as exciting as watching a total solar eclipse might be, it is just as saddening to see a Christian who fails to reflect the light of Christ and consequently becomes a spiritual eclipse.

Come to Jesus for the Wrong Reason?

After Jesus fed about five thousand men with only two small fish and five barley loaves, the people sought to take him by force and make him king.  When Jesus understood what was taking plathce he departed and went to be alone.  The next day, the people sought Jesus and found him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:1-25).  When the people asked Jesus when he came to the other side of the sea, Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26-27).

Why did Jesus see fit to rebuke those who sought him?  What lessons can we learn from this?  First, the people sought Jesus with the wrong motive.  They failed to understand the real significance of Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand.  “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book.  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through His name” (John 20:30-31).  Jesus’ signs, or miracles, served to affirm his deity.  They served to prove to others that he was the Son of God.  Unfortunately, those who sought him out were interested in the miracle only to the extent that it satisfied their own selfish desires.

Sadly, many today go to Jesus for the wrong reason.  A building is crowded with people on Father’s Day when a denomination gives a fishing boat to the lucky winner.  That same building has a much larger attendance on Mother’s Day when flowers are given to the mother who has the most family members in attendance.  Seem a bit outlandish?  How about the teenager who becomes a Christian simply to get his parents “off his back”?  Or the man who attends worship services to keep his wife from badgering him?

Why should someone come to Jesus?  Later in John chapter six, Peter gives us the answer.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).  We should come to Jesus because, believing He is the son of God, we might have eternal life.

These people went to Jesus with the wrong motive because they had the wrong priorities.  Notice Jesus’ words, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27).

Certainly Jesus was not teaching that we do not need to work for our physical food.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).

Jesus is obviously pointing out that our focus ought to be on the spiritual, rather than the physical.  It is a tragedy that most people go through this life with their focus on the here and now.  What can they accomplish in this life?  What can they accumulate while here on earth?  They give great attention to their careers, their finances and even their recreation, but ignore their greatest asset of all – their soul.  Their thoughts are directed toward the temporary things of this life, while the eternal things of the life to come are tragically neglected.

It is also noteworthy that Jesus said we are to labour for that which endures to eternal life.  That’s right, labour!  It is true we can never earn, or deserve, our salvation.  Friends, we are saved by God’s amazing grace!  But it is also true that God’s grace does not eliminate any effort on our part.  “We are confident, I say, and willing rather, to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore, we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (II Corinthians 5:9).  “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

How hard are you working for the bread that endures unto eternal life?  How much effort are you putting forth?  Could you compare your spiritual health to a “part time job”?  Or have you fully given yourself to Christ?  There will be no lazy people in heaven The slothful, or lazy, servant was cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:14-30).

How much time do you spend in Bible study?  In prayer?  In telling others about the salvation you have in Jesus?  Is heaven a place you merely hope you go to when you die (because it is better than the alternative)?  Or are you wholeheartedly striving for it now?

I invite you to come to Jesus, not for selfish gain, but that you might have life through his name.  Believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15-16).  Repent of your sins (Acts 2:38).  Confess your faith in Jesus Christ to others (Romans 10:10).  And be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38).

Remember, any day is a great day to be a child of God!

The Blessing of Salvation

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you” (I Peter 1:10).cross-of-christ

At one time, even the prophets did not fully comprehend the blessing of salvation that would come through Jesus Christ.  But we can experience it first hand!  Never let a day go by without thanking God for His wonderful grace that saves!  Hope everyone has a good day.

Ye Must Be Born Again

Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  What did Jesus mean when he said a man must be born again?  There is a lot of Let God Speakconfusion and controversy in the religious world concerning Jesus’ words, but this need not be so!  I invite you to search the scriptures along with me as we discuss, “Ye Must Be Born Again.”

 

Our Eternal Home

I’ve been thinking lately about where I would like to live when I retire.  (Yeah, I know…..no use thinking about it too much just yet…..it’s still several years in the future…..still fun to think about it just the same).  A cabin somewhere in the mountains would be nice.  Or nestled on the shore of a sparkling lake.  Ah, I know the perfect place!  A small bungalow on the beach!  Going to sleep at night with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.  Waking up with the sound of the birds feeding along the coast.  Enjoying a walk along the beach every morning and experiencing the pleasure of bare feet in the sand. That’s it; the perfect retirement home!

I suppose it’s ok to think about these things.  But don’t get too carried away.  There’s a danger of getting tobeach houseo “attached” to this world. It doesn’t make sense to think of anywhere in this world as the perfect retirement home.  What DOES make sense is focusing on the Christian’s eternal home.  How long will your retirement years last?  Ten years?  Twenty?  Thirty?  For some people, maybe more. But of what significance is any length of time on this earth when compared to an eternity in heaven?  Very short indeed.

We are merely pilgrims on this earth.  No wonder Peter wrote, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (I Peter 2:11).  Paul’s words remind us that our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  The things of this world are fleeting (II Corinthians 4:16-5:10).  The things of this world will one day come to an end.  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).  It’s impossible to describe just how insignificant your retirement home on this earth will be when time (as we know it) is no more.

There is a perfect place to live.  But it’s not to be found anywhere on earth.  It’s out of this world.  Friends, I’m speaking of heaven.  Hope to see you there!

Behold, the Lamb of God

In John Chapter One, we are introduced to Jesus as the Word.  Later in that same chapter, we are introduced to John the Baptist, the one who was to prepare the way for Christ.  lamb-of-God-535x360Then, in John 1:29, we are again introduced to Jesus, this time as the Lamb of God – “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Look, see, the Lamb of God!  We need to do more than merely look; we need to focus our attention on Jesus Christ.  We need to concentrate on Christ.  To closely examine His life so that we may learn from Him.

“Behold, the Lamb of God” reminds us of Jesus’ purpose for being made in the flesh and dwelling among us – to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sin.  Isaiah 53:6-7 portrays Jesus as a submissive sacrifice.  Also see I Peter 2:21-23.  Jesus was a substitute sacrifice in that He bore the consequences of our sin.

“Behold, the Lamb of God” reminds us that Jesus is the only sacrifice that could ever provide us with the forgiveness of our sin.  Nothing else and no one else would ever do!  Acts 4:12 – “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

“Behold, the Lamb of God” reminds us that Jesus was sent by God.  John 3:16-17 – “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  God sending His Son to save man was a sign of God’s great love for all mankind.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” reminds us of the power of the blood of the Lamb.  Jesus is not a Lamb that makes it possible for us to ignore our sin, hide our sin or gloss over our sin.  Jesus, as the Lamb of God, offered his life for us in order that our sin could be taken away.  Because of the power of the blood of the Lamb our sin is taken from our lives, never to be brought up again.  1 Peter 1:18-19 – “18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.  Why do we often try so hard to cling to that which Jesus wants to take away?

Listen: 

In the Beginning Was the Word

cropped-open-your-bible.jpgJohn 1:1-2 “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God.”

John’s words serve as an affirmation of the eternal existence of Jesus Christ.  As such, Jesus is not a created being.  As one of the personalities of the Godhead (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9) He has existed from all eternity (Micah 5:2; John 8:58).

But why is Jesus called the Word?  Words express thoughts.  Words are our means of communicating with one another.  God is knowable.  God wants us to know him!  God cannot be seen.  But Jesus Christ is God in the flesh (Colossians 2:9).  Also notice 1 John 1:1-2 “1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;).”  As such, Jesus Christ is an expression of the thoughts of God.

How can I better know God?  Observe Christ – the Word.

Because Jesus is the very image of God, He is the one after whom I pattern my life.  Colossians 1:15 – “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:”  John 14:9 – “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”

Because God has spoken to us through His Son (Jesus Christ – the Word), we need to listen to what Jesus has said.  Hebrews 1:1-3 – “1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”  Matthew 17:1-5 – “1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

If you want to see what God is like, look at Jesus.  If you want to know God, get to know Jesus!

Listen: