Blocking God’s Light

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Reflecting God’s Light

Jesus called His followers to be “lights in the world,” Matthew 5:14, but we do not generate light; we reflect it. Jesus is the light of the world who gives light to all men, John 1:1-9. God’s word enlightens us, Ephesians 1:17-19 and gives us light, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. The Bible describes our conversion as enlightenment, Hebrews 10:32.

Christians are being transformed into the glory of Jesus, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. We shine as lights because we reflect the glory of Jesus as we are transformed and His life is manifested in ours, 2 Corinthians 4:11. We see this in the life of the apostles who were bold because they had been with Jesus and reflect His character, Acts 4:13.

 

We reflect the light of Jesus both from being illuminated within and being in God’s presence. The closer we get to the light, the more brightly we will reflect the light. The farther we get from Jesus, the less we reflect His glory. Our light shines to illuminate others (Matthew 5:16; 1 John 1:5-7; 1 Peter 2:11-12) Christians must walk as children of light, Ephesians 5:6-20. Christians must love as children of light, 1 John 2:8-11. Even our enemies should be hushed by lives reflecting God’s glory, Titus 2:7-8.

God’s Light in a Dark World

As the light of God’s word shines brightly into the world, it should be reflected brightly in the Christians as they are scattered in the dark world. The light of God’s word is ever shining in the world but the light of a Christian’s life must be shining as well. Some may not initially read God’s word but may listen to it being spoken by one who is living it.

We live in a world filled with lost souls who need the gospel message. We have God’s word that can illuminate their hearts and kindle a flame within just as it did with us. We have many tools that can be used to communicate the word – numerous evangelism books and suggested approaches that can help us communicate the message. The best evangelism program is a Christian who has a passion for leading lost souls to Jesus.

Blocking God’s Light to the World

The light of the physical world demonstrates how we reflect the light of God onto the world: God is the sun, the source of light. We are the moon, reflecting God’s light onto the world. Our light is not a bright, and is reflected, but it is effective for its purpose.

In a solar eclipse the moon, though infinitesimally small compared to the sun, is positioned directly between the earth and the sun blocking the sun’s rays so that midday is darkened. The sun still shines bright but its light is blocked while the moon is in the way.

Solar & Lunar Eclipses. Vector.Christians can bring attention to themselves instead of directing the glory to God. Remember in Matthew 5 Jesus said the world should see our good works and glorify God. Some want attention for worldly things: look at me because I am beautiful, rich, funny, talented, muscular, successful, etc. They want people to focus on them for what they have or their physical appearance (sensual pictures and self-promotion on social media encourage this). They want people to focus on them, not Christ in them.

Even though we are small, we can come between the world and God,and block the glory of God from being seen in those whom we could illuminate with His truth. Instead of reflecting God’s glory onto the world, we are in the way and bringing darkness instead.

In a lunar eclipse the earth blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the moon. Although the Earth is smaller than the sun it can completely darken the moon when it moves between the moon and the sun.

When we let the world get between us and God, our light diminishes and can go out. We can be so obsessed with things of this world: money, entertainment, sports, pleasure, work, etc. that we have little time to be enlightened by God’s word or shine that light for others. Jesus warned, in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:19) that the cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches, and other things choke out the word. Great heroes of faith. like Moses, forsook the earthly pleasures and treasures for eternal rewards, Hebrews 11:24-26. Sometimes we will not give up habits, attitudes, or thoughts that are ungodly and diminish the light that does shine from our lives. Pure lives reflect the most light.

As I noted before, we reflect the light of Jesus both from being illuminated within and being in God’s presence. The closer we get to the light, the more brightly we will reflect the light. The farther we get from Jesus, the less we reflect His glory.

  • Are you continually feeding the light within by studying God’s word and letting it transform you?
  • Are you removing things in your life, habits, attitudes, and thoughts that inhibit the light from shining?
  • Are you embarrassed about your faith? Hiding your faith under a bushel instead of giving light to others?

Let’s remove anything from our lives that inhibits the full glory of God from being reflected onto the dark world and let God illuminate us on the inside and before others. If you are not a Christian, why not let God illuminate your life and transform it into glory through Jesus?

7 Things Christians Tell God When They Avoid Daily Prayer

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The Power of Daily Prayer

Prayer is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to spend time with God praising Him, thanking Him for all that He has done, and bringing our anxieties, needs, and concerns before His throne. Prayer is not a burden to God; He seeks worshipers, John 4:23. Jesus urges us to pray and taught His disciples how to pray, Matthew 6:5-13. Paul promised peace to the believer who cast all anxiety into the care of God in Philippians 4:6-7:

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Through the scriptures and history, great men and women of faith devoted themselves to prayer and trusted its power.  It’s no wonder Paul urges Christians to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.Pray

Obstacles to Daily Prayer

It is perplexing that some Christians confess to not praying daily or forgetting to pray when its blessings are obvious. Some obstacles I have observed:

  1. Start the day focused on tasks and problems instead of praying before facing the demands of life
  2. Little trust that God will answer our prayers because they doubt that prayer is effective despite what the Bible teaches
  3. Can’t figure out how God will answer their prayers or are disappointed when God doesn’t answer the way they want or expect

We must remember that God will hear His children and He answers prayers through wisdom giving us what we need. Sometimes what we want is opposite of what is best for us. Sometimes we are asking for things opposed to His will, as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12,  prayed repeatedly for one outcome but rejoiced the outcome God chose for him as it made him stronger spiritually. God is not a genie to grant our every wish; He is our Father who wants what is best for us and acts out of love for our greater good even when we can’t see or appreciate it at the moment.

6 Things Christians Tell God When They Avoid Daily Prayer

Understanding the blessing and power of daily prayer, when Christians fail to act on that belief they are telling God several things:

  1.  You are not important to me or a priority in my life
  2. I do not have time for you
  3. I do not want to spend time with you
  4. I can handle things without you
  5. I do not believe that you can impact the things I am facing in my life
  6. I have nothing of which to thank or praise you
  7. I can take advantage of our relationship and use you only when I am in trouble or need

3 Minute Bible Studies – Video Bible Studies

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Scott Smelser is a devout Bible student who loves to teach the simple truth of the gospel. His talent for presenting the Bible message in memorable ways is evident on his site, 3 Minute Bible Study; a series of instructive animated videos that teach Bible stories in, you guessed it, 3 minutes.

These videos would be good to share with your friends and through social media. They would also be great for showing in classes of all ages when applicable to the lesson. For example, the video on Romans would be great to show before a study of Romans (and even periodically during the study to remember the big picture).

My favorite is the video, The Whole Bible Story, below:

 

The Impossible Repentance of Hebrews 6

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“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:4-8(ESV)

In Hebrews 5, the writer was trying to describe the priesthood of Jesus when he interrupted himself saying that he could not explain the priesthood in more detail because they would not understand it. The topic was not so complex that they could not understand it but they had not grown in the knowledge of God and could not grasp it though, by now, they should have been spiritually mature. In chapter 6 he told them to leave the elementary principles, the ABCs, and press towards maturity in the knowledge of God’s word. Within this exhortation to maturity is a warning of remaining immature and not growing in knowledge of God’s word.

Some Christians who fail to mature may leave Christ and be unable to return to Him He says it will be “It is impossible for them to repent.” This is a frightening concept: one who is alive but cannot repent of their wickedness and turn to God. Who is this person who cannot repent?

This is not the unbeliever who never knew God nor cares for Him. This is a Christian who left the faith.

  • He was “once enlightened.” This has the idea of spiritual illumination. In John 1:9, Jesus who came to the world to give light to man. Paul, in Ephesians 1:17-18, describes conversion as the eyes of our understanding being enlightened that we may know our hope and our inheritance. Hebrews 10:32 uses “enlightenment” to described the Christian’s conversion. This person has seen through the darkness of sin by the truth of the gospel and knows the hope and glory of the child of God because he obeyed the gospel and became a child of God.
  • “have tasted the heavenly gift” The word “taste” literally means “experience.” We have a taste of the heavenly gift, our salvation, while on earth. We know peace when our sins are cleansed, love of our brethren, and our love towards God. When we read about the love of the brethren in the New Testament towards one another (sharing, selling possessions to take care of needs, daily exhortation) and the selfless, joyful, and heartfelt worship to God we have a taste of that heavenly gift. We may have been to a singing, worship service, or time with our brethren where we have had a taste of what was to come.
  • “have become partakers of the Holy Spirit” We do not understand everything about how the Father, Son, and Spirit dwell within us but must leave that to God. Romans 8:9-11 speaks of the relationship with have with God through the Holy Spirit. We have become partakers of God in that we have put off wickedness and put on holiness.
  • “tasted the word of God” The word “tasted” is the same as used above. Peter tells us to desire the pure milk of the word if we have tasted the Lord’s graciousness, 1 Peter 2:2-3. We have know from God’s words of love and warning what we needed to do to become children of God and submitted to it.
  • “[tasted] the powers of the age to come” A knowledge of the power of God and of His ultimate triumph over Satan and the world of sin and the destruction of the world. This knowledge urges us to be faithful, 2 Peter 3:11.

When this person falls away it is impossible to renew him to repentance. The word “impossible” doesn’t always mean “cannot” but is sometimes used to describe something that is not acceptable or is extremely unlikely. In this case it is impossible for the Christian who forsook Jesus to return to Him because there is nothing that we can tell him or use to appeal to him that he doesn’t already know. He willingly turned his back on all that is good and holy in order to be in this condition. He has crucified the Son of God again and put Him to open shame. We do not physically crucify Jesus, but our rejection of Him is equal to that Jerusalem mob, Hebrews 10:29. His departure from the faith is a cause for people to mock Christ for Jesus must not have meant enough to the person to keep Him.

How can we reach this desperate condition?

We can become callused to sin. Israel was often condemned for their hard hearts and rebellion against God, Hebrews 3:7-13. The Israelites who forsook God could not enter the Promised Land and the Christian who forsakes God cannot enter His eternal kingdom, Hebrews 10:26-39. To become hardened to sin is to become callused. When our skin calluses, it is no longer tender and easily pricked. Guitar player’s fingers become callused by the strings and lose sensitivity. Hard labor with bare hands can cause them to become callused. When our heart becomes A young man walks into the desolate desertcallused, it is no longer easily pricked. When we continue to sin we can eventually numb our conscience and make it less resistant to the pricking message of the truth.It becomes easier to add other sins when we become hardened.

We can think that judgment is far away. Jesus told a parable of a servant who behaved wickedly but was surprised by a judgment that came quickly, Matthew 24:45-51. Peter wrote of people who would scoff mistaking God’s longsuffering for postponed judgment, 2 Peter 3:1-9. Instead, Peter wrote that the Christian must always be ready for judgment, 2 Peter 3:10-13. How often do we really think that judgment could be imminent?

Listen to false promises and false teaching. Paul warned Timothy of false teachers whose conscience was seared and numb like one whose skin has been seared by a hot iron and can feel nothing, 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

Some believe God would not condemn a person who claimed to be a Christian at one time. They think that once they were saved they would always be saved even if they didn’t follow Jesus later in life. Hebrews 10:26-39 plainly teaches that God has no pleasure in those who draw back from Him to return to sin. Paul warned the Thessalonian Christians, in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10, to remain worthy of the calling and escape God’s wrath. Peter warns, in 2 Peter 2:18-22, that it is  better not to have known Jesus than to turn away from being a follower. If one is “once saved always saved” then this statement would be meaningless.

How Can We Remain Faithful?

  • Growing in the knowledge of God and obedience
    • Hebrews 6:7-8 – Being useful in God’s service and not ensnared with worldly things.
    • Hebrews 6:9-12 – Diligent service, not becoming sluggish.
  • Remaining tenderhearted, not resisting the loving rebuke of our brethren.

Be serious about your walk with God and diligent to grow in the knowledge of God and His word and draw closer to Him. Failing to do this, you could drift so far from God that it would be impossible for others to draw you back.

The Christian’s “Moment of Truth”

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The phrase “moment of truth” first appeared in Earnest Hemingway’s 1932 bullfighting story “Death in the Afternoon,” from Spanish el momento de la verdad.(1) In a bullfight, the “moment of truth” is when

“to end a bullfight, the matador takes his sword and must get the bull to charge straight at him, so that he can lean over the bull’s horns and kill him by stabbing just behind the back of the head. Many matadors can do very graceful and artistic moves with the cape and the maleta (the red cloth-on-a stick used to lure the bull) but lack the nerve to do the final killing properly. The ‘moment of truth’ is when he and the audience find out if he really has what it takes.”(2)

The phrase has come to mean a decisive moment of a challenge or test in which one finds if they have the strength, integrity, and courage to do the right thing. For the one who follows God, the phrase as come to mean a time in which we are tested by a temptation or a situation in which we see how strong our faith is and how much we really depend on God.

Believers Standing in the Moment of Truth

In a time of trial or temptation, our character is revealed. The Bible is filled with examples of faithful men and women who stood strong in the face of severe trial.

When David faced the giant Goliath he had great confidence in God’s ability to bring a victory, 1 Samuel 17:31-27. David knew Goliath was defying the armies of Israel, 1 Samuel 17:23-24. Even though King Saul, the brothers of David, and Goliath had no faith in David, in the moment of truth, David’s faith in God brought about a victory.

The book of Daniel begins with Daniel and friends courageously requesting a special diet that would allow them not to violate their conscience though they were new captives under a conquering government. They rose to positions of power and were challenged with a test of faith: Nebuchadnezzar built a golden image and commanded others to worship it on a given time. Daniels friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, had a chance to give up and live or obey God with a chance to die. Though cast into the fiery furnace they were protected from the fire and Nebuchadnezzar was taught a lesson.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was heavy with sorrow and struggled with the violent death He was about to face and the anguish His family and friends would endure. Matthew 26:36-46 tells how Jesus trusted the Father to strengthen Him in trial and take care of Him through death.

We could give many other examples: Abraham being commanded to offer Isaac, apostles being brought before the worldly powers and commanded to quit preaching Jesus, the Christians persecuted from town to town, etc. These examples demonstrate how God’s people will often find times in their lives when they face a test or a temptation, a “moment of truth”, where their faith and obedience is tested.

Our Moment of Truth

We will all face moments of truth. Our friends and family may not know we are facing the test: it may come when we are alone or around strangers away from home. Our loved ones may be going through a moment of truth and we do not realize it.

Our moment of truth may be a very public test with people we love, perhaps fellow Christians, watching to see how we will react when tested. We often do not know when these times will come. Sometimes they are disguised as small decisions about whether to do the right or wrong thing.

One against allIn high school, a friend of mine made what seemed like a small decision to hang out with some friends of poor moral character instead of the good friends that he used to hang out with. Soon they were involved in things like alcohol and drugs and, after being caught breaking into the school to steal some sound equipment, was sent away to live with his father in another state and to go down a different path.

Sometimes the test is obvious and you know that this decision will send you on a path closer to or farther away from God.

As a teenager I faced such a decision knowing that choosing one path would lead to a life of selfish and sinful living and the other path would lead to a devotion to Jesus and serving Him. I sat all afternoon on a mountain side contemplating my decision, counting the cost and examining my heart, with a determination that I would choose my path at sunset and live with it.

Many times the test will come when you are bruised, broken down, tired, abandoned, misunderstood, and feel that everyone has given up on you. At those times it is easy to give up on doing the right thing and giving into sin. It is when you are beat up and exhausted that you must dig deep and find the character to stand up, do the right thing, and prevail.

Revelation 2:10 – “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Don’t give up, don’t quit

The moment of victory is often disguised as defeat. Popular superhero movies often show the hero rejected by the public, misunderstood by his family and friends, confused about himself, and doubting his ability to achieve victory but, when it appears defeat is imminent, he finds the strength to gain a victory.

There are many real life examples of people who have been in the same position who, in the moment of truth, stood up to do the right thing amidst doubts from self and others and opposition and gained a victory for good.

We must fight diligently for if we are fighting to overcome sin, God is fighting on our side—but we must not give up the fight. If we are still fighting a long battle, it means that the enemy has not won. He may not be defeated yet, but he does not have the victory! We must not hand Satan a victory and must remember that he will not give up ground that he thinks he can win.

Preparing for the trial and temptation

How can we stand alone like young David on the plain facing the giant, courageous like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the face of the angry and powerful king, or determined like Jesus going to a violent death, or the early Christians facing persecution with great humility and resolve to do what is right?

  • Wear your spiritual armor in the time of trial and temptation, Ephesians 6:10-18
  • Study God’s word
    • Teaches you what you should do, right and wrong, and how you should act
    • Teaches you what Satan and his followers do and how they act (what not to do)
    • Provides promises of God’s strength and heavenly reward to allow you to endure whatever trial knowing you have a greater reward that awaits you.
    • Provides godly wisdom of how to act during the time of trial.
    • Gives examples of great men and women of faith who endured great trials and overcame evil.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and strength to endure all trials
    • You need God’s power to stand up under the time of trial.
    • Consider Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)
    • Colossians 1:9-11: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,”
  • Be courageous and stand firm in the power of God as David, Daniel and his friends, and many Bible examplesdemonstrate.
    • 1 Timothy 6:11-12: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
    • James 4:7-8: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

If you are living as a child of God every day, studying, praying, actively doing good, forsaking evil, and devoting your life to Christ, you will be ready when you find yourself in the moment of truth.

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(1) http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=moment+of+truth

(2) http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/44/messages/814.html

Godly Youth Activity Book

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Parents and teachers have enjoyed the activities available on the Activities pages of the Godly Youth site. I have removed those pages and have put all the crossword, word search and cryptogram puzzles in one document.

As I state clearly on the pages, if you are using this for non-profit use: Bible class, personal Bible study, home school, or similar activities you may copy the puzzles freely and in any quantities you want. If you want to put the activity in a church bulletin, feel free to do that as well.

My only restriction is that I don’t want it sold as part of a product, package, or book without my permission.

The Godly Youth Activity Book, in Adobe Acrobat format, is available for download here. (File size: 1.51 MB)GY Activity Book Cover

Identify the Bible Character Using the Clues

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Who Am I?

  1. I was a fisherman before Jesus called me to be an apostle.
  2. Though my hometown was Bethsaida, I was in Capernaum when Jesus called me.
  3. I was a disciple of John the Baptist.
  4. When I heard Jesus, I went to my brother Peter and told him that I had met the Christ and urged Peter to meet Jesus.

(Do you know who I am? See John 1:41)


 

  1. I was a leader of God’s people.
  2. Joshua was my assistant and then led the Jews after I died on Mt. Nebo.
  3. I was raised in Pharaoh’s house though I later chose to suffer with my own people, the Jews, instead of living as an Egyptian.
  4. God appeared to me in a bush on fire but was not burned up.

(Do you know who I am? See Exodus 3:4)


 

  1. I wrote five books of the New Testament.
  2. My father’s name was Zebedee.
  3. My brother and I were apostles whom Jesus nicknamed “Sons of Thunder.
  4. I am sometimes known as “the apostle whom Jesus loved.”

(Do you know who I am? See Revelation 1:1)


 

  1. I had a stick that turned into a snake then back into a stick.
  2. One time the stick budded like a tree. It was put into the Ark of the Covenant.
  3. My brother did powerful signs before King Pharaoh of Egypt; I spoke the words of God to him.
  4. I had a sister named Miriam. She and I wanted to lead Israel like Moses but it made God angry. We then obeyed God.

(Do you know who I am? See Exodus 7:2.)


  1. I was a fisherman when Jesus called me to be an apostle.
  2. My brother, Andrew, told me about Jesus.
  3. I walked on the water with Jesus.
  4. I denied Jesus three times before He was crucified.

(Do you know who I am? See Acts 2:38.)


  1. Stephen and I, along with five other men were appointed to take care of some Christian widows who were not being fed.
  2. I went on to preach in a place called Samaria and many people followed Jesus.
  3. I also baptized the treasurer of Ethiopia as he traveled home from Jerusalem.
  4. I baptized a sorcerer, named Simon, who gave up his fake magic when he saw the true wonders of God.

(Do you know who I am? See Acts 8:5)


 

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