Jesus is going from village to town introducing himself to the average person. He is inviting them to follow him, trust him, learn from him. Think of it, the powerless, average people who are struggling to make a living, people who are overwhelmed by two governments in their land posturing for power, political factions fighting, people who are not sure how they can make a difference. A word a lot of people can related to in todays world: STUCK! Waiting, waiting, waiting, no changes, caught between problems that you cannot seem to do a thing about. Do you ever feel STUCK?
[Adam] A truck driver, was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads "low bridge ahead." Before he knows it the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks around to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?" [Adam] The truck driver, says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."
SHINE BRIGHT: Luke 8:16 READ…
You are made for a purpose. Years ago I had my old collection of match box cars and hot wheels from when I was a boy. It was a collection of old broken down cars with missing wheels, bent bodies, sticky parts, scratched paint. I cannot tell you how many people saw my car collection and said, “Too bad they are in such bad condition. They’d probably be worth something.” Are you kidding me? What do you think was the purpose of those cars when I was a boy? Nobody had more fun than me and Keith Peterson playing with our cars. If you gave me the choice of playing with my cars or not playing with them and keeping them in perfect condition and selling them decades later for $25,000, without hesitation, actually playing with the cars is far more important. READ 8:16.
Christians are made for a purpose. Our faith is to shine bright…
There are a lot of type of lights… We all have lamps at home and where we work ~ table lamps, floor lamps, reading lamps, decorative lamps, flood lamps, spot lamps, ceiling lamps….Here’s a lamp I found this week (show all the settings of the head lamp). I doubt any of us have an "under the bed lamp," although as I think of it, little children might like one to check for monsters… No one turns on a lamp and hides it under the bed…this was especially true in Jesus’ time when lamps burned with flames. Lamps are for light. That’s what lamps do. We may have different personalities… (go through headlight lights)… but all Christians are called to brightly shine… Let everyone see the light of Jesus Christ. Christian faith is not a private, secret, hidden thing. It is to be open, public, and brilliant.
Sometimes, for some folks in the community, I think you can make a greater impact for Christ in their lives, than I can. As a pastor, for some people, I get taken for granted. They think it’s my job to invite them to church, tell them what they need to do…but as you shine brightly, tell your story, talk about your faith journey, come alongside as a friend… we are all different, and there is no question but there is a place for your light to shine bright. That is your purpose, to be seen.
Let the light of Jesus shine. Last evening at the membership information dinner, we talked about the desire for us as a community of faith to come alongside the hurting people in the community, to be a voice for Christ… You become unstuck by fulfilling your purpose of shining bright! Let other people see the changes. Let others know how much you trust God. Tell them about your new perspective. Others will see you give away money you would have kept, spend your time in new behaviors. Shine bright ~ Be kind when you might have been cruel. Tell the truth when you could have lied. Do the right thing even if it costs you something. Hold your tongue. Withhold gossip. You have a new set of ethics and behavior. You pray and read the Bible. You have a joy that glows even through your darkest days. What you are doing is "putting your lamp on a stand so that those who come in can see the light."
BE OPEN ~ Luke 8:17 says something similar. You get unstuck by living your life as an open book. READ Luke 8:17. This sounds a like a warning…, but it is not. Jesus is stating a fact. There are few secrets. Sooner or later the secrets we thought we could keep are brought out in the open for others to see. (You would be amazed about some of the things I know about people….) Our true character will be exposed in time. I like what one person said, “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides” (André Malraux).
This is not to say that there should be no privacy. There is a place for privacy and we should all be careful to respect the privacy of others. One silly person dropped by our house on a down day for me and exclaimed “Wow, you wear shorts and a tie dye t-shirt.” Yes, it is true that I have a private life in which I don’t wear a tie! What Jesus is saying is that Christians should live lives as if we are open books. We should think as if our thoughts can be read. We should speak as if everyone can hear what we say. We should act as if our lives were televised to the whole world. Assume full disclosure. YES, we need privacy, but if our privacy is exposed it ought to be in keeping with the values of our faith. I don’t see anywhere in the bible that Jesus says to not wear a tie dye t-shirt!
Here is one person’s list of what living your life as an open book might mean:
~ Manage your money as if it were public information. There should be no reason why any Christian would be ashamed or embarrassed if his check log or canceled checks were passed around the church service for everyone to read.
~ Use your computer the way Jesus would use your computer. No Christian should ever need to worry about another person booting up your computer and clicking your favorite or last 10 Internet web pages visited.
~ There should be no need for secrecy about relationships. Our business dealings, our private conversations about other people, and every other relationship could be audited without regrets.
~ No significant discrepancy should appear between who we present ourselves to be and who we actually are. There should be no problem for you to see how I behave in my home compared to the way I behave in the public square.
It is so common to feel stuck in your faith because you have secrets in your private life, behavior that makes you feel guilty. You get unstuck by living a life that if your personal world were exposed there is nothing that would shame you.
GO FORWARD. One more way to get unstuck… shine bright, live as an open book, and go forward… Read Luke 8:18. Sharks have to keep moving in order to get oxygen out of the water to keep breathing. Keep moving forward in your faith to stay alive. The truth: you are either going forward or backward in your faith. There is no such thing as attaining a level of faith and maintaining it? … faith is a journey.
Make a decision to live for Christ. Like a shark ~ keep swimming forward with Christ at the center so you stay alive. You need Christ like you need oxygen. Faith is not a destination, it is a journey, a way of life… The problem: Too much information in this world. We get stuck because we get overwhelmed and don’t know how to choose! There comes a time when we need to filter out the junk, narrow down our options, and simply accept that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
READ Luke 8:18… “Consider carefully how you listen…” We have to filter out even too many good things. We live in a day of information overload. We get stymied even in our faith because we have so many options, so many good studies, so many wonderful sermons. 25 years ago, you could listen to a sermon in a church service, listen to a cassette tape of a sermon, or hear one on the radio from a larger church. Today, you can go to a website called sermonaudio.com, and enjoy their library of all free sermons, a grand total to choose from 846,768. Do you know how long that would take you to listen to all those good sermons? Even if you listened for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, it would take you close to 50 years…
We live in a time of information overload. We need to slow down and carefully consider what the Lord has for us. ...as Chistians no question but that God wants us to think, he wants our minds, but at some point we need to say enough, and accept and move forward, otherwise we get stuck. There comes a time when we need to filter out the junk, narrow down our options, and simply accept that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Faith is not a destination, it is a journey, a way of life…
Make a Decision! Make a decision for Christ! And move foreward….
Let me explain the second half of Luke 8:18. READ. This is not a formula for a name it and claim it scheme. Most sharks have to keep moving in order for the water to keep moving across it’s gills in order to keep getting oxygen out of the water. They can stop, but not for long periods of time. They need to get moving at some point. Luke 8:18 is talking about faith, about walking with God. You are either going forward or backward in your faith. If you are a shark and you are swimming forward, you will keep getting more and more oxygen. If you are walking with God, and you keep walking with God, you will keep on getting more and more of God, more and more of the Holy Spirit, more and more of Jesus Christ. Life produces more life. Abundance produces more abundance. You will grow in your faith, your understanding, your dependency, as you keep moving forward with God. Luke 8:18 is not about getting more and more things, more and more money, more and more power. It’s about getting more and more of Jesus Christ, more confidence in him, a greater sense of his love, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s about getting unstuck! READ Luke 8:18.
Make a decision to move forward with Christ! Indecision is a huge problem. There is an old joke: Indecision may or may not be my problem. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure. Indecision is a problem even among Christians, a temptation to keep options open, what about all the other religions, Christianity is right for me but Jesus may not be right for you…If you are a shark and you stand still for too long you will become lethargic. If you are a Christian and you stand still for too long, not walking forward, you will become lethargic and eventually die. There comes a time when we need to filter out the junk, narrow down our options, and simply accept that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
Feeling Stuck in your life? Shine Bright for Christ so others can see your faith, live your life so that even if the details of your private world were an open book what others read would be consistent with Christ, and move forward confidently embracing Jesus as your Savior! Amen.