Living in Light of Two Days

     In what seems like the blink of an eye, we find ourselves at the halfway point of 2021. By this point of the year, almost every person who had “resolved” to have made changes in their lives would have broken that resolution. The hope of being different in so many of the areas that we aspired to change, seemingly gone. But as someone recently reminded me, it’s never too late to do a U-turn, to do the right thing or to make changes in our lives. In fact, there’s not a better time than now!

     The halfway point of each year also finds us preparing to celebrate the independence of our country. We’re reminded each year of the blessing of our national freedom and the sacrifices that have been made throughout parts of the past three centuries to secure those freedoms. Many men and women have willing laid down their own personal hopes, dreams, comforts and free-time to serve this great nation and to continue securing our freedom nationally. As one Marine informed me years ago, it’s a privilege for him to sacrifice and serve in light of those who sacrificed and served on his behalf. As I thought about that comment this week, I couldn’t help but think of the spiritual implications of his statement. We, too, have been called to sacrifice and serve, for the honor and glory of God, in light of the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf and His service to us. As many soldiers, their wives and families have shined in light of the cause of national freedom, God is calling us to shine as well in light of the freedom we enjoy as secured by Christ.

     One of my favorite parts of the Fourth of July is the fireworks that constantly interrupt the darkness of the night sky in the evenings leading up to and even following the Fourth. The bright and radiant colors are absolutely hard to miss. In fact, they’re almost impossible to miss! You see (and hear!) them whether you want to or not and you simply have to take notice. For His glory and by His grace we are called to live our lives this way. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus told those standing around Him during the Sermon on the Mount that His disciples are to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” What an incredible thought! Our Father is spirit and, as the word of God reminds us, is in heaven. But the unbelieving world around us, through the life of His Son in us, can see the fruit of our relationship with our heavenly Father. But not only will they see these good works, but these works may be the very instrument that God would use to draw them to Himself and in coming to know Him these folks will actually go on to give Him the honor and glory that He is due through them. Like a firework that in all its radiance can’t be ignored, we, too, in the love of God are to live in such a way that the world around us can’t ignore what they see either.

     But this is a daunting task! Not only do we have the pressures from the world system around us trying to squeeze out any light that proclaims Christ, but we have the battle of our own sinful flesh standing in the way of our bringing glory to God. So, what can we purpose to do? While there are a number of steps that we can take and a number of things that we can do to strengthen our resolve to stand, I want to propose one today. And that one thing came at the tail end of a clip of a message from J.D. Greear that I heard on the radio last week. Greear’s passage was Psalm 90:12 which states, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”  Moses’ desire in this psalm is that God would teach him how to make the most of his days. To use the time that God had given him to bring glory to His name and, like Solomon in the book of Proverbs, live out of a heart steeped in Godly wisdom. While Greear had given a list of five things, I only caught one of them and it was that we should live in light of two days: THIS day and THAT day.

     Greear based this point off of the life of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s walk with Christ had completely changed the trajectory of his life. Knowing the wrath that he deserved but the mercy and grace that he received by trusting in Christ’s work on the cross for salvation, Paul was intentional in living his life for the honor and glory of God. And the thrust of his ministry in that regard was making Christ known to as many people as he could. As Greear stated, Paul lived first in light of THAT day, meaning the day that he would be with Christ for eternity. The day when his faith would be made sight. And knowing that either at his homegoing or at Christ’s return he would spend eternity in the presence of the One who had died for him, Paul lived steadfastly in service to the Lord God. And He knew that what brought His Father glory was living out the gospel in every area of his life so that others might be ready for that day as well. That influenced how he lived in light of THIS day. Paul’s words to the Corinthians in this regard is found in 2 Cor. 5:14-15. Here Paul lovingly admonishes them to remember how and for whom they’re called to live by stating, “For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”  Like my Marine friend who counted it a privilege and considered it his responsibility to live in light of the sacrifices made on his behalf by those who have served before him, the child of God sees their new life in Christ as an opportunity to serve and advance the cause of the One who paid the price for their freedom as well.

     As we celebrate our national freedom this week, let us be quick to remember the reason we can celebrate our spiritual freedom as well. And just as the fireworks gloriously remind us of the beauty of the life we can live as American citizens let us as Christians let our lights so shine before this fallen world that they can see the beauty that is found in living in the spiritual freedom that Christ has secured. And one way we can make sure that we do that is by living THIS day in light of THAT day. A great exercise each morning would be to consider that very question as you begin your day in prayer with the Lord. As Moses asked the Lord his God to teach him how to number his days and live from a heart of wisdom, let us ask the Lord to teach us to do the same. And if what we’re about to do on THIS day is not going to be for His glory on THAT day, then don’t do it!

 

So let us, together, live for His glory and by His grace,

Pastor Decker