Posts in the "Shine Like Stars" Category

How to Live among Non-Christians

Sunday Sermon Series Shine Like Stars

1 Peter 2:9-17

Peter wrote this during a time when Christians were beginning to be persecuted. The emperor at the time was probably Nero, who blamed the Christians for some awful things he did. 

If we are to shine like stars we must understand who we are (2:9).

  1. We are a chosen people…. God has chosen us. We’re not just a group of random people who believe the same thing. We were actually chosen by God. 

  2. We are a royal priesthood…. In the Old Testament, the priests were the go-between for the people and God. In the New Testament, that distinction is gone. Rather than having special priests who can pray to God, every believer is part of the priesthood and has a direct line to God. This is a big difference between baptists (as well as other Protestants) and Catholicism. 

  3. We are a holy nation…. Alright, if we're going to have direct access to God, we better be holy. It’s usually not good when someone or something sinful and unholy enters God’s presence. 

  4. We are God’s special possession…. We belong to God. He takes care of us and loves us. When we have something we consider a special possession, we take care of it. Or when we have friends we consider special to us, we take care of them. How much more would God care for those He considers special! 

If we are to shine like stars, we must declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (2:9-10).... We should proclaim the mighty acts of God. We should desire to tell others what God has done for us. 

If we are to shine like stars, we must live in a way that brings glory to God (2:11-17).

  1. Abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul (2:11).... We are citizens of Heaven, which makes us foreigners on Earth. We must be different, but the sinful nature still exists within us and we will battle with it everyday. We should fight to abstain from the desires it gives us. 

  2. Live such honorable lives among non-Christians that their slander is silenced and that some will believe (2:12).... This verse tells us that Christians will be misrepresented by society. In Peter's time, they were accused of being cannibals because of what they said when taking the Lord's Supper and atheists because they worshiped no idols. However, if we live good lives and produce good works, some will see the truth and join the Christian priesthood. 

  3. Submit, for the Lord’s sake, to every human authority (2:13-17).... This was important to Peter. When we become Christians, we submit to God. Peter says we should also submit to human authorities. Why? It gives a good impression to others and also recognizes that God is the Supreme authority who gave these humans authority. Does that mean we always obey human authority? In Acts 5:27-29 we see an example where Peter and others don't submit. Why? Because the order they were given went directly against God's will. That is when we can disobey authority. Even if we don't like who's in charge or think the person in charge is evil and has an evil agenda, we should submit to their authority. The only time we don't submit is when their order directly prevents us from doing God's will. 

Walk in the Light

Sunday Sermon Series Shine Like Stars

If You Walk in the Light, You Will Love Others 1 John 1:5-9; 2:9-11

John is confronting false teachers who say they are “enlightened” and that they know God, but they are still living in moral darkness.

John says that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1:5-6).

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in darkness. Anyone who loves their brother or sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble” (2:9-10).

… John wrote this letter to deal with false teachers. Some people were giving false teachings. These people claimed to know God either intellectually or emotionally. John says that knowing God is more than either of those. It's more than knowing He exists, more than just feeling His presence. It also results in a moral change. We should desire to follow His instructions and to have the same morals as God. But none of us are perfect. Even those of us who were saved many years ago still aren't perfect, so we still need to confess our sins to God. When we keep our sins hidden, the darkness grows. Unaddressed sin leads to darkness. Confessing it to God shines a light on the shadows caused by sin. So, in order to walk in the light, we must continually confess to God and keep His commandments. We must love others as He loves us. 

If we are to shine like stars, we must love one another in the church (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Four principles to help us love others beyond our church:

  1. Understand that love does not equal approval. It’s OK to do good things for bad people. (Matthew 5:43-46).... Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. God sends the sun to shine on everyone, righteous or evil, just or unjust. 

  2. Try to see the person behind the label…. We tend to label people. It's not a good way to go through life, but it is something we do. We should look beyond those labels and see the people begin them, connect with those people on a personal level instead of relying on the labels. 

  3. Love is best expressed in tangible action…. God loves us, but He didn't just yell down from Heaven, "I love you!" He sent His son to die for our sins so that we can be forgiven. How can we show love to others in tangible, concrete ways? We serve in ministries. We help others. We hand out food to the hungry. 

  4. The greatest love is sacrificial (John 15:12-13).... Going back to Jesus, we see that sacrificial love is the greatest love of all. If Jesus can sacrifice His life for us, we can sacrifice our time and money for others. 

Live As Children of Light

Sunday Sermon Series Shine Like Stars

Ephesians 5:3-14

We were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. We must live (walk) as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). We must have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness (5:11). We must be distinctive and different, like stars shining in a dark sky…. Even those of us who were saved as children and never really had a "dark" time where our behavior was really destructive and full of sin, we were darkness too. That's why we shouldn't look down on people who do struggle with the darkness. Instead we should be light to them and shine the light of Jesus. This will make us stand out. Some of us don't like to stand out, but in order to be light, we must. 

What are specific areas where Christians must be different from our culture? In regard to our actions, there must not be a hint of sexual immorality or impurity or greed (5:3).... Sexual immorality and impurity cover any kind of sin that involves sex. That includes everything from premarital sax to adultery to homosexuality to pornography. Now, many people believe that it is good to live together before marriage to test compatibility, but we are told there should be no hint of that. Attitudes about pornography are also becoming loose. Many people of the newer generations think viewing pornography is ok and normal. The problem with that is that viewing pornography often leads to viewing people differently. It objectifies sex and the people involved. It affects how we treat each other. We are told not to have a hint of that in our lives. We are told to stand out. Why is greed included in this list? Because all three words share a process of sin that involves an appetite. They lead us to think that if we could have more of it, we would be happy. 

In regard to our conversation, there must be no obscenity or foolish talk or coarse jokes (5:4).... We are told to not join in the crude words and jokes that are rampant in the world. We should stand out because we use more wholesome and pure language that encourages and shines the light of Christ. 

You can be sure of this: no such person has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God (5:5).... This doesn't mean that if you have ever committed any of the sins mentioned here that you can't be saved. Rather, it means that if these sins define a pattern in your life, you are likely still in the darkness. 

Let no one deceive you with empty words (5:6).... There are denominations and churches that have tried to widen the path and the gate to Heaven by saying these things are ok. They are wrong to do this. Only God can define the path and gate to salvation and Heaven. He has not widened it. There is no evidence of it widening in the Bible. The path is narrow and the gate is small. We can't let people convince us of anything that contradicts what we see in God's Word.

Shine Like Stars

Sunday Sermon Series Shine Like Stars

This is the start of a five week series. This series will look at five places in the Bible where it gives a contrast between light and dark. We start with what is very much a theme verse for this series. 

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life (Philippians 2:14-16a).

Paul uses two words to describe the moral and spiritual darkness of our world:  

  1. Our world is warped…. The Greek word here also means twisted. God gives us good things and we like to twist them into something God never intended. 

  2. Our world is crooked…. This is basically a synonym for warped or twisted. It emphasizes that humanity takes the good gifts of God and perverts them. 

We must shine like stars in the darkness:

This means we do not retreat from the darkness. We live in the midst of darkness…. Stars shine brightest the darker it is. It's important for us to not hide from the darkness, but to illuminate it and spread the light. 

This means we do not just criticize darkness. We show the way in the darkness…. It's too easy for many of us to just see the evil in the world or bad things going on and just criticize it, condemn it, harp on it without showing people a better way with love. Instead of just pointing out the things that are wrong, we should also lovingly show the right way. We should reach out to those in need. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Help clean up after disasters. 

We shine like stars when there is nothing in our lives to cause people to criticize Christianity:

  1. Be blameless….. Nobody is perfect or without sin, but people can be blameless or above reproach. We should keep things that would prevent others from coming to Christ out of our lives. 

  2. Be pure… This applies to inner motives and character. It's important to have proper motives and good character. 

  3. Be without fault…. This doesn't mean perfect. It refers to the old animal sacrifices where they were supposed to give animals that didn't have any obvious defects. Don't have any obvious faults and flaws. 

Can you think of anything you need to change in your life to be those things? Here are two specific things we can do to shine like stars:

  1. Do everything without grumbling…. Grumbles do not tend to attract people or give good examples of the life of a Christian. It helps to avoid grumbling, especially when you are trying to be a witness of Christ, which should be our default and constant goal. 

  2. Do everything without arguing…. It's important to stick to our convictions, but sometimes arguing is not the way to win someone over to Christ. It's possible to win an argument and lose the person. We must be careful to remain respectful and compassionate. 

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't say this series title brought a certain classic NewsBoys song to mind.