Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

11/26/2017 A.M.

 

Shining Like Stars

Philippians 2.12-16a

 

This morning... Our study is about stars... About the light of stars... And how we might become one… A star… A shining light in God’s Kingdom.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about stars and light...

 

Genesis 1.2 & 3… Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep... And God said... Let there be light and there was light.

 

First John 1.5 tells us that... God is light... And in Him there is no darkness at all.

 

John 8.12 has Jesus saying... I am the light of the world... Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness... But will have the light of life.

 

Matthew 5.14-16... Speaking of those who have the spirit and attitude of the Beatitudes... You are the light of the world... Like a city set on a hill cannot be hidden... Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl... Instead they put it on a stand so that it gives light to everyone in the house... In the same way...Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 

Ephesians 6.8-9 tells us... You were once darkness... But now you are light in the Lord...So live as children of light.

 

1 Peter 2.9... You are a chosen people... A royal priesthood... A holy nation... A people belonging to God... That you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

 

1 John 1.7... So... Walk in the light as He is in the light... And we will have fellowship with one another... And the blood of Jesus, his Son will continue to purify us...Cleanse us... from all sin.

 

I recently read of two brothers who traveled to the foot of Mount Sinai... There they camped overnight. Hundreds of miles into the desert... They were surprised at two things... The absolute quiet... And the number of stars in the sky.

 

There were no sounds of automobiles... No birds... No crickets... No hum of the refrigerator motor...No fan from the air conditioner... No TV or radio... No sound of raindrops... Just silence... Absolute silence.

 

Away from manmade lights...In absolute darkness... The sky was filled with unimaginable light... It seemed we could see…

• Every star...

• Ever planet...

• Every galaxy...

• Space seemed bigger...

• Broader...

• Deeper...

Than ever... It was overwhelming.

 

They went on to say... Our focus seemed to automatically turn to the One who created it all... His awesome sovereignty… We recalled the Scripture saying that God fills all of heaven and earth.  Yet He loves us... Cares so much for us... That He came and died on our behalf... To forgive our sins and save us eternally.

 

Church... Let’s pretend that we are there in the Sinai Peninsula with these two brothers... Miles and miles from any human help...

• And the stars went out...

• The moon refused to shine...

• And the sun didn’t come up in the morning...

Total... Absolute...Eternal... Darkness!... Silence!

Darkness with no hope of light.

 

I have the idea that this must be the feeling of the atheist and the agnostic... No light... No direction… No hope… Absolute silence.

 

You see…

• God created light for guidance... Navigation...

• His word gives us direction... A way to walk...

The Word... Light...Truth... Tell us how life is to be lived.

 

Light... Truth... God’s Word...

• Removes darkness...

• Reveals danger...

• Illuminates our path...

• Shows things as they really are.

Without light... Without truth... Life would be meaningless... Decision making would be an endless disappointment.

 

Indeed... Light… Truth… Shows us the way... Light lets us see things as they really are.

 

Let’s set these thoughts aside and let them soak as we consider a scripture in Philippians chapter two... Beginning with the verse numbered 12... Read it with me... Therefore... My dear friends... As you have always obeyed--not only in my presence... But now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling... For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing... So that you may become...Blameless... Pure... Children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation... In which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life...

 

Paul picks up Jesus’ thoughts... Saying that indeed... We are to be a light... Like a city set on a hill... Like stars in the universe... That we are to illumine the way for others... By holding out the Word of life.

 

Come... Let’s see what we can learn from these verses...

 

First... Paul says... Being a light means… We Become a people and person of Integrity...

As you have always obeyed... Not only in my presence... But now much more in my absence.

 

I think… It’s easy to do right in the church… It’s easy to do what’s right when we know other Christians are…

• Watching us…

• Supporting us…

• Encouraging us…

But integrity.... Biblical integrity... Is what we are… in the dark… when we’re alone... When no one is watching!

 

Church... Understand this... We are not hiding anything... God sees all... We must live a life of obedience in these assemblies... and out of these assemblies... When others are watching and when only God is watching.

 

Integrity is what happens on the outside that is a direct result of what his happening on the inside...Integrity occurs when attitude and behavior become the same.

 

We become lights shining in our world when our religion is through-and-through... When those around us see an inside and AN outside that’s the same... It’s called integrity!

And it holds true for us individual Christians... And for the church at Bella Vista.

 

Adrian Rogers tells of three gold prospectors who discovered an exceptionally rich mine. One of them said...Hey... We have it made as long as we don’t tell anybody... So each vowed to keep the secret. Because they had to have more tools and provisions... They headed to town. After buying all they needed... They hurried back to the mine. But they were not alone... A crowd of people followed them... Because discovery was written all over their faces.

 

Joyful Christians… Joyful Christians… With the light of God on their faces are what’s needed in the darkness of today’s crooked and twisted world... Amen?

 

To be a light in our world... We must work out our salvation.

This passage has created a lot of controversy... What’s Paul saying?

Scripture has made it plain that our salvation is by grace through faith... Not of works...Lest anyone should boost.

 

Are we back to believing that Salvation is by works?... Of course not!!

Salvation is a complex issue and the New Testament uses a number of words and concepts to explain it... Concepts such as...

• Adoption...

• Faith...

• Forgiveness ofsin...

• Faith’s obedience...

• Perseverance...

• Reconciliation...

• Redemption...

• Being born again...

• Repentance...

• Sanctification.

Each of these concepts is important... But to simplify... we’ll focus on two this morning... Reconciliation and sanctification.

 

Reconciliation is the process of restoring our estranged relationship with God.

Scripture tells us that our sins have separated us from God...

But... When we… in faith… surrender ourselves to Him... God reconciles us...

Reconciliation is a God work... Listen to these verses...

 

John 3.16-17 & 5... God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him... I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit... God saves us.

 

Acts 2.38... Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit... God forgives and gives us his spirit.

 

Galatians 3.26-27... So in Christ Jesus... You are all sons of God through faith for all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ... Have clothed yourselves with Christ.

 

Do we see This is God work?  He makes us his child… Adopts us.

 

Now the second word we’ll examine is sanctification....

Sanctification is a God work that brings us into the image of Jesus.

We’re... Reconciled... Redeemed...Forgiven... Saved... At the point of our acceptance and obedience in being born again.

 

Now that we are children of God by faith and baptism... We... With God’s help begin the process of having a Jesus... Heart... Mind... Attitude... Disposition... and Behavior.

 

We begin the process of asking... What would Jesus do?... What would Jesus have done?  Sanctification is a process... It’s a life-long process... We will never reach His perfection... Jesus’ Perfection… But we must not become discouraged in making the effort.

Again this is a God thing...

 

Look at our text... It is God who is working in you.

Sanctification is the Holy Spirit working in us... Helping us to conform to the image of Jesus...

 

Second Thessalonians testifies of this fact... There Paul says... God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through your belief in the truth.

 

Look at it this way...Let’s say the Holy Spirit is the Light in us... God placed it there at our conversion... And we are to allow His light to shine by our becoming more and more and more like Jesus... That’s the work of the Holy Spirit in our life.

 

No wonder we are told...

• To be filled with the Spirit...

• To be led by the Spirit... Live by the Spirit...

• To not quench the Spirit...

• To keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Allow me to give you a couple of examples of those...

1)... Who failed to give into the Holy Spirit's prompting... He quenched the Spirit...

And 2)... One who allows himself to be Spirit led.

 

He received instructions from God... Familiar... Easy to understand... Instructions.  However... They were instructions that he disagreed with... Something he’d rather not do. As you can imagine... This brought on grumbling and disputing with God. So... He decided he would go in the opposite direction to God’s command.

 

Well... You recall he ended up in the belly of a fish.

 

Have we ever been there...Knew and understood God’s will and did the opposite anyway?

WE Put out the spirit’s fire... And how did than work out for you?

 

The second person grew up in a town where the moon god was worshiped... His generation was warped and crooked... A crooked and depraved culture... But Jehovah God called him...

• Called him to go to a place he had never been...

• A place God would show him...

• A place God would give him as an inheritance.

Sound familiar?... He is the father of the faithful... Our father… If we are faithful.

Abraham responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit... Gave in to His prompting.

 

We too have been called to a place we’ve never been... A place God will show us... A place He will give us as an inheritance... If we will live by the Spirit... Keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Here it is church...

Is our light shining?...

• Are we like stars in this dark and crooked world we live in?

Because we are allowing... God to do His work in our lives...  Allowing Him to aid and assist us in working out our salivation?... In our becoming more like Jesus?

 

Thirdly... We are to live in... Awe, Reverence andrespect....

Most translations render this phrase fear and trembling...

However... The New English Translation says... Continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence.

 

I think one of the most lamentable characteristics of modern Christianity is the lack of awe...Reverence... respect... And wonder... That we have for God... And that His TRANSCENDENT... SOVEREIGN... AWESOME... Nature warrants.

 

Scripture has several examples of those who came into the presence of God and were terrified by His nature....

• Israel and Moses at Mount Sinai...

• Isaiah in theTemple...

• The shepherds in the field at Jesus’ birth...

• Peter... James...John... on the Mount of Transfiguration...

• Paul on the Damascus Road...

• John on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation.

 

While it’s impossible for us to have an accurate understanding and appreciation of our Holy Majestic God... We must not be too casual and complacent in our relationship and conversation with Him.

 

Yes... God is our closest Friend and Abba Father... Yet He is...

• Awesome...

• Powerful...

• Majestic...

• Transcendent...

• Sovereign...

• And Holy...

Beyond our imagination...Beyond our comprehension.

 

Indeed... When we see God for who He really is... We will allow His light to shine in our daily walk... Amen?

 

Being a shining star means we must stop our grumbling and complaining.

There’s something wrong... with a child of... Jehovah God... the Creator... Provider... Sustainer...Protector... of the universe...

• Who is always arguing and complaining.

• Who always seems to have a pessimistic outlook on life...

• Who displays a... Contentious...Restless... Discontent... demeanor.

 

When we think of grumbling and murmuring, we naturally think of Israel in the Wilderness. Although God provided everything they needed... They were dissatisfied... Grumbled...Murmured.

 

And as a result God destroyed the grumbler… Paul says… Do not grumble, as some of them did--and were killed by the destroying angel.

 

Grumbling... Murmuring... destroyed Israel’s witness... And will continue to make us a poor testimony today.

 

Murmuring... Complaining brings disgrace and disrepute to God and His cause in our world.


How are we doing here?... Honestly?...

Done much complaining lately?

 

Sometimes I have people come into my study complaining... This is not fair!... God is unfair!!!... Oh really?... And who are we to decide that?

 

Here it is church... You don’t want God to be fair with you... You want His...

• Generosity...

• His Patience...

• Provision...

• Protection...

• Mercy...

• Grace...

• His Forgiveness...

• Loving Kindness...

Every moment of every day in every way... Amen?

 

Shining lights... Must be different... Must stand out from the world.

We are to be… Blameless... Pure... Children of God without fault.

• We are to stand out from the world...

• We’re to be different...

• Peculiar… Set apart people...

• We’re not to allow the world to squeeze us into its mold.

• We are not to love the things of the world.

 

I don’t believe we’re hearing Paul say we must be perfect... But that we’re called toward perfection.

He is saying....

• In the eyes of those in the world...

• In the eyes of those in our culture...

There must be no one who can criticize or question our status as children of God.

 

You see church... In this text, Paul is saying… There are times in the life of a lamp that...

• The wick needs attention...

• Perhaps the glass has become smoky...

• Maybe the filament is burned out...

• Or the diode refuses to light...

Something needs to be done to restore our light.

 

I hope we have learned how to ILLUMINE our world for Jesus in this lesson.

 

If you are here and not a child of God... The challenge is for you to become one by faith and baptism.

 

Maybe we just need forgiveness for not being the light we ought to be.  Perhaps we need the prayers of the church for help in being a light.

 

Maybe you are a child of God and would like to help us illumine Northwest Arkansas by finding your place in God’s illumining ministry in this church family.

 

If any of these challenges speak to you... Respond as we stand and sing together.