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From Darkness to Light

For the past fourteen years my early morning habit has been to seek the “proceeding Word of God” by reading the Christian Bible and praying.  I usually describe this time as “devotion,” as do many others.  The past couple of years, my devotion time has lasted thirty to sixty minutes.  There have been years past, different seasons in life, where it was much longer.  Most of this has to do with the demands of raising kids, getting to bed at a decent hour, and rising early enough to spend quality time with the Lord.  In the earlier years of devotion, I did lots of writing, mostly note taking on scrap papers and any notebook I could find, to somehow document what I felt the Holy Spirit of God was revealing to me through scripture and prayer.  Most of this fell in the realm of interpreting the spiritual meaning and practical application of God’s Word. 

My wife encouraged me many times to start a blog, to write about what I get from the scriptures, but until now, I didn’t feel that I could make blogging a priority.  But I read something in the scripture that created a strong desire in my heart to begin this blog:

“And I [Saul] said, Who are you, Lord?  And He said, “I am Jesus, whom you persecute.  But rise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to make you a minister and a witness of both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear to you; delivering you from the people and the Gentiles, unto whom now I send you, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.”  Acts 26:15-18 KJV paraphrased. 

So reading this on Saturday morning, March 20, 2010, I signed up for this WordPress blog.  I began writing, but failed to finish the post.  On the next morning, Sunday, I began devotion by opening the Bible with prayer that God would lead my reading.  Some would criticize Bible study which lacks a plan, and sometimes I read with predetermined intention, but sometimes I also open the Book without a plan because my faith is stirred to do so.  I do have faith that the Holy Spirit can lead me into truth by whatever approach He chooses, and also that He can lead my teaching in a way which overcomes my own limitations.  

Please forgive the digression because the important thing about that Sunday morning devotion was that it led to II Corinthians 4, where Paul is writing about how Satan has “…blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” and how “…God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” II Corinthians 4:4-6

I also read on that Saturday morning in Ephesians 5 that believers are charged not to partner with those who are in darkness:

“…for at one time you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.  Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”  – Ephesians 5:7-14 ESV

In response to this extempore reading, I believed that God was trying to say something to me about darkness and light, I began to search for some related scriptures.  The scripture which spoke strongest to my spirit is Isaiah Chapter 29.  All twenty-four verses seem to speak a message to the people of our world today:

Jerusalem will be distressed and besieged.  There will be moaning and lamentation.  She will be brought low, and “…voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and from the dust your speech shall whisper” (verses 1-4).  Prior to the devotions which led to this focus of darkness and light, I had read Elie Wiezel’s Night.  I read it from 10pm to 1am one night.  Having begun the reading, I was not willing to put it down until I had heard the story of Elie Wiezel’s night, and the night into which all his family was lost, and the story of the Jewish people who suffered such a horrific nightmare in the Nazi holocaust.  In my mind and heart, to stop reading the work before it was finished would have been a sign of disrespect for all those who perished in that long night, and all who suffered but survived; all who are waiting for God’s just recompense against Satan, and against darkness.  I share this on the heels of Isaiah 29’s prophecy that Jerusalem will suffer because I do not want her to suffer.  Has she not suffered enough?  Has she not seen enough darkness throughout her generations?  I know that God’s light will ultimately be Jerusalem’s sun, and Jesus Christ will be her light, but it is difficult to bear the thought that she may have to suffer more than she has already borne.  

Isaiah 29:7 says that a time will come when all the nations that fight against Jerusalem and distress her “…shall be like a dream, a vision in the night.” 

As to the world, “Astonish yourselves and be astonished; blind yourselves and be blind!…For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes and covered your heads.” Isaiah 29:9-10.  How great must the darkness be which blinds us, closes our eyes, and covers our heads.  The Lord must wake us up!

“Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say ‘Who sees us?  Who knows us?’  You turn things upside down!  Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me;’ or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?  Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?  In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see….and all who do evil shall be cut off….Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:  ‘Jacob shall no more be ashamed….and those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding.'”

I am sorry to say that I did nothing to document the thoughts above until now.  I let the words pass, the thoughts with them, and the days.  But God kept speaking.  On Wednesday, March 24th, I received an email from Christ for All Nations, the ministry of Rheinhard Bonnke, evangelist to Africa.  The title of the email was “From Darkness to Light! – Takum, Nigeria – Day 1 CfaN Hotline March 24, 2010.”  Evangelist Bonnke’s “Joshua” Daniel Kolenda, wrote the following on his blog:

Our journey to Takum yesterday was a very long one.  The “harmattan” (a dust storm from the Sahara Desert) covered Nigeria in a thick fog that blotted out the sun and grounded many planes…including ours for lack of visibility.  By the time we arrived here in Takum, it was 1:00 this morning.  We thought that surely everyone in town would be sleeping.  But to our surprise the streets were still lined with enthusiastic locals that had been waiting for many hours to welcome us (see the attached picture).  It is clear that this city is ripe for the harvest and we are here bringing in the sheaves.

Tonight, the first service began with Evangelist Bonnke preaching a powerful evangelistic message about repentance.  The people received it with Joy, turning “From darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God”.  –http://www.danielkolenda.com/index.php/2010/03/24/from-darkness-to-light-takum-nigeria-day-1/

Still, I don’t believe God had my full attention regarding this message of darkness to light.  I have little realized that I have been living by the proceeding word of God.  The demands of a very demanding new job, a 9-day family vacation and business trip to DC, two kids in their twenties, two in teens, and two toddlers (adopted from China over the past two years), and my willingness to allow all these things to take precedence over seeking God to understand His word, resulting in my turning a deaf ear to the Lord until the devotion of this morning, Wednesday, April 7, 2010. 

Although my custom each morning is to consult the Holy Bible first and foremost, I felt drawn to open a book called In Step With God, by Charles Stanley.  Although I love the wisdom God has given to Pastor Stanley, I’ve had the copy of this book for several months, and have only read small portions from time to time; a few minutes here, a few minutes there.  It has been at least two months since I opened this book.  So my first response was to ignore the urge to lift it from my nightstand, where it was sitting with several other books in various stages of reading progression.  But I did lift the book and take it with my Bible to a chair in the living room.  I still intended to ignore In Step With God and consult the Holy Bible first, but I picked it up and opened it to the page I had bookmarked by slipping in the fold of the dust cover.  On page 162, Pastor Stanley quotes Ephesians 5:1-8:

Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them; for your were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.

On page 163, Pastor Stanley continues:

If sin or temptation is appealing to you, you have some work to do.  If you are tempted by an action and tell yourself, “No one will know, and if someone does, it won’t matter,”  you are positioning yourself for a spiritual fall.  Here is what happens: temptation comes, and most people try to rationalize their feelings.  Sin begins with a thought.  If this is not checked, it will grow into a feeling, and if we do not stand against it, we will end up giving in to it and acting on our feelings.  When this continues, sin quickly becomes a habit, and a habit becomes a stronghold for the enemy to establish a base camp in our lives.  A pure heart desires to be holy and righteous before God. 

These thoughts on darkness to light are not finished.  There is more to write, and I need to devote time to seeking the Lord in earnest.  I am grateful to the Holy Spirit for blessing me with a hunger for the Word, and filling that hunger even when I’m rushing out the door like a teenager who has no time for breakfast; maybe just a granola bar. 

This message of darkness to light speaks to all believers who are called to share the gospel to a world of unbelievers in darkness.  It calls to me personally to fullfil the ministry to which He called me.  The message of darkness to light makes me think more about the history of oppression and darkness which led to genocide in so many cultures, and continues to lead to it.  What are the limits of the darkness of evil which can blind the understanding of man, and kill the love that should lift his heart?  This message of darkness to light calls me personally to have a holy heart before the Lord.  I was not saved by such common things as silver or gold, but by the priceless blood of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Man and Son of God.  How could I partner with darkness when He is the One who has saved me from the power of Satan and turned me to the power of God?  Jesus has turned me from darkness to light.  Will I be as Lot’s wife, who looked back on the place from which she was saved?  Or will I keep my eye on the Light? 

More to follow….Jim

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Categories: Christian
  1. Pat Threats
    April 8, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Jim, I can identify with what Ephesians 5:1-8 is saying…my job is a battle everyday to bring forth the light in the midst of darkness and I have found great peace in spite of it.
    The Lord has blessed my hands to prosper in everything I do and when I create projects, the sons of disobedience gnash their teeth. I know I’m at this job for a reason, although not fully understanding why…but it has made me grow in understanding the ‘things’ of God.
    These people are here to ‘push me forward’ in the way God wants me to go. He uses “them” to “press” me to carry out God’s will and bring Him glory. “Let no one deceive you with empty words” meaning with no power. The Light has power…darkness has nothing.
    We use our words to exhort, pray, encourage, magnify, bless, intercede, praise; and God wants us to learn how to be the ‘god-class’ that He created us to be…by speaking those things that are not, as though they were.
    ‘Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us…’
    The Light gives us power, to speak to our circumstances and situations, to decree and declare our authority by Christ Jesus, knowing how the word of God does not return unto us void, but accomplishes that in which HE sends it to perform.
    This is just what happened to me tonite; so we, as Christians, take a stand against darkness, ‘Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.’ This is what I received from your blog. :0)
    I hope this encourages you and it is sent with true affection to my brother in Christ… love to you all, Ms Pat

    • April 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

      Pat,
      Your words and application are so timely. I’ve been awake less than an hour, and am preparing to spend some time with the Lord, but since waking my mind has been heavily occupied with how to deal with darkness at work. Your understanding of how God uses your workplace and coworkers to press you is very helpful and edifying for me. Thank you.

      In Christ and only for His glory,
      Jim

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