Power and Light

It is amazing how dependent our culture is on electricity.

Electricity was discovered to be able to be conducted through an substance by 17th-century German physicist Otto von Guericke, who observed conduction in a linen thread.

It was until 1878 British scientist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan invented the modern light bulb, which uses carbon filaments in evacuated glass bulbs.

Then a year later Thomas Edison independently discovered the same device a year later in his work on the development of the electrical infrastructure.

And before that time, there was no electrical lighting.

  • There were no sound systems.
  • There were no computers.
  • There was no television.
  • There was no telephone.
  • There was no air conditioning in the summer.
  • There is no electric heat in the winter.

Now, our society must have electricity to operate.

Through these 400 years we have grown in our understanding of how to harness the power of electricity.

We have learned to control it.  We have 60 W bulbs and then we have those three way bulbs.

We run power for tiny circuits and ships our computers.  And we have millions of watts of power through big city power plants.

In the same way that we have learned about electricity, Paul’s concern for the Ephesians and for each of us is that we grow in the understanding, the spiritual wisdom, and the knowledge of God.

Turn with me to Ephesians chapter one verse 15-17; as I read from the New Living Translation.

15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for Christians everywhere, 16I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. (Eph 1:15-17, NLT)

 

Before we go any deeper, let us pray.

 

We are in the beginning stages of a series of sermons on the letter from the Apostle Pau to the Ephesians.

In our passage this morning, Paul says that he prays for God to give us spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we might grow in our knowledge of God.

He wants us to grow in how to gain wisdom and understanding.

That is what we need today.

 

In a world, this spiritually and therefore morally bankrupt, we need spiritual wisdom and understanding.

In that, we need a fresh understanding of what is sin.  This understanding comes from a spiritual mind set.

One that our cultural does not have.

 

The Bible says that

  • adultery is sin,
  • murder is sin,
  • lying is sin,
  • cheating on taxes or  tests is sin,
  • stealing: taking something that isn’t yours is sin—
  • and the list can go on and on.

But our culture is drifting away from the laws of God.  We need to learn how to gain wisdom and understanding.

And Paul’s prayer for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding—is shown through light and power.

Paul first puts our attention on light.

 

Look with me at Verse 18:

18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light (Eph 1:18a, NLT)

 

Paul prays for the Ephesians to be flooded with light. What does it means to be “flooded with light”?

When you are flooded with light you are full or flooded with Christ.  Jesus said in John 8:12:

 12Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)

And we are to be flooded with this light.  Our whole lives should be lit by the light of Christ.  Therefore, we will not stumble.  We stumble because in sin, our light is snuffed out.

Proverbs 13:9 says

9The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the sinner’s light is snuffed out. (Prov 13:9, NLT)

So, we are to be flooded with light so that we do not stumble. And we continue to walk in the light of the Lord. Isaiah 2:5 says:

5Come, people of Israel, let us walk in the light of the Lord! (Is 2:5, NLT)

 

Monica and I were able to attend a Chihuahuas baseball game this summer. The new stadium is absolutely beautiful!

It is amazing to me how the designers of the stadium designed the lighting around the stadium to resemble daylight.  The lights are so bright that you can see perfectly.  There is no darkness until you walk outside the stadium.

And that is how our lives should be as well.

 

Our lives should be so bright with the light of Christ that it repels darkness.

Our lives should reflect God’s light so in the midst of darkness, in this world of sin, we can clearly see the way with out stumbling.

 

How do you flood your life with light?

First of all we need to accept Christ into our life.

You need to realize that without Christ we are all in darkness.  We are all sinners.  That is our nature and our choice.

The payment for this sin is death, which is eternal separation from Christ—which means Eternal darkness.

But Christ paid the penalty for us.  He died on the cross as the sky turned dark and as the earth shook to pay that penalty for us.  But we must accept it.

You must accept it. Or be eternal condemned to darkness, death and hell.

 

Then, to walk in the light we also need to keep the generator running.

Many of us survive on the dim glow of batteries.  They get charged from time to time but the light dims after awhile.  We need to keep the generator running.

We do this by continually, daily coming before Christ in fellowship with him.  We do this through prayer and Bible reading.

Setting aside a moment for your personal devotional time can keep that fellowship in tact.  There are many days that you will feel as if your prayers are hitting the ceiling but they are not.  You must continue daily and persistent.

And Paul prays that the Ephesians will be flooded with Light.

 

Why is it important to be flooded? V18b

 

18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. (Eph 1:18b, NLT)

 

We first need to be flooded so you can understand the future. What is the future?  What wonderful future is he talking about?

 

Revelation 21:1-6

 

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.

3I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.? 4He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.”

5And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making all things new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! (Rev 21: 1-6, NLT)

 

This is the future that we need to understand!

 

In all the trials of life, as we suffer for our faith, it is these visions of the wonderful future that will encourage us.  We can be encouraged to know that Christ is returning.  And this future is close at hand.  We can be encouraged to know that he is coming back and we can endure.

When we suffer, we are to look to the future.  Where non of the suffering will take place.

When we are flooded with light, we are looking to the expectation of Christ coming home, resting in the great inheritance, and living in power.

 

And that is Paul’s second prayer.

V19

19I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. (Eph 1:19, NLT)

We see here that we are to understand the power for us who believe in him.

Jesus was very forward in telling us that there is power.

 

Acts 1.8 says,

8But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NLT)

You shall receive power.  That power is to tell people about Him everywhere.

The power to proclaim.  And with this power we can boldly go out into the world and declare.

God is powerful.  And we should not cower behind our doubt.  We have received power to proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth, and we should not hesitate or be ashamed.

What is an example of this power?

 

Look at  V19-20

19I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Eph 19-20, NLT)

This power had authority over death.  If we have this power what more can we have?  There is no power greater.

And then Christ had power over authority.  Christ was placed at the right hand be the same power that we have been given.

Jesus Christ was made ruler over all things.  And all of this power belongs to Christ

 

v21-23

21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come. 22And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence. (Eph 1:21-23, NLT)

 

Christ has the authority  over all things and Christ fills the church with his presence and that same power.

We need to take advantage of this power.

If we are obedient, we can make a difference in this sinful world through our witness, through our prayers, through our giving, through our love for those around us.

It is not time for us to sit back.  It is time for us to get in the fight.  We have a great power behind us.  We need to begin to take a stand.

The first stand we need to take is in our personal walk with Christ.  What is the next step for you to take?

Christian, your next step may be to begin a devotional time,

or your next step may need to begin sharing your faith more,

or your next step may be to go on a mission trip.

But we all need to take the next step towards growing in our Christian walk and begin experiencing this power that is promised.

Do you have power in your life?  Or do you feel defenseless to this world?  The Bible says God wants us to have power in our lives.

And the Bible says that when God wants us to have the light in our lives.  But you can only have power and light if you have Christ.

Do you have Christ today?  We talk about our eternal destiny, our hope.  But without Christ you cannot have that eternal life.

All of us are condemned to hell.  We are sinners.

And the wages of sin is death.  But Christ paid the penalty for us.  And if we accept him we can have that eternal life.

And along with eternal life we can have that power and light.

We have talked this morning about electricity.

Electricity is a form of energy associated with moving electrons and protons.

Electricity can also be defined as Electric current used or regarded as a source of power.  And that power produces light.

This morning we can each take the next step in our Christian walk and become dependent on the electricity of Christ.

Let us Pray.

 

—-

 

This sermon was originally preached at the Crossroads Chapel service at Sage Hall. Fort Bliss, Texas on 21 September 2014.

All Scriptures marked NLT: New Living Translation,Tyndale House Foundation. Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Build Your Emergency Kit

Emergency kit cutaways

As we in El Paso, TX prepare for the remnants of Hurricane Odile, it raises the importance of having an Emergency Kit ready when you need it. I have said before, an emergency can occur at any moment.  This isn’t said to scare but to encourage you to prepare.

I have a couple of bags and backpacks for different reasons, all set up for particular emergencies.  One is my Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) bag that stays in my truck–this one is first aid kit heavy, with other materials for CERT response or to assist if my family is ever directly involved in a large emergency. The other is my standard hiking day pack–I keep hiking supplies in this one and preparations for emergencies out on the trail. Both bags have specific uses and I keep both fully stocked.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t use them, I do–as I encounter “little emergencies” along the way and take the time to replenish them.  I think that the best kit is the one that you use and restock. Through use, you’ll be able to find other things that you want to put in there–like “Duck Tape”–you never know when you need it, or how you can use it, but you can! So personalize you kit to your life–keep it in your truck or garage where you can get to it.

The biggest lesson to learn about an Emergency Kit is to not over-think it.  Most of what goes inside is common sense–but we simply may not be thinking of these things when we put them together.  FEMA has put together an Emergency Supply List that will get you started to building and personalizing your own Emergency Kit.

For more information on Building an Emergency Kit, go to FEMA’s Build-A-Kit Website.

(Photo: FEMA)

Personalize Your Disaster Plans

Senior couple at desk making emergency plan.

Each one of us are different.

Some of us have pets.  Some of us have special needs. Some of us travel.

How are you going to prepare for disaster?

Every situation is unique, some of these situations are unique to just you. For me, I have four kids who are home-schooled.  I have different concerns when it comes to a disaster during the day–for the most part they are all at home; but they also have a greater chance at taking a short midday trip to the store. I also like comic books.  With nearly 5000 comic books, flooding is a concern of mine. Then, I have a cat. So, I have to have a plan for our home schoolers, a plan in case of flooding to protect the comic books, and a plan to take care of cupcake in case of emergency.

These are just three of the areas that I must consider while preparing for disaster.

As I said earlier, everyone is different–so develop your plan for your situation.

If you have a business, check out FEMA’s guide to help you prepare.

If you are a senior citizen, click on this link to help you prepare.

If you have Pets, FEMA has a guide for them too.

During National Preparedness Month take time to prepare a plan for your unique situation–only you know what you may need.

 

 

 

 

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(Photo credit: FEMA Media Library)

 

Establish a Family Rallying Point

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rallying point - a point or principle on which scattered or opposing groups can come together. 

In the Army, one of the first concepts I learned was how to establish a Rallying Point on a patrol.  This is a selected place during the patrol that if something goes wrong and people get separated, this is the location in which Soldiers should return.

Do you have a Rallying Point for your Family during a disaster?

One of the scariest aspects of a natural disaster is losing contact with your loved ones, especially if they are children. While we don’t want to dwell on the threat of disaster, it is important to take ten seconds to determine where you could meet your family if you get separated, and communicate this to your family.

The first place to meet up, and easiest, could be your home.  By returning home, you will have supplies for several days and have some of your comforts (toys, books, snacks) even if your power is out.  From there you could make the decision whether or not to evacuate.

The second place to meet up should be selected as a place to meet if you can not return to your home or are forced to evacuate. It could be your work, your church, or a favorite playground. You can’t always count on being able to return to your home or that your home will be the safest place to be.  A contingency location is very important for rallying back with your family.

Throughout the plan, it is best that you have a good plan to stay in communication with your family.  This will save time as you will be able to communicate your location to the other parties.  It is important that you text during the early stages if the disaster.  It has been shown, in previous disasters, that texting is a better means to communicating during a disaster as it does not clog the lines used for voice.

Prepare now for a disaster by selecting and communicating your family’s rallying point and by reviewing how to send and receive text messages.

 

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Mapping the World

 

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(Photo: economist.com)

While reading through my twitter feeds last week, I saw an interesting story about how the International Red Cross is using maps generated from satellite imagery though a volunteer program on Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

 

map1

I reminded how we take for granted so much of what is given to us. If we want to go to a new place, we open our iphone, link it up to the GPS, and get directions. In other parts of the world, the areas do not even have paper maps to follow to get to someone’s destination. Tragically, these areas are some of these areas that are most vulnerable during disease outbreaks and disasters. The lack of maps may prevent some people from receiving aid or even rescue. Maps are also needed so missionaries can travel safely to smaller villages that need to hear the gospel of Christ.

map2

 

I am amazed and excited that we can take part in helping people around the world through supporting the people doing the actual work. God has called me to be an Army Chaplain. My job and calling restricts my ability to serve on the ground in missions and many disaster relief projects. There may come a time when I am able to step out and physically do more; but through mapping, I can provide a critical tool to missionaries and disaster relief workers in some of the most critical hot spots around the world. Some of these include Gaza (War), Africa (Ebola Outbreak), and Serbia (Flooding).

Through programs such as the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team, we all can take part in the assistance to those in near any where in the world.