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Sermon 6/7/09
Arise And Shine -Isaiah 60:1-3

Audio Sermon

Arise And Shine
by Jon Beckham

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Isaiah 60:1-3)

A couple of weeks ago I noticed something strange in my account. It had money in it! But it was NOT there in my account because it was saved out of income! I had purchased a couch a few months before and I expected the charge to follow soon after. But no charge came. Week after week I checked my account, and the money was still sitting there and it was never collected by the company. For two months I hesitated about what I should do. I even reasoned with myself that the charge had gone through and I must have missed it. But in my heart I knew it wasn’t so. The fact was that the furniture store had never charged me for the new couch they had delivered two months ago. I don’t want to tell you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that I sat there with no temptation in my heart because I actually was weak from the temptation that filled me. I felt the weight of it on my shoulders. I thought of all of the things I could do with that money. I pictured myself on vacation or paying off some old debt. I even reasoned that keeping the money would be okay if I donated a portion of it to my church or a charity.

As I fought the temptation, I realized I was losing the battle. It was clear to me that after two months of not billing me, the owner of the furniture store was not going to charge me and was unaware that I had a free couch at his expense.

I think sometimes it’s like we find ourselves available to two different teams with two different objectives. I played a lot of sports growing up and have watched a lot of sports since that time. In any sport, like soccer, where you pass the ball back-and-forth among players, the other team will pressure you with sometimes two or three opposing players to take the ball by pressing you into a mistake. In life you can find yourself surrounded by the other team. The pressure becomes intense as you find the other team is defending you capably and you are trapped. You become desperate as you realize you’re only moments from losing the ball to the other team. Your once excellent concentration has been broken and you are forced to make a decision, but you can’t see clearly. You can’t find an open member of your team. All you can see are opposing players all around you, ready to take the ball away. You feel the weight of the opposition coming down on you and you start to doubt yourself as you realize this decision might be critical and contribute to the other team winning the game if you lose the ball.

However, your teammates see you more clearly than you see yourself, your coach sees you from outside of the field altogether and they realize the pressure you are experiencing is overwhelming. Your team and coach are ready and willing to help you because like you, they want to win the game. They see the field clearly, they know you are seeking answers and your trouble is clear to them. Your moment of pressure has clearly become too much and your teammates desperately run to your aid. But the pressure has been too great for you mentally and you can’t see the players on your team who are rushing to help you. All you can see are wrong answers and you are running out of time.

At a final desperate moment when all seems lost and you begin to accept that you will lose the ball in this critical moment, you hear your coach cry out, “Behind you!” and you blindly obey by kicking the ball backwards, as you recognize that a teammate not in your field of vision is right in back of you coming to aid in this time of trouble and help you keep the ball in play. As you blindly obey your coach, the pressure is relieved since the ball has been passed to someone else. As the opposing players move away, you look up and realize that passing the ball was a good decision. You would not have been able to make this decision on your own because you were so bound up in the pressures of the situation that you could not see the solution. You look back and understand that in life, as in sports, the wisdom of another who has no motives other than to help you see clearly is of paramount importance to us all.

I still try to play sports when I can, but find myself more-and-more a member of God’s team. Five years ago, I would have considered myself lucky to have a free couch at no expense. Today, I find myself calling the furniture store owner and letting him know he forgot to charge me. But a very real personal battle took place, I felt incredible temptation, but I felt God calling to me from the sidelines. I was also able to plant a good seed into the heart of that store owner. The furniture store owner was so amazed he felt compelled to give me a discount. I didn’t want him to do that, either. I was sure in these harsh economic times he was not making much money from the couch anyway. So I told him our prior deal was fair and he didn’t need to discount the price. I found myself telling the furniture store owner that as a man I almost failed; the Lord put it on my heart to call him and give him what was rightfully his.

Although I made the right decision, the pressure was on my shoulders, until my great Friend called out to me from the sidelines of life and said that keeping the couch and the money is simply “stealing.” Because of His Voice in my heart, I saw that I had almost done wrong. But my temptation was turned into something good. The furniture store owner told me he couldn’t believe someone would actually do that in this day and age. But I think I did something all Christians should do and that is “love thy neighbor” and “do not steal from thy neighbor.” Although the furniture store owner does not live next to me; I consider him my neighbor which I am beginning to understand about everyone I come in contact with.

I don’t think I did anything special and I think such deeds should not always be shared with others, but it’s a reminder that God knows our deeds and what is on our heart. I want to challenge you to not hide your “light.” Don’t be afraid to give to your teammates, your brothers and sisters, your neighbors, what is rightfully theirs to begin with. Don’t be afraid to return another person’s wallet and openly say you returned the wallet because you love God more than money and you want them to know that God loves them too.

Be observant to what is happening around you. Be aware of pressures of temptation and take that temptation as an opportunity to listen prayerfully to God and show that your love for Him is greater than your love for the things of this world! “Arise and Shine” and let the “Light” that comes from God shine on you. Listen to His call and follow the Lord. He not only said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), but He also said “YOU are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), through trusting in Him.

Father, life is full of temptation and trouble, but You are the great Coach who leads me and shows me what I should do. I am learning to hear Your voice and to trust in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Sermon by Jon Beckham. Voice by Pastor Ron Beckham of Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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