Illuminate the Darkness


Core scripture: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14-15)

Message: It has started in our school.  BIG TIME.  Negativity is creeping into all areas of my life.  The newness of fresh beginnings has somehow metamorphosized into a hot mess of … just … BLECK!  It is difficult to even find the words to describe it!  The complaining.  The drama.  The lies of Satan being believed as truth.  It has begun to bubble up and boil over.

Any of you feeling the same way?  It brought one of my dear friends to tears last week.  I walked into the room to see her crying, and do you know what?  I kinda wanted to cry with her.  I felt the exact same way.  I myself was resorted to tears a few weeks ago—yes, I am man enough to admit it—and do you know what?  It actually felt great.  I just needed to get it out. 

So, what do we do?  How can we take back what Satan has snatched from us?  It all comes down to a simple choice we must make every morning.  Jesus is drawing a line in the sand.  On one side there is hope.  Goodness.  Love.  On the other?  Death.  Pessimism.  Frustration.  You get to choose which side you reside on.  Let’s use God’s Word to lay out this battle plan. 

You have to begin with Philippians 2:14-15 laid out for us above.  Paul had EVERY right to complain, yet he rarely if ever grumbled or disputed.  He didn’t get sucked into drama.  Paul embraced hardship!  He thrived on it!  As a matter of fact, he flat out says that Christians who live a Godly life will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). 

Christians should stick out like sore thumbs amongst the world.  The world is crooked.  Perverse!  And Jesus called us to be the lights out there to illuminate the darkness.  That is the question we should be asking ourselves right now … How can we illuminate the darkness?  How can we take back what Satan is sucking away from us like a vacuum? 

I tell you what; it starts with prayer.  Early in the morning.  Set your heart right with the Lord.  Ask Him for guidance through the day, and then take it to the next level.  “Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  God will bless you with His perspective if you seek it out.

We get to choose what we think about.  What does my man Paul say about that?  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Let me take a minute to do that myself.  I am so grateful when I list out my blessings!

  • I have a dynamic team to go into battle with every day.  We lift each other up when we are weak, and we listen to one another’s burdens. 
  • Countless students are filling my bucket!  One brought me a gift sack last week full of Diet Coke, a candle, a sack of candy, and a sweet note. 
  • I get to teach one of my favorite novels soon, and I am already stoked about discussing the themes laid out inside.  They are life lessons that will take the kids to the next level!
  • Our new Assistant Principal, Brian, is truly amazing.  The more time I spend around him, the better I feel.  He is positive, hopeful, and excited.  Although I have yet to discuss faith with him, the way he presents himself is that of a Christ follower. 
  • Tomorrow is a half day full of positivity and enthusiasm.  I get to spend the entire morning with my Amistad House, building student relationships and loving on them.  The purpose of tomorrow is why I got into teaching in the first place!

I could go on, but five is a good number to stop at.  What about you guys?  What are you grateful for?  Create that list that I just did.  Reflect on it, and praise the Lord!  “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).  That is a phenomenal promise, isn’t it!  Totally fills my bucket!  But we cannot forget one last way to gain back what Satan has taken …

In Acts 20:35, Luke writes, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  Who can you give to this week?  Who would be encouraged by a kind note?  A funny picture to make them laugh?  Maybe even getting their favorite soda or snack!  Fill someone’s bucket this week by serving them. 

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live characters, Chris Farley, once did a segment called the Chris Farley Show.  I loved when Paul McCartney visited as his guest speaker, and Chris quoted one of his songs from Abbey Road.  Paul says back to Chris that the more you give, the more you get.  The sheer joy on Farley’s face illuminates the screen as he points to McCartney and whispers out, “AWESOME!”

The more you give, the more you get.  Cliché?  Sure.  Truth?  Absolutely!  It is time to illuminate the darkness around us.  Pierce the night with His light.  (Holy smokes, that actually rhymed and sounded pretty cool!  Might put that on a bumper sticker or something!)  Time to close off with the scripture we all need to hear:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

I wonder what would happen if we took that last line to heart?

Challenge: Write down that list of your blessings at work.  Thank someone that appears on your list with a kind note or treat.  Make an effort to reach out to another colleague you see struggling.  It could be sending them a Chris Farley video to make them laugh or just letting them know that you are praying for them.  It is time to shine this week!

Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …

  • Pray that Christian teachers everywhere will choose joy over negativity.
  • Praise God for the countless blessings He has given us all!
  • Pray that parents will be able to see Christ inside us during conferences this week.

Just for fun: This was a no brainer.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the segment of the Chris Farley SNL sketch I mentioned above.  Sorry if it sets you off on a YouTube rabbit hole where you watch 10 more of his videos!

Song application: “Good To Be Alive” by Jason Gray.  Put this song on repeat and live it out!

Hold on
Is this really the life I’m living?
‘Cause I don’t feel like I deserve it
Every day that I wake, every breath that I take you’ve given
So right here, right now
While the sun is shining down

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive, yeah

Prayer: Father, help us all shine as lights in the darkness of the world, illuminating every living thing around us!  Amen. 

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