Monday, 5 November 2012

Thanksgiving And Shining Stars

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                 So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Philippians 2:15

'Shine like stars in the universe’.  Do we do this?
We all know of little Sunday school songs and children’s songs that talk about shining; ‘This Little Light of Mine’, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’.  We can think of the concept of shining to be childish, unnecessary, cute, or not for the mature. These views are not accurate simply because the whole concept of shining came from God Himself (through Paul), with no reference to age, maturity, life experience, gender, marital status etc. He has described all those belonging to Christ to be shining like stars in the universe.

The verb shine means to be ‘of the sun or another source of light’; ‘to glow or be bright with reflected light’; ‘be bright with emotion’; to ‘direct (a torch or other light, the dictionary states) somewhere in order to see something in the dark.’

A bit of a recap on English for a moment, a verb simply is a word used to describe an action or the state of something.

So what Paul is telling us here is that we are to be in the action of shining, we are to be seen or found in the state of shining. In the action of glowing brightly with the reflected light of Jesus; being bright with His emotions;  we are to be the one’s shining bright enough with His light to those who need to see through the darkness; we are also to shine our light to find them in the darkness. 

But how?  How are we to keep shining like we are meant to? Paul tells us one way to do this. Back up in verse 15 he tells us to do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

Everything without complaining or arguing … that is pretty hard for us. I am reading this book at the moment that is all about thanksgiving. About recognising the things that are in our life that come to us right from the hand of God and then going one step further and verbally thanking Him for it. Not just recognising the good things, but voicing our thanks for these things. The author goes one step further again and writes down all these good things as a written record of the goodness of God in her life.  Thanksgiving and thankfulness are the opposite of complaining and arguing. Thanksgiving and shining go hand in hand. Thanksgiving makes way for the shining.

If we are to be shining like stars in the universe so that others may be made aware of His grace and mercy and salvation; yet all we do is complain, whinge, argue and sometimes flat out refuse to give God our thanks for all the many amazing exceedingly above all that we ever hoped or asked for or imagined blessings; the thankfulness that He deserves, then aren’t we in fact dimming our lights? Becoming less effective in our witness? Becoming a little flicker instead of a full on blaze of His reflected light.

Jesus himself in Luke 22:19 ‘Took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them’. Jesus saw the importance of giving thanks to His Father even while awaiting his crucifixion, knowing that His suffering would manifest the glory of God.  Do we follow the example of Christ and offer thankfulness in all things, good and bad, just as Christ offered thanks to His Father before the excruciating torture that left Him unrecognisable to man took place?

This is what makes our shining so important, so vital, and so necessary.
Isaiah 53: 5 says , ‘But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed’.

Paul follows up in verse 16 that we ‘shine like stars in the universe, as we hold out the Word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour for nothing’.

We are to shine and hold out the Word of life. When we are actively reflecting the light of Jesus in our lives by offering audible thankfulness, it is near impossible to grumble and complain and argue and we are more effective in holding out the Word of life who is Jesus – because our words are life. Jesus will be made known on the face of this earth and in our communities and in our homes and our workplaces and our schools when we choose to offer our thankfulness to Him in all that He has and will continue to do for us. Good and bad. We will shine brightly, His salvation will be made known to those who have been drawn out of the darkness by our shining words of thankfulness to Him.

David knew how to give thanks, despite the unthinkable hardships he faced.
          I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 7:17
           Proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
Psalm 27:6

        That I may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:12
       But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Psalm 79: 13 

If Jesus sees giving thanks when facing crucifixion as necessary, then how much more thanks should we gladly give God? We who will never have to face this crucifixion because He has done it all for us. He walked that long steep hill, agonising under the weight of that massive, splintering cross that gouged itself into the raw, open wounds of his flesh. He was the One who felt the sting and the burn on His skin as they tore out the beard that adorned His face. He was the One who was on humiliating, naked display torn and dripping red with the cleansing blood of the spotless lamb. He was the one who gave us eternal life through the death of Himself.

May we never stop giving him thanks; may we never stop being those shining stars in this dark, depraved universe, for His glory.

1 comment:

  1. So privileged to read this... thank you for sharing XXXXX


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