JANUARY 5

Today's Bible Readings
     Genesis 5
     Matthew 5
     Ezra 5
     Acts 5
 
MEMORIZE TODAY
''Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5: 16)
 
CARRYING THE TORCH
            Every four years a major city in the world hosts the Olympic Games. I still get goose bumps when I see a U.S. athlete receive a gold medal on the center stage. One of the most thrilling moments in Olympic activity is when a runner enters the stadium carrying the torch, and lights the giant cauldron to symbolize the beginning of the Olympic Games.                   Paul often used athletics to illustrate the Christian life. He talked about himself as a boxer but most often as a runner who keeps his body under subjection and discipline. Paul said that we are to run with ''patience'', from the Greek word hupomone, which means endurance. Paul is telling us to carry the torch and go for the gold. At the judgment seat of Christ you will not receive a medallion, but a crown.
            Jesus said, ''I am the Light of the world''. Later, He said to His followers, ''You are the light of the world ...let your light shine before the world." Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, the followers of Jesus Christ are to be reflectors of His Light in a dark world. He is the source of light, but we are reflectors of that light. But you say it is a very dark world. We must remember that light shines its brightest when the night is darkest.
            When I visited the catacombs in Rome I saw three kinds of torches. There were those that were never used and some used only partially. These reminded me of most church members in the modem church. Then, there were some that were burned out and used completely. God is looking for believers like Henry Martyn, who said as he served in India, ''here let me bum out for God."
            We must understand the nature of light.
Light shines. Paul tells us in Philippines 2 that murmuring, disputing, grumbling, and complaining hinders the shining of the light. Light shines as we live lives that are blameless, harmless and without rebuke in this world. It is time to stop whining and start shining.
Light shares. It is impossible for light to shine without sharing. God has deposited His Light in three places - His Son Jesus, His Saints (you and me), and in His Scripture. When saints share the Son and the Scripture in thee power of the Spirit with a lost world the light is turned on.
Light sacrifices. When you read what Paul says in Philippians 2 about the light you will note he changes his figures of speech. He moves from being a light to a libation, which is a drink offering.  A libation was consumed completely as soon as it hit the altar. It costs the candle its existence to shine. The lamp depletes its oil to shine. You must be consumed to shine for Christ. You cannot shine until you burn; you cannot shine until you sacrifice; but as you bum, you will bless.
 
PRAY FOR THE WORLD
As you pray for your world today, pray that God would provide light for the darkness of illiteracy and ignorance. Pray for those who translate scripture for more than 400 languages without the Bible. Pray for a verbal witness to more than two billion illiterate people. Pray for 1000 spiritually dark cities with more than one million inhabitants each that the light of God’s Word would be taken to them.
 
A WORD FOR YOUR WORLD TODAY
''Attempt great things for God - expect great things from God."
William Carey