Blog Archive

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

From Darkness to Light


Renmark West Union Church

Renmark Uniting Church

This last weekend I was privileged again to share with the Renmark and Renmark West Uniting Congregations.

Below is the transcript of my message.

Here is the order of service.


ORDER OF SERVICE RENMARK 16/9/18 

Welcome : Geoff

Call to worship: Worship leader.



Hymn: “Jesus lover of my Soul” AHB 139
Bible Reading: Jeremiah 4:23-28, Psalm 19:1-6

Hymn:”O Love that wilt not let me go.” AHB 525

Offering:



Prayers of Invocation,confession and intercession various



Hymn:“To God be the Glory.” AHB 85

Sermon: “From Darkness to Light”

Hymn:  ”Just as I am” AHB 497(1)

Benediction



Vesper: “May our Lord,God of Peace.” Edelweiss tune

   
  Here is an outline of the sermon and some additional materail.

SERMON

“From darkness to light” or “Victory over the Darkness”

Do you know that wonderful Gospel song?

“Praise the Lord I saw  the light!”

If I was great singer I would sing it for you.

I’ll come back to this song in a minute.

So if we saw the light were we living in darkness?

Do we recognise who is the giver of Light?

The written information I received from Joy to help with preparation for today focusses on preparing a message around the wonder of our worlds creation and how the light and dark can speak to us.

19 The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God. 3-4 Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it and moves out across the skies as radiant as a bridegroom[a] going to his wedding,* or as joyous as an athlete looking forward to a race! The sun crosses the heavens from end to end, and nothing can hide from its heat.

From the passages offered I could have opted to do a whole sermon on the creation of the universe and the earth and what’s in it.

That is a “hobby horse” of mine.

I am a firm believer in the creation account in the Bible and do not support evolutionary theory in anyway but I did not ever think too much about such things until after I had become a Christian.

In those days,my pre Christian days, I certainly looked on the sky, the earth, space in awe and was in wonder about our whole world and everything in it.  

Those lights still speak to all mankind.

The whole of creation still speaks to us in particular by creating that sense of wonder.

Causing us to think about our existence and what it all means.

The wonder of our world is universal and goes  go beyond our human language barriers.

It spawns lots of documentaries by people like David Attenborough to try and explain our existence.

But I instead for today started looking at other passages and decided to focus on the concept of light and dark.

Not just what causes it.

Of moving from darkness to light.

We can all experience a physical light and dark, but also it can be a state of being, where what  we see, from a personal emotional point of view, is full of light and happiness, or is what we see an existence of everything appearing dark and gloomy.

Maybe some of us here are fully experiencing the former,

light and happiness,

 but I doubt it.

We probably have some good or great days but some days where all we can see is blackness, gloom, even despair.

It doesn’t take much to upset us, sometimes unexpected events, things we have been blind to.

Some of us, or people we know, may only know the gloom and blackness and despair.

They call that depression in modern terms.

So if we are living in darkness how can we move into the light.

How do we move into the light?

Getting back to that song I mentioned earlier, here are the words.

"I wandered so aimless my heart filled with sin
I wouldn’t let my dear Savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light
   I saw the light I saw the light
   No more darkness no more night
   Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
   Praise the Lord I saw the light
Just like a blind man I wandered alone
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light"


Have you been in a Christian meeting where you were singing that song.
Were you singing it with gusto, really entering into it?
Singing it with conviction!
A lot of times in Church we sing hymns that are often beyond and not really our own experience.
They are designed to enable us to praise God if we want to.
If we are people who are just getting used to the idea of going to church we might often not have much of a clue about what the words mean but we are nonetheless intrigued.
It can create a longing in our hearts to sing something like that and mean it.
From darkness to light.
“I saw the light!”
A blind person can usually know a form of visual darkness but can also find happiness notwithstanding their condition.
A greater darkness is where we are blinded to God and His presence, His existence, and how He can become our friend.
Many people are spiritually blind, indeed we all are until we come to know Jesus as God’s only Son.
Some will argue that they can be enlightened spiritually by other metaphysical experiences and religions.
Not through Jesus.
The Bible’s message is that this also is a spiritual blindness and darkness.
In the book of Proverbs we read this:
Proverbs 14:12 King James Version (KJV)
“12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Many fall into the trap of spiritual counterfeits.
Some of it seemingly dressed in Christian clothes, others definitely not.
So if we are today feeling a little bit muddled,
Recognising that we have a longing in our hearts to know the peace of God,
Wanting to move from darkness to light what are the first steps.
Do we find it impossible to get started?
We don’t know where to start!
We do long for the freedom that God gives and we sense He can give.
How do we access Him?
How do we come to Him?
Now some of us may have gone to Church for years,
Sung all the Hymns,
Prayed all the prayers,
Attended Bible studies,
Camps,
But we are still thinking things could be better.
 As our closing hymn today we are going to sing a well known song often used for altar calls in Churches and at Billy Graham crusades.
It is “just as I am without one plea”.
This would be sung in Churches,still is, and people were invited to come to the front of the church at It’s conclusion to indicate that they wanted to be a follower of Jesus.
To receive him as their saviour.
The free gift of God.
It is recognising that none of us are perfect but whatever state we are in when we come to Him, God accepts us.
Then when we do seek to walk in the light with Him, then we can see the changes that are possible in our lives, with Him in control and not us.
God’s gift of Salvation and forgiveness is free but we do need to respond to Him.
It doesn’t happen automatically.
And it is also a process.
A process we may have started long ago but have lost our way a bit.
Before we sing this I would like to read you out the origin of how Charlotte Elliott came to write this.(1789-1871)

(Note this below is an expansion on what I shared at Renmark. )

"Patrons and invited guests gathered and witnessed a verse recital by one of the most physically beautiful young women most had ever seen; and they say that her voice was a wonder of beauty and crystal clarity. But her health was failing. At the conclusion, and as the gathered guests raved and fawned over her, a pastor waited patiently. At a private moment of opportunity, he introduced himself (Rev. Dr. Caesar Malan of Switzerland) and said, "Young lady, your talent and beauty are a thing of wonder. But, without Jesus, you are no better than the lowest prostitute out in our streets!" Reeling back with shock at these words, 33 year old Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) gasped, "Sir! What you said is an insult beyond belief!"
That night Charlotte was troubled, restless, and could not sleep. At the height of her upsetness, she knelt beside her bed and prayed. A few weeks later, she saw Dr. Malan and apologized, saying, "I am sorry for my rudeness. Actually I would like to come to Christ, but I do not know how to find him."  Dr. Malan looked at her and said, "Come just as you are!" and she accepted Jesus as her savior that day.

Twelve years later (1834), in very weakened health, she desperately wanted to help her brother (H. V. Elliott) raise money for a college (St. Mary's Hall at Brighton, England) for daughters of poor clergymen, but her useless, invalid physical condition gave her no options.
[As a very young person in Brighton, England, Charlotte had been a popular portrait artist and a writer of humorous verse. She had a serious ailment that made her a lifelong invalid of sorts.]
One morning just prior to dawn, remembering Malan's words, her mind began to fill with the words of a poem that was published 2 years later and sold without her name. Not realizing that Charlotte had written the poem, her doctor came by one day and handed her a copy of the poem leaflet. Tears streamed down her face as she read the six verses and was told that, "...copies of this poem are being sold and the money given to St. Mary's Hall." That poem supplied the words for what would become that great alter-invitational hymn, Just As I Am... "Just as I am, without one plea..."

Let’s be reminded of what God has done for us as we sing this hymn.
I am going to read the words first for us to think before we sing.
1
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
2
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
3
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
4
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
5
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

When we have failed,
and are failing,
this Hymn,
the truth expressed in it,
 can become a real and practical way
 back to Him
 anytime.
Just as we are we come to Him.
Not just when we first become Christians
but anytime during the journey.
This getting right with God,
 getting in right relationship with Him,
 is an ongoing process.
(It does have a starting point.)
We need to be constantly taking who we are to Jesus.
Constantly going to the Lamb of God.

Just as we are.

Taking who we are to Jesus in prayer alone with Him.

When  we do,

 we can move from Darkness to Light

 no matter how dark the darkness is.

One of my favourite true stories is called “the Hiding Place” written by the late Corrie Ten Boom.

Her family were in prison camps in the 2nd world war as they had been caught hiding Jewish friends in their home.
All of the family except Corrie died in the prison camps.

She had a strong faith in Jesus that could not be extinguished even by the darkness and despair of the prison camps.

After her release she went on to write numerous helpful Christian Books and conducted meetings around the world.

One of her sayings in her books is “No pit is so deep, that He is not deeper still!”

Shall we sing “Just as I am”.