Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

09/02/12 Sermon

James 1:17-27

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen


Recently the inexpensive motel chain “Motel 6” launched a new marketing campaign that is celebrating its 50th year in business.

Of course Motel 6s marketing strategy has always been based on giving its customers a no frills, clean, safe room for weary travelers to stop and stay.

The company’s spokesperson has always been Tom Bodett (of NPR radio), whos known for his, simple folksy voice.

In 1986 when the motel chain began to work on its advertising campaign, Bodett was in the recording studio reading the lines given to him.

And at the end of the first recording session, Bodett ad-libbed a phrase that has become the slogan for Motel 6 ever since…………….”We’ll leave the light on for you”.
In the new ad, Bodett says, “50 years and the light is still on”.

Now I thought about “Motel 6’s” slogan when I was reading our scripture for today.

In the 17th verse James refers to God as the “Father of heavenly lights”.
He adds that God does not change like light shifting shadows. His light is true.
A couple of weeks ago our family went to go look at some dogs who had been saved from Kill shelters.

And one of the dogs we saw was named Max. He was a sweet dog who had a very strange quirk about him……..He constantly chased his shadow around.

He was so obsessed with his shadow that he couldnt focus on anything else. In fact he would start digging at his shadow trying to get it.
I couldn’t help but think after reading this how so many people are like Max chasing after shifting shadows that they can never catch; that never satisfy.

Shadows of false treasures and shadows of empty pleasures. And as a result so many living in darkness.

But James says God is an eternal light. In him we find truth. In Him we find fulfillment and satisfaction.

His light is on for all weary travelers tired of following after the shadows of false promises.

In His light we find assurance and security. We find a joy and completeness that we never knew.

We experience a new birth; a new awareness of what is true and we seek in our hearts to live life that is true to the Light.

James says that we become newly born, first fruits of God’s intended creation.  

And as first fruits, we are a sampling to others of what they too might experience if they come into the Light.

We become like a shiny ripe apple that when people experience and taste would want to have more.

So as people come to know us they see the light; They see confidence and assurance. They see joy and peace and fulfillment.

And as a result, they are drawn to the light within us.

A couple of nights ago we had some thunder and lightning. Our lights flickered in the house.

I naturally started thinking about where our flashlights were just in case the lights did go out.

It’s interesting that when any of us find ourselves in darkness we look to find comfort in light.

Have you ever noticed that when the lights go out and you have the flashlight, that everyone flocks around you to find security?

In the same way people are drawn to those who bear God’s heavenly light.

And so James points out that as Christians, it is essential that we have our light on for others.

And we do that by the way we live our life; in our actions and in our words.

James makes the key point in verse 22 that those who are true light bearers are those who are doers of the word, not just hearers of the word.
Our actions are what show others the light that is within us.

How we behave is critical in identifying who we are and our witness to others.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the difference between using the word Christian as a noun versus using it as an adjective.

It’s much easier for people to say they are a Christian than it is for them to say they are being Christian.

We all probably know of individuals who claim they are Christians and yet their words and actions say something else.

We probably see them in the mirror from time to time.
But as James says when we are do’ers of the word we don’t forget who we are.
We don’t walk away from the mirror each day and go about living in the ways of darkness.
Our words and actions are essential in identifying whether we truly are Christians.
And our words and actions are critical in our witness to the Light to others.

So how do we go about being genuine people of the Light who radiate light to others?

Well James says it only happens when we take to heart the word of God.
He says in verse 21 that we need to rid ourselves of all moral filth and humbly accept the word planted in our hearts and souls.
That accepting is a daily decision.
Thomas a Kempis in his famous work, The Imitation of Christ, said “We ought every day to renew our purpose in God, and to stir our hearts to fervor and devotion as though it were the first day of our conversion.”
He added, “we should shine in all virtue and be inwardly as it appears outwardly”.
Being do’ers of the word is an intentional, daily decision. We daily choose to take God’s word in our hearts with belief.

And as we do, His light radiates out of us naturally. Our actions as well as our words show Gods light that is inside of us.

And when that happens we become torch bearers of the light to others.

Preacher and teacher of Homiletics, Leonard Sweet tells of a story when he was making a payment over the phone.

Now, thats one of those moments that can really test you to see if you are genuinely radiating light:

I mean, when you’re talking to a total stranger who lives far away and we know we’ll never see them it’s very easy to verbally assault these folks.

Anyway, Sweet was chatting with this woman over the phone giving her his payment information, when she offered a “confirmation number” for his record-keeping.
And what a confirmation it was, said Sweet.

As she carefully read off the extremely long series of letters and numbers she gave words to the letters.

“Okay, your confirmation number is “B” as in “blessed,” “F” as in “faithful,” “G” as in “graceful,” “B” as in “bountiful,” “H” as in “hopeful,” “B” as in “beautiful.”
Sweet said, I kept wanting this “confirmation number” to go on and on. With every word of love and encouragement that this 800-number office worker offered, the light just shone through the phone.

Her light, God’s light, lit up my day. It was a “night light” in the middle of a dreary day………………………..

You know, so many all around us are hungering and thirsting for God’s light, to light up their shadowy dark days.
All around us are weary travelers looking for the confirmation of a welcoming light.
And while Motel 6 has done such a great job with their motto that the light has been left on for their customers, I wonder if we the universal church could say the same?
Do people know that we’ve “been in business” over 2000 years old and the light is still on for them?
Well as God’s church, as God’s people in Damariscotta, we can make this motto our motto thru our actions of shining God’s light to others.

We can do it intentionally as individuals each day by radiating God’s light to all we come in contact with.

Whether they are family or friends or complete strangers, Gods heavenly light shines in our smiles and our words of blessing and our helping hands to others in need.
And we can do it intentionally together as a church family. We can choose to get out of our pews and become doers of the word instead of simply hearer’s of the word.

Some of you are already involved in bearing God’s light in ministries here at the church.

Thru Divorce Care, thru the Prayer Shawl ministry, the food pantry or the ecumenical dinner.
Our kids at Sunday school have shined Gods light thru visits and singing at the nursing homes.
But what if all of us became do’ers of the word?
Can you imagine how bright we could shine in this community if all of us became committed to leaving our light on?
Can you imagine how many would be drawn to Gods light if all of us truly embraced James call to receive and become do’ers of the word?
I mean, what if we as a church got focused on bearing Gods light in things like the upcoming Pumpkin Fest?
What if we opened up our building for rest and restrooms?
What if we volunteered to help out with parking wearing our t-shirts? What if we passed out free bottles of water with no strings attached?
What if we baked pumpkin desserts and sold them to raise money for backpacks and school supplies for needy children?
And what if we adopted GSB and became volunteers this upcoming school year for their various needs?  
You see, God is calling us to not simply hear His Word, He’s calling us to become do’ers in order to become the light that will draws others to Him…..

Now today we are celebrating the Lords Supper. And as we partake of the bread and the cup let it be a moment for you to intentionally receive Gods Word, Jesus Christ that his light may radiate within you.

Let it be a moment that you commit to be a do’er of God’s Words each day both individually as well as finding a way to bear Gods light with others in this church……
Today…… ask yourself, is my light on? Can others see my light?

In a world where so many are chasing shadows, living in darkness, let us as individuals and as a church witness to the world that the light is still on:

may they see it by our actions and by our words---

-may they know that we’re leaving the Light on for them.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen