23 July 2009

The Light That Is Shining In the Darkness

One of the historical sites to see on Saint Simons Island, Georgia is the Lighthouse, which is located near the village. I have often walked by it while visiting there. The first lighthouse was built in 1810 and it was 75 feet tall. The second one that replaced the first one was erected in 1872 and was 104 feet tall. Not having the experience of a sea faring person I have often wondered how much a lighthouse would mean to me if I was lost in a storm at sea and/or approaching land in the darkness of night. Surely the light beaming across the waters would be a lovely and thankful sight for the captain of a ship. And so this well known hymn came to mind.
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing
For the lights along the shore.
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
- Philip P. Bliss, 1871

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:5, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” James referred to God as being “the Father of lights” (1:17). John also wrote of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4, 5). Jesus spoke of himself in this manner, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Therefore that which is spoken of God the Father as being light is also applicable for Jesus the Son. In God there is perfect light. Darkness cannot penetrate the light. God is perfect in holiness. He is wholly righteous. Darkness depicts Satan’s realm of sin and moral depravity. Souls that do not come to the Light sink in a sea of eternal sorrow and separation from God and all that is good. In nautical terms there is a sure guide and compass that can lead a lost soul to salvation in Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The Psalmist declared in chapter 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Again in verse 130 of the same chapter, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:8-10, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” “(T)he gospel of Christ” “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). And that is the reason the church should be sending the “blessed gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore.” and “forever more.”

While Jesus was on earth He taught His disciples the following, “You are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14-16) While we are not to shine our light we are required to let our light (life) shine so that by our good works the Father will be glorified. When we walk in the light as He is in the light the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7). We are instructed to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Furthermore we are to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Eventually when this life on earth is finished we will be ushered into “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11) where “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:23). “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). When tossed about by every wave of doubt and despair in a sea that is dark and dreary let us never take our eyes off the Light that is truly guiding us to a safe landing on that eternal shore.
“There’s a light ‘long the pathway,
It’s guiding me home,
Leading to that eternal day;
And it beckons me on
When the pathway seems dark,
There is a light that is shining for me.
When the way seems so heavy,
The burdens to bear,
There’s a Light that is shining for me;
Then I think of my Savior on Calvary there,
There’s a light that is shining for me.
I am happy today and I’m nearer my home,
There’s a Light that is shining for me;
Just over the way is the Mansion above,
There’s a light that is shining for me.
There’s a light guiding me thru
the darkness of midnight,
Till the morning I see
There’s a light guiding me.
He is guiding me home,
There the harbor I see,
Till I’m safe in the fold,
There’s a light guiding me.”
- Alton H. Howard, 1973

03 July 2009

To the Oceans, White With Foam

During our family gatherings on Saint Simons Island , Georgia it has been my habit to arise early in the mornings and walk on the beach down to the pier and the village, where I would buy a cup of coffee, eat breakfast and read the daily newspaper. Being from the hill country of northwest Georgia I am still fascinated by the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean . When the tide comes in the waves would hit the rocks and splash over them. The white caps were beautiful. Often I would express my deepest gratitude to God for His marvelous creation. Both the heavens and the earth with its seas declare the glory of God (Psalms 19). The book of nature indeed proves that there is a Supreme Architect who designed this universe (Romans 1:20). Though not a world traveler I have seen some of the beauties of our country with its mountains in the southeast and in the western part of our nation, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean . With all the faults that exist in our United States of America I do believe as a citizen that we live in the greatest nation on earth.

The pilgrims and early settlers sought freedom to worship God in this new land while settlers in the South American countries sought gold. Our governmental leaders possessed a faith in the Creator of the universe. There is no doubt but that the Lord God has richly blessed this land and its people. The wise man declared that “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). While sin and disbelief have always been in existence our modern day society has strayed greatly from a faith in God and from His moral standard for human conduct. Atheism is growing daily; sexual perversion is common place; dishonesty and corruption are widely accepted and exist among many of our political and civic leaders; the killing of unborn children is considered acceptable since it is legal; adultery is prevalent among marriage partners and fornication among teens and adults abounds nationwide. Man has become a law unto himself (Judges 21:25). The Word of God is no longer reverend even among some religious groups.

The blood of thousands of our men and women who have fought for our country and our freedom flows like a mighty river; yet, we are using this freedom to destroy the moral fiber of our people. It has become a license to do as we please without considering what God would have us to be as a nation of people. Eventually we will reap as we have been sowing (Galatians 6:7, 8). It is most important that we give heed to the following warnings: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God” and “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces” (Psalm 9:17; 50:22).

The story is told about a student who wanted to fool his professor in some way. He held a bird in his hand and asked the professor, “What do I have in my hand?” The professor replied, “It is a bird.” The student asked, “What color is it?” “It is a red bird” answered the professor. Then the student asked, “Is it dead or alive?” The wise old professor said, “The power of life or death is in your hand?” The power to revive faith in God and His standard of morals and ethics is in our hands. May the lyrics of the beautiful song ‘God Bless America ’ written by Irving Berlin ever be our desire, hope and prayer.
God Bless America
"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer."
God Bless America, Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America , My home sweet home.