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James Merritt - Is My Flashlight On?

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    James Merritt - Is My Flashlight On?
TOPICS: Evangelism, Influence

We are to become disciples of Jesus who make disciples for Jesus. If you want to know why you're here, that's why you're here. If you're not a believer, you're here to become a believer. If you are a believer, you're here to make other believers. We are to become disciples of Jesus who make disciples for Jesus. Now, knowing this has led us to adopt a brand new mission statement. It's a very simple mission statement. I want to throw it up on the screen, and it's simply this. Point people to Jesus and inspire them to live the cross-shaped life. All right? I want you to say that out loud with me. You ready? Point people to Jesus and inspire them to live the cross-shaped life.

If anybody ever asks you, what is Cross Pointe Church, and what is your church all about, and what is your church passionate about, what does your church want to do? Real simple. We want to point people to Jesus and to inspire them to live the cross-shaped life. Now, for a person to become a disciple, they first have to be pointed to Jesus, and they have to surrender to Jesus. But then, we believe that's just not the end of the Christian life, it's just the beginning, and we believe that once a person gives their life to Jesus, they should follow Jesus daily in what we call the cross-shaped life, which is the series that we're in right now, and we're answering the question, what is the cross-shaped life? How can I know I'm living the cross-shaped life?

And here's why this is so important. I believe that everyone who's not a follower of Jesus should be able to look at someone who is a follower of Jesus and say, oh, so that's what it's like to be a follower of Jesus. That is the difference that Jesus Christ makes in someone's life. And so, we're calling that the cross-shaped life, and we've identified five marks of a real disciple. What does a real disciple look like? What does a cross-shaped life look like? We've identified five marks, and they're actually the answer to five questions, the first that we introduced last week. And if you were here last week, you'll remember. Maybe you won't, or maybe you were not here last week, and so, we said the first question every disciple of Jesus ought to ask, or if you want to be a disciple, is this one. Do I have a spiritual birth certificate?

Now, it was a very life transforming message for many last week, and by the way, if you missed that message, I really would encourage you to go watch it again. All you've got to do is go to this website, You may want to jot that down. But, you can go get in front of your computer, get on your iPad, iPhone, whatever you want to do. Anytime you want to, go to, and you can find out what we've been talking about, and you can go back and view any message that you miss. Well, the first question we asked was, do I have a spiritual birth certificate? If you don't know what that means, go watch the message. But, here's the second question now you need to answer, and that is, is my flashlight on? Is my flashlight on?

Now, you may say, where in the world do you get that question? Well, it actually came out of a sermon that was preached by Jesus. As a matter of fact, any preacher worth his salt will tell you, if you were to ask any preacher what is the greatest sermon that's ever been preached in the history of the planet... real easy. It's a sermon called The Sermon on the Mount. I have been at the exact spot many times where Jesus preached that sermon, and in the greatest sermon ever preached, there was a statement that Jesus made to people who had a desire to follow Him and live the Christian life, and it absolutely was a revolutionary, radical statement that changed the way many of them even thought about themselves, and about God, and about other people.

Here's what Jesus said, and by the way, if you want to turn in your Bibles, or on your smartphone or iPad, we're in Matthew 5:14. "You are the light of the world". He's talking now to people out there in just, kind of... you'll see in a minute, just people like us. "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven".

Here's what Jesus said, and what He says now. Once we've pointed people to Jesus, once we've been pointed to Jesus, we are in turn to point other people to Jesus. We are to let our light shine in such a cross-shaped life way that others will want to glorify God by giving their lives to Jesus. In other words, and this is where people misunderstand the purpose of the church. We're not here to make bad people good. We're not even here to make good people better. We are here to get people to love Jesus and to live like Jesus. Now, that raises a big question, and it's a very fair question. Of all of the metaphors, and all of the similes, and all of the comparisons Jesus could have made, He uses light.

Why do you think Jesus used the metaphor of light? Why do you think He said, "You are the light of the world"? Why is it that in pointing people to Jesus, He would say, hey, this is why you need to point people to Jesus, because you are the light of the world? Why would He do that? Well, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense, because physical life would be impossible without light. If we did not have light, we would not be alive right now, and some of you know why. You learned this when you were in school. Light is the sole source of physical generation, of food generation, for all living organisms on the earth. Practically every living being in the world depends on light for food and energy. For example, take every plant in the world. Plants require light to synthesize their own food materials to live and to grow. Well, guess what? From those plants, the animals get their required food that they need to live.

So, plants depend on sunlight for their food. Animals depend on plants for their food. Who do you think we depend on for our food? Plants and animals. So in effect, everybody depends on light. If there is no light, there is no life. And by the way, that is not to mention that we need light to maintain a livable temperature, because without the source of light that comes from the sun, there would be no heat. If there was no heat, the earth would freeze and we'd die. And besides that, we need the light to dry up the soil and evaporate the water so we can have the rain that we need, so that we can have the water to drink, because without water, you can't live at all.

So, it doesn't matter which way you turn. You've got to have light, or you don't live. You've got to have light, or you will die. And what is true physically is true spiritually. Not only does the earth need the light of the sun, S-U-N, to survive physically, people need the light of God's Son to live spiritually. So, no wonder Jesus says, hey, "You are the light of the world", and when He said you, He meant every you that claims to be a follower of Jesus. What He basically said was, I want your flashlight on. When you get up in the morning, turn your flashlight on. Don't you turn your flashlight off until you go to bed. Every waking moment of your life, I want your flashlight on, because there is a world that lives in spiritual darkness that needs your light.

So, here's the question I'm asking every one of you. You say you're a follower of Jesus. You say you're a disciple of Jesus. You say you have a relationship with Jesus. This is my question to you right now. Is your flashlight on? There's only two ways to answer it. It is, or it isn't. It can't be halfway on. If it's halfway on, it's totally off. So, is your flashlight on? You say, well, how do I know if it is or not? By answering three simple questions. All right? Number one, do I see the light within me? That's question number one. Do I see the light within me? Now, Jesus says something to these people. Remember now, these people have been listening to Jesus for three years. They've heard about everything He's had to say, and like every good pastor, He does repeat sermons, by the way. And Jesus did the same thing. He would say things over and over and over.

And so, Jesus said something on that mount that day that would have been very, very strange to those who had been following Him, and listening to Him. Listen to what He says. He says, "You are the light of the world". Now, why would that have been a strange thing to say? If you'd been listening to Jesus, if you'd been kind of a follower of Jesus, and you'd been kind of listening to Jesus for three years, if you'd been sitting there that day and Jesus said, "You're the light of the world", you would have thought... well, that's odd. And you say, well, why would that have been odd? Because earlier, Jesus had made this statement. When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life".

Now, Jesus, early in His ministry, said, hey, just want you to know. Look at me. "I am the light of the world". Then He comes along, I don't know, a few weeks, a few months, maybe a year or two later, and He says, oh, by the way, "You are the light of the world". Well, which of those statements it true, and the answer is both. He is the light of the world, and we are the light of the world, because the light that Jesus is talking about is Him. He is the true light of the world. Nobody disputes that. He is the true light of the world. But, listen carefully. There are some of us, let's just be honest. We've gotten this idea you've got to be seminary trained, you've got to be educated, you've got to be slick, you've got to be quick on your feet, you've got to be in full time ministry. You know, you've got to have all of this education to be the light of the world. That's absolutely wrong.

God's plan is fantastic. God's plan is to take ordinary people, just like you and me. God's plan is to take ordinary people, send them to other ordinary people to share an extraordinary message of light, and make an extraordinary difference in their life. So, listen carefully. Jesus is the light of the world. When you give your life to Jesus, His light enters into us so it will shine through us, and the light that we need to see in us, other people need to see through us, so that they can leave the spiritual darkness that you and I used to be in, and they can come into the light of God's truth and God's love. Now, don't yawn. Don't start taking notes. Don't say, I've heard this before. Not interested, just not my gig, just not my thing. Don't tune me out.

Let me tell you why this is a big deal. The only hope for this world to come out of the darkness of being far from God, of having no relationship with God, of having no purpose and no meaning in life, of facing a certain death with no certain confidence of what comes after death... the only hope for the world to be delivered out of that darkness is to see the light that is in us, and to see the light coming through us. There are people that live on your street, and live in your neighborhood, that you work with, their only shot of going to heaven is you shining your light. So, it's a big deal when Jesus says, "You are the light of the world".

So, here's the first question I just want to ask you. For some of you that are sitting out there, and you would have said, before I started this message... me? Not me? I'm bashful. I didn't go to college. I barely finished high school. I don't even like to read. I don't hardly know any Bible verses at all. You're telling me I am the light of the world? Here's my simple question. Do you see the light within you? Because if you're a follower of Jesus, His light is in you. Got it? All right. First question, do I see the light within me? Second question, do I show the light before me? Do I show the light before me? Now, think about this. I'm going to make a statement and it's going to sound stupid, but it really is brilliant. Okay? You don't light light.

Now, let that sink in. You don't light light. You just show light. You just uncover light. You just make sure there's nothing between someone and the light. So, Jesus goes on to say this. He says, "You are the light of the world". Then He makes a very interesting kind of analogy, or gives us an example. He says, "A town built on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl". In other words, He says, okay, you're to be light houses, you're not to be dark houses. Then, He gives this example. He says we are to be like a city built on a hill.

Now, there's a reason why Jesus said that. Some of you, if you've been to Israel, or ever get to go to Israel, you'll know what I'm talking about, and you'll learn a great lesson. If you ever go to Jerusalem... I'll just go and kind of fill you in on something. When you go to Jerusalem, you're not actually walking the actual streets where Jesus walked when you're walking in the old city of Jerusalem. You're actually walking on layer, after layer, after layer, after layer, after layer, after layer, after layer of streets that have been built, and torn down and destroyed, rebuilt, and torn down and destroyed, built, and rebuilt, and torn down and destroyed, because the word built there literally means to be placed or to be planted.

Let me tell you what Jesus meant. In the first century, they didn't have bulldozers like we have today. And so, cities would be built, one layer over another. So, if a city was built, and then somebody came and invaded the city, and burned that city down and destroyed it, they would just take down all of the rubble, use it as a foundation, and they would build the next city on what was previously destroyed. Well, guess what? You keep doing that, you know, battle after battle, and war after war, now you've got cities that would be built literally on hills. So, whether you went to the city in the daytime, and you would see the sunlight bouncing off of the white lines, sort of those houses, or you would go to that city at nighttime, and you would see all of those houses on that hill light up by candles or torches, the city could be easily seen for miles and miles away. And what Jesus is saying is, just like a city is built or placed on a hill, that's exactly what God does with us.

Let me tell you what I mean. Do you think it's just a coincidence that you happen to do what you do for a living? You think that just kind of was the luck of the draw? Do you think it's just a coincidence that you work in the particular office that you work in, or you live in the particular neighborhood that you live in, or you go to the particular school that you go to, or you play on that particular team that you play on? No, you know what? Everywhere you are, God has put you there to be like a city on a hill, to shine the light of the Gospel. You know, all of us have lighting in our houses for one reason. Why do we all have lights in our houses? Why are we thankful for electricity every day? Because we don't want to sit in the dark. Right? Who wants to do that? I mean, that's one of the reasons why there's nothing worse, and we've probably, you know, we've had this happen.

Isn't it just the pits when a storm hits and knocks out all of the power in a neighborhood? You don't have any light at all, and if you're not prepared for it, you just sit there in the dark. Well, nobody wants to sit in the dark, and nobody wants to stay in the dark, and likewise, God has not sent us into our dark neighborhoods, and our dark offices, and our dark schools, to just sit in the darkness with everybody else. We are to show others where that light is, who that light is, and how to come to that light. And listen, there are so many ways you can show your light. For example, somebody's going through a divorce, and they're hurting, and maybe they're not believers, and maybe you've never even had a chance to have a spiritual conversation with them. But, you found out they're going through a divorce. You can go to that person that works with you, or that person that lives up the street from you, that person you hardly know, and you can say to them, you know, I just understand you're going through a divorce. I just want you to know I'm praying for you, and I just want to know if I could just pray for you right now. That's shining your light.

Now, here's the third question. Do I shine the light beyond me? Do I see the light within me? Do I show the light before me? Do I shine the light beyond me? See, it's not enough just to show your light. Jesus literally said this. I don't want you just to show your light, kind of like this. Jesus said, I want you to see how far you can shine your light every single day. So, here's what Jesus says. "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house". In other words, Jesus said, a bright light needs to be held high. Now, let me just stop right here, because I know, I promise you, and I want to sympathize a little bit, because ever since I was about, you know, in my early 20s, I've not worked, quote, unquote, secular work. I've done it before.

So, let me just kind of stop and say something. I know there's some of you sitting there right now and you're saying, you just don't get it. You get to work up here in your church, and you get to sit to study, and you get to do this and do that. You ought to see the crowd I work with. You talk about... I work with a lot of unbelievers. I get that. You work with people, they don't have time for God, they have no heart for God, they don't care about the church, they don't care about quote, unquote, religion. You know, they just don't have time for it at all, and you're sitting there saying to yourself, you just don't know what you're asking of me. You just don't know, Pastor, how dark the dark place I work in really is. I understand that, but let me ask you two questions. Where does light shine the best and the brightest? Somebody tell me, where? In the darkest place, right?

Here's the second question. Who needs the light the most? Who? The people in the deepest darkness. So, you're saying... listen, instead of saying woe is me, you won't believe how dark it is where I work, you ought to be saying, hot diggity dog! What a dark place I work in, man! My light will be easily seen. Listen, let me encourage you. Don't let darkness intimidate you. Let me tell you why. Light is never afraid of darkness. Darkness is always afraid of light, and the darker your surroundings are, the brighter your light should shine. And by the way, let me just remind you, it's not even your light that's shining anyway. It really isn't. It's really the light of Jesus.

Now, think about this. What is the most important light in your house? Now, I want you to think about this. What is the absolute most important light in your house? All right, let me tell you what I mean. Is it the chandelier in the foyer as you walk in through the front door? Or, is it that little night light that keeps you from breaking your neck when you get up to go to the bathroom? I can tell you which is the most important light to me. Take the chandelier, give me the night light. Okay? You don't have to be beautiful, you don't have to be brilliant to shine your light. All you need to do is simply surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit and let Jesus shine His light through you. That's it. And, listen to how Jesus concludes this passage.

Listen to this. He said, "In the same way". What does He mean by that? In the same way that a city's built on a hill, in the same way that you don't put a light under a bowl, and in the same way, say that word with me, "Let". Don't force, don't push, don't shove, just "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven". Listen to that three letter word, let. Just let your light shine. What does that mean? When Jesus comes to live in you, and every morning you get up and you just all over again say, Lord, I just want you to know, I surrender all that I am to all that you are. I'm surrendering my life to you all over again, and I'm going to love you with all of my heart.

Do you know what you'll find? You don't have to force your light to shine. You don't have to put kerosene on your light to shine. You just let your light shine. You don't make it, you don't force it, you don't coerce it, you just let it shine. By the way, the pronouns in this passage, you wouldn't know it reading it in English, they're plural. When Jesus said, "You", he was talking to everybody. He wasn't talking to one person. He was talking to everybody. He was talking to all of us. He was talking about the church. I mean, what is a city? A city is just a collection of houses. He said, "You are a city set on a hill".

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we need to turn on our flashlight! And yes, I'm talking to many of you in this room, schoolteachers, office managers, coaches, salespeople. It's time to take your light out from under the bowl. It's time to get your light out from under the bush. It's time for all of us... listen, you cannot be light on the outside until you have light on the inside, and let me just tell you something that's true about every one of us in this room. You're either in the light right now, or you're in the dark. You're either in the light, or you're in the dark.

Now, if you're in the light, that means you've got the light in you. And if you've got the light in you, all Jesus wants you to do is just show the light that's before you, and shine the light that's beyond you, because Jesus came to die on a cross for our sins, to take care of the darkness of sin and death, and He came out of the grave three days later so He could be to us, and through us, the light of the world. My question is this to you. Be honest. Tell the truth. Is your flashlight on? If some of you, if many of you, if most of you, perhaps, are honest, you'd say... no, Pastor, it's not.

I'm asking you to turn it on today. I'm asking you to let your light shine, because there are neighbors, and there are co-workers, and there are friends, and there are relatives, and there are people behind cameras, and there are co-anchors, and there are station managers, there are business owners, and there are Democrats, and Republicans, and liberals, and conservatives, and blacks, and whites, and people of every race and sort, and they are stuck in spiritual darkness. They can't get out because they see no way out, but there is a way out. It is the light of the world. He is the light of the world. He lives in us. Let us see that light within us! Let us show that light before us! Let us shine that light beyond us, and show others the joy of coming out of the dark, and going into the light.
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