Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - The Light of Jesus for Your Darkest Days

Rick Warren - The Light of Jesus for Your Darkest Days

Rick Warren - The Light of Jesus for Your Darkest Days
TOPICS: Christmas

Merry Christmas, everybody. Since 2020 was such a difficult year with so many difficult problems, this Christmas I want us to look at the theme of the light of Jesus for your darkest days. We certainly had a lot of dark days in 2020, but one of the things that I love about the Christmas season is all the Christmas lights. In the Northern hemisphere, Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year for about half of the world. In fact, on Monday, it'll be the winter solstice for the Northern hemisphere, which means it's the shortest day and the longest night. And Christmas lights up the world in the darkest part of the year for the Northern hemisphere. First, it starts in the stores, they put up their lights. And the city's put up their lights, then our homes put up their lights.

But I noticed this year that many homes beat the stores because we were all in a hurry to start celebrating at the end of this difficult year. Our street goes all out every year, since four of our families are Saddleback families. I thought I'd show you what our street looks like. Now, also this year, Saddleback created a drive through experience called, The Light of the World. And I want to thank all of you, 4,000 of you volunteers who put that production together. And by the time it's finished, about 75,000 people will have seen The Light of the World extravaganza during Christmas and during the December month here at Saddleback Church. Now, did you know that light is a major theme of the Bible? That's why we're going to look at a lot of Bible verses today. Light played a major role in the first Christmas. The Bible tells us the angels lit up the sky with a bright light and they put on a dazzling light show for the shepherds.

The Bible tells us the wise men were led to Jesus by an unusually bright star. Christmas is the celebration of God's light entering the world. Now, why is that important? Because the Bible tells us to expect dark days in our lives. Let me read you a verse from Ecclesiastes 11:8, it says this, "People should enjoy every day of their lives no matter how long they live, but they should remember that there will be many dark days".

The Bible tells us that in life we will go through many dark days. Now, what are dark days? Well there any days where you're feeling negative emotions. There are dark days of confusion, when you don't know which way to turn you, you doubt which way you're going. There are dark days of conflict, when you're having relational conflicts with people. There are dark days of disappointment, when things didn't turn out the way you wanted. There are dark days of loss. There are dark days of loneliness, when you're feeling all alone. There are dark days of grief, when we've experienced the loss of a loved one or a job or something. There are dark days of stress and anxiety and fear. There are dark days of heartbreak, dark days of depression, dark days even of despair.

Isaiah predicted dark days in his book in Isaiah Chapter Six, Verse 21 and 22, he says this, talking about these dark days, "People will wander aimlessly, distressed and hungry for what they don't have". Does that sound like today? "In deep frustration they'll become enraged and they'll shake their fist at leaders and even at God. And everywhere they look, they'll see trouble and darkness and despair, and they'll have to live in dark days". That was a prediction that Isaiah made many, many years ago. But he also predicted the coming of Jesus to Earth at Christmas. And in Isaiah 9:2, he says this, "The people who walk in darkness, they will see a great light. A light that will shine on all who have been living in the shadow of death".

How do we have the light of Christ in our darkest days? the antidote to your darkest days is to turn to God's light. The Bible is fil led with references to the effect of God's light in our lives. First off it says that God's character, God's character is a source of all light in the universe. Without God, there would be no light, without God, there would be no universe. 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light". So it says, it's his nature. All light comes from God, God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. This is the message Jesus has given us to announce, 1 John 1:5. The Bible tells us that God's very first act in creation, when he created the universe, the first thing he did was create light. Genesis 1, 1-4, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and God said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light. And God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness".

God is light, the first act of creation was light and at the first Christmas 2020 years ago, God came to earth as Jesus to give us more light. Light about himself, light about life, light about death, light about eternity, love, forgiveness, salvation, and much, much more. John 12:46 Jesus says this, "I have come as a light. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world so that all who put their trust in me will no longer wander in darkness". So you know what I did this week? I restudied, I got out the physics books and stuff, and I restudied all of the properties and all of the effects of light, the properties of light to see the parallels of what God's world created, he created in his world and what it teaches us about God himself.

Now, what do we know about light? Well, let me just give you a quick overview. Light is an electromagnetic wave, and it's commonly classified in seven kinds of different ways, from large to small, and they all travel at the same speed, the speed of light. There are radio waves. There are microwaves. There are infrared waves. There's visible light. Then there's ultraviolet light. There are x-rays and there are gamma rays. And I learned this week how different wavelengths of life interact differently with matter, and there are actually spiritual parallels to how light interacts in different ways. Now we all know that light is illuminating, but we often ignore the other effects of lights, such as light can be purifying. Light can be healing. Light can be warming. Light can even be transforming.

So this Christmas, I want to ask the question, how does the light of Jesus, when he says, "I'm the light of the world". How does the light side of Jesus help you in your darkest days? But let me just suggest four ways, all right? Four different ways. Now a first effect of light is this, light can illuminate, light can illuminate. Ephesians 5:13 says, "Light makes all things easy to see". Now I don't have to belabor this point because you use this principle every time you flip a light switch, why in the world do you turn on lights? To see better. And you could always see more in the light than you can in the dark and the brighter the light the better you can see, light illuminates. I mean, this is not a big deal, you know this. Light exposes, light uncovers, light clarifies. You ever shine the light under your bed, you see stuff there you didn't know was there. Light gives you perspective completely different than when you're in the dark.

If you've ever had surgery, you know that surgeons always want the brightest lights in that operating room so they can see every little detail, they don't want to miss a thing. I mean, no surgeon has ever said, "Hey, let's turn these lights down for a different mood in this surgery. Let's make it like a bar lounge". No, no, they want it as bright as possible so they can see as much as possible. If I asked you to go on a night hike with me to climb Mount Saddleback, how would you want to do it? Would you A, want to do it completely in the dark? Or B, would you like to use a weak, dim flashlight that only shines about a foot out? Or C, would you like to use a Costco maxi power lantern that you can see everything on the trail for 400 yards? Well, obviously for clarity and for illumination, you'd want to use the brightest light you could get, it'd make the journey easier.

Now, listen, the same is true for life, to make the journey easier you need more light in your life, the light of Jesus who says, "I'm the light of the world". The same is true, for clarity you need the brightest light you can get. So where do you find the best light for life? John 8:12, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world, and if you follow me you won't be stumbling through the darkness. For living light..." stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path. Okay? During dark days, trusting Christ will help me see things more clearly. I want you to write this down, number one. "In dark days, I need the light of Jesus when I can't see the way forward. When I'm confused, when I'm undecided, when I don't know what's best, when I can't figure out what to do next, when everything looks black and I can't see which way to go, I need the light of Christ in my life".

I know that the common answer in the world when you're confused is this. Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Follow your instincts. But anybody who's tried that knows that, at best, you're only right about 50% of the time. Your light is weak. Your perspective is small. It's like using one of those little wimpy pen lights you put on your key chain. They don't illuminate anything. And, as a result, you've made a lot of bad decisions in life. Instead, here's what the Bible says to do, Isaiah 50, verse 10. "For anyone who doesn't know where you're going, anyone groping in the dark, here's what to do. Trust in God". Yes, lean on God. Don't trust your own light. Trust the light of the Lord.

You say, "Okay, Rick. I would love to have God's perspective on my problems. I'd love to have His help, His light on my challenges, and my choices, and my future. But how do I discover God's viewpoint? How can I see what God sees in my life? How do I get God's light on the things that matter to me"? The answer is this. Get into this book. The Bible. You need to read it, you need to study it, because God's will is always found in God's word. Saturate your mind with the Bible. Psalm 119:105 says this, "Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling". If you hear the farm noise out here, don't let it bother you, because it doesn't bother me. They're working on stuff. They're cutting down some stuff and tearing up some stuff. You know what? I'm always amazed at how many people are always waiting around for God to give them a sign in the air instead of just reading the directions that he's already given us.

Stop looking for a vision in the sky and start looking for a verse in the Bible. That's where you're going to find the light. You're going to continue to stumble around in dark days if you spend more time listening to negative news in the media than you spend in time reading God's word. Psalm 19, verse 8 says this. "God's instructions are always right, and they point the way to happiness. His commands shine brightly, and they light up the right way to go". If you want to go the right way in 2021, you got to get in this book. Colossians 3:15 says, "The peace that Christ gives you will guide you in the decisions you make". I want to show you, on this first principle, how light illuminates. It shows us where to go when we're in the dark, when we're confused. Let me show you an amazing promise of guidance that God gives to you if you let the words of Jesus in this book guide your journey.

It's Isaiah 42, verse 16, and the message, it says this. "God says, 'Listen. I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way, who can't see where they're going". That's in darkness. "I'll be a personal guide to them, directing them through the unknown country. I'll be right there to show them what roads to take". This is God talking. "I'll make sure they don't fall into the ditch. These are the things I'll be doing for them, sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute". Isn't that amazing promise from God? God says, "I will be your personal guide. If you'll let me light up your life, you won't be stumbling around in the dark".

Let me ask you a very personal question. At Christmas, as we end this difficult year of 2020 and look toward 2021, where, right now, do you feel you're in the dark? Just, I want you to think about that. What is confusing to you in your life? What needs to be clarified? Where do you need God's light to shine and give you direction? It's completely available to you, and it's free, but you have to ask for it. You may be a little worried about what's going to happen next in your life. Nobody predicted 2020, and nobody can really predict what 2021's going to be like. Let me give you a Bible verse that you might want to make your daily prayer, Psalm 23, verse 4. "David prayed. 'Even though I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid. I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me.'"

The first benefit of filling your life with God's light, everything gets a lot clearer. You don't have as much confusion. You'll have a bigger perspective on life. You'll see things the way God sees them. That's called wisdom. Why? Because light illuminates. Let me give you a second effect of light. Light not only illuminates, light can disinfect. Yeah. Did you know that? Light is a great disinfectant. It can kill germs. It can purify water. Light can cleanse and sanitize a lot of stuff. During our peace teams visiting all around the world in rural villages, when we teach good health practices in developing nations, one of the things we teach is the importance of hanging out your bedsheets to dry in the sun, to sanitize them. Light has a disinfecting impact.

This week, I read an article about how New York City officials have built a water disinfection facility using ultraviolet light to destroy germs and disinfect its drinking water, which is brought in from about a hundred miles away. Instead of using chlorine, which most of us use, which has some downsides to it, they're now using the sun's power to disinfect and sanitize their water. Using light rays, they disinfect 2.4 billion gallons of water every day. In a similar way, getting the light of God in your life can disinfect, and sanitize, and purify, and cleanse harmful, bad stuff out of your life. The harmful words, the harmful thoughts, the harmful actions that make you spiritually, and emotionally, and sometimes physically sick.

Here's what the Bible says. 1 John, chapter 1, verse 6 to 9. "If we claim to have a relationship with God but we continue living in darkness, then we lie, and we aren't following the truth. But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, then we can have real fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, God's son, purifies us". That's cleanses, sanitizes, disinfects. God's son's blood purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we're just fooling ourselves, and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, God is faithful and just. He will forgive and cleanse us from every wrong. I want you to write this down.

Number two. "In dark days, I need the light of Jesus when I want a clean start". I could not count the number of times that people have said to me confidentially, "You know, Rick, I've made so many mistakes in my life. I really need a fresh start. I wish I could just clean the slate, wipe it all off, and begin again. I'm so tired of carrying a heavy load of emotional baggage from all my poor decisions". So many people today are going through dark days because they're carrying a secret load of guilt, and shame, and regret. They may look successful on the outside, but they're tortured by their secrets. Is there a way to wipe the slate clean? Is there a way to get a fresh start? Yes. It's called being born again. That doesn't mean you turn over a new leaf and try harder, it means you get a brand new life. Not a new leaf, a new life. Everything is forgiven and forgotten. Everything is cleansed by the light of Christ. Then the darkness is lifted in your light.

1 Samuel 22:29 says this. "You, Lord, are my light, and you dispel my darkness". The darkness of guilt, the darkness of regret, the darkness of shame, the darkness of, "I wish I could have done it differently". He says, "You dispel my darkness". I could've done it differently. He says, "You dispel my darkness when you are my light". Ephesians 5:8 and 9 describes what it means to be completely cleansed and forgiven of your sin and born again. Here's what it says. "And the one to think past your life, in your past, your life was full of darkness, but now you're full of light in the Lord. And now you can live like children of light". And God's light brings every kind of goodness and right living and truth.

So here's my question for you this Christmas, what secret regret or guilt or shame in your life needs to be cleansed and disinfected by exposure to the light of Christ? I want you to think about that. Think about that. What needs to be cleansed with the light of Christ in my life? Let's move on to the next benefit of having God's light in your life. We said light illuminates, and I could see what I couldn't see before. Light disinfects. It cleans up the mess and the germs and the sin in my life.

The third effect of light is this, light can heal things. Did you know that? Light can heal things. Scientists are discovering more and more about the healing properties and the healing powers of light. In medicine, light is now being used in all kinds of therapeutic ways. We use them from lasers, which we use in surgeries and wounds and all kinds, to different levels of infrared, to light therapy for depression.

One of the most common uses of light is found in dermatology, because of its ability to fight bacteria. Blue light is routinely now used in doctor's offices to treat acne, and red light is being used to treat wrinkles, and light stimulates the mitochondria in your skin. Of course, for over 100 years, doctors have place patients in beds, out on sunny balconies as part of their recovery. But we're now just learning how different wavelengths of light have different healing and pain relieving properties.

Now, when you think about it, I mean, literally when you think about it, if everything God created is good, when it's used in the way God intended, then that makes sense. I mean, in the physical realm, water is good for you in the right dose, air is certainly good for you in the right dose, and light is good for you in the right dose. All of these are essential to your physical health. But what about your emotional health and your spiritual health? What about your emotion wounds and mental illnesses and spiritual sicknesses that afflict all of us in a broken world? Well, the parallels apply here too. I want you to write this third thing down. In dark days, I need the light of Jesus when I'm wounded and in pain, when I'm wounded and in pain. Emotional pain, spiritual pain, physical pain, relational pain, when I feel discouraged or disappointed or depressed or in despair, the antidote is turn to the light of day Jesus in those dark days.

Let me show you some verses from the Bible. Psalm 69:29 says, "I am wounded and in pain, so rescue me, oh God, by your saving power". Psalm 103, "He forgives all my sins and he heals me". Sometimes people feel they have to prove to God that they deserve to be healed, or, "I've got to go fast and pray for days to be healed". But God says, "No, no. Just show compassion to other people the way I do". Look at this verse, Isaiah 59 verses six to eight, instead of fasting, he says, "Here's what I want you to do. I want you to break the chains of injustice. I want you to stop all the unfairness to the oppressed. I want you to share your food with the hungry and shelter the homeless, and when anybody needs clothes, clothe them, and don't refuse to help even your own relatives". And if you do these things, here's what he says. "My light will shine on you like the morning sun, and your own healing will quickly appear".

So many people today in their dark days feel trapped, trapped by thoughts, trapped by compulsions, trapped by fears, trapped by anxieties, trapped by secret addictions. Where do we find the freedom from that kind of darkness? Colossians 112 and 13 says this, "Your father has made you able to share all that he's prepared for his people in the kingdom of light," that's the kingdom of God, the kingdom of light, "for he has freed us from the power of darkness". The light of Jesus can free us from our darkest emotions and thoughts. So here's my question here for this third point, what needs healing in your life? What needs healing in your life? What needs to be exposed to the light of Christ? Because light illuminates, shows me when I'm confused, light disinfects, it takes care of all the junk in my past, and light heals.

Let me give you just one more property of light. The fourth effect of light is this, light grows things. Light grows things. Light is life for anything living. It is the key to life. Every plant grows by photosynthesis, which is dependent upon light. No light, no growth. No light, no power. You can't live without light. Now, I'll tell you personally, as a vegetable gardener, I can tell you that the more hours of light you have, the bigger your crops will grow. I can also tell you that many crops won't even grow in winter time with shorter days.

I have a thing that I've kept used for 25, 30 years. You know what this is? It looks like just a light bulb, but it's a special kind of light bulb. It's a grow light. It emits a certain kind of light that causes plants and trees to grow, and you use it in areas where there isn't enough light for plants to survive. I actually used these grow lights on young Redwood trees that I planted on the shady side of my house until they got tall enough to get sunlight on their own, and today those trees are about 40 feet tall. In many ways, church services like the one we're in right now, they're a growth light for your spirit. They help you grow in dark days when the sun is hidden, when you can't see the light. Now, again, the same physical effect of light is true in the spiritual realm.

So write this down, number four. In dark days, I need the light of Jesus to change me for the better. I need the light of Jesus to change me for the better. I've often said there are two ways that we change, when we see the light and when we feel the heat. One of those ways is far less painful. "If we would just change when we see the light, then we wouldn't have to change when we feel the heat," Ephesians 1:17 and 18 says "I'm asking God to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you will grow".

That's the grow light so you will grow in your knowledge of God. And I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light, the light of God. That's going to help you grow when you're life's flooded with light, so that you're going to understand the wonderful future God has promised to those he called. In the Bible, light and life go hand in hand. Psalm 36, verse nine. "You Lord are the giver of life and your light lets us enjoy life". Did you know that verse? "Your light lets us enjoy life". God says, "Life has meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured," but the key is living in God's light. The more you live in God's light, the more you'll enjoy life.

That's why Jesus said this, John 8:12, "I'm the light of the world and if you follow me you won't be stumbling through the darkness because you'll have the light that leads to life". We all know Jesus said in John 10:10, "I came to give life, life in all his fullness". Second Corinthians chapter four says, "The same God who once said, 'Let there be light,'" in creation, "'Let there be light in the darkness,' has now made his light to shine in our hearts". It is the brightness of God's glory that we see shining in the face of Jesus Christ. See, all of these verses, why does God talk so much about light in the Bible? Because God is light and the light is the light of love and the light of God's life. First John 2:8, "The darkness in our lives disappears and the new light of Christ shines in".

So here's the Christmas question this year. Here's my question for you at Christmas, are you ready to exchange your darkness and the dark days you're going through for God's light? This is what Christmas is- For God's light. This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came to light up your life. By the way, when Jesus came at Christmas, he didn't start with his birth. He's always existed because he's God. John chapter one tells us this, first five verses. Before anything else existed, there was Christ with God. He didn't come alive simply at Christmas. He had been in existence for eternity. He has always been alive and he is himself, God. He created everything. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

You see, when you try to live your life without God, you live it in the dark. It's why things don't make sense to you because you don't have the illumination. It's why you're burdened down with negative emotions. It's why you're not healed of the brokenness in your life and it's why you stop growing. This Christmas, it's time to turn on the light. It's time to flip the switch. It's time to let the light of Christ into your life, not just for your dark days, for all your days. It's time to exchange your darkness for his light. I would like to pray with you. Would you bow your heads and pray a simple prayer like this. Say:

Dear God, I've had many dark days in my life, but I need your light in my life. I need your light to heal me. I need your light to guide me. I need your light to comfort me, to warm me. I need your light to help me grow. Jesus Christ, I open my life to the light of your love, and this Christmas, I want to accept you as God's Christmas gift to me. I want to learn to follow you and trust you, and I humbly ask you to accept me into your family by grace, not because I deserve it, but because I put my faith in your love and in your light. I pray this and ask this humbly in your name. Amen.

Are you Human?:*