13Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 14You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
A lot of people comment on how much evil is in the world, and in the process they get overwhelmed and discouraged. But have you ever thought about how much good is in the world? The evil doesn’t surprise me. It is amazing to me that there is any good in the world. But that is the power of God and the greatest evidence of the reality of God. And it is even more amazing to me how a little bit of God’s goodness is more powerful than all the evil that has ever existed. We have the blessing of being bearers of God’s goodness in the world.
We are like candles glowing in the darkness. Even a small candle can give significant light in a room that otherwise is totally dark. No matter where you find yourself, the light of God shining through you is a spark that can help dispel someone else’s darkness. And imagine what it is like when all the Christ-followers in a church or a community let their light shine! If one candle can brighten up the darkest room, think of the brilliance of a whole multitude of candles when they shine together! Perhaps they would even be able to brighten up the darkest world.
You have been given the amazing privilege of being God’s light shining in a world that has grown accustomed to darkness. When we commit to being witnesses to the goodness, love, and mercy of Christ, then we help the world’s “eyes” adjust. Others will start to look for God’s light instead of passively accepting darkness and gloom. Your one “candle” can make a difference!
God wants to shine through you today. God wants to use your life to brighten someone’s heart and soul. How might your witness to God’s love make an impact on someone searching for God this week?
Whose witness led you to Christ? For me, it was my youth minister, Don. He walked beside me during the difficult adolescent years and helped me see the selfless love of Jesus. This week, write and reflect on the person or persons who had the greatest impact on your faith formation through their witness. What was it about their witness that helped you see and know Christ? And how might you model their witness to help others see Christ clearly?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Cloud of Witnesses:
Francis Asbury was the first great circuit rider and one of the first two bishops (along with Thomas Coke) of the Methodist movement in America. He was given the circuit of “America” when he was sent from England to preach the Good News and witness to Christ across the Atlantic. Talk about a multi-point charge! It is estimated that he rode over 300,000 miles on horseback in order to preach and witness along what was then the frontier of America. We have Asbury to thank for the success of the early Methodist movement that eventually grew into our United Methodist Church of today. Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary (my two alma maters!) were named for him, as was the United Methodist publishing house, Cokesbury (a portmanteau of Coke’s and Asbury’s names). You can read about Asbury’s life here. As you read about his life, be inspired to be a selfless witness to the work of God in your part of the world!
Listen to the song, Brighten My Heart by Sixpence None the Richer. This is a musical version of an ancient Christian poem. You can purchase a cover version of the song here if you’d like. As you listen and sing, consider how God’s work in you prepares you to be a witness in the world. Meditate on the words of the chorus: “Help me open my heart to you, Lord Jesus, it’s what I long to do.” In what ways do you need to be brightened, stilled, and opened up to God in times of prayer and solitude with God in order to serve God in the world? What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Ask God to put people in your path who need a comforting word or a reassurance of God’s love. Pray for courage to be a bold witness for Christ in word and action. As you pray, ask God to help you distinguish between humble boldness and arrogance in your witness. Trust the Holy Spirit to walk beside you, amplify your witness, and prepare others to receive the message of God’s love as you share Christ.
Light a candle this week and observe the flame. As you observe the flame, consider all of the ways in which that flame represents: warmth, light, purity, the presence of the Holy Spirit, etc. Now imagine that the flame is alive within you. In what ways does the flame of God provide you warmth? In what ways does the flame of God illuminate your soul? In what ways does the presence of the Holy Spirit purify you? Consider each of these realities slowly and intentionally as you bask in the light of that simple candle. Know that you are in the presence of God, the one who is your light of life.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How have your actions and words witnessed to God?
- How have you seen God’s light shine in the world?
- In what ways might you “season” God’s world?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Tell someone about Jesus this week. However, follow the advice of St. Francis, who said, “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.” Try telling someone about Jesus through your actions and attitudes. Use words to witness to Jesus where necessary, but let your life speak for Jesus just as powerfully and clearly as any words could. What ways come to mind when you consider witnessing without words? Whatever comes to mind, put it into practice!
Breath Prayer: LORD God, shine through us.