Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. With happy music, the Christmas season's upon us.
Economy experts say it's the key for retailers making money for the year. It's sad that so much darkness permeates our culture now, but that's why we look to Jesus as our source of light. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, this world is getting darker every day, and we could all use some light to dispel the darkness. And Dave, isn't it wonderful to know that the Scriptures say that Jesus Christ came to bring us light, and he himself claimed to be the light of the world.
And of course, Jesus Christ is not only the light, he is also the creator. I emphasize that because I have in my hands a book. It is a hardcover book, 365 readings, one for every day of the year.
It's a great opportunity for you to give a gift that will go on giving. Let me ask you a question. Do you have squirrels in your backyard? Have you ever wondered how they function, what they do, where they stay? Well, there's a reading in this book about that with a colored picture. All of these readings are colored pictures. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Thank you so much in advance for helping us. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And even as we speak about Jesus Christ being the light of the world, we here at Running to Win are deeply committed to shedding that light as far as possible. Thank you for being our partners. So how are you all doing today?
Everyone doing well? Have you ever thought what would happen if an alien from outer space were to come here and be given the assignment of parking his spaceship in the Daily Plaza and then being asked to figure out what the Christmas season is all about? He of course would emphasize the fact that it's a very busy time.
A lot of merchants are making a lot of money. There's a time of revelry. But I don't know that he would ever get to the real heart of what the Christmas spirit and what Christmas is really all about. And if he were to go into some of our town halls or some of our plazas, he would discover that there are no Christmas trees. There are only holiday trees that are available and that are lit up. You know, to those who want to just call it a holiday tree, I want to ask the question, what holiday is it that you're talking about? Would you at least say the word Christmas? Who would have ever dreamed that a Christmas tree in public places would be considered to be a threat to the First Amendment?
But the real purpose of Christmas is that Jesus Christ is the one who gave us gifts that we can enjoy, gifts that bring us to God the Father and that give us a whole new purpose in life and actually even change our destiny. The Bible says in John chapter 1 that Jesus Christ came and he brought light and the darkness did not overcome it. Darkness cannot overcome light. No matter how dark it is in a cave, a candle can make a great difference because darkness never overcomes light. You can go into Ace Hardware today and you can buy a flashlight, but you can't buy a flash dark.
You can't say, well, you know, I live in this house and it's got so many windows and oftentimes I just need a little bit of darkness. Could I buy a flash dark? No, you can't buy a flash dark, but you can buy a flashlight and the light overcomes the darkness. In the New Testament, we read that when Jesus Christ came, the people who sat in darkness, the Bible says, have seen a great light and those who have been sitting in the realm of death, to them light has come. Jesus Christ is the one who brings light to darkness. And when the Bible plays off of this motif of light and darkness, when it does that, what you discover is that darkness actually is a realm in which people live. There is such a thing as moral darkness. Some of you perhaps listening to this message, that's where you are at. There's a sense in which you're living in moral darkness.
You're in relationships that you know are sinful and you're trying to assuage your troubled conscience and you're doing the best you can in moral darkness. There is emotional darkness. There is depression. There is hopelessness. There's even spiritual darkness where you recognize that something is wrong, but you don't know what it is.
And you go looking for the answer in all the wrong places. Jesus is indeed the one who brings light. Would you take your Bibles, please, and turn to John chapter 12? John chapter 12. Actually, you can turn to John chapter 12 if you wish, but I'm going to be in John chapter 8, as it turns out, in verse 12.
All right, John chapter 8, verse 12. And again, Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life. Even in the Old Testament, God was spoken of as being a God of light. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I think it was the prophet Micah who said that, rejoice not against me, O mine enemy. Though I fall, I shall rise again, and the Lord shall be light about me. But even though light is mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with God, when Jesus Christ comes, when he comes, suddenly there is this burst of light. Rather than the flashlights of the Old Testament, what you have is the glory of God personally revealed. It is as if Jesus brought a floodlight to the entire world. What I'd like to do in the next few moments, and my remarks will be brief, what I'd like to do is to give you five characteristics of light or five necessities, five reasons why light is so necessary.
And let's think about each one of them in turn. First of all, light is necessary for life. Light is necessary for life.
You know, of course, that this is so true in the physical world. If you were to take the plants that are growing in your window, if you have some like that and you take them into the basement, take them into a cave, cut them off from light, what you'll discover is that they will die. Photosynthesis, which is so important. That's why it is that the grain that was in the pyramids that was there for thousands of years, that's why it didn't grow. It needed moisture, but it also needed sunlight. And in the very same way, what the sun is to physical life, Jesus Christ is to spiritual life. The Bible says that he came to give us life and to give it to us more abundantly.
And just indeed, like a seed may grow in the ground and then the sunlight nourishes it. In the very same way, by his own word, he begat us, the Bible says, by the word of truth. So God begat us and granted us life. And this life that Jesus gives is not life after we die, though it is that most assuredly. It is life right now because eternal life is granted to all those who believe on Jesus, even at this moment.
Eternal life is given to us and that is a relationship with God, a connection with God. And finally, we find the answer to our quest. Life is necessary. Light is necessary for life. Light is also necessary for guidance. Jesus said that if you follow me, you will not walk in darkness. Light is necessary for guidance. As many of you know, I was brought up in a farm in Canada and there was a time when we did not have electricity.
Later on, I'll tell you what life was like once we had electricity. But we used to use lanterns, coil oil lamps in the house and lanterns on our way to the barn and the other buildings. And I remember as a boy being with my father as he carried that lantern, that light gave us enough light for the next steps. We couldn't see too far ahead, but bless God, we knew where we were walking and we knew that we were on the right path. The Bible says thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. There's a verse in Proverbs I have often contemplated. It says in chapter 4 that the wicked walk and they don't know what it is that they are stumbling over.
What a vivid picture. What a true picture of those who go about in life from one mistake to another, one sin to another, one addiction to another, one religion to another, and they can't seem to find what it is that they are looking for because they're looking for it and they're walking in darkness. And when you walk in darkness, you can't tell the difference between a brick that might be made out of concrete or gold.
You can't tell the difference. And so you stumble along and you can't find out where you are going. And so the scripture is very clear here that light is needed for guidance. We need to know about our relationship with God.
We need to know where we are at in terms of that relationship and we need to know what life is all about. And for that you need light. It's in the very same Proverb in chapter 4 where the Bible says this, that the light of the just are like the dawn that gets brighter and brighter until the fullness of day. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, he guides you, he directs you all the way to your heavenly home and the light gets brighter and brighter as you go along the path. So light is also needed for guidance. Light is also needed to understand ourselves, to understand who we are. It was Goethe, and by the way, that German enlightenment philosopher, don't pronounce his name Goethe, okay? He wouldn't recognize that.
Learn a little bit of German, which will put you in some good stead when you get to heaven, and it's actually pronounced Goethe. But he said this, only God knows who I really am and may he preserve me from finding out. And that's really true. You see, the fact is that you and I love darkness. We are born into darkness and we love it.
Listen to what Jesus said in John chapter 3. He said this, and this is the judgment that light has come into the world and people love the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deed should be exposed but whoever does what is true comes to the light so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out by God.
Wow. You and I are darkness junkies. We're born that way. We prefer the darkness.
And we prefer the darkness. We don't want to come to the light for a number of reasons. First of all, because of shame. I'm thinking, for example, of the woman in a primitive country who took her bundle of dirty clothes to the river, but because there were other women there washing their clothes as well, she did not undo the bundle. She simply took it as a bundle and put it in the water and then brought it up.
And after doing that a few times, she went home. That's the way in which we are. We don't want to even expose our sins to God because we have rationalized them. We have told ourselves lies and we have repeated those lies long enough so that we are committed to the darkness. And the Bible exposes us, doesn't it?
Another reason is because of fear. We think to ourselves, and don't all of us think this, that if people really knew who we were, if they really understood our thoughts, if they really understood our motivations, if they understood the privacy of our own arts and what we are doing, they would reject us. They would be shocked because of all of the evil that is really latent within us, even if we don't live it out.
And so we don't want to know who we are. And the Bible comes along and exposes us. And the Scripture teaches us this, that there is enough darkness in this culture that if you want to live in darkness, you can.
You'll not only have lots of company, but you'll be able to remain hidden in that realm of darkness with all of its delusions. You know, it was Luther who said that the problem with a common man who doesn't know God is that he is blind, he is sick, and he is dead, actually, actually dead, not just sick. But the problem is that he thinks he can see and he believes himself to be alive. What a delusion there is when you walk in darkness, the hidden life, unwilling to come to the light. So light actually shows us who we are, but light also shows God for whom he is, because God is light and in him there is no darkness at all, none at all. And the Bible says that if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, cleanses us from all sin. Walking in the light means that I expose myself to God. Everything that he reveals to me that is sinful, I confess it to God.
I own my stuff. I admit it to him. He is the one who forgives me and cleanses me so that I can walk with God, because God is light. The only way we can walk with him is if we walk in light. And because of our sinfulness, we constantly need the cleansing that comes to those who want to walk with God.
And in order to see God, we must be willing to come to the light. You remember that famous story in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah gave six woes to the people around him. He said, woe to the drunkards, woe to those who exploit the poor, woe, woe, woe.
But when he gets to chapter 6, the seventh woe is, woe is me. Because in the presence of God, finally, all pretense ends. In the presence of God, finally, we see our hidden sin. In the presence of God, we see now who we are. And it is there that we receive the knowledge of who we are, but also the cleansing that enables us to go on. You remember Job, who was arguing with God and asking all of those philosophical questions. And then God came along and asked questions of his own.
And finally, Job said, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees thee. Therefore, I repent in dust and in ashes. As a matter of fact, it's not possible for us to know who we are unless we understand who God is. Calvin, the great theologian, said in the first sentence of his Institutes that there are two questions that are paramount. And one is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self.
And it is clear that you can't have one without the other. If you've never come to God, if you've never been exposed to the Scriptures, you cannot have a knowledge of who you really are because we walk in darkness. Well this is Pastor Lutzer.
Let me ask you a question. I referred to the book of Job. When God came to Job, what did he ask him?
Well, the answer is he asked about 60 questions about science. Where were you when I created the snow? Do you understand the stork? Do you understand how it is that she lays her eggs then walks away?
Who made her foolish? God says I did. I'm holding in my hands a very special book, all based on science, all intended to help us to worship God better. 365 readings for every single day of the year, illustrated in color, great gift for your children, for your grandchildren, and for yourself.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now if I didn't give you enough time to get a pen or a pencil, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but let me thank you from my heart. Because of people like you, running to win continues to minister to thousands upon thousands of people every day.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. What you see is not always what you get.
Kathy lives in Oak Forest, Illinois, and listens to Running to Win on WMVI. Here's her sad account of a marriage gone bad. I was married in 2009 to a man I'd known for 15 years, a man who claimed to be a recent convert to Christ. He became quick friends with my pastor. He was kind, generous, and loving, until the day we said our I-dos.
From that point on, he was the complete opposite. I hoped my then pastor, through counseling us, would help with the abuse and rage, alcoholism, pornography, and later on, the adultery. That did not happen, since he took my husband's side.
Thereafter, it was just me and my husband. A counselor I saw was troubled that a pastor could consider this kind of person one of his best friends. He didn't believe my husband was saved, but rather dangerous and mentally ill.
I spoke with the elders, and two meetings were called. The pastor was told to cut off ties with my husband. My husband left nine times in the first ten months we were together. After a threat to kill me, I made him leave and got a restraining order. There was no response to any of my offers to continue counseling or to attend a marriage retreat.
We divorced last May. I've not heard a word from my pastor and have since left that church. Pastor Lutzer, I find it troubling that a pastor would refuse to support a sister in Christ, only to cultivate a strong friendship with someone who shows no signs of being saved and who has abused one of God's children. Also, I received no support from the women's ministry during any of this troubling time. Well, Kathy, first of all, as a pastor, I want to say to you, I'm so sorry that you had to endure this experience, and certainly the body of Jesus Christ failed you. From what you've said, that seems clear. And I don't know the pastor's motives. Of course, his friendship with this man apparently was so strong that he wasn't able to stand against him.
You know, that sometimes happens in churches, too, where you have elder boards, where one elder is out of control and should be disciplined, but all the rest are his friends, and so the discipline doesn't happen. And clearly I know you feel betrayed, and it's very important that you not carry with you the bitterness that might result because of the experience that you've had. What I want to do, though, before I end this, is to say a few words to women who might be in a similar position as you. First of all, it is very important that in a marriage relationship, each member own their own responsibility for their stuff, so to speak. And you know, you as a wife cannot bear the responsibility for your husband. As a matter of fact, he must own his own sin because you cannot change him.
I say that to the wives out there. You can cajole him, you can use shame, you can berate him. But the inner appetites, if he is a man, for example, addicted to pornography or violence, those inner appetites will not stop simply because you're trying to make him into the kind of man he really should be. And so what you have to do, if you don't receive any help, and if that marriage continues, you have to set up some circumstances that will force that man to come to terms with who he is.
You know, I frequently say most people don't change when they see the light but when they feel the heat. And what you must do is to warn him that you will indeed expose him, that you will not only tell your pastor, but if the pastor doesn't respond, you'll go elsewhere for help because the situation as it is cannot continue. And so I'd like to conclude by asking wives to be empowered. Don't put up with abuse, especially if your husband is abusing your children.
Go for help. Let him know that things cannot continue the way in which they are because remember what he wants. He wants to continue his lifestyle with a minimum of interruption.
He doesn't even want to hit a speed bump. But what you must do is to make sure that indeed he knows that in the end, he must come to terms with who he is and you're going to make sure that that's going to happen. God bless you, Kathy, and my heart goes out to all the women listening today who are in similar situations. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer, and thank you, Kathy, for sharing your story with us. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. The light Jesus brings can burn brighter every day, but sin can quickly douse that light. Next time, why we must be diligent to walk in the paths of righteousness. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-14 17:52:07 / 2022-12-14 18:01:06 / 9