Light Shines, Even in Darkness – Sermon Notes

1.  Intro  Extended periods of darkness in our lives are difficult to understand much more to deal with. But the reality of the love of God is that he is always light, even in the tough times.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5 NASB

2.  God is Light.  The story of Bible is about God’s people seeking (and losing) the presence of God and the comfort of his light

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill  And to Your dwelling places. Psalms 43:3 NASB

3.  A brief history of God’s presence

  • God created Adam and Eve to be in His presence, but they ended up banned from the Garden and separated from God – Genesis 3:23-24 NASB
  • God walked with Enoch – Genesis 5:21-24
  • Noah walked and talked with God because he did not conformed to the world – Genesis 6:9
  • Abraham  walked in perfect obedience with God –  Genesis 17:1-2
  • Moses desires evidence of God’s promised presence – Exodus 33:12-18
  • God’s glory fills the tabernacle and stays with the Israelites – Exodus 40:34-38
  • The Ark of the covenant is stolen by the Philistines – but quickly returned.  1 Samuel 4:22
  • God’s glory returns to Solomon’s temple – 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
  • God departs Solomon’s Temple – Ezekiel 10:18

Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.

4.  The Exile. Because of their unfaithfulness, God turned his people over to exile at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians – Jeremiah 25:1-11

There is no record that God’s glory ever returned to his formerly chosen people.

5.  Jesus is the return of God’s glory

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1: 1-5 NASB

Lightcomesback6.  Trust the light.  We face all kinds of darkness:  emotional, mental, physical spiritual.  Our joy and comfort is found in the spiritual light of Jesus.  Even when mental, emotional, physical darkness grips our lives we have the constant light that shines out of the darkness.  We must fight the desire to give in to darkness and trust the light.

Zoe:  of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to the hypo-static “logos” and to Christ in whom the “logos” put on human nature.  life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.

Even in darkness, there is light.


God’s Glory — its Appearing, Departure and Return, Wm. C. Reid.

The Exiles of Israel: A Closer Look, Ed Stetzer

Walking in the light of God’s presence.

In Alaska, Darkness and Depression Descend, The Associated Press

More about Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-Law

In Exodus 18, Jethro counseled his son-in-law Moses about how he was leading Israel after they fled Egypt. But there is more depth to the story if you consider the rest of Jethro’s story:


Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Summary: The traditional interpretation of the parable of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure describes the value of the kingdom of heaven (treasure) and the process by which one acquires that kingdom (sell everything). But there is more to this short parable, when placed in context and in light of all teachings of Jesus the interpretation gets turned on its head. Jesus sold everything and bought us (the treasure). Continue reading

Are You Talking To Me? Repentance Theme in Luke 15

Overview:  Luke chapter 15 records an exchange between Jesus and some Pharisees who were critical of him because he “…welcomes sinners and eats with them.”    He takes their criticism head-on with three parables, one about a good shepherd finding his lost sheep, another about a woman finding her lost coin, andl one about a  loving father rejoicing over the return of a lost son.  In his message, Jesus communicates his theology of purpose, grace, and joy.  The theme often overlooked in his stories and in modern Christianity is the theology of repentance, the theme that brought the most joy in each story and the action to which he was calling the Pharisees.

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Beautiful Teachings of Jesus

If I had seen a Christian living what Christ taught, then I myself may have followed and become a believer in the beautiful teachings of Jesus.  Mahatma Gandhi

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Good Shepherd)

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-7

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Luke 15:1-7 (NIV)

Context:  Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who are critical of his association with sinners.  Both presumably are hearing his response to them in the form of three parables, the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the loving father.


1.  “Suppose one of you…”

  • The Pharisee would not have considered the profession of a shepherd nor allowed his son to be one
  • Shepherding in the oral tradition of the Jews was a proscribed trade…that is, a trade that according to rabbis would be impossible to have and keep the law.   Lists of such trades can be found in the Mishnah (Kidd 4:14, Ket 7:10) and the Babylonian Talmud  (Kid
  • Even though a Shepherd is a symbol for God throughout the old testament, the experience of the time was that a herdsmen were not law-abiding Jews (therefore sinners) and The law-abiding
  • Aggressive and offensive language

2.  “loses one of them “ (Bad shepherd)

  • The structure of Middle Eastern life and language requires that people do not blame themselves; “I lost my sheep” would be presented as “the sheep went from me.”
  • Sheep are constantly getting lost.
  • Shepherd must be diligent

3.  “And when he finds it “ (Good Shepherd)

  • As Bible experts they would have instantly recalled Psalms 23, Jeremiah 23, and Ezekiel 34
  • Ezekiel 34 Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel

1…‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Ezekiel 34:1-5 (NIV)

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Ezekiel 34:11-16 (NIV)

4.  “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home” (Picture of a good shepherd)

  • Rugged terrain made it difficult to bring the sheep back; a lost sheep is confused, exhausted and unable or willing to stand.   Often 70 lbs a sheep would have to be carried by the shepherd (not joyfully)
  • The sacrificial action of the shepherd alone will save the sheep
  • John 10:1-18 The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….   14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:11-15 (NIV)

  • The cross was not used as a symbol of salvation in the early church.  Scholars believe this was because crucifixion by the cross
  • The image of a shepherd with a sheep across his shoulders was often used as a symbol of salvation.  Carving in the catacombs and frescos in early house churches depict a shepherd with a sheep that is proportionally larger than the  the shepherd
  • The early church understood the

5.  “‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”

12 “…If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  Matthew 18:12-13 (NIV)

6.  Summary

  • The Pharisees come face to face with the prophesy of Ezekiel, they have failed as the shepherds God intended them to be and through their religion, have neglected the lost sheep
  • God loves his sheep
  • Only through the shepherd will the lost sheep be found.  Through no effort of our own we are saved through Him
  • Joy – common theme of each of the parable.

7.  Call The good shepherd loves you and longs for your return to the fold.  He will seek you out in the darkness.  He will lift you up onto his shoulders and rejoice.  All you have to do is let him…

Sermon Audio: Nicodemus



When:  Sometime after he cleared the temple

Who:  Ruler on the Jewish ruling council (71 members tasked the elite) V1

  • “As under the Greek rulers the Jews were allowed a large measure of self-government, many points of civil and religious administration fell to the lot of the high priests and the gerousía to settle.
  • “Teacher of Israel”  v10 Only the most trained became teachers of the Law in general, the ruling council, and certainly “Teacher of Israel.
  • the Jewish Encyclopedia and many Biblical historians have theorized that he is identical to Nicodemus ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud as a wealthy and popular holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers.
  • Sanhedrin…put Jesus to death


  • Sent by the ruling council “we know” to address the incident in the temple (Sadducees were the target)
  • Possibly sent to recruit him
  • Inspired by his message…a prodigy recognized by a Jewish master. ILLUSTRATION: The master musician and the hillbilly prodigy
[SEGUE NOTE:  Regardless of the motivation Nicodemus becomes flustered with Jesus’ answer to a question he never asked.)

The Message:

v3-5 The kingdom is experienced by rebirth not reform ILLUSTRATION:  The president of a college of theology

v5-8 Rebirth is spiritual not physical

  • ILLUSTRATION: Jewish ceremonial rebirths.
  • The Jews were fixated on the Messiah coming as a physical King of Israel (Triumphal entry)
  • Pharisees were the experts in external

v13- 14Jesus is not from God he is God (Jesus finally answers implied question) Jesus must be lifted up on the cross (compare to Moses in Numbers 21)

Conclusion (The Cameos)

John 7:45-52 Nicodemus, knowing the law risks retribution to defend  Jesus but was not yet willing to give up his status

John 19:38-42 Nicodemus gives Jesus the burial of a king


John 3:16:  The message to Nicodemus is clear Jesus isn’t  just from God he is God.  He was lifted on the cross so that whoever like Jews on the serpent gazes on it will be saved through a rebirth through the spiritual cleansing of baptism.  Our rebirth isn’t just a new addition to our life or a way to reform it…we die to the old life.  If Nicodemus can do it so can we.

Sermon Audio: The Journey

Sermon Audio “The Journey

When the Israelites stood at the far side of the Red Sea they had escaped certain death and were delivered to life by the hand of God, but their journey wasn’t over.  The Israelites wandered through the wilderness before reaching their promise, and it wasn’t always pretty.  At times God’s anger burned toward them but in the end both He and they looked back their wanderings with fondness.

The Israelite’s story is our story.  When we stand at the banks of our salvation we have to know that our spiritual journey is not over, it’s only beginning.  We will journey through the wilderness of our lives and like the Israelites, Christian wilderness travelers trust God, need each other, look for God’s glory, and never turn back.

Exodus 14, Exodus 33, Jeremiah 2:1-2, Psalms 103, Luke 9:23, Matthew 22:36-40, 1 John 1:7, Philippians 3:12-14

Bible Class: Defining the Kingdom of Heaven (God)

Bible Class Audio May 23, 2010 “Kingdom of God (Part 2)

Bible Class Audio May 16, 2010 “Kingdom of God (Part 1)

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17 (TNIV)

1.  A Central Theme of Jesus Teachings

The Kingdom of heaven is a central theme in the teachings of Jesus throughout his ministry.  It’s difficult to gain the deeper faith and understanding from his message without understanding the kingdom message first.

As you discover the depth to which the kingdom of God message is infused into the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles you have to wonder where in our church history was that message lost?  If it was so central to the original message, why did we water it down?

“It may be said that the teaching of Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God represents his whole teaching. It is the main, determinative subject of all his discourse. His ethics were ethics of the Kingdom; his theology was theology of the Kingdom; his teaching regarding himself cannot be understood apart from his interpretation of the Kingdom of God” (Dr. F. C. Grant, from “The Gospel of the Kingdom,” Biblical World, 50, pp. 121-191).

The gospel  (good news) message is still preached proudly, something from which we can never stray.  Jesus is the salvation for the world, He is the final sacrifice for sins, He was crucified and buried in a tomb, He was triumphant over death, He is the mediator of the new covenant.  What has been lost I’m afraid is the rest of the story, that Jesus has redeemed us into the Kingdom of God.  As Jesus said,

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached…” (Luke 16:16 TNIV) Continue reading