Rise And Shine

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
Isaiah 60:1

March 20th was the date of the 2019 "worm moon." It happens when the moon is closest to the earth and is the last full moon before the vernal equinox. This super moon lit up the night sky so much that there were shadows at midnight! The name "worm moon" comes from the idea that this moon signifies the end of winter which wakes the worms in the earth up causing them to rise to the surface. Northern Native American tribes knew this moon as the "Full Crow Moon" when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter.

The moon is another one of God's creator masterpieces, rotating around the earth exerting gravitational forces to keep us from drifting into space and shifting the ocean currents enough to make for low and high tides. Did you know that God washes all His seashores twice a day? That indicates how important forgiveness is to God and should teach each of us to be more sensitive of it. The moon's stages can even have an effect on our moods and behavior. The brightness of the super moon brought the worms out of the ground. Likewise, the Light of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ, causes worms like us to move up from the darkness of sin and sorrow to surface in His glorious kingdom and to live and have our being in Him. Now it doesn't pamper the flesh much, but we are nothing but worms really. A worm in nature is a soft-bodied, slender, creeping animal, but is also figurative of the Messiah and mankind.

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"But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people."
Psalm 22:6

"How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?" Job 25:6

It is so true that if we think we are something, when we are nothing, we are fooling ourselves. We cannot fool God though. He knows we are nothing yet he determined to make us something anyway so He gave us His spirit by the power of the irresistible Light of the Lord, Jesus Christ. That ended the winter of our spiritual deadness, bringing all of our sins to the surface, making us squirm in repentance, but covering us in the "peat" of peace with God. It really doesn't matter how loud or long our prayers are, nor how many times we've read the Bible through. Our charity is only a tinkling cymbal unless we are willing to crawl for Jesus! No doubt, we may aspire to walk with the Lord and to run the race that is set before us, but we're going to have to crawl first. General Douglas McArthur said, "success is measured by how high a man bounces after he hits bottom." That's a good definition of true success because the only direction to look when you hit bottom is up.

The light of the worm moon is an amazing fact of nature. In a much greater way the Light of the World is an amazing force of God's grace, causing the worst of sinners to rise and shine. The power of the resurrection of our Lord is the foundation of the Christian faith. The strong, everlasting love of God will not leave us in the coldness and darkness of sin, but brings us to Him by the death of His only begotten son. That death paid the penalty price for all our sins and the empty tomb was the seal of a Holy God's satisfaction. The death of Christ satisfied God's wrath against sin and paid the penalty for which only death would suffice. But in order to prove that the debt for sin was paid forever; death, the consequence of sin, had to be defeated. If our Lord Jesus Christ had not won the victory over death for us, we would still be in our sins. His rising brought much shining, and just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we rise because of His power and we shine because of His radiant righteousness imputed to us.

"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain."
1 Corinthians 15:14

"Rise and Shine" is a saying probably derived from the military call for the soldier to "wake up, shine those boots." Rise and shine implies we are preparing for the day. Every day is a gift from God and when our objective is to live each day for God's glory, then we are embracing rising and shining. It's our witness really and sends a clear message to the world about how we feel about Jesus. Spiritual warfare can be intense, but God has called us above all else to stand, to rise to every occasion of life through His resurrected power given to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Chapter six of the letter to the Ephesian church even describes the spiritual armor He provides us so that we can rise and shine right in the battle zone. Part of that armor is boots, and after we rise we should shine our shoes with the gospel of peace.

"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" Ephesians 6:15

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Rising without peace would bring a horrible fall. Sort of like Humpty Dumpty who sat on a wall, we too often want the world to prop us up and provide a resting place for our ego. The Lord Jesus' first appearance after His resurrection was standing, not sitting. I believe God wants His people to rise to His high calling and surely show His love shining through every circumstance. That doesn't mean we have to buff up with works of righteousness to earn God's favor, or flap our wings of religion trying to outrun the devil like a scared sparrow trying to elude a cat. It means we trust our Lord and Saviour and believe He died for us so that we can live for him. Actually, we're rising and shining because He lives. Remember, we serve a living Saviour and because He lives, we can face tomorrow; we can rise and shine. Notice an eagle or even a buzzard flying in the sky, they hardly ever move their wings. That's because they are relying on the air currents beneath them and by doing so, they rise above all and have Godlike, eternal perspective on things below. Their peaceful, gliding flight is because they have surrendered all efforts to an unseen source of strength. I remember a former pastor of mine, Elder Woodrow Beasley saying in one of his wonderful sermons about grace, how a missionary preached the gospel to a Creek Indian Chief, and later noticed the chief had several tribesmen gathered around him who suddenly sounded off a Creek halleluiah. Upon inquiring about the commotion of the serene celebration, the missionary found out the chief had laid an earth worm on a stove near the campfire. As all gathered around the fire, the worm began to wiggle and squirm to escape the hot coals and flames. Then the chief reached down and plucked the worm out of the fire pit and released it on the leaves of the cool forest floor. He then told his fellow tribesmen that in a like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ delivers us from destruction by coming down from glory and providing a solution we could not.

"He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:2,3

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Because God has so mercifully saved us from hell eternal, given us His spirit to comfort and guide us, set His son on His right side to intercede for us, we must rise and shine! If a full moon in March will bring the worms out of the earth, the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to have the redeemed children of God shining like lightning bugs on the front porch in July.

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A rise and shine wake up call is a call to act lively even though you may want to stay in bed. Don't let your feelings scuff up the facts of what God has done to you and what He expects you to do for Him. To be sure, God can do it without us, but what a tragedy it is when a sinner saved by grace doesn't take his place. The genuine Christian motto should be "Everything depends on me; I depend on God." Accepting responsibility is the 'rising" and trusting God is the "shining." The more time we spend in God's word, the brighter our light will shine. That's because God's word is light, and light and darkness do not get along. When Moses gave himself to God and His commandments, the Bible says his face was shining so brightly he had to put a veil over his head so that the Israelites could look at him. Now is really all the time we have. We cannot change the past and we can't control the future, but we can serve God right now. Every day God sends is a day to rise and shine. We can only rise and shine one day at a time. I don't think God would grant us another day on earth unless He intended for us to rise and shine that day. To rise and shine is to glorify God. That is what we were saved and left here on earth a while for.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. " Matthew 5:16

Is your light shining now? I can tell you it is needed now. The chaos of the world view today makes for a great platform for Christians to rise and shine - stand up for Jesus and let others know you love Him; and, that He died for your sins and you are happy to serve Him. The influence of the world will dim our lights though. I remember several years ago driving home late one afternoon from a forestry job near the Altamaha River Swamp in Long County. As I passed through Glennville, the sun was setting and by the time I got to Daisy I could hardly see the road. I really thought that my truck headlights were not working properly. When I stopped and checked my lights though I found they were covered with mud. That last road through the woods I drove on before reaching highway 301 was full of water and mud holes; and, the debris had stuck on my head lamp glass lens. I cleaned the mud from the lights and was greatly relieved to know I could once again see the road home. Maybe if you are not shining for Jesus, you need to clean your conscious with confession and repentance. You know, even if you're on the right road and your lights are not shining, you're not going to enjoy the trip.

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It has been said that we are as happy as we make up our minds to be. Did you know that in general people were happier a hundred years ago than they are now? That's because people who lived then depended more on God than they did on material things. They really didn't expect to find happiness here on earth. Today, even Christians have become more concerned about feeling better than they are about finding God. If our happiness depends more on what somebody else says or does than God, then we have a problem and we will not rise nor will we shine very much. To rise and shine means we focus our minds on God, His will, His plan, His kingdom and His word. In other words, we make up our minds that a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ means more to us than anything else.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:1,2

Make up your mind to rise and shine for Jesus and for Him alone. Here's what happens in a lot of cases: Say you make up your mind that your number one goal is to have a happy marriage; that you really want your marriage to rise and shine. Most likely you will be disappointed with such a noble marital goal. On the other hand, if you make up your mind that your marriage is going to be God-centered and dedicated to showcasing Holy matrimony as God's divine institution, then most likely you will have a happy marriage. And, that principle actually applies to most aspects of the Christian life, including church and workplace. It happens because God promises that when we seek Him first, all the other things are added, including happiness.

Making up our minds to rise and shine for Jesus requires courage and discipline. Queen Esther made up her mind to go before the king even though it wasn't the most opportune time; she knew she might even lose her life by doing so. She bowed her back and went ahead though, and her courage and plea caused the king to reverse a horrible decree that would have murdered thousands of Jews.

"Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in into the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish." Esther 4:16

Esther humbled herself. She made up her mind to seek God - to rise and shine for Him. So, we see the true working out of God's promise to lift us up when we go down for Him. When we deny ourselves, God will use us and cause us to shine. Easter and the resurrection celebration ought to be a good time to slow our minds down so we can listen to our hearts. (Maybe a 24 hour cell phone fast would do us all a lot of good.)

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The power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ virtually nullifies any excuses we try to conjure up for not rising and shining. The redemptive hope provided by the empty tomb should prompt every one of us to claim our inheritance in God's kingdom no matter what our circumstances. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, no matter how deep the sin, how dark the loneliness, nor how desperate our need. We are truly more than conquerors through Him that loved us. We must be sure to remember though that when Christ rose, we also rose with Him.

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4

We will always rise higher and shine brighter against the backdrop of sin and sorrow in our lives. What an opportunity pain and loss affords us to rise up and shine brightly witnessing of Jesus' grace and our love for Him. Our Lord Jesus' greatest work was done on Calvary's cross and so will ours be done as we carry our cross. Actually, our opportunities to rise and shine often show up in the most unlikely places. Yes, God can make beauty out of ashes. Did you know that collards have beautiful yellow blooms? I planted some collards in the garden last fall and since I am the only one around my house who eats them, the plants just shot up in beautiful blooms. Now, once they bloom, the leaves are bitter, so I can't eat them. Sometimes our trials and failures in life can cause bitterness, but those hurts have blooms of hope because of the resurrection revealing God's presence, purpose and love. We may not understand it all and have no taste at all for it, yet the blooms are where the seeds are produced that will rise and shine in another place and time. When we think of the wonderful things the Lord Jesus has done and said, how can we whine? Let us rise and shine!

Brother Randy

Goe is Speaking

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