Monday Reverb – 20March2023



This is the fourth week of the Easter Preparation season (Lent), a time when we ready ourselves to commemorate the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and when we prepare to celebrate the glorious empty tomb of our resurrected Lord. To participate in the process of examining our walk with Christ, we have to recognize our inability to accurately discern spiritual things. We need God to reveal us to ourselves to be aware of the ways in which we need to spiritually grow. It is only by the Spirit that spiritual growth takes place.

This week’s theme is God leads us through spiritual darkness. In the call to worship Psalm, we read how the Lord leads the psalmist peacefully through the darkest valley. In the passage in 1 Samuel, we learn that God is far better than we are at judging human hearts. In Ephesians 5, Paul is speaking to an audience who God has brought out of darkness and into light. Finally, John tells the story of a man whose sight was restored by Christ.

The selected passages are … Psalm 23:1-6 · 1 Samuel 16:1-13 · Ephesians 5:8-14 · John 9:1-41




  • Presenter:  Jeff Broadnax, GCI Pastor
  • Featured Passage:  1 Samuel 16:7    


We can often be like Samuel and incorrectly judge a person’s value by superficial things.

Like Samuel, none of us can see others clearly because we cannot see what lies in a person’s heart.  The good news is that Jesus Christ can.  As Christians, we must learn to rely on Jesus and see others through his eyes, which are filled with compassion, empathy, and love.

We cannot hope to have healthy relationships with our neighbors by relating to them without acknowledging Christ’s relationship with them.  When we see them as belonging to him, we seek to love our neighbor as Christ loves them.  This is the new commandment Jesus gave his disciples in the Upper Room.

Jesus loves each and every one of us.  This is our most important label.  To him, this is the identity that defines us.  He does not judge us by one aspect of our character, but by who we are becoming in him.  We are all beloved children.  While that might not make a funny t-shirt, it is the truth by which Christ-followers live.  




Being Light

Ephesians 5:8-14 NIV

You are at your congregation’s Sunday gathering when you see Phyllis coming your way. She is a wonderful person, but she tends to be heavy handed with her perfume. It is a scent you do not enjoy but she obviously likes it…a lot! Phyllis is a wonderful person — salt of the earth — but she is also a chronic hugger. Most people would agree that hugs are great. However, not everyone thinks hugs are great, and not everyone thinks hugs are great all the time. Phyllis is not one of those people. Phyllis is a wonderful person — a ray of sunshine in this cold, cruel world — but she does not know her own strength. She has wrapped you in a hug of the bear variety and you are fairly certain that you have sustained some mild rib damage. On top of your physical pain, you now smell like Phyllis; and you will keep smelling like Phyllis for the rest of the day. Every time you breathe in you have a powerful aroma that reminds you that Phyllis is…wonderful.

You may or may not know a Phyllis, but you have probably had the experience of getting an unwanted aroma stuck on you. Getting someone’s scent on us can be unpleasant. Even when we think the cologne or perfume smells good on them, it is not the scent we chose for ourselves. If we did not intend to smell a certain way, it can sometimes feel like another person’s scent was imposed on us.

This is what it is like for some Christians when they encounter people who are doing things they believe are wrong. They believe that if they are around people who do “bad things,” they risk picking up the scent of their sin. Perhaps they also fear that other Christians will think they condone the behavior of “sinners” if they “smell” like them?  Many believers avoid engaging their neighbors because they fear being corrupted by those who make different life choices.  They feel it is important to be separate and distinct from “the world,” and they avoid sharing space with those who do not follow Christ.

To some extent, one can understand this perspective.  Our society is filled with a lot of distractions, and it is easy to have our eyes turned away from God.  If we are not careful, we can allow others to influence us and make it easier for us to act in a way that is outside of God’s will.  At the same time, we have to consider if Jesus feared picking up the scent of humanity’s sin.  If Phyllis represented the world and the stench of its sinful ways, would Christ try to avoid hugging her?  Was Jesus afraid of “catching” humanity’s corruption?  The answer is “no.”  Jesus put on human flesh and became one of us.  He was not afraid of catching our corruption.  Rather, we caught his health and wholeness.

So, what does that mean for us?  How are we supposed engage those who might live in spiritually harmful ways while not imitating them?  Paul gives us some guidance in his letter to the Ephesians. He writes:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible — and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:8-14)

In Ephesians, Paul addressed an audience that was experiencing divisions between Jewish Christians and non-Jewish (Gentile) Christians.  Also, Ephesus was a cosmopolitan city where several belief systems vied for new adopters.  Given this context, Paul encouraged his primarily Gentile Christian readers to behave in a manner fitting of their calling in Christ, and he used the metaphor of darkness and light to convey his message.  In the context of Ephesians, darkness symbolized sin, especially sexual immorality, obscenity, greed, and idolatry.  Light, on the other hand, stood for love, goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Now that we have a bit more context, we can get a better understanding of how this scripture applies to us.

Paul began this passage with a startling truth about who we are. While the light metaphor is used often in the New Testament, no statement is quite as strong as what we find in verse 8.  In other passages, we are called the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) and children of light (John 12:35-36). However, here we are called “light in the Lord.”  We have been made light, just as Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12), and “God is light” (1 John 1:5).  We have not been made light by our good works, and our status is not something we earned.  Rather, it is because we are in Christ; his atoning work has made us light.  Since, we are light, Paul encourages us to be light.

If we fear being corrupted by the darkness in the world, could it be that we think of ourselves as less than what we are?   Perhaps we think too little of what it means to be in Christ?  Maybe we underestimate the profound transformation that takes place in all those who accept the new humanity offered in Christ?  In Jesus, we are light, and light has no reason to fear darkness.  If he lives in us, we need not fear catching the corruption of the world.  Working through us, Christ will spread the health and wholeness of his light.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  When we separate ourselves from Christ, we can find ourselves living in the shadows – we can start to slip back into our dark ways.  Because of this, we sometimes find ourselves striving for perfection.  But God does not require perfection; he looks for the willingness to repentto turn back, to see Jesus as he truly is and to see ourselves in him.  The fact that we will make mistakes does not prevent God from declaring us as light.  The light of Christ shines brightest through imperfect vessels.

To Paul, chasing away darkness is part of the role of Christians.  In order to chase away darkness, light needs to be in proximity to it.  In verse 11, the apostle exhorted his audience to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Notice that Paul says to have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness themselves, not those who sometimes do dark things.  In other words, we are to share spaces with those who do dark things, but we are not to adopt their ways.  We are to be in proximity with those who at times do dark things so they can see the futility of their behavior — so they can see a better way.

How are we then to show others a better way?   Some have read this passage and interpreted it to mean that Christians should confront sin and call it out in our neighbors.  People with this view take it upon themselves to tell others how they are sinning and that they need to repent.  They can even be combative and view their engagement with their community as some kind of war to be won for God.  It is true that believers should oppose the works of sin, but how we oppose sin matters.

We do not expose darkness by assuming a posture of confrontation.  Rather, we expose darkness by treating our neighbor with compassion, empathy, honesty, openness, and love.  Verse 14 reminds us that Christ is the light that causes the sleeper to emerge from the darkness of sleep.  In other words, darkness is exposed when believers try to be like Jesus to their neighbors.

  • Jesus did not constantly call out the sins of those around him.  Rather, he lived amongst them and through love showed them the light.
  • Similarly, we do not chase away darkness by focusing on darknessWe expose darkness by focusing on the love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

Did you hear that?  Followers of Christ who live in the light do not chase away darkness by focusing on that darkness.  We expose darkness by focusing on the love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

This happens through authentic relationships.

  • It happens when we meet our neighbors where they are and love them right where they are, seeking nothing in return.
  • It happens as we live questionable lives causing others to ask about the joy they see in us.
  • It happens as we join in the normal life rhythms of our neighborhood and seek to be a force for good in our community.
  • It happens as we practice random acts of kindness and outrageous generosity.
  • It happens as we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
  • It happens as we listen to the stories of others, especially those who seem different from us.
  • It happens as we practice radical forgiveness and uncommon humility.
  • It happens as we put our faith, hope, and love into action for the glory of God.

Loving others is not always pretty.  Sometimes, loving others is a challenge.  However, as we go forward in love, we should remember that the behavior of our neighbors is not the most important thing about themThe most important thing about our neighbors is what God thinks of them, and the value he places on every human being.   The most important thing about them is that in Christ they have been reconciled to God and to us, even if they do not know it.   This is good news for all of us.  I am so glad that my behavior is not the most important thing about me.  I do not always do right.  I mess up.  I miss the mark.  Yet, every time I turn to God, he is waiting with open arms.  He does not throw my sin in my face, and he does not shame me.   When I confess my sins to God, I do so knowing that, in Christ, my sins have already been forgiven.  Therefore, I am free to enjoy my relationship with God despite my sin and even though I will sin againShouldn’t we imitate this loving posture when dealing with our neighbors?

To me, the most amazing truth about Paul’s teaching is that darkness can become illuminated, and what is illuminated can become light.   Darkness does not need to stay dark.  It can be turned into light!   In this present evil age, darkness will not be completely dispelled.  However, this passage can give us hope that some of the darkness around us can be turned into light.  If I am honest, it is easy to doubt that this is true.  When I look at my neighborhood, I see a lot of darkness. I see so much pain. I see so many self-imposed prisons. I see so much anger. I see so much prejudice. I see so much oppression. I sometimes wonder if it is possible for the darkness to be made light.

Yet isn’t that what Jesus did on the cross?   Jesus, by the Spirit and to the Father, lovingly bore all darkness — all the sins of the world — and was not overcomeHis spilled blood and pierced body forged a new humanity by which anyone who calls on his name becomes light.  In this Easter Preparation season, let us be reminded of the hope that can be found in Christ.  In him, darkness can become light.  As we go into our neighborhoods, let us carry this hope with us.

Since we are in Christ, let us live as children of light.  Let us participate without fear in the work he is doing to bring light to all dark places.  Let us shine in our families and on our streets.  Let us shine in our neighborhoods and communities. Let us shine at our jobs and at our schools.  Jesus is in you so shine on!


Small Group Discussion Questions

From Speaking of Life

  • Why do you think it is so easy to put labels on others?
  • “Christ does not judge us by one aspect of our character but by who we are becoming in him.” What do you think this means?

From the sermon

  • Have you ever felt tempted to avoid people in “the world”?  Why or why not?
  • Is it sometimes hard to believe that darkness can become light?  Why or why not?
  • What are some practical ways you can be light to your neighbors?
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  • Exodus 20:8   “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.   

1.   Exodus 20:8 … part of the Old Covenant, which is not binding on us (as persons who are under a NEW covenant)

2.   Exodus 20:8 … NOT about the Christian Sabbath … It’s about the weekly sabbath …

  • Exodus 20:9-11   Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

3.   So, which day is the Christian Sabbath?

  • Some say Saturday … Some say Sunday … Others say it could be any day of the week.
  • The truth is that … it (the Christian Sabbath) is not about a day … It’s about a rest.
  • Meaning of “sabbath” … “shabbat” means “He rested”.
  • Note … From the Britannica website … “The Jewish Sabbath (from Hebrew shavat, “to rest”) is observed throughout the year on the seventh day of the week—Saturday. According to biblical tradition, it commemorates the original seventh day on which God rested after completing the creation.
  • The POINT … the essential characteristic of any “sabbath” is REST.

That said, the essential difference between the weekly sabbath and the Christian Sabbath is that the former is physical, whereas the latter is spiritual.    The Christian Sabbath speaks to the REST that is IN Jesus Christ.  Indeed, some say that Christ IS the Christian Sabbath.

  • Colossians 2:15-17  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.   16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a [a] festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the  [b] substance is of Christ.   

The sabbaths (weekly and annual) were only shadows of things to come.  Those things to come were the incarnation of the Word, in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth … and all the blessing associated with that.  The reality that those sabbaths and festivals, etc. pointed to was “of Christ” (in and through Jesus Christ).

Note, also, what the writer of Hebrews said …

Hebrew 4:1-11  Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of itFor indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, [c]not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”

Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”

For if [d]Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day9  There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 

The “rest” that the writer to the Hebrews was referring to was NOT the weekly sabbath (referenced to Genesis) because the Israelites in the wilderness had not entered it (even after 40 years).  If they had, the Psalmist would not have referred to is as something yet to be entered almost 400 years later.

The “rest” was NOT the peace that came about under Joshua’s leadership, either.  If it were, the Psalmist would not have referred to it.

The “rest” (of which the weekly sabbath was only a type, or shadow) is something that is entered into by faith – by believing (see Hebrews 4:3 again).  We have entered the Christian Sabbath by faith in Jesus Christ and His word … not by our works.  It is when a person realizes that he/she cannot be saved by his/her works … and ceases from his/her works (Hebrews 4:10) that he/she enters the “rest” of the Christian Sabbath.

Finally, note what Jesus Christ said …

  • Matthew 11:28-29   Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”    

The “rest” that is the Christian Sabbath that only God can give … because it is a spiritual rest (for our souls) … and He will give it … IF/WHEN we cease from our works.

One observation, in closing … The very next very verse after Matthew 11:28-30 above is Matthew 12:1, which says …

Matthew 12:1-2  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

Given that there were no chapter breaks in the original manuscript, is it possible that Jesus said what He said in Matthew 11:28-39 on a sabbath day … TO Jews who were trying to keep the weekly sabbath?  I want to think so.

If that’s the case, then it would seem He was contrasting their “rest” (physical) with the true (spiritual) rest that is in Him.

P.S.  One of the dominant themes (if not the main theme) in the letter to the Hebrews is that of the betterness or superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant … the New Covenant is based on better blood (Christ’s vs that of bulls and lambs), with a better law-giver (Christ vs Moses) and better High Priest (Jesus vs those descended from the Levi), better promises (spiritual/eternal vs physical/temporal) and so on.  It is also based on a better rest (the Christian sabbath vs the weekly sabbath).



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