[Continued from ‘It’s Your Time to Shine’ article]
What then must we do to shine?
The first thing to do is to arise. Our text says, ‘Arise, shine…’. Note it didn’t say, ‘Arise and shine’! Which implies that arising goes hand-in-glove with shining! Jesus said, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
It is our responsibility to arise. We are the ones to let our light so shine for all to see, that they may glorify our Father in heaven (Matt.5:14-16).
Nothing happens until we arise; and things won’t change until we arise. Deborah said, “the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways. Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Arose a mother in Israel” (Judge 5:6-7).
We must arise; “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (Isa. 58:12)
ii. Maintain a vital connection to God
The Bible is full of the stories of people who ‘shined’ in their generation as a direct result of their connection to God! Jesus said, we can’t be fruitful, unless we remain vitally united with Him (John 15:4). The Bible says, “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Dan. 11:32c).
Daniel purposed in his heart, not to defile himself with the king’s delicacies and wine because of his relationship with God. And when he and his three friends were tested at the end of ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all their colleagues who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Not only that, when the King interviewed them at the end of their training period, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in all his kingdom (Dan. 1:19-20)!
Remember, the earth and the people shall be covered in deep darkness; “but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you”.
Darkness also represents ignorance, confusion, etc. That was the case when king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and didn’t know what it meant! When he demanded that his astrologers tell him the dream and its interpretation, they told the king it was humanly impossible (Daniel 2:10c). That was the time for Daniel and his friends to shine!
Darkness and light are opposites; light represents knowledge. The king commanded that all the wise men in Babylon be destroyed. Daniel and his friends would have perished with the others; but when they prayed, God revealed the secret to Daniel in a night vision (Daniel 2:14-19).
The Bible says, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Ps. 25:14). Job talked of the days of his youth – “When His candle shined upon my head, and when by His light I walked through darkness;…when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle…” (Job 29:2-4 KJV).
It was Joseph’s time to shine when Pharaoh had two dreams and no one could interpret them! God gave Joseph the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, and Joseph’s advice was well received by Pharaoh (and all his officials) and he set Joseph over all Egypt. The man who delights and meditates in God’s Word, “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Ps. 1:3).
iii. Live by Faith
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7 ). The NLT version says, “For we live by believing and not by seeing”. A person who lives by faith, doesn’t live by what they see in the natural or physical realm! Faith deals with the unseen realm; it is the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1c). Faith calls the things that don’t exist (physically), as though they did (Rom. 4:17). Why? Because, “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3c).
Darkness covers the earth and the people; and if you would shine, you’ve got to be different! You can’t afford to listen to what everybody is listening to, say what they are saying, or respond to things the same way they do. “When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up” (Job 22:29a KJV). Isaiah said, “This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it” (Isa. 8:11-12 NIV).
The Bible says that the worlds were framed by the Word of God (Heb.11:3a); so, learn to speak His Word. Jesus said you shall have what you say (Mark 11:23); so, if you keep saying what you have presently (in the physical), that is what you’re going to have! Start saying what God says you have and you will have it. You have redemption and forgiveness, through the blood of Jesus (Col. 1:13); you have obtained an inheritance in Christ (Eph. 1:11); by the stripes of Jesus you have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24); you have overcome satan by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11); you have been given all the things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3); you have overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5); etc. Start saying who the Bible says you are – note that you are (not will be) the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21); more than a conqueror (Rom.8:37); the redeemed of the Lord (Ps. 107:2); the head and not the tail (Deut. 28:13); blessed beyond the curse (Num.23:20); etc.
iv. Live by the Spirit
These aren’t the days that we live like ordinary people; because the greatest Force in the universe lives inside of us- the Holy Spirit!
He isn’t only with us; but also in us and where need be, He would come UPON us to accomplish whatever needs to be accomplished. Jesus calls Him the Helper; so He is here to help us. He is also called, “The Spirit of wisdom and understanding…of counsel and might…of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:1-2). So we can draw on any of these dimensions of the Holy Spirit, whenever it is needed. When Joseph was called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s dream; he answered, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Gen. 41:16c).
Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, by the Spirit of God. He also gave counsel as to what Pharaoh should do in the seven years of abundance, to prevent hardship in the seven years of severe famine that would follow. He operated by the spiritual gifts of the Word of knowledge and the Word of wisdom!
Daniel also operated by these gifts, when he supernaturally told the king’s dream and its interpretation. It was a humanly impossible thing to do. Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh” (Dan. 2:10c-11). The Bible says the gifts of the Holy Spirit- the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues – are distributed to each member of the Body, for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:7-11). Note that the gifts are manifested through and by the Spirit, and not through the human flesh, reasoning or ability!
v. Walk in Love
We can’t talk about shining, without talking about the need to walk in love. (Read 1 John 2:9-11).
We’ve talked about living by faith, but the Bible says Faith works by love (Gal. 5:6c)! We must, however, understand how love works. Love is a commandment; it’s not an advice or a suggestion from God! It is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-40). That is, it isn’t subject to our feeling, convenience, person preference or opinion. Like faith, love is of the heart, and not of the head- the Bible says that the love of God has been shed in our heart! Love isn’t selective in its operations; we must love everyone. (Read 1 John 3:14-19). It is also a test of our genuine salvation and discipleship; By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Love isn’t a feeling, it’s about actions flowing from a genuine heart. The Bible talks about ‘having’ love (and not ‘feeling’ love) for one another (John 13:35)! God’s love is practical; He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus commanded us to love one another AS HE HAS LOVED us. (John 15:12). And how has He loved us? By laying down His life for us. “And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:14-18).
vi. Maintain Fellowship With Others
There is a need to be in fellowship with other believers. Daniel had his three friends. Though the Bible says, Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself, a close study would show that he wasn’t alone in this. The four men were together on abstaining from the king’s delicacies and wine and ate just vegetables (Dan. 1:8-16)! When the decree went out for all the wise men in Babylon to be killed, Daniel didn’t seek God concerning the matter on his own. The Bible says, he got his three companions involved and the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision (Dan. 2:16-19). The days of ‘one man show’ are over! Another word for fellowship is partnership. In order to shine, you must know how to work in partnership and collaboration with others. Nobody has it all made; there are people who have what you need, to make up for what you have. As Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, He needed a boat to preach from to the multitudes. He had the crowd and the message, but didn’t have a boat; so He got into Peter’s boat. That was partnership there! When He was done, Jesus told Peter to let down his nets for a catch. Don’t forget that before now Peter had given up on catching any fish – they had washed and hung up their nets. The Bible says when they did as Jesus said, they caught so much fish that their net began to break; “So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink” Luke 5:7.
Sometimes we need others to spur us on, motivate and encourage us, even what we know we should be doing. Sometimes we get the inspiration we need from others. The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT). If you’re going to shine, you’re going to have to learn from others, rub minds with others, exchange ideas, etc. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). Your company is where you run to when the enemy has thrown all kinds of stuff at you, to pull you down, to discourage and stop you. After the miracle of healing the man at the Gate Beautiful, the religious leaders got Peter and John arrested and detained till the next day. After their release, they went to their own company and reported to them all the warnings and threats of the religious leaders. They responded by raising up their voice together in prayer. And rather than be downcast and discouraged, they were back again, speaking the word with boldness (Acts 4:23-31)!
However, the fellowship you keep can either make or mar you in life. It’s been said, ‘show me your friends, and I will show you who you are’. Also, ‘Show me your friends, and I will show you your future’. How true! The Bible says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20). You must, therefore choose your company carefully in the light of who you want to be and the kind of future you want for yourself.
Shining in the midst of darkness requires being prayerful. It’s not just about praying every now and then, but praying always!
Satan is the ruler of darkness. He is the ‘god of this world’; and the Bible says, “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 NLT). That is, we’re living in enemy territory. Jesus told His disciples that He was sending them as sheep among wolves (Matt. 10:16)! But thank God, we’ve been well equipped, so we don’t need to be afraid of the enemy. We are born of God and have overcome satan and the world; because Jesus has already overcome the world for us! To be able to stand against the wiles or strategies of the devil, we are told to “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). And it seems like the armour goes hand in hand with praying, because it goes on to say, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph.6:18a).
Interestingly, again, Daniel is a good example to drive home the need to be prayerful. The Bible says that after the writing was signed, Daniel went home into his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, “he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10). Notice that it was his custom to pray; it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction driven by fear or to make an impression on anyone. Of course, that would be a wrong time to do that- when he was facing a matter of life and death! I often say to people: you don’t try new tricks on the day of battle. David refused to go and fight Goliath in Saul’s armour; he said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them” (1 Sam. 17:39). That explains why some people have become casualties in the battles of life. They are like the sons of Sceva, who tried to cast out demons “by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” And “Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:13c-16).
We are told to be “faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). Things aren’t just going to fall on you like ripe cherries; though Christ has already obtained for us all we would ever need in life, in the redemption He obtained for us through His blood. We have an enemy who will contest every ground with us. We’re told to fight the good fight of faith; we will still have to ‘take hold of’ what has already been given to us (1 Tim. 6:12)! The Kingdom of God still has to be taken by force even though it’s the Father’s pleasure to give it to us; because we’re fighting against “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12c).
Esther had to put up a fight. She hadn’t been invited to the king’s presence in thirty days and she faced a death penalty if she went in uninvited, EXCEPT the king held out the golden scepter to her. Esther accepted the challenge. She decided to go before the king to plead for her people, but only after three days of fasting! On the third day, dressed in royal robes, Esther went into the inner court, uninvited; and instead of her facing the wrath of the king, Esther found favour with him. He said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” (Est. 5:3).
Remember, “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” (Jas. 5:16 AMP).
viii. Make A Choice
In conclusion, it’s not only your responsibility to arise; it’s also a choice you would have to make. Mordecai presented Esther with a choice- to either remain completely silent at this time or to go speak to the king. He told her, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14). And she made the choice- a tough one; she said, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Est. 4:16c). But did you notice that she didn’t perish? The truth is, those who say ‘if I perish, I perish’, don’t perish! Remember the three Hebrew men? They were told to either bow to the image of gold or to burn in the fiery furnace. They refused to bow, yet they didn’t burn; rather they were delivered and promoted (Dan. 4:15-30)! Daniel chose not to defile himself with the king’s meat and wine (Dan. 1:8). He also chose to defy the king’s decree and went in to pray to God- not just once, but three times daily, as had been his practice. He was thrown into the lions’ den; but he was brought out unharmed, because God sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths. As a result, king Darius honoured the ‘God of Daniel’ and Daniel also prospered during his reign (Daniel 6:10-30).
Also, know that whatever choice you make today, will not only affect you, but also generations coming after you – “ I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” ( Deut. 30:15c).
God bless you
Rev. Funke Ewuosho