Our cell phones are becoming like Swiss Army knives. You can talk, text, search for answers, use as your Bible, play music, take pictures and record videos. They do all of that, yet one of the things I’m most thankful for is that someone figured out that you can turn the camera’s flash into a flashlight. I’m getting to the age where I have to use my phone’s flashlight to read the menu in a nice restaurant or walk through a dimly lit place. I never thought I would use the flashlight as much as I do, but having a readily accessible light whenever I need it comes in quite handy. There’s more times than I can count that I’ve needed it’s light to help me see a message or to help me get where I’m going.
I don’t know if Jesus would have used a cell phone as His example if He were to give the Sermon on the Mount today, but it’s possible. As He stood on a hill beside the Sea of Galilee teaching the people, I’m sure He looked out across it and saw little towns on the sides of the other hills as He said, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15 NLT). Are you and I lighting the way for others to find God? Do our lives give enough light for them to see His message written on our hearts?
When Jesus gave this sermon, the lights in these cities He was pointing at came from lamps that held oil. I was given one on my last trip to Israel. I came home, put oil in it and lit the wick. They give off decent light, but I’ve found that you have to keep filling it with oil if you want it to keep working. You and i can’t be the light He’s called us to be unless we are continually refilling our lives with the oil of His presence and His Word. The power of the light doesn’t come from the clay lamp, but the oil. In the same way, our flesh is simply the holder of the oil, but we must be on fire for Him and continually do the things that puts oil in our lamps. There is a world full of people stumbling around in the darkness who are depending on you and me to be the light God has called us to be. Make sure you’re living for Him in the open where all can see.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
Matthew 5:6 (MSG)
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All along my commute to and from work are billboards for neighborhoods. They have slogans like, “The life you deserve”, “Life’s better up here”, “The life you’ve always wanted” and “Life more than you’ve imagined.” All are for different neighborhoods, but their message is clear. They understand that we all want something more. Something better. They know that we are rarely happy with what we have because there is always something better on the horizon.
It’s not wrong to want something better than you have right now. It’s not wrong to work harder to provide a better life for your family than you had when you were growing up. We have to be careful though in thinking that our possessions bring us happiness or that more money will bring more contentment. It’s ok to have things as long as the things don’t have you. Our money, possessions or where we live are not meant to define us. Our identity should be found in God.
In the “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. Verse five says, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Jesus knew we would get caught up in the “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. He knew that we would be tempted to forget that all we have is from Him.
He also knew that we would think that possessions would bring us happiness. I like the way that the Amplified version defines “blessed” in verse 5. It says, “Happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of their outward conditions.” When we learn to be content with who He made us to be and with the things He’s entrusted to us, we will receive all those things. We won’t have to rely on a neighborhood, car, job title or anything else to bring us happiness. We won’t have to keep up with the Joneses to define our worth.
In fact, Jesus said that regardless of our outward conditions we will find happiness and joy once we learn to be content. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he learned how to be content with whatever he had whether a little or a lot. God wants us to recognize that what we have is from Him so we need to learn to be content. We still need to work hard and be faithful with what He’s given us. When we show Him we can do that, it opens the door for Him to give us more. If you’re looking for happiness today, don’t look to your possessions, look to God and be content with who you are.