I wanted to "do something" this summer, so at the end of July I got a group of people together to invite any and everyone in the community to come out to Panther Creek Park one morning for a devotion time and bringing items for Food on Foot, a great organization here in East Tennessee that collects and distributes care packages and items to needy kids in the area. This was the choice for where I wanted to focus some help going into this school year because as my mom works in an elementary school, she knows some home stories and kids who will just melt your heart. There is such great need for food, faith, love, and simple care right here in Morristown. Food on Foot is always welcoming donations and volunteers.
This is the logo for the flyer that I got my friend Abby Mitchell to draw!
This was a post from my instagram, showing some of the items that were ideas to donate and the verse that is like a theme verse, Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
The goal: Let God's light shine through us into our community
Below is the beautiful view for where we met!
Now I'll go through some points and scriptures from my "message" if you want to hear what it was all about!
This world is full of darkness...sickness, hurting, sadness, murder, stealing, lying, cheating, disrespect, etc, and it makes me so disappointed to see so many lost and struggling people out there, so I want to do something about it! I know it can be difficult and scary, but together we have others to back each other up. We can not only keep each other going, but hopefully encourage others by example to get going, too. I think that John 3:19-21 kind of sum this up. "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." In general, the world has turned from the light and doesn't want to admit doing wrong. God's children are to live full of Christ so that the world sees how great He is through what we do and how we live.
Analogy of God's light to actual light: sunlight makes things grow, is warm, healthy and refreshing to our bodies. Same with God! He helps us grow in faith and character, warms our hearts, and can heal and refresh our body and soul. Lights are also usually focal points of something, and God should also be the focus of a Christian's life. Light helps us see things just like God's light helps us ee things like sin, hope, opportunities, reasons that things happen, and purpose for life.
Light overpowers darkness. Consider a dark room, any size, even an entire gym or stadium. Not matter how much darkness fills that room, if you light a single candle, it will be seen. Not amount of darkness can put out a light.
In the world but not of the world is a simple, yet accurate saying about how Christians are called to live. In John 8:12 Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Later in 1 John 1:5, John writes along the same lines, "This is the message we have heard and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." Yes, we physically live in a dark world, but spiritually we can always have an eternal glow.
Be bold in actions! You have God to protect you. "The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1
He will give us anything we need to serve Him. "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord." Psalm 89:15
We all screw up sometimes. No matter how bad or how many times someone goes astray, God has the power to bring them back. We're all sinners, but there's always the invitation to turn to Christ. "But you are a chosen people, a holy priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9) Once we realize this salvation, we can tell others about how they can posses it, too! You don't have to be anything special. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2)."
God can change anyone. Consider David. God called him "a man after My own heart." David, such an influential man in the Bible, committed adultry with a woman named Bathsheba adn had her husband sent to battle to be killed! Yet, God still still loved him and chose his family to be Jesus's family years later. In thanking God for His mercy, Dad said "You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29)."
Though we can't actually see and converse with God, His Word is the guide and light for our lives. "The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes." Psalm 19:8
"The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." Psalm 119:130
"For these commands are a lamp, this teaching a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life." Proverbs 6:23
There can always be more to life. There is always more that we can learn. God is willing and wanting to show us these things if we are willing to listen. "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6 By gaining more of said knowledge of Christ, anybody can change his or her life. "For You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life." Psalm 56:13
Summing up 3 great things that come with life in the light: "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7 We get to have a relationship with God, fellowship with other believers, and salvation from our sins.
It doesn't stop there! It doesn't end when we get it in our own hearts. Each of us had to hear about it some way or another, whether at church, school, home, a friend, cookout, the radio...somewhere! We have to follow the words of the little kid song, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!" It may keep our souls content, but there are countless people out there looking for something to satisfy them, but they just can't find it.
When good things happen, we love to share about it, right? Like when you have a good hair day, it must go on your snapchat story. Or you have this amazing boyfriend, so you have to post a picture of him on Instagram every Monday. (I'm not insulting you if you have done this; those were just the first examples that came to mind!) But really, your hair is going to get messed up, and your boyfriend will make you mad, and in most cases, you won't end up marrying him anyways. That's life, but you're still going to talk about it. Well guess what. God is good, and He will never let you down, so why not share that with others, too? When we're filled with the Lord, it makes the good times that much better. And for someone who crosses your path who may not have anything going for them, the smallest word or action could make his or her day. Sometimes we don't even have to say anything. When we let Christ's light shine through our lives, people will see it. There are opportunities to shine wherever we go. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden...In the same way, let your light shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14, 16 We don't have to do something big, give a lot of money, or go far away to make a difference. Right where we are is a great place to start.
This is why I chose Food on Foot as a little project to get myself and those around me involved in. I want to start this year off service-oriented. This is also close to my heart, as my mom works in the school system and sees these kids and hears their stories daily. If you only knew some of their backgrounds, it would break your heart. Just some things to think about: We may complain about school food, but some kids live for lunchtime because that's the only meal they'll get for the day. We may get mad if we have to walk through the grass across the school yard and our shoes get wet or dirty, but at least that's not the only pair we own. We might have homework some or even every night, but some kids wish they only had pencils and paper at home so they could at least try to do it. You never know what someone else may be going home to. Or not going home at all. We all have opportunities to be a bright spot in someone's day, whether by words, actions, or just the way we live in general. One final, simple thing we can all do anytime and anyplace is pray.