November 2, 2021

November 2, 2021

November 2, 2021
Bob Hayes
 Clergy
Smoky Mountain District

Keep Our Lamps Burning
Psalm 18:20-30 NIV

20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
    I am not guilty of turning from my God.
22 All his laws are before me;
    I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him
    and have kept myself from sin.
24 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
    but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
28 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
    my God turns my darkness into light.
29 With your help I can advance against a troop[a];
    with my God I can scale a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him

Devotion 

In 1897, my Great Uncle Tom and Great Aunt Jessie built a house in my hometown of Oakmont, PA.  It was a thoroughly modern home with central heat, indoor plumbing, and electric lights.  Uncle Tom and Aunt Jessie had one daughter, Virginia, who was my junior high English teacher.  Virginia never married and lived in the house in which she was born until she died in 1994 at the age of 91.

Sometime in the late 1980s I returned to Oakmont and visited Virginia in her 19th century home.  She asked me to retrieve something from the attic, an area of the house infrequently visited.  When I switched on the light, I observed by the shape of the bulb, the configuration of its filament, and the point at its tip that it was one of the original Edisons.  When Virginia realized how interested I was in my discovery, she gave me the antique light bulb which is now installed in a lamp on my night stand.  It's the first light I turn on in the morning and the last light I turn off at night. 

In the 18th Psalm, in which David praises God for deliverance from the hand of Saul, he affirms in verse 28, “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

In scripture, light is a symbol of life.  The earth was devoid of life until God said, “Let there be light.”  Jesus tells us that he himself is the light of the world, and John in his Gospel affirms that the light which is the Incarnate Word shines in the darkness which can never put it out.

In his psalm, David expresses his understanding that through the mercies of God, he was delivered from his foes, his life was spared, and the darkness of despair was banished.  His lamp burns still, and he can remain strong against his enemies.

The good news is that you and I need not live in the darkness of despair and defeat.  Our lamps keep burning and our darkness is turned into light when we put our trust in God's power to save.

I wouldn't be surprised if my ancient light bulb outlasts me; but someday, like so many before it, my treasured antique will burn out.  But thanks be to God, the light that comes from Christ forever shines in the darkness, and the darkness has no power to put it out.


Prayer

Gracious God, keep our lamps burning and our confidence strong in your power to save. Through Christ we pray.  Amen.