Summary: So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid for your release, your freedom from Satan’s trap, with His own life, on the cross at Calvary. The door is open, and anyone, whom Satan has deceived and caged, can be set free.

I. Being a Reflector

A. John the Baptist the herald

1. Pointing the people to the Messiah

2. He is the herald for the approaching king

3. Duties of a herald

a. Remove all roadblocks

b. Make the road smooth for the coming chariot

c. All curves straightened and hills flattened

4. John the Baptist was calling the people to repentance to prepare their hearts for the coming Messiah

B. Reflected the Light

1. John the Baptist came onto the scene because…

a. The people had experienced inner darkness

b. There had been no biblical prophecy since the time of Malachi (about 400 yrs.)

c. The people needed a spiritual awakening

2. John the Baptist’s reflection brought many to wonder who he was

a. The Leaders of Israel missed the point of his reflection

b. “And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:19-20)

c. They wanted to know who John was, but John insisted on pointing them toward the true light

3. His reflection accomplished three things

a. His firm denial of being the Christ

b. Identified himself as the herald predicted by Isaiah

c. He announced the presence of the Messiah

4. We today are to be reflectors of the Light

a. Never present ourselves as the Light to others

b. Always point others to Christ, the true Light

C. Jesus is the Light

1. The true Light will enlighten every man

2. All men have the opportunity to be enlightened

3. God grants everyone an opportunity to become His children

a. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (1:12)

b. Nothing by human ability or power

II. Eliminating Bitterness

A. Bitterness blinds

1. Bitterness blocks one from being holy and at peace

2. When holiness cannot be evident; then those on the outside will not see the Lord

3. Bitterness brings defilement to the body of Christ

B. Bitterness the root of trouble

1. Bitterness will always make it ways in to our thoughts and hearts but it should never take root

2. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” (Hebrews 12:15)

3. Bitterness will rear its ugly head when we have been falsely attacked

4. Bitterness does not allow one to forgive

5. “We easily see what is done to us before we see what we are doing to someone we love.”

C. Pursue Peace

1. Peace is necessary for holiness to be evident

2. Set apart (holiness) for God will allow grace to guide our lives throughout our days on earth

3. Peace is pursued through the relationship with Jesus as Lord

4. Peace of God is not only the removal of chaos but brings wholeness

5. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

III. Making the Most of Our Time

A. The End is near

1. Our time on earth is coming closer every day to its end

2. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)

3. We must stay focused and clear headed to further the good news of God’s grace

B. Grace through our behavior

1. Our behavior is always evident by our love for others

2. Our love is to be full of grace so that sins can be covered

3. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

4. Grace, peace and truth are spread through the various gifts God instills in each member for His purpose

5. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies…” (1 Peter 4:9-11a)

C. God glorified

1. Everything we do is to glorify God.

2. “…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11b)

3. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Conclusion: Grace vs. legalism. Legalism requires that we all be alike, unified in convictions and uniform in appearance, to which I say, “Let me out!” Grace finds pleasure in differences, encourages individuality, smiles at variety, and leaves plenty of room for disagreement. Remember, it releases others and lets them be, to which I say, “Let me in!” Not until we put a stop to them will horizontal grace flourish in the body.