Monday, June 30, 2014

Salt and Light

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  Matthew 5:13

Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 5 that as Christians, we are to be salt and light to the world.  Last week we talked about how we can be light to the world.  This week we will look at the command to be salt and just what that means.  Salt can literally transform any recipe from bland and tasteless to flavorful and savory.  How can we as Christians transform this world?

A Valuable Commodity
Nothing is of value that does not have a purpose. While we try to find the purpose of something in its effect on our own lives as individuals, God sees purpose in relation to His creation.  The work of Christ in our lives is intended to have effect on the world around us.
Just before Jesus said these words, He had just delivered the Sermon on the Mount, which has a definite relation to them. In the beatitudes Jesus sets out the proper attitude for the Christian. The verses which follow tell us how are to use this attitude in influencing the world about us. It has to do with our responsibility. The Christian is not made only for heavenly dwelling but for earthly impact.
In setting out this responsibility Jesus uses a metaphor, a common means of expression in the teachings of Jesus.  According to Webster, “metaphor is the use of a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea in place of another by way of suggesting a likeness or analogy between them." In this case the two different kinds of objects which are likened to each other are Christians and salt. As we study this metaphor certain fundamental truths of Christian living are revealed for our consideration and application.  

Back then, salt was a necessity of life and not quite as easily accessible to people.  There were no grocery stores on every corner and salt was not cheap!  Salt was sometimes used as money and even the Roman Soldiers of Jesus’ day were sometimes paid with salt.  In fact, our word “salary” comes from the Latin word salarium which referred to the payments to the soldiers with salt. We still use the phrase saying that someone either is, or is not, “worth their salt.” We don’t think much about salt because we can get as much of it in pure form as we want. It is just that little bottle with holes in the top on the table. But when you are completely dependent on salt to preserve your food, and when it is so valuable that it is used in the place of money, you get a completely different perspective on salt. Like salt, Christians are of infinite value!

Like Salt Must Have Contact To Have An Influence!
Salt sitting in the shaker on your table will not make your food taste better. It must make contact with other substances if it is to have its effect in upon the substance.  So also with the Christian. We must make contact with the world if we are to be a preserving force wherever God puts us.  If we draw a circle around ourselves and close out all contact, we will be ignoring a definite responsibility which has been given to us by the Lord Jesus.

Jesus called us the salt of the earth because, as Christians, we can enhance and give meaning to the bland existence we call life, just as salt enhances bland food.  We can bring balance and hope to an otherwise dying world through Jesus Christ in us. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Freedom and Faith

“How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!”
Psalms 144:15
God’s hand has been evident in America’s past and we need His divine guidance in our present to secure a future of freedom and faith for our children.  Today we look at what God has to say about our relationship with Him and our responsibilities to our country.
Once Christianity is abandoned by a significant portion of the population, the moral landscape necessarily changes.
We are on a path towards a “Post-Christian” America.
Christians have spent too long trying to change the world by controlling the lives of people instead of influencing them and changing their hearts.
I.  The Need for Spiritual Awakening  2 Chronicles 7:14
America was settled by people looking for religious freedom.
In the 1730’s and 40’s, America experienced “The Great Awakening.”
II.   The Framers and Faith  Psalms 33:12
To remove the core of anything is to change its nature.
The responsibility of a Christian citizen in a republic form of government is to elect men and women who know and follow the Lord God.
The problem with America is the same thing that happened to Israel…over-reaching judges have torn apart the core of our society by disregarding the Law of God.
It should be remembered by all Christian citizens that you cannot legislate righteousness. Only a revival can change America.
III. The Citizen and Faith  Matthew 22:21
Jesus declares that each of us has a dual citizenship and infers that there are responsibilities connected to both.
The best way to help both our earthly and heavenly countries is to live out our faith with boldness, compassion, respect and love.
A WORD OF WARNING:  Christians are quickly learning that partisan politics is not Christian politics. Never trust a political party to carry a spiritual banner. Psalms 146:3

The church is truest to its core mission when it is the farthest from the entanglements of power.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Beautiful Light and a God Glorifying Light

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16

This week we have been talking about being the light that Jesus said we were to be to the world.  People are watching us so we need to be aware of our actions and the way we represent Jesus to them.  He wants His light to shine through us to the rest of the world.  His light is:

A Needed Light
A Reflected Light
A Visible Light
A Revealing Light
A Beautiful Light and a God Glorifying Light

In the verse above, the word used for "good" is not "agathos", but "kalos", which translates into good (Beautiful) works. 

Actions and attitudes in life that emanate from our new nature do not bring glory to man, but to God. These are the "reflection" of Christ. When Moses spent time with God his face "shone" so that others could see.  But he did not know it.  So the Christian may not realize that what he is doing is anything more than the natural following of his Lord.

There is no room for showiness or self-pride in the Christian as he reflects Christ. This is possible by realizing that the works that are being performed are not of ourselves but of Christ.  When a man steals the glory of the Christian life for his own glory, he destroys the real value of being light for Christ. It matters not whether or not those about you accept or even see you.  It is Christ that must shine.  It behooves the Christian to examine his life to discern how much of his life is lived under the control of God for His glory.

The cave once spoke to the sun and said, "I have no idea what light looks like".  The sun replied, "I have no idea what it is like to be in the dark."  So the cave invited the sun in to experience darkness.  Once the sun entered it said, "There is no darkness in here."  The cave then replied, "It is not dark when you are in here."  How wonderful it would be if our lives were like this to others as we become the "Dispellers of Darkness."

The Christian life is a life that is both influential and purposeful when lived under the control of God. It is precious to sing "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine", but it is powerful to live it.
Remember that Jesus said, "You ARE the light of the world". We cannot stop the reflection of Christ on our lives.  We must shine for we ARE light.  We can do no less. We are the light of the world and not the light of the church.

What is dimming your light?  Impurity?  Compromise?  Fear?  Let the light of Christ dispel these elements of darkness in your heart.  He is the source of our hope.  We don’t have to stumble around in the darkness, groping for the next step.  We can trust Him and let His light dispel our own darkness and we can be the light to the world.

Scripture to Claim:

That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:15-16

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It is a Visible Light

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16

It is a Visible Light
A lamp was lit to be used. It is crazy to presume that men would light lamps to hide their effectiveness.  The only reason a lamp would be hidden would be to preserve it from loss or waste.  But in such a position it would not be performing its functional duty.  Light is meant to be placed in the area where light is needed. 

Light will light whatever it shines on.  The inside of the bushel is still lighted.  The light is not put out because it is under the bushel.  Our light is not lost when hidden, merely limited in its influence.  There are many different things in everyone’s life that could serve as a “bushel”.  What is in your life that is causing you to hide your light for Christ rather than reflect it? The shining of our "light" is Christian example.  We can only cover our lives by failing to be the example that Christ has made us.  When we fail to express our Christian faith by standing against sin and the darkness it brings, we are "busheling our bulb".

It is a Revealing Light
Light displays whatever is present.  It reveals truth. That is why Jesus said in John 3:19 that men hate the light.  Sin in our life can only remain as long as we accept the lie that it will bring or is bringing peace, happiness or possibly fulfillment to us. Light does not create darkness, it dispels it. Light does not just reveal evil and sin, but good, honesty, beauty and wisdom. Darkness in our lives is the picture of the life without the light of Christ.  For wherever the light comes in there can be no more darkness. The more light that is allowed into our lives, the better we see the things of darkness that have ensnared us.

Sometimes we discover that it is the things that we have found so precious that are creating the greatest occasion of defeat. Revealing light creates the problem of whether or not we will "clean up" the exposed dirt.  We don't like those kinds of decisions.  The Christian who walks reflecting the light of Christ will find that persons do not really like to have him around because he is constantly revealing the dirt in the dark spots that the rest of the world does not reveal.

The life of a Christian is not cold-hearted and austere in its discipline, but warm in its loving example.  Even though we may expose the truth when we shed the light, we should not do so in a judgmental or condemning manor.  This is not the way Jesus would want us to represent Him.  There should always be an attractiveness to the Christian life that entices others to live it. This is not only in the everyday affairs of life, but in the special works that we perform out of His goodness and light in us.

Scripture to Claim:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

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