Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 31, 2014

"You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  No do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16

You have and influence. I have an influence. All God's children have an influence. The issue is, "Does your influence bring glory to God?"

You were created to glorify God. Nothing else is acceptable.

To bring Him glory you must reflect His light and spread His purifying, preserving and pleasure giving salt on a dark and dying world.

Before Jesus came, it was believed that good works were the way to give God glory. But in His very first public teaching Jesus makes it clear that glorifying God will require "God works" not good works.

The Pharisees relied on good works and built an entire religion around it. But in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus announced a new righteousness, a radical righteousness, a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees. It is a righteousness is based on a relationship not on a religion.

It is precisely this relationship that is described in the Beatitudes. 

When you realize your utter sinfulness and despise any self-righteousness you have trusted in you are getting closer to a relationship with God. When you mourn over your sinfulness and cry out to God for forgiveness, you are close to the Kingdom of God. When hunger and thirst to be made righteous, you can enter into a relationship with Him. When you meekly surrender control of your will to God, your relationship with Him will deepen.

When you are in a right relationship with God it will impact how you relate with other people. His righteousness will be expressed toward others. You will be merciful, you will be pure in heart, and you will be a peacemaker.

Those are the "God works" that He will manifest through you when you are in an obedient faith relationship with Him.

"God works" are what give God glory because everyone recognizes could only come from Him and not from you. 

It was the "good works" of the Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus rebuked and confronted because they were observing largely man made rules for the purpose of earning glory for themselves.

Radical righteousness comes only from God. Radical righteousness results largely from a radical relationship with God.

Are you living in radical relationship with Jesus?

Why wouldn't you?

Will you?

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 30, 2014

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

As in the reference to the salt, Jesus is illustrating that you have an influence. Your life makes an impact on the lives of others and when His righteousness is resident in your influence should reflect the light of God for the glory of God.

Here is a powerful illustration from the early days of the Faith:

In the days of the Roman Emperor Nero, there lived and served him a band of soldiers known as the "Emperor’s Wrestlers." Fine, stalwart men they were, picked from the best and the bravest of the land, recruited from the great athletes of the Roman amphitheater. 

In the great amphitheater they upheld the arms of the emperor against all challengers. Before each contest they stood before the emperor’s throne. Then through the courts of Rome rang the cry: "We, the wrestlers, wrestling for thee, O Emperor, to win for thee the victory and from thee, the victor’s crown." 

When the great Roman army was sent to fight in Gaul, no soldiers were braver or more loyal than this band of wrestlers led by their centurion Vespasian. But news reached Nero that many Roman soldiers had accepted the Christian faith. Therefore, this decree was dispatched to the centurion Vespasian; "If there be any among your soldiers who cling to the faith of the Christian, they must die!" 

The decree was received in the dead of winter. The soldiers were camped on the shore of a frozen inland lake. It was with sinking heart that Vespasian, the centurion, read the emperor’s message. 

Vespasian called the soldiers together and asked: "Are there any among you who cling to the faith of the Christian? If so, let him step forward!" Forty wrestlers instantly stepped forward two paces, respectfully saluted, and stood at attention. Vespasian paused. He had not expected so many, nor such select ones. "Until sundown I shall await your answer," said Vespasian. Sundown came. Again the question was asked. Again the forty wrestlers stepped forward. 

Vespasian pleaded with them long and earnestly without prevailing upon a single man to deny his Lord. Finally he said, "The decree of the emperor must be obeyed, but I am not willing that your comrades should shed your blood. I order you to march out upon the lake of ice, and I shall leave you there to the mercy of the elements." 

The forty wrestlers were stripped and then, falling into columns of four, marched toward the center of the lake of ice. As they marched they broke into the chant of the arena: "Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!" Through the night Vespasian stood by his campfire and watched. As he waited through the long night, there came to him fainter and fainter the wrestlers’ song. 

As morning drew near one figure, overcome by exposure, one man crept quietly toward the fire; in the extremity of his suffering he had renounced his Lord. Faintly but clearly from the darkness came the song: "Thirty-nine wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!" 

Vespasian looked at the figure drawing close to the fire. Perhaps he saw eternal light shining there toward the center of the lake. Who can say? But off came his helmet and clothing, and he sprang upon the ice, crying, "Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!" 

Are you on the ice or near the fire?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August 29, 2014

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

I am an ice cream lover. I would love to eat a lot more of it than I allow myself to enjoy.

How about you?

Imagine this, the only ice cream you have ever known is simply crushed ice with some cream poured over it. It is cold and it is refreshing and it's all there is.

But one glorious day you happen past a little store front place with an sign out front declaring, ICE CREAM!

Since it is a warm day you decide to grab a couple of dips on a cone. So, you walk into the store and say, "I would like two dips on a sugar cone please."

The kid behind the counter asks, "Would you like vanilla or chocolate?"

You are stumped. You don't know what to say. No one has ever asked you that before and crushed ice is all you've known.

Could I have a little sample please?

"Sure! Which would you like to try?"

"Uh, I don't know. Which do you like?"

"Here, try the chocolate it's my favorite and he hands you a spoonful and it is love a first lick!"

Before you leave the establishment you have consumed a double scoop of chocolate AND a doubled scoop of vanilla! Your whole ice cream appetite has been changed forever. Never again will you even think about that crushed ice stuff.

That is what Jesus intends for His followers who are "the salt of the earth". Those who have been revolutionized by His righteousness are to shock the spiritual taste buds of a world devoid of flavor.

You are on I-95 heading toward D.C. You are bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door in traffic. It is a pitch dark night with no trace of the moon or stars. When I say pitch dark I mean no one has headlights dark!

Those of you who regularly drive I-95 know how nerve wracking it can be in broad daylight under the best of conditions. Can you imagine driving it in zero visibility conditions?

Think what a relief it would be to suddenly discover you had headlights! You would be relieved because you could see and others would be relieved because they could see you and see others in the light of your headlights.

Jesus said, "You are the light of the world".

I share these hypothetical situations with you to help illustrate the importance of being "salt' and "light".

If you are a follower of Christ He makes it clear that you ARE salt and you ARE light. You will have an impact on your world. Will you flavor your world or will you leave a bad taste? Will you dispel the darkness or add to it?

August 28, 2014

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

"A well-known Bible teacher has just finished speaking to a large class of business people on the Christians' responsibility to be light in the world. He had emphasized the as believers we all have the obligation to reflect the Light in the world, the Lord Jesus. 

After the class, one the members related to him an experience he had in his home that impressed upon him the same truth. He said that in the darkest corner of his basement he had made a surprising discover. Some potatoes in that darkest corner had sprouted and where growing. At first he could not figure how they had gotten enough light to sprout and grow. Then he noticed that the hung from the ceiling near the basement window was a shiny copper kettle that was brightly polished and it was in the perfect position to reflect the sun's rays onto the potatoes in that darkest corner of the room. 

The person relating the story said, "When I saw that, I thought, I may not a preacher or a teacher with the ability to expound Scripture, but a least I can be a copper kettle catching the rays of the S - O - N and reflect His light to someone."

It is instructive to realize when Jesus calls His disciples to be "the light of the world" He is not calling them to produce light but to reflect His light like the copper kettle did in the story.

Here are some practical truths that are illuminated by this shiny kettle:

Christians are called to be in the light. This kettle was hung near a basement window where it could be exposed to the light during the day.

You cannot be a follower of Christ unless you are in the light because He IS the light and He dwells in His believers.

Christians are to keep their lives clear and shiny. Though the kettle was positioned in the light, if it had been all tarnished and dull it would not have reflected sufficient light to give life to the potato.

Is your life dulled by the tarnish of sin and unable to reflect His light or is it pure and polished to brightly reflect God's light to others?

Christians are expected to be positioned between His light and the darkness of the world so they can strategically and effectively penetrate the darkness with God's light and life.

Are you remaining close enough to the darkness that you can impact it with the reflection of God's light?

When Jesus says, "You are the light of the world" He could have said, "I am the light and you are to be the reflector of My light into a dark and dying world."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 27, 2014

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your  good  works, and glorify your father which is  in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

I found this today and thought it made the point well.


There was a blackout one night. When the lights went out, I fumbled to the closet where we keep the candles for nights like this ... I lit four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, 

"Now, hold it right there."

"Who said that?"

"I did." The voice was near my hand.

"Who are you? What are you?"

"I'm a candle."

I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax. "Don't take me out of here!"


"I said, Don't take me out of this room."

"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there."

"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."

I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"

"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be..."

"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"

But right then I heard other voices, "We aren't going either!"

I turned to the other candles, "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"

"Well, that may be what you think," said the first one, "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy ... I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening."

"And you other two," I asked, "Are you going to stay, too?"

A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together, I'm not stable enough."

The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help, "she explained, "but lighting the darkness is not my gift ... I'm a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly."

She began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing.

I took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.

Here is a question for you--when was the last time you shared the gospel to someone? This world is full of darkness, with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. You can be a light for them, and believe me, there's a light waiting for you. It can all happen with something as sharing the faith, to just a smile across the room, to a quick hello to a forgotten friend.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 26, 2014

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

When Jesus declared His followers are "the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" He is using the indicative mood in each case. In other words, He is stating a fact! He is not saying "you might be" or "you could be" or "you should be" he is saying you ARE salt and light!

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

So, If you are a believer and Jesus is in you and Jesus is light you will be light! 

How could it be otherwise?

What is the nature of this light?

First, the light is His Word

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me." (John 14:6)

John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  (John 1:1-5)

In the Bible truth is represented by light and ignorance is represented by darkness.

When Jesus referred to Himself as the "Light of the world" He is declaring He is the truth! And when He calls you "the light of the world" He is stating that you are a bearer of His truth to a dark world.

Second, the light is your witness

Jesus tells us in these verses that our good works are a witness to the light of God in us. The purpose of our witness is to glorify God.

What are those good works?

Being merciful is a good work. When someone gives you grief and you give them grace, that glorifies God!

Being pure in heart is a good work. When love motivates your thoughts, words and deeds that gives glory to God!

Being a peacemaker is a good work. When you step into discord or dissension and bring peace, you bring glory to God.

Third, the light is a warning

I was driving back from the Richmond airport last week and a light flashed on in my dashboard. It said "maintenance required". 

I took that as a warning and got it checked out as soon as I could. It turned out to be a false alarm but I was glad I had it looked at.

Jesus places His "lights" in the world to share the Word and to show a witness but also to give a warning to those lost in darkness.

The only way I knew that I had fallen short of the glory of God was because His people by the Word and by their witness shined light on my darkness.

I am very thankful God sent a warning light to lead me out of darkness into His light!

You are the light of the world!

Will you shine His light today?

Will you show His light today?

Will you send a warning light?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 25, 2014

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

You have probably heard this: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death."

The moral:

It doesn't matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.

No one enjoys being fearful, but fear is a powerful motivator. In our verse for today, the Psalmist offers some great advice, "Let your anxiety drive you to the Lord."

Recently there have been some anxiety-producing events. Last week it was the precipitous fall of the stock market. Events in the Middle East continue to escalate. Yesterday the earth shook in an area of the USA where earthquakes are rare. And this week-end a powerful hurricane has taken aim on the Carolina coast. How are you supposed to cope with these fearful developments?

"Cast your cares".

"Cast" in Hebrew means: to throw out, throw down, throw away, to hurl. It does not mean to take back what you have cast, nor to cherish, or keep - but to cast, toss, throw away from yourself.

"Cares" in Hebrew means: whatever is given by providence. That means every part of your personality, talents, thoughts, body, emotions, worries, burdens, joys, and gifts.

"LORD" as used here in Hebrew means - Eternal, Jehovah, self-existent. The One with no beginning and no end. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty." Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13.

Piece all these truths together and you get: "Throw and hurl everything that has been given to you onto the Lord. Everything that has been given to you, you are to throw onto the Lord and not to take it back."

That is your part. If you will do your part, here's what God will do:

"Sustain" in Hebrew means: "To keep in and contain, To abide, remain with and reside, To receive, comprehend and guide, To feed, nourish, make provision for and provide sustenance for."

God makes this personal - "You" - means God is willing and able to do this for you, just the way you are. No changes are needed to come before the Lord God Almighty.

Putting this all together: The Lord Jesus Christ will do all these thing for the one who casts to Him all that they have been, are now, and will be. Every facet of your life must be given away for Him in order for your joy to be full. God Himself will nourish and help you through what you are going through, no matter what it is!

"Fall" in Hebrew means: "To waver, slip, shake, fall; To be carried, cast, be out of course, be fallen in decay."

Add it up like this: The Lord God Almighty will never ever cause the just, clean and righteous person to slip and fall or be carried, cast, or be out of course and be fallen in decay. The Lord God will keep His child, that means the one who trust in Him and loves Him and obeys Him in Spirit and in Truth, He will keep that child cared for and nurtured, steadfast in His Love and protection.

What kept you from sleeping well last night? What caused you to awake with anxieties today? You can carry that again today or you can cast it on Him. Your fears can drain you or they can drive you to Him.

Listen to the Psalmist!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

April 24, 2014

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." Matthew 5:13

The Beatitudes, like the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount is a call to change the world. 

Those who have taken it seriously HAVE changed the world.

I found this video about changing the world and it inspired me. I thought I would share it with you!

His remarks are not strictly Scriptural but they are powerful truths and all truth comes from God.

What will you do today to change your world?

Your world awaits.

So does Jesus.

Friday, August 22, 2014

August 23, 2014

Jesus is radically righteous!

Jesus is radical because His righteousness comes from a relationship with a Holy Righteous God.

Jesus describes the path to that righteousness in the Beatitudes that we have studied over the Summer:
Jesus is calling you to radical righteousness!

So, how do you know you have truly been made righteous?

Jesus provides three proofs of a righteous person:

1) They will be persecuted and yet be able to rejoice in the midst of persecution.
2) They will have a powerful positive influence on their culture comparable to the effect salt has on its environment.
3) They will provide moral and spiritual light in a dark world.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Jesus says to these people “You are the salt of the earth.” Notice carefully that this is an “indicative” rather than an “imperative” statement. Jesus does not say, “Be salt!” or “You must be salt,” or “You should be salt,” or “It would be nice for you to be salt.” No, if you are the “blessed” ones mentioned in verses 3-10, if you are truly my disciples, then by that very definition you are the salt of the earth.

In other words, you and I, if we truly claim to be followers of Jesus, cannot excuse ourselves from being who we by definition are. We cannot say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” We cannot say that we don’t mind to be a follower of Jesus but that we refuse to be salt.  You are either a follower of Jesus or you are not a follower. And if you are a follower of Jesus, then salt is what you are, whether you asked for it or not, whether you like it or not. Either you are salt or you are an insult!

Someone has suggested there are 14,000 known uses for salt. 

Salt is necessary to sustain life and since i.t was rather rare in the ancient world, it was a valuable commodity. Wars were fought over it and workers often received their wages in salt.

But those who were there that day and heard this teaching of Jesus readily connected with the most common uses of salt in their world:

1) Salt purified
2) Salt provided flavor
3) Salt preserved.

Are you worth your salt as a Christian?

As a Christian are you salting the earth or insulting your faith?

Three practical applications:

YOUR IMPACT DEPENDS ON YOUR CONTACT - “You are the salt of the earth;”

People have a desire for salt because they know it is useful and necessary. When they come in contact with it they are not disappointed and their needs are met.

When people come in contact with God's people God's people must make sure they are in contact with God.
Who are you in contact with?

How is your impact?

Are you worth your salt?

Are you salt or are you an insult?

YOUR TASTE DEPENDS ON YOUR TRUST – “but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?”

French Fries are good – but they’re better with salt
Fresh Sliced Tomatoes are good – but they’re better with salt
Corn on the Cob is really good – but its better with salt
Hard boiled eggs are much better with salt.
Applesauce cake is really good – but you can’t make it without salt.

In our world, since we have refrigeration and we have plenty of other antiseptics, the main value of salt is as a flavor enhancer. Salt in combination with our favorite foods adds to our pleasure and enjoyment of food.

So, where does salt get its flavor?

The short answer is – GOD!

Did you know that salt is a miracle?  It’s composed of two poisons:  chloride and sodium.  If you ingest either by itself, you’ll die.  But put them together and you have common, ordinary salt, and that which used to bring death somehow comes together to bring life, and that’s a miracle!

So it is with the Christian, poisoned by sin, with death looming in the shadows, we put our trust in the grace of God expressed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Trusting Jesus removes the poison and replaces it with His life-giving presence.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”

The flavor you and I have to make this world a better place is HIM! We are to trust Him in such a way that when they taste us they taste Him!

Just as salt maintains its flavor through the chemical balance God created it to have, we – His spiritual salt – maintain our flavor by trusting Him.

The point Jesus is making here is this – if you don't flavor the world who will? 

And if you lose your flavor where will you find it?

And if you aren't trusting God you have no good flavor.

When people taste your life what flavor do they get?

They'd better taste Him! If they don't they may lose their appetite for God.

Your taste is only as good as your trust.

YOUR INFLUENCE DEPENDS ON YOUR INTIMACY – “It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

The main point of this teaching on the "salt of the earth" is you have an influence and it will either be tasteful or tasteless. Your influence will either create an appetite in God for others or it will spoil their appetite.

So how do I develop the proper influence?

Develop an intimate relationship with God?

How do I do that?

Follow the Beatitudes!

You ARE the salt of the Earth!

Will you be worth your salt?

Will you be salt or an insult to your faith?

Your impact depend on your contact with God as you interact with others.

Your taste will depend on your trust. 

Your influence will depend on your intimacy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 22, 2014

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." Matthew 5:13

If someone where to call you salt, you may consider that an insult.

That's because salt isn't worth much these days. You could run to your local store and grab a box of salt for less than two bucks.

But when Jesus refers to His disciples as "the salt of the earth" they regarded it a great compliment. Salt was a very valuable commodity in those days. 

Wars were fought over salt. People were paid in salt. If they didn't do an effective job they were judged as not being "worth their salt".

Those hearing Jesus refer to the righteous as salt of the earth they understand precisely what He meant.

Salt had three primary and very valuable functions in those days.

First, as in our day, salt provided flavor to their food and enhanced their meals.

French fries are good, but they are better with salt.

Fresh sliced tomatoes are good, but they are even better with salt.

In the same way, Jesus calls those made righteous by faith to flavor their world with His grace, and truth and justice.

Your home should be a more pleasant place because you live there.

Your neighborhood should be more appealing because you live in it.

Your workplace should have a better environment because you work there.

The gym you belong to or your softball team or your bowling team should be more positive because you are a member.

When Jesus says you are salt, He means you should put a good taste in people's mouth for faith because of your influence!

So, are you salt or are you an insult to righteousness?

Second, then as now, salt purified. It was considered a pure and stable element that would cause chemical reactions which could sanitize and decontaminate.

In ancient days salt was used for cleaning and purifying clothing, homes, and wounds.

Likewise, people made righteous by faith should have a spiritual and moral purity that has a cleansing effect where they live, where they play, where they work and where they worship.

The influence of their righteousness should make others want to be better and convict others who don't.

So, how about it? Do you have a healthy, healing, purifying effect on your environment? Are you salt or are an insult?

Third, more so then than now, salt preserved. Back when there was no refrigeration, meat would quickly begin to deteriorate but rubbing it with salt stopped the rot and refreshed the meat. Salted meat could stay safely edible for long periods of time. What a blessing that was!

Since some of the offerings in the temple involved the flesh of animals, salt was rubbed on them to keep them from spoiling and stinking during the ritual.

If you didn't have your Frigidaire or your GE refrigerator you would value salt much more than you do!

Jesus calls His righteous ones to have preserve all that is good decent and holy in their culture. By their witness and by their influence their home, their neighborhood, their place of work and their place of worship should be a positive alternative in contrast to the rest of their community.

So I ask you, are you salt or an insult?