Salt: A Little Dab Will Do You

What we say is not as important as how we make others feel.

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In a culture absent of mercy, Jesus shocked the assembled crowd with words like, “Blessed are the merciful” (Mt. 5:7), as He stood on the Mount of Beatitudes preaching what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus spoke to a culture where mercy was not a popular concept thought to better society but rather a weakness to be eradicated. One Roman philosopher called mercy “the disease of the soul.” This was a culture where a father could give a “thumbs down” to his newborn if he thought the child ugly, too loud, or unhealthy, and the child would be put to death. A Roman citizen could kill and bury a slave without any consequence, and husbands could end the life of their spouse for any reason without retribution.

It was in this dark culture, void of mercy, that Jesus stated, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”  -Mt. 5:7, ESV  

And, let me point out, not much has changed from the culture of Roman history to our current American culture:

  • We are giving a “thumbs down” to 1.2 million unborn babies each year in America, mostly because of inconvience.  
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Mercy has always been foreign to the world and not rewarded by the world. Jesus made the lame to walk again, and He caused the blind to see. He rose the dead, brought hearing to the deaf, and reached out to the outcasts and the untouchables. He sought out the; tax collectors, degenerate, immoral, prostitutes, drunk, despised, and the rejected; Jesus was an advocate for the weak and an encourager for the bleak. So, after Jesus tells the crowd “what” to be, a distributer of mercy, He then tells them “how” to achieve that goal by being the “salt of the earth.”

A few years ago, thirteen-year-old Darci Lynne walked onto the stage of the twelfth season of America’s Got Talent. Her act? She explained to the judges that she desired to reignite the once-popular art of ventriloquism. Darci was nervous, even laughing for no reason, her hands shaking as her eyes darted around a full auditorium boasting thousands in attendance with millions more watching from home. When instructed by Simon Cowell to start, she composed herself, queued the music, and sang. From the first note, it was evident this girl was special; she captivated the crowds and the judges, and by the time she finished her performance, everyone-even Simon-was standing with shouts of acclamation and praise. Confetti fell from the ceiling, and lights darted all around the stage as one of the judges, her mom, and the host rushed up to surround her in celebration of her advancing to the next round. Darci didn’t have any words; she simply wept. As she took in all of the support through cheers and applause, the look on her face was enough to see what the power of encouragement could do. Darci ended up winning that season, and her first performance became the most viewed in the show’s history in just 30 hours. 

When Jesus calls us the “salt of the earth,” he was undoubtedly speaking of us acting as a preservative in this rotting world, and as a spice to show the contrast between darkness and light. But salt has another benefit; as an advocate, enhancing everything it touches. Therefore, Jesus is calling us to bring out the best in those around us, to stand applauding in the audience for those on the stage of life. When you watch the videos of Darci’s performances after that first nervous entrance in 2017, you no longer see a shy and timid entertainer, rather someone with confidence and boldness, recognizing her talents and using them free of fear. What was responsible for bringing her from fear to fame? I am confident it was the support and praise she received. We all have the opportunity to make such a difference in others’ lives by being the salt.

There are so many in this world, believing they have nothing to offer, no talents to share, feeling worthless. God does not make junk. We must seek out the hopeless, reminding them of who they are in the eyes of God and encouraging them to walk boldly on the stage of life shining like the stars God designed them to be. 

Scripture: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” -Matthew 5:13-14, ESV

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” -I Thes. 5:11, ESV

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Heb. 10:24-25, ESV

Question: Can you think of someone that may be down and discouraged, someone that could use some “building up”? 

Prayer: Father, please bring my focus on someone that may need encouragement. Please give me the wisdom and discernment to recognize those around me in need of someone in their corner, cheering them on. I know you are calling me to make a difference in this world, may I strive to please you by encouraging others today. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Worth Your Weight?

Christians should be the life of every party.

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When Jesus stood before the crowds gathered on the Mount of Beatitudes and spoke of them being the salt of the earth, they knew that in addition to delaying the decay as a preservative; it meant for them to live as spice in a bland world.

Salt is used as a spice; to enhance the natural flavors of food or add flavor to an otherwise bland meal. For food that was bland or even food that may not have tasted that great, leaving a bitter aftertaste, salt could be added to mask the bad taste or give that bland meal an extra boost. Christians should be fun. Christians should be joyful. A Christian should be able to walk into a room full of down, depressed, disappointed, discouraged, bland, bitter people and provide a blast of mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, joy, peace, and power.

The truth is, there are only two kinds of people in this world; thermometer people and thermostat people. A thermometer reflects the environment’s temperature; it merely reacts to what is going on in a particular room. On the other hand, a thermostat regulates the temperature of the environment; it controls what is going on in a room. Perhaps the reason we have hundreds of churches in this country and yet are seemingly unable to delay the decay is because the majority of those in attendance are thermometer Christians; they are blending into this world and have become gospel useless.  

God calling us salt, means that He has empowered us to be thermostat Christians; Christians that go against the current, oppose the culture, and regulate the environment.

Years ago, I had the privilege to meet a lady who was involved in a terrible car accident, an accident that took her husband, legs, car, dog, and with the medical bills, she also lost her home. The nursing staff at the rehabilitation center told me they moved her into another room almost every day to encourage those who were depressed and discouraged in their recovery from knee and hip surgeries. That was one salty lady! That is the kind of person that God needs to do what He wants to be done in this world.  

I recently read an account of another salty ladyt:

“A distinguished Christian lady was recently spending a few weeks at a hotel at Long Branch, and an attempt was made to induce her to attend a dance, in order that the affair might have prestige bestowed by her presence, as she stood high in society. She declined all the importunities of her friends. Finally, an honorable senator tried to persuade her to attend, saying, “Miss B., this is quite a harmless affair, and we want to have the exceptional honor of your presence.” “Senator,” said the lady, “I cannot do it. I am a Christian. I never do anything during my summer vacation, or wherever I go, that will injure the influence I have over the girls of my Sunday School class.” The senator bowed, and said, “I honor you; if there were more Christians like you, more men like myself would become Christians.” While we don’t have control over being the salt, we hold the shaker and have full control over how salty we remain.

Dr. George Pentecost

My Grandfather used to say he wanted me to grow up to be the kind of man worth his weight in salt.  That is a good question; in the eyes of God, are you worth your weight in salt?

Scripture: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” -Matthew 5:13-14, ESV

Question: If you do an honest evaluation of how you navigate this world, are you a thermostat or thermometer? 

Prayer: Father, please give me the strength to not be conformed to this world but transformed through the renewing of my mind. May I recognize that change to those around me will only come when I allow you to flow through me. Please help me decrease while you increase. Father, I want you to look at my life and say, “well done” may that goal be on my mind today. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Salty Sailor: Part One

God’s Salty Soldier.

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Standing on the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus had just finished His Sermon on the Mount where He preached eight concise statements of the faith: Blessed are the poor, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and the persecuted. Then, Jesus said something a little odd and has been discussed by theologians and scholars since, He said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Mt. 5:13a, ESV). Over the next six days, we will discuss aspects of this powerful statement as we look at the purpose of salt, the power in salt, and the problem of salt.

Before we dig into what salt does, let’s unpack the first word Jesus used in His declaration, “You,” which is both emphatic and plural.  What do I mean by emphatic?  Jesus is putting emphasis on this word to highlight and elevate it more than the others.  So, what He is saying is that being the salt is not a choice you have. When you surrender to the cross and become a follower of Jesus Christ, you ARE the salt. The Christian, the true believer, does not just “do” or “give out” love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. When one surrenders to Christ and is named a Child of the King, they BECOME love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness! Don’t miss this. “You are the salt of the earth,” not you can be or should be but ARE.  It is not something you do, something you give, or something you show; it is who you are, who you have been transformed to BE the salt. 

And, this word is plural.  If Jesus preached this in the south, He would say, “Y’all are the salt!” It is plural, meaning when we come together in unity can we accomplish the seemingly impossible task of changing the world. We can’t do this on our own any more than a grain of salt applied to a 50-gallon drum of water can be tasted. This text alone shatters the concept that a Christian does not need the church but can somehow manage through this life alone; staying at home, watching a television evangelist, and live a victorious, Christ-honoring life.  Oh, friend, the word “you” is plural because Jesus designed us to need each other.

As a society, we have become quite proficient in the art of classification, lumping individuals and groups into rooms built with bricks of our preconceived notions and walls of our biases. We tend to gravitate to those as much “like” us as possible and distance ourselves from those we find less commonality. If you look to your neighbor or co-worker, and after evaluation, determine there is nothing they can offer you, you have missed the mark. We must get beyond the superficial, breakthrough our biased, judgmental walls, and get to know them so that we can love them and get to the point where we submit to needing them (Prov. 27:17). Until this happens, you will never realize your full gospel potential.

Lastly, what was salt to the folks in Jesus’ day? It was precious. In fact, in certain times and instances, Roman soldiers were paid in salt. They would work, labor, sweat, bleed, and even fight to risk their very lives and then be paid their wages in salt. It was that precious; even traded for gold-ounce for ounce-during certain times in history. We get our English word salary from the Latin word for salt. What does this mean? Jesus is calling us His salt. We are precious to our Father! Don’t you dare buy into the lie of the devil that you are worthless, defined by your past scares, hurts, decisions, and sins. You may be a nobody, Moses was, he spent 40 years in Egypt learning he was a somebody, 40 years on the backside of the wilderness believing he was a nobody then the next forty years following a God that showed him He could use that nobody. You may be a nobody but consider this: God specializes in taking a nobody, making them a somebody to show everybody that He can do THAT with anybody! You are precious in the eyes of God. You are His Salty Soldier!

Scripture: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” -Matthew 5:13-14, ESV

Question: Have you ever considered your value in the eyes of God?

Prayer: Father, please remind me that I am precious in your sight; created for a purpose. Please help me be open to your Word and that over the next few days, may you reveal to me what your purpose is for my life. Thank you for considering me precious, and may your opinion of me encourage me to live my best for you today. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

The Edge of Glory

The End of Your Rope: Isaiah 59:1

The End of Your Rope

The week had been long and trying, and in addition to the “new normal” life associated with the Coronavirus, I had several professional burdens come through my door; a broken marriage, a wayward child, the loss of a job, and a disgruntled church member. In addition, personally I was struggling with my physical health; issues severe enough that the church leadership had to intervene and force me, for my own benefit, into a three month sick leave.  By the end of the week, I collapsed in my bed, let out an audible sigh, and before I knew it, said aloud, “I am at the end of my rope!”. 

It was then that God reminded me that it is here, at this very crossroads that something great is about to happen.  Looking back through the Word of God, we find story after story of men and women of faith coming to the end of their ropes only to find that is where God’s rope begins.  Story’s like that of Joseph who found himself in a dark prison, separated from his family and friends, accused of something he did not do, and certainly, “at the end of his rope”, yet God’s rope was about to be lowered down into that very prison.  Joseph recognized the end of his rope was the beginning of God’s; that only when he was willing to rely only on God could God fully take over.  And, take over He did! That lowered rope not only lifted Joseph from that prison but ultimately placed him as the right hand man to the most powerful leader in the known world-the Pharaoh of Egypt! 

How about you? Perhaps you can identify with one of those who came through my doors last week experiencing a job loss, broken marriage, or relational conflict.  Or, you might be that parent that is heartbroken over the direction of a wayward child.  Whatever it is that brought you to the “end of your rope”, might I suggest you stop viewing it as a negative, rather that positionally, you are on the very edge of glory!  Be careful, that next step is crucial.  Will you reach up and grab God’s rope; fully trusting and relying on Him to take you higher than you could on your own? Or, will you like Abraham, “go down to Egypt” continuing to trust in your own resources and the many offerings of the world? 

How did my week end? What did I find at the end of my rope? As I stood on the rooftop the following Sunday to bring a message, The Power of Was: Overcoming our Past!, I spoke from experience when I reminded hundreds of anxious ears, “Our end is where God’s power begins”.  While I may not be second in command of the worlds greatest nation, I am forgiven, redeemed, renamed, remade, and changed.  I am loved.  All because one day, many years ago, I found myself in the prison of sin and when I was at the end of that rope, I grabbed hold of His rope and was rescued. I’ve never been the same since. 

You see? The end of your rope is a very good place to be; God has your attention there.  You my friend are on the edge of glory, what will you do next?

Scripture: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” -Isa. 59:1

Prayer: Father, it can be very scary coming to the point where all of my resources have been exhausted and my problems are still present. Please remind me that you are in contol and that you desire me to seek you first and trust you most.  And, when I get to the end of my rope again, please remind me that is where your presence and power are the most demonstrated.  Thank you for loving me. I love you. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.