Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT)
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
I know better. I knew better when I did it from the first bite to the last. Actually I was in a moral dilemma before I went to the store and bought them that this may not be such a good idea. I already had been eating foods that did not agree with me throughout the day, but now to pile some chicken wings on top. I ate a salad with them hoping it would count even enjoying a piece of Hawaiian bread that I am quite certain is baked in Heaven thinking it would absorb some of the grease. Yeah, I knew better. I could feel my stomach begin to churn before I even left the table. Heading straight for the Tums, I ate three. Surely that would take care of it as I cleaned the kitchen. No, not so fast. I ate three more. I lost count after that as the churning to burning. My stomach was so hot I could feel it through my shirt (or at least I thought I could). I drank copious amounts of water hoping to put out the inferno raging inside my gut. The whole time thinking you knew better. Why do something so dumb? My sweet husband realizing my pain and listening to my groaning offered to go grab another antacid, but first I decided to get a medical opinion. I “googled” burning pain in stomach to see what the “experts” had to say. I found the answer.
Heading to the kitchen, rummaging through the cabinet, I found some baking soda. According to the Internet, a half of a teaspoon mixed in 4 ounces of water should stop the burning inside. Made sense since I learned in Home Economics in seventh grade to use it to put out a grease fire in the kitchen. Quickly mixing it in a small glass, I downed it like a cowboy taking a shot before a gunfight and waited. Glory Hallelujah! It worked! As the pain began to subside, I noticed a strong salty taste in my mouth. As my belly bubbled and popped, I read the ingredients on the box – “sodium bicarbonate”. Drained from the whole ordeal, firefighting is no joke. I went to bed. When I woke up, the same salty taste was in my mouth. So then I had to take it to Jesus, and find out what was up.
We are the salt of the earth. This does not mean that we are perfect but in the process of becoming so. This means that even when we know how to act or what to say that sometimes we do what we want to do anyway knowing it is not the best thing for us. Those who choose to be the salt of the earth or light on a hill must do something to right the wrong in their way or suffer the consequences. Not God’s Consequences, He is also ready to give us His Grace providing New Mercy each day for His Wandering Children. Consequences are the natural outcomes in life. I know that I am sensitive to grease laden, deep fried food. A few years back, I completely changed what I ate in order to stop taking antacids on an ongoing basis. Many nights sitting up to sleep because it felt like I was having a heart attack cured my need to overindulge in foods that clearly no longer agree with me. Young people enjoy those ironclad tummies while they still work. We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Loving and serving God is not and will never be an excuse to sin or not use good judgment. Preaching to me this morning…as I sit with a smoldering gut reminding me that I knew better and did it anyway.
Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Working out one’s salvation is a daily process lived moment by moment. We are free to choose how we live and what we pursue. God will never force us to chase after righteousness. Jesus simply gave us the keys to open the door to the Kingdom of God. We must decide that it is indeed what we want and make the commitment to go after it. God will not make you give up sin to embrace His Goodness. I will continue to sin for the rest of my life. I will make mistakes along the way. Yet, I must still work daily to serve and satisfy my Savior and Lord if I love Him. Before you bustle in your seat or beg to disagree, just think of everything you do in a single day to gain the affection, affirmation and acceptance of other people. Why would it be appropriate to do less for the One who died to save your soul and give you forever? Just saying.
I love God’s Word with all my heart. It has led me to victory over and over again. The fight that we face is not a battle against the adversary but a war raging in our very soul. Our humanity does not want to die to self and take on Christ’s Identity. The power of the human mind is to convince us to do our own thing, live our own way, and say what we think rather than to submit our mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit for careful cultivation. The Holy Spirit produces certain fruits in our life – the last one listed is “self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) but maybe that should be listed first as it would allow all the other fruits to flourish.
I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
I am allowed to do anything. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! (John 8:36) Free indeed means that you have not given up one form of “slavery” for another. When we make Jesus the Lord of our life, it is an act of submission and surrender by choice. If you want all the benefits offered by salvation and through deliverance from sin and darkness, you must live in the Light of His Love. Why do we think logically about life but fail to see God’s Way differently? Like we can do anything, yet still expect better outcomes. For example, if I have a headache and there is ibuprofen in the cabinet, why wouldn’t I take a couple for relief? They are not illegal or toxic. Should I pray? Yes, of course. But if God has already given you a solution, why not try that first? Come on – don’t act like you don’t understand. We all do. God’s Way is not like our own. It is often uncomfortable and requires an effort to make the changes to necessary to have His Best according to His Word. We pray for the Lord to do things that His Word already tells us how to achieve because we do not want to do what He says in the first place. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. He doesn’t give trophies to everyone who shows up or participates. He gives it to the winners who overcome sin by TRYING to do what the Word of God says and relying on His Spirit for help. God is looking at our hearts today. He is looking for champions of faith who no matter how many times they have tried to follow Jesus but stumbled, fell down or wandered off course still try to love and serve Him every day. Your plight will be different than mine and everyone else you come in contact with. What matters is that you give your all to Jesus even when it’s hard or requires a little self-control. You cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results even the world calls that insanity.
Proverbs 20:25 (NLT)
Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.
Our daughter, who recently married and moved away, and I were recently talking about healthy eating. They eat out quite a bit with their busy schedule. She expressed her objection to the fact that to eat healthy costs more than the “Dollar Menu” at McDonalds. It’s hard to make better choices when the unhealthy ones are way more economical on a fixed budget. This is true in our walk with Jesus Christ. To make better choices will cost us something rather resources, relationships or routines – there must be a change for better outcomes. It may be uncomfortable. We may not like it but if we want God’s Very Best it is going to happen.
James 3:11-13 (NLT)
Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
Not too long ago, one of my girls started calling the other one “salty”. I finally asked her what she meant. “Salty” is an urban reference to someone who is “agitated or bitter” toward someone else. Don’t you love how the enemy will take something and twist it like that? The word “salty” if used in direct correlation in the Word of God would mean just the opposite. We use the “salt” of God’s Word and His Spirit to purify our mind, soul and body. It is that which neutralizes all bitterness and strife within us. We cannot draw fresh water from a salty spring, but if we are overcome by sin the only solution is to add a little salt. It certainly cured the burning inside my stomach last night. Today the message is clear in my mind and soul as well. The Lord wants to settle some things inside me today that have nothing to do with the physical issues in my life but everything to do with some spiritual issues in my heart. He is reminding me that I am the salt of the earth and light on a hill. I must keep my salt salty and my light bright to successfully complete my mission on earth and be welcomed into forever. I hear you, Lord. I am offered wisdom in the Word of God. It is up to me to use it. I am afforded the secrets of the Kingdom whispered to me by His Spirit. I must listen. I prove that I love the Lord by how I live, what I do, how I act and the words I speak. I must be mindful of this to overcome myself and be an overcomer in the heated battle raging deep inside of me. I must stay salty. I must tend my light. Thank you God for your Love and Grace today! Thank you that they let me learn from my mistakes! Thank you for the freedom to choose a different path and live in Your Love forever!
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.