Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Spiritually Salty Witness

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” ---Jesus Matthew 5:13 (NIV) 

Salt’s significance in the physical world is vital. It has thousands of uses, one being the preservation of life. Salt is important to the body. Without it, we would deteriorate and die. The same is true in the spiritual world. Those of us that embody the life of Christ salt this earth. Without Jesus, our souls eventually fall into disrepair. Without Jesus, the world decays. Without Jesus, we perish forever. 

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus who had seen and heard of the miracles of Jesus. These signs provoked questions in his mind that only Jesus could answer. Jesus told him about being born again, born of water and Spirit, in order to enter the kingdom of God. He said we are born as physical beings, but we must allow His Spirit to be birthed in us if we are to enter His kingdom. We need the renewal of the Spirit of God. 

Jesus continued speaking with Nicodemus, declaring words that have been heard now for generations. He said, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. John 3:16-18 (HCSB)  Read the entire 3rd chapter of John.

What a salty text, rich with the power of God! With those words, Jesus offers cleansing, purity, preservation, seasoning, and endurance. This precious Savior provides the sacrifice of all sacrifices to save the world, if only they believe. 

Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice—He came to replace the Hebrew ritual of offerings. God initially instituted those Old Testament sacrifices as a way to develop relationship with His people. It was to be a covenant of trust. 

The New Covenant depends on belief in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. It is a covenant of trust. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we are provided cleansing, preservation, seasoning, endurance, and purity—Jesus is essentially the salt. 

And He desires His believers to be salt. That’s what He was telling the multitude during the Sermon on the Mount when He began, “You are the salt of the earth.” Jesus followers are to salt this earth with His mercy and grace, just as He did when He walked among His creation. 

The Scriptures below describe true believers in Christ Jesus. Let them season your life as you in turn season the lives of others around you. 

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 (ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...... Philippians 2:1-5 (ESV) Read through verse eleven.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:1-5 (ESV) Read through verse 25.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16 (ESV)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Join me next week and bring your salt shaker.......

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Salty Pledge of Trust

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” 
---Jesus    Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

Add salt to all your offerings—this was God’s instruction to the Israelites. The fact that salt might be in short supply plus a necessity for healthy living was not to hold them back. They were to give out of obedience and love. Did they follow God’s commands? Do we?

This whole give-and-take thing is all about relationship. God desired (and still does) a relationship with His people. But a relationship is reciprocal—it takes two. 

Imagine a marriage where one spouse loves and gives continuously, attending daily to the needs of the other half. Now consider the feelings of the devoted spouse as the partner barely acknowledges his/her faithfulness, taking everything for granted, receiving it all, and returning nothing or something only out of duty. The pain would break a heart.

Or consider the marriage where one spouse dotes on the other one continually. Love oozes from every word and action. But the other half callously throws that love away by turning to someone else. Mercy and forgiveness may pour from the heart of the adoring companion, but what about trust? Can the reckless lover be trusted? Does the devoted partner trust the relationship? 

Our relationship with God can sometimes be very similar. He is our loving Creator, devoted Savior, and faithful Redeemer. He yearns for a relationship with us. He’s given us life and daily provides for our needs. He is faithful to everything He says and does. He longs for our love, obedience, and trust. But what do we do? We turn away at times and get distracted by other gods and the things of this world. 

A relationship, like a marriage, involves a covenant. A covenant is a committed agreement between two parties. Each side agrees to fulfill their promises and carry out all responsibilities. Throughout history when treaties were made, salt sealed the deal. Throughout the Middle East when pacts were made, salt was used in the ceremonies. Throughout Scripture when covenants were made, salt was added. All agreements used salt.

Salt’s enduring qualities symbolized forever. Covenants represented committed relationships. Devoted relationships involved trust. Adding salt to the agreements meant each side trusted the other. 

Consider Noah, a man who found favor in God’s eyes. When God decided to put an end to all the corruption and violence on the earth, He made a covenant with Noah. God would save Noah and his family, but Noah first had to begin building a boat where there was no water. Can you imagine the taunts he received from onlookers? Was he embarrassed? Did he contemplate dropping his end of the bargain? 

Scripture states that Noah did everything the Lord commanded him to do. Trust was involved in this covenantal relationship. Noah followed God’s directives and God saved Noah and his family. The agreement endured.  

After the flood, God made another covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth with water. The preservation of this covenant required God’s faithfulness and Noah’s trust. Even if Noah encountered a cloudy day, he needed to trust God’s word—refusing anxiety, receiving peace. Did he? Do we?

All through Scripture, over and over again, animal and grain sacrifices were made by the Israelites for the forgiveness of sins—the offering of salt was required for cleansing, purification, preservation, seasoning, and endurance. The covenantal relationship of God and His people called for trust. God faithfully provided His pardon, keeping His promise. Did the Israelites sacrifice their salt and offer God their love, obedience, and trust? Do we?

Time and time again God’s people failed Him. Their sacrifices offered continual, yet temporary absolution. When the time was right, God sent a once-for-all sacrifice through His Son, Jesus Christ—salt was symbolically added. Jesus died once and for all for the forgiveness of sins. 

Now the covenantal relationship with God requires belief in Jesus who cleanses and purifies our lives. He preserves us for Himself and seasons us with His grace and love so that others may see and believe. He offers enduring love and life everlasting. This bond demands our trust. He is faithful to His agreement. Are we?

This is God’s sacrifice—For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV) 

Do you have a relationship with this God? Will you add the salt of trust to this relationship? 

Next week we'll continue to season our salty relationship with Christ Jesus.......

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Salty Witness: Salt's Significance

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13 (NIV) ---Jesus

God loves you. He loved you so much that He become human. Jesus walked this earth, offering people love, grace, and mercy. He expressed His love through humble service, serving those He created. He died to offer eternal salvation to whosoever would believe in Him. Holy Spirit blesses believers with strength and peace. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit—He is salt, and if you profess faith in Him, you are salt. 

For ages, salt has been important. From meat preservation to making soap, from smelting and refining metals to road construction, the use of salt remains necessary. People all over the world, from generation to generation, have used salt. They’ve even fought wars over it when scarce. Salt symbolized wealth and at times in history, it was used in place of money. The Caesars of Rome sometimes partially paid their soldiers with bags of salt—the root word of salary is salt. 

Throughout time salt has been extracted from mines, vegetation, and the sea. Even though most North Americans take salt for granted because of its abundance, natives of the Amazon in South America crush plants with high salt content and boil the juices only to receive a small amount of this precious product. There are 14,000 catalogued uses of salt. Conclusion—salt is priceless.

Last week I posted seven identifying factors about salt. Below are those aspects of salt with explanations. As you read over the list, keep in mind that Jesus, the Savior sent to rescue the world, represents salt and sees these aspects of salt in His believers. 

  • Salt cleanses - Salt is an environmentally safe way to clean tea and coffee stains in glasses, baked on grease in pans, and sweat stains from clothes. It even brightens faded and colored clothes. Salt is definitely a valuable item used in cleaning. 
  • Salt preserves - Brine (or a saltwater solution) has been used throughout history to preserve meats. It’s used in tanning (converting animal skin into leather) hides and in pickling foods. Salt licks preserve the life of animals. Living beings need salt to stay healthy. 
  • Salt seasons - A little bit of salt goes a long way to enhance the flavor of foods. Instead of marinade, a steak can be doused in rock salt for a couple of hours, then rinsed off and cooked. The steak will be tender, rid of blood, and full of flavor. Salt intensifies flavor.
  • Salt endures - Salt deposits in a mine are thousands of years old and remain useful to this day. Refined salt, even if it gets lumpy, doesn’t spoil. The flavor and savor of salt doesn’t disappear after it’s been dissolved. It’s a long-lasting mineral and never spoils. 
  • Salt is pure - Salt is an uncontaminated mineral substance primarily composed of sodium chloride (a chemical compound). It contains no germs so it can be used as a disinfectant. Salt can actually clean teeth and freshen breath.
  • Salt is precious - Salt can be treated as commonplace, being taken for granted. But when it’s scarce, it becomes a most treasured commodity. Imagine a world without salt. It’s a basic human taste—how would food taste without it?
  • Salt as a sacrifice - God requested salt to be used in the offerings of Israel, both in the animal and grain sacrifices. Salt cleansed and purified the meat of blood and preserved portions for the priests to eat later (God’s provision for the Levites). Even though it might have been scarce, God requested it for sacrifices. He loved and provided for His people—would they give back to Him out of love and obedience? 

Why would God ask His people to give Him something that was in short supply? What kind of God was He? Think about the answers to these questions as well as the qualities of salt and its importance to mankind. We’ll dig deeper into the salt mines and the mind of Christ next week. Meanwhile meditate on God’s Word.

You are to offer them before the Lord, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord. Ezekiel 43:24 (NIV)

The Levitical priests--indeed, the whole tribe of Levi--are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the LORD, for that is their inheritance. Deuteronomy 18:1 (NIV)

Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail. Ezra 6:9 (NIV)

Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.” Numbers 18:19 (NIV)

....make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Exodus 30:5 (NIV)

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Leviticus 2:13 (NIV)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Salty Witness

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13 (NIV) ---Jesus

Jesus spoke to a large group of people, including His twelve disciples. He had traveled throughout Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of good news and healing people who were ill, those suffering from diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics. His popularity spread across the lands of Syria, Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River. Great crowds of people from these surrounding lands now followed Him (Matthew 4:23-25). 

Seeing all the people, Jesus went up on the mountainside and began to teach good news (The Sermon on the Mount) to the multitude. He declared blessings and future rewards (The Beatitudes) to His followers. Jesus told them to rejoice when persecuted and then pronounced them “the salt of the earth.” Why would Jesus use such an analogy and why should we rejoice over persecution? Before answering that question, let’s discover some basics and history about salt.  

Salt is a substance giving seawater its characteristic taste. It’s also used for seasoning and preserving food. We use it daily, sometimes without thinking. And it’s made news in America as our government has stripped it away from many school lunches; students have complained that the food doesn’t taste good anymore. I personally like salt on my food—have you ever eaten meat or potatoes without salt? A sprinkle is all that’s needed to enhance flavor.

Now I admit too much of a good thing is bad—everything in moderation is the key. But salt is extremely important to our well-being. Physically, salt is a good source of sodium and chloride, and after an extreme work-out or working outside in the heat, it’s what a body needs. Adding sodium and chloride with potassium balances the body from the conduction of nerve impulses to the contraction of muscles. A bodily system out of balance can be dangerous, especially when exerting oneself in the hot sun and high temperatures. 

In ancient times, Israel was an agricultural society and they worked predominantly outside. Salt replenished their perspiring bodies—it was (and still is) an essential component to healthy living. Even though it was a physical necessity each day and sometimes in short supply, God called the Israelites to sacrifice salt. He gave them explicit instructions about offering salt with their sacrifices. He said, “Make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred (Exodus 30:5). Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings (Leviticus 2:13).

Surrender salt and add it to the covenant of God. Why would God ask them to give up something so important to them physically? Did this essential compound have a deeper meaning in the lives of God’s people? God, the Creator and Provider, supplied (and still supplies) everything for His people. Why would the Provider provide salt and then ask for a sacrifice of salt? What does salt have to do with covenant? How does salt relate to people?

I have lots of questions about salt and why Jesus called believers “salt of the earth.” Over the next few weeks, I hope to uncover and convey information about salt, its many uses, and its biblical meaning for followers of Christ Jesus. Hopefully I’ve piqued your curiosity as well. 

Below is a list of the qualities of salt along with some Scriptures related to salt and its meaning. As you read them, consider what salt meant to the Israelites and what it means for us today. Return next week to continue discovering the importance of salt in our lives.

  • Salt cleanses
  • Salt preserves
  • Salt seasons
  • Salt endures
  • Salt is pure
  • Salt is precious
  • Salt is a sacrifice

Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.” Numbers 18:19 (NIV)

Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 2 Chronicles 13:5 (NIV)

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Psalm 24:3-5 (NIV)

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14 (NIV)

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:34-35 (NIV)

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NIV)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Prayer

Lord God, You have called me to live like You, but sin and selfishness get in the way. Help me take my concentration off the things of this world and focus on You, Jesus. Assist me daily, Holy Spirit, in spreading Your forgiveness and love to those around me so that together we may experience Your peace. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

A Prayer

Lord, help me to be a formidable force,
One who will act for thee.
One who fights the way you fought
With compassionate words, gracious and free.

Lord, help me to be a patient person,
One who will endure with ease.
One who awaits tender times
With helpful, persevering peace.

Lord, help me to be a wise woman,
One who knows you and reveres.
One who studies and prays Your Word
With quiet lips and open ears.

Lord, help me to be a forgiving friend,
One who ceases to blame.
One who tries to forget the wrong
Of trials that can bring shame.

Lord, help me to be a loving lady,
One who brings good cheer.
One who will share the sunshine
With those that are and aren’t dear.

Lord, help me to better personify you,
With wisdom, patience, and grace.
Loving and forgiving with all your strength
Until we come face to face!

DDC January ’87

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Job 22:21 (NIV)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15 (NIV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV) also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 (NIV)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him. Colossians 2:6 (NIV)

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6 (NIV)