Thursday, December 17, 2015, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise be Told.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 5:13-16 (NASB). Salt of Earth (v. 13) “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." Salt is used both as a preservative and as seasoning for the food that we eat, to give the food flavor and/or to enhance it, or to bring out the flavor that is already there. It is also used metaphorically to signify purification. In a figurative sense, it can be translated to mean wisdom or prudence (forethought, carefulness, discretion, and good sense). If we preserve something, we maintain, uphold, keep (obey), continue in, protect (safeguard) and defend it. In scripture, the Word of God is often symbolized by food or most specifically bread. Along that line of thinking, we are taught in scripture to preserve, maintain, uphold, continue in, sustain, and to safeguard our walks with the Lord, our testimonies for him, and for his word, as well as we are to keep (obey) and defend the Word of Truth. In this way, we are being the salt of the earth in attitude, thought, word and deed. So, how is this accomplished? When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we turn from our sins, we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we put on our new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We should then learn that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us; and that the Christian life means that we no longer conduct our lives according to our flesh, but we now live our lives according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. Our lives are no longer our own. We were bought with a price, the blood of Christ on a cross for our sins. We should also learn that his grace provided for us to free us from sin is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. God called us to live holy lives pleasing unto him. To be holy means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are becoming like Jesus. It means to give our lives to God as living sacrifices and to no longer conform our lives to the ways of this sinful world. So, how do we do this? We don’t do it just by following a set of rules we can check off. We don’t do it in our own human strength and will-power. And, we don’t do it to try to earn our way into heaven. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit of God, who has transformed us from death to life, comes into our lives to dwell within us (Christ within us). His job is to counsel, instruct, teach, encourage, convict, warn, correct, nurture, and comfort us; to direct us in the way we should go, and to empower and strengthen us to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Our job is to submit to his work of grace in our lives and to cooperate with him in his work of purifying our hearts and in making us holy vessels for God’s use. Obedience is not just keeping a set of rules. Obedience is a heart surrendered to God in full submission to him and to his word and will. So, if we are to preserve the word, live the word, obey the word and continue in the word, etc., we must be in the word daily, reading, studying, praying and asking the Spirit within us to speak his words to our hearts, to lead us into to all truth, and to guide us in the way we should go. Then, as the Spirit speaks, we must listen and we must obey. Jesus said that his sheep (his followers) know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him. The more we obey the Lord the more we learn of him, and the closer we grow in our fellowship with him, and in our understanding of him and of his will and his purposes for our lives. Since God has called us to be holy, set apart (unlike, different) from the world because he is conforming us into the likeness of Christ, we must remove from our lives those things which might lead us back into sin, and back into worldliness and godlessness. We can’t have competing voices in our lives, or competing loyalties. We can’t serve two masters. We can’t have divided hearts which has one foot in the world and the other in our faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is full surrender. It is a lot like being on a top floor of a burning building and the only way out is to jump into the safety net. We just have to let go of our old lives (the burning building) and trust Jesus Christ (the safety net) with our lives. And, we need to let him rule and reign in our lives instead of our flesh or the world or idolatry ruling our lives. So, there is a warning here against us, as the salt, losing its saltiness to the point where we become tasteless (a very appropriate word) and no longer of use to God and to his heavenly kingdom. How does this happen? It happens by us undoing what God has done in our lives in saving us out of slavery to sin, i.e. by us no longer submitting to the Savior, but us deciding to be ruler of our own lives again and by us going our own way instead of God’s way. It usually happens slowly, over time. We begin to get busy with other things and then we neglect the Word and prayer, and we then stop listening to the Spirit’s gentle voice speaking to our hearts. Instead we begin to fill our lives and minds with the things of this sinful world again, and we begin to take into our minds and lifestyles the things the Lord had freed us out of. Soon we begin thinking, talking and acting just like the world once again, we forget we were cleansed from sin, and we stop sharing our faith so that no one will dislike us or reject us. Is this where you are now? Light of World (vv. 14-16) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, 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." What is light? Light is opposite of darkness, unless it is a false light. It is truth, purity and righteousness. Jesus Christ is the light. The gospel is light, the light of salvation. The light shines in the darkness. Darkness is evil, lies, wickedness and sin. Jesus told Paul to open the eyes of the blind, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who were sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus (Ac. 26:16-18). When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives he rescues us out of darkness, and he brings us into his marvelous light. We are turned from sin and from the power and control of Satan over our lives, and we are turned to God/Jesus Christ to follow (obey) him in the power and working of the Spirit within us. So, if we are the light of the world, that means that we are the righteousness of Christ, his goodness, purity, holiness, and his truth. This is what should shine forth to the world from our lives, not with absolute perfection, but consistently, as we walk daily in the Spirit, and as daily we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). We are not to hide this light out of fear of what people will think of us, or fear they will judge us unfairly, hate us and/or that they will persecute us. We don’t hide our light in order to blend in with the world, either, thinking that is a better way to make a difference in people’s lives. And, we don’t snuff the light out of our lives via falling back into sin and again walking in the darkness, because we have listened to and have followed Satan’s lies. Instead, we are to let this light shine to all people. So, how do we do this? First of all we do it by the way we live (conduct) our lives in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and in obedience to Christ and to his Word. We must throw off all hindrances to our walks of faith and eradicate from our lives all sins which have so easily entangled us so we can run with perseverance the race God has set out for us. And, we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus Christ, and not on the idols and trappings of this sinful world (Heb. 12:1-3). Again, we can’t have our feet in two worlds – the world of sin and God’s heavenly kingdom. If we claim to know Jesus Christ but we live just like the world, the people of this world will not be drawn to the light of Christ and to his gospel of salvation. They may attend a church service with us, but so many church services today are just like worldly theatre productions. So, people are not seeing the light of Christ in many of those meetings, either. Secondly, if we are walking in the light of Christ, in his truth, his love and his righteousness, then we must also let the light shine through the words we speak, not just in every day conversation, but in intentional sharing of the full gospel of salvation with all who will listen. One way this can be done in today’s world is via the internet, at least for now, where the messages can go throughout the world and reach many people with the message of Christ and of his salvation. Presently there are many Christian discussion websites where we are free to share the gospel message of freedom from sin and of lives surrendered to Jesus Christ by the power of God’s Spirit in transforming us. There are also multiple social media sites where, at least at one time, we were free to share the gospel message, such as on Twitter, Facebook, et al. And, there are multiple sites which offer free blogs to anyone who wants to blog their Christian journey and to share their faith. Probably the most effective sharing of the light of Christ, though, is done with people face-to-face who can observe our lifestyles and who can be drawn to Christ by our lives, and not just by our words, but words are necessary, too. Many people think that if they just live a “good life” and they are “nice” to people that this is letting their lights shine, but the world can do that. There are a lot of good people in the world, i.e. “good” meaning they live moral lives, they do good to others, and they are good neighbors, etc. Yet, the light is the gospel of salvation, so we must be actively sharing our faith with others, whether in person, or in writing, or in public speaking, or whatever way in which God has opened doors for us to share his gospel message with those who are in need of the Savior and salvation from sin. So, don’t hide the light. Don’t disguise it as something else to be more acceptable. And, don’t snuff it out by quenching the Spirit of God via falling back into sin. Live and walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, daily putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against you. Put on holiness, righteousness and truth, and put off all that hinders your walk of faith or your light from shining through. And, intentionally share your testimony for Jesus Christ and share the way of salvation so that others can come to know Christ, be delivered out of bondage to sin, and so they can have eternal life with God. Praise Be Told! / An Original Work / December 28, 2013 Based off Various Scriptures He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for all our sin. Our chastisement was upon Him. By His stripes, we now are healed. He has witnessed all our trials, And the sins we choose to wear. Yet, while we were dead in our sin, Jesus died, our sins to bear. He himself bore all of our sins In His body on a cross, So that we might die to our sin, And live for His righteousness. By faith in the pow’r of Jesus And His blood shed for our sins, We can be forgiven our sin, And have life with God in heav’n. He will lead us and He’ll guide us In the way that we should go. He will comfort and protect us, Because Jesus, we do know. Though He disciplines for our good, He will heal us – Praise be told! Do not fear, your Lord is with you. Just have faith in Christ your Lord.