You are the Light of the World, Yeah, You!

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Light. The older I get, the more I need. Whether I’m driving to a new place at night, reading small print on the back of a can, or digging a splinter out of my foot, I need light for direction, clarity, and exposure. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus previewed His departure and the handing off of His role as Light—to the Church.

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

Let’s explore His metaphor:

1. Tag—You’re It!:  John 9:5 reads, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Now that He’s in heaven, we inherit His job of illuminating God’s truth and love to the world. 

2. Take Your Stand: Lifeguards perch on a stand. The stand gives them a different perspective that allows them to work more effectively. Likewise, a lamp on a stand is positioned for maximum illumination. 2 Corinthians 9:11 says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” Position yourself.

3. Shine Your Light: In biblical times, lamps burned through the night. Light brought safety, but lamps also represented the life and dignity of the family. To let the light go out indicated the home had been deserted. 

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23

Is anyone home?

4. Expect to Draw Attention: Light attracts. Eyes will be watching. A city on a hill was meant to be seen. It was a welcome sight to a weary traveler. However, in ancient times, hidden lamps were used for evil, like a burglar’s flashlight. They helped the bad guy to see what he was doing after everyone had gone to bed. 

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5 

5. Set the Example: Demonstrate a life lived in relationship with God. People know genuine love when they see it. Have a ready answer when they ask why. 

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Let’s get in step with Him, discover the works He’s planned for us, and shine our lights that others may see our good deeds and glorify the Father.

Activities:

  • Play a game in the dark like Sardines or Hide and Seek. (Sardines is played in the dark. One person hides in a tight space. As each seeker finds the hidden one, each silently joins her until the last player discovers the group.)
  • Play it again but allow each person to use a light. 
  • Play it a third time. Give two people a light, but the rest must play in the dark. 
  • Talk about the differences. How did you feel each time you played? What was difficult?
  • Talk about how Game #3 reflects the conditions of our world. Do we as believers have responsibilities toward those with no light? What are our responsibilities? What does that look like?

What will you do differently?

How are Your Salt Levels?

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Salt. It perks up my French fries, chlorinates my pool, and boosts my Gatorade when the Texas heat and humidity make my sweat glands run like faucets. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus affirmed the need for salt (and the Church) as flavor, fertilizer, and preservative.

“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

The ancient world used salt for everything from food prep to cleansing newborns. They associated salt with health, hospitality, purity, and endurance. In Scripture, priests added salt to offerings, sacrifices, and anointing oil. Salt symbolized covenant (Num. 18:19) and was tied to wisdom (Col. 4:6). 

Here’s a quick list to check your salt levels:

1. Flavor: Salt enhances flavor. Does your presence enhance your sphere of influence? Do you raise the bar? Encourage others? Do you sprinkle love and grace wherever you go?

2. Fertilizer: Dr. Maynard Murray discovered sea salt made an excellent fertilizer. Sea salt not only helped the plant grow, but also gave the plant a greater yield and resistance against pests and disease. Plants even tasted better due to a greater level of vitamins and sugars. What effect do you have on the body of Christ? How do you taste to an unbeliever?

3. Preservative: What effect do you have on the evil in our society? Do you ignore it? Do you join in? Do you put a stop to it? Tough call because evil ranges from outright acts of racism that we see on the news to offensive entertainment on TV. What impact do you have on the issues of our day?

4. Thirst: Does your sphere of influence leave your presence with a greater thirst for the good things of life? For holiness, righteousness, or purity? For Jesus? For hope and perseverance?

Salt loses its saltiness through a process called leaching—dilution, in a nutshell. Leached-out salt was then used for coating pathways. Hence, Jesus’ reference to salt being “thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Is Jesus diluting the influence of the world or is the world diluting Jesus’ influence on you? Jesus calls us to guard against losing our saltiness, because the consequences aren’t pretty.

Not good for anything.

Thrown out. 

Trampled by men. 

A lost purpose. 

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown said, “Since living Christianity is the only ‘salt of the earth,’ if men lose that, what else can supply its place? It is not the mere want of a certain character, but the want of it in those whose profession and appearance were fitted to beget expectation of finding it.”

Turns out that saltiness is a big deal and I’m tasting a little bland. 

Activities:

Look at the different ways you use salt each day:

  • To flavor food
  • To preserve food
  • To retain fluids (Gatorade)
  • To treat muscles or skin (Salt scrub/bath)

Try this experiment to see how long it takes a solution to lose its saltiness.

  • Measure 100 ml of water (about ½ c.)
  • Add 3.5 g of salt (about 2/3 of a tsp.) Stir until dissolved. 
  • Pour half of the solution into another container and fill to 100 ml again. Stir until dissolved.
  • Repeat four more times. How does it taste?

Life-Giver

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As the book of Exodus opens, the author drops his readers into a cauldron brewing with evil. The Israelites living in Egypt have been enslaved and Pharaoh has commanded his citizens to kill every Hebrew baby boy. 

At stake is the life of Moses, the deliverer, and ultimately Christ, because if Israel is wiped out, there will be no tribes, no nation, no priests, no kings, and no Messiah. 

Did the men of Israel rise up and fight this threat?

No. 

Instead, God highlights five females in this passage.

Shiphrah and Puah: Scholars believe these ladies headed up a force of midwives in the Israelite community. Pharaoh commanded them to kill the Hebrew baby boys. They refused, and God blessed them with families of their own.

“The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live . . . So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” Exodus 1:17, 20-21 NIV

Jochebed: When Jochebed birthed Moses, she knew something distinguished him from her other two children, “and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months (Exodus 2:2).”

The Message puts it this way, “She saw there was something special about him and hid him.”

Ever try to hide a nursing baby—for three months? Dirty diapers. Leaking breasts. She must have had some serious help. Then she hid him in the one place the Egyptians would never look—the Nile, “But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him (Exodus 2:3-4).” Genius.

Miriam: Only a youngster herself, Miriam had guts to approach Pharaoh’s daughter. Most girls would be tongue-tied if Kate Middleton came to call. Can you imagine speaking to a real princess—and she’s the daughter of your worst enemy? And the conversation centers on your infant brother whom she is sworn to kill?

Miriam thought quickly on her feet too, “Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’ ‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother (Exodus 2:7-8).”

Pharaoh’s daughter: This woman deserves a lot of credit. She sized up the situation immediately. A quick peek in the diaper confirmed Moses’ status as a Hebrew. This princess managed to stand up to her father and win the adoption of a Hebrew child. 

Each of these women, young, old, slave, and royalty, affirmed life. Each did so in a different way: civil disobedience, motherhood, protector, and advocate. Note that three of these were working women. One used her authority. Another was just a child. God used them all to give and to sustain the life of Moses. 

God gives every woman the role of life-giver whether she actually births children or simply nurtures whoever God puts in her path. Yet in today’s culture, women have sadly become life-takers. Life-taking wounds His precious daughters deeply. This was never God’s design for His beloved daughters. Listen to this short audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdTjLZPnvKM . 

Reclaim your role as life-giver. Pray about how to fulfill this calling. Adoption? Foster care? Volunteering? Motherhood?

And while you pray for direction, give life.

Life-giving words. 

Life-giving touches. 

Life-giving actions.

Embrace your role as life-giver. 

Workout of the Week: Life-Giver

Memory Verse: “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” Exodus 1:17

Meditation Passage: Exodus 2

Do It: Embrace your role as life-giver.

Dating God: Carpe Diem

Date #4: Text Him

Carpe Diem

Check out this quote from C. S. Lewis:

This reminds me of three demon apprentices who were being trained by the Devil on how they might be able to better populate hell. One demon said, “We can tell them that there is no God.” The Devil says, “No, that won’t work . . . people know better.” The next one said, “We can tell them there is no hell.” Again the Devil said, “No, that won’t work, they know better.” The last apprentice demon said, “I know, we can tell them there is no hurry.” The Devil said, “Hey, that’s it!”

Hebrews 3:12-14 (The Message) says, “So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.”

Relationships require daily commitment, daily communication, and daily contact, even and especially if, you are miles apart. So, get your phone and your calendar.

Phone first. This week, we’re texting God:

  • Set a reminder on your phone for 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00.
  • Shoot God a text. A love note. A distress call. Whatever.
  • Stop and wait for His reply.

Now for the calendar. Easter comes early this year. Make March the month you prepare your heart. Here are a few date ideas:

  • Focus on one passage of Scripture, or even one verse. Focus on the Passion Week.
  • Break out those old Easter hymns or YouTube Newsong’s Arise My Love or Google the top contemporary Easter songs.
  • Memorize a verse.
  • Ask God for a word. Find other verses that speak to that word.
  • Choose part of the Easter story and put yourself in the scene. See it. Smell it. Taste it.

Be intentional. Today. Now.

Break out of the love triangle and focus on your first love. Your True Love.

Workout for the Week: Carpe Diem

Memory Verse: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4

Meditation Passage: Hebrews 3:12-14

Just Do It: Shoot God a text.

Dating God: Meeting Jesus at Starbucks

Date #3: Coffee Date

Meeting Jesus at Starbucks

Coffee dates. A luxury I savor as much as a chai tea latte. Though they require some schedule juggling—deadlines wait for no one—the schedule contortions merit the pain. Time with friends refreshes my spirit. It gets me out of my home office where the walls can close in, my only companions wear fur, and they shed it freely through the house. The writing life often proves a lonely one.

Scripture brims with times Jesus spent in fellowship with others. Wine flowed at the wedding in Cana. Cool water washed the dust from His throat at the well in Samaria. Roasted lamb, dates, perhaps pistachios for those weekday dinners in the homes of Zacchaeus, Matthew, and, of course, Mary and Martha. Food and fellowship pair well.

Your date with God this week involves a trip to your favorite coffee shop:

  • Bring a journal and something to write with.
  • Grab your beverage of choice. (And a snack. Chocolate?)
  • Get comfy.
  • If Jesus were sitting across the table (and He is), what would you talk about? Your marriage? The kids? Career goals? Dreams?
  • What spiritual questions would you pose?
  • Are you frustrated about something? Spill it.
  • Do you need clarity? Direction? Ask.

John 15:15 (NIV) reads, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

For kicks: What would Jesus get at Starbucks and why?

Leave your response in the comment box. Best response earns a coffee mug!

Workout of the Week: Meeting Jesus at Starbucks

Memory Verse:  “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15 NIV).”

Meditation Passage: Luke 10:38-42

Just Do It: Schedule your coffee date.