No Longer Strangers
19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; 21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit. (WEB)
It is amazing to think that we are no longer strangers and foreigners in the household of God. Our Father’s home is our home. In John 14:1-3 Jesus says this about His Father’s house…
1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.2 In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. (WEB)
My prayer today is that each one of us would know that we belong in the very center of our Father’s house. Since we are God’s kids, we can be completely comfortable and at ease in His home. We can kick off our shoes, relax, lie on the couch (figuratively speaking) and feel that we are truly welcomed and needed in His presence.
When we have a family dinner in our house, and one of our children is missing, we do not feel complete. I think it is our Father’s heart that each one of His children would know that they fill a special place in His heart that no one else can fill. If you have ever felt like an outsider, may the love of God fill every empty place in your heart. You are loved more than you could possibly imagine and your elder brother has prepared a place for you in His Dad’s house.
A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. 36 If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (WEB)
How to Look like Light, Taste like Salt
Following the Beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says to those who are willing to be persecuted “for my sake” that you “are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14).
What does it mean, and how does it happen, that people look like light and taste like salt?
First, it is helpful to observe — as Dietrich Boenhoffer pointed out in The Cost of Discipleship – that Jesus is not here exhorting his disciples to be light or salt. Jesus is saying that his disciplesare the light and salt of the earth. If Christians do not stand up for, and speak well of, Jesus Christ in public sphere certainly no one else will! There is no other light or salt to be found or to rely on as a backup plan. So our goal is not to be the light and salt of the world — Jesus already made us that when he transformed our hearts and centered our lives in Him. Rather our goal is to be the brightest light and the most savory salt we can be as Christians. With that in mind, then, consider these necessary steps toward being an effective Christian witness:
1) Make Contact
There is no substitute for this. Salt cannot savor unless it comes into contact with an object, and light must shine into darkness in order to illuminate it. It may be that today God will bring people into your path that are in need of gospel light and salt. They may be people you know (like Cornelius inviting his family and friends to hear Peter preach) or they may be strangers (like Paul addressing the philosophers at Mars Hill). But if God is concerned that Jesus Christ be glorified in the earth, and if we are open to the Lord’s leading… should it be surprising for Him to lead us to talk with someone about Jesus Christ on a fairly frequent basis?
2) Preach Jesus
The common usage of the phrase “salt of the earth” is almost always in direct opposition to the way Jesus meant it. We often, in fact, might say that our neighbor — while not a Christian — is “the salt of the earth” because he or she is a good person and an upstanding citizen. But Jesus in context describes, in the third person, those who are poor in spirit, pure in heart, etc. and then specifically is addressing “you” who are persecuted “for my sake.” And it is the same “you” who are standing up “for my sake” that Jesus then says are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
We are only light and salt to the extent that we are speaking and laboring for the glory of Jesus Christ.
We have not shared the gospel if we have not explained Jesus (who he is, what he did, and how that relates to us as sinners).
3) Keep the Right Motivation
Our first motivation, like God’s, must be the glory of God; this makes every effort a success, as long as his glory was proclaimed, no matter what results or response we see. We are light as long as we shine, whether people run to it or away from it. We are salt as long as we have the savor of Christ about us, whether people like the taste of Him or not. Don’t forget this goal, even in the throws of personal disagreement or even public opposition. Our desire is not to win arguments but to win people. Yet, ultimately, if we speak well of Christ — and represent Christ well with our lives — we have succeeded no matter how others respond.
4) Use the Gifts God Has Given You
Never be deceived into thinking that your savoriness, as a Christian, comes from your likeable personality or forceful reasoning or effective salesmanship. The one thing that separates you from unbelievers, and gives your life meaning and hope and wisdom, is Jesus Christ.
What makes your witness shine, your testimony tasty, is simply this: the beauty of Jesus Christ displayed and declared in your life.
But that also means you can be an effective witness for Christ regardless of your personality or particular set of gifts. Don’t try to be what you aren’t, but do what you can — to the best of your ability and in the context in which God has placed you — to proclaim Christ.
By Justin HuffmanA
Back to the Starting Place
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4
Sometimes I need to go back to the beginning of the Bible to get a new perspective on things. The book of Genesis is a wonderful book filled with all kinds of new beginnings. From the creation of the universe to the beginnings of civilization, I am always blessed when I start reading Genesis. Let’s look at the first four verses to see how they can give us a fresh and new perspective for today.
I love the first four words: “In the beginning God….” That says it all. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that God has always existed. It is hard to comprehend the concept that before “the beginning,” there was God, but it is a truth that we can embrace with love and respect. He is God and there is none other. “God,” as used in this passage, is the Hebrew word “Elohim,” which is plural (meaning more than one). Elohim refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing since the beginning of creation. It brings great comfort in being reminded that God is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present, from beginning to end (Alpha and Omega), while taking care of us in the middle too.
The next amazing part of these verses describes how God separated the light from the darkness. The earth was dark and had no form or substance. But God is light and in Him, there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God saw the darkness and knew that the whole earth needed His light. Thus, God brought forth His light for us. When we feel as though darkness surrounds us, we look upon Jesus and He is still bringing forth His light for us today. These verses remind us that God understands darkness and never intended for us to live in it. He created the light, separated the light from darkness, and said, “it was good.”
When man sinned, darkness entered into our hearts and the light of God went out. God sent His Son, Jesus, to bring light into the world so that all who believe in Him might be saved from the eternal darkness. For those of us today who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are filled with His eternal presence through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Everywhere we go, we shine His light. Isn’t it great to go back to the beginning?
By Bobbye and Tonilee
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