VIDEO Seasoned Living: Salt

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

Most of the salt in ancient Israel came from the Dead Sea, which was called the Salt Sea. As water evaporated in pits near the sea, it left behind a salt residue, which was collected. It had a distinctive flavor, which made cooking and eating a pleasure. But in biblical times, salt could become contaminated with dirt or dust, and there was no way to separate the dirt from the salt. The grains were too fine. The salt was useless. It had to be thrown out.

As Christians, we have a distinctive character. We’re different from every other group in the world. If we become contaminated and lose our distinctiveness, we’re good for nothing. If the world gets into us, we’ll be of questionable value. Let’s be known for genuine internal holiness and righteousness. Let’s be like Jesus. This is the salty Christian life, the Jesus life—and this is the life of biblical distinctiveness.

For what is this salt but the saving truth of God filling the mind, and the love of God shed abroad in the heart, by the Holy Ghost? Joseph Entwisle


Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5:13 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Man of Prayer

Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:17–18

My family remembers my Grandpa Dierking as a man of strong faith and prayer. But it wasn’t always so. My aunt recalls the first time her father announced to the family, “We’re going to start giving thanks to God before we eat.” His first prayer was far from eloquent, but Grandpa continued the practice of prayer for the next fifty years, praying often throughout each day. When he died, my husband gave my grandmother a “praying hands” plant, saying, “Grandpa was a man of prayer.” His decision to follow God and talk to Him each day changed him into a faithful servant of Christ.

The Bible has a lot to say about prayer. In Matthew 6:9–13, Jesus gave a pattern for prayer to His followers, teaching them to approach God with sincere praise for who He is. As we bring our requests to God, we trust Him to provide “our daily bread” (v. 11). As we confess our sins, we ask Him for forgiveness and for help to avoid temptation (vv. 12–13).

But we aren’t limited to praying the “Lord’s Prayer.” God wants us to pray “all kinds of prayers” on “all occasions” (Ephesians 6:18). Praying is vital for our spiritual growth, and it gives us the opportunity to be in continual conversation with Him every day (1 Thessalonians 5:17–18).

As we approach God with humble hearts that yearn to talk with Him, may He help us know and love Him better.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

How does God view the humble prayers of His children that may be less than eloquent? How can you make prayer a part of your daily life?

Father, thank You for the blessing of prayer and Your acceptance of me whenever I call on You.

Grow deeper in your understanding of prayer.

The Danger of Shortsightedness

2 Peter 1:1-11

Did you know a person can have 20/20 vision and yet be nearsighted spiritually? That’s what happens when someone pursues short-term desires instead of the qualities God values: faith, virtue, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Biblical stories about spiritually shortsighted people caution us against sacrificing future blessings for more immediate gratification.

Take Saul, for instance: He was Israel’s first king, but when he decided his way was better than God’s, the Lord took his kingdom away and gave it to David (1 Sam. 15:1-28). And, sadly, David himself is another example. He had been faithful for many years but in a moment of weakness made a devastating choice: His desire for Bathsheba led him to commit both adultery and murder. Although he repented and was forgiven, the consequences of his sin impacted the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:7-14). 

To avoid the kind of mistakes these men made, we need to prioritize God’s long-term goals for us. In other words, we must cherish the eternal over the temporal and strengthen our faith with godly virtues

The Doctrine of the Few

“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.” (Deuteronomy 7:7)

Modern people—even Christians—tend to measure success in terms of bigness. God’s measure, on the other hand, is based on quality, not quantity. There were undoubtedly millions of people on the earth, for example, when the Flood came in the days of Noah, but only “few, that is, eight souls were saved” as the waters lifted up the Ark (1 Peter 3:20).

A few centuries after the Flood, populations had again increased, and great nations developed in Egypt, Sumeria, and elsewhere. But God called one man, Abraham, to establish a new nation, and he obeyed. Many great nations (Arabs, etc.) came from Abraham, but again God chose only one, Israel, to inherit the promise. Israel did grow, but as our text shows, even this chosen nation was nearly always insignificant compared to other nations.

In Israel’s history, many instances are recorded when God used just a few to battle many. God used Gideon’s 300 men to defeat 135,000 Midianites (Judges 7:7; 8:10). Similar deliverances occurred in the days of David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and others.

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). He also said to them: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

God’s criterion is that of motivation rather than multiplication. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). But those few will be faithful servants and will someday hear Him say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). HMM

Seeking Forgiveness-Psalm

Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against His people, and He abhorred His own inheritance. He handed them over to the nations; those who hated them ruled them. Their enemies oppressed them, and they were subdued under their power. He rescued them many times, but they continued to rebel deliberately and were beaten down by their sin. When He heard their cry, He took note of their distress, remembered His covenant with them, and relented according to the abundance of His faithful love… May the Lord, the God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Hallelujah! (vv. 40-45, 48).

God is neither distant nor deaf. He did not turn his face from faithless Israel, nor does he fail to hear our cries of distress, though it may seem that way sometimes.

In his anger God turned Israel over to heathen nations for punishment. Under their foreign taskmasters the chosen people soon cried out for deliverance, and God answered.

Suddenly a majestic fanfare soars above the confessional—the harmonic changes for which I’ve been listening: “He remembered His covenant with them, and relented according to the abundance of His faithful love” (v. 45). Despite their stiff-necked rebellion and the pitiful waste of their lives, God still loved them and wouldn’t let them go!

Time after time he sent judges to lead them back to him. Time after time they were faithful for a season and then fell back into their old ways. He was forced to discipline these delinquent children. “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline” (Rev. 3:19).

At last! The great resolution! God will return the people to him, where they will remain in his presence “from everlasting to everlasting.” The psalmist ends Book IV of the Psalter with a doxology of praise to the God of Israel. And all the people said, “Amen!”

Personal Prayer

O Lord my God, I thank you for not closing the door permanently when I sin. Like my ancient brothers and sisters, I can approach you with a contrite heart and find forgiveness and restoration.

Lord, Help Me

God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able .—1 Corinthians 10:13

One perspective on the phrase “Do not bring us into temptation” tells us that if we pray for the ability to recognize temptation when it comes our way, then we will be able to confront it and turn it to advantage.

Another interpretation explains that this is a prayer for us to be kept back from more temptation than we can cope with. It’s like saying: “Lord, help us not to get involved in more temptation than we can handle.” This view, as I am sure you can see at once, makes good sense and could well be what Jesus meant.

One of the biographers of an intrepid missionary tells how, in his early days in China, Hudson Taylor met with several great disappointments. One day, after a spate of troubles, he took hold of a guide who had demanded an outrageous fee from him, and shook him violently. A few hours later, he realized he had denied his Lord by this action, and after searching his heart for the reason why he had succumbed to anger and violence, he realized that he had been so preoccupied with his problems that he had failed to commit his ways to the Lord. His biographer says: “If Hudson Taylor had prayed the prayer, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ and committed his ways to the Lord, then perhaps the Spirit would have been able to direct his path so that he would not have faced more temptation than he could bear.”

It is an intriguing thought.

Prayer

Father, though the meaning of this phrase is not yet clear, one thing is—I need Your help at every stage of my earthly pilgrimage, for I cannot face temptation alone. So stay with me, every day and every hour. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 5:1-11; Pr 1:10; 4:14; Rm 6:13

Why did Ananias and Sapphira yield to temptation?

What is Paul’s antidote?

Threefold Sanctification

Ephesians 1:4

Sanctification carries the definition, “to make sacred or holy; to free from sin, to purify; to make Christlike.” God had nothing less than this in mind when He created man in His image. “He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight” (Ephesians 1:4).

There can be no surprise, then, that Christ purchased our sanctification.

“Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:22-26 KJV). He loved not only the sinful world (John 3:16), but also the believing Church.

“Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12 KJV).

Conversion is becoming a Christian—the noun. Sanctification is becoming Christian—the adjective. Sanctification has three aspects, all under the administration of the Holy Spirit.

Initial sanctification is that cleansing of the outward sins of acquired depravity, largely the sins of the flesh. Writing to the unspiritual, carnal Corinthian church, Paul says, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Entire sanctification is complete, dealing with sins of the spirit, leaving no part of the personality untouched. This is expressed to the well-saved church in Thessalonica: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV).

Progressive sanctification is that growth, renewal, maturing, holy living and continual cleansing, which should be the unfolding life of every believer, but especially of those who are Spirit-filled. It is typified by Paul’s statement: “We all… beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV). This is accomplished by the abiding fullness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

Milton S. Agnew, The Holy Spirit: Friend and Counselor