Saturday 30 March 2024

The salt of the earth

Christians should not shy away from speaking the truth even if it stings. Sometimes people need it to make them think more deeply about their lives
My mother always used to put a very moderate amount of salt in our vegetables and always discouraged us from putting extra salt from the salt shaker onto our food, like so many of my friends did. However, on the odd occasion she did forget to add it, we would moan profusely. It just wasn’t the same. The thing is, we never know the true value of salt until it is not there.

I have read that there are more than14,000 different ways that salt is used. It is used in the manufacture of plastics, paper, glass, fertilizers, household cleaners, to name but a few. In ancient times it was valued greatly by the Chinese, Arabs, Romans and Greeks. Indeed the word ‘salary’ comes from the fact that Roman soldiers were often paid in salt. 

Salt is mentioned numerous times in the bible. It was used as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a part of ceremonial offerings, in making covenants and as a means of trading and bartering.

For example, in Leviticus 2:13 it says: 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

Likewise in Numbers 18:19 it says: 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.

In three out of the four gospels, Jesus told his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth”. What a great way of emphasising the importance, versatility and purpose God’s people are to the world. Salt had and has such great value that using this phrase affirmed to the disciples their great worth. These uncultured, uneducated men who were probably overlooked by society and here we have the Lord telling them that they were this valuable commodity. It affirmed the fact that through the way they lived their lives they were going to make the world a better place. 

The ‘you’ in this passage is plural, so we can safely say that true believers in Jesus Christ are the salt of the earth. But salt is useless unless it touches what it is meant to season. If it stays in the salt pot it does no good at all. Similarly, if Christians who are called to be the salt of the earth remain in the salt pot, ie. in their holy huddles, in their churches, what impact do they have in the society? Only when they go out and connect with people, share the gospel and show love and kindness in practical and relevant ways can they really make a difference.

Salt permeates and penetrates that which it touches. I learned the other day that only 3.5% of the ocean is salt but just take a mouthful of sea water while you are swimming and I am sure you will agree, it tastes a lot saltier than that! Just a small amount of salt goes a long way. Just little acts of kindness can have a huge effect on the recipients. 

Salt makes you thirsty. All public houses promote the sale of crisps, peanuts, pork scratchings and other delectations covered in salt, so that they can get people thirsty. The late Pentecostal preacher David du Plessis was once approached by a Christian who complained that people didn’t seem thirsty for the Lord these days. Du Plessis replied, “It’s not that they are not thirsty enough. It’s that we are not salty enough!”

Salt stings when put on a wound. Christians should not shy away from speaking the truth even if it stings. Sometimes people need it to make them think more deeply about their lives.
Purity is one of the Biblical meanings of salt. e.g. in Exodus 30:35 “seasoned with salt” makes the sacrifice “pure and holy.” This is also echoed by St. Paul when he says in Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” In Proverbs 18:21 it says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” There is so much harshness and derogatory speech these days, especially with the increase of social media, so we as Christians are called not to join in and fuel the fire of these hate-ridden dialogues but to have gracious, kind and wholesome conversation.

Going back to the original conversation Jesus is having with his disciples about them being the salt of the earth, he then adds: “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

It is hard for salt in itself to lose its saltiness but when it is mixed in with other substances it is useless. Apparently, in the days when salt was really valuable, merchants would mix the salt with fine sand to make it go further and make more money. If we mix in with the world and become so much part of it that the difference is unrecognisable then we are going to be useless ‘no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men’

We have to make sure our salt does not lose its effectiveness! We have to remain salty! How do we do that? We present ourselves regularly before the Salt maker. We need to confess everything and experience His cleansing. Only the blood of Jesus can take away the impurities in our salt.

In these days there is more rebellion against God. Morality is declining in our times rapidly. As a result, people are hurting themselves and each other. We must remain salty because God puts people in our path so that our salt can be added, penetrate, and permeate when we meet someone in need.

We must remember that it is not our salt but God’s Salt. God decides how much salt is to be used how and when and on whom it is to be used. He is the one making it work we are just His instruments using His salt for His glory. What a privilege!! So may we let God work in us, and empower us by His Holy Spirit to be salty witnesses in our communities and our areas of influence.

Author: Thelma Cameron

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Saturday 23 March 2024

Why Me LORD?

I’m fully aware that I love Him only because He first loved me. Something I’ll be eternally grateful for.

Thoughts About God
A couple of weeks ago I was pondering a question that caused me to write down this testimony. I didn’t intend to publish this as a blog but hope it might encourage someone to just keep going, even when you might not feel like it.

As a pastor there are times when I ask, ‘Why me LORD?’ as every decision I make seems to have ramifications for someone. Navigating what the Lord is saying whilst also hearing voices all around you giving sometimes confirming and sometimes conflicting opinions just makes it all the harder to separate what the Lords will is from what the will of others is, including my own.

In looking back over my life since becoming a Christian I can see how God had been preparing me for the time when He would call me into ministry as a pastor. Something when He did, I resisted for a while as it was not a job I wanted to do. But God has His plan for my life and I eventually had to surrender to His will, but I’m still even now surprised that He would call me of all people to such a position of responsibility and ultimate accountability.

Whilst I’m honoured and humbled that God would entrust me with such a position, there’s been times when I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel and give it all up and I find myself very often feeling that I’m in over my head and have a real sense of drowning in life’s pressures and demands and the knowledge that if I get this wrong, I’ll have to answer to Him one day as I stand before His throne and look upon His majesty. This can be a very scary and lonely place to be at times and helps me understand why up to 70% of ministers walk away from the job within the first 10 years of leaving bible college (figures taken from the Christian Standard). Something I’m sure I would have done if it hadn’t been for the fact that I know it’s a calling on my life from God.

My heart’s desire, as I’m sure every follower of Christ’s is, is to serve my King and Saviour and to bring glory to His Name and start each day wanting desperately to do that, and ending each day wondering if I did, or if not, how I could have got it so wrong. When I ponder this, it brings a real sense of wonder as I think of God’s amazing grace over my life.

There’s a song whose chorus is:

‘Oh outrageous grace, oh outrageous grace

Love unfurled by Heaven’s hand

Oh outrageous grace, oh outrageous grace

Through my Jesus I can stand.’

I know that it’s only by the grace of God that I’m still hear and still standing as there’s been times in my life when that could have so easily not been the case.

One of the ways I feel the LORD has wired me is with a pioneering spirit, something that has at times given me great success both in the business world and in my job as a pastor but has also given me times of not so much success in both of these areas, and I’m aware has also caused a lot of frustration to those around me as I seek to push forward with whatever God lays on my heart to do. Sometimes misjudging the what, how, and when of it all.

I’m also fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of my character, which is another reason why I’m often perplexed as to why the LORD would entrust me with the job of a pastor, but I’m also aware that God created me and knit me together in my mother’s womb and knows exactly what He’s doing, even if it is a complete mystery to me. So, I will keep pressing on, getting up when I’m knocked down, standing as firm as I can against the storms of life and trusting that Jesus will never let me go, and no doubt as my mom used to put it; continue to ‘rush in where angels fear to tread.’ I’m not afraid of going wherever God may send me, but I am afraid of getting it wrong and dishonouring Him.

What drives me though, as I’m sure with others, is my passion for Jesus and my knowledge that He gave everything for me and I need to give everything for Him whatever the cost, because He deserves nothing less than the best I have to give. So, my prayer is that I can live daily carrying my cross with a surrendered heart and life to Jesus, my King, Lord, and Saviour. 

I’m fully aware that I love Him only because He first loved me. Something I’ll be eternally grateful for.

There’s a song I sometimes sing when I feel I may have lost my way a bit and have a sense of being tossed about by the waves of doubt and fear and leaves me with the questions this song asks.

The words are these:

Why me Lord, what have I ever done

To deserve even one

Of the pleasures I've known

Tell me Lord, what did I ever do

That was worth loving you

Or the kindness you've shown.

Lord help me Jesus, I've wasted it so

Help me Jesus I know what I am

Now that I know that I've needed you so

Help me Jesus, my soul's in your hand.

Tell me Lord, if you think there's a way

I can try to repay

All I've taken from you

Maybe Lord, I can show someone else

What I've been through myself

On my way back to you.

Lord help me Jesus, I've wasted it so

Help me Jesus I know what I am

Now that I know that I've needed you so

Help me Jesus, my soul's in your hand.

I pray that God will keep me going and allow me to serve Him with all that I am for as long as I can and use me to bring glory to His Name, because that’s what He created me to do.

When all else fails and life keeps throwing those curve balls, there’s one thing I know in the deepest regions of my soul, and that’s ‘God alone is enough for me.’ And because of that I know He will help me walk in victory. After all, if God is for me, who can be against me?

Romans 8:26-31 says:  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 29 For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, he also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (NIV). Amen and amen.

So, stand on His Word and keep fighting the good fight until the end, because he who stands firm to the end, will be saved. Or to put it another way 'Just keep going'.

God bless you.

Author: Anonymous

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Saturday 16 March 2024

If the Lord is God, follow Him!

 And so it is today; if the Lord is God, then follow Him. We cannot serve two masters

We are blessed to have so many English translations of the Bible, each lending its own nuance to the true meaning of the Word; but translations they are, each with its imperfections and limitations of contemporary language.

When we do find a particular word that the different versions cannot agree on, then it must be interesting and worthy of deeper research.

1Kings 18:21 says: Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. (NLT)

Elijah has challenged King Ahab, who has been vacillating between his wife Jezebel's influence in serving the false gods of Baal and Asherah, and his chief official Obadiah's example in serving the one true God of Israel. So Elijah invites the king and all the people to a showdown on Mt Carmel, a stronghold of Baal worship, and now he confronts the people with their syncretistic dithering.

The word 'waver' is translated elsewhere as falter, halt, limp, hesitate, and comes from the Hebrew 'pasach'.  The word is also found in Exodus 12 when the Lord would see the blood on the door lintels and 'pass over', not settling upon the Hebrew occupants but visit death on the Egyptian firstborn. 'Pesach' is the festival fulfilled by Jesus, the Hebrew firstborn whose blood was smeared on a cross to remove the curse of sin so that death would no longer settle on the repentant sinner. 

This positive meaning of pasach is contrasted with a more negative sense by Elijah. It portrays a bird fluttering around from branch to branch and not settling, hence being interpreted as flitting from one opinion to another. Completing the analogy the word for 'opinion' describes a cleft in a branch - trying to walk on both at once will end in a fall. This is the challenge that Elijah puts to the people; they have to make a decision.  The Bible suggests that God hates syncretism (mixing religions) even more than He hates apostasy (rejecting faith altogether). 

The people kept quiet, but it was time to choose, for they were about to witness the miraculous humiliation of the false gods of the day.  And so it is today; if the Lord is God, then follow Him. We cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13), we will love one and hate the other.  There is no compromise.  God is a jealous God, a consuming fire, who will not tolerate rivals (Deuteronomy 4:24). If we choose to follow Jesus we cannot do so part time, and we can serve no other. Whatever we do is for Him, and so we shall be with our Lord Jesus forever.

Author: John Plumb

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Saturday 9 March 2024

Be single minded

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways 

The bible says "he that is wavered is like a wave of the sea driven with wind and tossed, for let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the lord, a double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8, KJV)

We should pray and ask the Holy Spirit, to give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for. A dream that is not clear, won't help us get anywhere. It doesn't take much effort to let our mind drift and dream. But it takes great effort to set our mind to the task of developing a clear goal of having a clear and compelling dream.

What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to contribute? Who do you want to become in God? What does success look like for you without God? Simple! There is no true success if God is not in it as He is the source of all things the Alpha and Omega.

The whole process begins with questions we must ask ourselves. The dream is always rooted in the dreamer in his or her experiences, circumstances, talents and opportunities.

Proverbs 4:25: "let your eyes look straight ahead and your eyelids look right before you". You may ask what am I feeling? What are my emotions telling me? What am I sensing? What is my intuition telling me? What am I seeing? What  is happening around me? What am I hearing? What are others saying? What am I thinking? What do my intellect and common sense say?
In all these questions the only way to get answers and achieve any of them is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and be led by the Holy Spirit without any doubt or wavering. Mark 9:24 "Lord I believe, help my unbelief".

A clear picture may come to you all at once, but for most people it doesn't work that way. Most of us need to keep working at it. Clarifying it, redrawing it. If the process is difficult, that's no reason to give up. In fact if it's too easy, maybe we're not dreaming big enough.

Just keep working on it, because a clear dream is worth fighting for. If we can get a clear sense of who God is! who God says we are in Him! We are well on our way to understanding and embracing our purpose driven life God put us on the earth for.

Moses spent the first two thirds of his life working out what God wanted him to do. trying to do things his own way, only to fail. But he had a heart for God, and a vision from God and eventually he succeeded. 

In conclusion I want to leave you with these words from 1 Kings 18:21: and Elijah came to all the people and said, "how long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow Him, but if baal follow him". but the people answered him not a word.

Author: Herbert Jean

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Saturday 2 March 2024


What do each one of us as individuals see the purpose of the bible as being, because this will steer our reading and approach to “God’s Word”
A young man that I met this week got me wondering. He is someone who came to faith through the internet. His coming to Jesus has profoundly changed his life and he has assimilated an encyclopaedic knowledge of the bible, significantly influenced by internet sources. In the group that we were in he was asserting that several scriptures teach us that the earth was originally flat.

In support of this the scriptures quoted included the use of expressions like “the four corners of the earth” (e.g. Isaiah 11:12) “He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” and “the ends of the earth” (e.g. Job 37:3) “Hear attentively the thunder of His voice, and the rumbling that comes from His mouth. He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth”. Spheres of course don’t have corners or ends and so, if taken literally, the earth would have to have edges. There are other bible passages which may be used to argue this way.

Of course, most bible believers and bible scholars will recognise that these passages are not intended to be taken literally. They are by and large figures of speech which indicate something else. In this example the passages are referring to reaching across the whole earth; or the extent / size of the earth; or going deeper, perhaps a Hebrew term relating to the extension of a bird’s wing that is used to suggest the extremity of anything stretched out.

I am not mentioning this discussion though, to go into “flat earth theology”, merely as a starting point, because the conversation that I have described made me think some more about the purpose of the bible and what it means to the world generally and followers of Jesus today. Every follower of Jesus will be aware that there are some areas of scripture where their interpretation will be different from someone else’s. There may be straight-forward reasons for this. From personal experience, sometimes I have discovered that even after years of reading the bible, I have just not read a passage properly. I read it again and well, it just doesn’t say what I thought it said. Sometimes I will look something up and find that I have taken a word out of context or not understood its full meaning. Sometimes a brother or sister will have pointed out something I have missed. Sometimes it will be a sermon, someone sharing or “teaching” which changes my view. Some scripture is still completely hidden from view.

Does it matter that I have not got it right first time? At one time in my life, I was really concerned about getting everything as “right” as possible (and of course failed)! Now I am not so worried… The passage of time has taken me from a point in my 30s when I “knew everything” (not!) to a point now where I realise that I know practically nothing at all. (Of course, I may have learned a few useful things in the course of life’s journey that might be worth passing on to younger generations - but by and large they are too busy learning the same things, by making the same mistakes for themselves to listen).

I am still trying to work it out, but I think that it is important to understand why God gave us the bible? In a favourite quote John Wesley said:

“I have thought I am creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf, till a few moments hence I am no more seen. I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, the way to heaven--how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: for this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri [a man of one book].”
Here John Wesley points to a purpose for the bible – to show us the way to heaven. Of course, Jesus is the way (John 14:7: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me")  and Jesus Himself said (John 17:3) “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent”. What do each one of us as individuals see the purpose of the bible as being, because this will steer our reading and approach to “God’s Word”?

There is another quote commonly attributed to St Augustine but more recently tracked down to a 16th Century believer which says concerning unity amongst Christians and interpretation of scripture:

“…If we preserve unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and love in all things, our affairs will be in the best position…”

In other words there are some things that all followers of Jesus believe, that all followers of Jesus must allow liberty for others to explore non-essentials, and then there are “my pet ideas and theories”… This is a useful quote perhaps except we are then left with distinguishing between what is essential and non-essential?

There is a diagram above showing the three areas of belief. What would you put in the circles? Perhaps relabelling them “Core truths for Followers of Jesus”, “Things where its OK for Followers of Jesus to differ in interpretation” and “Things that I know are strictly my own beliefs about what’s going on”? Or – choose your own labels to help decide.

I think that having a clear view of the purpose of the bible is useful in helping to decide what interpretations and beliefs go in which circle – or “everything else”. With an honest approach we might be surprised at what goes where – and it may affect the way that we see and relate to others. For example, my fellowship with my young friend will not be harmed by his current belief in the shape of the world but it does have an impact.

Neither the Lord nor I might not mind at all that at this stage my friend has a perhaps ill-informed belief that at some point the world was flat. But was it wise for him to share it in a study group? He thought so because to him it was “essential” that we were not deceived by the world. I thought not because it offered unnecessary difficulties for others in the group over something that I saw as “everything else”. You might think that this is an obvious example, but I wonder how many times we have wandered from the true essentials onto “our particular convictions” with the result of discouraging others, or if they are still young in the faith, giving them unnecessary confusion?

Many have pointed to disagreements about “non-essentials” as the cause of church splits; such disagreements have even led to congregations being torn apart in the middle of great revivals / moves of the Holy Spirit. In this we might include attempts to label “non-essentials” and even personal favourite “anything elses” as part of the “essential core” for the fellowships in question. No wonder in his struggle with the problems in the Corinthian Church Paul took this stand: 1 Corinthians 2:2: “When I came to you, my friends, to preach God's truth, I did not use big words and great learning. 2 For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and his death on the cross” – essential ground indeed!

Author: Chris Pearson

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