Salt of the Earth

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For everyone will be tested with fire. Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and leave in peace with each other.                              Mark 9:49-50

Jesus discusses three diverse things. “Everyone will be tested with fire.” According to Jewish law, each sacrifice offered to God had to be purified with salt (Leviticus 2:13) The salt for sacrifices was called a covenant of salt (2 Chronicles 13:5) It was the addition of salt to a sacrifice that made it pleasing to God. According to the New Testament, fire does two things: it purifies and destroys, It purifies all a person’s desires, and destroys all fear of persecution. Salt is good, but once it loses its saltiness, it loses its good qualities. Salt has two good qualities in particular. It adds flavor to things and it preserves something from decay. So salt preserves from corruption and the lowering of standards.

It is the Christian’s duty to add flavor to life. Jesus is busy challenging the Christians. The corrupt world needs the flavor that only Christianity can supply. If Christians lost that flavor where will the world get it? “You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” Here salt means the purity of life. The ancient world regarded salt as the purest of all things because it is created by two of the purest things: the sun and the sea. Jesus says that Christians must have the purifying quality of salt in themselves. Only the life that is emptied of self and filled with Christ can really live in peace with their fellow humans.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends 

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Doubting Thomas

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Now Thomas (also know as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him. We have seen the Lord! But he said to them. Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Thought the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put our finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, ” Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”

                                                                         John 20:21-29

There can be absolutely no doubt that Thomas loved Jesus, enough to go to Jerusalem to die with Him, while the other disciples were hesitant and frightened. What Thomas expected, happened. He was so distraught that he couldn’t bear to be with anyone. All he wanted was to be left alone in his grief. He wanted to deal with his suffering and sorrow alone. Thomas made a big mistake, he withdrew from the Christian brotherhood. He choose to be alone. Because he was not with his other brothers, he missed Jesus’ first appearance to them. We do ourselves great harm when we isolate ourselves from the Christian community. We experience things during fellowship with other believes that don’t happen when we’re alone. It is precisely when we are overcome with sorrow and pain that we need the fellowship of believers. It is also the most likely place to meet Jesus.

But Thomas did have two very good characteristics: He refused point-blank to say he believed when he didn’t, that he understood when he didn’t. Thomas honesty was admirable. He would never try to still his doubts by pretending they didn’t exist. He would not believed from someone else unless He had Jesus with his own eyes and touch where the nails were. There is more faith in the person who insists on making sure than in those who support things they don’t really believe. It is doubt like Thomas that leads to faith in the end. Once Thomas was certain, he was willing to walk all the way with Jesus, He said, “My Lord and my God! Thomas doubted before he was certain, but once he was convinced, he was prepared to give his all. Working through your doubts up until the end gives you the certainty Jesus that Jesus is Lord and God. The words of Jesus to Thomas were you believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Him. And even though we haven’t seen Jesus like we can see one another we still believe that He was and is the Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior. 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

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On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that he breathed on them and said, “Received the Holy Spirit.                             John 20:19-22

On the first day of the week, the Risen Jesus appeared to His disciples. They were heartbroken, in low spirits, and afraid of the Roman authorities. The disciples must have been overjoyed at Jesus’ appearance. Amid their indescribable heartache, the living Jesus appeared to comfort them in their sorrow. His appearance also coincided with a time when the disciples lived in great fear. They didn’t want the godless world to witness their raw grief and sorrow for the loss of their beloved Master.

Jesus appeared when His disciples were at a point where deep sense of despair threatened to overwhelm them. There were countless questions in their hearts that cried out for answers: Why? Why did He have to suffer so? Why did He have to die so brutally? And in the meantime doubt was eating away their hearts. But now, with Jesus there, everything was good again. “peace be with you!” There are times in each of our lives when we are threatened by despair and doubt, but in the presence of Jesus there is rest and peace. The disciples were together when Jesus appeared to them. It is comforting when like-minded people are together to share their sorrow or doubt. It is called the fellowship of believers. Christ comforts them with the words, “Peace be with you.”

The words of Donald Bloesch: Our peace and confidence are to be found not in our empirical holiness, not in our progress toward perfection but in the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ that covers our sinfulness and alone makes us acceptable before a holy God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

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Jesus is preparing his disciples for when is to die and leave them behind, read his words from the Gospel of John 14:23-27  “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 

When we die, we leave everything we own behind. But we also leave behind memories, traditions, experiences and relationships. Sometimes there are small gifts, treasures and photos.

Jesus had no possessions to leave behind. But he had other things that would never spoil and were more precious than anything else. One of them was peace. When conflict was rife outside the Upper Room; while violence was being planned; when death was knocking at the door, Jesus gave them peace.

This was the peace created by complete trust in the presence of God. It was absolute faith in His omnipotence and the acceptance of His holy will. It was also Christ’s own peace. By this gift of peace, He gave them something of himself. He knew they would be confronted with danger, opposition, suffering and even death. They would need peace more than anything else.

Open up your heart now to receive Jesus’ gift. Like the disciples, you probably need them more than anything else. If you are grappling with problems, confusion, opposition, resistance, ridicule, temptation, loneliness, pain or suffering, cling with all your might to this gift that Jesus gave his disciples. Allow his peace to calm your anger. Allow his peace to take over prejudices, your doubts and your grievances. Let it take over your entire attitude, your speech and your relationships. And whenever possible, give this peace away to someone else. The more of it you give away, the more it grows inside of you.

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

I Will Testify Your Love

Isaiah 54.pngThough the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet God’s unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor his covenant of peace be removed. Nothing on earth seems enduring or immovable as huge, majestic mountains. When you stand on their heights breathing in the glorious air, you can almost smell eternity. Yet God’s love and peace are even more enduring than the greatest mountain on earth!

Think deeply of God’s unfailing love. One of the meanings of “unfailing” is inexhaustible. No matter how needy you are or how many times you fail him, his supply of love for you will never run low. Another meaning of “unfailing” is constant. God does not love you more on days when you perform well, nor do he love you less when you fail miserably. God’s love is more persistent, invariable, and steadfast than you can comprehend. Open your heart to received this gift in full measure.

 

I come to your Holy sanctuary, as I bend down on my knees my Lord, to ashamed at first  to look upon your face for great and worthy of my Praise are you. As I begin to center myself on your Holiness the world around me becomes dim, and I don’t see or hear anything but long to hear your voice upon my heart. My tears of joy run downs my face as I lift up my eyes upon your face with all of it’s glory, so much for me to understand or comprehend, as I seek your face. My soul Praise the Lord all my life, I will praise the Lord all my life, and tells others his love for all of his children. I will shout it from the mountain top for all to hear and I will continue to testify his love. I will not put my trust in any human being who simply cannot save me from my sins. How good it is to sing praises to you God, how pleasant and fitting to praise you.

Who is this Lord in which I seek all the days of my life. The Lord builds up Jerusalem, he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power, his understanding has no limits. The Lord sustains the humble but cast wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.

 

You had chosen me my Lord long before I had decided to follow you all the days of my life, and you never gave up on me. When others decided to forsake me and give up on me, you stood right by my side and your love never fail me. How can I remain silent any longer, I cannot Lord, for others need to know about your great love that you have for all of your children.  You who are brokenhearted, you who are lonely, the dying ones, the ones who have such anger within your soul, the ones who loss all hope in this world, I say Come, Come to the Lord and bow down before His throne, His love for you is and will always be unshakable for his children, for He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

Jesus Calls Us

 

Matthew 4   As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me, “ Jesus said, “ and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.                     Matthew 4:18-22

I wonder how many of us if Jesus was still on earth and he ask us to follow him would we drop everything at that very moment and do it? In the book of Matthew it talks about the beginning of Jesus public ministry. John the Baptist had been put to death; and Jesus had withdrawn to Galilee, not because afraid of Herod Antipas, who had put John to death, but because he had a different vision of the future. There was agitation all over Judea for a king, for someone to avenge John’s death. Jesus’ vision of the kingdom was one of nonviolence. He was not interested in revenge not even for the death of his cousin and friend but for peace. 

For Matthew, this scripture was enough to justify Galilee, rather than Jerusalem, as the center of Jesus’ ministry. It is a call for a response to God’s action. God is making a new world. Get a new sense of direction and purpose and become part of that new world. Repentance is not only about remorse, but, more important, about a change of direction.

The contrast of light and darkness is a familiar theme in describing this life direction. Jesus, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, has ushered in an age in which the repentant will move toward the realm of light, and ways from darkness, the shadow of death. The light had dawned because Jesus has arrived. Jesus issued his called to discipleship, knowing the culture, heritage, and economic status of these fisherman. He asked them to leave what they knew and were comfortable with, to come and embrace a new lifestyle with different values and goals. 

What is Jesus asking us to do? Jesus is issuing a similar call to modern, would-be disciples. We come from diverse cultures,. different worldviews, and different places on the socio-economic ladder. We, like the disciples of old, are also called to leave the comfort and predictability as we enter a life of service to God. 

The call of fisherman to become disciples is significant, because it is the beginning of the church. Jesus took the initiative, he sought out these men in the midst of their work. The call was both a command and promise. The command was to follow him. The promise was to become “fishers of people”

Peter as well as Andrew, James and John left everything and everyone to follow Jesus. He issued a powerful appeal that made disciples. And it made a real difference in their lives. How do we become disciples of Jesus Christ? It is not a great mystery. We simply follow him, Jesus calls some us to adventure of serving in the mission field in a foreign land. Others are called to adventure close to home, serving God’s people through service organizations and schools, through food pantry, legal assistance, volunteering and voting, offering prayer and healing. There are so many ways for God’s people to follow Jesus into the adventure of serving. Where do you hear, God is calling you to join Jesus in the adventure of being his disciples? What row is yours to plant? What need in your church, or community, or in the wider world cries out to your heart? How will you respond to Jesus when he says “COME AND FOLLOW ME”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends 

God’s Love

Romans 5.pngTherefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.                                                        Romans 5:1-5

People all around the world can testify of their love for Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, they bear witness to their love and faith in Jesus Christ, who died on a cross over two thousand years ago. They are convinced that He is alive today. How is this possible? They never even saw that He is alive today. His earthly ministry lasted about three years and even the reports on that are rather fragmentary.

The secret of His unique attraction does not live in one or other theological formula or religious organization, regardless of how important these things may be in the right context. But He promised to grant His Spirit to everyone who accepts Him and confesses His rule. Through the ages He has kept His promises. He said that His Spirit would live in every person who loves Him and who serves Him. Countless followers of this century believe that this experience with the living Christ is valid and true for our time.

If you want to sit on the sideline, remember that Christ can convert your life. A new, unparalleled strength will take possession of your spirit. It will enable you to do those things that are pleasing to God. This change in your life and this new strength will assure you of Christ’s presence in your life. If you have the Spirit of Christ you will know the reality of His holy presence. Love for Him will radiate your heart and your life.

Through our feelings come and go, God’s love for is does not,     by C.S.Lewis

Grace and Peace to You My Friends