Mar 12

Walking in the Words of the Master – Part 5 Litigation

Matthew 5: 25 -26  Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
This verse is very interesting to me as it has to do with lawsuits and litigation. I’m a civil litigation paralegal and have been exposed to a few lawsuits over the last 22  years. I’ve seen people fight over some crazy things, and over some really important things.  I’ve seen insurance companies force people to have to sue them in order to keep from losing business, and homes. I’ve seen large corporations spend more on attorney’s fees than the amount of money they were fighting over.  I’ve seen people bring lawsuits who shouldn’t and I’ve seen people walk away when they were clearly in the right just because they didn’t want to go through the process.  But this blog is supposed to be about what the Master has to say about things so lets look at these verses.
Verse 26 again has a main emphasis of relationships as we have been discussing.  It has to do with getting along with an opponent at law.  Since the ultimate penalty in verse 26 has to do with being thrown into prison until the last cent is paid, we can conclude that the legal argument has to do with money, making it a civil lawsuit.  We have heard a lot about tort reform and frivolous lawsuits from the political arena in the last few years.  There seems to be a general consensus that people are more litigious and willing to sue their opponent over the most frivolous things than they used to be.  Some people see the McDonald’s coffee burn case is a poster child for the frivolous lawsuit, however there is another side to that story as well, (read the true story here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald’s_Restaurants)
Many people really don’t understand the legal system in this country and that it is based in part upon this verse and settling with your opponent.Settling your lawsuit allows you to maintain some control over the outcome of your situation instead of having a judge or jury make the decision for you.  Settling also makes you think about compromising and negotiating.  Most people when they are injured whether, physically, emotionally or monetarily are very self-centered and only see their own side of the situation.  Settling your lawsuit or any problem, for that matter, forces you to get outside of your selfish mode, and think about the other person’s point of view.
Again we see through Jesus words that He is concerned with our relationships, that we think about others and not just ourselves.In settling any issue whether it’s a marital dispute or oil companies fighting over royalties the solution is the same.  It is to look to the other person’s point of view and come to a compromise that is beneficial to both parties.  Now granted, just like it takes two to tangle, it also takes two to settle and generally there is not even one party who is willing to settle let alone both.  And then, even though we don’t have debtor’s prisons in this country, the parties usually feel like they have been sent to debtor’s prison before they are done paying their attorney’s fees.  

The application of Jesus word’s to our relationships is once again to work things out with others.  Have love and grace and forgiveness toward not only your brothers and sisters but in this case toward your opponent. Settling a case takes one of the parties to make the first move to take the initiative.  One person has to be willing to start the dialog, to be vulnerable and say, “Hey how can we resolve this matter?”  It also takes being willing to take less than you think you deserve.  Our relationships with our family members, friends, co-workers and yes even our opponents are more important than our hurt feelings, than our insecurities, than our pride and especially more than our money.
Grace and Peace
Anita

Feb 10

Walking in the Words of the Master part 4 – My Brother has Something Against Me!

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.  Matthew 5:23 and 24
This is very interesting to me in that this deals not with how I shouldn’t hold something against my brother but how I should act when my brother has something against me.  How many times have I said, “Well if he/she doesn’t like it then its their problem and I’m not going to make it mine.”  Apparently if my brother* has something against me it IS my problem and I should make it right.
Unresolved issues between friends, co-workers, family or church members is the cause of most, if not all, break-ups from divorce to changing jobs to church splits.  Issues that arise and are never resolved grow, just like the anger we talked about earlier.  Many of the issues are just small things, little hurt feelings, or slights that then fester and grow, some are much larger.  Each time another thing happens it gets added to the last thing and before long it is a mountain of issues that goes back years and is impossible to resolve.  The relationship then falls apart and the people move on with resentment in their hearts for the rest of their lives.  We have all known the person like a former co-worker of mine who was still angry with her ex-husband even though she had been divorced from him and remarried for almost 20  years.  Every time there was a gathering with their joint grandchildren or some issue over Christmas gifts or etc, she would come back to work ranting about how terrible he was and it would inevitably go back to something similar that he did 20 years ago.  She had a long list of reasons proving that he did whatever he did just to get at her because he was the one with the problem.
In this portion of Jesus words He says, “if you are presenting your offering at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you..,” lets look at the situation.  You are presenting your offering at the altar. The root word for offering  is do’ron and one of the meanings is sacrifice in some places it is translated as “gift” or in others as “sacrifice.” Since the context is bringing your offering to the “altar” I believe Jesus was referring to one of the required blood sacrifices that were brought to the altar as part of the Old Testament temple worship practices.  Other monetary gifts were put in the collection box not the altar as from the story of the widow with the two coins.
Me in Jerusalem “The dome of the Rock” in the background, site of the Old Testament Temple.
So lets set the scene you are bringing a sacrifice to the altar in order to obey the law, maybe even for the day of Atonement when you want God to forgive your sins.  You remember that your brother is mad at you about something.  You are supposed to go get it right, change the situation, conciliate, be reconciled with your brother and then come back.  Why is it my responsibility to go fix something that is my brother’s problem?
Have you ever thought somebody had something against you and come to find out they really didn’t?  I have been so sure that someone was “thinking” something about me and had this whole scenario worked out in my brain and just knew that they were mad at me.  Come to find out it was all in MY brain and I was the one with the problem.
Jesus was really into the individual, whenever He had conversations with people it was always about the person He was talking to.  How many conversations did He have with his disciples when they would try to find out what was going on with someone else and Jesus would always say, “What is that to you?”  Jesus is concerned about what is in my heart.If I think someone has something against me those thoughts are going to color my on-going relationship with that person and I need to get it cleared up for my own sake.
One of the lines in the Lord’s prayer that we all know so well is that we ask God to forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  You are at the altar asking God to forgive your sins and so you need to go to your brother and forgive him of his.  Forgiveness is the most powerful, freeing gift the Lord ever gave us.  He has forgiven us and He expects us to forgive others.  The very fact that you remember that your brother has something against you shows that you have unforgiveness in your heart for that brother otherwise you wouldn’t be remembering the issue.
Now granted maybe your brother really does have something against you, all the more reason to go to him and get it cleared up.  Sometimes that is very hard to do and really a whole other topic.The point is we cannot allow unforgiveness or unresolved issues to dwell in our hearts we have to keep our accounts short and cleaned up.  If we want forgiveness we have to be willing to forgive.
Grace and Peace
Anita
*brother – gender neutral term for masculine or feminine used throughout

Feb 04

Walking in the Words of the Master: 3.3 Worthy to be cast into the Fire of Hell

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, You good-for-nothing, shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “you fool,” shall be guilty to go into the fiery hell. Matthew 5:22
All of the first consequences of the sins mentioned here are civil penalties, for anger you go before the court, (as equivalent to murder)  for saying “Raca” (good-for nothing) to someone you should be punished in a civil court for slander.  But Jesus said that to call someone a fool deserves fiery hell.   Let’s look at “fiery hell.”
The word that has been translated, in most modern Bible translations, as hell is the word Gehenna. Understanding why the Bible translators decided to translate Gehenna into the word hell takes a lengthy Biblical and historical exegesis that other people have done and I’m not going to spend time on here (I have put some references at the bottom) please do your own study.   But my conclusion and humble opinion from having done that study, is that Gehenna was a specific location that was well know to Jesus’ Jewish audience.  Gehenna was the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem through the dung gate.  To translate Gehenna into hell makes no sense.  Why would they do that any more than they would translate Galilee or Samaria or Jerusalem into some other word. They must have had an agenda. (I digress)
Gehenna was a literal location and if we are going to take the Bible literally we need to keep it literal.  So my conclusion is that Jesus was literally saying if you call someone a fool you belong in Gehenna.
Gehenna today
As I have said, Gehenna was a location outside the city of Jerusalem known in the Old Testament as the Valley of Hinnom (2 Chronicles 28:3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:31.)  It was the location where idols to the Baals and a furnace or human sacrifice were set up.  King Ahaz burned his own sons and daughters on the fire to the false gods in this location.   In Jesus day Gehenna was the city dump where trash and bodies of criminals were taken to be burned. Today Gehenna has been transformed into a beautiful city park.
So why did Jesus say that if you call someone a fool you shall be guilty to go into the fire of Gehenna.  In my last blog I concluded that by calling someone a fool you have put yourself into the self righteous position of being the judge.  You have committed idolatry by making yourself equal to God.  I think that what Jesus is saying is this.  “If you want to commit idolatry by placing yourself in the position of God, then you are no better than your ancestors, who also committed idolatry in the Valley of Hinnom.  If  you want to be an idolator, then go join the other idolators in the in the fires of Gehenna.”  He was telling them that the same guilt that rested on their ancestors for idolatry also rested on them.
By saying this to His audience, Jesus was reiterating what he said many other places to the Pharisees, “you are white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones”  “you brood of vipers.”  Remember Jesus audience here was not only the common folks but also the self righteous pharisees who were great at condemning others.  The valley of Hinnom was a black mark on Jewish culture, children woke up having night mares from the stories of children being burned to death as sacrifices to the Baals.  Jesus used this statement not as a statement of future eternal punishment but to show the folks right here and now that the judgmental attitude of self righteousness wasn’t any better than the old testament practices of idolatry.
Ancient Altar for Sacrifice to Idols in Northern Israel

This applies to us today as sure as it applied to the Pharisee of Jesus day.  We are to love not hate, we are to bless not condemn.

 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2.
When we allow hatred, anger, and judgment in our heart not only does it come out our mouths but it also poisons our inner being.  We become what we have judged in others.
At the conclusion of this section of the Words of the Master I really want to go back to how I started this series. I don’t want to just search for information but I want to apply what I learn.  I want to ask the Lord right now to show me the areas where I have allowed anger, hatred, or judgment to take root in my heart.  I want to weed out all that idolatry and have it forgiven and removed from my heart.  I hope you will pray the same prayer.
Grace and Peace
Anita
References for further study on Gehenna
http://www.tentmaker.org/books/TheBibleHell.html#Gehenna
“Dropping Hell and Embracing Grace” by Ivan A. Rogers, Available on Amazon.com

Feb 01

Walking in the Words of the Master – Part 3.2 Sticks and Stones

We’ve all heard the childhood reply to bullies, “Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  But we know that words can hurt much worse than sticks or stones, and I guess Jesus thought so too.  Listen to this. “whoever says to his brother, You good-for-nothing, shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”  Matthew 5:22
Wow this gets pretty severe sounding.  Last time I talked about anger being on the same plane as murder but calling your brother a good for nothing calls for higher accountability and then calling someone a fool is way out there.
The word “Raca” (translated in the NAS as good-for-nothing) means empty or worthless it is a term of utter vilification and this is the only place in scripture we find it used.  Jesus said that if you say, “raca” to a brother you are guilty before the supreme court.  Which basically means it is a civil offense similar to slander.  “Fool” is a more common word with the meaning of dull or stupid but it’s root word “moros” (moron) is also used to mean impious or godless.  Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines fool as “a morally worthless person.”    So basically what it means to say “Raca” or “You fool” is to say that an individual as an utterly worthless, unsaved, godless individual.  In the fundamental thinking of eternal punishment this translates into passing judgment on an individual to the point of condemning them to eternal hell.

We would never do that, right?  We know that eternal judgment belongs to the Lord and its not our place to determine who goes to heaven or hell.  Or in fundamental evangelical thinking on salvation its up to the individual to decide where they want to spend eternity.  Now maybe if we get really mad at someone we might want to damn them to hell, but we don’t really do it.  Do we?   I say yes we do it pretty much every day.  We make judgments on people based on first impressions, their words, their actions.  We determine within a few minutes of meeting someone if they are “saved” or not.
I was visiting with a young girl a couple of years ago, who had been raised in the church; as we were visiting she saw a person who was smoking a cigarette and made the comment, “That person isn’t a christian.” How often do we make judgments on people based on their looks, (tattoos) actions, political views or other criteria without ever even having a conversation with them?  It is amazing how Christians will judge  each other based on their political party affiliation.  I have heard republicans and democrats, conservatives and liberals all make comments regarding the salvation of their opponent.   I remember one time when I was in Bible College I was told by an individual that we’re not supposed to judge others salvation but we can be “fruit inspectors.”  We can tell by someone’s fruit whether or not they are a believer.  Now there is scriptural back up to that, “by their fruit you will know them.”  But generally the fruit that is being inspected is not love, joy, peace and other fruit of the spirit, but rather do they smoke or drink a beer or have a different political opinion than I do.
Jesus said that if you say Raca to someone or call someone a fool – YOU become the guilty one, not the one you are judging.  Again it boils down to what is in our hearts.  It is the other side of the coin as with being angry. If we are angry it will eventually come our out mouth.  If calling someone a fool comes out our mouth then we have anger, hatred or self righteousness in our heart.  Another reason for this will become more evident when we talk about loving our enemies.  Jesus concern for how we look at others is intertwined in loving our enemies.  If we are passing judgments on everyone we meet and looking at them in a negative light it is much easier to condemn them instead of loving them.  We should look at everyone we come across whether casually or in more involved relationships, the way Jesus looks at them.  He loves everyone and is not willing that any should perish. Jesus gives everyone the benefit of the doubt.
One last thought on judging others; when we judge the salvation of another we are elevating ourselves to the level of “God.”  Therein is the huge problem, and it is idolatry.  We believe we are equal with God, and that is why we become guilty of severe punishment.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  When we elevate ourselves to the “god” seat we are putting ourselves as equal to or greater than God Almighty.  Utter self righteousness leads us to think we have the right to judge another persons relationship with the Lord.
We will talk about that fire of hell or Gehenna as Jesus referred to it next time.
Grace and Peace
Anita

Jan 25

The Kingdom of God

A friend of mine posted a thought on “Facebook” that the Kingdom of God is more like the old Monarchy systems than American Democracy.  He said we should think about the Kingdom of God in terms of it being a hierarchy that demands absolute obedience and submission versus an American style democracy where the citizens have rights  (I am paraphrasing so as not to plagiarize another person’s words).  I decided to use my blog to make some comments in regard to this idea.  Not only because of my friend’s post but because I have been thinking a lot lately about this idea of authority.
First of all the Monarchs of Europe and other places in past history believed that they derived their authority from God.  “The Divine Right of Kings” it was called.  They believed they could pretty much treat their subjects with impunity because God put them in their position and gave them that authority. They demanded absolute obedience and there was swift judgment for disobedience. They were immoral tyrants.  Even those we consider to be good kings, like the Old Testament King David, were immoral, used the people for their own purposes and committed sin in the name of God.
Now granted my friend did not imply that God is immoral or a bad king just that the Kingdom of God is a hierarchical kingdom that rules with absoluteness and demands submission.  Of course in that is also contained that God is good and will not mistreat His subjects.  And the idea that the kingdom of God is not a Democracy therefore the subjects of the kingdom don’t have rights.  I agree that God is the absolute king of the universe and the kingdom of God is not a democracy as we know worldly democracies.  The part of this that I take exception to is the idea that we are subjects with no rights and that God demands absolute obedience or there will be consequences.
The version of the absolute God on the throne demanding our fear and obedience is an idea we picked up from Greek and Roman mythology.  That God of fear, anger and judgment is Zeus or Jupiter not Jehovah.  Jehovah is a loving, kind, God who wants to work with us, teach us, love us.  He gave His son for us, He wants us to call him “Daddy.”  Yes we are supposed to do our best to live a righteous life and God has given us the grace to do that.  But if we live our lives in fear of being judged for every misstep what kind of a relationship is that with our Father?
A hierarchical king never says, “”Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.””  Isaiah 1:18.
Maybe the reason the modern church likes the idea of a hierarchical kingdom is for the same reason the kings of old liked it.  When you are the one in authority its nice to believe that God works through that authority because that makes your position important and you become someone special.  When you are the authority then to say that God works through authority is to say that God work’s through me.  Its to say that I as your “pastor” or “leader” have authority over you.
The Kingdom of God is not like any human kingdom we have ever seen and to describe is as such is a huge misunderstanding of God and how he works.  Jesus said in Mark 10:42 – 45;  “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.  But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.””  That, to me does not sound like a God who is instituting a hierarchical kingdom.
We will never understand the kingdom of God until we quit trying to make God in our own Image.
Grace and Peace
Anita

 

Jan 21

Walking in the Words of the Master – Part 3.1 Attitudes toward Anger


Matthew 5:21 – 26 This portion is going to come out in several blogs as it is too big a bite to try to chew all at once. Stay tuned for the entire series “Attitudes on Anger”

Today I’ll talk about verse 21 and the first half of verse 22.

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;  Matthew 5:21-22a

Anger is a prevalent problem in our society; it seems everyone is angry. Drivers on the highway are angry, wives are angry, husbands are angry, children are angry with parents, parents with children, at the work place everyone is angry, store clerks and shoppers are all angry. All the political talk show hosts are angry and encourage their listeners to be angry.

My daughter works for a medical supply company as a Medicare billing specialist.  The other day a client called her and was angry because he thought he had been over billed.  Even when she explained the billing process to him and that his bill was correct he was still extremely angry. He began to use foul language and threats with her.  He threatened to destroy the equipment he was renting or to leave the state and take it with him.  She eventually had to hang up on him to shut down the anger.

I’m not going to delve into why people are angry, that is for another blog and for someone with more psychology under their belt than I have.  I could give some opinions as to what causes anger; hurt, failed expectations or unforgiveness to name a few.  But Jesus didn’t address the root of the anger in this passage only the anger, its consequences and how to deal with it so that is where I’ll stay too.
The Ancients said “Thou shalt Not Kill” that is number six of the “Big Ten” (Exodus 2:13.)  The Master, as He was known to do, took it a step further.  Jesus applied the same standard to the thought or the feeling as had been applied to the action.  Jesus said if you are angry you shall also be guilty before the court.  Why are our thoughts as damming as our actions?
Have you ever become so instantly angry that you about couldn’t control it?  I know I have, a word or an action from someone and bang instant anger.  How can that even be controlled?  I believe the answer to being able to control anger and the reason Jesus elevated it to the same degree as the act of murder are both found in the same source. Jesus said, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  Matthew 12:34.  Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees in this passage and calling them to account for their wickedness.  But herein lies the key to why anger is wrong and also how to control it.
The reason that anger should not be allowed in us is because it will eventually seep out. “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  If it is in your heart it WILL come out your mouth. If you are thinking it then it is part of your psyche and it will eventually make its way to the surface.  Anger is one of those things that grows in dark places. Anger breeds anger, the more we have in our hearts the more it will grow and grow and grow.  Anger that is allowed to take root in our hearts will show its ugly head at a time and place when we least want it to.   Unexplainable anger over a little tiny thing is the result of unchecked anger in our hearts.  Anger will destroy and cause as much hurt as murder itself.
Anger, even that spark of unexplained anger, is a flame that has to be as instantly extinguished. Just like stomping out a coal that flies from the campfire so anger needs to be stomped out quickly.  Forgiveness has to be asked for and the anger cannot be allowed to be dwelt on, or fed and fanned to a flame that will burn us and everyone around us. Jesus got to the root of the problem in elevating anger to the same level as murder, because that is where it starts and it can and will cause as much damage.
What are your thoughts on controlling anger and not allowing it to take hold in our hearts?
Grace and Peace
Anita
Watch for the continuation of Attitudes toward Anger. A question for later in the series. 
 “Does calling someone a fool really merit hell fire?”

Jan 16

Walking in the Words of the Master – Part 2 “You are the Light of the World”

Part 2 of my goal to find out what the Words of Jesus are, what they mean and how I can apply them to my life.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14 -16

When I was a Senior in high school back in 1973 the church youth decided we wanted to have a singing group and travel around giving concerts and ministering to people.  You know be “evangelists” like so many other youth groups were doing in those days, during the “Jesus People” explosion.  So we bought material and sewed dresses and the guys got white pants, ties and shirts that matched the girls dresses.  We had a piano player, a base player, a tambourine, and a sound system we rehearsed our songs and were set to go.  But we needed a name.

One Sunday night during the evening service the preacher (who happened to be my dad) was preaching from John 8:12.  “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” And so the “Light of Life Singers” were born.
                                                   Light of Life Singers – June 1973
                                                    Open Bible Church Custer, SD
We even wrote our own theme song I can still remember it. “Jesus is the Light and He will give you life.”  We planned our tour, wrote to churches and asked them if we could come minister to their congregation and maybe even get a few souls saved with our singing and sharing of the Gospel.  So in the summer of 1973 off we went, we toured in South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and even sang in a “Methodist” church in Kansas.  We had a great time, singing and staying in peoples homes, meeting new people and sharing the gospel.  We were being the “Light of the World”.
Looking back on all of that now I don’t know if anybody ever got saved as a result of those concerts because I don’t think there were ever any “unsaved” people who came to them.  Like most groups that go to churches to sing we were singing to other believers.  And I’m not saying that was a bad thing, it was a very good thing.  It gave the youth group something fun to do to delay our summer jobs at motels and restaurants back in the tourist town we lived in.  It taught us lessons about getting along with crabby people on road trips.  And I’m sure we were an encouragement to the folks we sang to. They didn’t have anything better to do on a hot summer night than to go listen to a bunch of teenagers sing their hearts out.  We sang songs like “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” and “Pass It On” shared our testimonies and the Word.  We prayed with people, visited and did our best to be good ambassadors for the Lord.  It was a positive experience for all of us and something I will always cherish.
But is that what Jesus meant when He told us that we ARE “The Light of the World?”  I think that sometimes we try so hard to BE the light of the world that we forget that we ARE the light of the world.
What is light anyway? – one definition is that light is the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.  Without light we are all blind.
Light makes the dark disappear.  When you go into a room and flip the light switch as soon as the light appears the dark is instantly gone.  Light calms fear, when a child cries in the night and you turn on the light the fear leaves.  Light causes plants to photosynthesize and produce the nutrients they need to grow and produce fruit. The light of the sun brings vitamin D to our skin to give us the nutrients we need for our bodies to function properly
Another definition of light is that light is understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment.  As in the “light bulb turned on”  and I understood what you were talking about.
Jesus is the Light, He told us that in John.  Jesus came to shine light in a dark world, the Light and gives Life. He came that we might have life and that we might have it abundantly.  His light brings sight to the blind.  The presence of that Light in the world changes the world, its goal is to abolish slavery, hatred, greed and war. The Light is to bring the nutrients to the world that it needs to produce the fruit of love and grace and peace.  Jesus took it a step further and told us that we “ARE” also the light of the world.  We are not to BE the light of the world we ARE the light of the world.
We are the light becasue we have the Holy Spirit in us.  We don’t have to do anything in particular to let that light shine except not to hide it.  The light is there and it will shine if we don’t hide it.  I wonder what are some ways that we hide our light?  Materialism, thinking and talking like the world, being self centered, hating, being greedy or unkind.   When we have a chance to speak peace or love or joy, do we speak hate, fear, jealousy, envy or unforgiveness?
Have you ever heard someone describe another person with something like, “when she/he comes into the room the whole place lights up?”  I want to be that person who lights up the room with the light that I am becasue I am the Light of the World.

Vs 16 says “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.”
In ways that we can wrap our brains around and get our hands dirty what does it mean to let our lights shine?  Does it mean to preach to those around us or does it mean something else.  I think we have become entirely too centered on eternal rewards and forgotten that most of what Jesus taught is to be applied in this life.  It is the mission of believers as the salt and light to render this world a better place right here! Right now!
Our light shining should bring forth good works, as light brings forth life in plants and produces fruit  the light in us should produce good works.  Jesus said that what we did to the least of these we did to Him.  A drink of water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothes to unclothed, visits to prisoners are the good works the light of the Lord produces.  When the light in us shines out in tangible ways then glory will go to the Father.  We can’t hide that light with selfishness we have to let it shine.
How many times have we  heard the criticism of believers that they are hypocrites and don’t practice what they preach.  I think that the real problem lies in misunderstanding what Jesus was preaching.  He told us to let our lights shine before men so they will see the good works and as a result glory will go to the Father.  Yes we are to preach the gospel but in order for the preaching to have any effect at all it must be accompanied by love.  The true light of the gospel is living a life of love, compassion, sharing, and giving.    All of the nice Christian concerts, worship services and programs at the “church building” are for the edification and yes entertainment of believers and that is fine.  But let’s not confuse all the “Christian” activities with the true preaching of the gospel in the tangible way that letting your light shine demands.  The world needs the light to shine in order to bring about the change that Christianity was intended to bring.
As with salt we need to realize that we are light and not hide that light.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to show me, and any of you out there who are interested in letting your light shine, ways that we put our light under a basket.  Attitudes or actions that cause the light to flicker and not be that beacon on the hill or the lighthouse on the coast.  Ways that that light in us can produce those good works to bring glory to Abba!
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, this little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine, this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

Grace and Peace
Anita

 

Jan 11

Walking in the Words of the Master – Part 1 – You are the Salt of the Earth

I’m thinking that my new year’s resolution this year is to work harder on following the ways of Jesus. I know this is what we are always supposed to do as Christians but sometimes I wonder if we don’t have these ideas in our heads about what that is supposed to be and maybe those ideas need to be re-evaluated and refreshed, just like His mercies to us are refreshed every day. So this year I’m going to attempt to look at “Jesus” words try to figure out what they really mean and try to apply them to my life.

The first one I’m looking at is Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how [e]can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

What does it mean to be the “salt of the earth” How do I “Let my light shine”

A friend on Facebook responded to this post as follows:

Ivan A. RogersHere’s something to think about: Under the old covenant, every sacrifice offered to God by the priests had to first be sprinkled with salt. Salt is a preservative. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice once for all time and all people. Our Christian presence in the world is a witness to Christ’s sacrificial offering and acts to counter the power of evil in the world of our time. Therefore, “have salt in yourselves.” “You are the salt of the earth…””

Salt a preservative yes and also a seasoning. I was thinking tonight as I sprinkled some salt on my dinner that I put salt on the majority of everything I eat. It enhances the flavor of most things. But I can ruin a wonderful dish with too much salt. Some things take a lot of salt like if you’re making salt pork to preserve or sauerkraut but usually just a little bit does the trick. So I’m thinking that the lesson in being the salt of the earth is to ask for wisdom and to learn how much is enough. Does my neighbor just need a pinch of salt maybe a smile or a God Bless you or does my neighbor need some preservative in the form of a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a hand to hold, a prayer or a blessing. I think the salt that has become tasteless is the person who is so self centered, or angry or distracted that they can not be salt to anyone around because they are so caught up in their own stuff that they don’t see that others around them need a little salt. 

Salt makes you thirsty, when you eat a salty snack you want something to quench your thirst.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  When we have salt in us (which is the presence of the Holy Spirit) that should make us thirst for righteousness.  When we, as the salt, apply that salt to those around us, it should make them thirst for righteousness.

Jan 11

Launching a Blog

Ok here goes, I’ve been thinking about blogging for awhile now and finally decided to give it a try.  For now the name of my blog is “Skeeter Says” but that may evolve depending on the direction and development of this blog.  My goal, like a lot of other blogs, is to have my say on various topics.  On the social media sites you just get snippets of peoples thoughts and not complete ideas.  I want this to be a place where I can share my ideas in a thoughtful manner and then if people want to comment they can.   Lets begin!

A couple of other thoughts on my blog.  I will probably post a new blog every few days, at least once a week and I really hope that people will comment so that we can have good discussions.

I want this to be a blog where people can share their comments and ideas without judgment.  I don’t care if you don’t agree with me or what I post you can tell me that.  Post your opinions and views why you think the way you do, your experiences or scripture to prove your point.  And we will have the discussion. 

But I don’t want the conversation to degenerate into name calling or character assignation.  So lets keep in civil and this will be fun.  I’m looking forward to this and have some ideas for a lot of blogs.

Thanks for reading and…

As my dad always ended his e-mails “That’s Thirty For Now”

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