Well, here we are. It's the most wonderful time of the year. A time for celebration and indulgence where we ditch our usual routines and embrace the holiday season. Thanksgiving comes around and the clock starts ticking. It's that gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the food fest begins. We start indulging on things like turkey, ham, desserts, gravies, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and somehow we forget for those 4 weeks that, "um...we don't eat like this anymore." I'm pretty sure I've eaten more salt in the last 4 weeks than I have all year and I have the puffy eyes to proves it, haha. There's just something about all those traditional dishes that leaves you parched like a stranded hiker out in the middle of the dessert; dry mouth, lips chapped, and energy sapped. It's no wonder we find ourselves chugging every beverage in sight on Thanksgiving like a camel in the Desert. We all know what that something is that leaves us so parched and it's not the l tryptophan in the turkey, haha. It's all that salt.
As I sit here eating the delicious and very salty Moose Munch that my sweet parents gave to me, I find myself once again unable to quench my thirst. Gulping down water like a fish, I can't help but think about what Jesus said regarding salt and what that meant then and what it means for us now. Jesus said that we, His followers, are the salt of the earth. In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, "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 under foot." That's a pretty bold statement and it's one I don't want to skim over. Jesus says here that we are to be the salt of the earth and that it's possible to lose our saltiness and be thrown out, so it's important to understand what He's talking about here and guard against it right? It matters. I think it matters a lot.
Salt had three primary purposes in the times of Jesus. It was to preserve, to flavor, and to heal. Throughout history salt has been used to preserve meat and other items before refrigeration was a thing. It was and still is used as a healing agent. They would use it to treat wounds and infections. Now we soak in Epsom salt baths to rid our bodies of inflammation and harmful toxins. And lastly, salt was and is used to flavor food. Have you ever eaten unsalted popcorn or unsalted anything for that matter? Salt adds so much flavor and zest to food.
So, how do we take this figurative language of Jesus and become the salt of the earth, and not just become it, but also keep it and retain it? If we are indeed the salt of the earth there should be some tangible evidence of it. Below I share a few things to help us gauge our salty factor.
We should be creating thirst in people -
We all know that salt makes us thirsty. Jesus spoke about thirst many times during His days on earth, both physically and spiritually. In John 7:37-39, Jesus cries out, "if anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of water". Now this He said about the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory ." Jesus is speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and what was to come on the day of Pentecost and what would be for us now. If we are true believers, true followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit is our guide, He gives us wisdom, reveals truth, gives us gifts, and He is working in our lives for a purpose. The results of that work produces the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. This fruit, the work of the Holy Spirit in us, is what I believe creates thirst in others. When people see the love of God at work in a believer, well I believe they were made to receive that love. As we receive these gifts, and grow in the fruits of the Spirit, we are to go out and express these things to whomever God brings across our path. We have the honor and responsibility to represent the Most High to the world around us. Although our relationship with God is and should be personal and intimate it is not meant to be just that. There should be an outpouring of what we receive. It's this beautiful harmony that takes place. God is always working things out in this beautiful symphony where the innerworkings have a ripple effect and the result is a gloriously perfect symphony on display for all to see. To be an instrument in His hands is our greatest honor. I believe God reaches out to others through our very lives. How amazing and beautiful that He would want to include us in this. Have you ever sat back and watched God do this through someone? Sometimes I have to leave the room when I witness these things to hide my tears. It's as if the beauty is too much for my eyes to behold. It's truly the most extraordinary thing to watch the Creator of the universe reach out to someone through another. What people see in our lives should make them thirst for what we have and that is Him. Our lives, our witness should make people thirst for living waters. They should thirst for Jesus. May it be so in our lives.
We should be a purifying influence on our world-
The world we live in is putrefying. Since the fall of mankind there has been death, disease, and moral decay. In this sin infested world, we as followers of Jesus, should look different, act different, we should live and be different. Not on purpose. It's not an effort or a fabricated uniqueness. It comes from being in His presence. It's a natural byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit, of dedicating and giving our lives to Him. It happens naturally and supernaturally. The fruit of the Spirit brings light and life to the world. This is why God says we are to be salt and light. After the verse on being the salt of the earth, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven." Like salt works as a preservative, Christians are meant to have a preserving influence in the world. Living according to Gods laws and attributes brings life and light to the world. We only need to abide in the Vine and continue to grow in our walks with the Lord. He supplies all the goods.
So in a nutshell, I believe if we commit our lives to God, follow the example of Jesus, and put our trust in Him, we will have the saltiness and light exuding from our lives adding flavor to the world around us and will not be in danger of losing our saltiness. Abiding, following, and trusting is the key on our journey of faith.
Can you believe the unprecedented days we are living in? Through all the chaos, fear and confusion, God is on the throne and He is doing a very special work right now. When this season of our lives is done what will we say we did with the times? If we surrender our lives to the Lord and follow Him He will bring about all of these things in and through our lives. What better thing is there for a person? We gain and get everything we need when we commit our ways to God and follow Him. And when we do there is a ripple effect which potentially makes the world around us thirsty for living water.
I pray that we as the Church of Jesus Christ will rise to the occasion. That we will love fiercely, be patient and gracious with everyone. That we will be forgiving and merciful toward others and put others needs above our own. Praying the peace of God will fill you and your homes during this Christmas season and that you find joy during these extraordinary days. Be encouraged friends. God is doing a work. Let's get out there and be a part of it. Let's bring salt and light to the whole world.
Peace, love and big big hugs.
War...it's waging. Maybe not in the way we generally think of a war where military forces join with its solders lined up prepared to fight. This is a war that is invisible to the eye but more real than the nose on your face. We can see it's effects though can't we? It's like the wind. We can't see the wind but we see those leaves blowing about. Our nation is in such disarray it is surreal, unfamiliar, and disheartening to say the least, and this goes far beyond partisan lines. Friends let's not be duped into thinking this is about Democrats and Republicans, that it's about Liberals vs. Conservatives. My fellow Americans are not my enemy, but our true enemy wants us to believe just that. It's a trap designed for destruction and it is straight outta the gates of Hell.
As we sit here numb in disbelief with what is occurring in our nation while simultaneously asking ourselves what can we do to fix this, we must turn to the One who has all the answers. God is ruler over all. He sees all things and knows all things and if we are found in Him, if we belong to Him we need not fear. We can trust Him and hold onto His promises that all things are working together for our good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
So, does that mean that we sit back and wait it out and leave it in God's hands? Do we find ourselves saying "I've done my duty, I voted, the rest is up to God?" Time and time again throughout the Bible God requires action on the part of His people. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River God required them to take action. As the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant, God told them through Joshua to take a few steps into the river and wait there. Why did He do this? Did God need them to be in the water before He could stop the waters? Does He need us to take action? The answer of course is absolutely not. Were we there when He formed the Universe, when He knit us together in our mothers womb? Certainly God does not need us for anything at all ever. But for reasons only known to God Himself He really likes to use people in His plans. He likes to include us and make us a part of what He is doing and it would seem that He uses these things to teach us, to mold us, to test and perfect our faith. It can be a painful process but don't you find that the best things in life require dedication, pain, and sacrifice? It is truly amazing How God includes us in His plans and weaves His purposes and blessings throughout it all. We go through these journeys, these trials, and come out the other end better, stronger, richer for it when we submit to Him.
Maybe you are finding yourself feeling helpless, defeated, weary, and at a loss of what to do. Sometimes the giant feels just too big to go up against. Or maybe you are frustrated, feeling fired up in full warrior mode wanting to battle. Whatever place you find yourself in the solution is the same. Remember that, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12. We all need to suit up and report for duty. We need to suit up in the full armor of God.
Paul shares this encouragement in Ephesians chapter 6:10-11 - "Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on His mighty power. Put on all of God's armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil's evil plans." These are dark days friends and there is more at work here than meets the eye. God has given us armor to protect and strengthen us for such a time as this. Let's use it all for His glory and for the benefit of one another.
Ephesians 6:13 - "So put on all of God's armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing."
How rad is this promise! That is for us, now. Let's look at how to practically put on this figurative armor.
Ephesians 6:14a - So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist."
In the old King James it refers to having your loins gird about. This speaks of the personal area of one's life. The private life of a believer needs to be surrounded in truth and we need to make sure we are tellers of truth. Oh my that is a tough one right now. It's so easy to be reactive and post something on social media that strikes a nerve. Are we seeking to make sure it's true? Does it edify and help the Body of Christ or does it cause more confusion and division? With all the confusion and lies abounding in society we need now more than ever to be in the Word of God. It is itself Truth and serves as a guide for the life of a believer.
Ephesians 6:13b - "Put on the breastplate of righteousness on your chest."
Putting on the breastplate of righteousness just means we need to be doing what is right. So many people have sad hearts, hard hearts, broken hearts because they did not put on the breastplate of righteousness. There's so much freedom and liberty in living right, knowing that you're not intentionally doing things that are not right. Righteousness, doing what is right protects the heart. This doesn't mean we won't feel convicted when we make mistakes. But there is such a huge difference between feeling convicted which spurs us on to returning to good works and condemnation which causes us to cower and run away from God. Just another reason to be reading the Bible so we are reminded and encouraged to live godly lives.
Ephesians 6:15 - "Put on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace."
Don't let that word peace distract you to what this verse means. Paul is talking about being ready for battle. That we need to have a solid footing prepared to fight against the enemy so we are able to share the Good News of Jesus, the gospel of peace. If we are wishy washy in our beliefs, in what we stand for, then we won't be sure-footed when the battle comes. The battle is here...now. We need to be strong and courageous in our beliefs, ready to go where God calls us, ready with our feet protected able to handle the terrain.
Ephesians 6:16 - Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one."
I don't know about you but I have been bombarded as of late with these flaming arrows Paul speaks of here. Social media has been such a thorn lately. Passions have been peaking online and the hate and division stirs up so much strife, hurt feelings and anger. Have you noticed how much projecting and assuming happens on social media? Is it super frustrating, sad and just downright hurtful at times to anyone else besides me? Let's be real, Satan is having a field day with it all. What are we to do when Satan throws those fiery darts of anger, cynicism, envy, or gossip our way? We should do what Paul told Timothy to do...run! Run from them and follow after faith, pursue righteousness, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Be connected to the Lord. Read your Bible, meditate on it, pray, share with Him and listen to Him, and fellowship with other believers. Go to church or find some sort of fellowship where you can be encouraged and built up in your faith. We need each other...now more than ever. Be blessed and be a blessing one to the other in the faith.
Ephesians 6:17a - "Put on the helmet of salvation..."
The hope of our salvation is kind of everything isn't it. I believe this is what Paul is speaking of here. Not just the hope of spending eternity in Heaven but he is also speaking of the hope of the coming of the Lord. So many of the greats of the faith lived their lives with the anticipation of Jesus coming back. Luther, Augustine, Spurgeon, and Paul all lived with the anticipation of the eminent return of Jesus for His church. I think the reference to the helmet is referring to guarding our minds. Can you think of a time where we needed to our guard our minds more than we do now in this present season? I find myself grasping for truth and having to constantly take my thoughts and what enters into my mind to the Lord. Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus has never felt more important or more needed than it does right now.
Ephesian 6:17b ..."and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God."
God's Word is living and breathing. It equips us, comforts us, empowers us. Waving our sword so to speak keeps the enemy at a distance from us. We see in the Bible how the Word of God is used as a defensive weapon against sin. David said, "Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you." Also, Jesus himself used the Word of God as His defense against the temptation of the enemy. If it's good enough for Jesus you can bet it's good for us too.
Ephesians 6:18 - "At all times pray by the power of the Spirit."
Prayer is like the long-range artillery in our arsenal. It is literally limitless and can reach anywhere and everywhere. From missionaries in Africa, to the President in the White House, to your prodigal son or daughter. Prayer is our beautiful lifeline to the Father. It has the power to change things, to change us, and to change others. I believe it's where the real beauty in our relationship with the Lord happens. Where we connect and commune with Him. It's where the peace comes, where confidence and reassurance resides. Prayer is water for our souls. We won't survive without it.
I believe God is calling all of us to pray like we have never prayed before by the power of the Spirit. What an honor to have access to the throne room of grace. God through His son Jesus offers us access to cry out to Him 24/7. He never sleeps and He never slumbers. A question that has frequently popped up in my mind lately is "do we post more than we pray?" I find myself getting lost in thought, trying to figure things out, trying to figure people out when I should be bringing those things to the Lord continually. Why would I try to figure it all out when God is there waiting to guide me in all of these things and so much more?
Friends, life is not a playground, it's a battleground. I think the reason why so many of us in the church are weak is because we aren't armed for battle. We need to take advantage of the equipment God has given us to navigate life and negotiate the war that surrounds us. We can stand in this season. We need to stand. We need to change our mindset from victim to victor. We have the victory in Him and that victory is not determined or changed by our circumstances. This is not the time to sit back and be a spectator. This is our time to shine our light to the world around us. Let's get on our knees, armor on, humble in spirit, filled with the love and peace of God. Let's go out and shine the light of peace and love to the world around us. Let's pick up our faith and leave fear and defeat at the door.
Cheers Friends! I'm praying for you all and for this great nation God has blessed us with.
Lisa Gresham is married to her husband Marty, and is currently in her 12th year homeschooling their youngest daughter Bailey. She is a grandma, and is currently working with the Youth at her Church. She is a retired High School Teacher and Coach, is an avid Writer and has her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development. You will frequently find her on the beaches of Orange County in Southern California, her favorite dwelling place.