Matthew 5:13-16 – Let Your Light So Shine

Matthew 5:13-16
13
 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

-“Praise is comely for the upright” (Psalm 33:1) and true praise is never out of order (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  But praise is more than a song or a shout.  True praise at its strongest is manifested by a life that shines brightly, so brightly that it encourages others to praise God.  So sing praises to the Lord by day and sing praises to the Lord in the night season, but with all thy singing, don’t forget to show praises to the Lord.  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

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Psalm 46:1 – To Find God

Psalm 46:1
1
 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

-The word “present” in this text is the Hebrew verb “matsa” and means “to find“.  This gives the verse a duality of meaning that otherwise may not be immediately discernible.  The obvious meaning is that God will be right there with us during difficult times; He will be present.  But looking at it from the Hebrew perspective shows that those difficult times which we tend to avoid are actually where we can expect to find God.  God will meet with us in our darkest hours and reveal deeper aspects of Himself that we may not get to see otherwise.  At the end of your rebellion and transgression, you can find God’s mercy.  In your time of weakness, you can find God’s strength.  When pain and grief threaten to consume you, you can find God’s comfort and peace.

Romans 8:35-39 – The Love of God

Romans 8:35-39
35
 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Paul was persuaded that those of us who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ can never be separated from Him and, with all that Paul experienced, I think it’s safe to trust his opinion.  Notice verse 39: nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  It’s important that the verse doesn’t simply say that nothing can separate us from God, because certainly all of humanity is joined to the Lord and no one can separate themselves from Him.  But there are many who will one day face the wrath of God and the damnation of God.  Not so with those who are in Christ.  Every day for all of eternity we can look forward to nothing but the love of God.  To be in Christ is to never have to feel uncertainty or worry at the thought of dying or meeting God.  We know where we stand with God because we know who is standing for us “at the right hand of the throne of God”. (Hebrews 12:2)

Philippians 2:5-11 – He Humbled Himself

Philippians 2:5-11
5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

-Jesus Christ is in the highest and most exalted position of all, that of God Himself.  Yet even though He had no reason to be humble, He made the choice to do just that.  The Bible tells us that He walked the Earth as a Servant and made no effort to reap glory or make a name for Himself.  How does your life look in relation to the example of Christ?  Do you strive and reach and struggle to make something of yourself in this world?  Do you seek the praise of men and the reward of wealth and possession?  Even if you do carve out a place of earthly glory, what do you really have?  Maybe 100 years of privilege?  What is that compared to eternity?  “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Jesus plainly teaches that there is no profit in exchanging your soul even for the whole world, and yet many let their soul slip away and receive far less than the world in return.

John 2:23-25 – Miracles and Faith

John 2:23-25
23
 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Luke 16:27-31
27
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

-In reference to the notion that more people would believe in this day and age if we had miracles like in the Old Testament; this is the definitive answer to that.  The word “commit” in v24 is the same Greek word as “believe” in v23– “Pisteo”.  Even though these people professed to believe Jesus, He did not believe them because He knew that their hearts told a different story from their mouths.  We learn from this that believing because you’ve witnessed a sign does not yield a dependable faith.  Consider the account of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke 16:  The rich man is certain that the returned spirit of a dead man would be able to convince his family to repent.  But Abraham is quick to correct that notion by instructing the rich man that if they won’t be persuaded by Moses and the Prophets (the written Word of God), then they won’t be persuaded by anything.  So take heart if you’ve never witnessed a blockbuster miracle first-hand; the greatest miracle is that God revealed His Word to the lowly human race, and His Word is more than adequate to author our faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Revelation 5:2-5 – The Lion Hath Prevailed

Revelation 5:2-5
2
 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

It had to be a strong angel as any lesser member of the Host of Heaven would not have adequately conveyed the idea that Angelic might was useless to open the book.  Likewise the Bible’s next statement “no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth” tells us that no one, nowhere could open the book.  It was, by all measures, impossible.  But what should be every person’s reaction to the word impossible?  “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) And so it was that The Lion of the Tribe of Judah did what only He could do.  Not just by His omnipotence, but by His righteousness and His selflessness, He alone is worthy to act as Savior and Judge for all of creation.

1 Kings 20:28 – The Lord of All

1 Kings 20:28
28
 And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

-The Lord had given His people a great victory over the Syrians.  From this, the Syrians concluded that God was simply a God of the hills; if they could get Israel into the valley, God would be powerless to help.  How often do we fall into this line of thinking in our own lives?  Victories can be easy to find on the mountaintops, but when we get into the valleys, we suddenly act as though God is powerless to help.  As the text reveals, God went on to give His people another great victory- this time in the valley.  What’s the lesson?  God is not God of the hills, neither is He God of the valleys.  He is The Lord, and there is no place to which He cannot go and no place from which He cannot deliver.

Luke 7:44-50 – Thy Faith Hath Saved Thee

Luke 7:44-50
44
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

-Out of devotion to Jesus Christ, this woman swallowed her pride and reservation and, in a very public display, offered the Lord her love, her tears, her oil, and her time.  Notice Jesus’ response; He made it clear to Simon that the woman is favored because of her loving actions, but He makes it clear to the woman that her faith has saved her.  Let us never forget this principle as we move through our own lives.  Loving acts of devotion have their place and can garner their own rewards, but only faith can lead to salvation.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Revelation 2:1-5 – The Unloving Church

Revelation 2:1-5
1
 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

-“Ephesus” is derived from a word that means “desirable”.  Think about the implication of that name; this is an assembly of believers whom the Lord calls desirable, yet they have forsaken their love for Him.  How many of us fit into this church?  God has gone to great lengths to prove how much He desires us, so much so that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16).  How many of us who are saved have drifted away from our love for Him?  “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

Genesis 50:20 – But God Meant It Unto Good

Genesis 50:20
20
 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

-To get angry when we’ve been wronged seems like common sense, but it is proof positive that we lack perspective.  Consider the life of Joseph as told in Scripture; there were many who wronged him- his brothers sold him into slavery, Potiphar’s wife accused him of rape, and the king’s chief butler forgot him in jail.  But where others would have only seen the bad, Joseph instead realized that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Joseph had peace and forgiveness in his heart because he was less focused on what people were doing in his life and more focused on what God was doing in his life.  We would all do well to follow his example.  God tells us that it is okay to let go of hate and bitterness; so to forgive is not to admit that the person who wronged you is right, it is to admit that God is right.