Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Week Forty-Seven - Rub in the Salt

Beside the Well

               I’m almost finished with Burroughs’ discourse on the Beatitudes.  He has moved to the last few verses.  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 the foot of men.”  Matthew 5:13

               If you ever get a chance to read this book you will experience times when your heart jumps so high tears fall from your eyes as truth opens your understanding.  Let me share some pieces of truth he brought and how it blessed my heart.

               The word of God says Christians are the salt of the earth.  Burroughs breaks this down into some simple applications. 

1.     Salt is wisdom.  The gospel brings wisdom wherever it comes.  It teaches the world how to be wise to salvation, and it raises the thoughts of men.

2.     Salt makes things taste better.  Before the gospel is applied, men have unsavoury spirits; but when the gospel is received, they become savoury.

3.     Christians are the salt of the earth.  It is the use of the gospel that keeps the world from perishing by putrefaction.  Salt keeps the Christian’s heart wholesome.

               Then he moved on to more explanation, and my heart began to feel the pulse of truth.

               Leviticus 2:13  And every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering; with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.”

               What?  So every meat offering had to be salted?  Yes.  And not only the meat offerings, but also the oil, flour; every sacrifice was to be salted.  Then, Mark 9:49-50 instructs the same saying, “Have salt in yourselves.”

               All our sacrifices should have salt.  “There must be a savoury spirit-that is, savoury unto God, and doth savour the things of God: and then there must be a spirit that is not corrupted or putrefied.  Such a one, when he offers up himself to God, is an acceptable sacrifice to him.” (p 245)

               Pastor Gritts had just preached on the sacrifices we are to offer God.  Putting them in the light of being rendered with salt showed me more about the manner and attitude with which I offer my sacrifices.  Is my sacrifice of praise savoury?  (Hebrews 13:15)  Are my prayers flavored with salt? (Revelation 8:4)  Is my giving salted?  (Philippians 4:18)    Are my good works done with saltiness?  (Hebrews 13:16; Ephesians 2:8-10)  Am I a living, salted sacrifice? (Romans 12:1)

               As those questions whirled in my head, Burroughs hit me with another beautiful truth, “The gospel is the very balsam of nature.”  It affects society for the better.  It draws men to Christ.  It cleans up our speech.  It exhorts to a pure life.

               Before I could take in the loveliness of that statement, he smacked me with this:  Ministers of the gospel must apply salt, and sometimes it must be rubbed in.”  I laughed aloud as I pictured the minister rubbing truth into people as one would rub salt into a roast.

               But, I got the idea.  The gospel is more than a message; it is salt.  It is the thing that draws men to Christ, changes society, raises men, and creates hope.

               Burroughs closed with this, “Whatever God lets me have in this world, I cannot relish it or savour it without the gospel, and without salt I cannot offer any sacrifice savoury to God.  The doctrine of the ministry of the word is as salt to the benefit of nature.”

               How salty are you?  Are you rubbing it into your life? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Week Forty-Six - Young Lives Matter

Beside the Well

            My prayer list contains the names of several young adults who are forging their way through their 20’s and 30’s.  The challenges of finding a good job, getting a viable career or a trade, finding that soul-mate, and living a life pleasing to the Lord, are only a few of the struggles they face.
            The enemy always seems to be on their shoulder casting doubt and trying to lure them away with promises of an easier path with quicker results.  They need our prayers and encouragement.
            As I was praying for them, I thought of another 20 something couple who were also carving out a life.  Their path included several small children, college, financial struggles, church internship, and preparation for their life’s call.
            The enemy was there then, too, whispering words like, “Why? Who really cares?  You’ll never make it.  It’s all too hard and you are poor.”
            But, someone must have been praying for them.  Some older person was watching from afar with life experience and knowledge that had taught them to pray.  They knew the path all too well, but they also knew the Saviour.  He would direct that young couple, protect them, provide for them, and help them to endure in order to reach their goal of service.
            And, He did.  Now, it is my turn to pray for those behind me.  Those who are facing their futures with hopes, dreams, fears, and failures; to pray God’s grace, provision, and direction into their lives.
            What a great privilege.  What an awesome responsibility.

Psalm 78:5-7  “That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

I Samuel 12:23  “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Week Forty-Five - Life on the Sea

Beside the Well

            Some days it feels like my whole world is at the mercy of the sea of life. I am just a little boat adrift in the midst. The waves of life hit me from every side.  Unwelcome news blows in from every techno porthole.  Each thing I try to anchor down comes untethered, and I lose my moorings.
            I used to go to bed and hide when the waves got too rough.  Now, praise the Lord, I have matured to the point that I can, more often than not, stand on the deck and let the salty water slap my face without losing my grip.
            Today was one of those days when my ship felt the crash of an unwelcome wave.  This drove me to prayer and then to look for the breeze that would blow from the Spirit to drive me to a more solid path.  And, the Lord was true to His word.  Here is where He placed me—Malachi 3:6  “I am the Lord, I change not.”
            Spurgeon wrote, “The delight that the mariner feels when, after having been tossed about for many days, he steps again on the solid shore is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amid all the changes of this stormy life, he rests the foot of his faith on this truth.  The stability that the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a holdfast is like that which the Christian’s hope affords him when it fixes itself on this glorious truth – ‘with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning’ (James 1:17).  The wheel of providence revolves, but its axle is eternal love.”
            I could imagine the sailor stepping out of the boat onto solid ground after a night of hard rowing at sea.  And, my mind could picture the wheels of providence—the wheels of life that are beyond our control—speeding us down the road of life with its many turns, but also the truth of the axle. 
            Wheels cannot turn without the axle.  Life has one axle, one true anchor—the love of God, which is not swayed by the curves in the road or the lilt of the sea.  He is our solid rock, our safe retreat, our hiding place, and the anchor of our soul in the face of every storm. 
            My heart began singing that old song of the faith; We Have an Anchor.  How blessed we are to know we can live fastened to the unmoveable Rock, that we are grounded firm and deep in His love, no matter how high the billows roll.

            So bring it on!  I love a stout breeze!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Week Forty-Four - A Pack or a Flock

Beside the Well

            Think with me about some of the differences.  A pack runs wild.  They are usually violent hunters scraping and fighting among themselves over their prey.  A pack has an alpha-male who is normally the first to eat at a kill.  When a lower-ranked wolf greets the dominant wolf, he may lick the muzzle like a servant would when kissing a king’s scepter.  A lone wolf is one that has been driven away from the pack.  Since he is out fending for himself, he can be more of a danger.
            Sheep, on the other hand, are not wild.  They are not hunters and do not normally fight over their food.  They are very social, have a strong flocking instinct and need visual contact with other sheep to prevent excess stress.  A sheep, separated from the rest of the flock, grows agitated and is vulnerable.
            Let’s try applying this to the difference in spiritual sheep and wolves.  Wolves do not consider themselves subject to the Word of God.  They are wild and rebellious by nature.  They are out to climb the ladder at all costs and run over those who get in their way.  Being top dog is paramount and keeping others beneath and subservient is important.  Like the wolf in the story of the Three Little Pigs, they are out to get what they want, no matter what damage they inflict.
            Sheep, on the other hand, recognize the voice of the Father and are more prone to follow.  They rest in the care of the shepherd while grazing in green pastures beside still waters.  While in the company of other sheep they feel safe and are comforted watching their fellows feeding on the Word and growing in grace.
            Spurgeon wrote, “It is the nature of the Lord’s people to assemble themselves together, and line in companies: wild beasts may roam the woods alone, but sheep go in flocks.  David said, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee,” and he showed his piety not only by being select in his company, but in loving such fellowship when he found it.”
            More and more I am seeing the characteristics of the wolf pack taking precedence in society.  Sadly, it even appears in the church.  The fellowship of the flock is demeaned and ridiculed—even abandoned by many.  It seems too docile, too simple, and too ignorant for today.
            God’s people have always gone in flocks.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  We are not a pack of wolves, and neither should we be.  If I am His sheep, a wolf is not my best choice for a friend.  The pack mentality is not the Lord’s intent for His people.
            So, it makes me question.  Am I being select in my company?  Am I ashamed to be a part of the flock?  Am I listening to the voice of my shepherd or running with the pack?