“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” Matthew 5:13 ->me: I cannot recall the number of times that I have read these passages from the sermon on the mount. However, at this time in my spiritual walk, they are taking renewed meaning. I can see the power of these words in action when my heart is devoted to the glorification of God alone. Salt -> A seasoning used to increase the flavor of food and make it more palatable. The Greek word for ‘lost its taste’ is actually directly translated to ‘become foolish’. If I allow myself to fit in with the world around me to the point where I am not distinguishable in society through my faith, works, and walk, then I have lost my saltiness and am only good for de-icing sidewalks and roads. When I am confronted with a decision to operate as the world does, separate from the instruction of the One Who saved me, I must act in way that is obedient to His word. As a believer, I AM salt (“You ARE the salt of the earth”) -> so what does it mean to lose my ‘saltness’? I think it means to allow myself to become diluted by succumbing to the ways of the world and to ignore the influences of the Holy Spirit in my life. The moment we allow our flesh to accept something the world has to offer, that is counter to God’s word, the de-salinization process has begun. What I must do to stay salty -> 1) my delight must be in the law of the Lord, 2) I must be in all out war against the temptations of the flesh, 3) my mind must consistently be listening for God’s call to help others, 4) I must stop and pray for God’s wisdom and patience when the going gets tough, 5) I must remember that this is not my home; that I am an alien here. Finally, I must be on my knees in prayer (‘A Call to Prayer’ kind of prayer).
“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 ->me: What beautiful words are these?! The last 5 Beatitudes are all about the one thing…killing PRIDE. The merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, and the downtrodden. These are all attributes that require humility and self-control. I feel like I am growing in my self-control but my pride is the bane of my existence. It causes me not to run to the feet of my Lord when I am ashamed and guilty, it causes me to with hold grace from people who deserve it far more than I, and it drives me to self-sufficiency which God hates with a passion. BUT…what if I am able to get ahold of this through the power of God’s Spirit within me? Well, verse 12 tells me -> that the reward for the self-controlled, persevering, resolute in righteousness, peacemaker, pure in heart, and merciful will have their GREAT reward in heaven. I get so worked up over the things of this world: my job (pride), my reputation (pride), my comfort (pride), and accomplishments (pride). What if the same ‘worked up’ happened over my church, the lost, the poor, the hurting, the sick, and the people around me who need to hear of the redeeming Salvation of my Savior. What kind of change for the Kingdom might I have with the sole goal of glorifying YAHWEH, the God of all things.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 ->me: Today was all about the Beatitudes. What a great portion of scripture regarding the teaching of Jesus from the hillside where He sat to enlighten and encourage all who were there. In my bible this verse is boxed, highlighted, and has asterisks all around it. First though – “Blessed” is also how my life passage begins in Psalms 1:1-3 -> “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked [trimmed] but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” This is my daily plight…to commune with the Lord through His word. I have found my memorized scriptures to be a blessing on this trip and the Lord has rewarded me with a fellow brother in Christ who is here working for the Army. Today I was blessed to stand right there in the Tactical Operations Center of our project on Fort Pickett with this man of God discussing how God has used him in his life, trading POD cast channels, and discussing a little from yesterday’s quiet time. What a gift to be given in this time away from my family and support. Getting back to the verse…it is not enough to have momentary bursts of righteousness. I must hunger, crave, and thirst for what it means to be Christlike. When someone is hungry and thirsty, they do not stop until they have found the sustenance they need. I love how Jesus did not stop at “Blessed”, oh no, you will also be satisfied…I will find the nourishment I seek when I look to my Lord and Savior for it. He is the only one who can provide lasting and complete contentment.
“At once they left their nets and became His disciples [sided with His party and followed Him].” Matthew 4:20 ->me: Reading this beginning of Jesus’ ministry is very telling of the authority of Jesus to those who the Father has called to Himself. At one moment Peter and Andrew were fishing and at the next they had dropped what they were doing to follow Him. According to timelines this was not the first time they had met Jesus (John 1:35-42 and Luke 5:3) but it was the first time He had asked them to leave what they were doing an follow Him (what He asked them was literally ‘to come behind Me’). At the same time we know that the disciples did not leave their families (Matt 8:14 and John 21:3). This really spoke to me today. I think some people are caught up in the thinking that true devotion is to leave everyone behind when you follow Jesus and in this case that just was not true; however, they did come behind Jesus and devoted themselves to His teaching and ultimately took over His ministry by witnessing everyone they came in contact with, the power of His death and resurrection for the Salvation from sin. What is holding me back from answering God’s call at every moment? I have His teaching right here in front of my face in this amazing book. God has a call on my life, I am His, I must act by answering that call every day.
“Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” Matthew 4:10 ->me: Boy, it has been a busy and stressful 2 days. I have been leaving the hotel at 7:40am and not returning to the hotel until after midnight…but, the Lord has sustained me. I have been able to read God’s word each day but have not had time to write down my thoughts to you. I have been reading and studying both the baptism of Jesus and satan’s testing of Jesus in the wilderness. First the Messianic endowment of the work as the Savior of the world then a clinic on how satan will tempt us and what our response should be. The first thing satan tried to get Jesus to do was to use His own power to change the circumstance of His situation by performing a miracle to change stones into bread -> JESUS, Bread is not the only sustenance; it also comes from dwelling on every word that comes from the mouth of God. The second was to ask Jesus to extend and bring attention to himself by performing acts of heroism through throwing Himself off of tall turret so that the angels would catch Him -> JESUS, “do not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God.” Finally, satan held out all that was in the earth as a reward if Jesus would simply bow to him. What’s silly about this is that Jesus already is Lord over all -> JESUS, the QTVOTD. Nothing is worth giving up your honor and dedication to the God of the Universe. Nothing on the earth will last. Even when work is busy, I keep in mind what I am truly holding out for. That peace is so powerful.
“And they were baptized in the Jordan by him [John the Baptist], confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming? Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart];” Matthew 3:6-8 ->me: Oh man – so much going on today. This word this evening means so much more than it did this morning. What John the Baptist is calling out here is the person who seeks God simply as an insurance policy against God’s wrath and punishment. Not only does he call them out for their insincere hearts but he calls them a ‘Brood of Vipers’! Vipers are known for operating in the dark and ambushing their prey. He says, ‘let the way you live display the repentance of your heart’. We can not expect to whoop in and say we trust Jesus and accept Him as our Sin Bearer but live a worldly life that is inconsistent with genuine repentance. Super convicting on many levels tonight.
“Now after they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Get up! [Tenderly] take unto you the young Child and His mother and flee to Egypt; and remain there till I tell you [otherwise], for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13 ->me: While reading this second chapter it dawned on me the parallels between the life of Jesus and the life of Moses. To those of your Theologians, you are probably saying “Duh, Bourland”. Just as Moses was spared by being drifted down the canal towards Pharaoh’s daughter to be saved from destruction so too did God the Father save His Son from the massacre by Herod of all the boys under 2 years. Then when things were safe Moses left Egypt just as Jesus and His parents did. Jesus like Moses let His people out of the wilderness of sin and the law. All of the details in the bible and intertwining of the stories written by different authors increases my faith. I am so thankful for the word He has given us to read and learn more about Him. Thank you Lord for your provision and answering my prayer to increase my faith in the hope of your return.
“NOW WHEN Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘ Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east at its rising and have come to worship Him’. When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:1-3 ->me: The big thing that stood out to me was this “…and the whole of Jerusalem with him”. The Jews knowing the teaching of the prophets should have been excited at the prospect of the coming of the Messiah…but they were disturbed and troubled. Was it because the Jews were afraid of what craziness Herod might do when confronted with a rival? Was it a foreshadowing of when the Jews would reject Jesus as their King? It feels like the latter since the text says “the whole of Jerusalem WITH him”. The meekness and humility in which Jesus entered the scene still startles me. Our King and Savior who fills heaven with the light of His glory came in such humble way. I am so thankful for God’s wisdom and plan coming together in such a perfect way. God’s hand through every point guiding the arrival of His Son gives me confidence that my problems are just not that big in view of God’s power. He knew He would be rejected by His own people but ‘for the joy set before Him’ He came so that we also (as non Jews) would have an opportunity to live eternally with Him in heaven.
“She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God]. All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, ‘Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel’—which, when translated, means, God with us.” Matthew 1:21-23 ->me: Wrapped in these 3 simple verses is hope for the entire human race! 1) The divine influence and direction of God on the birth of Jesus through immaculate conception and speaking to Joseph in his dreams. 2) Jesus – Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua. Jesus -> Savior…HE will save HIS people from their sins. He IS ‘God with us’. 3) A fulfilment of God’s promise made through the prophets. This simple point can allow us to sit confident in the rest of God’s promises ->
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:37-39 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Proverbs 1:33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,untroubled by fear of harm.”
John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. The promises of God are powerful and awesome to grasp. I pray that these scriptures about God’s promises were helpful to you today
“…if anyone [in the church] refuses to obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but simply admonish and warn him as [being still] a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 ->me: Paul addressed this issue of idleness in the first letter so it apparently is a problem that is still yet unresolved. The direction has been to follow the example of Paul and his companions when they were there; taking care of their own food and needs through working – likely as tent makers which Paul was known for. This way of rebuking a fellow believer is kind yet firm. Essentially Paul is saying to exhort and then withdraw from close relationship with these idle Christians, not as punishment but as a way to make it clear that they are not living according to the direction of the Word of God. It is important to see that we are not to treat these brothers and sisters poorly (or as an enemy) but to admonish, take note, and withdraw with a prayerful outcome of repentance and conformity. To the outside world I am sure this sounds outlandish, cruel, and elitist. Here is the uber takeaway -> We as Christians have the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the whole divinely written word of God that gives us everything we need, and we have the example of the Lord Jesus Christ — there is no excuse for a believer to be encouraged to operate in a way counter to what they know by receiving the benefits of the body of Christ when they so blatantly act in a way counter to God’s word.