Salt for the Soil
From: Our Daily Journey
Salt. It’s one of the world’s most valuable minerals and has helped advance modern civilization. Its preservative capabilities helped the ancient world prevent starvation by safely increasing the shelf life of meats and vegetables. Not surprisingly, the mining and trading of salt, along with transporting cured foods over long distances, became big business.
So it’s hardly surprising that Jesus would use something as vital as salt to illustrate the meaningful impact He called believers to make in advancing God’s kingdom: “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).
But how He called us to make such an impact depends on His meaning of salt. Was Jesus referring to a modern form of salt that resides on the average dinner table to season our food? Or was He referring to the cruder forms of salt that people in His day used to fertilize the soil?
Many, including myself, believe the evidence points to the latter, leaving some to interpret Jesus as saying, “You are (like) the salt for the soil, a stimulant for growth.”
Understanding salt as a fertilizer helps to explain why Jesus went on to say, “But if the salt has lost its saltiness . . . it is no longer good for anything” (Matthew 5:13 NIV). Author Anthony Bradley argues, “When Jesus talked to his followers about losing their saltiness, he was talking about losing their fertilizing properties, their ability to bring about life and growth.”
How can we be like the salt Jesus spoke of? By going into those desolate places in the world where the new life of God’s kingdom is nonexistent or struggling to grow and flourish. By God’s power, we can promote the life-enhancing values of the kingdom in the people, places, and causes that grip our hearts the most.
Ascension Day: A Heavenly Celebration
By: John P. King, Author
Today we celebrate a wonderful holiday – Ascension Day. What? You aren’t celebrating? Why is that? Why do we neglect to recognize this spectacular day? Let me suggest one reason we don’t recognize the significance and importance of this day; we haven’t truly taken the time to grasp its full impact.
When we think of Jesus, we tend to envision any of the countless paintings or people who played Him in a movie. However, that is not who is on the throne right now. On this day, the risen Jesus, who met Mary at the tomb, who walked the road to Emmaus with two of His followers, who let Thomas touch his hands and side, and who cooked breakfast for His disciples on a beach has become the ascended Jesus – glorified with the beauty of His holiness and enthroned in the splendor of His majesty. The glimpse seen on the mount of transfiguration is now the full state of Jesus’ being as we see Him in Revelation;
“And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.” Rev 1:13-16 NLT
Jesus is re-crowned! The prayer he prayed in his last night before to the cross, has become completely fulfilled because of this day:
“Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” John 17:5 NLT
Can you imagine the processional as Jesus traveled the streets of Heaven returning to the throne He left 33 years earlier? Angelic choirs singing Psalm 24:
“Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s armies – he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:7-10 NLT
All those who had passed into the Bosom of Abraham now allowed into heaven itself because of redemption’s fulfillment – Abraham and Sarah, David, Samuel, Ruth, Jeremiah, Esther, Noah, John the Baptist, the thief who had hung with Him in death – now lining the roadways celebrating the full triumph and return of the Savior King to His rightful place – the throne of Heaven.
“These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and have Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph 1:19b-23 NASB
Jesus is KING! He has ascended and is enthroned. Great glory, splendor, majesty, and goodness emanate from Him – it is who He is. EVERYTHING is under His rule and authority. Grasp the impact. We can know that whatever is going on in our lives, Jesus has power over it. Difficulties, trials, temptations, heartbreaks, illnesses, persecutions…whatever name it goes by, Jesus’ name is greater. The Bible encourages us to bring these problems to our King;
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT
So hail the once and future King! For He has ascended on this day with victory and bids us come.
Add means that we have to do something. We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves— God does that. But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must “work out” our “own salvation” which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12). Add means that we must get into the habit of doing things, and in the initial stages that is difficult. To take the initiative is to make a beginning— to instruct yourself in the way you must go.
Beware of the tendency to ask the way when you know it perfectly well. Take the initiative— stop hesitating— take the first step. Be determined to act immediately in faith on what God says to you when He speaks, and never reconsider or change your initial decisions. If you hesitate when God tells you to do something, you are being careless, spurning the grace in which you stand. Take the initiative yourself, make a decision of your will right now, and make it impossible to go back. Burn your bridges behind you, saying, “I will write that letter,” or “I will pay that debt”; and then do it! Make it irrevocable.
We have to get into the habit of carefully listening to God about everything, forming the habit of finding out what He says and heeding it. If, when a crisis comes, we instinctively turn to God, we will know that the habit has been formed in us. We have to take the initiative where we are, not where we have not yet been.