As followers of Jesus, we continually examine the rhythms of our lives and make adjustments so that we are living as good ambassadors of his Kingdom. As you think about changes you want to see in your life this year, take time to run them through the Salt and Light filter of Matthew 5.
THE FLAVOR OF THE KINGDOM
“You are the SALT of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
You can’t see flavor. It’s a quality that you can’t necessarily put your finger on but when you taste it you know right away if it’s good or bad. Your life has a flavor. It comes across in your attitude, your words, your gossip, your questions, where you take conversations, how you treat people, what you say about people when they are not around, etc. All of that stuff adds up to your own individual flavor profile. And that flavor is hard to fake. The best way to bring the true flavor of the Kingdom to your neighborhood is for you to spend time with the King so that he can change you from the inside out.
THE GLOW OF THE KINGDOM
“You are the LIGHT of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Can you imagine living in a world with no light? That would mean a lot of stubbed toes…and worse. The actions of your life give off a glow. Things like selfishness and greed and isolation are from the dark side. Kingdom behaviors like hospitality, sharing and generosity bring light. They show people what life in the Kingdom with Jesus really looks like.
Here are two questions for you to ponder as you plan the start of the New Year:
What flavor will my life add to the neighborhood this month?
What glow will my actions give off in the neighborhood this month?
Kick these questions around for a little while. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you two specific steps to take in January to help you live as Salt and Light in your neighborhood. Looking forward to a great 2023 with you,
Read and/or sing “praise to our God the King” together, celebrating our Lord and Savior’s birth!
O’ Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by; Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, And, gathered all above While mortals sleep, the angels keep Their watch of wond’ring love. O morning stars, together Proclaim the holy birth, And praises sing to God the King, And peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently The wondrous gift is giv’n! So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of his heav’n. No ear may hear his coming; But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him, still The dear Christ enters in.
John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then, in John 1:14 we read that the Word was made flesh. Literally, God became flesh – Jesus. He is not some great prophet or teacher that taught the ways of God…Jesus is God.
The words “dwelt among us” translates to “pitching a tent.” My family loves to tent camp. When I think of my many years of camping with family and friends, I think of intimate times around the campfire, being in creation, relaxing, and stripping away the things of the world. When I think that God – Jesus – came to pitch His tent next to mine and share life with me; it brings me great comfort.
He didn’t come to lord over us, condemn us or set some unattainable goal for life, but He came to dwell with you and me. He came to sit by the campfire, share life, and to take us away from the distractions of this world. He came full of grace and truth. The real truth…not some twisted fabricated truth that tickles our ears. He came with a truth that sets you free.
Think about Jesus and the woman at the well. He sat with her in an intimate place like sitting next to you at the fireside. He loved that woman enough to call out her sin, love on her and set her free. He loves you that much, and he wants to sit by the fireside with you and chat. Take some time to hear His truth, and listen to what He has to say.
Everyone is familiar with surprises. Sometimes they are good, sometimes not as good, and sometimes they are just that surprising. Mary received the ultimate surprise, and it impacted the entire world. We know Mary’s surprise was Jesus, the promised and long-awaited Messiah; the Savior
of all mankind. Many years after the initial surprise, Ephesians 2:14 (ASV) says, “For He is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition,”
We are all surprised at something sometime in our lives, but we can be assured that God is never surprised by what happens. Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
During this advent season, how can “surprises” to you bring glory to the Lord?
We’re calling this ‘Soul Care September’ but, it doesn’t matter when you’re reading this. Whenever you’re going through a season of exhaustion, or you just feel constantly drained, look to Him who restores all things. Be intentional, putting your hope in He who is faithful, and He will be faithful to you.
Here are three means of grace that God can use to restore your weary soul over the next 30 days if you will let him.
1. Adjust Your Rhythm Of Life
It is easy to drift into hectic routines that leave no space for God. Rewrite your daily schedule and make adjustments for this month that will give you more unhurried time with Jesus in solitude and the Scriptures. Don’t make excuses. Cut out those time wasters. Remember what Jesus told us in Matthew 16: ‘What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’
2. Begin A New Prayer Practice
Implement a new aspect to your prayer life that will strengthen your soul on a daily basis. Instead of doing all the talking, take a full five minutes to be quiet and listen and let God minister to you. Romans 8 tells us, ‘The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness…when we don’t know what God wants us to pray for the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. The Father knows your heart and knows what the Spirit is saying. The Spirit is pleading for you in harmony with God’s own will.’
3. Confess A Sin
Confession is good for the soul. Read Psalm 32. It says something like this, ‘When I kept silent about my sin my bones wasted away and my strength was sapped. But when I acknowledged my sin to God, he forgave me. Now my heart is singing!’ Take a few minutes each evening as you prepare for sleep to let God search your heart. He will bring to mind an attitude, action, or inaction from the day that was not pleasing to Him. Confess it and be surprised by how good you sleep!
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Those were the first words that Jesus used when he began
to preach. He went throughout Galilee, teaching and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom.
He said that the Kingdom of Heaven was for the poor in spirit, for the meek, for the pure in
heart, and for the persecuted. He said that the self-righteous could never enter the Kingdom of
Heaven. He told us that the thing we should be seeking first and foremost in this life is the
Kingdom of God and his righteousness. If we do that, he will take care of everything else. Let’s
abandon our anxious pursuit of the treasures of this earthly kingdom and instead live as citizens
of the Kingdom of God.
The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ As
Christians, we use the four weeks leading up to Christmas to meditate on the incarnation of
Christ; his first coming when he was born in Bethlehem. We should also be anticipating his
Second Coming; the time when our mighty King will return and every knee on earth will bow to
him. Let’s use this Christmas season to become more aware of what we are bowing down to.
What we are worshiping. Let’s make sure that our total allegiance is to King Jesus.
Praise and thanksgiving do not come naturally to us in our fallen condition. What comes to our
hearts and our lips with ease is complaining about what we don’t have and making excuses for our shortcomings. This happens because we forget who God is and what he has done for us.