Matthew 5:13-16 You are the Salt and Light



 
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
 

Introduction: Christians are to have a community-wide, world-wide impact! Some Jews in Thessalonica said that the early Christians in the first century had turned the world upside-down! I think that is exactly what Jesus was telling His followers in today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount. All of the people in the crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have had these two items in their homes: salt and light. Both salt and light were significant and valuable commodities in the ancient world, and although they are to some degree overlooked today, they are still very important to our everyday lives.
 

These two items illustrate that Christians are to be different than the world around them and they are to make a difference. The illustrations also show that the uniqueness can also be lost.
 

You are the Salt of the Earth

We use salt for all sorts of things. We most definitely take it for granted. Salt is good to season our food, it works as a preserving agent, it purifies, and it even melts ice. We know that salt also creates thirst.
 

Did you know that salt is in all living organisms? Did you know that in the ancient world salt was actually used as currency? Roman soldiers were often paid with salt.
 

Although all these things are true of salt, Jesus probably had in mind that salt preserved food and purified sacrifices. They did not have refrigerators to sneak downstairs to in the middle of the night for a midnight snack. Salt was crucial in preserving their food.
 

We are to preserve godly principles such as morality and godly things such as justice. Christians are the ones who spearheaded movements to build hospitals and orphanages; reform prisons and medical care; and abolish slavery and child labor.
 

You are the Light of the World

We know that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God is the Light of the world, and we have come into His light.
 

Both illustrations of light here are important. Jesus talks about the light of a hillside city and the light of a house lamp. Like salt, we take light for granted in a modern society.
 

Light was precious to the ancients. It had to be conserved and strategically placed. A city that was built at a higher elevation than the surrounding areas could be seen for miles in the dead of night. No one would light a lamp and put it under a basket. It would be strategically placed in the house on a lampstand so that it could be useful to all. You must also be useful and relevant in your ministry to others and for the glory of God.
 

Conclusion

Salt can lose its saltiness if it is mixed with something else like sand. It can be so diluted that it is worthless. We, too, can be diluted by the world if we are not careful. Light can be hidden, but we must shine forth!
 

We can see why Christians were/are so often persecuted. We are to attract attention to the things of God and many people do not like it. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes!
 

Here is the thing, you are already salt and light simply for the fact that you are a Christian. You are one of His! Go make a difference. Do not attract attention to yourselves, but to our heavenly Father. Let people see your good works and praise Him!

Matthew 6:25-34 Do Not Worry

Introduction

What are you worried about right now? What did you come to worship with this morning that is weighing heavy on your heart? Is there something going on tomorrow, or sometime this week that has stolen your attention from the things of God? If I took a poll, would many of us be worrying about the same things? Kids, grandkids, work, MONEY? Well, Christ talks about money, and especially about worry, in our passage today from His Sermon on the Mount.
 

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
 

The Text

Money is connected to this entire section of the Sermon. The Lord has already talked about storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth. He has openly talked about serving God and not money. Now He says, “Therefore. . . .”
 

Jesus begins His discussion with the necessary things of life: food, water, and clothing. He directly says, “Do not worry.” Then He asks a blunt question, “Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?” It usually helps to have such a clear wake-up call. Some of the simplest statements make us pause and say, “Well, when you say it like that. . . .” We spend a lot of valuable time deliberating about meals and fashions. Yet, when we stop to think about it, we admit that it is foolish.
 

God loves us and cares for us. He wants to provide for us.
The Lord gives us a few examples:
Birds neither sow nor reap nor gather, but are fed.

Unlike birds, we have the ability to plant, grow, and harvest food for ourselves. We have the God-given ability to manipulate our surroundings so that we can feed ourselves.

So, if the birds are fed, we should not worry.

Lilies neither toil nor spin, but are beautifully arrayed.

“Labor and spin” probably refers to both men’s and women’s work. The word “lilies” can mean any kind of wildflower. Out in the grass of the fields, these beautiful flowers are found. What was King Solomon known for? He requested great wisdom from God and received it plus great wealth! Yet, Christ says, Solomon could not even dress himself as lavishly as one of these wildflowers out in the grass of the fields. So, why do we worry so much about fashions and fads? God will provide for you.
 

Christ also makes a brief comment about stature. This has been translated in several ways because the word can mean both length of life or one’s size. It probably means something like worry will not add a single step to your life’s journey. If you worry you’ll do the opposite, shorten your life. Recent studies prove Christ’s statement true. We must picture a man walking down a path which symbolizes his life-span. Christ is telling us that worrying will not add one step to that journey’s path!

 

At the root of our issue is a lack of faith. We may try to skirt the issue, but Christ recognizes that we are weak in faith when we worry. We are not trusting God to take care of us tomorrow when we are overwhelmed by it today. “Much anxiety, Jesus says, comes from little faith” (John Piper). We must trust that what Christ says is true and that God is able and willing to fulfill those promises that He has made to us.
 

How can we be salt and light if we are pursuing the same things as the pagans around us? (Mark Moore). For example, when an unbelieving family loses a loved one, they mourn not only over the death but also because they have no hope. Unbelievers also worry about the future because they have no hope. They are forced to rely only on themselves. Yet, we are the children of God! We do not mourn as those who have no hope. We do not worry as if we have no help. God is our strength and our strong tower. He is our refuge. He is our hope and trust for tomorrow!
 

Conclusion

Have you ever heard it said that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair? It gives you something to do, but you don’t get anywhere. Listen, each day demands our best attention. If there is no need to worry about the most necessary things of life, then there is most definitely no reason to worry about the peripheral things.
 

In the Scripture, God often calls us to quit something, and He often gives us something else to do instead. Here, Christ tells us to not worry, but to seek. Don’t worry about tomorrow, but seek His kingdom and righteousness today. We would do ourselves well to spend our time on eternal, significant things than to worry.
 

Let me also say that God often fulfills His promises to meet daily needs by using people like you and me. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, yet some go hungry. Why is that? People do not meet the needs of others in the way for which we are called. God has promised to give Jane her bread for today, and He will move John to take it to her. Do you see? We are to bear one another’s burdens, care for one another, and pray for one another.
 

Life is more than deciding which restaurant you are going to eat at for lunch and the body is more than making sure that you are keeping up with the latest trend. Christ has said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” He has not said, Blessed are those who worry about tomorrow, for they will be satisfied. Trust God, not goods.

Romans 8:31-39 We are More than Conquerors



Introduction

 
Today we find a reflection on the confidence we may have as believers in Christ Jesus. Because of His work we have all been brought together, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We have been told over and over again that God loves us and that we should love one another. The Scripture begs of us to be safe in those doctrines. That God loves us and in fact there is nothing and no one that can separate us from that love. Today we must unite as a church and stand firm by this Word. In this section, Paul employs a figure of speech to ask animated questions, but not to obtain information. Instead of making a direct statement, he forms it in a question without waiting for an answer. In fact, no reply is expected. The overlying thought is the question posed at the end of verse 31- “What then shall we say to these things?” The things he is talking about are most likely the things he has taught in chapters 5-8. These are the things that allow us to burst into a time of rejoicing.

Read Scripture- This is the Word of God


If God is for us, who can be against us? (v31b)


This first question is the clearest as to why it is unanswerable. If Paul would have instead asked ‘Who can be against us?’ there would have been many answers: (1) Hardships (2) Persecutions (3) Sin (4) Death (5) Satan

There are people and things against us, but the question is unanswerable because of the truth that is contained in it. “If God is for us…” none can stand against us (Since…). Not everyone can make the claim that God is for them. God said many times in the OT “I am against you says the LORD.” With God on our side there is no fear or defeat.


How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (V32)


Christ was delivered up for us all- God held nothing back. God acts according to His promises. He does what is necessary to fulfill His Word. Since God has given the greatest, He will surely give all that we need/desire. It is not that God the Father is a cosmic abuser as some skeptics would say. In fact the Father and the Spirit were with Christ as He suffered. Our God is a Triune God. Remember Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” He will give us all things that are needed (2 Peter 1:3). All things to live and be sanctified. Jesus said, “I give you eternal life and you shall never perish.” God has given the greatest, His Son Jesus the Christ. If Christ has taken our place who can bring a charge against us?



Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? (V33)

It is God who justifies. He is the Judge and has chosen to justify us. Who can bring a charge? Satan is busy pressing charges against us (Rev. 12:10). Ultimately, sin is done against God. He is the one who can bring charge against us. BUT God refuses to bring charges against us because He is for us. Our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) to escape the wrath to come and we will appear with Him in glory. No charges can be brought against Christ. God has given Christ to take our place and we are hidden in Him so that none can charge us with anything. And if there is no charge against us then who is anyone to condemn us.


Who is he who condemns? (V34)


It is Christ Jesus who can condemn. By His death He has bought us. We were slaves to sin and Christ bought us out of that slavery. Now if Christ bought us He may do whatever He wills with us. Yet, do you know what He did and does? Look at verse 34: He died, more than that He was raised, He is at the right hand of God, and drastically different than condemning- He intercedes for believers while at the right hand of God.
God does not look at us and say ‘show me your righteousness and you may be saved.’ Our righteousness is at God’s right hand. The Lord Jesus. Psalm 110:1. He makes intercession for us- 1 John 2:1. If no one can bring a charge against us and no one can condemn us then who can separate us from the love of Christ?


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (V35)


There is no doubt that we will face hardships. There is a list of seven offered. The disasters of the world bring us close to Christ. When disasters come even the unfaithful run to God and then turn back to the world shortly after. When disaster comes upon us we come closer to Christ, who suffered Himself, and we stay that close forevermore. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. The wording provides us with two options for translation and I like either: we are super-conquerors or winning a most glorious victory. He continues to love us, but the focus is that all inclusive event on the cross.

Conclusions and Applications


Death nor life: Whereas death would have been an eternal divider it is now a step closer to everlasting life with our Lord. And the things of this world’s life cannot separate us.

Angels nor principalities: The rabbis in the first century taught that the angels were hostile toward human beings. It was said that they were jealous of our relationship with God. Paul means that even if you believe that, there is no angel that can separate us from the love of Christ.


Things present nor things to come: It doesn’t matter if time passes from age to age and it doesn’t matter if this world fades away because it can’t keep us from the love of Christ.
Height nor depth: These were astrological terms. The ancients believed that they were dominated by the stars and that the planets were also. When “their” star was at its peak (height) then that is when it had its greatest influence. There is no star or influence from the spaces that can separate us.
Nor any other created thing: That word other can mean different. Even by some wild chance there was a different world to pop up in the universe (and some say that there are other universes) we would still be safe in the love of God in Christ.
God is our strong salvation. There is none who can overcome us.
The love of Christ surpasses all knowledge.

Only you can turn away from God's love. No one/no thing else can stop you from having a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.


Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-30 All Things Work Together for Good

Introduction


One of the greatest promises in the entire Bible is found in today’s passage of Scripture. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose, which I think must be linked back to the Spirit interceding for us according to the will of God.


Read Scripture- This is the Word of God


All Things Work Together for Good (28)



The Apostle discussed the current situation in the previous verses where we learned that, though people are weak, the Holy Spirit helps. What a great promise! And it appears that there is a link between that promise and the promise of verse twenty-eight…The Spirit helps us by interceding for us AND, by God’s working, all things work together for good.

In verse twenty-eight the people that the promise is made to are described in two ways:
1. From a Human Direction- “those who love God”
2. From the Divine Direction- “those who are the called according to
His purpose”



Now the human perspective is simply a way of naming God's people. It is in no way a qualification of the promise. Paul does not mean that God only works good for the believers who love Him enough. This is just one way that Paul describes God’s people. After all, this promise pertains to our weakness and we are most certainly weak at loving on many occasions.



That God work’s good for people is not an uncommon theme in ancient literature, both for pagans and Jews. Yet, Paul probably had in mind that the believers in Rome knew this fact because of their intimate relationship with God in Christ. There is no knowledge of God’s working good that is greater than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. See Rom 5:8; 8:32. We have the knowledge of the Gospel and we know that Christ and all of the Scriptures have even promised that we will face trials, we will be persecuted.

How can Paul say something like all things work together for good to those who love God? The Biblical principle is that no matter our circumstances, God can and will work out good for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Despite our trials, temptations, Satan’s destruction, and living in a fallen world God still works out good for us who believe. I would even boldly say that though we sin, God can continually overcome that and work out good for us. The problem that Christians in America have with this is that we expect all things to work out for good immediately. We do not cope well with temptations, trials, tribulations, and an uncertain future. We want this verse to mean that we can peacefully and quietly go about making our plans for our futures and that God will then bless them and ensure that those plans are perfectly and smoothly fulfilled. That is not what the verse says. There is no hint of a bed of roses in this promise. Yet, we should have full assurance and courage from this statement. We may be confused, broke, trapped in a sin, exhausted, persecuted, or any of the like, but God still hears us, looks upon us, and works out good for us. Is that not the Gospel message anyway? If God can and does save us from the miry pit initially, will He not do the same for us as His children?



Conformed to the Image of His Son (29-30)


vv29-30 probably support v28 as a whole, but at least the promise “all things work together for good.” Despite our circumstances, God is working for us if we continue in the faith of the Gospel. The most controversial word here is “foreknew.” What I am about to teach is what I believe to be a correct interpretation, but many Christians take this argument much farther. I will go to a certain point with my understanding and not any farther. I will also quote some others who can say this much better than I can. It wouldn’t make sense for Paul to mean that God knew something about Christians beforehand, that is a given. We would all agree with that without question. We are people who believe that God knows the past, present, and future perfectly. The simple definition of “foreknew” in both Greek and English is “to know ahead of time."

“The verb would have to suggest that God ‘foresees’ something peculiar to believers – … their faith. In this manner the human response of faith is made the object of God’s ‘foreknowledge’; and this foreknowledge, in turn, is the basis for predestination: for ‘whom He foreknew, He predestined.’” This has been a controversial subject (and verse) for hundreds of years. There are many interpretations and I will give you just two which I think are incorrect:


1. Open Theism (Conditional, Corporate Election)
God does not know the future, but works it out with us.

2. Calvinism (Unconditional Election)
God chose some to be saved and some to be condemned.

* To again summarize what I teach (Conditional Election)
God chose to save those who choose Him by faith in Christ.

So in eternity past God saw that you would believe and He in essence said, “I will save him/her.”
And so you can see how the process works out. We were predestined, called, justified, and then strikingly Paul says that Christians are glorified. Something that has not yet happened, something in the future, Paul refers to with the past tense. I think when this occurs it is appropriate to say that there is such certainty of this coming to past that the past tense is used of the future. To be “glorified” is most likely “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (v30). That is God’s “purpose” (v28) in us.

Conclusions and Applications

Persevere in the faith. "All things" work together for good includes good, bad, difficult, ugly, and painful. We have been told repeatedly that we will face trials and tribulations. We should not be suprised when tough times come. We trust in a God who works out all things for good. We are those who love Him (because He first loved us), and we are the called according to His purpose. Let me assure you, He does not fail in His purposes. All we must do is persevere in the faith until the end. Our reward is not here, not now, but when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. May each of you be among those who have trusted Him when that day comes.