Prayer prompt for Thursday, Jan. 28

Think of authority figures in your life: boss, parent, etc. They can direct your actions & hold you accountable, but Jesus wants your heart.

Salt of the Earth

I have heard lots of sermons about Matthew 5:13 over the years, and the messages I can remember focused on the useful benefits of salt – particularly, how it makes food taste better and serves as a preservative. One message that I vaguely recall from my college years even included an unappetizing and detailed explanation of how salt was used in ancient times to preserve meat, jerky-style. The point, I believe, was that since we are “the salt of the earth,” our lives should be appealing (tasteful) to help draw others to Christ.

 

While I don’t disagree with that perspective, two things dawned on me recently that caused me to see Matthew’s analogy from a new angle. First, I have been trying to get rid of weeds that invaded our property during the summer, and one recommendation was to make a concoction out of vinegar and salt to spray on the area. The salt not only kills the plants, but it hinders the soil from growing anything ever again.

 

Second, we are just a couple of months away from the first snow of the season, which means the snow plows will be driving through town in the wee morning hours to clear the roads. The maintenance workers always spread coarse sand on the streets, instead of salt. Why? Because salt is corrosive to the paint and undercarriage of vehicles.

 

This seems like a mixed message. Salt is tasty and has valuable preservative properties, but it also has the ability to destroy. So, I wonder if part of our calling to be “the salt of the earth” is not just advice to live an appealing kind of life to those around us, but to be willing to take a stand – alone, if necessary – to combat the corrosive things of this world? (See Romans 12:1-2)

 

When the enemy plants invasive weeds in our lives and tries to choke out our spiritual growth, we can be “salt” to rid ourselves of those negative influences and stand in faith. Or, when we allow sin to take the driver’s seat instead of relying on the Lord, our prayer partners and Life groups can be “salt” to help us realize that sin is corroding our lives. Let’s go out this week and be “the salt of the earth” to encourage each other and to hold ourselves accountable.

Confidantes (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 22, 2015)

One of the most difficult things about moving (for me, at least) is keeping up with friends left behind and building new relationships. Thanks to technology like Skype and Facebook, staying in touch is a lot easier than the old days of handwriting letters (although, I still love sending and receiving snail mail!) and sending rolls of film away for processing.

 

As great as technology is, there’s something truly special about spending time with someone one-on-one that breaks down superficial walls, builds trust, and creates an atmosphere of confidence where you are assured that the thoughts you share will be kept secure. That’s a much different level of relationship than most of our bantering on Facebook; wouldn’t you agree?

 

I came across a familiar passage in John 15 this week, and a verse caught my eye in a different translation. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) records verses 13-15 as: “The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them. And you are my friends, if you obey me. Servants don’t know what their master is doing, and so I don’t speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything that my Father has told me.”

 

I love the way the Living Bible (TLB) uses the verb “confide in” instead of “speak to.” It implies a more intimate friendship, the unfiltered kind where you can share your most important, deeply personal thoughts. Jesus is telling his disciples that they are not just his students or trainees, but they are his confidantes.

 

We all need that level of openness and accountability with someone – to know that we can let down our guard and still be loved unconditionally, yet be challenged to grow in our faith-walk. Jesus invited his disciples into that innermost circle. May we, too, desire that level of closeness with our savior.