Salt in the Salt Shaker

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Whenever I set the table for dinner, I always put a pair of salt and pepper shakers on the table. It is part of my routine, but today I take time to look at the salt shaker as a representation of myself. While looking closely at the salt shaker in my hand, I conclude that if my life is a salt shaker, then my mouth represents the holes in the top of the shaker from which the granules of salt are dispersed. Matthew 12:34 says, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” So, the salt that is within me is whatever is within my heart. What I meditate upon in my mind is connected to what is in my heart. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” My thoughts determine the nature of the salt that I sprinkle upon the lives of those around me. Each word I speak is like a granule of salt. So, I guess I am both a salt shaker and the salt. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

While looking at the contents of the salt and pepper shakers I have placed on our dinner table, I notice the contrast between the white and black colors. White reminds me of purity while black warns me of sin. I John 3:2-3 says, Beloved, now we are children of God, … we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (my emphasis) Then I John 3:4 goes on to say, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” Verses 2 and 3 describe the white salt while verse 4 illustrates the black pepper. If I breathe in too much pepper, I sneeze. My physical system clears out the particles of pepper just like my soul needs to be cleansed of sin if I am to be pure. Purity is related to guiltless, blameless, or innocent behavior. My life must exemplify purity if I am to be a salt shaker filled with the type of salt the Lord desires. I want to pray with David Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I believe the Lord desires all of His children to be the salt of God’s promises, presence and power.

Mark 9:49-50 declares “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. I believe the fire with which we are salted is the Holy Spirit. If this is true, then the fruit of the Spirit is the salt within me. Galatians 5:22-23 describes this fruit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I want to be set on fire for the Lord through the evidence of this fruit of the Spirit! I notice that the end of Mark 9:50 says that salt can become unsalty. How can this happen? The answer is found as I continue to read in Galatians 5. Verses 25-26 say, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Boasting and envy can change the nature of the salt that is within me. Maybe a little pepper contaminates my salt.

Some people prefer more seasoning than I use in my cooking – that is why I put the salt shaker on the table. Each of us needs to taste something to determine if there is enough salt for our personal taste. Psalm 34:8 encourages us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” While salt increases the flavor of food, too much salt is harmful to one’s body. I want to be mindful of how much salt I share with those around me. When I share a meaningful verse of scripture with a friend, I can also enhance the flavor of the Word by sharing my personal testimony of why this verse tasted good to me at a particular time. On the other hand, too much salty scripture may traumatize the taste buds of an unbeliever. The taste of my salt should be described as love, joy, peace, understanding, patience, sensibility, courage, etc.

My Reader, I encourage you to be a salt shaker with me so that together we can be the salt of the earth as Jesus stated in Matthew 5:13. As salt, may we live pure lives that are neither too salty or unsalty. Let us enhance or stimulate a taste for what the Lord has to offer to all who gather around our table to feed on His Word and our testimony.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Jesus Cares about YOU!

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My Bible is open to John 11 and I read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I usually jump to the exciting part about new life for Lazarus in this account and just skim over the first part of the story. Today I read it a little differently. I see the experiences of Mary and Martha as encouragement for anyone who is waiting for “something” to happen. My Reader, are you aching for a special friend or family member to have a personal encounter with Jesus? Are you praying for someone to be physically, emotionally or spiritually healed? Study the words of John 11 with me.

Verse 1: Now a man named Lazarus was sick… he was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Lazarus was the individual who was sick. He had two sisters who loved him and wanted to see him healed. Can you name a person you care about who is like a Lazarus?

Verse 3: So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Mary and Martha knew Jesus well and were confident He could heal their brother. They contacted Jesus. This is what we do when we pray for another person.

Verse 4: When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
Jesus heard Mary and Martha’s request but He planned to do more for Lazarus than put a band-aid upon his illness. We have the confidence that Jesus will hear our prayers of intercession but we must remember that He may have bigger plans for how He will work in a specific situation than what we may perceive. It might take more time.

Verse 5-6: Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick he stayed where he was two more days.”
One would think that Jesus would want to return to be with His friends when tragedy struck . But that is not what Jesus did! Scripture says that Jesus stayed away because He loved them. Just because Jesus may not answer our prayers as we want when we want, it does not mean that He does not love us. It may even be because of His love that He waits.

Verses 14-15: So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.
Things had gone from bad to worse for this family of Bethany! Jesus knew what was happening and even said He was glad He was not there. That doesn’t sound very loving to us from the natural perspective. However, Jesus sees into the supernatural realm. Now Jesus is ready to go back to His friends. He did not forget them and He does not forget us even when it seems to us as if He is not going to intervene.

Verses 20, 28-29: When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home….After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.
When Jesus returned to Bethany, He connected with Mary and Martha before He went to the grave of Lazarus. Before acting on behalf of Lazarus, Jesus had compassion on Mary and Martha and met them in their time of sorrow. We can be assured that He will comfort us while we are waiting for “sleeping” family and friends to return to Him. We are a priority to Jesus. I like John’s choice of words in verse 28 saying, “The Teacher is here.” The Holy Spirit lives inside us teaching us about who Jesus is. Just like Martha’s faith being broadened with understanding in verses 21-27, so can we grow in our faith. The Lord sees all situations as opportunities for us to gain a deeper understanding of who He is.

Verse 34: Where have you laid him (Lazarus)?” he (Jesus) asked.
With Mary and Martha at His side, Jesus now turned His attention to Lazarus. He wanted to know where Lazarus was. Where have we left the family and friends for whom we are praying? Have we left them alone feeling that they are dead and hopeless or have we left them at the feet of Jesus?

Verse 35: Jesus wept.
Jesus could have wept because of the sorrow of Mary and Martha. He also weeps with us in our pain. Jesus could have wept because of the death of Lazarus. He mourns with us when we mourn the loss of someone special. Jesus could have wept because of the lack of faith and understanding of those around Him. He cries within His heart as He sees how little faith we have compared to what is available to us.

Verse 39: “Take away the stone,” he (Jesus) said.
This was the beginning of the miracle Jesus was about to perform.
Is there a stone blocking Jesus’ entry into our hearts that is preventing Him from working in our lives?  If so, He wants it removed.

Verses 41-42:
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Jesus
sets the example for us to begin our prayers with thanksgiving. Jesus was confident His Heavenly Father heard Him. We, too, can have the assurance that He hears and answers our prayers.

Verses 43-44: Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”…. “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Not only did Lazarus receive life back into his body but he also was freed from bondage exemplified by the grave cloths that were taken off. Are there bonds
that can be broken in our lives that will allow us to live a freer better life? We have this promise for eternity but we also have the promise for today if we are willing to come out of our old dead ways of thinking and acting.

In conclusion, I believe Mary and Martha were glad Jesus waited two days. Their prayers were answered in an exceedingly, abundantly way far beyond what they had asked! I think what happened in the lives of Mary and Martha was just as important as the gift of resurrected life Lazarus received. The Lord works within our lives while working in the lives of those we bring to Him in prayer. My Reader, take heart; you may be in a holding pattern waiting for the fulfillment of your fervent prayers, but Jesus cares about YOU!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Take a Deep Breath

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hs-windIt is springtime and the weather is in a constant state of flux. Some days are warm and then the next few days may be cold. Wind usually accompanies a change in these weather fronts. I feel wind but I do not see it. I know wind exists even though I cannot visually validate it. This reminds me of the Holy Spirit who I know exists even though I cannot see Him. Scripture describes the Holy Spirit as wind in Acts 2, so it is applicable for me to make this comparison. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they (the disciples) were sitting….All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…. – Acts 2:2&4. (my emphasis and explanations)

Since wind can be defined as moving air, I think about breathing. I have physical life because I breathe oxygen from the air. This takes me to a scripture in the first book of the Bible. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” There is life in the breath of God. In the creation process, I was formed and then I came alive when God breathed His breath of life into me. God imparted to me eternal, spiritual life only possible through His breath which was not given to any plant or animal He created. I have physical life because I breathe in oxygen, and I have spiritual life because I breathe in the breath of God. I must not try to do His work in our own strength. Paul reminds me in Philippians 4:13 NKJV, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The only way I can accomplish all that the Lord sets before me is to rely upon the spiritual power imparted to me through Christ, through the breath of God. The Lord did not create me to be able to do everything by myself in my own strength. Like the wind, there is power in the breath of God. I cannot see it but I can feel it.

Nature’s wind accompanies storms within the atmosphere. There can be turmoil within the skies and there can be turmoil within my life. There is power in blustery breezes and there is power within the wind of the Holy Spirit. When I am feeling overwhelmed, it helps to relax if I take a few deep breaths. What I am doing in the spiritual realm is expelling my own strength and breathing in God’s strength. I am exhaling my sinfulness and taking in His forgiveness. I am reminded of the words of the hymn Breathe on Me Breath of God by Edwin Hatch

Breathe on me, breath of God
fill me with life anew,
that as you love, so I may love
and do what you would do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours
to do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God;
fulfil my heart’s desire,
until this broken part of me

Breathe on me, breath of God;
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
of your eternity.

To conclude, I have come to realize that if I can believe in the wind that blows as part of weather, I can believe in the Holy Spirit. Like the wind of the weather, I cannot see the Holy Spirit, yet like the wind, I can feel His presence. Just because I cannot see the wind of the weather, I do not stop believing that wind exists and that there is power within the wind. So, neither should I doubt the existence or the power of the Holy Spirit simply because I cannot visually see Him. I constantly and consistently need the oxygen within the air to live physically and I must continually rely upon the Holy Spirit to give me spiritual life. I need to breathe in God’s divine strength. In John 20:22 it says, “He (Jesus) breathed on them (the disciples) and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Today I ask Jesus to breathe on me and impart to me a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.

My Reader, will you take a deep breath with me?  Be aware of the breeze around you.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Living in the Land of In-Between

 

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The story of the Israelites being led out of Egypt into the Promised Land of Canaan is recorded in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua. The accounts tell of a 40 year journey that should have taken only 11 days. Where were the Israelites during these 40 years? They were wandering and waiting in the wilderness. They were in the Land of In-Between. They were between Egypt and Canaan. What happened in the lives of the Israelites between Egypt and the Promised Land?

What took place for the Israelites back in 1436 BC still has significance for us in 2016 AD. I believe the experiences of God’s chosen people 1400 years before Christ was born were a foreshadow of what we will encounter over 2000 years since Christ was born. We live in the shadow of the Israelites and I want to learn from their experiences on both the physical and spiritual levels. Let’s look at some details.

The Israelites were in slavery and bondage in the physical land of Egypt. From the spiritual perspective, Egypt is often considered a symbol of sin. As human beings we are born into the bondage of our sinful human nature. Moses was sent to deliver God’s people out of Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land of freedom. God sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver us from sin. When we accept Jesus as our Savior (He saves us from sin) and Lord (He rules our lives and guides us in the freedom He purchased for us through His death), we travel from our personal Egypt to our Canaan. Our Promised Land is where we will dwell with God throughout eternity. Jesus says in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” So, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, where are we? Like the Israelites, we are in the wilderness, the Land of In-Between. The Israelites sojourned there for 40 years. We will dwell in the wilderness, or the Land of In-Between, throughout of our earthly lives.

Join me as we look at some scriptures relating to the Israelites and to us. Let’s apply their experiences to our journey in the Land of In-Between.

First, God was with the Israelites throughout their journey in the wilderness and He made His presence known through the cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night.
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Exodus 13:21-22
Today, Christ lives in us and we have the help of the Holy Spirit.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26

Second, as their leader, Moses could always talk with God and seek His guidance and direction.
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Exodus 33:11
Each of us can personally talk with God anytime we want. This is our privilege of prayer.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Third, God provided food in the form of manna for the Israelites each day. The Israelites set a good example for us in that they gathered their frosty flakes in the morning to give them nourishment throughout the day.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
Exodus 16:4
God has made provision for our spiritual manna in the form of scripture that we can feed on every day. May we remember to take time to gain new spiritual insight when our minds are fresh in the morning.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
I Peter 2:2-3

Fourth, the soles of the Israelites’ sandals did not wear out even though they wore them for 40 years.
Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
Deuteronomy 29:5
God watches over us so that our souls will not wear out for the duration of our journey in the Land of In-Between.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
I Corinthians 10:13

My Reader, every day of our lives is spent in the Land of In-Between waiting for Jesus to return so we can live with Him throughout eternity. While we are on the journey to this Promised Land, each of us will experience specific times of waiting that bring our attention to the fact that in a narrower sense we are also living in the Land of In-Between. We will feel like we are in the wilderness wandering and waiting. Life can be rather wild in the wilderness! The trials of some trails are more difficult than others. Maybe you have lost your job and you are waiting to find new employment. Maybe you are waiting for results from a medical test that will reveal whether or not you have cancer. Maybe you are waiting to see whether your spouse will go to marriage counseling with you or if you will be served divorce papers. You can give a name to the situation that accentuates your waiting in the Land of In-Between today. I know it is frustrating to wait. However, there are lessons God can only teach us in this Land of In-Between. The Israelites traveled around Mt. Sinai many times during their 40 years of waiting to cross over into the land of Canaan. So I encourage you to take another trip around your mountain or sit at the foot of your Mt. Sinai until the Lord reveals your next travels. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” The Lord will make our paths straight even when we are waiting and wavering in the wilderness of the Land of In-Between!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Note: The phrase about the land of the in-between resonated in my spirit when I first heard it. I do not know if there is a specific person to whom I should give credit for these descriptive words or not. However, I do know that what I have shared in this post are insights the Lord gave me when I thought about and prayed about the Land of In-Between.