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You are the salt of the earth. (Matt 5:13)
You are salt. The applications here are pretty clear. Salt flavors,salt preserves and salt heals. The thing that distinguishes salt from any other substance is that it is salty. (thank you Dr. Obvious!) In earlier days people used to preserve fish in cases of salt. The fishermen would pack the fish in salt, and when they were ready to use the fish they would take it out of the salt. Next they would taste the salt. If it tasted like fish they would throw it out on the road where it would pack down into the “pavement” of the day. If it tasted like salt, they would simply pack the next catch of fish in the same salt.
In Mark’s gospel Jesus says “Salt is good.” This is in great dispute these days, and many say that Jesus is not giving us nutritional information here, but as I understand it you body needs salt – good salt – not processed salt, but natural sea salt.
Taste – Christians are supposed to flavor their world. There should be a marked difference in a group when you walk in. The whole group will "taste" better. I know that sounds funny, but when Jesus hung out with sinners (which He was known to do) He was certainly not drawn down to their debauchery, but rather the entire group was lifted up. He was followed all over not just for the miracles He did, though there was that, but also because He was good company. The woman at the well went away so moved by this man, that she brought the entire city of Samaria back to hear this Jew.
Preservative – We are called to be a preservative to our town, city, school, workplace, country and world. Think of the day God and Abraham discussed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham negotiated with God from 50 down to 10 and finally God walked the few good people out of the city before their destruction. Twice in the book of Ezekiel God says that He was looking for intercessors to come to the defense of the nation, making a hedge. Our influence in society staves off the judgment of God, and can leave more time for our friends and loved ones to get properly salted!
Healing – I think of Jeremiah’s words to the prophets and priests of his day.
“And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. (Jer 6:14)”
As salt in our nation, we cannot let those who do not know God think they are in a safe and comfortable place. Salt, when applied to a wound stings, but that sting it the salt doing its work. Jude says it this way:
 “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 22,23)
As I say all this, I see that I am often a tasteless Christian, leaving the conversations I am in without adding any godly flavor. It is real easy for me to get all – What should I do to be more salty  but as I write this I am realizing that salt is salt because it is salty. Victory is in the being, not in the doing. [tweet this] Let’s get salty folks. The world needs salt that has some taste, some preservative power, and some healing sting.
What does it mean to you to be salty? Do you have victories to share? Are there places you see even now where you could be more salty?
Thanks for reading today!
Ben 

Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 NKJV)
These are the earliest recorded words of Jesus (post incarnation) and I want to look at how they lay out the pattern for His entire life. I was a little confused when I jumped in, because I was meditating on the verse as I had memorized it many years ago in the KJV much as it appears above, but then I looked it up in my “BlueLetterBible” ap in the NASB it shows up like this: “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”
I am thinking – which is it? So I looked up this word that can be business or house, and found that it is a pretty vague word. It is basically a pronoun that is translated based on context as: which, who, those, this, mother of, son of, and dozens of other things. I think if I, the great Greek scholar that I am (just kidding) were to translate this today, I would probably go with “Didn’t you know I’d be doin’ My Father’s stuff?” (Clearly not an English major either – sorry Eva.)
Let me get serious for a couple minutes. This is probably one of the most significant defining points in my theology. Jesus says it over and over again. He came to do the will of the Father, and has called us to do the same.
Consider these other statements of Jesus:

“BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO THY WILL.” (Heb 10:9)

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30)

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)

For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.” (John 12:49)

This is not exhaustive either. It is critical for us to understand that Jesus is a demonstration of the will of God. In fact in Hebrews 1:3 the writer makes the point that Jesus is the best picture we will ever see of the will of God this side of heaven. The writer says that Jesus is “the exact representation of God.” The writer also says that Jesus is a better representation of God than God earlier revelations of Him through the prophets, so don’t let something you read in the prophets trump what you see in the life of Jesus. Jesus is the plumb line by which all scripture and all interpretation of scripture must be measured. That’s right, Isaiah does not trump Jesus, nor does Paul. Moses and Elijah came to learn from Jesus, not the other way around!
I want to make 2 simple points here.

    1)    If you want to know the will of God, look at Jesus. This may sound obvious, but we often argue against this with our nearly fatalistic theology. Everything that happens to you is not necessarily the will of God for your life! If you can not find Jesus doing something, do not assume it is something God does. Jesus never put sickness on anyone, yet often we blame God for our diseases. Jesus calmed storms, yet we call them acts of God. Jesus fed multitudes, but we blame God for famines. Be careful of the accusation you make against God.
2)    Jesus said over and over in the verses above, that He did not do these things by His own power. In other words He did not heal the sick because He was God, but because He was connected to the will of God, and walking in what He was seeing the Father do. This is why He could tell us to do the same thing. It is still the will of God to save, deliver, heal, set free, feed the multitude and raise the dead. We just need to submit to His will to the same extent Jesus did.

BenI desire to walk this out. Do you? I am convinced that as we meditate on His words, and press into His will we will see more and more the Fathers “stuff” show up in our lives.
Thanks for reading. Come back again soon!
Ben

 

In Luke 6 Jesus preaches a sermon very similar to the sermon on the mount. It may be the same sermon from a different man’s point of view, or it may be that Jesus preached this content a number of times.
In any case there is something very interesting about Luke’s account. As with much of Luke’s gospel there is an edge to Jesus' words that is not always present in some of the other accounts.
When Jesus gives the Beatitudes in Luke, He first pronounces blessing, and then the turns them around. Here he says “Woe to you…”
So today, I am going to take the liberty of turning Matthew’s beatitudes around. I know this is not scripture, but it makes an impact on me when I think about these things.
Woe unto those who are the rich in spirit, for they have no part in the kingdom of heaven.
Woe unto those who do not mourn over sin, for they shall receive torment.
Woe unto those who will not submit to the will of God, for they shall inherit eternal destruction.
Woe unto those who hunger and thirst for wickedness, for they shall never be satisfied.
Woe unto those who are unmerciful, for they shall receive no mercy.
Woe unto those with impure in hearts, for they shall never see God.
Woe unto those who are troublemakers, for they shall be called sons of the devil.
Woe unto those who have persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for they will never see the kingdom of heaven.
And as Jesus himself gave this last one “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
BenI hope this impacts you as much as it impacts me. Do you think this goes too far? I don't, but let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading.
Ben

Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:12)

As we come to the end of this beginning (the Beatitudes) we see clearly the upside-down nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us that the proper reaction to persecution, insults, and harm done to us in His name is rejoicing!
I feel like – OK Lord, it is one thing for me to expect it, and be prepared for it, but rejoice? WOW – HOW!
As I mull this, I think how did Jesus demonstrate this? Hebrews 12:2 (I know, I know, I have used this one in my blog before – your thinking this guy only knows like 8 verses – probably so)

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2 NASB)

It says He endured the cross with His eye on the prize, and that is what He tells us to do. Rejoice because of the “Great Reward.” Let’s think about this a bit.
Somehow Christians have in their collective heads (ok – that may be a broad brush stroke - forgive me please) that spiritual pursuits cannot be reward driven. Like somehow if we are doing something with a reward in view, it is unspiritual at best, or at worst sin and selfishness. Not so!
Think about this for a minute. Why were the disciples always arguing about who would be the greatest? Was it just testosterone driven machismo? Or could it be that Jesus often taught about how to be great. He would says stuff like “He who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” or “…your reward in heaven is great.” It may seem paradoxical, but Jesus actually encourages us to strive for greatness, as He defines greatness. That definition is for another post.
Have you read what David said, before he decided to go after that Philistine Champion Goliath. He asked, “What do I get if take this bozo down? No more taxes and a beautiful wife! I’m in!” (my paraphrase)
So why is it OK – wait – let me fix that – why is it imperative for a Christian to pursue reward? Think of the snapshots we get of heaven. What is going on? People, saints, God’s children, assemble before His throne, and those who have received rewards have the privilege of presenting those rewards to the Lord. The more you have received from Him, the more you can give back.
So what will you have to present to the Lord? If you sit back and fall through your life, you will have nothing to present to your King. We pursue spiritual reward so that we have a tangible way to honor our King when we stand before Him. This is the stuff that will make it through the fire. This is the stuff that you can take with you!
Excellence in your walk before the Lord will net you persecution, but with that is great reward.
Thank you for visiting today. I appreciate you taking your time to read my ponderings.
Ben

A few weeks ago I posted a blog called “Where was Jesus in your worst moment?” I thought it was a pretty valuable piece, and I have thought back on it a number of times.
Today, I was listening to a brand new podcast called “Jesus Culture Leadership Podcast.” Check it out. It is really excellent.
Banning Liebscher interviews the worship leader Matt Redman. They highlighted a song from his CD "10,000 Reasons" called “Never Once” and as I listened, it reminded me of this blog post, and complimented it nicely.
Here is my recommendation






Have a great day.
Thanks for stopping in today.
Ben

What does the Love of God look like?
I can trust my Father because He has my best interest in mind at all times. He loves me. What does it mean to love? Many of us know that there are a few Greek words for love, but the one used most often to describe the Father’s love for us is Agape. The best definition I know for this kind of love is this. Love does whatever is in its power to bring about the best for its object. Notice I did not say give the object of my love what they want, but what is best for them. The fuller the love, the higher the expenditure of resources involved. What I mean to say is this. If I love you a little, I will expend some of my uncommitted time or energy to see that you are benefited. I will consider what I see as the best outcome for you, and put some of my free resources to work for you. That may be time, money, talent, what ever.
If there is a deeper love (agape) commitment, there will be a higher level of involvement on my part. I will be more focused on what would be best for you, and expend more effort seeing it through.
Now let’s just say I am the One who created you (as well as everything else) and love you unconditionally, with a love that never fails - a love that is stronger than death - a love that can not be separated from Me by anything, created or uncreated - and I know you better than you know yourself, and I understand all possible outcomes of your life. My resources are limitless, and are completely at My disposal to bring about the best outcome for your life.
That is how Your Father loves you.
Thanks for reading my Saturday special
Come back soon.
Ben

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (Matt 5:11)

When I read this I think, didn’t we just talk about persecution, why is Jesus repeating Himself? Since Jesus is doing it again, I am drawn to the difference or as they say in France “vive la différence” (though they are probably thinking of something else entirely.)
So what is different? Actually there are a number of things that set this apart. Lets look at a few.
  • ·      Blessed are YOU… This is so personal. Jesus has been addressing the group and talking more or less 3rd person. Blessed is this guy and blessed is the one who is like this or does that. Now He says YOU are blessed! One thing I love about Jesus is how personal He was with those He touched. Obviously, as we have been reading, He preaches to crowds, but much of the time He deals with individuals. I think of Peter and his tax question – Jesus was like, take some money out of my ATM (Automatic Tilapia Mouth) and pay the taxes for YOU and me. I love that!!!! Or how about when He looks on the rich young man with compassion, and tells him exactly what he needs to hear in order to break the power of the enemy in his life.
  • ·      …when men… This is not about your character, but actions taken against you. Every other one of these items are issues of character and your reaction to life. This, on the other hand, is about men attacking you.
  • ·      …on account of Me. This is not even your fault. These things are happening to you completely because Jesus has changed your life.

 

Jesus does not seem to have a clue about self-help systems. Doesn’t he understand that nobody wants a system of steps that take you from a vaguely guilty conscience to life on the receiving end of insults, accusations, and if you are really good at it, maybe even stones. Or does He?
What I hear is this “I am with you in this. I know what YOU are going through, and you are not alone.” We have left off principles and promises, and now we see Christ in You – specifically – no generalities, no group think here. I hear Jesus speak directly to me – I, Jesus, your master, your friend, your husband, I will personally bless you, Benjamin, when people mock you, or bad mouth you, or lie about you, or think you’re an idiot because you are walking in these things.
Jesus is saying, the abuse you are receiving is because of the stand you are taking for me, and I am taking personal responsibility for your blessing as well. Such great assurance!
Know this, whatever the cost to follow Jesus, He is in it with you personally every step of the way. Remember He says, “As much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” (For more on this check my blog on the subject.)
Have you known this personal touch of the Lord in your life? Perhaps you have heard His voice of comfort or direction at a key time in your life. Share it with us please <smile>.

Thanks for stopping in today.

Ben

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:10)

Welcome to following Jesus, now die! What a crazy way to climax this amazing set of character builders.
Just for fun, did you notice that we have had 7 Beatitudes before this? 7 is God’s perfect number, the number of completion. God rested on the 7thday because He was done, not because He was tired.

So why do the beatitudes keep going?

Well, I think the first 7 of these steps on God’s stairway to heaven are pretty complete. (See my comments in What Peace?)
I feel like Jesus is saying “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life! I died for you, now you get to die to yourself, every day!”
It is important to know that Jesus promises persecution to Christians. There are a number of references, but my favorite is probably “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2 NASB) Did you hear that – Jesus said they would throw you out of church, and the guy who kills you will think he is doing God a favor. (kind of reminds me of a guy named Saul of Tarsus)
OK, so I have a question for you. What does it mean if you never feel any persecution? [Tweet This] Is this a cultural thing that no longer is in effect? Is this statement just idle words? Is Jesus just prepping the few who will get in big trouble for His name’s sake, and we don’t take the heat because we live in “Christian” America?
Nope, that’s not it. If you don’t ever feel any persecution, you might want to go back over the steps. Make sure you have not jumped to the conclusion that you are a Christian, because of some outside factor. You can only become a Christian, by being changed from the inside out. Jesus said the He and His Father would come and take up residence in you. 
Today, the point I am making is that persecution is not a something unlucky Christians face, but rather it is evidence that Christ is living in you. And let me be clear, No Christ inside – No kingdom of heaven!
These words might seem a little harsh today, but don’t be offended by me being obnoxious. If it is God word that offends you, I beg you, go back to step one – humble yourselves before the hand of Almighty God! Do it today. Ask Him if you are His. Don’t wait – do it now.
Thanks for reading this my friends.
I remain, Ben
Hey – if you are curious about the Kingdom of God check out my post from a couple weeks ago on the topic called "Kingdom".

they will be called the sons of God. (Matt 5:9)
OK – now that is a big promise! Peacemakers will be called the sons of God. Interesting since the one and only begotten Son of God is called the Prince of Peace.
This promise raises a couple of questions for me.
First, who is doing the calling? Who will call us the sons of God? And this one gets 3 answers.
  • Those outside the family will be inclined to say “these have been with Jesus,” or perhaps “you must be one of them.”
  • Those inside the family will see the family resemblance, and welcome us in with open arms.
  • But the best and most significant is the Father who has called us, has called us His sons!
My next question is: What does it mean to be a son of God?
Romans 8 does a great job of describing this.
We call Him “Abba” which is akin to Papa in my understanding.
We share in Christ’s inheritance. And the Word does not imply that we get a share, but rather that we share – Joint heirs! In Christ we inherit all things. Ephesians 1 tells us we already have every spiritual blessing, and again in Romans 8 we find that He who did not spare His only Son will withhold nothing from us.
It is a big deal to be a son of God! I suggest you ponder for a while what it would be like in the natural to be the prince of a wealthy nation. What are the privileges and what are the responsibilities. What would it mean to be the prince? What does it mean to be a Son of God? What are the privileges and responsibilities?
BenThanks for reading
Ben

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.(Matt 5:9 – NASB)

The word “Peacemaker” interests me in that it only appears one time in all of the Greek New Testament. It is made up of (you guessed it) 2 root words. There are those who say it means to be a peace lover, or pacific or peaceful person, but the majority fall to the side of a more active idea. This peacemaker is not an appeaser, not one who avoids conflict. Rather one who makes peace is one who actively does what is necessary to end conflict. I really like the definition for the “maker” part of the word. Check out this excerpt from the BlueLetterBible.org:
I love this because it is such a call to action. We cannot sit passively by and hope for peace. Peace is produced – it is made –it is the product of peacemaking activity! Let me say that one more time: Peace is the product of peacemaking activity! [Tweet This]
Again, as we covered in Friday's post, “What Peace?” we are talking about the peace that passes understanding from reconciliation with the Father. When you enter into this peace you immediately have an active roll in helping others find the way to this peace. If you are a Christian, if you call Jesus Lord, and live with the expectation of a place prepared for you beyond the grave, you are called to be a peacemaker.
Peacemaking starts with praying for those with whom we have some influence. God will make clear paths for you to step into, in order to help others find peace in their life, and more importantly peace with the Father.
Start today – Ask the Lord for the who and the how, and you will be amazed at the opportunities you see. Tell me about them! I can’t wait to hear what God has done with your submitted life!
Thanks for reading.
Ben

photo credit: Swami Stream via photopin cc

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