while Growing in Grace"
-Matt. 28:19-20, 2 Pet. 3:18
If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. – John 7: 37b-38
Epistle Of Encouragement
The Sower, The Seed, and the Soil
13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:5-16
Pastor Errick Peck
Citadel Missionary Baptist Church
Jesus tells us a parable of Mammoth proportions about three intertwined subjects: the Sower; the Seeds; and the Soil. Each subject plays a significant role in the development of the other. For example: without the Sower, how would the seeds get distributed? Without the Seeds, how would there be a harvest? And without the Soil, where would the seeds germinate or develop? Since parables are for our deeper understanding of Gods principles let’s look at these three subjects under a magnifying glass.
Sower – Noun of Sow meaning -to scatter or plant seed in or on the earth. To initiate or arouse (stir into activity; stimulate; excite; initiate).
They throw seed everywhere and anywhere hoping to stir up or initiate a harvest. His or her job is to do one thing –SOW (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 8:32-38).
In the parable, the Sower seems to be throwing seeds of grain or other crops producing seeds but the parable is explained by Jesus: the Seed is the “Word of God” (Mark 4:14; Luke 8:11) therefore the Sower doesn’t have a name, but can’t be just anybody.
A Sower must understand the occupation, have an application on file, and know the material that they work with.
1.) To sow, stir up, initiate, arouse, plant or stimulate on a short notice or on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
2.) To sow anywhere and everywhere with little expectancy of immediate results.
-It takes time to bring forth a harvest…need patient and diligence!
-Only 1 out of 4 soils brought forth results!
3.) To desire a fruitful harvest or to see the soil produce at its full potential
a) May have to sow in wayside areas (Mark 4:15), harsh weather conditions –Flesh (Gal 6:7-9).
b) Ability to see beyond the natural –Faith (Hebrews 11:1, 6)
c) May have to plow and sow at the same time
-plowing the seed in the ground so the birds (Satan) couldn’t get them.
*slow but effective –takes time to work Salvation into some people, but it can be done. (Manners and Customs of Biblical Times manual)
Can’t be placed into job, must desire the job. Applying for it shows interest!
a) Hard to be passionate about other people when you don’t care…(I John 4:20) -Compassion
b) Committed -when there is no immediate accolades or benefits
c) Not judgmental **don’t know in the beginning how the soil is**
d) Hard worker-Can do hard tedious labor (Luke 9:62)-plowing and sowing
The Seed is the “Word of God”. You must know something about it to effectively use it. You need a:
a) Relationship with God to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (parables and other hard sayings) and understand their concepts. (Matt 13:11; Mark 4:11-12; I Cor 4:1-2)
b) You can’t effectively teach, preach, counsel, and exhort God without knowing His Word. The relationship with Him is pending upon your obedience to His Word. (II Tim 2:15; Hebrews 4:12; II Tim 3:15-16)
c) Remembering God’s Word- through repetition, meditation, etc
**Not knowing the material can waste your time and theirs!
-not pious nor biased or partial on where you sow!
The Sower plays an important role in distributing the Word of God to everyone. Without the Sower, no harvest could exist in the Kingdom of God.
In this parable of the Sower, the Seed is also an important link in the chain of spiritual growth. The Seed makes the Sower successful in their endeavors, and the Seed is the beginning of the tangible blessings we can see (harvest) and enjoy (fruit).
The definition of Seed in the Oxford Dictionary is as follows:
-Flowering plants, unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant.
-fundamental or underlying cause
*noun synonym-beginning, root, reason, basis grounds
The Bible’s definition in Luke 8:11 says the seed is the “Word of God”. Therefore putting these two definitions together confirms the “Word of God “to be the beginning of life (root) and the reason for life (fundamental or underlying cause)-(Matt 4:4, Deut 8:3). The seed or the “Word of God” has many functions, but mainly the “Word of God” introduces us to God, declares his will, and brings his purpose into fruition.
We believe that God spoke and the universe began to take form and shape (Gen ch 1, Psa 33:6-9). His word will be the only thing to last when his creation dissolves (Matt 5:18). The gospel of John chapter 1 states that Gods word became flesh and dwelt among us; A reincarnated representative of God’s word, the LOGOS or personal manifestation of God himself (JESUS-Jn 1:1-14).
The seed is never unsuccessful in promoting growth (Isa 55:11). The devil knows to move swiftly or the “Word of God” will become productive even in wayside soil. We will learn later that this soil represents the person with a lack of understanding (Matt 13:19). When we sow the “Word of God” we are sowing the opportunity for life, liberty, love, salvation, change, grace, mercy, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, faith, and fruitfulness. In a sense, we are giving the world a small part of CHRIST that will become a great harvest; a fruitful harvest when application follows hearing. The harvest is truly plenteous but the laborers (sowers) are few (Matt 9:37-38)!
God is counting on us to evangelize our homes, communities, our city and the world (Matt 28:19-20)! Remember: the seed (word of God) is always successful in bringing forth a harvest if planted, but the sower will not be effective if he or she doesn’t KNOW the WORD and SOW the WORD!
The Soil is the last component discussed, but plays a significant role in this parable. This parable Jesus explains gives us the most information on the four Soils.
Jesus talked to the crowd about something they understood and could relate to; agriculture.
But Jesus was not only describing a picture of a holding area for Seeds to grow, but also a metaphor for our heart (Matt 13:19) and Soul and total being (Gen 2:7; 3:19, 23; Eccl 12:7; Ps 103:14).
We may represent or witness these four Soils at any time. Let’s begin to look at all four Soils, starting with the definition.
Soil -the top layer at the earth surface, consisting of rock and mineral particles mixed with organic matter; a place or condition favorable for growth; a breeding ground.
Biblical definition -the materials man was made of (dust and dirt) -woman: rib made from dirt (Gen 2:21-23).
Adam -ad-ham -red dirt Parable definition -condition of our heart ( Matt 13:19).
The Wayside Soil has two important characteristics, the way it prioritizes things and its lack of understanding. First the dictionary projects a definition pertaining to something on the side of the road.
A car comes to mind that cannot be fixed immediately so it sets there waiting. This car may become low on the priority list because of time, funds, or other reasons.
The longer it sits the more vulnerable it is to theft, being damaged, or towed. So it is, with us, when we put off the importance of hearing and applying God’s Word. Satan knows if he moves quickly he can take away, eat, or destroy the Seeds of life. Our first calling is to study the “Word of God” (II Tim 2:15) and to obtain an understanding of His Word. (Prov 3:13-23; 4:5-7).
Wisdom actually begins with reverential fear of his power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. Wisdom and Knowledge produces good judgment, justice, riches and honor, substance, a view of Gods power and creativity, favor and life (I Kings 3:9-28; Prov 8:23-30; Ch 9; Matt 7:24-27). If we don’t seek Wisdom and Knowledge, we could be destroyed because we lack it (Hos 4:6)! If we reject Wisdom and Knowledge about God, we are rejecting God!
If we put God first, ask God for Wisdom and seek understanding of his Holy Word, we too can change from wayside Soil to rich and vibrant Soil ready to bring forth a harvest (Matt 6:33; Jas 1:5).
When the Seed or the Word of God fell into the Soil (heart) of this person it had an immediate effect on them. They received the Word with gladness and joy (Matt 13:20; Mk 4:16; Lk 8:13), but the Seed never took root. Roots are a feeding system for the plant to get nutrients and water when the leaves or stem above ground has no source available. If the portion of the plant above ground has too much sun and the plant lacks moisture, the root system doesn’t have a chance in shallow Soil.
This depicts a person who has no root in the Word of God. They may be a novice in a leadership position or a person that is not receiving good principal teaching from the Word of God.
They seem okay for a while but when trials, temptation, or tribulation come for Christ sake, they become offended or fall away.
They can’t handle the pressure of being Christ-like or find it too hard to be consistent in their Christian walk. So they give in to temptation or fall away to the flesh or never establish longevity at any church.
Stony Ground has an immediate conception of life, but long term results of death. Many people live day to day with these conditions:
1) Thinking trials, temptations, and tribulations are not part of the growth process!
(I Pet 4:12-19; Rom 8:28, 31, 35-39; I Cor 3:10-15).
*Tribulation bringeth forth patience (perseverance) and patience experience (character) and experience hope (Rom 5:3-5). This hope in God sustains us until our Faith in God delivers (saves) us (Rom 8:24-25; Heb 11:1). We become established, firm, and fixed when we accept our trials as tests, and believe that God will put no more on us that we can bear (I Cor 10:12-13; Col 2:6-7).
2) Are more concerned about Religion (small growth but no root) than Relationship (growth in spite of outward conditions) because of the roots.
Most of us have been taught to religiously attend church instead of being challenged to seek a relationship. A relationship requires a change to become closer to Christ. Religion only requires you to keep coming to church. A relationship causes you to put his ways first regardless of how you feel.
Obedience and application of His Word causes you to be different from the world and sometimes lose what you thought meant the world (Matt 6:19-21; Matt 16:24-26).
Since this situation can be us at any time:
3) The Stony Ground can be plowed with the right tools:
a) The Word of God –powerful, quick and sharp (Heb 4:12)
b) Repentance/Confession of Sin –acknowledge wrong followed with a change of direction (I John 1:9-10)
c) Prayer –also interceding prayer for others (Jas 5:13-16)(Acts 12:5)
d) Humility (I Pet 5:5-7)
e) Encouragement/Making A Stand (I Cor 15:58; I Sam 30:1-6; Eph 6:13-17)
Sometimes Satan is not causing the trials (tests), God is (Jas 1:12-13). Satan is not mentioned in this part of the parable. Stony Ground may not be noticed at first but it shows up as we go through our individual trials. Our roots have to be developed to keep us when outward conditions are not conducive to growth. Remember: We have Christ in us (II Cor 6:16-17; I John 4:4), for us (Rom 5:8; 8:31), and with us (Heb 13:56; Matt 1:23) even when our Soil is Rocky. BELOVED; when our roots are developed, we have unconditional joy and a breeding ground ready for the Seed.
This Soil has weeds and thorns that grow along side of the Seed or the Word of God. These weeds or thorny plants thrive off of the same substances that productive plants do; sunlight, water, wind, and Soil. They spring up simultaneously with fruitful plants, but it still remains a mystery who planted them (Matt 13:24-26).
Thorns and thistles have been added to the list of plants or shrubs since God disciplined Adam in the Garden of Eden. The ground was cursed to bring forth sorrow, hardships, and “sweat from ones brow” while obtaining herbs to eat (Gen 3:17-19). This is a far cry from the beginning when God said “Let the earth bring forth grass, herb yielding Seed and fruit trees and saw that it was good” (Gen 1:11-12).
The apostle Paul used a metaphor to describe an annoying pain in his body as a “Thorn in the flesh” “The message of Satan” to buffet (hurt or strike over and over) him (II Cor 12:7-8). Thorns seem to fit in with Satan’s scheme of things; linked to sin, began with a curse cause pain, discomfort and even wants to control our Soil’s productivity.
In the Oxford American Dictionary, Thorns are described as sharp pointy projections on a plant, but is also related to similar words or phrases like constant annoyance, bother, nuisance, vexation, pest, affliction, and irritant. The adjective form (Thorny) also has a familiar definition that may help us: having many Thorns or hard to handle without offence, problematic, difficult, hard, complicated, and troublesome.
Hopefully we have created a picture of the plant’s dilemma in Thorny Soil; how to grow and produce fruit in such a hostile environment! This Soil is hearing the Word and productive, but its affections are on something else (Matt 13:22). The “cares of this world” are influential in our everyday existence. Our desires, pursuits, affections, pleasures, and ambitions can make us love the world and miss the mark! (Matt 6:19-21; 10:34-39; Rom 6:20-23; Jas 1:14-15; I John 1:15-17)
This Soil (heart) may be wrestling with obligations to its former desires, and having motive reconstruction demanded by the new tenant; the Seed or the Word of God (Matt 6:24; Rom 7:14-25; 8:3-8). Prioritizing your affections will keep weeds, thistles, and Thorny plants in their place. God wants us to have everything available as long as everything available doesn’t have us!
We also live in a money driven society that promotes a false sense of security, power, and popularity with money. These vices try to smother morals and virtues like patience, kindness, and other Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The love of money deceives us many ways using television (persuasion), poverty (doing whatever it takes to get out), and appetites driven by lust and jealousy, just to name a few.
The love of money is the ROOT of all evil (I Tim 6:9-10) and will spread Seeds to faraway places and germinate in many different Soils (hearts) if it’s allowed to take ROOT and grow in you. Money can be used for positive and practical reasons in the Kingdom of God (Eccl 10:19) as long as it’s used, not loved (I Tim 6:17-19). Greed, selfishness, covetness, and unrestrained ambition can be taught and nurtured by loving money.
Godly priorities, preventive maintenance and contentment have proven vital in removing a lot of unwanted prickly weeds. Ask yourself:
1) Why am I doing what I’m doing?
b) Motivation (Col 3:16-17)
2) What are my priorities?
a) Is God first- How much time is allowed for God, is tithes and offering recorded in your bank account ledger?
3) How can I obtain this?
a) Spiritual goals- write them down
4) Where is God in my life?
a) God’s will- What I should desire to do
b) God’s purpose- What God desires to do thru us
5) When is enough; enough?
a) Contentment- (Phil 4:11-13)
b) Rest- (Psa 23:1-3; Matt 11:28-30
The Soil (heart) has to constantly watch for complicated, irritating, annoying, difficult plants that purpose to block the sun (son), reflect the wind (spirit), drain the moisture (anointing), and choke purpose out of the plant until its barren and fruitless (Jer 17:9; Prov 4:23; Matt 15:17-19).
The last Soil mentioned in this parable is the most successful Soil of the four. The Good Soil (heart) is the goal of everyone. To bring forth a harvest exemplifies success in the role of the Sower, Seed, and Soil. This parable teaches us a principle: That God wants all of his children to produce fruit at their fullest potential.
The catalyst of this parable is becoming good soil that will hear the Word, receive the Word, understand the Word, and keep the Word thus bringing forth fruit with patience (perseverance) (Matt 13:23; Mk 4:20; Lk 8:15). We are to cultivate our Soil (hearts) as if our life depended on the harvest. Because the Seed (Word of God) will never fail!
Let’s look again at the key attributes of Good Soil:
1. Hear the Word- Listen attentively to preaching, teaching, or studying, reading the bible
-Faith arrives by the hearing the Word (Rom 10:17)
-Faith pleases God (Heb 11:6)
-Future evidence of past request (Heb 11:1) (prayer and supplications) (Phil 4:6-7)
-Live by Faith (Rom 1:17; Heb 10:38)
2. Receive the Word- to take or accept, acquire delivery of, provide accommodation, greet or welcome, convert into sound or pictures.
-Accepting his plan of salvation; birth, death, resurrection, return. (Jn 3:16; Rom 10:9-10; Jn 14:1-6; Rom 5:6-21; Col 3:16; Rom 6:23; Lk 23:33; Lk 24:8) -Live by the Word (Matt 4:4)
-Becoming a living example/ambassador of God (convert into sound, pictures) speak life, live Holy (Rom 12:1-2; I Pet 2:9; Eph 4:29; Col 3:17; II Cor 5:20-21)
3. Understanding the Word – perceive the meaning, grasp, comprehend (Ps 119:104)
-Ask God for Wisdom (Jas 1:5-6)
-Ask Holy Spirit for help- can show you things, lead you to answers
-Biblical Helps- biblical dictionaries, reference books, good teaching, and patience
4. Keeping the Word- retain possession of; retain or reserve for future occasion, Observe or honor, put or store in regular place (Ps 119:11)
-Memorizing Scripture- offense/defense
-Guidance (Ps 119:105)
Did you notice this Soil did not always bring forth a harvest of “hundredfold”? (Mk 4:20). But the wonderful thing about this scenario is the “thirtyfold or sixtyfold” can improve to “hundredfold”. You are only held accountable for your personal potential and not compared to other Soils. The question here is not you producing at 100 percent but you doing YOUR BEST.
Grace is displayed throughout this Soil. It makes up the difference when we only produce a “thirtyfold or sixtyfold”. Grace reminds us that a new Christian doesn’t have the harvest of a seasoned one, and a mistake bound Christian doesn’t have the harvest of a restored one. Grace also promotes thankfulness, which pushes the Soil (heart) to do its Best. That’s why the Good Lord always expects a harvest that displays YOUR BEST. God’s Grace is never lacking, and neither should our efforts in producing a fruitful harvest.
“Thirtyfold or Sixtyfold” may be your best at this time, but Grace encourages you through love to produce a “hundredfold” harvest every time. Some external problems may occur in your efforts to produce, but you can uproot, pluck up, and remove any obstacle with God’s help (I Jn 4:4; Rom 8:31, 37).
Jesus explains this parable in detail to his disciples so they can grasp the importance of sowing good Seeds (Word). The Seed (Word of God) has no concept of failure. It will produce wherever it lands, and is always sought out to be removed or destroyed by Satan or the Flesh. What condition is your heart in: Wayside, Rocky, Thorny, or Good Soil? When our Soil (heart) is fruitful, it produces blessings and benefits for everyone, especially God. When your Garden (life) is producing fruit at some “thirty, some sixty, or hundredfold” God is saying to us “Well done thou good and faithful servant”!!
A Church of Influence
Salt & Light
Pastor Errick Peck
Citadel Missionary Baptist Church
Influence is defined as “an effect a person or thing has on another”. After the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be prepared for ministry; he begins to select disciples to become “fishers of men” (Matt 4:18-25). Jesus immediately made an impact in Galilee by teaching and preaching the Gospel, healing diver diseases, and restoring possessed people. His influence was well noted by great multitudes following him from that time forward. He told the multitude that you can be joyful and happy if you have the beatitude lifestyle (Matt 5:1-12). But ultimately; Jesus bestows upon us the commission of influence by referring to us as “salt and light.”
Salt and light are metaphors used to describe some of the characteristics of discipleship, and reflect the active portion of evangelism toward reaching the masses. Salt has an impact on anything it touches and light affects everything around it; so should the influence of the body of Christ be on neighborhoods, families, friends, piers at work, cities and the world
(I John 3:16-18)(Matt 28:19-20) (Acts 17:1-7)
Jesus, the master teacher, knew that salt has many properties that could remind his disciples about the global influence they could have. “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13) places worthiness, usefulness, reliability, accountability and purpose in the soul of a disciple. The qualities of salt include multiple usages and set the tone for diverse ways to minister to society. Jesus knew all along that the church (or the body of Christ) would make a difference; do you?
Salt properties include:
· Seasoning food/ making food tasty/enhancing the flavor-enhancing their life by giving them something better-alternatives and ultimately choices
(Psa 34:8)(I Pe 2:2-3)(II Pe 3:9)(Matt 11:28-30)(Jn 3:16-17,4:13-14,10:9-10)(Jos 24:14-16)(Ruth 1:9-18)(Jhn 12:32)(Rev 3:19-22)(Rom 6:1-9)(Rom 10:9-10)(Matt 7:24-27)(Heb 7:25)(Jhn 6:26-27)(Prov 14:12)
· Preservative/helps to keep food fresh longer/cured meat-helping them to remain fresh, useable and vibrant(Deut 28:1-14)(Josh 1:1-5)(II Cron
7:13-14)(Psa 16, 25:17-22, 27:1-5, 31:21-24, 34:17-22, 37:23-25, 46, etc)(Isa 49:14-16)(I Pet 4:19)(II Cor1:20-22)(Eph 1:11-14)(Psa 27:1-5)
· Antiseptic-preventing growth of diseases/helps heal and clean wounds(Col 1:27-28)(Eph 4:29)(I Cor 15:33-34)(Psa 107:20)(II Kin 2:19-22)
· Makes a positive impact whenever used tactfully/change is inevitable!-leave a lasting impression of good interactions-(Tit 2:7-8,3:1,8)(Heb
13:1-2)(I Pet 2:13-16)(Eph 2:10)(Gal 6:9-10)(Rom 12:9-21)(Prov 15:1)(Num 18:19)(newborn rubbed with salt for good health-“Nelson illustrated bible
dictionary-Palestinian practice-niv commentary-suggested by Ezek 16:4)
· Salt is necessary for proper health functions-(body-muscle cramps)-need the “word of God” to grow-to be a guide-(I Pet 2:1-3)(II Pet
3:18)(III Jhn vs. 2)(Acts 17:10-11)(II Tim 3:1515-17)(Heb 4:12)(Matt 4:1-4)(Psa 119:105)
· Laxative/saline solution-helps with evacuation and cleans impurities from four senses (eyes-sight, nose-smell, ears-hearing, mouth-taste)(Jhn
15:3)(Matt 7:1-5)(Matt 6:22-23)
· Latin word Sal is related to salt-salary is derived from Sal-the Latin word salarium (salary) originally meant “money given to soldiers to buy
salt but later was changed to “stipend wages” (paycheck)-Webster’s II new college dictionary-giving them information about paying off a
debt that they can never pay! (Rom 5:6-10,6:23)(I Cor 6:19-20)(I Pet 1:18-19)(Heb 9:12-14,28)
· Promotes peace-“being salty” meant to be at peace with others (Mk 9:50)(Rom 12:17-18)(II Cor 13:11-12)
· Salt (sodium chloride-rock salt) has properties that can melt ice or prevent ice-you help break up hard, slippery areas in one’s life-(Jhn
14:1-6)(Psa 23)(Jhn 15:12-13)(Rom 8:28-39)(Phil 4:13)(Isa 1:17-20)(Heb 5:12-13)
· Smelling salt (ammonium carbonate mixed with a scent)-alerting senses/restoring someone back from faintness!-(Gal 6:7-8)(Rom 13:12-14)(Jas
5:19-20)(II Pet 3:9)( I Cor 15:58)(Psa 30:5-6)(Psa 27:13-14)(Psa 118:17-18)(Prov 15:23)
*Bless salt was used to ward off demons and would act as a “barrier to evil” (Rev Mike Maginot-The exorcisms of Latoya Ammons, Indy star Sunday January 26th, 2014 pg. A18)
Salt and light (active discipleship) contains materials of influence that are “second to none” to the unbeliever, the unreachable and the one who is called to administer the influence. “Salty people” realize that holy living, good deeds and effective evangelism go hand and hand (Prov 22:1)! S.A.L.T. or “seeing a live testimony” is essential proof that the world needs for change. A sermon lived is always better than a sermon preached! The “salty” believers of Christ MUST enhance the flavor of the world by standing on its biblical principles and remain “opposites” on many subjects such as chastity (purity), citizenship (helping your fellow man), forgiveness (not giving them what they deserve), charity (love in action) and truth (principals from the “word of God”).
The author of The Church of irresistible influence Robert Lewis states that the church is a “community of people who stand firm in the truth over time against raging currents of opposition and who present living proof of a loving God to a watching world”. No one being exposed to this type of Christianity would be skeptical to cross over raging waters of life on a bridge of proof built on love and sacrifice-Calvary
To be a living example of God’s influence is to never lose your savor (taste or saltiness); for if we lose our savor, we won’t be good for anything but to be cast out and walked on by mankind(Matt 5:13b,13c).
Painful reminders about salt:
• Once salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted or how can it be made salty again (Niv version)?-ans. It can’t! You only get a limited opportunity to influence when you don’t stay opposite to the worlds views, ways, and beliefs (I Pet 2:9)(Jas 4:4). If Satan can’t destroy your belief in God he will try to destroy your influence for God! Stay in his word and stay active in the ministry; salt denotes activity and ability not inability!
• Once salt has lost its savor: Only has a few uses compared to many before-stored away and used on marble courtyards during winter rains at the temple (Manners and customs of biblical times-Ralph Gower)-only used to help the footing of others (keeping others from slipping or falling-making your mistakes).
• Once salt has lost its savor: an identity crisis may occur (Jas 1:22-25)-sugar instead of salt, few uses instead of many, tasteless influences instead of positive, mankind walking on you instead of walking with you, useless and used up instead of valuable (Salarium-paycheck) and victorious.
When we don’t operate within our purpose we try to fulfill other agendas we were not created or redeemed to do which leads to hypocrisy and false living-useless for anything but to be cast out and “trodden under the foot of men”.
The simple definition of light in many cases is the opposite of darkness or illumination. Illuminate furthers our understanding with implications to light up, to make bright, to help explain or enlighten spiritually or intellectually.
Throughout the bible light represents truth, goodness and God’s redemptive work; all symbols of God’s presence and righteous activity (I Jhn 1:5) (I Pet 2:9-10) (Psa 27:1, 84:11) (Rev 22:5). Darkness on the other hand represents error, evil, total separation (from God-Lk 16:19-26) and the works of Satan! (Jhn 3:19-20)(Eph 5:11-13)(Rom 13:12-14)(II Pet 2:4) *Flesh (Gal 5:16-21, 24, 6:7-8)
Even from the beginning God shows us the influence of light by using it to expose the beauty of his creation (Gen 1:1-5). Jesus becomes our illumination by enlightening us about our need for salvation (Jhn 1:1-12, 8:12) (I Jhn 1:5-7) (II Cor 4:3-6) through the acceptance of the gospel*the good news about his sacrificial death for our sins, his burial and triumphant resurrection defeating death, hell & the grave (I Pet 3:18-19, 21-22)
Jesus, the master teacher, knew that light has many properties that could remind his disciples about the global influence they could have. “Ye are the light of the world” denotes power (to change any conditions), consistency, sagaciousness (insight, good judgment or wisdom) usefulness, flexibility and warmth in the soul of the disciple. The qualities of light include multiple usages and set the tone for diverse ways to minister to society. Jesus knew all along that we (the church or the body of Christ) would make a difference; do you?
Light properties include:
• Light always dissipates darkness- darkness and light can’t abide in the same place at the same time!…even in a dark environment (cave, tight places, enclosed area-Jobs, homes, clubs or unions, family, relationships, friendships, meetings) a “little light” still makes a difference (candle, flashlight, matches-you make a difference!)
• Light helps everyone to see better, feel better and understand better (warmth & Illumination)-warming up a “cold soul” (bad choices, disobedience, circumstances, cruel intentions of others) /may have to guide one who can’t see or do evasive actions toward someone who is blind coming toward you (they don’t desire to see the truth nor change (Jhn 12:39-43) (Tit 1:15-16)-They have all the answers!)-(Psa 46:10)(Matt 7:24-28) (Jhn 8:12, 31-32, 12:35-36)(Prov 1:7,14:12 & 16:25)(Psa 119:105)
• Understanding (Illumination) is necessary for growth!-(plants, people and potential disciples need to grow)-(Prov 3:13-23, 4:5-15, 9:8-11) (Matt 5:45)( II Tim 3:14-17) (Jas 1:5)
• Light exposes personal flaws, incomplete details, dirt, and errors in the design-unfinished plans and wrong motives (slothfulness, procrastination, lacking time management skills and dedication-selfishness*wanting your way, revenge, bitterness)…material that tears easy(easily provoked-short tempered) and won’t last under duress (immaturity)….sewn together wrong (pre-marital sex) or irregular fit (unhealthy relationships)…didn’t stay with the design for life-listen to someone else (serpent-eve then adam) and settled for the design for death! (LK 14:25-33, 18:9-14)(I Sam 16:7) (Gen 2:7-9, 15-17, Ch. 3 especially vs.14-17)
• Light has an “drawing appeal” especially toward those who have been in darkness for a while…will also hurt sensitive eyes-(The truth will sometimes hurt before it heals) Mk 10:13-16)(Matt 9:9) (Jhn 12:32-Jesus)( Isa 9:1-7)(Jer 31:1-3)
• Light is flexible enough to reach and influence unreachable areas-(Matt 5:43-48) (Jhn 9:1-5) (Phil 2:15)(Isa 55:6-13)
• Light generates heat and comfort-* Progression of a Christian-incandescent, florescent, candle…incandescent bulb converts 5% energy into light but 95% into heat-mostly emotion but very little knowledge/ Florescent bulbs are 7 times more efficient than incandescent and only dissipate a little heat-mostly wise but hardly any passion/ A candle can create heat and light-able to worship and display your beliefs and convictions with passion and fervidness while knowing God’s principles, displaying God’s character and standing on a firm foundation…The gospel of Jesus Christ
• Light is tangible-an invisible entity with traceable origins-results of compassion, caring and commitment but leads back to Christ (Matt 9:35-38,14:14-21, 15:29-38) (Lk 9:1-6) (Jhn 11:11-45-Lazarus)
Matthew 5:14b leads us into another purpose for his disciples; not only should we have properties of light but also accept the (1) elevated visibility and accountable exposure (I Pet 5:6-7). “A city that is set on a hill” suggests that it was not originally there but was built or placed there!
Placed there to be seen for admiration for the builder (church founder and cornerstone a.k.a. Jesus Christ*Matt 16:13-19, 21:42, Eph 2:19-22) or project manager (GOD).
Placed there to have an elevated view of things from afar while realizing that everyone can see you from afar! We know we are saved by grace but grace sometimes is more influential when it glows with transparency. To hide the city on a hill would go against all the hard work it took to display it! Why would you create something for a purpose and not use it for the same? God challenges us to become a sanctified set-apart symbol of him (light) while influencing others to come to that light.
To see (THE TRUTH) and be seen (PERSONAL FLAWS) can be enlightening and sobering! God chose me but I’m never good enough without him! An unfinished open book with used torn pages; empowering and insightful to all whom read it. People see me doing well but I still have issues; but in all cases glory goes back to God (II Cor 12:5-10, 13:5-7) (ACTS 9:13-22)!* non-secretive lifestyle (Lk 8:16-17)
The lamp (candlestick) is designed to illuminate the house for all that are there (Matt 5:15). The first illustration depicts exposure and accountability to the general public but the second illustration keys in on a more personal environment; family and friends a.k.a. our home. (2) Our influence for Christ should be made manifest through our power, wisdom (illumination), warmth and love expressed in our homes. Light is light wherever it is, its purpose never changes! If this is true, then how can you be a powerful influence in the community and abide with darkness at home or what sense would it make to light a candle and then put a bowl over it to limit the light? Light and darkness cannot abide together!
Our imperative command to become the “light of the world” leaves us no alternative but to imitate Jesus, scatter darkness and remove objects that obstruct our light.
Jesus concludes his thoughts by telling the body of Christ to answer the call of global influence! The world is in trouble and needs “light and salty” discipleship. “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven” (Matt5:16). (3)Glorifying the father is what it’s all about. Do good deeds on purpose to give God glory (Rom 12:13-21) (Col 3:17, 23)(Gal 6:9-10) and let your light shine so that this dark world can see and desire Christ. He will drive or draw men according to their choices (Jhn 12:32). Remember, “Ye are the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”! Make life taste better for all and as for your light…let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!