At first, this might seem like a strange comparison from a Christian perspective. Bear with me and let’s see if we can make it fit our discussion. If we think of Jesus looking over the earth to find sinners and compare that to us walking through a pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin to carve for our fall festival, we can go from there. We find the pumpkin we want, we pick it up out of the dirty field, clean it up, carve away the parts we don’t want and fill it with light. Jesus does the same thing to us, He finds us in our sinful condition, reaches down and lifts us up and washes us with His blood. Then He starts the process of carving away the thoughts and attitudes of which He doesn’t approve. Little by little His Light starts to shine through us and the world around us gets a glimpse of Jesus. Just like the original Irish carving of a turnip (there weren’t any pumpkins in Ireland), the light was put inside to chase away evil spirits. So do we, as we allow God’s light to shine through us and all around us. We were once dirty and walked in darkness, but now that we have Jesus inside us, we are the vessels that carry His Light into the world. Keep the vessel clean, inside and outside, so the Light can shine through and dispel the darkness.
****Not an original idea, I just don’t know who to give credit for the comparison
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Jesus came to set us free from the captivity of our sins. When we spiritually died with Christ and we were raised up again, we were set free from the powers of this world. Our lifestyles should reflect that death and resurrection. We should live our lives free from old laws and traditions. As Jesus instructed Peter in Acts 11: 9 The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” But we must never let our liberty be a stumbling block to outsiders or those that are weaker. We should use our liberty in Jesus to attract others to Him. We are to be filled with the Spirit of the Living God and led by His directions. Only the love of God and His Spirit abiding in us can stop us from doing the evil things that the flesh continues to want to do. We should be Spirit-fed and Spirit-led. Will we be accused of trying to be little “Jesuses”? Probably so, but is there anyone better for us to attempt to imitate than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
We should always have an attitude of gratitude. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above. (James 1:17) This starts with the Good News (salvation) and continues as long as we are in the flesh. We have a hope laid up for us in heaven and the blood of Jesus assures us of that inheritance. We can talk about God or gods and we may not get much reaction. But, when we mention the name of Jesus, there is always a reaction of some sort. The name itself calls for acceptance or denial. The name of Jesus always produces results one way or the other. With acceptance comes salvation and understanding of the love and kindness of God. So thank God continuously for his goodness and mercy toward us. If He did nothing more than save us, that is far more than we deserve. Jesus does not treat us as we deserve, but shows us mercy every day.
9 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them.’” — 1 Kings 9:9 NLT
God had fulfilled all of His promises and particularly those He had made to David and Solomon up to this point. God blessed David and allowed him to amass all the wealth that Solomon would need to build the temple. He had anointed David and then Solomon to be king over Israel. He gave Solomon peace from all of his enemies for the time it took to build the temple and his own palace. But the Creator of the universe knows the flesh. He knew that as time passed, the people would become complacent and return to their idol worship. So, even in this time of great celebration, God reminded them of what would happen if they abandoned Him and worshiped idols and honored created things as gods. When we forget God and when we no longer worship Him as the only true and living God, He allows things in our lives to remind us of Who He is. When God has blessed us, we must not become complacent and allow things or people to replace Him in our lives. We must continually take inventory of our attitudes and actions to be sure they are God-honoring. He is still the Creator of the universe, He is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is up to us to be sure He is sitting on the throne of our lives. If we forget and stray away, He will remind us of who He is and who we are. That’s the bad news. The good news is that He will come looking for us and bring us home on His shoulders. When He has returned us to the fold, there will be a party in heaven.
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. — Deut. 30:19, 20a NLT
This choice was given to the children of Israel under the old covenant. They lived under the old covenant and the law. We live under the new covenant and grace. The covenants have changed but the choices are still the same, we can choose life or death. We can choose to accept the sacrifice of Jesus as our redeemer or we can reject that sacrifice and choose death. We were born in sin into a sinful world, we choose death by continuing that lifestyle. We choose life by accepting Jesus, loving God, obeying Him and committing ourselves firmly to Him. This choice is “the key to life”. Choosing Jesus and life unlocks doors so that we can access the abundant life. Life is more about “being” than about doing. We are called human beings not human doers. Before we do anything, we need to be in the presence of God. To be in His presence means we spend time at His feet learning His teachings and allowing Him to disciple us. Maybe that is why all the “blessed are” verses in Matthew 5 are called the “be-attitudes”. We need to learn to have the same attitude that Jesus has so we can be like Him. If we spend enough time “being” in His presence, the “doing” will be a natural outflow of our “being”. Then we can live the abundant, blessed life He desires to give us.
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. — John 10:10 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God. — Luke 12:20, 21 NIV Riches are neutral, being neither good nor evil. It is our attitude about those riches that causes us problems. In the parable of the “certain rich man”, Jesus shows us the real issue with riches. When we have the wrong attitude about money and possessions, we spend too much time and money in trying to obtain more of each. The rich man decided to build more barns which would require more of his money and time, so more possessions and money causes us to spend more time and money protecting what we have bought. It becomes a vicious circle that destroys relationships and eventually destroys us. God blesses us so that we can bless others. If we hold onto those blessings too tightly and don’t use them for His work, they can become our god. We become dependent on them for our self-worth and happiness. When we have the right attitude about riches, we use those things to advance God’s Kingdom here on earth and to lay up rewards for ourselves in heaven. Jesus did not instruct the disciples to pray for riches, but rather to ask just for what they needed today.
11 Give us today our daily bread. — Matt 6:11 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. — James 3:9-12 NIV
These verses come at the end of a passage that speaks of the tongue and how our inability to control it causes us some many problems. No human can tame his or her tongue. We can pray about it and we can strive to do it, but it is an impossible task for a human. Only one man was able to do so and that was Jesus, the God-Man. Nevertheless, that does not relieve us of the responsibility of asking the Holy Spirit to help us do better every day. Our goal is to be that person who would never say or do anything to hurt someone else and that is the mark at which we should be aiming. Words that we speak without any intention of hurting anyone are often taken in the wrong way and cause pain to others. Our prejudices, and we all have them, sometimes lead to a “slip of the tongue”. Our thoughts lead to words and actions that show our true feelings and attitudes about others. We need to always pray this prayer:
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. — Psalm 19:14
The things that we talk about most are the things that are truly important to us. The words and actions that we say and do are the fruits of our mindset and our hearts’ desires. Just as a tree produces fruit after its kind, we will produce like fruit, be it good or evil. Our tongues were made to give praise, glory and honor to our Father in heaven. Just as He spoke creation into existence, we have the power to speak words of life or death. Let us always speak the words of life.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” — John 6:68, 69
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:5,6 NIV
As Christians, we need to be constantly reminded that the “outsiders” , those that have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior, are watching every move we make and listening to every word we say. Not only to what we say but the tone of voice we use when we say it. Every day, everywhere we go, we are witnessing. Will our lifestyles attract others to Christ or cause them to turn away? Our conversations and our attitudes must be full of grace. The grace of God, in giving us Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior, is the one great difference between Christianity and worldly religions. We are different. We are the only ones who serve a living God. No worldly religions make that claim. The fact that we serve a living Savior makes us accountable to Him. That is why the name of Jesus always requires a decision. When you hear that name, you either accept or reject Him, there is no middle ground. This is a stand from which we cannot back down.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. — Matthew 10:32, 33
We must hold our position and do it with grace and love. We must study the Scriptures so that we will be instantly ready to answer anyone and everyone who questions us. Our whole lifestyles should be seasoned with salt, the great preservative and flavor enhancer. If we are seasoned with salt, we will attract others to our living God and they will remain forever.