One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: January 18
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ISO: The People of God
Where are the people of God?
If you are a people of God, would you stand up right now? Or raise your hand, wave, hit the like button? Would you stand up? Hello there people of God! I’m so glad you’re here. It’s great to meet you!
Do you ever feel as if you’re the only “people of God” left in this world? I do! So, I’m so excited that I’m not the only people of God left. But I have a question for you – for all of you that stood up, raised your hand, waved, or hit the like button.
If all of us are people of God, then why is our nation and our world in the shape it’s in?
God is asking: “Where are my people?”
Sometimes, I wonder if God looks down on planet earth and says, “Where are my people?” If God chose to use social media today, He would put out an ISO post: “ISO my people!” (Now for those who are not versed in social media jargon, ISO means “in search of.”)
If we are all God’s people, then we have lost the Godly influence that Jesus commanded us to have in this world. You know that’s why you’re here… right? There is so much emphasis placed on knowing your purpose — or in the “church world” it’s known as knowing God’s will for your life. The answer is simple and we can find it in Matthew 5:13-16.
The Purpose of the People of God
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
You are here to be salt and light to the world so that you will glorify God.
It’s that simple. But if that is our purpose, then what does it mean to be salt and light?
Who is “You”?
So, this passage starts out with the word “you.” Who is the “you” Jesus was talking to? To answer that, we need to go back up to verse one. Now Matthew Chapter 5 is the beginning of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” Verses 2-11 are the well known “Beatitudes.” But don’t overlook verse one. Because verse one tells us to whom Jesus is talking. Verse one says:
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.”
Who came to Jesus on the mountain? His disciples came to him. The “you” Jesus is talking to are his disciples. So, then Jesus is saying “You disciples are the salt of the earth.” “You disciples are the light of the world.” But Jesus wasn’t talking to just the 12 disciples. He is speaking to every disciple throughout time – the people who are called by His name – He’s talking to those of you who stood up and said, “I’m a people of God!”
The People of God are failing in our mission
This is our purpose. This is God’s will for His people. We are to be salt and light so that God is glorified. Do you think God is glorified in our nation right now? No? Then we….God’s people….are failing in the mission God gave us. We are salt that has lost its saltiness. We are a light hidden under a basket.
So, let’s look at these two ideas of being salt and light in the world and the significance it has on the world.
Salt that has lost its Saltiness
Has anyone here had salt that wasn’t salty? I have never experienced unsalty salt. So, then I started asking how does salt lose its saltiness? Well, I did some very “scientific” research in the land of Google and learned that salt is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NaCl (Sodium Chloride). These two ions are great friends and they like being joined together. They are BFFs. They are very tight. Or in our “church world” we could say the “two became one” and they are very happy about becoming one. They are inseparable.
So, the only way for salt to lose its saltiness is for a chemical reaction to occur that would pull these ions apart. Its physical composition, then, would have to either be diluted in water because it is non-reactive in its crystalline form, or electricity would have to be introduced to force the sodium chloride into its separate ionic components and thereby change its chemical composition. Either way – it isn’t salt anymore and therefore it isn’t salty.
How God’s People lose their Saltiness
It’s important to understand the scientific way that salt loses its saltiness if we are going to understand how God’s people lose their saltiness. So, remember that the two ways salt loses its saltiness is by being diluted or shocked. We – God’s People – lose our saltiness when we dilute the gospel message or by being skeptics that acts like an electric shock to the gospel. First, we’ll look at 8 ways we dilute the gospel message.
1. God’s people lose their saltiness when we altar the Word of God
The Christian with diluted salt is the one who has diluted the Gospel in his or her life. We dilute the gospel when we alter any part of God’s Word. For example, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” A gift ceases to be a gift if it is earned or bought. If we try to earn our way to heaven or buy our way in – you’ll find yourself turned away at the gate and you’ll never gain entrance.
Salvation only occurs when we receive Christ’s free gift of salvation that He extends to us through His grace and turn away from sin and surrender our lives to the Lordship of Christ. That can only be done by faith. Without God’s grace and gift – there is no salvation. Without our faith in God’s grace and gift there is no salvation. To say that salvation occurs in any other way dilutes the gospel and we’ve lost our saltiness.
2. God’s people lose their saltiness when we mix in false doctrine
Another way we dilute the gospel is to mix in false doctrines. We don’t get to pick and choose what we like from all the myriad of doctrines, ideologies, and teachings in the world and come up with one that suits us. Jesus warned us that there would be false teachers that would try to deceive us. And if we are not in the Word of God, knowing what it says, we will never recognize when false teachers are creeping in to dilute the gospel. When we fall for these false teachings, we’ve lost our saltiness. If we preach or teach false doctrines to others, we demonstrate our loss of saltiness with a diluted gospel and we cause other Christians to lose their saltiness.
3. God’s people lose their saltiness when we create a rosy view of the gospel
We also dilute the gospel when we take one part of the Bible and ignore the rest so that we create a rosy view of the gospel. For example, the Bible tells us that God is love…and He is. He loves us so much that he doesn’t want anyone to perish, but that everyone would have everlasting life. But He is also a God that is holy and righteous. He is a God who abhors sin and the wages of sin is death. But even while we were His enemy as a sinner, He still loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sin – to take our place and pay our sin debt for us.
We can’t stop the gospel message with “God is love.” We must also talk about the wages of sin. Creating a rosy view of the gospel dilutes it’s message and we lose our saltiness.
4. God’s people lose their saltiness when we refuse to repent.
The gospel also includes repentance. When salvation occurs, the result is repentance. Acts 3:19 tells us what repentance is: “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” When we repent, we turn around and go a different direction. We don’t keep on going down the same path.
A biblical definition of repentance is to make a change of mind, heart, and action, by turning away from sin and self and returning to God. Jesus said in Luke 3:8, “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.” What fruit are we to produce? We find it in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” In summarizing his ministry, Paul declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).
Repentance, then, involves recognizing that you have thought wrongly in the past and determining to think rightly in the future. The repentant person has “second thoughts” about the mindset he formerly embraced. There is a change of disposition and a new way of thinking about God, about sin, about holiness, and about doing God’s will. True repentance is prompted by “godly sorrow,” and it “leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
If we try to say that a person can be saved without having repentance, then the gospel has been diluted and we lose our saltiness to the world.
5. God’s people lose their saltiness when we create alternate routes to salvation
Another way the gospel has been watered down is by creating alternate routes to salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father, but by me.” (John 14:6). He didn’t say he was one of the ways to get to the Father – He is the only way.
We create alternate routes to salvation when we believe that baptism will save you, or partaking of the Lord’s Supper will save you. You can be baptized so many times that every tadpole from sea to shining sea has friended you on social media, but you’ll still be lost in your sin if you have not come to Jesus by faith, acknowledging Him as God’s only Son who paid the price for you sin on the cross through his sacrificial death and then rose again and ask Him to forgive you of your sin and to be your Savior. Baptism is an outward statement of what you’ve already done in your heart. It is a testimony to the world that you have died to your sin and then rose to a new life in Christ. But baptism will not grant you entrance into heaven.
Likewise, the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance done as a reminder of what Christ did on the cross but the bread and grape juice (or wine, depending on your church) doesn’t save you. At the last Supper, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” No where in the Bible does it say that the Lord’s Supper will get you into heaven, nor does it teach that partaking of the bread and wine become the life and blood of Jesus within you. To teach that these things will save you is diluting the gospel message and we lose our saltiness.
6. God’s people lose their saltiness when we make sin a lesser evil than it is in God’s eyes.
We can also dilute the message when we attempt to make sin less than it really is or give it a name other than sin. You can call it being “culturally sensitive” or “politically correct” or any other name you want – but God still calls it sin. It’s time we tell people about how God views sin and stop glossing it over! You can say you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings but would you rather them spend eternity in hell because you couldn’t call sin, sin? We’re talking about their eternity and if you’re not salty with them, they may end up in hell for eternity. Can they afford for you to not be salty?
7. God’s people lose their saltiness when we become complacent in our mission
We also become diluted when we become complacent. It’s like we have our entrance ticket into heaven so all is good. We go to church on Sunday and get our 30-minute fill-up and we raise our hands in the worship songs and leave saying, “It was good to be in the house of the Lord.” But we never truly worshiped while we were there. Or we stay within the walls of our churches and pay no attention to the world outside that is on its way to hell. Then we stare in confusion and horror at the news and wonder how the world got so bad. People of God – go look in the mirror to find the answer. We’ve lost our saltiness in our complacency.
8. God’s people lose their saltiness when we dilute the consequences of sin
The last thing I thought about in diluting the gospel message occurs when we dilute the consequences of sin. God made it very clear that the wages of sin is death – eternal death, in the lake of fire where the worm never dies, and the flame is never quenched. The place of torment we call hell.
If we truly understood how horrible hell is, we would not have to beg people to share the gospel. We would want to make sure no one ended up there. Let me tell you – there is no working your way out of hell once you’re there. No one can pray you out once you’re there. If you end up in hell – you’re there for all eternity. The only way to not end up in hell is salvation through faith – and that must be done in this life. Once you breathe your last breath and wake up in eternity – it’s too late to decide. We can’t dilute the consequences of sin because to do so, dilutes the gospel message. The lost need the people of God to be salty.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:17-18:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The People of God lose their saltiness when they become skeptics
So, we said that salt loses its saltiness by being diluted or shocked. When we talk about the gospel, skepticism is like an electric shock. The skeptic Christian will “split hairs” over doctrine – and often split churches in the process.
The skeptic Christian might acknowledge that Jesus is God’s Son, but they still want to keep living their life the way they want to, so they find reasons to say, “The Bible says…. But…..” For example, the Bible says that sex out of marriage is sin. The skeptic Christian would say, “But does that apply in 2021?”
The Skeptic Christian might acknowledge that the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill.” But then argue, “But a fetus isn’t human yet, so we’re not guilty of murder.”
The Bible says, “Thou shalt not lie.” The skeptic would say, “But it’s ok to lie on my taxes.” Or they might say, “It was just a ‘white’ lie.”
The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. The skeptic would argue that same-sex marriage should be acceptable.
The Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination to God. The skeptic would say that God created them that way (which He did not create anyone to be an abomination to Him!).
Skepticism makes us lose our saltiness because instead of planting seeds of faith, it sows doubt that keeps us separated from God with a canyon as wide as the Grand Canyon. The less faith we have, the less salty we are.
The result of God’s People not being salty
So, we’ve looked at how we can be diluted or shocked into losing our saltiness. The result is that we are not shining the light of Christ to a dark world full of sin. The result of not being salty is we don’t bring people to Jesus. The ramifications on the world are grave. Not only do people die without knowing Jesus, but our world is lost in chaos and sin. It causes division, riots, murder, hate, racism, and all the things we see happening in our world.
The Son of God Had a Divine Appointment to be Salty
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the Samaritan woman at the well. We’ll find the story in John 4:1-42. In this story, we find that Jesus has a divine appointment with a Samaritan woman. To fully understand the significance of this, you have to understand the culture of the day. First, the Jews and the Samaritans did not get along. The Jews looked at the Samaritans as “unclean” and would have nothing to do with them. It was also not culturally correct for a man to speak to a woman that was not his wife or family. But these were culturally set boundaries – not Godly set boundaries and the Son of God knew this woman would be at the well and he was going to bring salt and light to not only her, but her whole village.
Jesus had to go through Samaria
Because of how the Jews felt about the Samaritans, they would walk miles out of their way so that they did not have to walk through Samaria. Jesus had been in Judea but left to go to Galilee and we find in John 4 that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” The King James says he “must” pass through Samaria. He had a divinely scheduled appointment at a well – so he had to go through Samaria. When he arrives, he sits by the well and as the Samaritan woman approaches, we find that it is about the sixth hour.
Timing is everything
The timing is important too. Naturally, if Jesus arrived later, he would have missed this woman at the well. But more importantly, the timing of the woman’s arrival at the well gives us our first glimpse about this woman who is coming to draw water at this time of day. It was typically the woman’s job to draw water, but usually all the women would go to the well at the cool of the day and they would go together. It was a time to catch up with one another and share time with friends. But this woman comes at a time when all the other women of the village would not be there. She comes alone. She’s an outcast. We find later in the story the reason. She’s had seven husbands and the man she is living with now is not her husband.
The woman at the well encounters Living Water
When she arrives at the well, Jesus asks her for a drink of water. Because of cultural rules, she is shocked and asks him why he, being a man and Jew, would speak to her. Jesus replies, “If you new the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water. Eventually, the woman leaves the well, goes back to the village and brings the entire village to Jesus. She met the Living Water and was changed. She became salty.
Salty Christians are distributors of Living Water
The thing about salt is it makes you thirsty. And when we are salt to the world, we bring the world to the Living Water. Jesus wants us to sprinkle salt wherever we go, making the world thirsty for the Living Water. Salty Christians are distributors of Living Water. How salty are you? Who are you bringing to the Living Water?
The People of God are the light of the world
Jesus said that we are the salt of the world. He also said we are the light of the world. How do we become light to the world? In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” God’s people have the light of Christ living in them and we are to shine His light into the darkness of the world so that the world will see Jesus in us. Wherever there is light, there can be no darkness. Light cancels out darkness. But when we hide our light under a basket, the world doesn’t see the light of Jesus. As a result, the people stay lost in darkness.
We Shine the Light of Jesus so that Jesus is Glorified
As children we used to sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” And we’re fine with shining our light at church, among other Christians. But we don’t want to let it shine in the world. Jesus wants our light to shine before men so that it will glorify God. Jesus wants our lights to shine before men so that mankind will come to know God.
If you are a People of God, will you please stand up?
So, as we look at our nation today and the world around us, are we shocked and amazed by what we see? Or have we become so numb to the grotesque, sinful state of the world that we aren’t even shocked anymore? If so, then where are the people of God? Where are the salt and light? We’ve lost our saltiness long enough! We’ve hidden our light for far too long. It’s time for God’s people – those called by His name – the Christians – to humbly bow before God acknowledging our fault in not being salt and light to the world. It’s time for God’s people to seek His face and turn from our sins. It is time for the people of God to stand up.
If you are a people of God, will you please stand up? Our nation desperately needs your salt and light.
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