One of the highlights of Sunday was our Elevate Market and “carnival”…showing us again how committed our young people are to this Family, how much they feel an important part of our Family!
What underlies their commitment is the love of Jesus they receive from us, and his love they are learning to share – illustrated by raising funds for a ministry for someone who needs to know his love.
And Jesus invites us to reach out to bring others to experience his love…
Invitations to Blessings
Salt and Light
On Sunday, Jesus invited us to reach others for him – not keeping him to ourselves; taking him wherever there is decay and darkness; ready to offer him whenever he is needed. (Matthew 5:13-16)
- Jesus gives us a unique identity: His salt and light…to save and season decaying lives; to guide and shine in darkened lives – with 3 Keys to Be His Salt Seasoners and Light Illuminators. The 1st: Do not keep Jesus to yourself…people will die if we do! Jesus warns us not to lose our saltiness (accommodate his values to our culture); or hide his light under a bucket (more concerned about us and ours in here than others “out there”).
- This is what happened to the lighthouse and its crew; they started out small and willingly went into the storms to save sailors. But the station became bigger and nicer; the crew began focusing more on fellowship than making an effort to face the darkness, sometimes saving people “not like them.” Eventually they turned off the light (“too expensive”) and stopped going out (enjoying fellowship with each other and their families instead)…and when wrecks occurred, people drowned…
- When we as a church and Christians get too focused on us and ours; find it uncomfortable or too much trouble to reach out to offer Jesus to decaying and dark lives – then lives and relationships miss out on the Abundant Life Jesus could have given, and on Eternal Life with him when they leave this life.
- Jesus pleads with us, instead, to open our lives to his 2nd Key to Be His Salt Seasoners and Light Illuminators: Take Jesus wherever there is decay and darkness…so that lives will be saved and changed! We did not light our own light of Jesus living in us; by his grace, someone gave him to us. Jesus tells us how to be salt and light, “Let your light shine before others, so that they can see your good deeds and give glory to God; Be generous with your lives; open your homes and lives to others so they will open their lives to God!”
- Jesus then lays out what this means: “Forgive everyone and be reconciled; overcome evil with good; do for others as you would have done for you; seek first what God wants you to do, not what you want to do.” When others see us live like that, they are willing to be drawn into a relationship with us; they see what Jesus does for us; and eventually will listen to what Jesus wants to do for them. We are to be “magnets for Jesus”! I have seen this in our members in East Huntersville; in our Elders as a result of our coaching in outreach this Summer…
- This is what James (a Black Pastor) and Dorothy Bevel lived out when they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. They were harassed by Larry Trapp, the leader of the local KKK. They responded with prayers for him and calling with offers to help, since he was confined to a wheelchair. Their “Jesus lives” led him to live with them; seek forgiveness; accept Jesus; lead Town Hall meetings for racial reconciliation; lead other KKK members to walk away from their darkness. When Larry died, he was at peace; filled with joy; the light of Jesus on his face!
- It may not be a Larry Trapp, but there is someone in our lives who does not have the life saving salt and life-shaping light of Jesus. Jesus pleads with us – Let our lives be a magnet for him…and he will do the rest…
- To be sure we do not miss that someone, Jesus offers his 3rd Key to Be His salt Seasoner and Light Illuminator: Be ready to offer Jesus wherever and whenever he is needed…Because it may be the only chance we have! Jesus affirms that we are his salt, are his light…not when it is convenient; just when we are at a church event; even when we are not sure what to do…because it may be the only time the door can be opened to Jesus.
- This is the perspective of Ralph Simmons who spends his life turning aside to develop relationships with those who do not have Jesus – because his job in Vietnam was to clear the mine fields, “and you never knew which step would be your last; my job was to save the lives of the people I was with, as long as I lived. So I live ‘between the steps,’ to do all I can for anyone who needs Jesus, because I do not know what my or their last day may be.”
- This is the truth lived out by Becky, an 8 year old who was born with multiple birth defects. She was in the children’s hospital recovering from surgery, when Mary was brought into her room. Mary was scheduled for brain surgery, was scared and crying hysterically. Becky took her hands, “Don’t be afraid; I used to be afraid, but not anymore.” Mary’s crying became quieter, “Why are you not afraid?” “Because I have my Jesus; he loves me; and he will take care of me. Open your hands.”
- Becky cupped her hands to her heart and poured out her precious treasure, “Take my Jesus; he loves you; he will take care of you.” Mary smiled, pulled Jesus to her heart. After a pause, her father said to her mother, “Now Mary has Jesus. It’s time for you and me to have him too.” I do not know who lived; whether Mary and her parents opened their lives to Jesus forever. But I know that little girl healed and shined the light of Jesus right when he was needed; she knew what Jesus did for her…and would do for someone else.
- We may not be a lighthouse on a hill, but we each have the light of Jesus living in us. I pray that we will shine his light wherever/whenever he is needed; because we do not know when someone’s last chance for Jesus may be!
Connection for the Week: Pray for Jesus to lead you to be a Jesus magnet for someone who needs him; be guided by our closing song, “This little light of mine, will shine in the dark, everywhere I go;” and Jesus will do the rest.