January 31 – February 6, 2017

WORD

13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.  14You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:13-20

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Thinking through Scripture:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

Just looking at the picture above makes my mouth start to water and my tastebuds tingle.  Now, I wouldn’t like to eat that much salt at once, but I sure do love the taste of salt when it is used to perfectly season food.  I especially like the flavorful, oversized crystals of kosher salt, like the salt pictured above.  There is nothing worse than eating bland food, and nothing so tasteless that salt cannot improve.

God has called us to add flavor to the world.  Life has become bland for some and they need to know the joy of God’s children.  Life has become bitter for others and they need to taste to sweet love and goodness of God’s people.  For still others, they have forgotten what life is even supposed to taste like and they need the compassion of God’s mercy to restore their senses.  As we follow Christ in faithfulness and commit to open ourselves up to others in love and grace, we will enable others to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Too often we have lost our flavor.  Our reinvigorating spice of life cannot be distinguished from the other displeasing tastes of the world because even though we wear the name of Christ we do not love or live like Christ.  We taste too much like the rest of the world because we act and think like the rest of the world.  The life of Christ should leave a distinct, life-giving taste in the world!

Have you lost your saltiness, your distinctive Christ-flavor?  Have you simply learned to blend in to the essence of the local seasonings?  Do you desire a little more holy spice in your soul?  Nothing will add the fresh zest you are seeking like a renewed practice of prayer and silent expectation in the divine presence.  Stop, withdraw for a moment, quiet yourself, and meet Christ in this small, holy time of sabbath.  Savor the joy of communing with God and simmer in the presence of the Holy Spirit so that you might offer to the world even a pinch of life-giving words, attitudes, and actions today!

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, January 31 – 1 Kings 10
  • Wednesday, February 1 – 1 Kings 11
  • Thursday, February 2 – 1 Kings 12
  • Friday, February 3 – 1 Kings 13
  • Saturday, February 4 – 1 Kings 14
  • Sunday, February 5 – 1 Kings 15
  • Monday, February 6 –  1 Kings 16

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 

God is not in the practice of breaking promises.  The law was a promise of God that pointed us toward the one God would send to rescue us from sin and plant the goodness and love of God deeply within us.  What promises of God might you claim on your life today?  God wants to fulfill these promises in your life.  But be careful!  Just like the promise of the law, God’s promises are not always easy to bear.  To have the law written within us means that we will be changed in thought, attitude, and action and we will be called to live as the One who fulfilled the law lived.  God will not abolish his promises, nor will God recant, reconsider, or prove unfaithful.  Pray that you might be a part of God’s work of fulfilling divine promises to creation.  Remember this promise – “the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).  Pray through some of these promises of God this week:

  • A promise of presence – Deuteronomy 31:6
  • A promise of hardship and discomfort in the world along with a promise of victory – John 16:33
  • A promise of peace – Philippians 4:6-7
  • A promise of provision – Matthew 6:25-33
  • A promise of answers – Matthew 7:7-11
  • A promise of recognition – Matthew 10:32
  • A promise of covenant – Jeremiah 32:38-41
  • A promise of everlasting love – Psalm 100:5
  • A promise of rest if we would but take on a new way – Matthew 11:28-30

Meditation Focus: You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Imagine your soul as a lighthouse, able to shine a light 360 degrees upon all spheres of life that surround you.  First, what are the terrains around you?  What are the rocky places, the raging seas, the calm waters, the serene beaches, the dark and mysterious places, the undiscovered treasures?  How do home, work, your neighborhood or community, the marketplace reflect the characteristics of these terrains?  Secondly, ask yourself these questions as you rotate around to shine light upon each terrain: Is there any area upon which I shine more brightly than the others?  Are there any areas that, when I reach them, I intentionally or unintentionally shut off my light?  Does my light ever flicker on and off in any of these places because my fuel runs out?  Thirdly, imagine God descending to you as a fire, lighting your soul as an everlasting, brilliant flame of love and grace.  Then imagine that fire touching every sphere of influence surrounding the lighthouse of your soul.  Let no degree or corner be left untouched.  How are you able to shine upon these areas now?  How does the light change the places of darkness?  Let God’s light shine from within you out into your world.

Journaling Focus: For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 

How do you feel about the law of God?  Sometimes as Christians we struggle with the concept of the law of God vs. the grace of God.  Some Christians abuse the law – both by using it to harshly judge and condemn others and some by ignoring it completely.  Yet, Jesus said it was so important that not one letter or stroke of a letter (literally, not one iota or tilde – small marks in Greek writing from which we get our expression jot and tittle) could be disregarded or discarded.  It is difficult to honor the law of God in our society; our society knows or cares little about the law of God.  Why should we still value the law of God?  What is even meant by the law of God?  What does the law demand of us?  How might we follow the law as we follow Christ?  Ponder these questions this week as you write, considering how God might want to bring you into fullness and wholeness through the divine will and ways of life.

Breath Prayer: Father, shine through us.

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