The Great Commitment

 

Creator of Abor Day, Julius Sterling Morton in...

Creator of Abor Day, Julius Sterling Morton in 1858. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last two verses of Luke chapter 14, Jesus talks about salt that has lost its flavor. Numerous explanations have been given us for how salt can lose its flavor, and some sound pretty close to accurate, while others do not (IMHO). So I am going to offer my own. Julius Sterling Morton was a philanthropist and early settler of Nebraska. Deciding that it was much too flat, he began the business of planting enormous amounts of trees there. He eventually created a 400 acre arboretum, which has grown into a 1700 acre wonder of living trees, bushes, etc. Grover Cleveland made him the 3rd U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and a notable addition to his accomplishments was the founding of Arbor Day.

In 1911, one of his sons, Joy Morton, turned the business he had bought into the incorporated Morton Salt Company. The slogan “when it rains, it pours” was adapted from an old proverb. The little girl holding the umbrella in the rain was created with the slogan. The company had begun adding magnesium chloride to prevent caking when it became humid. It worked very well, but in a shaker you will still sometimes see that people have put a few grains of rice in to absorb moisture and prevent clumping, as it is out of the box and it sits for a long time.

The salt we buy these days with that little girl and the umbrella (or a more generic brand, if you prefer) can be bought for about 50 cents a box today. It is refined salt, which removes many natural minerals, and various companies add different chemicals for various reasons. But the salt that was around in Jesus’ day was unrefined salt – just the way God made it. You can buy unrefined salt today, but the same amount of unrefined salt as what you get in that round box will set you back anywhere from $6 -$15. But many of us believe it is much healthier for you.

Salt farmers harvesting salt, Pak Thale, Ban L...

Salt farmers harvesting salt, Pak Thale, Ban Laem, Phetchaburi, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This unrefined salt contains many minerals (some would call “impurities,” which is a bogus assessment). In those times, if the salt became moist and started to dissolve over a long period of time, it would eventually become bland in taste, as the ratio of sodium chloride to mineral content began to become smaller.

So what has that to do with us? The context in which Jesus was talking about this was all about “counting the cost” of what it takes before becoming a Christian. And in these last two verses, he said “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away.”

When we first become Christians – assuming we are truly committed – we are full of zeal and enthusiasm. But as time goes by and the cares of this life begin taking their toll, some of that zeal and enthusiasm can easily be lost. It is easy for us to begin the race and then slow down over time – or even veer off the path. If we are not careful, we can lose our way, and our faith can become in vain – useless to anyone who might otherwise be positively influenced by our example.

The best way to keep the “moisture” of life’s troubles and temptations from leaching away our “saltiness” is by keeping the light of God’s word in our lives and nurturing our relationships and love with other Christians. We need a daily dose of reading God’s word, and fellowship that not only gives us encouragement, but also accountability.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Hands on the Plow – (Luke 9)

In verse 37, Jesus comes down from the mountain after the transfiguration, and is again met by a crowd. But there was a man there whose son had been possessed by a demon since early childhood. This account is in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-29), and reading them all helps to clarify. The symptoms the boy had have led some to conclude that he had epilepsy, but that is clearly not the case. And we certainly know that Jesus would know the difference between a disease and this demon.

Christ healing a boy with a demon

Christ healing a boy with a demon

This one is evidently a singularly malevolent demon, and the man tells Jesus that His disciples had been unable to cast it out. In verse one, we are told that Jesus “called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons.” So Jesus’ remarks about faith are on target. In Mark, he tells them that this kind can only be driven out by prayer. It is the building of their faith through prayer that would have made the difference; and this is a point that Mark’s account expounds on. We may never have enough faith to move mountains, but together with the power Jesus had given them, His apostles certainly had it within reach!

As the disciples were excitedly regarding all these things He had done, Jesus again talks about His impending death, saying Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” As Jesus well knows, they aren’t getting it. And the next verse lets us know that they are not supposed to “get it” yet really. Verse 45 says “But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” All of this would come together for them after Pentecost.

It is nearly comical that just after their failure of faith, the disciples begin arguing about which of them is “the greatest.” They do not yet understand what Jesus’ true mission is, nor what is to become of Him. They only imagine how prominently they will fit into His kingdom. The child He brings by His side in verse 47 illustrates that having proper regard for one so small in stature and station is akin to having regard for Jesus – and thus for God. Therefore, He tells them, whoever is “least” among them is the greatest. The meaning here is of being least in regard for one’s self. Putting one’s self last and others first is the message Jesus has hammered home again and again.

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Jesus was rejected on the next part of their journey by a Samaritan village because “his face was set toward Jerusalem” (Jews and Samaritans had little regard for each other). The disciples wanted to cause  “fire to come down from heaven and consume them,” which again is almost comical considering recent events. One gets the idea they were becoming a bit “puffed up.” Jesus, of course, rebukes them for even asking such a thing.

Verses 57-62 speak of some who wanted to follow Jesus but had other matters to attend to. Jesus’ answers to them reflect the fact that He must move quickly, and much is left to do. This meant that those who would be physically following Him must make doing so the singular priority in their lives right away, due to that urgency. Now, we are not expected to fore-go even attending our parent’s funeral in order to serve the Lord. But the application to our lives is nonetheless clear. Once we become Christians, that commitment in our lives trumps everything.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Proverbs 16 – Commit Your Work to the Lord

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,

but the Lord weighs the spirit.”  (Proverbs 16:2)

English: Head-piece to the first epistle of Pa...

English: Head-piece to the first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, vignette with water pouring from a crucifix standing over a flaming bowl on a ledge with grain in clouds; letterpress in two columns below and on verso. 1800. Inscriptions: Lettered below image with production detail: “P J de Loutherbourg invt et delt”, “J. Heath direx”. Print made by James Heath. Dimensions: height: 480 millimetres; width: 380 millimetres. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nobody I know begins their day with the intention of conducting themselves in their daily routine in a manner that will be harmful to others, or displeasing to the Lord.  This is not to say that none of us ever do wrong willfully, but most of the time we believe that we are doing what is right.  Being pure of actions in our own eyes can also mean that we try to get what we need, and do what we must, with as little thought to others as possible.  But Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:4:

For I am not aware of anything against myself,

but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

So how then should we go about our business?  The answer comes in verse three:

Commit your work to the Lord,

and your plans will be established.

If we begin each day in prayer to God for His divine guidance to direct our hearts in conducting our daily affairs, He will not withhold the wisdom we need in doing so.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________

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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.