SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES

Inspirational messages for Sunday May 31 through Saturday June 6, 2020

Being Who You Are In Christ  

Sunday May 31, 2020

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 5:13-20

 What purpose does your life fulfill?  What end does it achieve?  To what goal does it strive?  Toward what aim does it drive?  We are all driven, guided, inspired, and motivated by something or someone.

As Christians we are who we are in Christ embracing what the Lord has given us in him.  Jesus informs those who are listening to him about their identity.  He tells them who they are. 

Jesus uses two powerful yet timeless and universal images to inform the Christian community about its identity.   He uses salt and light (with the accompanying pictures of a city situated on the crest of a hill and a lamp hidden under a bushel basket).  Though common, both images forcefully depict the world - remaking task of the disciples.  While both are alike in that both function in relation to a surrounding environment, the two images are developed in different ways.  Jesus warns that salt can lose its capacity to season.  Salt can fail to do what it is intended to do. It can become useless and it can be cast aside.  Disciples, whether ancient or modern, hear in the image a warning to take seriously the call to the task of being the church in the world.

The bible is clear that God cares passionately about issues of poverty and justice.  A concern for the poor and an emphasis on just and fair behavior flows through the Bible like a river.  It underpins the laws of the Torah (Pentateuch), saturates the Hebrew wisdom writings, and resounds through the words of the prophets; it forms a core part of all that Jesus said and did and shapes the activities of those who follow him.  Everywhere you go in the bible, God's love for the poor and desire for justice leap out at you. 

Consider how you would describe yourself as a disciple whose identity reflects Jesus' description. 

Monday June 1, 2020

13 “You are the salt of the earth.


Salt has long been considered a valuable commodity and this metaphor dates from biblical times. Jesus taught a crowd who gather to hear him who were facing cultural bias, political oppression racial discrimination and societal isolation that they were the salt of the earth.  


Salt serves a variety of purposes.  When you consider how salt is used the implications of this saying for your life are quite apparent.  Salt is used as a cleansing agent.  Salt is used as a curing agent.  Salt is used as a flavoring additive. 

Before there were the products we find on the shelves of grocery and drug stores there was salt.  A normal saline solution is salt and water.  It can be used to cleanse a wound.  Before there was the plethora of products that we use to rinse our mouths there was salt water.  Salt water can even be used to gargle for a sore throat. 

Salt is used to cure meat.  For instance there are hams that are cured.  The curing process is fascinating to say the least.   The meat is salted and put in a smoke house.  The amazing thing is that the salt mixes with the bacteria that is already in the meat and reverses the normal effect the bacteria would have on the meat.  If left without salt the meat would spoil.   The salt mixes with the bacteria and causes the opposite effect.  The implication for us is that we too have curative capacity.  We can reverse the process of decay and lengthen the usefulness of what we touch.  We can preserve and save from perishing what makes our life what we want it to be. 

Salt adds zest to what it touches.  It awakens the flavor that already exists.  Its properties are such that it serves to enhance what it touches. 

Consider what it means to be the salt of the earth describing what you can do to cleanse, cure, enhance and improve the quality of life for people.    

Tuesday June 2, 2020

"But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

Jesus warns that salt can lose its capacity to season.  It can fail to do what it is intended to do; it can become useless; it can be cast aside.  Disciples, whether ancient or modern, hear in the image a warning to take seriously the call to the task of being the church in the world.

Wow!  Imagine losing your ability, capacity and potential of becoming who you are in Christ.  The church has had a sordid history of abuse, discrimination, greed, prejudice, violence etc.  "While there is a record of history that shows noble acts of love, self-sacrifice, and service to others frequently rooted in deeply held faith worldviews, at the same time, history clearly shows

that faith/religion has often been linked directly to the worst examples of human behavior.  It is sadly true to say that more wars have been waged, more people killed, and these days more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history." (Charles Kimball, "When Religion Becomes Evil," page 1).

Consider how the church has failed to fulfill its world-remaking task to cleanse, cure and flavor life. 

 
Wednesday June 2, 2020

14 “You are the light of the world.

What does light do?   It is said of Robert Louis Stevenson (best known for his adventure story, "Treasure Island") that he was in poor health during much of his childhood and youth. One night his nurse found him with his nose pressed against the frosty pane of his bedroom window. "Child, come away from there. You'll catch your death of cold," she fussed. But young Robert wouldn't budge. He sat, mesmerized, as he watched an old lamplighter slowly working his way through the black night, lighting each street lamp along his route. Pointing, Robert exclaimed, "See; look there; there's a man poking holes in the darkness."  Poking holes in the darkness.  We are reminded in scripture that "In Jesus was life and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:4-5).  Jesus said "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). 

Light exposes what is present but what we are in danger of overlooking by poking holes in the darkness and exposing to the light that which keeps us in the dark.  Poke holes in the darkness about the possibilities for your life.  Shed the light of hope for life's tomorrows.  As a light to the world believers poke holes in the darkness (the darkness of doubt, discrimination, disparity, disillusionment, disappointment, distress and pride and prejudice you name it (classism, racism, sexism).

Charles H. Spurgeon / "Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out of the windows which hope has opened."

Consider how you can dispel the darkness that enshrouds life by going up the stairs that love has built in Christ and look out of the windows which hope has opened.  


Thursday June 4, 2020

14 “You are the light of the world.

Light energizes the growth potential of the living. Light is essential to life.  On the first day of creation God made light.  Everything that lives either grows or dies.  That seems to be written in the fabric of the universe.  Growth is miraculous.  We can't quite put our finger on it but we can see its effects and results.  Growth is a direct result of light.   The process of photosynthesis demonstrates the necessity of light and the effect of the sun's rays on the chlorophyll in plants which causes them to grow.  Green plants use energy from light to combine carbon dioxide and water to make food.  All of our food comes from this important energy - converting activity of green plants. 

Energize the growth potential of individuals.  Help people realize their destiny and purpose. Imagine those who have been an inspiration to you who have energized you toward fulfilling your potential?   It is good to be in the presence of those who can kindle in us and inspire us for fine heroic living.  There is a fine gallery of persons in the Bible as well as life who can ignite in us the capacity for grand living.  Martin Luther King, Jr, examples from history, teachers, presidents, and parents, friends, etc.  

Consider what it means to energize the growth potential of people to fulfill their potential as well as those who have energized you. 

 Friday May 5, 2020

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. 

Light attracts in a single direction what it energizes toward growth.  The marvel of light is not the medium through which it comes as much as the source by which it comes.  The light bulb is a marvelous invention, (whether fluorescent, incandescent, Halogens, HID's or LED's)  but  the light bulbs would only be a thing-a-ma-gig or what-cha-ma-call-it if there were no electricity.  We don't create electricity we merely channel, harness and ground it so that it can benefit us with what it can power.  

We are marvelous products of creation but we would only be carbon based units if it were not for the breath of life which has been breathed into us.  We are made in God's image and fashioned after God's likeness.  God put something celestial in clay, a little deity in dirt, and something majestic in mud, erected it a perpendicular on the square and breathe the breath of life into what is humanity.  Channel, harness and ground that which empowers you to fulfill your purpose, achieve your end, strive for your goals and aim for that which drives you.  

One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand." The mother said, "Oh? What is it?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that’s true, honey." "But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?" Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?"


That is what the beatitudes are about – God showing through. It has always been God’s purpose that when we realize God in our lives we would allow God to so fill and control our lives that God would "show through" – that God would be visible in our attitudes and actions, behavior and beliefs, perceptions and performance. Imagine the life of Jesus reflected in your life. The beatitudes are like a light bulb…that only shines when plugged into God’s power!

Consider what it means that Christ should show through our lives, actions, behavior, choices, decisions, practices, relationships etc. 

Saturday May 6, 2020

"A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. "

You are a city set on a hill.  You are on display for all to see whether or not you depict the image of Jesus whether you reflect the essence of Jesus' life. 
 
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Mahatma Gandhi.

Jesus envisions a different world, marked by unheard of reconciliation, simple truth-telling, outrageous compassion, generosity and love.    The reign of God entails a higher righteousness, more faithful practices than the religious authorities of Jesus day could possibly imagine and that is so for the religious authorities today.  What does your faith put on display?  Now that is the question for every believer of Jesus. 

Conclusion 

Jesus concludes with the admonition.  "Let you light so shine that people might see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven." 

Consider what it means to put Jesus on display through your actions, behavior, and choices personally and communally realizing that you are an example of what it means to be a disciple.  

 

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