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Resolution – a Blog Post

December 29, 2017

With the end of a year and the coming of a new year, there is always the thought that we should reflect back on the year that is coming to a close and make plans for the new year. What are some things that I need to continue? To change? To renew? For some, 2017 was a year that you want to leave in the dust – it was filled with challenges and difficulties and you are hopeful that 2018 will provide something different. For others, 2017 was a great year and you are hoping for more of the same.

It is also time for us to consider making some changes in our diet, exercise program, or habits. Some people want to lose weight, stop doing something, read more, spend more time with their kids or spouse, etc. I believe it’s also a great opportunity for us to make an intentional plan to develop our spiritual life and walk as well. Everything becomes new January 1st and it’s an opportunity to start with a clean slate. God’s mercies are new every morning, so there’s no reason why we can’t apply that truth to this.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, made a declaration in Matthew 5:13-16 which was no doubt clearly understood by many who were listening. He declared to His people, the church, if you will, that they were salt and light. He didn’t say that they possessed salt and light, he said that this is what/who they ARE. Just as I AM a child of God, I AM a father, I AM a husband…I AM salt and light.

In the day in which this was written, salt was not just something to add flavor to food. It was a preservative. There was no refrigeration so meat had to be preserved with salt. Salt was a payment – Roman soldiers were often paid with salt. This is where the saying that someone is “not worth his salt” comes from. If you weren’t doing a good job, you were considered to not be “worth your salt”. Salt was (and is) an element in healing. Babies were often washed with salt at childbirth to help deal with any abrasions that may have occurred. We may gargle with salt water to help with a sore throat.

Salt perhaps could have represented purity, with it being white. Salt also stings – like the truth does at times. Salt creates thirst. If we are true and pure salt in the world, we will create thirst for the Gospel which will attract others.

Salt is only effective if it is 1) salty  – should be obvious but if it loses its flavor, what good is it? and 2) shaken out – salt has only limited value in the container or shaker – it must be distributed to be effective.

Light’s value is a little more obvious. It illuminates, eradicates darkness, brings hope, it attracts, and removes fear. The world is dark, and the more light we can add to it, the better off we will all be. Like salt, light is most effective when it is distributed and not hidden, and like salt, light is more effective when added to many other lights. That is what makes the church so important – we need to combine our salt and light to have a more powerful effect.

In order to be effective salt and light, I believe we have to make a plan of action to develop aspects of that. You can’t get in shape if you don’t have a plan of exercise and follow it. You can’t lose weight if you don’t have a plan of altering your diet and stick to it. You can’t stop a bad habit without an intention and focus on that, from the inside out.

Our spiritual life is no different. I believe we need a plan to develop/disciple the inner man as well as the outer man. The plans are simple, but they have to be put into practice.

Developing the inner man – There is no substitute for Bible study and prayer. Bible study produces revelation, brings conviction and gives opportunity for mediation on who God is and what He does. Prayer is our communication with God, gives opportunity for confession of our faults and failures to our place of refuge, and it is our opportunity to call on Jehovah God on behalf of others in intercession.

Developing the outer man – This comes down to stewardship and connection. Stewardship has several aspects. Of course, we MUST be faithful in giving to the church, the storehouse. Scripture commands it. However, it also involves proper stewardship of our time and our talents to be of most use to the Kingdom. Connection is our part of helping to build the Kingdom by inviting others regularly to church, helping to assimilate them into the ministries and service of the church. Missionization involves sharing the Gospel, investing in mission opportunities, meeting needs, and getting outside ourselves to invest Kingdom good into the world around us – both near and far.

When you are thinking about those New Year’s resolution over the next few days, take some serious time to make a plan of where you want to be in regard to your salt and light. In developing you inner man, don’t just say “I’m going to be better at reading my Bible and praying this year”. Make a plan, set aside some time, follow a pattern, determine where you are going with it. Several years I have followed different plans to read through the Bible in a year. It’s not the end-all, but it helped me to have a plan. Determine a time each day that will be your primary prayer time. Make a list if you want, a list of needs, things you want to be sure and pray about it. Don’t let it just be your “laundry list” of “I need, I want, I need”.

In developing your outer man, determine your plan for tithes and offering and stick to it. God commands it and your heart will not be totally engaged until you are being obedient int his area. Determine the areas of the church you are going to focus on participating in. Get involved or get more involved in a Sunday School class and a small group Bible study. Serve on a ministry team. Take a look at where you are in missionization. Is all of your ministry effort focused on your own growth or are you involved in inviting and assimilating others into the Kingdom – seeking needs that can be met?

There is much work to be done – together we can be great salt and light. I can’t wait to see it develop.

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

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