Have you tangled with that invasive species called the Brazilian pepper tree? If you have, you have found it to be fast growing and hard to eliminate. I have declared war on the Brazilian pepper trees that line the boundaries on my property. After a hard fought battle on the front lines of the pepper tree war one day, I had to declare a cease fire for a week. The next week I went at it again. As I was cutting out more trees I saw a one foot section of tree that was completely cut off and laying on the ground. Even though it was no longer connected to any root system it had sprouted some brand new leaves.
That stubborn, tenacious pepper tree reminds me of how difficult that sin is to eliminate from our life. We think
we have them cut off and knocked down and then they sprout again. Has this happened to you? I am so glad that when dealing with our sin we have more weapons in our arsenal than hard work, sharp tools, and Roundup.
God gives His wonderful Holy Spirit to all who have called upon Christ as Savior. As He indwells us He convicts us of sin and steers us away from its dangerous effects. We also have the blood of Jesus that washes away our sins. 1 John 1:7 says: “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”. Verse 9 tells us when we confess our sins to God He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us form all unrighteousness. God has also given us His Word. As we study it and apply its teaching it serves as an additional sin eradicating tool. I did not try to fight my pepper tree war alone. I gathered a team to help me with that nasty invasive species. We will find that our battle with sin in our lives goes much better when we surround ourselves with a team of God-loving, sin-hating believers.
How is your battle going? Are you losing ground? Is the invasive species of sin taking over your property? Declare war and avail yourself of God’s arsenal in your fight against sin.
Before the age of video games, cell phones, and instant messaging, mothers used to tell their children to go out and play. Kids had to get creative in regards of finding fun that didn’t get them in trouble with their parents. I remember playing whiffle ball in the street, making snow forts in the winter, and catching fireflies in the summer.
Perhaps you remember watching the darkness of your back yard occasionally blink do to the presence of what we called lightning bugs. Many times I remember asking mom for a Mason jar and after punching holes in the top going out and catching some of those fireflies. I put them beside my bed at night to have my own nightlight. Most of the time when I woke up the next day my pet lightning bugs had all escaped.
Jesus gave His followers a challenge in Matt. 5:14-16 when He said: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”. Jesus told us that we were to be the light of the world. I am thinking that the only way we can be light is to have something inside us that glows. I am not a scientist but I am told that those little insects have some kind of internal chemical that causes them to light up. We have the presence of Christ in our lives and as we allow Him to shine through us we can become the light that this world so desperately needs.
Are we shining brightly in our joyful spirit and godly attitudes? Are we reflecting Him to a world that is lost in darkness?
The lowly lightning bug can teach us all a lesson. As those fireflies punched holes in the darkness of my back yard, may we do our best to punch holes in the darkness around us.
As a child I remember walking through a pasture near my home and seeing a strange white block in the field near the fence line. I touched it with my finger and tasted and found it was a huge block of salt. I later discovered that farmers place these salt licks out so their cattle can acquire the needed mineral for their general health. Have you ever thought about the various uses of salt? Before the age of refrigeration salt was widely used as a food preservative especially for meat. It kept things from spoiling. Salt also brings out the flavor in our foods. When you eat something that contains a lot of salt you discover that it also creates thirst.
Jesus told his followers in Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth…” What do you suppose our Lord meant by that phrase? Just as the world of Jesus’ day depended on salt to preserve food from spoiling, He has given us a similar role. The world is rotting. The decaying effects of sin can be seen on every hand. The world does not have the same values and morals that God declares to us in His Word. Jesus has challenged us with the task of sprinkling our salty influence throughout the world to preserve it from more spoilage. We can also create a thirst for God by living a distinctive Christ-focused life.
As we act as the salt of the earth there are two things that we need to keep in mind. One fact we must remember is that in order for the salt to have any influence it must be salty. Jesus spoke of the danger of the salt losing it savor. We lose our savor when we are just like the world. Our distinctive, holy, Christlike style of living can have a powerful effect on a lost world. The other important thing about salt is that it must get out of the shaker. Sometimes Christians have been so afraid of the world that they cloister together in their holy huddles separating themselves from any contact with an unbelieving world. Don’t be ashamed to be a sanctified salt lick for Jesus.
I boarded my flight and found my seat number, thankful that I was right behind first class with more leg room. I stowed my bag, fastened my seat belt, and retrieved my book for some quality reading time during the 2 ½ hour flight. Just as we were getting ready to take off a flight attendant spoke on the intercom giving everyone the traditional pre-flight instructions. I’m sure you’ve heard these instructions multitudes of times, haven’t you? They include warnings about exit strategies, proper air mask use, and the seats being used as floatation devices. As the flight attendant spoke and another one demonstrated the instructions I noticed no one was looking at her or even paying attention to what was being said. The guy next to me was looking at pictures on his I-phone. Another person was doing some last minute business on his laptop. Other people were looking through the magazines that are put in the seat back. The safety instructions are given just in case something happens. Most people ignore them.
As a sat on the plane that day I thought what would happen if the plane experienced an emergency. Perhaps the people on the flight would struggle to remember just how the lady told them to use the air mask. Perhaps they would try to find the card telling them where the exits are. It would be far better to be fully informed and instructed before an emergency occurs because it may be too late to prepare.
God has given us careful flight instructions on how to prepare for eternity. In His Word we learn that deliverance is promised from our certain crash. If we repent of our sins, and believe in His Son as our Savior, we are promised a safe and certain flight all the way to the Father’s House. Yet there are multitudes who ignore God’s instructions. They are not thinking about a crash, they are not prepared for eternity. Don’t be one of those
people. Pay attention to God’s flight instructions. Listen to Heb. 3:7,8: …today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation