Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 1:27 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “O Zion, Haste.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read selected scriptures (ESV).
His Witnesses (Acts 1:8)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, with God-given faith, his Holy Spirit comes into our lives to teach, counsel, correct, rebuke, encourage, remind, urge and to guide us in the way we should go. He also comes in to empower us and to gift us for ministry, as well as to strengthen and to empower us to live godly and holy lives for our Lord, and for his kingdom. Now Jesus Christ is living within us in the person of His Spirit, so we are his temple, his body, his church; the heavenly Jerusalem.
Now we are empowered of God’s Spirit in sharing with others the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they might hear the message of salvation, and so they might turn from their sins, and turn to the Lord to follow him the rest of their days. We don’t have to worry about what to say to people, for he will give us the words to say. He will open the opportunities for us to share his gospel, too, if we are willing and available to be used of him in this way. Yet, whether we actually give out the gospel to someone or not, we are still his witnesses, for we bear his name. How we live will speak volumes to others concerning what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Salt of Earth (Matthew 5:13)
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
We are the salt of the earth. So, what is salt? It is a preservative for food, as well as it is used for flavoring and as a healing agent. From a spiritual perspective, since salt is used as a preservative to slow decay, salt is thus an element that we need in our lives and in our conversations with people to help preserve our lives from corruption and destruction; and from the evils of our society. “Salty” words should be pure (virtuous) and wholesome, and can be penetrating to the heart, as they should have God’s unique individual characteristic within them, i.e. they should reveal his divine character.
As flavoring, salt brings out the distinguishing characteristics of the gospel message, i.e. it does not hide the truth from people, but it shares with people who and what has the power to deliver them from slavery to sin, and to give them pure lives, now free to live righteously before God. Salt, as well, instills thirst, so the goal of our conversations with people should be to inspire them to thirst for God and for his word. But, if the salt loses its saltiness, the messages we share with people will be rendered ineffective in penetrating to the heart, and in preserving lives from sin’s deceitfulness.
Light of World (Matthew 5:14-16)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, 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 who is in heaven.”
The Light is Jesus Christ, and it is truth and righteousness. We are to be Jesus to the world. Our lives should reflect him. When we talk with people, we should be ever aware of our Lord’s presence with us, and we should be open to the Spirit’s promptings to share Christ with people, as he leads. We should be people of integrity – honest, honorable, virtuous, and pure in our thinking and speech, and in our actions. Because, it isn’t just our words that need to reflect truth and righteousness, but our lifestyles, too.
We are a city on a hill, i.e. we are Zion, the Holy City of God. God does not dwell in tabernacles built by human hands. He dwells in the hearts of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. So, we are his temple. We are God’s house. No building on this earth is God’s house, even if they give the name “church” to it. It is the people of God who are his church; his house. And, we are to not hide his truth from the world, because many people are still lost in their sins, and they need to hear the truth, not hear lies which give people a false hope of eternal life with God.
Make Disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
By the authority of Jesus Christ, he sends us, his disciples, out into the world, not to become one with the world, but to be his light to the world. Too many Christians these days think we have to be enmeshed with the world in order to win the world to Jesus. But, Jesus called us to come out from the world and to be separate from (different, unlike) the world. We are not to love the world of sin or the things of the world. We, too, are to be no longer conformed to the ways (attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors) of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. We can’t make disciples of Christ of people in the world, in other words, if we are immersing ourselves in the world’s ways.
We have to go to the world. We have to go where people are, and we have to be intentional about sharing the gospel of Christ with them, yet under the empowerment and direction of the Holy Spirit, and not in our own flesh. Our goal is to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ and then to help them to grow in their walks of faith, although that is not always possible. We individually may not always be the ones to disciple those with whom we share Christ, but we, as a body, can work together to accomplish this, i.e. one plants and another waters. Some baptize, while others preach, and still others pray. Yet, we should all be teaching people what it means to be a follower of Christ, and we should be urging them, too, to obey their Lord and Savior.
Proclaim His Excellencies (1 Peter 2:9)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to proclaim his excellencies, of how he died on a cross for our sins, and of how he will give us the faith to believe in him for salvation. Yet, we also need to tell of how he turned us from sin, and of how he brought us into his truth and into his righteousness. We need to share with them, too, that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. If we walk in the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 1:6; Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). This is what we should tell them.
Yet, time is not on our side, so we need to make haste in fulfilling this mission to which we have been called, to get the gospel out to the people of this world before Jesus Christ returns to judge, and to take his bride to be with him forever. We should not be lazy servants, for many are lost.
O Zion, Haste / Mary A. Thompson / James Walch
O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
To tell to all the world that God is light,
That he who made all nations is not willing
One soul should perish, lost in shades of night.
Behold how many thousands still are lying
Bound in the darksome prison-house of sin,
With none to tell them of the Savior’s dying,
Or of the life he died for them to win.
‘Tis thine to save from peril of perdition
The souls for whom the Lord his life laid down;
Beware, lest, slothful to fulfill thy mission,
Thou lose one jewel that should deck his crown.
Proclaim to every people, tongue, and nation
That God, in whom they live and move, is love;
Tell how he stooped to save his lost creation,
And died on earth that we might live above.
Give of thine own to bear the message glorious;
Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious;
O Zion, haste to bring the brighter day.
Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace;
Tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.