DAY 92 | LIGHT WRAPPED IN SKIN

 
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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.

Matthew 5:14-16

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Jesus is light wrapped in human skin. The One who created humans becamewhat He created to save and preservewho He created—us.

He came to illuminate and reveal clearly who God is. The darkness that entered the world through sin was now going to be extinguished by Jesus, who came to be the Light of the world. Sin wrecked, deformed, decayed and degraded the image of God in humanity. We were made to be fully alive, but who we are was lost in the darkness. Jesus turned up not as just God—but fully man and fully God. He did not look upon us with condemnation and judgment but with mercy and grace. The light had been lost in our humanity but the One who gave us the Light of His image in the first place came to restore the Light.

Jesus did all this by becoming human. God wrapped Himself in human skin—the Light, the Word of God now clothed in flesh. Wherever He walked, wherever He went, He was Light, and humans began to see again by His light. The parables were a way for Him to illuminate who He was and who we are. He told stories that brought light so that the eyes of human hearts could see again who their God was. He was not a far-off God. He was not a God who did not care. But rather He showed He was a God who loved us so much that He would give us His only Son—His word, His very light—so that by this light all men would see God and receive the light as their life.

In Him was life and this life was the light of men. And it is His Holy Spirit, which is His life that we have been searching for. We look for light in darkness, and we find more darkness. We look for light in the artificial light of man, but when this light runs out of power we find ourselves again in darkness. But Jesus came to give us life and life in abundance. He did this by illuminating who God is. For when we see Him we discover who we are. We cannot know who we are without knowing our Creator, and we cannot know our Creator unless we see Him by the light that is Jesus Christ.

So we walk through the pages of scripture no longer in the dark, for we have the light of Christ with us to illuminate what we are reading and learning. We engage with each other as fellow humans, no longer in the dark trying to gain identity from someone else who is also in darkness, but rather relating in the light. We live our lives in the city, no longer needing to live by confusion stress, and anxiety, for the light of Christ—as revealed in our peace—does not live in perfect circumstances but in the unchanging character of God. We are no longer humans driven and motivated by self, for in the light of Christ we see the majesty, glory and beauty of God. When we behold Him by the light of Christ, we see our purpose is to live for His glory not our own.

Over 92 days we have allowed the words of Jesus to illuminate who He is. His parables have opened our eyes to see through the darkness of self-built empires—empires built upon the sand, like hills of pride. His words have shone light upon the condition of our human hearts, so we can see what kind of soil His seed or word is being planted in. We have learned that we are the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, but we have a Shepherd, a God who doesn't stop looking for us, and a Father who always has open arms to receive us with grace and love.

In the light of Christ it has been revealed that we no longer need to bury our grace but rather invest and live by His grace in every situation, set free from a life of earning salvation. We now can live in radical forgiveness of others, for in the light of Christ we have seen what we ourselves have been forgiven of. Jesus the Light has shown us that He has prepared a place for each of us at His wedding feast, and there is a seat reserved for us so that, humans here and now, we can take the lower seat, no longer striving for the best seat of power on this earth. Through the lamp of His word we have found that Jesus is the great treasure in the field, the pearl of great price, the yeast that seems insignificant yet changes the whole lump of dough. He is the mustard seed that becomes that largest of plants in the garden.

Jesus the Light illuminated the power of prayer again in our lives, showing us that we don't need to be afraid of persisting or asking, for we have a Father who wants to give us good things—so much so that He wants to give us Himself! His design for prayer is that we get Him! Jesus the Light pushed back the clouds of darkness that have encroached upon our prayer life through doubt and fear. This light shone in our hearts so that we no longer need to destroy current blessings through coveting more of this world. His light pushed back the darkness of greed so we are humans fully alive, to be generous in every occasion.

Jesus showed us through the light of His parables the importance of building our lives on the rock of His truth, not just by hearing but by obeying His word. Jesus revealed by His light that we worth preserving, that He came to earth to be salt, to preserve the image of God in humanity by a new preserving covenant, a covenant that is unchanging because it is sealed with the perfect human, sinless life and the divine blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus helped us see clearly that nothing can now separate us from His love. The Light of God hung on a cross, nailing all darkness into His light. Light died at the hands of darkness so that darkness would die in the light of His love. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

“The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out” (John 1:5, Message version).

Darkness could not kill light. The Light of all creation looked like it was extinguished, hidden and defeated—when in fact the breaking of this Light, wrapped in human flesh, was the moment where light was released into all of human flesh. Light did not stay in the darkness of death but was raised to life so that all humans can now receive His light. Now this Light brings us back to life.

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

In Christ we are now Humans, fully alive.

It's just the beginning.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 91 | TOGETHER BRIGHTER

 
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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.

Matthew 5:14-16

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When Jesus declared that we are the light of the world, He was referring to us collectively. Those who place their trust in Him are His light in the world. But His metaphor doesn't stop with just saying that we are the light of the world—He expands the imagery and says that we are a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. We are a city. A ‘city’ speaks of many people, a collective group. It is important that, individually, we shine with the light of Christ because we won't shine together unless we are each filled with the light of Christ. But it is only together that we truly fulfill the call to be a city on a hill. He is speaking of the church gathered—the church together is a city within a city that reveals a new way for us to live.

Together we shine brighter. On our own there is only so much we can do to push back darkness. My light and your light each have a certain radius, but our lights together enlarge the influence of light over darkness. The enemy wants to belittle our light, discourage our light and ultimately extinguish our light. Why? Because the light is Jesus in us. The light in us is what reveals, again, the image of the One who created us. We are made in the image of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oil of the Holy Spirit feeds this flame so it continues to burn brightly, so the enemy will do everything to isolate our light. He wants us to stop our reliance on the Holy Spirit so this flame will diminish and extinguish. The enemy wants us to feel like our light doesn't mean anything so we will let the winds of life blow the flame out. He doesn't want us fully alight, shining bright with the love of Christ.

Together as lights, the enemy can't extinguish our brightness. For if one of us loses our flame we are right next to someone else who can relight our passion and faith in Jesus. If you feel like your light has gone out, don't feel guilty or shameful, don't be intimidated by someone else's passion for Jesus, but rather get around believers who are alight with the love of Christ, alive in His presence. Let someone else help light your fire for Jesus.

Together we are a city on a hill. Let's shine brightly, let’s fight for each other’s lights, let’s fan into flame the gifts and the grace upon each other’s lives. And let's see this city alive with the glory of Christ because we were not afraid to shine brightly with the light of Jesus. Together we are brighter.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 90 | LIGHT UP THE WORLD

 
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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.

Matthew 5:14-16

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The first words that God spoke into creation brought light. The first thing He did was to bring light. This word, this light was and is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God. When the time was right for humanity to know exactly who made them and why, Jesus the Word put on human flesh so that we might see who God is. He wrote himself into His own story so that we would now know the Author. The Light of God, Jesus, came to make it clear who God is. Humanity has been stuck in wrong and false views of God, and Jesus pushes back this darkness because He is light. He is the visible image of an invisible God. God did not keep us in the dark as to who He is. God is clearly revealed through Jesus Christ. He is light and in Him there is no darkness.

It's breathtaking that God is light. It's amazing to realize that Jesus is this light, the light of the world, but it seems crazy to think that He would then call us the light of the world! He just called these people the salt of the earth, declaring that they would be the preservers of everything that looks like Jesus in this world, everything that reflects His glory, everything that speaks of who He is and His beauty. He’s declared that we are the reminders, or the salt, of the eternal relationship and covenant that is preserved by the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross. He loves us so much that He, by His sacrifice, has preserved us for all eternity. But Jesus doesn't stop there—He now calls those who believe in Jesus “the light of the world.”

He reveals that by accepting Him we now have His light in us. The word ‘light’ is better translated to the ‘words’ of God. Jesus is declaring that the same word that spoke light into existence, the same creative and powerful word that said “Let there be light” now lives in us. He drove out darkness from our lives with His light. We are the now the word of God, or the light to this world—we are the revealers of who God is through our character, actions and love of others. The same light that lit up the formless universe, the same light that would enable everyone to see the beauty of His creation, that light is now given to us. Our lives speak to the creative and grace-filled work of the cross and His resurrection; the work that makes all things new is now seen and revealed through the light of our lives.

People who are in darkness can't see why they are here or who made them or for what purpose. But through the lives of those who have said yes to Jesus and received His grace, we live in such a way as to light a way for others to see what He has done for them and who He is.

So shine today. Light up the world. Be the words of God to someone. Be the light that reveals who God is—a God of love, a God of hope, a God of freedom, a God of truth, a God of grace.

Let's be a church of His light. Humans fully alive in His light.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 89 | PRESERVERS OF GRACE

 
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You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery].

Matthew 5:13

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When Jesus declares that those who believe and trust in Him are the salt of the earth, it is no little or insignificant claim. Salt was used in many ways, but for the Jewish people the strongest references they would of understood when Jesus said this were connected to offerings of sacrifice made to God. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant of salt with His people. He required that all offerings that were given to Him would always have salt included. The salt was a symbol of covenant—meaning the covenant that He was making with His people was unchangeable. God was never going to back down from His promise; God was going to preserve His agreement with His people. As salt preserves, so God calls on His people to preserve or trust in the agreement or covenant with God.

How does this relate to us now in the new covenant? When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth,” He was calling on us to remind and preserve for people the truth that we are now under a covenant of grace. Wherever we go, wherever we work, wherever we have influence—we are called to be salt, to preserve the truth that we are now saved by grace into relationship with God. We no longer need to add salt to animal sacrifices, but rather we ourselves are the salt added to people’s lives reminding them that God has made a way for relationship with them—not by their sacrifices but by the sacrifice of one, Jesus Christ. There is nothing that can break this covenant with Jesus. It is sealed by His human and divine blood shed for each of us on the cross.

If He has done it all at calvary on the cross, then what is our role? We are salt. We are now the constant reminders, preservers and purifiers. By being salt, we are living examples and reminders that this grace covenant is real and active. We are different. When the world pulls down the gospel, we preserve it. When the world hates, we are the preservers of love. When the world brings injustice, we are the preservers of justice through Jesus Christ. When people feel guilty and condemned, we are salt—we are reminders that there is no longer any condemnation in Christ Jesus.

We are the preservers of grace. Wherever we go and whoever we are with, we add salt. We stop the decay of sin which eats away at the image of God's glory in humans. We preserve the beauty, majesty and the wonder of all the good that God has created. We are in the world but not of the world, for we are grace preservers, salty, not forgetting that our purpose is to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

You are the salt of the earth. Today, engage with the world— interact with the world—but be the salt, a reminder of the grace that is available to everyone. The grace that has the power to restore and renew all things.

Jesus didn't say that one day you will be salt. He says that today you are salt.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 88 | ME, SALT?

 
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You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty?

Matthew 5:13

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For Jesus to talk about salt in this parable would’ve been a powerful reference for all the listeners and disciples. Salt was how Roman soldiers were paid. Salt was known as divine to the Greeks. In Mosaic law, salt was required in all offerings presented to God. Salt was used to preserve meats and foods because there was no ability to refrigerate. For us in the Western modern world, our immediate reaction is to think of salt as added flavor to our food. Although this can have some merit, it’s probably not what the original listener would understand to be what Jesus was references.

Regardless of which interpretation the listeners might’ve had, it would’ve been apparent that His description of humans was an important one. Jesus is saying that we are very important to Him and very important to all that He has created—meaning the earth and all that is in it. This is not a little statement. Those hearing this parable would’ve been astonished at the confident declaration of how important they are and how vital their purpose is. Salt seems small and insignificant, but to God it was very important.

This is also an important distinction from how these people would’ve felt. Remember Jesus had just outlined who was going to be happy and excited about His Kingdom in His beatitudes. It was a list of people you wouldn't expect from a leader and teacher. Jesus was speaking to all those who did not feel choosable, all those that who helpless and hopeless, all those who felt broken and forgotten. He is preaching to that type of crowd, and right near the beginning of this powerful message, He declares that these people, these humans, are the salt of the earth!

It was such a radical statement. To place that much value on these people was not expected. But Jesus reveals that He is no ordinary human, no regular teacher, no common man. People knew this by many things that Jesus did and said, but a way that people definitely knew Jesus was very different was His belief and empowerment of others. To place this much value, clear identity and purpose on fellow human beings was unheard of—and yet here is Jesus declaring "You are the salt of the earth!"

To be defined as salt might seem small and insignificant, but as we will learn it was very much the opposite for Jesus.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 87 | YOU ARE ...

 
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You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people. You are the light of Christ to the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone 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 shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and recognize and honor and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

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Jesus in the middle of His sermon on the mount included different parables. He breaks up His powerful message about who we are and how we should live as followers of Christ with stories, analogies and pictures so that we might understand the significance of who we are.

Jesus leaves no room for guessing who and what we are in Him. He begins with the words, "You are." He didn't say "one day you will become" or "once you reach a certain spiritual enlightenment.” He simply said, "you are." Anyone who is in Christ Jesus is a new creation. Anyone who puts their trust and faith in Him is salt and light. It is not reserved for the super spiritual or the highly religious, it is simply a reality for all those in Christ.

It is so easy to attach our identity, our purpose, our security, our value on this earth to things that can never offer us what we are looking for. Jesus in these two verses of scripture gives us many things. He gives us identity—”You are.” He gives us purpose—to be the salt and light in the earth. He gives us value in that we are to shine and be salt.

But what does it mean to be salt and light? As we come to a close in our Human series, together let’s unpack what Jesus means so that we might be humans who are fully alive as the salt and light in this world.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 86 | SUBTLE SAND

 
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And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 7:26-27

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The house that is built on the sand is interesting. You would think that the life built on the sand is the one that has not heard the words of Jesus and therefore does not obey them. But that is not the case. The two houses have the same opportunity to have a great foundation. There is no disadvantage between the two lives—the one on the rock and the other on sand. The only difference is obedience. Both heard the same Sermon on the Mount. Both heard the words of Jesus, the Creator of all things. The difference was not hearing; the difference was doing what they heard.

Why would we not build our houses on the rock? The listeners would have resonated with this parable and understood that it is very possible for people to build their houses on the sand. The Sermon on the Mount was on a hill right next to the sea of Galilee where the sand in the dry season became rock-like. Out of haste, cutting corners, saving money or from a lack of local knowledge, people would make the mistake of building a house on the sand. This is an important point because we might think the point Jesus is making is an obvious one, but the hearers would’ve begun realized that the distinction He was making was a subtle one with huge ramifications.

So it's not obvious, sand or rock. These listeners understood this. It's not always obvious if what you are building your life on is the rock-solid foundation words of Jesus. Just because we have heard the word of God doesn't mean we are building a solid foundation. It's a great start, but no guarantee. That's why Jesus is giving us this parable. He is revealing that we might be the house that is on the sand because we are hearing His words but not living His words out.

This is a mistake we all make. Out of haste, laziness, apathy, discouragement and selfishness, we hear, but we don't do—because doing usually requires surrender, submission, sacrifice, commitment and other words that are unpopular in today's western world. We might sacrifice, but the benefits must be immediate and rewarding for us to justify the sacrifice. Jesus words in this famous and powerful sermon tell us to love our enemies, fast, pray, give generously, not take revenge, turn the other cheek, give to the needy, let your word be your word, don't lust, be salt and light—and it goes on and on. These are very challenging things to do, but He says that those who not only hear these words but also do them have the life that will truly be built on a rock-solid foundation.

Are we hearing but not doing? We might be building on sand that seems rock like. These houses around the Sea of Galilee would not usually fall after one storm; the sand would erode over time, after multiple storms. The builder would have a false sense of security because the house withstood a few storms. This our danger because we have heard the words of Jesus but haven't been living and obeying them. We probably have made it through a few storms, but underneath the sands of pride are eroding.

Diving into this parable is humbling because it confronts our obedience. It confronts our assumptions. But praise God we are being encouraged and warned. James, the brother of Jesus, later writes in his New Testament letter to not just be hearers of the word but doers of the word. In an age of cheap grace which says our actions don't matter, Jesus counters this sentiment and encourages us to not be fooled by the sand that seems like rock. Hearing is necessary, but if we’ve truly heard, it will be seen in our actions. We are saved only by the finished word of Jesus, saved by His wondrous grace, but this grace empowers us to not just hear how we are called to live. Thank God that His grace, His Holy Spirit, empowers us to not just be hearers but now doers of His word.

Let's be humans that are fully assured, fully alive and built on a rock solid foundation.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 85 | STORMS WILL COME

 
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And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

Matthew 7:25

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If we were to build a house with our own hands and live in it we might understand this parable a little more. If we built a house with our own hands, and then a storm rose up that could jeopardize the house, we would relate even more. The disciples listening to this powerful sermon on the mount—and then this parable illustrating the importance of what has just been preached—would’ve started to realize how important the words of Jesus were.

The foundation of the life we are building is only realized when a storm comes upon us. If the storm or trial overwhelms us and destroys everything that we’ve been building up until that point, we might need to rethink what and how we are building. Storms will come; they are unavoidable. But how we respond and what we have built is vital.

If we have built our life on the words of Jesus, then when a storm comes, it is His promise that we will not fall because we have been founded on the rock of His word. But if we find ourselves constantly falling and crumbling when storms arise, we might need to relook at the foundations of our life. Are we truly building on the words of our Creator God or are we just living out of emotion and nice ideas?

The evidence is in the ability to withstand a storm. The strength of who we are is founded in our obedience to His words. If we are hearing His words but ignoring the obedience part, we might find our life being tossed around by the wind, floods and rain of this world. Storms will come, but the rock foundation of our house can withstand it.

If we are feeling a bit swayed in our current trials, let’s return to the words of Jesus and His rock-solid foundation so that we might build a life that withstands the storms to come.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey