Did You Forget to Salt the Oats?

You have probably heard it said, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

But as Gary Smalley says, you can if you put enough salt in the oats.

Jesus is the living water. Many of us lead people to Him and then throw up our hands in frustration when they refuse to drink. But did we ever salt the oats?

Each person has the responsibility to choose to drink of Jesus, the living water. But we as believers have the responsibility to do everything in our power to make them thirsty. So the question remains…did we salt the oats?

Jesus calls His disciples the salt of the earth. Our lives are supposed to be so inexplicable, so undeniably different from the world, that those around us long for what we have.

As Ian Thomas said, “The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it.”

If we as believers are living the same kind of life as those around us, why would they want what we have? If our lives are no different from theirs, what do we have to offer them?

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “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.” (ESV)

If our lives as believers are not inexplicable to the world, if they don’t cause people to stop and wonder what we have, if they don’t make people long for the living water that is Jesus, what good are they? They are of no good.

Throughout the ages there have been men and women who have lived this kind of inexplicable life. Among them were the Ten Boom family, George and Mary Muller, Rachel Saint, Brother Andrew, and many more.

The lives of these men and women make people stop and wonder.

The Ten Boom family rescued Jews from the Nazis during World War II. They risked their lives to shelter men and women they did not know, and they forgave the Nazis who caused them great pain.

George and Mary Muller cared for 10,000 orphans throughout their lifetime without ever asking anyone for money. They trusted their needs to God and He supernaturally provided.

Rachel Saint went to live among the Auca Indians just two years after they violently killed her brother. She spent her life loving and serving and sharing Jesus with them.

Brother Andrew smuggled hundreds of Bibles into closed countries. He saw God work miracle after miracle as he went into dangerous places and met with persecuted believers.

The lives of these men and women can only be explained in terms of Jesus. What they did was impossible in human terms. Their lives force people to stop and ask, “what do they have?”

Is your life inexplicable to those around you? Maybe you aren’t smuggling Bibles or hiding Jews, but are you forgiving and loving those who hurt you? Do you rejoice in the midst of your suffering and praise God through your pain? Do you serve others at the expense of your own pleasure and desires? Does your life cause others to thirst for the living water—Jesus or have you forgotten to salt the oats?

The Problem with Missionaries

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Jesus said go and make disciples of all nations. He did not say send someone else to go and make disciples. Jesus never intended for the work of His kingdom to be relegated to “professionals”. While it is wonderful that we have pastors and missionaries who devote themselves to ministry full-time, Jesus has called every believer to make disciples.

While we ought to send and support missionaries it does not let us off the hook. As believers, we are all called to be missionaries wherever we go.

When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone?

Sadly many American Christians go for weeks, months, possibly even years without sharing the gospel because we do not recognize that it is our responsibility as believers to do so.

In the United States today, believers and especially young believers are obsessed with finding the will of God for their lives. Where does God want me to go to College? Who does God want me to marry? What does God want me to do with my life? These are all questions that many people are asking. But in all of our seeking after the will of God, we often miss the fact that God has revealed His will for our lives in His word.

According to 1 Thessalonians 4:3 the will of God is that we would be sanctified. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us that the will of God is that we would rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19 that making disciples of all nations is the will of God. Scripture declares what our lives, as believers, are to look like.

What is the will of God?

It is that we would live according to Scripture in every area of our lives, that every believer would be sanctified and shaped into the likeness of Christ and that others would be reconciled to God through us. God may call you to a specific job or ministry but regardless you are called to become more like Christ and to make disciples.

The problem with full-time missionaries is that we believe that it is their job to make disciples when in fact it is our job as well.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Are you making disciples? Are you seeking first His kingdom? Or are you seeking all of these other things because you believe that His kingdom is someone else’s responsibility to seek?

 

Jesus’ Priorities

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How much do you care about the lost? Would you give everything to see one person come to know Christ?

Luke 8 tells us that once as Jesus was going on His way, He met a demon-possessed man. The people had tried to bind the man with chains and shackles but he had broken his bonds and gone into the wilderness where he lived in the tombs.

When the man saw Jesus he cried out, fell down before Him and said in a loud voice, “What do you have to do with Me Jesus you son of the Most High God? I beg you don’t torment me.”

The demons begged Jesus not to command them to depart into the abyss but rather, to let them enter a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Coming out of the man, the demons entered the pigs and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

When the herdsman saw this they went to the town and told the people. The people of the town went to see for themselves. When they came to Jesus they found the man who had been demon-possessed sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind. Then they begged Jesus to leave their region.

Why did the whole town come out to Jesus and beg Him to leave?

Jesus just cast demons out of a man and restored him. Why didn’t the entire town rejoice and beg Jesus to stay with them?

It seems that the town had different priorities than Jesus. Jesus’ priority was the demon-possessed man. The town’s priority was their pigs.

In restoring this man, Jesus allowed an entire herd of pigs to be destroyed. Many of the townspeople’s livelihoods were likely lost. Those pigs were valuable to the people—more valuable than that man.

Rather than rejoicing that this man had met the Savior and been set free they mourned their own loss and sent Jesus away.

What about us?

We want people to come to know Jesus but how much? Are we willing to lose everything for one soul? If Jesus came to our towns and set someone free, destroying our property in the process, how would we respond? Would we send Jesus away?

Jesus has called us to go and make disciples of all nations. Very few people in the church today are actively seeking to fulfill this call. Why?

Is it possible that we, like this town, have found Jesus’ call to be too costly? Is it possible that we do not have Jesus’ priorities?

Let us search our hearts and repent of valuing our money, our time, our things, ourselves, above the lost souls of men. Let us seek to gain God’s heart and His priorities.

The Fifth Sparrow

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God cares about the little seemingly unimportant things. He cares about the forgotten things, the unnoticed things.

God numbers the hairs on your head, He knows each star by name and He sees every sparrow that falls to the ground.

Matthew 10:29 tells us that two sparrows were sold for a copper coin while Luke 12:6 says that five sparrows were sold for two copper coins. It seems that when four sparrows were sold a fifth was thrown in. Worth so little, this fifth sparrow was merely given away with the four. Though it was of so little value that it was not worth taking into account in the sale, this fifth sparrow is seen, noticed and loved by God. God does not forget the fifth sparrow. Even for this little bird, He cares.

Do you have God’s heart for the little things, the forgotten things, the unnoticed things?

Do you care about the five-year-old girl in India who is being sold for a dollar? Do you care about the Down-Syndrom baby that is dying in an alley in North Korea, abandoned and forgotten? Do you care about the single mom in Haiti whose only means to support her family is prostitution?

In Matthew 10 and in Luke 12 Jesus tells us of God’s concern for the sparrow but then He goes on to tell us that we are worth much more than sparrows. We serve a big God who cares about the minutest detail of His creation yet first and foremost His concern is not for sparrows but for us, for people.

God is broken-hearted over the pain in this world. He is broken-hearted over all of the people that do not know Him. But God is also broken-hearted by the fact that we, His people, often do not share His burden.

We are too busy, too lazy and too comfortable. God is calling us, as His people, out of our ease and into the messiness of a lost world. He wants to share His heart with us. He wants to give us a burden for the forgotten places and the overlooked people.

This is not an option. We are Christians. This is who we are.

In Matthew 16:24 we are told that if we desire to come after Jesus we must deny ourselves which literally means to lose sight of ourselves and our own interests and take up our crosses and follow Jesus.

In our pampered American Christian culture we are used to having Jesus while still pursuing our own desires. Jesus calls us to give up our desires for His desires and our pursuits for His.

Jesus’ great concern is not for our comfort but rather for the lost souls around us. We must abandon our selfish pursuits to serve our God. He is looking for Christians who will share His burden and His heart for the lost and dying.

Will you open up your eyes and allow your heart to be broken by Him? God cares about the fifth sparrow. Do you?