About Grace Hunter

Grace is married, has 4 children one of whom is now in heaven. She enjoys reading, crocheting, puzzles, baking and spending time with her granddaughter. She and her husband have attended South Fellowship Church since 2014. She and her husband Jeff enjoy singing in the choir, working in the nursery and helping with the South Food Bank.

An Overview of Romans

by Grace Hunter

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:9-16 NIV

Paul the Apostle wrote the book of Romans as a letter to the church in Rome in 57 AD. He was nearing the end of his third missionary journey and most likely he wrote this letter while in Corinth. Paul planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain, after he personally delivered the collection gathered from many churches for the poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem. He greatly desired to visit the Roman church, but he had not been there yet when he wrote Romans.

The church in Rome was predominantly Gentile but had a Jewish minority as well. The major theme of the letter to the Romans is the presentation of the gospel and God’s plan of righteousness for the world. Romans contains the clearest and most complete presentation of the gospel, perhaps because Paul had not yet visited Rome, nor had another Apostle taught the church in Rome directly.

Paul explains:

  • that all people are unrighteous;
  • that we receive justification through Christ;
  • the process of our sanctification,
  • the role of Israel, and
  • how we are to be righteous in the world.

Chapter 12 of Romans describes and instructs us on how we are to love one another in the body of Christ, His church. He begins Chapter 12 with:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will,” Romans 12:1-2 NIV.

He then teaches on Spiritual gifts. Then chapter 13 instructs us on how we as Christians are to practice righteousness in the world around us, including interacting with governmental authority. Chapter 14 and 15 teach us how to interact with both mature and immature Christians.
Paul’s list of characteristics of how Christians should display God’s love and ways sacrificially (in giving of ourselves to others), precedes Paul’s instruction on how we are to interact with the world at large.

It’s always important to keep in mind the reason a particular book in the Bible was written, to whom it was written, by whom it was written, as well as the time and place it was written. Having an outline of the book as a whole is helpful in understanding a particular passage. For example, Romans is organized more like a theological essay than a personal letter. As you read over Romans 12:9-16, think about all that Paul is instructing the Roman Christians to live out in their spiritual lives. Think about how the Holy Spirit is speaking to you through this section of Romans.

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An Overview of Romans2023-11-20T22:46:55-07:00

Love Your Neighbor

by Grace Hunter

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 NIV

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 NIV

Jesus again begins a section of His sermon with, “you have heard that it was said”. Then he goes on to quote what the law in Leviticus 19:18 actually says, together with telling His disciples what this principle is in the Kingdom of God.

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18 NIV

Did you notice? The instructions in Leviticus do not say, “hate your enemy”. The phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” is found in many places throughout the New Testament: Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and in James 2:8. But, “hate your enemies” is not in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or in Deuteronomy. However, similar  attitudes are found in various places in the Psalms. Usually, these views are presented as hating enemies of God.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Psalm 139:19-22

David is having a conversation with God in this Psalm. David reflects a common attitude in Israel — that he hates God’s enemies and adversaries. Jonah, one of God’s prophets, displayed a similar attitude toward the Ninevites (Assyrians). Both David and Jonah displayed a frustration with God’s patience toward His enemies. But another phrase — like a golden thread throughout the Old Testament — is one found in Jonah 4:2b.

I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

Similar phrases are found in Exodus 34:6-7, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8, Joel 2:13.

So even though many in Israel had the attitude of hating their enemies (that was perhaps even taught by rabbis and scholars), God had been known as a God who was slow to anger, who was compassionate and patient, even with His enemies (as in Jonah 4:2). Once again, Jesus is teaching His disciples what His Kingdom looks like and how His Kingdom works. Think about the implications of this for your own life as you read through and pray the Lord’s Prayer.

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Love Your Neighbor2023-11-18T10:04:28-07:00

An Eye For An Eye – Really?

by Grace Hunter

You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42 NIV

At first glance, Jesus seems to be directly contradicting the law of Moses in this section of His Sermon on the Mount teaching. Is that really what is happening here? Let’s look a little deeper. We are looking at little segments of the Sermon on the Mount each week, but it is important to keep the broader context in mind as well. Earlier Jesus said,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20 NIV

So, is Jesus teaching against the law? Or perhaps is He teaching that the law had been misinterpreted by leaders, Pharisees and scholars, that this is what He is seeking to correct. This section is prefaced once again with the statement, “You have heard that it was said” Matthew 5:38a. My NIV text note on Matthew 5:21 says,

The contrast Jesus sets up (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43) is not between the Old Testament and his teaching (he has just established the validity of the Old Testament Law Matthew 5:17-20). Rather, it is between externalistic interpretation of the rabbinic tradition on the one hand, and Jesus’ correct interpretation of the Law on the other.

The law that Jesus is referring to in this section is found in Leviticus 24:19-20, Exodus 21:22-24, and in Deuteronomy 19:16-21. Each has similar wording, but Deuteronomy gives us some extra context.

If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. Deuteronomy 19:16-21 NIV

These instructions were given to judges and priests – not to everyone. This was a principle to be applied by judges or priests in judgements of wrongdoers. It described the punishment fitting the crime, not literally cutting off someone’s foot or hand. It was also described as a deterrent against wrong doing in general. Some leaders in Jesus’ day were not applying this law correctly. Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:39-42 demonstrates how the law of love, not a law of retaliation, is applied in God’s kingdom. Pray through the Lord’s Prayer while thinking on these principles.

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An Eye For An Eye – Really?2023-11-11T23:58:48-07:00

Simply Say, Yes or No

Simply let your `Yes’ be `Yes,’ and your `No,’ `No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37 NIV

The familiar phrase “my word is my bond” is understood to mean that if I say I am going to do something, then believe it, I will do it. Jesus is teaching His disciples here in Matthew 5:37 a similar idea. Perhaps in Jesus day, as in our day and time, people often thought that in order to make someone believe one when one said he or she would do something, that one had to swear by something “sacred” to make one’s word believed. Jesus’ brother James said something similar:

“Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned,” James 5:12 NIV

My NIV study bible has a text note on this particular verse that I think clarifies what James and Jesus were getting at in these statements about letting our yes be yes and our no be no.

James’s words are very close to Christ’s (Matthew 5:33-37). James is not condemning the taking of solemn oaths, such as God’s before Abraham (Hebrews 6:13) or Jesus’ before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:63-64) or Paul’s (Romans 9:1) or a man’s before the Lord (Exodus 22:11). Rather, he is condemning the flippant use of God’s name or a sacred object to guarantee the truth of what is spoken.” NIV Study Bible (Text note on James 5:12 copyright 1985.)

I believe a principle is being taught here:

Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth. Proverbs 16:13 NIV

These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD. Zechariah 8:16-17 NIV

Instead of embellishing our words or swearing by something considered sacred, Jesus implores us to be honest people. Jesus calls us to be known by our word, by our actions, as believable, trustworthy and faithful people. Of course, this is not what the evil one desires. So consider: Is my word good enough? Are my actions in line with my words? As you pray the Lord’s Prayer, think about your words, actions and God’s desire for us to live trustworthy honest lives before God and men.

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Simply Say, Yes or No2023-11-03T18:21:32-06:00

The Ideal Marriage

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 NIV

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 NIV

Jesus introduces a new topic – adultery with, “It has been said, `Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NIV) Jesus goes into more detail later in the book of Matthew when He was approached by Pharisees who wished to test him.

They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’ and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 NIV

Once again, the Pharisees were seeking to put a fence around the law, to emphasize what was allowed and what wasn’t. But Jesus demonstrated with His answer, referring to Genesis and the first marriage (Genesis 2:18-25), that His focus was on the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the marriage bed, and on the lifetime commitment made by a husband and a wife to each other in marriage. Jesus points the Pharisees and His listeners to the beauty and the idyllic state of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. In this relationship before the fall, Adam and Eve were companions, there was no shame, they had complete honesty (openness) with each other and with God. Jesus wanted His hearers to recognize the ideal in marriage, the high value God places on marriage — instead of looking for the loophole that would allow a man to leave his wife for any reason imaginable.

Think about divorce in our society today. It seems that many people consider divorce an uncomplicated and valid choice over sticking with difficulties in a marriage. Jesus’ answer above leads me to believe that He valued women, valued marriage, and saw it as a lifetime commitment. Christian marriage demands mutual respect, mutual concern and a willingness to act in a self-sacrificing way by both husband and wife. Paul describes this type of marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:21-33. Consider all of these exhortations from scripture, and ask God to show you what you need to see and understand about marriage.

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The Ideal Marriage2023-10-29T19:08:04-06:00

Lust Dehumanizes

“You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 NIV

Jesus first states the 7th commandment as something all his hearers know, then He elaborates on the heart issue. Adultery does not occur in a vacuum. It begins with thoughts, it begins with looks, it begins with attitudes – long before any action is taken.

For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. I John 2:16 NIV

You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Numbers 15:39 NIV

These verses tell us where lust begins. Our eyes see something we desire, and we begin to crave that something. Lust usually involves desiring another person for one’s own sexual gratification. Lustful desires are always presented as sinful (Colossians 3:5), of the world (I John 2:16), or even equated with bestial instincts (II Peter 2:12-18).

A person who lusts after another, selfishly desires that person – in order to own or consume him or her, not for giving them love. Lust does not elevate or encourage. Instead it puts down, it dehumanizes, it devalues the other person as simply an object to possess.

Paul lists lust in Colossians 3:5 as a sin to be removed from a Christian’s life. Then Paul goes on to describe how a Christian can rid himself of sins like lust. Paul uses an analogy of taking off old clothes (sins) and putting on new ones (godly virtues and values). Colossians 3:1-4:6 gives many instructions on how to submit to the Holy Spirit and live a God honoring life.

Jesus deplores our sinful actions, likewise is burdened by and even saddened by our sinful thoughts and attitudes which invariably can lead to wrong doing. As you read and pray the Lord’s prayer, examine your thoughts and attitudes. When the Spirit reveals your sinful thoughts and attitudes toward another person, confess it, repent and receive God’s forgiveness.

Lust Dehumanizes2023-10-21T19:36:46-06:00

Praying Through Anger

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, *Raca’, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22 NIV

* Also in the Old Testament Hebrew: “req”.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV

Anger is a normal human emotion we all feel from time to time. Jesus displayed a righteous anger against the moneychangers (Matthew 21:12-13), and against the Pharisees who had no compassion toward a man with a shriveled hand, in Mark 3:1-6. But Jesus was both fully man and fully God. What are we as fallible humans to do with our angry thoughts when our will is violated or when we witness injustice?

David and many other Old Testament writers turned their anger into prayers. These “Psalms of Vengeance” as they are sometimes known can be difficult to understand on the surface. It is important to keep several points in mind when reading and praying these vengeance Psalms.

  • First, they ARE prayers; these writers were bringing the full scope of their emotions to God, expressing their feelings, frustrations, and distress to God. This is the correct way to deal with these complex and deep emotions – in prayer to God.
  • Second, many of these Psalms express the desire for the wicked to be judged by God. It is important to remember that the curses and strong language used in these Psalms are directed at God’s enemies, those who have rejected God and who have failed to repent.
  • Third, the Psalmists were not looking to avenge the wrongs done to them personally; instead, they were asking God to avenge His enemies.
    Deuteronomy 32:35-43, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30-31 also express that vengeance is God’s job, not ours.

So, the question confronting us is: what should we do with our anger? Perhaps praying one of these imprecatory Psalms is a good idea. Look at Psalm 55. Read it through and think about how you could pray through those verses and put words to your distress and anger, into a prayer. Phrases from verses 10-11 can be prayed against those who are acting as God’s enemies. Verse 22 implores people to turn to God, to cast their cares on Him, and 23 talks of the reality of what will happen to those who refuse to repent, and ends with an appeal for us all to trust in the Lord.

Other “vengeance” Psalms are 69, 109, 139:19-22, and Psalm 18. I found two articles that help to explain these Psalms and how to use them in prayer. I have included links if you would like to study further.

A blog about how to pray with these Psalms: https://abramkj.com/2019/08/27/psalms-of-vengeance/

An Article about vengeance Psalms from Ligonier Ministries: https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts/ask-ligonier/how-should-christians-view-the-imprecatory-psalms

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Praying Through Anger2023-10-14T18:46:22-06:00

God Desires Our Heart

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 NIV

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV *The Shema

* Sh’ma: literally means listen, heed, or hear and do (according to the Targum, accept).

Some may think that only the New Testament presents the idea that God desires a relationship with us. I have been impressed, intrigued and challenged by the many times the word “heart” occurs in the Bible and especially in the Old Testament. Often it is used in a way that describes an intimate relationship and dialogue between a person and the God of the Universe. Here are some examples:

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deuteronomy 10:12-21 NIV

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:10-17 NIV

Do you see the relationship being cultivated between God and man in these verses? When the Bible speaks of the heart, it is not talking about the physical muscle that beats and pumps blood throughout our bodies, keeping us alive. Instead, it is referring to “the center of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thought, motivations, courage and action”. * Proverbs 4:23 advises us “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

* NIV study Bible text note on Psalm 4:7 1985 edition

Of course, the New Testament presents this idea as well. Je.sus quotes the Jewish “Shema” in Matthew 22:37-40 in answer to the question of “which is the greatest commandment?” He also talked of the connection between the heart and our words and actions in Matthew 12:34-35,

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

I believe the God of the Universe desires our hearts, souls, minds and bodies to be in a living breathing relationship with Him. Amazing! Look at what
Ezekiel said:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:25-27

Think of how the Lord Almighty has always desired a relationship with His creation. Think of how He provided the way for that to occur as you pray the Lord’s prayer today. If you want to study some other heart verses, here are some good ones to read, meditate on and pray over: Joshua 22:5, I Samuel 16:7,
I Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 73:26, Psalm 119:2, 10, 36, 58, 69, 161, Lamentations 2:19, Ezekiel 11:18-20, Joel 2:12-13, Acts 1:24, 15:8, 16:14, Romans 10:9-10, Hebrews 4:12

God Desires Our Heart2023-10-08T15:12:09-06:00

Covenant of Salt

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Matthew 5:13 NIV

“ Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring.” Numbers 18:19 NIV

Have you ever noticed this verse before? What is a covenant of salt? First, we need a little background. Imagine you are living several thousand years ago, with no refrigeration and few ways to store or keep meat safe to eat. Next, remember that salt was used as a preservative, as a means of keeping and storing meat beyond the day an animal was killed. Salt was extremely valuable; any economy that had naturally occurring salt had the means to become wealthy and powerful. Salt was desirable as payment, because it could be used as an antiseptic for wounds, and when used to preserve meat, could assure there would be food for the future.

God told Moses in Leviticus 2:13 “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.” Earlier in Exodus 30:34-37 God gave these instructions for making incense,

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices–gum resin, onycha and galbanum–and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the LORD.”

Why do you think God wanted his grain sacrifices and his incense to include salt? Perhaps because salt was so valuable that including it in the grain sacrifice would demonstrate an Israelite’s devotion. This recipe for incense was to be offered to God alone; all of these ingredients were expensive – including salt.

In Numbers 18 God told Aaron and his descendants which portions of the offerings were to be burned and which portions were to be eaten by the priests and their families. Then, in Numbers 18:19, God said, “Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring.”

When God makes a covenant with His people, it is enduring, it is everlasting, it is binding. Salt has this unusual quality that it is always salt, it cannot be changed. Even when it is diluted by water, if the water is evaporated, the salt will recrystallize and be salt again. When salt was burned on the offerings, it was still there when all the meat or grain was burned up. Salt is a picture of our everlasting God who does not change, who keeps His word and whose promises and covenants are enduring. As you pray the Lord’s prayer remember our God is everlasting and does not change.

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Covenant of Salt2023-09-29T19:44:06-06:00


From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:… Matthew 5:1-2 NIV

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7 NIV

Let’s remember the context of the verses above. Jesus was seated; He was teaching his disciples; the crowd was listening. In the beatitudes, Jesus was describing what a disciple is, what he or she does and what he or she looks like following such injunctions.  “[He] has put together a profile of kingdom-people, twice born people, Spirit-filled people. Jesus is describing a humanity transformed by Him and His good news.” The Beatitudes, p.16, Darrell W. Johnson.

Keeping this in mind, let’s think about what Jesus meant by being merciful and showing mercy to others. There are two excellent parables Jesus taught that clearly describe mercy. The first is about the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. As you reread this familiar parable, think about the risks the Samaritan took, the fact he didn’t need to know why the man was hurt and in need, but he simply acted. The Samaritan showed kindness and compassion – he displayed mercy to a stranger in need.

In another parable, Jesus taught a different aspect of mercy – the forgiveness of a debt. This parable is in Matthew 18:21-35. As you reread this parable, think about how you feel when someone has forgiven you for an offense you caused. Then, think about the question Peter asked at the beginning, how often should I forgive my brother? Consider – mercy cancels debts.

Let us remember – Jesus came to this earth to extend mercy to all who will accept His gift of grace that is offered because of the sacrifice He made on the cross, because of our sin. We deserve to die for our own sin, but instead, Jesus paid that price, canceled our debt and extended mercy to each of us who choose to accept it.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:21 NIV

So, if we are unwilling to forgive, nor to extend mercy to others, while at the same time asking God to give us mercy, then we are not really asking for mercy, instead we are in fact not in right relationship with God.

Pray the Lord’s prayer and think about how the mercy God has extended to you enables you to extend mercy to others around you.

`Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. *For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

* Note. This benediction is quoted in many other versions of verse 13, translations based upon the Textus Receptus.

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