Ivan Shackleton - Salt - Rochedale, Queensland - 2004

Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? " Recently those words were impressed on me very much. I was away at some conventions, and for 4 months I ate convention stew, but sometimes they didn't put any salt in the stew, and you can imagine what it tasted like! Some people felt it wasn't healthy for you. This salt that Jesus was talking about was something that was very healthy, something we should have more of.

In the Old Testament, it speaks about the sacrifice that the children of God offered up, it had to be salted with salt and that was the responsibility of the person that was making the offering. Jesus said that every sacrifice must be salted with salt and then He says, "Ye are the salt of the earth." Salt is something that must be added to every sacrifice. In the Old Testament days when they were offering up a sacrifice they had to take salt with them. Jesus said, "Ye are the salt," that must be added to the sacrifice that has been made. Jesus is the sacrifice that has been made for us.

Matthew 5:3, Jesus was speaking about the blesseds - "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Nobody likes to be poor, and today they educate young people to have plenty of confidence but they never teach them to be poor in spirit. The prodigal son wasted his life with riotous living, and when he had nothing, he came to himself. That was a wonderful experience for that young man. It is good for us to come to ourselves and think about where we are. He thought about himself, and thought about the servants at home, and he said, "I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.'" That man was poor in spirit. It is good if we have that feeling that we are nothing in the sight of God.

Sometimes we run into problems amongst the friends and some even leave the way of God. The reason why they become like that is because they have never come to the place that they feel, "I am not worthy." A girl that was adopted said she thanked her parents that went half way round the world to adopt her, and was more thankful that she had been brought into the family of God, and she said, "But I feel I am not worthy." She was poor in spirit. It is good when we feel that we are not worthy, and that we have that attitude of heart. It is then that God will give us His kingdom. That girl was the salt of the earth, she was adding something to the sacrifice that Jesus had made for her. We add salt by just keeping the right spirit.

Then Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." We meet a lot of people that mourn when there is the loss of a loved one, but I don't think Jesus was meaning that here. He was talking about those that were mourning the loss of the spirit of God in His people. In the Old Testament, we read of those that wandered far from God and He had to bring experiences into their lives where they mourned the loss of the spirit of God amongst them. "Art thou pained to see His kingdom suffer loss?" It is good when we feel like that, when we are pained to see it. It causes us to pray and ask God to strengthen those that are weaker.

Isaiah speaks about the children of Israel, "'Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,' saith your God. 'Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.'" That is why Jerusalem was mourned, because they had received double for their sins. It is a wonderful thing if God is able to comfort us and we realise that He is able to restore what was lost. Israel was comforted at this time and they became the salt of the earth.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Sometimes to be meek is something that is very difficult. Some people are strong willed and some people have a soft nature. Meekness doesn't mean weakness. I had an experience before I professed when I was in the police force. I went home to see my father when I had leave. He had bought a new lawn mower, and sometimes it wouldn't go. So I said, "Let's take it back to where it came from." So we took it back, and being a policeman, I thought I would speak first! I started talking to the manager about this lawn mower and he started to defend his product, and we went on and it got a little heated, and I started to tell him what I thought about his product, and he spoke about what he thought of me!! My father, who was professing, he began to talk, and he had a meek and quiet spirit, and he talked to the manager quietly, and at the end of the day, my father had a new lawn mower! "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." That manager was like the earth, because my father had him in his hand because of his meek spirit. We don't have any rights, but all we have is what we have obtained through Jesus and if we keep a meek and quiet spirit, our light will be able to shine brightly in the district we are living in.

One of our friends in New South Wales, an elderly lady who was professing, whose husband belonged to another church, was always telling his wife how much better his church was than hers, but he was always getting angry. One day she asked him, "Why are you always getting angry?" He said that his anger was righteous indignation!

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." We can hunger for many different kind of things, and some things may give us a little temporary satisfaction, but the thing that is going to satisfy our souls is the righteousness of God. We, by nature, are not righteous, so there must be a complete change in our lives if we are going to hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God.

During the Vietnam war, there were two young American friends, medics in the army, and they came to Japan for rest and relaxation (R & R), and they stayed in our bach, and I was cook that week, and they ate half-heartedly, and they talked about how good mother's cooking was, but time went by and they went back to Veitnam. Later, another two boys came and it was my cook week again, and those boys ate every spoonful we could give them, and they had a real hunger for everything I could give them. Listening to their stories, I found out the difference in those two sets of boys. The first two had never heard a bullet and lived back in the headquarters, but the other two boys had been out with the marines (as medics), and spent a whole year sleeping in the paddock, and their lives were in danger, living on rations all year. The difference was, they were in the battle and fighting the battle, and the others weren't. That is what makes us hunger and thirst after righteousness - when we are out facing the enemy and seeking to get victory in our lives. If we fight each day, our hunger and thirst for righteousness will increase.

If I read the Bible about the righteousness of God, and I don't want to do it, it jars on me, and when we are like that, our hunger decreases. "Hearing His voice in every line, making each faithful saying mine." I was not very long out in the work, and I was discouraged, and thought about quitting the work, and I opened my Bible where Jesus spoke about the sower and the seed. The seed fell on the stony ground, when the sun beat upon it, the shoots withered and died, because there was no roots, and I felt that was like me! When the tests and trials came, I was withering and I was trying to blame the sun for being too hot - the gospel being more than I could take. When I read about the seed in the stony ground, it wasn't because the sun was too hot, but because of the roots. I realised I needed to put my roots down deeper and deeper. That part of the scripture is mine.

One young man asked me about a problem that he had with another friend, and he felt this other person had something against him, and he felt it was taking his peace away from him. In Matthew, Jesus said, "Take your gift to the altar and if you realise someone has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." I said to him, accept the responsibility for everything and say you are sorry, and he did, and that scripture became his, because he did what it said. "Making each faithful saying mine." When we make these scriptures ours, it is adding salt.

"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." Mercy is something that every one of us need, because none of us are worthy. I have been in court listening to the evidence for and against, and the judge listening to it all. Finally when the judge makes a decision, I have heard a criminal just look at the judge and ask him to have mercy on him. Because he had asked for mercy, the judge may be lenient in the sentence he would give. Good if we come to the place where we realise I have nothing in my defence, and I need the mercy of God. It is good if we are merciful.

Willie Jamieson told us about a father and his daughter. The mother had left home and the father had brought this girl up. When she was in her teens, she fled to the other side of the United States. Some time later, she phoned her father and asked her father if she could come home, as she was expecting a baby and the man she had run away with had left her. The father talked to the people in the church about it, and some said, "You should get her back," and others said, "What a terrible testimony it would be if you take her back," because he had the meeting in his home. He asked Willie for his advice, and Willie said, "You get your daughter back as soon as you can because, if ever a girl needs her father, it is now." Willie told us, "The father may not seem right in what he is doing, but because he is merciful, he will never be wrong." If he had a hard heart and turned the girl away, he could never show her the things of God by not being merciful.

David had two opportunities to kill Saul, but he said, "I cannot lift my hand against the Lord's anointed." It would have made life easier for David if he had taken his spear and killed Saul, but he was merciful to Saul. Later on we read about David sinning when he took Uriah's wife, and we find him calling on the Lord for mercy. Because he had been merciful to Saul, God was able to show him mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." This is the difficult one, because the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. "God's word is so pure and so precious to me." We are able to have a pure heart by allowing God's word into our life, making each faithful saying mine. As we let God's word come into our hearts, our lives will be purified. A young girl professed and she said, "Nothing I want more than a pure heart, because I know that out of a pure heart comes joy." If we have jealousy in our hearts, or envy, we can't have a pure heart. If we allow God to have place in our hearts so that those things will go, it is then we will know true joy.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." In the home, sometimes, it needs a peacemaker. It is easy for one to start an argument and someone to disagree and the language gets stronger and then the shouting begins! There was a boy came to meetings and he professed, and he worked in a bank, and he said there was always arguments in the bank, and the staff would be shouting at each other. And he realised there needed to be a peacemaker. The next time there was an argument, he stayed quiet and the arguments were lots less. He decided to be a peacemaker.

One night I woke up at 2 a.m. in Russia, and a man and his wife were arguing and screaming at each other, and this went on for 3 hours. I thought if only one would be quiet and just say sorry, we could get some sleep!! Neither one wanted to be the peacemaker. Being a peacemaker is like adding salt.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." My parents professed when I was 9 years of age. They had belonged to the brethren church and they used to go to church every night and three times on Sunday - 9 times in a week, but nobody ever said anything to us while they were going to that church. But when they professed, they only went to three meetings a week, and we used to be called psalm singers and Bible bashers at school. We didn't know why they objected to us now that we had professed. We will be persecuted for righteousness sake, and that is part of the reproach. We should not feel that there would be no reproach. We should count it joy that God has proved us worthy.

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." They say things falsely. Someone went to John Hardy and complained that people were saying things about them. John said, "Is it true what they say about you?" and they answered, "No." John said, "You only need to start worrying if it is true what they are saying about you."

Hymn 42 - "There is a Way, a Narrow Way"