Control Your Tongue

<strong>Control Your Tongue</strong>

We all know that it’s important to control what we say, but that doesn’t make it necessarily easy to do!  The Scriptures have quite a lot to teach us about this subject.

  • Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.  (Pro 4:24 ESV)

Crooked can mean dishonest, corrupt, twisted or unscrupulous.  Devious means sneaky, cunning, or scheming.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we can understand why neither of these would be admirable behavior for us.  The Holy Spirit would never lead us to act in such a way, particularly in light of Matthew 5:37; Colossians 3:9 and 4:6; and Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. (Eph 4:25 NIV)

  • All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them.  (Pro 8:8 NASB)

The psalmist is laying his heart before the Lord concerning the use of his tongue.  Let us each remember Psalm 12:6, The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. (NIV)  In imitating our Savior, we should speak pure words, full of righteousness.  Short of that, we should choose to be silent.

  • But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth.   (Col 3:8 RSV)

This Bible verse (above) clearly tells us what type of behavior and conversation that we should reject.  And we are given a clear instruction of what we should communicate in Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (NIV)  Our words should encourage, comfort, and bless other people.  In this way, we become ministers of the love and presence of the Lord to other people.

  • If you think you are being religious, but can’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is useless.  (Jam 1:26 CEV)

In the book of James, we’re reminded that controlling our tongues is a basic requirement for believers who represent the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of God. 

  • Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving.  (Eph 5:4 CEB)

Thanksgiving is always appropriate.  Having an attitude of gratitude will improve our daily lives and generate a pleasant atmosphere for those around us.  Being thankful to other people, as well as to God for His many blessings, is always appreciated.

To sum up today’s article, here is one more Bible passage:

Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit . . .  (1 Pet 3:10 ESV) May God give you good days and continual blessings!

Be Law Abiding & Given to Good Works

<strong>Be Law Abiding & Given to Good Works</strong>

We are instructed by the Bible to live law-abiding lives and to perform good works to the glory of God.  Let’s look at what the Scriptures say:

My son, fear both the Lord and the king, and don’t keep company with rebels.  (Pro 24:21 ISV)

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God the things that are God’s.”  (Mt 22:21 NCV)

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  (Rom 13:1 NIV)

He gave himself to rescue us from everything evil and to make our hearts pure. He wanted us to be his own people and to be eager to do right.  (Tit 2:14 CEV)

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work . . . (Tit 3:1 NKJV)

Clearly, as believers, we must live in two different realms.  We live in this carnal world, which is very much opposed to the plans and purposes of God.  Simultaneously, we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom with Christ as our Lord and King. 

We’re called to represent Christ in the midst of this sinful and pain-filled society without allowing ourselves to become contaminated by it.  The only way that we can succeed is by obeying the Word of God; and by following the leading of the Holy Spirit as He counsels and leads us, individually.

By living holy lives and being valuable, law-abiding citizens, we prevent the gospel of Jesus Christ from being slandered and vilified. 

By living in peace and harmony with our neighbors, and importantly with other believers, we demonstrate our good works in:

  • being courteous to all;
  • doing good works within a civic framework as well as within a spiritual framework; and
  • submitting to our governing authorities.

These points are achieved practically in being honest in business; paying our taxes; being good neighbors; conducting ourselves in an orderly way; and obeying the laws of the land.  In conducting ourselves along these guidelines, we fulfill the Scripture that says:

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  (Mt 10:16 KJV)  We are being wise and harmless!  Glory to God most high!

Don’t Criticize Yourself

<strong>Don’t Criticize Yourself</strong>

Most of us don’t realize that as followers of Jesus Christ, we should not criticize ourselves or even think negative things about ourselves!  Does that surprise you?

This is a lesson the Lord had to teach me, and one that He also needs to remind me of from time to time.  It’s a favorite tool of the enemy to get us thinking disapproving things of ourselves, but we must not do it

Here are some of the Scriptural reasons to help us to understand the deep, spiritual  importance of this:

  1. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  (Gen 1:27 NIV)

Every human being on earth, whether Christian or not, has been created in the image of God.  Since that is true, EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect—including ourselves!

  • I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  (Ps 139:14 ESV)

Since, each human being was given life by the Lord, each individual is a wonderful work of the Lord.  We would never contemplate criticizing one of God’s works, would we?  Then why do we think it’s okay to think pessimistic thoughts about ourselves?

  • . . . everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.  (Isa 43:7 NASB)

We have each been created to bring God glory.  Our thoughts are much better ordered and employed to meditate upon God and to think worshipful thoughts about Him. Also, it is productive to think of ways to bring Him glory and honor.

  • Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  (1 Cor 6:19 NKJV)

We, as believers, do not belong to ourselves but we belong to God.  Each Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Just think about the enormity of that honor.

  • . . . and to clothe yourselves with the new nature, which was created according to God’s image in righteousness and true holiness.  (Eph 4:24 ISV)

Our ‘new nature’ since salvation is the one that has ‘put on Christ.’ (Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27)  Our born-again spirit was sealed by God in righteousness and true holiness.  There is nothing within us that we are able to criticize because we belong to God.  Glory to God!

Meditate upon how very important you are to the Lord, and the fact that you belong to Him.  God is with you. Rejoice in His truth!

Being Strengthened & Established

<strong>Being Strengthened & Established</strong>

As we live our daily lives as believers and followers of Jesus, there should come times when we are strengthened and established, or recognized, in our faith.  Let’s take a look at some Scriptures concerning this topic:

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.  (Rom 1:11-12 NKJV)

Paul was writing to believers in Rome, saying that he wished to see them in order that he could impart [pass on] a spiritual gift to a number of them, and that he could encourage them in their faith—and be encouraged himself by them. 

First of all, do you realize that praying for each other is encouraging? 

And do you also realize that by praying for one another, we may reveal our own spiritual gifts and may even pass them on?  Well, it’s absolutely true! 

But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.  (Rom 15:29 NKJV)

Paul was confident that when he saw the believers in person, that he would be operating in the FULLNESS of the blessing of Christ’s gospel.  What faith!  This demonstrates the confidence of a man who relies completely upon the Word, and lives his life accordingly.  Glory to God!

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.  (Ac 16:5 NIV)

When we are strengthened in our faith, we can’t help but share our experiences and testimonies with others.  When we do that, other people visit our churches in order to discover what is happening.  Their curiosity is provoked, and they want to investigate for themselves.

When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.  (Ac 19:6 NIV)

Praying for people, as you touch them, is a biblical and correct form of prayer.  This verse tells us that when Paul did this, the people that Paul touched came under the influence and presence of the Holy Spirit.  As a result these same people actually spoke in tongues and prophesied.  Hallelujah!  These are biblical results and we should be encouraged by them, and use them as our example.

A key tactic we can use to strengthen our faith is to read the Bible, and to the meditate upon it daily.  God bless you.

The Tough Decision to Follow Jesus

<strong>The Tough Decision to Follow Jesus</strong>

The Scriptures remind us that when we make the decision to follow Jesus, we should “count the cost.”  (Lk 14:27-29)  In other words, Jesus wants us to know what it means to fully follow Him.  This is a serious subject with genuine consequences.

Just as the building of a physical house has a definite cost, so does the decision to follow Jesus have a cost.  We’re told that we must take up a CROSS and deny ourselves, in order to follow Jesus.  Let’s read what the Scriptures have to say:

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  (Mt 10:38 KJV, emphasis added)

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  (Lk 14:27 NASB)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  (Mt 16:24 NRSV)

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  (Mk 8:34 NKJV)

First, we must deny ourselves!  What does that mean?  It means that we put Jesus and the Holy Spirit in charge of our lives.  We give up the throne that is our life, and ask Jesus to sit on the throne and to direct us by His Spirit.  We cannot follow Jesus and the world’s way at the same time.  Neither can we serve God and money at the same time.

Following Jesus may mean that we lose relationships, dreams, material things, and even our lives.  Our relationship with Jesus must take priority over everything else in our lives and must be of the supreme importance to us. 

We must, in essence, declare:  “I’d rather have Jesus than anything.”

If a day comes when someone threatens us with death if we do not renounce our faith in Jesus Christ, then we should happily choose Jesus and eternal life above staying here in our earthly body.  Pray for God’s blessings and grace in order to live boldly for Jesus.

May God’s grace strengthen you and empower you.

God Speaks to Us

<strong>God Speaks to Us</strong>

The Word of God gives us multiple instances of how God has spoken to His people over the centuries.  The written Word of God, the Bible, is one way that the Lord communicates with His people.  In His Word, He gives us instructions and promises which will lead us, guide us, and encourage us.

. . . and said to Moses, “If you speak to us, we will listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we will die!”  20 “Don’t be afraid!” Moses replied. “God has come only to test you, so that by obeying him you won’t sin.” 21 But when Moses went near the thick cloud where God was, the people stayed a long way off.  (Ex 20:19-22 CEV)  The Jewish people who followed Moses didn’t want to hear God’s voice!  They wanted Moses to speak with the Lord and to be their intermediary.  They wanted to receive their instructions from a man rather than directly from the Lord. 

From heaven he spoke to you in order to teach you, and on earth he showed you his great fire from which you also heard his words.  (Deu 4:36 NET)  God speaks to us in order to teach us, to encourage us, and to bless us.

Then you and your son and your grandson will fear the Lord your God. You will obey all His Laws that I tell you, all the days of your life. And then you will have a longer life.  (Deu 6:2 NLV)  One of the Bible’s promises concerning obeying God’s instructions is that we will have a long life.

This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness together with the angel who spoke to him at length on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to you.  (Ac 7:38 NASB)  God’s Words are living words.  (See Heb 4:12)

There are multitude of ways that God communicates with mankind.  He speaks to us through the beauty and majesty of His creation.  Also, he speaks to us by the Holy Spirit through dreams, visions, and our inner thoughts.  As we’ve already mentioned, the Lord converses with us through the Bible. 

Two Bible passages remind us that we who follow Jesus, our Shepherd, hear His voice and know His voice.  (Joh 10:16, 27)  This should reassure us, and encourage us.  Place your faith in God and in His Word, for God cannot lie!  Glory to God!

Hold Fast to Your Hope

Hold Fast to Your Hope

We have good reasons to cling to our hope in Christ.  First of all, God cannot lie, so we know that we can trust His Word.  Secondly, this hope will not disappoint us as Romans 5:5 states (below).

. . . so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us.  (Heb 6:18 NASB, emphasis added)

We must ‘hold fast’ [keep hold of; hang onto; grip] the hope set before us by the Lord. 

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy . . .   (Ps 33:18 NKJV)

God is keeping watch over all those who hope in Him and in His mercy.  Glory to God!

. . . because you are my hope, Lord.  You, Lord, are the one I’ve trusted since childhood.  (Ps 71:5 CEB)

The Lord, who is almighty and never-failing, is the basis of all of our hope.  When we base our trust in Him, we have placed our trust appropriately.

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.  (Ps 119:81 ESV)

We are wise when we put hope in God’s Word because His Word will not fail, simply because He watches over His Word to perform it.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  (Ps 130:5 NIV)

This also confirms the wisdom of putting our hope in God’s Word.

. . . and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Rom 5:5 NRSV)

In this verse, God promises that our hope in Him will never be disappointed or frustrated.  What a wonderful reassurance from the heart of the Lord!

Guard Your Faith

Guard Your Faith

How would we guard a treasure?  Would we put it in a bank deposit box; a secret vault; or in a guarded safe?  Naturally, we would do all that we could to protect our valuable property.

What about protecting our spiritual treasure?  Are we just as diligent?  Do we value it properly as we should?  

What is our spiritual treasure?  It is our saving FAITH in Jesus Christ which gives us new life on earth and an eternity in heaven with the Lord—where we will receive a crown.  We’ll be in eternal blissfulness in the splendor of God’s presence.

So what does the Bible say to us?

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  (1 Cor 16:13 NIV)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  (1 Tim 6:12 ESV)

 I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.  (2 Tim 4:7 CEB)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  (Eph 6:10 NIV)

In life hardship and heartaches come our way but, thanks to Jesus, we are never defeated, never without hope, and never alone because our lives are in the hands of God.  He is our defender and protector.

We’ve been given a treasure, but we need to guard it strongly.  The devil wants to destroy our saving faith.  He wants to make us doubt in our minds, to confuse our understanding, and to lead us off course to false treasures which have no value whatsoever. 

But we rely upon the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is eternal truth, and nothing will prevail against it.  As we memorize and meditate upon the Scriptures and remind ourselves of the wonderful gift of salvation that we have received, we will learn how to use our spiritual weapons referred to in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Here are just some of spiritual our tools:

  • We must take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5) – this means that we must monitor our thoughts and reject those that contradict the Gospel.  We need to train our minds to remain centered upon Jesus.
  • Be sober-minded and watchful.  (1 Pet 5:8)
  • Submit ourselves to God and resist the devil.  (Jas 4:7)
  • Put on the armor of God in order to stand successfully against the schemes of the devil.  (Eph 6:10-12; Eph 6:14-18)
  • Authority to tread on serpents and scorpions.  (Lk 10:19)
  • Meditate upon excellent things that are worthy of praise.  (Phil 4:8)
  • The blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  (Rev 12:11)
  • The Holy Spirit within us is greater than the devil.  (1 Joh 4:4)

With these impressive spiritual tools, we are more than able to guard our faith victoriously.  Hallelujah!

The Deep Things of God

The Deep Things of God

What is meant by the phrase ‘the deep things of God’? 

These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  (1 Cor 2:10 NIV)

In the verse of Scripture shown above, the word “depths” translates the Greek noun βάθη, which is the Accusative, Plural of βάθος (bathos). In this context, Paul is using a word that refers to “deep water” to portray a parallel idea in an attempt to describe the complexities of and the secret and careful plans of our God.

This word that represents the depths of God (the deep things of God), refers to greatness, immensity, profoundness, impenetrability, and mysteriousness.  It goes beyond surface considerations and into the serious, innermost study of God’s nature, His purposes and His love.

Let’s continue looking at the Bible:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  (Joh 14:26 NIV)

The Holy Spirit was given to every believer at the moment of salvation.  (See Ac 2:38; Eph 1:13)  The Holy Spirit teaches us all things and helps us to remember everything that He has taught us.  As we obey the Word and walk in faith, our relationship with the Lord grows stronger and more mature.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  (Lk 10:21 NIV)

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”  (Amos 3:7 NIV)

The two verses immediately above mention that God reveals hidden thing to His people.  These are clearly deep things of God that the Holy Spirit shares with the children of God.  The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, insight, and revelation knowledge.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  (1 Cor 2:11 NIV)

No one can know the thoughts of God other than the Holy Spirit who dwells within every believer.  (See 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16)  This same Holy Spirit will teach us about the profound, loving, and merciful God whom we are blessed to serve.  The longer that we are in relationship with the Lord, the more deeply we mature in the faith, and the more familiar we become with the deep things of God.  Glory to God!

God’s Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

God’s Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

When we understand and comprehend God’s perfect love for us, it drives out all fear.  Let’s see what the Bible has to teach us.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (1 Joh 4:18 NIV) 

The perfect love that we receive from God is unending, unfailing, and persevering.  Glory to God!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Tim 1:7 NKJV)

The spirit of fear is not from God but comes from not being able to trust God completely and comprehensively.  God has given us the Holy Spirit as well as the fruit of the spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (see Gal 5:22-23)  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of power.  (See Acts 1:8)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  (Rom 8:15 NIV)

The spirit whom we received when we accepted Christ as our Savior is the Holy Spirit.  (See Acts 2:38; Eph 1:13; Rom 8:16)  Once we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became children of God.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  (1 Joh 4:12 NIV)

The Bible verse above reminds us that no one has ever seen God in His complete, divine revelation.  Even Moses only saw the back of the Lord in Exodus 33:18-23.  However, as we believers imitate the love of God for mankind, we demonstrate God’s love to humanity. 

The perfect love of God—which has forgiven and cleansed us of all of our sins—drives out fear.  It drives out the fear of eternal punishment, as well as the fear of what other people think of us.  It drives out the fear of the unknown because we know that God holds us in the palm of His hand and has provided all that we need for life and godliness.  (2 Pet 1:3) As we believers experience God’s love inside of us, it empowers us to live for Him and to love others.  As we mature and grow in grace and walking in the love of God, we model the love, forgiveness, and mercy of God toward all with whom we interact.  Praise God!