Jesus Wept

January 13, 2015

John 11:32-40
When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
33When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]
34And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.
35Jesus wept.
36The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?
38Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it. 39Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, exclaimed, But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days! 40Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?

Jesus Wept

As the Lord dropped this scripture into my heart I came to it trying to understand the heart of Jesus in this moment. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were no doubt some Jesus’ closest and dearest friends. They acknowledged and received Him for who He was as Lord and Christ, but now the revelation of that knowledge is tested through the sickness and death of Lazarus.
“Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the bible, but it can make a strong statement if we seek to understand the heart of Jesus in this moment. Jesus is not weeping because he is sad for Mary or Martha or because He is mourning the loss of Lazarus. Jesus saw the grief and sobbing in Mary and Martha. Then he hears from Mary in an almost mournful rebuke, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Perhaps Jesus is thinking, “What are you saying Mary, because I didn’t come in your time and in the way that you thought that I should that I failed you?” I believe it was these loved one’s disappointment in Him that grieved Him so. In their grief they were saying, “Jesus, you failed us. You didn’t come through. You didn’t show up in time.” This disappointment communicated through Martha, Mary and even the mourners that were with them greatly disturbed and disquieted the spirit of Jesus. I believe that this truly hurt the heart of the Lord that they had these scruples and doubts about His love and faithfulness to them. There was such a tremendous upheaval in the spirit of Jesus that He groaned and wept. This was a very disturbing moment of Jesus. He already knew that Lazarus, though he had been dead for four days, was a good as alive, but to see the disappointment and the feelings of His failure in the hearts of those who loved Him the most was tremendously hurtful and troubling.
What it shows us is that we have a box of our own human reasoning and understanding. We so often want to put Jesus in that same box. When He doesn’t fit within our boxes we can often become offended with Jesus and feel that He has somehow failed us. In our grief and disappointments we sometimes want to blame Him and hold Him responsible because we feel that He failed us. We often carry those hurts and they create a breach in our faith and trust in the Lord. Sometimes it causes us to turn from Him altogether. We can see here how this grieves the heart of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to trust Him and count Him faithful even in what we don’t know and fully understand. We must know that His love for us is so much greater. If Jesus had showed up sooner and healed Lazarus, He would have still been known as only the healer. This is a time and place where Jesus is going to manifest an even greater dimension of Himself as the resurrection and the life. There is a power in Christ that is even greater than death. Even death has to bow to His power and authority.
When Jesus commands the stone to be rolled away from the tomb, Martha speaks out of her natural thinking as she says, “But Lord, by this time he is decaying and stinking, for he has been dead for four days.” Natural reasoning often speaks out of doubt and unbelief. Jesus replies to her, “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God.” What a powerful statement this is, to her and to us. When we deny him through unbelief, we are denying ourselves of His manifest glory. The glory of God is beyond our comprehension and so far beyond our limitations.
The Lord would say to us, trust me even when you don’t understand me, even when I haven’t come through the way you thought I should. Do not murmur against me in unbelief and doubt. Trust me, for I will do what I have promised even in ways that you do not understand.

Blessings,
#kent

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Offenses

December 23, 2014

Proverbs 18:19
An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

Offenses

Did you ever wonder why the body of Christ is so often offended with one another. Think about what is at the heart of most of our division within the body. It is offenses. Out of these offenses we do exactly as Proverbs 18:19 says, we become more unyielding than a fortified city and we become close minded. What is at the heart of these issue if it is not our pride and our determination to be right.
Our pastor once shared something to the effect that religion is the need to be right, but true Christianity is the need to pursue righteousness. Why do you think many that heard Jesus, in particular the religious crowd, were offended with much of what Jesus had to say? Jesus trampled on their pride because He spoke the truth about what was in their heart. He revealed God in a way that didn’t fit within all of their traditional perimeters.
What we have to understand about offense is it usually reveals a heart condition in us. Peter swore up and down to Jesus that though everyone else might be offended in Him, he would never be offended. What resulted as Peter was confronted with being one of Jesus’ disciples was his denial. It was the testing that revealed his heart condition that he was blind too until that moment of testing came. There are many things in life we are going to want to be offended about and we may feel totally justified in doing so, but remember offenses are but a test to reveal what is really in our heart.
I love a statement our pastor recently ministered, “Offenses are simply opportunities turned inside out.” They test where our faith is, where our love is and where heart is for others and for God. When we can pass these tests of offenses then we can move on to the next level in our walk with Christ. Discipleship is not just calling yourself a Christian, it the learning of how to walk out your faith and not be offended. It is the love that can forgive your accusers, those that curse, malign, abuse, deceive and defraud you. It is walking as Jesus walked, without offense, even when He had every right to be offended.
When we can walk without offense. When can release and forgive our offenders, then we have moved past pride and the need to be right, to find true love, humility and righteousness of the God kind.

Blessings,
#kent

Why Should I Drop My Rock?

December 9, 2014

John 8:1-11
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Why Should I Drop My Rock?

The law of sin and death apprehends us in our sin. The accuser comes before the Lord proclaiming our sin and demanding just retribution. “The Law says” and condemnation follows.
There we are, lying in the dust, naked and ashamed, fearing what may soon follow. We can’t justify ourselves. Our sin has found us out and Jesus has every right to say, “do what the law says and stone the sinner,” but He doesn’t. He stoops there, almost oblivious to the crowd, the railing accusation, the demands for justice and in that place of rest and peace He just writes with His finger in the dirt. Perhaps He is listing all the sins of the accusers.
Finally, Jesus speaks one sentence so amazing, profound and convicting that it shuts the mouth of every accuser and a disperses the angry and blood thirsty mob.
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
The law of sin and death has to bow to the law of the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus. If that were us lying there naked, ashamed and in sin, awaiting the rocks and stones to fly and pelt the life out of us, what would it mean to us to be justified by Jesus. He didn’t justify the sin, but He justified the sinner, making it as though she had never done it. Jesus was without sin. He had every right to condemn and judge her. He could have thrown that first stone and yet He chose to throw mercy and forgiveness upon her instead of judgement.
How many times could Jesus have cast me out and cast me off, because of my sin? Instead He has always chosen to forgive me and exhorts me to not live in that place of sin any longer. Are we any different than this woman? Are our sins so much more righteous than hers? Does God really measure sins or are they all a falling short of Him and His highest for us?
I believe that this was a life changing moment for this woman when the kindness of God led her to repentance and change. I believe she saw in Jesus, someone who could do for her what she could not do for herself. She found forgiveness in Him, who looked not upon her shame and failure, but rather saw her value even in her sinful state.
When we read this, we should realize that is exactly what God did for me. He took my sin away, He exonerated me, forgave me and justified me; just as if I had never done it. In the light of that grace, what justification would I have to judge and condemn another? Knowing the debt that Christ paid for me, who am I to hold another accountable for the little debt they may owe me, or the sin they may have perpetrated against me? If God could forgive me so much, why, as His child, am I willing to forgive so little?
Again, Jesus would say to you and me, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
How many of us have failed to drop our rocks and stones of offense and unforgiveness against others? “Father forgive me my trespasses and sins, as I forgive others.”

Blessings,
#kent

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Closing the Door on God’s Forgiveness

One of our most blessed benefits in knowing Christ is our ability to call upon the blood of Jesus to forgive us of our sins when so often we stumble and fail. 1 John 1:8-9 teaches us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” With that promise of forgiveness in 1 John also comes the condition that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:15. God requires that we give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. We can no doubt all think of times when others may have done things to us that are, in our minds and hearts, unforgivable. God would ask us a question. What if He considered the things we have done in our lives unforgivable? None of us can attest to deserving or earning God’s forgiveness. We have all come, or at least should have come to the realization that we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners standing condemned under the law of God, estranged from God except for the grace of the blood of our Lord Jesus that has atoned for us. For all of those who have acted in faith in asking Christ into their hearts to be the Lord of their lives he has washed our sins away, casting them as far as the east is from the west.
What if God continued to hold a grudge, an offense or unforgiveness in His heart towards us? How would that affect our relationship with Him? It would obviously bring a separation and estrangement again from His fellowship and love. That is exactly what we do when we hold on to an offense, resentment and unforgiveness for others. Our offense toward others becomes God’s offense toward us. Some of us would say, ‘but that isn’t fair, you don’t know what that person has done to me or to someone I love’. Is there anything that God has refused to forgive you for?
Yes, there are some horrible, detestable and seemingly unforgivable acts that one person can perpetrate upon another. They are not right and they will be judged, but we are not the lawgiver and judge. That is God’s department. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we are responsible for our own. We can’t always control how we feel, but we don’t have to choose to live and act according to our feelings. It is Christ that now sits upon the throne of our hearts. He is to be the ruler over our mind, will and emotions. We have been called to walk after the Spirit and not after the soul. Often that is a very hard position to align ourselves with when we are carrying deep seated emotions of anger, hate, resentment and unforgiveness. It is not a switch that we can just turn off and on, but it is something that the Lord can help us to come to terms with if we will allow Him too by opening our hearts and being honest about where we are at.
We must understand the principle that resentment, resistance and retaliation, repels love.
What is God’s nature? Love. When we hold these things in our hearts we are switching off His love, which is the light to bring us to healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. We may never be reconciled where we have the same relationship with a person that we once had, but the important thing is that we have reconciled the offense caused by someone else’s behavior or bad decisions with the love of Christ that abides in us. This often stands contrary to how the world acts and behaves, but we are not of this world, we are a kingdom people with the kingdom of God residing within our spirits and lives. That means we live and operate our lives out of the context of kingdom principles.
At some point and often at many points in our lives we struggle with these issues. What we must realize and remember is that resentments and unforgiveness will always do more to hurt us than the people that we are offended with. It is not our love, but the love of Christ in us that is the ointment and balm of our healing. It is His love in us that is that power to release the unconditional love and forgiveness that He has released toward us. If this is an area in your life that you are struggling with then, for your sake, open that door of forgiveness that God’s love and forgiveness might flow back into your life. He wants to set you free. How else can we give forth the love of God if it has never been tested in our lives?

Blessings,
#kent

What God does to us or for us?

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD : 2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

How many of us have gone through times in our lives when we have experienced such pain, sorrow or disappointment at circumstances that have come upon us or happened to us? We question, “God where are you, where were you and why did you let this happen to me”? There are those of us who have gotten angry, offended and hurt because we felt that the Lord let us down and He didn’t meet our expectations in the ways that we thought He should have. Perhaps God would ask us, as He did Job, ‘Who is this that obscures council without knowledge?’ God is the Magnificent One that created the Universe, the earth and all of the mysteries and wonders contained therein. Would we be so bold as to compare our wisdom and understanding with His? If what God says in Romans 8:28 is true, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified,” then we must believe that God is working for our good. Jesus never makes the promise to deliver us from tribulation. In fact, He says just the opposite, “…In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). To the natural mind, life often isn’t fair and it doesn’t always make sense. It is in these times that we must rely upon our faith to bridge the gap between our understanding and God’s plan. Often what we thought was the enemy coming against us, in retrospect, we see the hand of God was working through what seemed to be a negative circumstance to bring us into God’s plan and higher will for our lives. It serves to stretch us and takes us to places we would never go on our own.
Let us not be so foolish as to attempt to pass judgement upon God for allowing things to happen to us. His ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. Job thought He had a pretty good handle on understanding God till His world and theology got turned upside down. The one thing that Job never lost was faith and trust in the Lord. I think that with many of us it will be as it was with Job when he said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” When we really come into the revelation and presence of God and all that He is we will repent that we ever questioned, doubted or spoke negative of Him.
God is not doing things to us; He is doing things for us. Our understanding may not comprehend it, but our trust has to receive it and know that God’s nature is to work in our behalf. Even when that means we are crushed in the process, it is because He does love us and sees the end from the beginning. We see in terms of time and earthly values. God sees in eternity and kingdom values. God values you. Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart. God is for you, trust Him and rest in His wisdom, love and council.

Blessings,
kent

Are We Easily Offended?

December 18, 2013

Proverbs 17:9

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.


Are We Easily Offended?


What is our first reaction when somebody, ruffles our feathers, steps on our turf, wounds our pride, pushes our buttons or does something hurtful to us?  Don’t we see ourselves as the victim?  The one who has been wronged and hurt?  So our first inclination is to share it with someone who will sympathize with us and reinforce that this person has wronged us.  When an offense is shared and spreads to others it, in turn, brings division and separates us into camps.  As a result there is discord and separation of fellowship and relationship.  Our offense then becomes a stumbling block to others.  

Now as Christians we should know this and not so readily fall into this trap and yet it seems like we are some of the worse when it comes to being offended.  If we truly have our identity in Christ then, are our feelings really the issue or is it about hosting Christ’s presence, love and forgiveness, even in the face of legitimate offenses.  What Proverbs is telling us here is that if we are the promoters of God’s love, then love covers a multitude of sins, even as the love of Jesus has covered and forgiven a multitude of ours.  Every time we choose to sin, is that not an offense to God?  If God brought us into condemnation every time we offended Him with our sins, we would continually live in condemnation and separation of fellowship.  That same love that is in the heart of God to tolerate us and forgive us has to be the same love that we carry in our hearts to forgive others.  

We should make every effort not to offend others whether they are Christians or not.  1 Corinthians 10:31-33 instructs us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”  

There are so many saints that pass from church to church, fellowship to fellowship because of offenses.  We have to know who we are in Christ, where we have been planted and what our purpose is in where we are at.  People are always going to hurt our feelings and disappoint us and it may be the pastor, elder or someone we look up too.  If your eyes are on them then we are following the wrong one.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus, stop majoring on what others do or don’t do and focus on who you are in Christ and what that is suppose to look before others.  Let’s let our feelings not be so sensitive to others, but sensitive to the Holy Spirit and getting God’s heart and mind in a matter.  Sometimes we may be a hundred percent in the right, but still need to go and apologize to someone for the perceived wrong that we have done in their eyes; not because we are wrong, but because it is the love of Christ to reconcile a matter to restore peace and right relationship.  There are some who use being offended as a means of control to get their way, because people don’t want them to be upset.  That is witchcraft, from such turn away if they are unwilling to repent. 

The enemy does his greatest works in the dark and the misunderstandings of our minds.  The more we can bring things to the light and approach them with God’s nature, the more quickly they are resolved and dissolved.   When we speculate about what others are thinking, or what their non-verbal communication is saying, we open our minds and emotions to the deceptiveness of the enemy.  1 John 4:16-20 reminds us of this nature of God’s love.  “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19We love each other because he loved us first.

20If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” 

Colossians 3:13 instructs us, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Let’s practice drowning those offenses in love and forgiveness. 

 

Blessings,

kent

Returning to Our First Love

December 9, 2013

Returning to Our First Love


Revelations 2:4-5

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.


Love is a many splendored thing, but it can also be a place of vulnerability, heartache and disappointment.  So much depends on the care, attentiveness and tenderness with which we handle the most precious of gifts, one another’s hearts and their love.  

That first found love between two lovers those years back, it seemed so rich.  You loved one another’s presence and you didn’t want to be apart.  Your desire for one another was so strong and you bathed in the love that you had for one another.  Oh, that first love, how rich and full and sweet it was.  

Little by little small offenses began to enter in.  Sometimes unkind remarks were made that wounded your spouse’s soul, neglect, lack of communication, demands of life; so many things can tear at the foundations of your love.  

We begin to take for granted that first love, as we become more familiar with the other.  Those little things that we didn’t notice or didn’t seem to bother us now become a source of irritation and conflict.  Our hearts that were so warm and open begin to close as we often, without even knowing why, transform from that loving unity, to opponents and foes.  Little by little we can shut down in our emotions and our love to the point we forgot why we even liked this person, let alone loved them.  

We can often wander and drift away from our first love for Christ the same way.  Instead of being continually awed and thankful for all that Christ has done and continues to do for us, He becomes common, just another element of our lives and not the substance of them.  How blind we all can become to the hardness that can come over our hearts with regards to the ones we love and what we have held so dear.  Many of us have lost that which we once cherished more than life itself.

What has changed?  Is it them or is it us?  Maybe it is like our environment.  We love the beauty of the water and streams, the woods and forest, the mountains, oceans and wildlife, but if we have them before us every day we may take them for granted and lessen in our once great appreciation of them.  Somewhere in there our motives for gain, for what benefits us and for what we think will better our lives out weighs our appreciation for the other.  At the environment’s expense, we begin to deplete our forest, tear up our mountains, pollute our waters and destroy what we once held so dear.  It is the same thing that we do to our marriages and our relationships.  

We lose sight that our spouse is our teammate that we are dependent upon one another to make life easier and sweeter.  Yet we are so blind at how the enemy of our soul comes into to kill, steal and destroy what was the most precious thing in our lives.  Our unity is destroyed and our marriages turn from bliss to ashes.  Isn’t it because we have bought into the lie?  When one of us in our marriage loses we both lose.  There are no winners and losers, because we are a team. A house divided against itself cannot stand.  

The older my wife and I grow together, the more dependent we are on each other to remember things, to help each other, and to be the strength in the other’s weakness.  On the other hand there is the temptation to find more fault with the other’s shortcomings, especially when they have chided you for yours.  We have to realize that we are a team. We need each other more than ever.  Love cannot become a selfish thing that only looks out for itself. If it has and is becoming that then it has left the boundaries and definition of love.  The nature of love is to serve, to give and bless another.  Love always exalts the other above itself.

Perhaps it is time for many of us to remember and to return to our first love both in our physical and spiritual relationships.  It is time to give the precious gifts of our humility, our forgiveness and our first love.  It is time to make a safe place where we can come together, not to find fault or blame, but to find reconciliation and healing for our hearts and our relationships. Isn’t this what God wants for us?  I believe He will help in this endeavor if we call upon Him and His love to fill our hearts.  Let us cherish and once again hold with such tenderness and sanctity the gift of one another’s hearts and love.  In the same way let us recommit to our first love for Christ and find the first passion that so consumed our soul.

 

Blessings,

kent

Enemy Thine

July 31, 2013

Enemy Thine

Romans 12:20
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

I am reminded in this verse of the parable Jesus gave of the good Samaritan, whom, though despised of the Jews, took pity and showed mercy on a robbed and nearly beaten to death Jew, whom his own countrymen had crossed the road to avoid. How many times do I cross the road in life to avoid the inconvenience of ministering to someone in need? Let alone, someone who despises me as his enemy. There is no more searing testimony of love than that shown through our unselfish actions. We have been the partakers of such a One’s love, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” We were the enemies of God and yet He loved us unconditionally and poured His hot coals of love on our heads through the Lord Jesus Christ.
There will be those in our lives who will hurt us, abuse us, take advantage of us, and treat us shamefully. They would be the objects of our hate and revenge if we were still natural men and women. There is something God wants to flow out of us that is supernatural. It stands in defiance of all natural laws of human relationships. It is a quality that can only come from the Father’s love and the nature of Christ He is bringing forth in us. It is that ability to return good for evil, blessing for cursing and prayer for those who despitefully use you. Mathew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
There are those of us today that are carrying deep hurts from the wounds others have wrongfully inflicted upon us. Jesus is asking something that may be very hard for us to do. He is asking us not only to forgive them, but also to pray for them and to do good to them. I believe He is convicting some of us right now in this area and as we are able to be obedient to the direction of His Spirit concerning these offenders it will be the source of great release and spiritual blessing in our lives. This is a Word of the Lord for you. God is going to show you how to feed your enemy and give him drink, but you must be obedient to lay down the offense and act on what God will show you. Remember we are no longer ordinary people, but extraordinary people because of the Spirit of Christ that indwells us.

Blessings,
kent

Words of Destruction

February 18, 2013

James 1:26
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Words of Destruction

Perhaps no other author in the Bible addresses the tongue quite like James does. He sees in this small member of the body, the ability not only to do great good, but also great harm. In this scripture he basically says, “it doesn’t matter how religious or spiritual you think you are, if you don’t have control of your tongue and what comes out of your mouth, your religion is worthless.”
That word worthless means vain, useless, devoid of force, truth, success and result. In other words, if you want your words to be effective and powerful, you can’t spout off everything the pops into your head or erupts out of your emotion. It is a member that needs self-control.
James addresses the tongue further in James 3:22-12.
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
A tongue left to its own devices can be a very destructive member. It is like putting a sharp sword in the hand of a man that has no regard for life and has no conscience as to who he wounds and kills. It is a primary communicator of what is in a man’s heart, for the Word says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
The tongue is a two edged sword that can cut on one side, but can bring healing from the other. Proverbs 18:21, the Living Translations says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
I have seen examples in life where people could be so Christian in their words of praise and exhortation, they could teach and preach the Word, but if you dare offend them, out of that same mouth could come venom and curses that would send you to hell. You see it is usually in our offenses that the control of our tongue is best tested. Can we still speak life when we have been wounded or threatened? When the Holy Spirit still has control of our tongue, even in the most adverse circumstances then we’ll know that it is an instrument of life and not of death and God has the reigns.

Blessings,
kent

Judges

December 17, 2012

Romans 14:4
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judges

One thing God didn’t make the body to be at this time is a bunch of individual judges. Oh sure, there are things to be judged within the church and discernment that must be exercised, but if God wants us to discern and judge anything, it would be ourselves. Not that we would be self-condemning, but that we would hold our lives up against the Word of God and bring self-correction to our own lives that we would not be judged and corrected by the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11 exhorts us when we take the Lord’s Supper or communion to exercise self-examination before partaking.
What we are usually best at is our judgements of others instead of ourselves. We are far better at dis-membering the body of Christ than we are a re-membering it. That is what communion and the Lord’s Supper is all about. Jesus, the One Loaf was broken into many pieces, which represent us. We the many pieces are re-united in Christ to form His body. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper it is to remember not only what Christ did for us through the Cross, but to re-member or reunite ourselves in one Spirit unto Him.
In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 we are given this exhortation, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. (We are that body) 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”
What we must be mindful of is that God is the ultimate judge of a man’s actions and heart, not us. What does the Word tell us to do if we see our brother in sin?
1 John 5:16 says, ” If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life.”
Matthew 18:15 tells us, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
Galatians 6:1 exhorts us, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
The Word does teach us to confront sin in one another, but not for the purpose of judgement and condemnation, but for the purpose of reconciliation, restoration, repentance and forgiveness. We are suppose to have each other’s back, not stab each other in the back. When ever our own body is suffering from an illness or injury we don’t just get a sharp knife and whack it off. The rest of the body comes along side, both inwardly and outwardly to minister and assist in the healing and the restoration of the injured member. We are one body and we must care for each other like we would our own selves.
Jesus gives a pretty strong kingdom lesson about judgement in Matthew 7:1-5 when teaches, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Pointing the finger at others always makes us feel better because it identifies the sin and weakness in others while turning the attention, mainly our own, away from our own sins and shortcomings.
We are all sinners, and as believers, we are all partakers in God’s grace and mercy. None of deserve forgiveness, but God, by His own example in Jesus Christ, showed it to us. How is it that we can’t extend that same mercy, grace and forgiveness to one another?
Jesus, the righteous and just judge of all said this while hanging on a cross after having been beaten and whipped to shreds by those who hated him in Luke 23:22-41, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
What could others do to us that would have been worse than they did to Jesus? If He could forgive them (and we are, in a sense the extension of those who crucified Jesus because our sins put Him there) then how can we not, in Christ, forgive those who have offended, hurt, or sinned against us. This is not the way of the world, but it is the way of the kingdom, which we are, as His disciples.
There is much more that could be said about our role as playing judge. We are not God and we don’t have the right to usurp His position. He sees all, He sees the heart’s of men and He judges from a place of righteousness. We are not God, so it should not be in our hearts to try and pass judgement upon others. Let us just conclude with this scripture from Romans 2:1-4, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Blessings,
kent

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