Thursday, July 31, 2008

Loose Tongue

From Proverbs 18:21 - sobering words, "The tongue has the power of life and death." Things we say can literally bring emotional life to people or emotional death. You've experienced both. People's words that made you feel more alive; people's words that made you feel like you were dying inside. That's the kind of power your words have. And if we let some wrong words spill out, we can do some terrible - sometimes irreparable damage.
Proverbs, this great book of down-home, real-life wisdom from God, identifies some of the kinds of loose lips that sink ships. Listen with an open heart for a moment would you? It may be that one of these has been coming out of your mouth lately, and God wants to stop it before it does any more damage.Here's one: "A gossip separates close friends" (Proverbs 16:28). A relationship that was a good one gets tragically poisoned and alienated by a gossiping tongue - talking about a person behind their back, spreading bad things about someone. It's cheap, it's careless, it's malicious maybe unintentionally, but it is still malicious. It sinks closeness. It sinks trust between people. I need to know that my name is safe when I'm out of the room if you're in the room.
Proverbs 17:9 says, "He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." There's that separation thing again. You've got two choices when someone hurts you or offends you. Overlook it and move on. That promotes love. Or tell someone else about what happened, which promotes alienation and distance between people.
Reckless words also do a lot of damage. The Bible says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword" (Proverbs 12:18). The unthinking words that spill out on someone when we're angry or not getting our way or we just feel hurt. The thrust of the verbal sword takes only an instant, but the wound it leaves can last for years.Have your lips been too loose lately? It's time for the prayer of David in Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Ask God's forgiveness for those damaging words. Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness of someone you've hurt with those words and then regularly go to God for the self-control to keep those damaging words to yourself.Remember, your loose lips can literally sink someone that God loves so much.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hold on to God's unchanging hand

There is an old hymn that talks about holding on to God's hand. The chorus has the following lines:

Hold to His hand, to God's unchanging hand.

Hold to His hand, to God's unchanging hand.

Place your trust in things eternal,

Hold to God's unchanging hand.

(Hold to God's Unchanging Hand by F.L. Eiland)

Job was reminded in Job 11:13, "If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him" Whether it's prayer or some other crying out to God, we do need to reach out for "God's unchanging hand." Sometimes, we have to work hard at remembering that, because at some point, we are going to come up against some challenges that will remind us that we just can't deal with everything by ourselves. We need support and encouragement. We need someone to hold on to us when it seems that our world is falling apart.

As we "grow up," we also often grow independent -- independent of our parents and also independent of God. We like to think of ourselves as being able to take care of all of our own problems. This independence often reaches into all areas of our lives, even the spiritual. We lose contact with God, our heavenly Father, because we don't feel we need him. We think we can make it through life by ourselves and deal with all that the world dishes out.

We need our Heavenly Father.

Remember, we will never be too old to hold our father's hand.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Immeasurably More

Prayer is a vitally important part of our Christian walk, but it's often greatly misunderstood. Prayer is how we talk with our Heavenly Father. It can never be used to manipulate God nor cause Him to do anything outside His perfect will. God is not our magic genie who has to grant our wishes!

Our attitude toward prayer reveals much about how we view God and the closeness of our relationship through faith in Jesus. If we continually wait for a crisis before we pray, we actually demonstrate a lack of love. A man may say he loves his wife but if he only occasionally talks with her, he reveals a shallow relationship. True love will always be reflected by a desire to spend time together.

And if we lift our problems to God in prayer but also give Him our expected solutions, we demonstrate a lack of trust and reveal a misunderstanding of His sovereign nature and limitless ability.

Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us."

The consistent message through all of scripture is that God is calling us to a closer relationship - calling us to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Therefore, our prayers MUST begin from a position of love. He wants us to continually know Him more and understand the true meaning of "My God will meet all your needs" (Philippians 4:19), and "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). He wants us to love Him and trust Him to provide!

It's foolish for us to limit God to our own understanding. He created the Universe and knew the end of time before the beginning. He can, and will, "perfectly" solve our problems. He is working all things together for the good and using all situations to conform us to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:28-29).

Through a proper attitude of prayer, we acknowledge and submit to God's sovereignty. We praise Him because we know He is able to do much more than anything we ask, and we submit to His perfect understanding and purpose; "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10) Our prayer is not matter of "working things out" with God - not of wrestling until we obtain OUR solution - rather, prayer simply becomes submission to His direction and trust in His perfect plan.

We must present ourselves as empty vessels and allow God to work through us each and every day. Let's love Him enough to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Let's make our requests known, but then let's submit and humbly acknowledge that He can do immeasurably more.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Anger and Bitterness,Can they Cohabit?

The Word of God from Hebrews 12:15. God is showing us, there, that there are two things that can't live in the same house at the same time; actually, in the same heart. There's no way they can co-exist. Here's what it says, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

Now, with the stress you have, you sure don't want to miss God's grace and His sustaining love. But this says you can, you can miss God's grace! How do you do that? Well, by having this other guy living in your heart. It talks about having "no bitter root." If bitterness is living in your heart, grace cannot move in. One or the other has got to go.Could it be that part of your stress is a poisonous root of bitterness in your heart? Maybe you've been hurt, maybe you've been rejected, maybe you've been abused, disappointed, and there's a growing resentment in your heart. Notice - growing. It says the bitter root grows.

Bitterness and anger never stand still, they keep growing. They start to "defile many," to spill over into other close relationships.Just last week a mother told me about how she'd been hurt some years before and how her heart, she said, had grown hard. She said, "Now my hard heart is affecting my husband and my children." You see, it was bitterness that turned it hard. The irony is that a grudge chains you emotionally to the person you dislike. "I don't like so and so, so I'll think about her a lot." That's what happens! Unforgiveness is like this emotional cancer and it eats you up inside. It costs you God's sustaining grace, and they can't live in the same house at the same time!Isn't it time you released that bitterness? Hasn't it done enough damage? It isn't hurting the person you're bitter toward, but it's hurting you, and probably others you love.

Bitterness can only be moved out by something called forgiveness. Going to the Great Forgiver, the One who said of those who had just nailed Him to a cross, "Father, forgive them," and you say, "Lord, give me the grace to release this person, to forgive them, to release them to You." Not to excuse them, but choosing to treat them not as they treated me, but as Jesus treated me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shock Therapy

Not all shocks are electrical are they? People around us are getting shocked every day by bad news they've just received, by bad treatment, by unexpected developments, by a death, or a failure, or by pain in a relationship. And not all hugs are two arms around a person - although that kind of hug is great. But a hug can be a word of encouragement, or an offer to help, a gift, a compliment, a place to rest and recover. It's practical love when someone has really been hit hard.David never forgot the men who "hugged" him, so to speak, when he was battling shock.
The king that David had served loyally turned on him out of jealousy and he wanted him dead. And the king is in hot pursuit of David; he is ready to kill him when he finds him. This was way before electricity, but it must have been a shock to David. The Word of God comes out of that incident: I Chronicles 11:16. It says this, "At that time David was in the stronghold and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. David longed for water and said, รข€˜Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem.'"That's his home town, he's nostalgic for it.
He's hurting because of the pressure he's under. The Philistines, his enemy, they're in charge of things there. But the Bible says, "So the three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David." They knew his language of love at a time when he was really needing encouragement. It was behind enemy lines, but still they sacrificed and risked to bring David a gift that would let him know that he was cared about.
Years later when David is king, these men are some of his main men. He never forgot that "hug" he got from them during his shock time.Sometimes we are so preoccupied with our own business and our own burdens we don't even notice the shock victims around us. But your hug might be just the margin for someone who's been really hit hard. And it isn't that difficult, it usually involves a simple step like a note, or a card, or a good deed, or allowing someone to use your car, or your getaway spot. It can mean just an offer to baby sit, or grocery shop, or maybe cook a meal.

In Matthew 10:42 He said, "If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple he will certainly not lose his reward." Jesus notices when we stop to administer shock therapy. When we find a way to show practical love to someone, like even a drink of cold water, He'll turn those hugs, those cups of water, into eternal reward someday. So open your eyes, open your heart to see the shock victim near you and find a way to hug them. And when you do, you'll be acting so very much like Jesus.

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