Keep the Peace

Keep the Peace

Matthew 10:11-15 (MSG) “When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave. “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now.

Where in the world did the saying, “Save the drama for your mama” originate? This mama doesn’t want any drama. The world today thrives on the dramatic overtures of emotional tirades and all about the “feels”. It is important to set boundaries and guards as filtration of certain thoughts and ideas that stimulate emotions ultimately causing a reaction. According to a good old-fashioned dictionary, drama is any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting or striking interest or results. It is highly emotional, tragic or turbulent in nature. In the age of technology and social media relationships, the filter once set by face-to-face communication has created a commonplace of tirades and overtures of drama that becomes barriers in life.

When Facebook released the “unfollow” button, I was overjoyed. I do not want to unfriend anyone. It sends the wrong message. How can you love your enemies when you can’t even stand the sight of them? Social media has a way of producing unprecedented courage and bouts of bad judgment, as it becomes a platform (or soapbox if you will) for dramatic tirades, rants and even off-handed slights. I don’t want to be a part of it. God doesn’t want His People to fall into the trap of offense or become entangled in bitterness which are produced by mislead emotions and misunderstood gestures and comments. I wonder what would happen if we unfollowed people to maintain peace rather than unfriending them completely? To unfollow…it’s Biblical. To unfriend…is not.

Jesus sent his disciples out with specific instructions. Travel light. (Matthew 10:9-10) Leave the baggage behind. There is a lesson to be learned in these verses. People tend to carry their feelings like luggage from one place to the next. It is human nature supported by pride and selfishness that causes people to allow personal feelings to take precedence over someone else. To carry the weights and burdens of past hurts is not the Will of God for us. Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” We must release the burden of bitterness and take hold of grace to the fullest extent which means forgiving others and forgiving ourselves to love freely in a world that no longer knows what love is. Offense is an enticing offer but builds a stronghold around our heart that hinders the one who harbors such feelings. When the Lord sent His Followers out to be the light of the world and share His Message, he told them not to take anything with them including money. Why? Relationships require dependency and trust. Jesus was instructing them to form bonds with the community which would require humility.

Let’s move on as not to meddle. When Jesus sent His Disciples to share the good news – the instructions given are useful today. If you are welcomed, be gentle in your conversation. If you are not, quietly withdraw. Oh, the wisdom in the Lord’s instruction. Our rights are forfeited for righteousness in coming to Christ. We are commissioned to people. Christian ministry begins and ends with people. All people. The ones we love, like and dislike all fall under the same category in the heart and mind of Christ. We must learn to build the Kingdom of God rather than allowing it to be destroyed by drama. Drama keeps us locked in today because it is an emotional instance rather than a supernatural existence. To leave behind our emotions, and decide to pursue the heart and mind of God through His Son, Jesus Christ is an act of complete humility and surrendering our emotions for God’s Will.

Luke 10:5-6 (MSG) “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.

Luke relays the same experience like this, “When you enter a home, greet the family, “Peace”… How do you greet others? Is it with peace? Every encounter with another person should be in the pursuit of peace. If I cannot project peace to people, I must find it first within myself so that I have an overflow for others. We are called to be a body – not just any body – but the Body of Jesus Christ. How can a hand hate a foot? What good is a thumb that cannot work with the other fingers on the same hand? It sounds silly – I know. It happens all the time.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (MSG) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

The only weapon that the enemy has to use against us is the lie. The lie of the enemy allows bitterness and offense to be viable emotions and feelings. The Lord warns in His Word about these two lies. We must tend that which grows in our heart and mind carefully. To be rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ means relinquishing our right to be bitter and offended. We must work diligently to silence gossip even those words veiled in false concern and regard. You can be the place where cutting, backbiting and profane talk end. You have the power within you of resurrection power and life including the ability to bind and loose. When gossip makes it to your ear, you can stop it and reverse the curse with blessing…if you choose to pursue peace. Proverbs 16:28 warns that “Troublemakers start fights and gossips break up friendships, but Proverbs 19:11 says, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue – their grandeur is to forgive and forget. My behavior can grieve the Lord. We must become diligent in pulling up bitterness before it takes root. We must teardown walls of offense. God in Christ forgave you. He forgave me. Who am I to withhold love, grace and forgiveness from others?

Romans 18:19-21 (MSG) So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.

The pursuit of peace will sometimes require a quiet withdrawal. We must learn to live in the robe of righteousness offered to us by Christ. The wardrobe God has chosen for us is compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. To be even-tempered – not emotional. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises and not react to people. It is hard to remember but a simple truth. People are not our problem but comprise our purpose. Every person in our path is divinely placed by the Lord. Whether it is to instruct, influence or enhance us or it is our mission to offer them something or maybe an equal exchange. We are all predestined to be part of something greater than could ever be accomplished on our own. The person who is deemed offensive or unforgivable may very well be the one who holds the keys to the next open door. The people divided are hindered by separation because the Lord has given us the command of unity – one heart, one mind, and one purpose – Jesus Christ.

When a relationship is broken by bitterness and offense, it breaks the heart of God. Like two quarrelling children hurts the heart of a parent, ugliness and strife between two people (any two people) does the same to God. We must learn to reconcile our life to Christ completely so that we can learn from His Example and reconcile our relationships as people. People are not in control of your destiny – Jesus Christ controls every outcome of our life. People do not have the power to hurt you unless you give them access to that which belongs to Christ. Our full expectation must be in the Lord to protect our heart in earthly relationships. When I don’t want to forgive, I must remember that He forgave me. When I don’t want to forget, I must remind myself that the Father chooses to release my sin into a sea of forgetfulness. When I want to lash out at others, I try to remember these careful instructions – if they welcome you, be gentle… if they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. To maintain peace with God through His Son Jesus – I must keep the peace with others. His Way is not my way. His Thoughts are not my thoughts. However, His Way and His Thoughts are what I desire. I am chosen by God for this new life. I must wear love and never be without it.

Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

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Cover Me

Cover Me

 

Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

There is an American hero by the name of Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who at just 19 years old gave his life to save his brethren. He was trained to escape the deadly blast of a grenade if there is the opportunity. However, when an Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into their Humvee, he had to make a choice. This young man had an opportunity to jump from the machine gun turret he was manning and save himself. But that is not what this man of honor and valor did, instead he dropped from the turret into the vehicle falling on the grenade to save his four comrades inside. Months prior to the incident, the same scenario occurred but the gunner followed his military training and jumped out of the Humvee. Fortunately, in the grenade was a dud. Pfc. McGinnis received a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart while his parents received a folded American flag. He gave up his life for his brothers and is an example to us all.

I am challenged by this verse today. I am also inspired by this young man’s story. As believers, there are trials and temptations each day. We face situations and circumstances that cause the superficial Christianity to give way to the truth within our heart. Sin happens. It happens to everyone. We all fall short of the Glory of God not once but daily. Religion often creates an atmosphere of arrogance as some look down on those who are transparent. Rather than reaching out to their brothers and sisters, they reach around them as to somehow prove they have no sin. You who live by the Spirit should restore family, friends, coworkers and even strangers who fall into temptation or succumb to sin. It must never be to pull them up to some invisible level but through the Blood of Jesus surround them with love and hope. When given the opportunity to cover your brother and sister in Christ, what is your response? Hero? Helper? Heretic? Hmm…

Genesis 9:20-25 (NIV) Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

Noah was a farmer who produced a vineyard. Partaking of his choice crop, he became drunk. Succumbing to the situation, he fell asleep naked in his tent. He was not out carousing but inside his home. When his son, Ham, saw him – rather than covering his father and keeping it to himself – he decided to tell his brothers. The response of his brothers, much like Pfc. McGinnis, is a lesson of love and grace needed in the church today. They took a covering and walking backward as not to subject their father to any further humiliation – they covered him up. I cannot stress the importance of this lesson to the Body of Christ. “Bless their heart” shouldn’t be an excuse to share with every other brother and sister the sin of another. Prayer requests on behalf of another can be carefully disguised gossip sessions. The Word of God says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters.” We are one great big family.

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations religion sets forth, Jesus Christ condemns no one. His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for the covering of sin. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Human insecurity threatens the sufficiency of God’s Grace. One’s inability to accept that His Grace is the sufficiency of our life. Our ability to fully accept the grace that God has given us through His Son, Jesus is based on our ability to crucify pride and humbly receive it. When will begin to boast in our own weaknesses rather than putting our brothers and sisters on blast? The life-giving power of Jesus Christ is not enhanced or any way enabled by a chance in our habits but evident in a heart change that humbly accepts outside of Christ – I am nothing. Those who condemn others by spreading rumors, gossip and even when trying to disguise it as concern will one day reap what they sow. Not my words, but those of the Bible – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

John 8:9-11 (NIV) At 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was caught in the act of adultery. Yet, she was brought before the Pharisees alone. How many times do we cover the religious and expose the sinner? Just because someone comes to church, serves in ministry and cleans up well, does not necessarily mean that their heart is right with the Lord. In fact, the religious men all sat in judgment ready to stone the woman. Jesus said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” God’s Word tell us plainly that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. His Instruction to this woman on the verge of death now given a new life – “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was another woman found in her sin at a well. Jesus didn’t expose her before the masses and make a public example but rather through quiet conversation revealed His Person to her. She became a great witness for the Messiah. I wonder how many people would finally fall in love with Jesus leaving sin behind them if the church represented the love of God rather than the condemnation of the Pharisees. Judgment belongs to God. Condemnation could have belonged to Christ but He chose grace instead. What will we choose today?

James 4:10-13 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Humility will not allow us to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ died for every single person every created to give them access to new life. The enemy uses pride to destroy sound doctrine as men and women who know God succumb to the lie of the enemy that there is a way to make us better when there is only a better way. Slander and gossip come in many forms. It will always circle back to the one for which it was intended. The grace given to us in Jesus Christ can only be accepted in humility. Religion will never be the way to Christ’s Heart but relationship. The kind of relationships that are made up of people willing to lay down their life, pride, fear, insecurity and doubt long enough to love unconditionally and give grace abundantly. Everyone sins. Everyone falls short of God’s Glorious Standard. There is absolutely positively no condemnation in Jesus Christ only constant covering of our sin with His Precious Blood giving us new life and making us a new creation. When someone falls, it is our calling to cover them. Cover them with prayer. Reach out to them in love. Don’t reach around them to share it with everyone else. Let their humiliation and violation stop with you not be cultivated by you. Give them the same grace required to keep you and me in good standing with God. It is free. We do not have to earn it and neither do they. What will you do the next time you find a fallen brother or sister who is slipping?

I John 4:16-19 (NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 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. We love because he first loved us. 

As believers reconcile their life to Jesus Christ – the product must be love. Always love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” There is no fear in love which means that if we are representing God’s love those who are lost or wandering should not be afraid to come to church. They should not be concerned that there is a kangaroo court of judges waiting to tear them down, make them feel bad, or condemn them in any way. What is your response to the downfall of another? What is your reaction? When the grenade dropped into the Humvee that day, Pfc. McGinnis did not have time to weigh his options. The true character of his heart revealed as he covered the grenade giving up his life for his friends. What will you do? We love simply because He first loved us. We give grace because He has given us grace and more grace. We are Children of God building a family out of love. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit full of unconditional love and overwhelming grace for everyone I meet.

I John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Eat My Words

eat-my-words

Luke 6:44-45 (NLT) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

One of the perks of the holidays in our office are the many gift baskets and plethora of food sent to us by our clients. Breakfast is catered. Gift baskets carrying many delicious delicacies. One sent a case of chocolate covered strawberries although I am not sure that we have been that good this year. Digging into the boxes, there were a variety of berries large and small covered in milk chocolate rolled in chocolate chips, white chocolate rolled in sprinkles and more chocolate drizzled in with red and green frosting. The presentation was perfect. Carefully packaged to maintain their appearance. Packed with ice packs to stay fresh and keep their form. Such temptation could not be avoided. Biting into the first one it was so sweet and rich the chocolate melting in your mouth followed by the ripe, sweet strawberry. It was heavenly. So much so that I had to try just one more. The covering just as yummy as the first one, but the berry inside was sour and disgusting. Soft and nasty – it was beginning to rot ruining the experience entirely. I had to get it out of my mouth.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart. What is the production of my heart that is flowing from my mouth? What is the flavor of my lips? When speaking to others, is it life or death? Do I nourish their soul or condemn their life? Our words reflect the cultivation and production of God’s Word in our heart. Barren conversation filled with gossip and bitterness only signifies a lack of growth and prosperity. When I have a tough piece of meat like a London broil, I usually take a meat tenderizer that looks like a torture device and plunge it into the cut of meat over and over again. This separates the muscle from the meat. Those veins of marrow they cause tough gristle to form is torn and severed by the sharp points as they pierce it. Afterwards I take the manhandled piece of beef and I marinate it not only to infuse flavor but to soften the meat so it is edible and delicious. After a while, I cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time and it becomes a delicious meal. Hear me men and women of God. Hear me woman of God. Our words require no less. Our heart must be tenderized and marinated to produce the words that God desires of us. To present the message of the Gospel it must be covered in love and presented with perfection. I wonder could I eat my words today. Would they be palatable?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

“I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies” (Brokenness Aside) I love this song. I can identify with it completely. I AM a sinner. Though I try and try I still sin every single day. I used to think being a Christian and growing in Christ meant rising above sin and living a better life. What it really means in drowning in His Grace every single day in humility at the realization that apart from being totally absorbed in the Lord – I am desperately lost every day. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross just the same. I think this is forgotten by those who know their Savior more than one day. To rid one’s life of certain sins means nothing. You and I are still sinners just as much as the one who comes in to church reeking like the club and accidentally throws a free drink ticket into the offering plate rather than the dollar they were digging for. The only difference is that I believe the one who was out last night is more honest than the prideful one condemning them one row over.

After enduring a season where lies, rumors and hurtful words cut to the heart of one of my children, I should not have been surprised to hear the rumor mill begin to stir about another. One would only hope that in the aftermath of hurt, separation and bitterness – Christians, believers, leaders, teachers, members and congregations would learn that words are power. Words will infuse life in a church or tear it down person by person. Not the case, hurtful words about others who need the Lord and are in the constant prayers of others. Torn apart and judged only because in this particular instance you made a better choice. Shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on us. The cancer of the church is found in conversations filled with words like “bless their heart” and “I will pray for them” only trying to disguise gossip and insecure people who think Heaven is earned and grace is not enough.

Do the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart reflect the Love I have been given and the Grace that I have received? What makes you or I more deserving of God’s Grace, Love and Favor than anyone else walking on the planet? He loves us all exactly the same. The one who is working and striving to build the Kingdom must never think it is okay to tear a single person down or condemn one of their choices without refuting God’s Word that promises He will work every detail out for those who love Him. The more I know Jesus and spend time in His Word the more I realize that there is nothing that I can do to earn His Love or deserve His Grace. I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Caught up in words. Tangled in lies. Women by virtue of numbers, it is our distinction to speak about 10,000 words a day – some more and seldom less. What am I saying? Do my words build others up? Do they tear them down? It doesn’t matter WHO we tell them to – it is what we release in the atmosphere. Have you heard of acid rain? Water is drawn into the sky and forms rain. If the source is tainted, it becomes acid rain that moves in a cloud and kills whatever it is released upon. We get caught in our words. We get tangled in lies. Have you ever heard the expression “enough rope to hang yourself”? Well…the enemy convinces us that our words don’t matter. Or even that because we add something like “bless their heart” or “I need you to pray for” that it somehow changes gossip to gospel. It doesn’t. I promise you that what is spoken in darkness will make its way into the light.

Proverbs 26:22-26 (NLT) Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

Have you ever wondered why your ministry is not growing? Why prayers for revival are not answered? Could it be that our words are not cultivating seeds of faith? Maybe it is our overflow of senseless and thoughtless words that is quenching the fire? Rumors kill churches if entertained. People are the Kingdom. Build up the people and churches will grow. Tear down sinners and there will be no one left. I wonder what might happen if we removed all the stages and platforms from church buildings. What if all church leaders and teachers were stripped of titles and there was no one left to cater to their office? What if the pastors in our congregations would be simple shepherds with a rod for instruction and a staff to guide with humility, gentleness, grace and love? Would the Holy Spirit do the rest? Could we trust God’s to take the Word and by His Spirit change hearts and lives?

Our pastors cannot lead churches and build the Kingdom because their schedule is full of appointments mediating members and settling issues with their leaders. Our congregations are caught up in words and tangled in lies. Rumors have sunk into hearts and killed those who came to be saved. Not able to live up to our standards, they thought that Jesus required the same. No love. No problem. I will just sleep in on Sunday. Oh, how I love sleep. Christianese covers the death sentences dealt behind doors and when we think no one else is listening. I do not want to be a glazed pot. Beautiful on the outside but worthless on the inside. I do not want my heart to deceive and my words to deal death. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit. I do not want to be part of the death and destruction of others but offer life in every conversation.

I John 3:1-2 (NLT) See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 

I have five beautiful children. I have some who live to please me and maintain a right relationship with me at all times. I have others who must test every boundary and find their own way. They argue among themselves that I have favorites. I let them think what they want. The truth of the matter is that I love them all the same. I would lay down my life in second for any one of them without a moment’s hesitation. They are my children not because they make good choices or do the right thing. They are my children. (Period) When will we realize as individuals that this is the Heart of God for His People? We cannot build a Kingdom until it is understood that there is absolutely no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace that we are saved by faith in Him alone. We are family. Equals. Brothers and sisters no matter what because it is His Will and His Plan.

Religion is man’s way of seeking after God. God wants us to establish a relationship with His Son, Jesus. Once this is accomplished, Jesus tells us to create the same connection with everyone else. How are we doing? Not very well…no revival means no relationship. Early believers did not have time to tear each other apart because of their relationship and unity revival broke with thousands coming to Christ at a time. It can happen. It will happen. Are you willing to take a long hard look at your heart? Do you think it might be possible to go to those you have condemned with words and ask for forgiveness? Is it even thinkable to exalt another before our pride today and overcome insecurity to establish a bond with others? If we can’t get it right in our families, friendships and congregations…why would He give us nations? Why would He send our community? Why spark revival that will quickly be drowned in worthless words? Where the Spirit of the Lord there is freedom. Don’t get caught up in words and tangled in lies. Speak life today. Speak love. Give them Jesus in every conversation. And for goodness sake, if you have nothing nice to say…say nothing at all.

Colossians 4:6 (NLT)  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a]so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Well, Shut My Mouth

Well, Shut My Mouth

Shut My Mouth

March 31, 2016

 

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 

 

Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Grumble. Complaining. Arguing. Backbiting. Gossip. All these things are faith stealers and joy killers yet we get sucked in day by day as the dissatisfaction of the surrounding world seeps into our lives, churches, homes and hearts. There are days when I ask the Holy Spirit to put His Hand over my mouth as I feel words not worthy of my salvation and the grace that I have received rising up within me. I was not necessarily born with a filter. I usually speak what is on my mind. It has taken fifty years of growth to mature to the point that most of the time I actually think about my words and the power that they hold before I speak them rather than casting them carelessly around with total disregard. So today…forgive me. The Lord and I are dealing with my words so bear with me. My boast is in the Lord and when my words reflect anything other than the love, faith, hope, joy and peace that I have in Jesus – it is time to find to shut my mouth.

 

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

Unwholesome talk. We cannot a lot it. Every single word that we speak releases something in the atmosphere. Every word even whispered is heard by the enemy who knows our heart at that moment because from the abundance of our heart words come tumbling out. Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit intentionally allows us to say what’s on our mind so we can see what He is dealing with. Perhaps then and only then, we can rip out the roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, anxiety, fear and stress that keep us from accomplishing Kingdom Goals and fulfilling God’s Perfect Plan for our redeemed life.

 

Get rid of ALL rage, anger, brawling, slander, and every other form of malice. What about righteous anger? Who are we “allowed” to be mad at? To be angry with someone and sin not is a tall order. Our nature is retaliation but to rid ourselves of all malice means that we must be kind and compassionate applying grace to all human situations and every person that we meet. So who are we going to be mad at now? The enemy. Do you really think the team who wins the Super Bowl, Word Series or Grand Prix gives a second thought to the team who loses or comes in second? No, they are celebrating victory. Celebrating together, praising their sponsors (who in our case is Jesus). They are not concerned with anything except the fact that they won! We win. Jesus overcame the world. Now if we can just overcome our doubt…

 

Complete confidence in Jesus Christ will change our heart and mind, as well as our attitude and actions. But here is the thing that cuts to my core today, religion changes our actions a lot of times but only a relationship with Jesus will change our attitude. As a reminder, we tend to be a hardhearted and stiff-necked generation. No matter how strong and victorious we are living in the Favor of God – there is that one Jezebel that sends us running to the cave like Elijah. No weapon formed against us can prosper. Christ is victorious. I heard a verse in a song say that “He borrowed the tomb for three days.” Our words can build walls around our heart and introduce things to our mind not of God. These things take root and become prisons keeping us from walking fully and freely in the Favor of God that is given to His Children. If the Lord can speak through a donkey and shut the mouths of lions, He can shut my mouth, too.

 

Matthew 15:10-14 (NIV)

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

 

Jesus listens when we speak. He knows our heart condition already yet still listens because each word will be placed before us for accountability. Of course, God looks for Truth. Truth covered in love that is. Isn’t that what He did for us? He took the truth about us and covered it in His Blood and Grace. There are many doctrines and religions that tell us what to do and how to live. However churches are often the breeding ground of contempt. Why? We know better. If our mission in this world is for Heaven to come down and touch the earth sparking a revival and if our goal is true discipleship, there is no place for our opinion. It is all about God’s Love and the Truth – Jesus Christ.

 

Does every single word I speak point to Jesus Christ? Does it turn on an indescribable light that leads others to His Love? As I lay my words on the altar, I am sad to say that not every one of them is worthy of His Name. As I pick through each sacrifice of breath, I realize the very Breath of His Spirit is grieved by some of them and now so am I. I don’t want to be a Pharisee with a mouth that is nothing more than a whitewashed tomb or a cup clean on the outside but filthy on the inside. The Word of God cuts bone from marrow and now in me, too. Bitterness is a root that comes from a seed. The Holy Spirit weeds the heart of the willing but it is done at the sacrifice of pride. To have any root other than Jesus Christ as the foundation of our thoughts at the center of one’s heart and mind is to invite death and devastation. Faith killers, joy stealers, dream crushers, and satisfaction enders are the words left unfiltered by washing them in the Word, inspected by His Spirit and smothered in His Love.

 

James 3:3-6 (NIV)

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or 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. Likewise, 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 

Proverbs 18:21 tell us that “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The words released from our mouth have the absolute power to change the atmosphere. It is not in our own understanding or wisdom but each delivery that comes from a heart filled with love and Spirit produced fruit. I have lived most of my life with my foot in my mouth. I have released horrible words that I wish I could take back. I have learned through many trials that what I say can spark a fire of devastating force. Until I have absolute control of my words and are brave enough to measure them up to God’s Standard of Communication with the absence of all malice. His Word for us is Jesus. He came in the flesh and died for my sins so I could live victoriously. Why do I get caught up in this world? Why do I allow ungodly communication to proceed from my mouth? Why? Life is a process. As the Lord uses His Love and Grace to reveal the areas of our heart still under construction. He will forgive me for my rotten fruit not fit for His People. It is up to me if I will produce a good crop.

 

James 3:9-12 (NIV)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

 

Today I making a concentrated effort to taste each word before I release it. So many times we credit the enemy for his tactics and skillful attacks that leave us devastated and hurting. We applaud him for ruining our day. We give him kudos for knowing just what to do to push our buttons. Is he really that good? Or was just listening to the words that we were speaking? Did he get a hint in our complaining? Did he find an open door in our grumbling? Did he sneak in through bitterness, unforgiveness or malice planting weeds in the Fruit of our Spirit? The Holy Spirit seals us to the Day of Redemption but we still must master this thing called free will. It is the part of us that chooses to love the Lord in all things rather remaining subject just to do’s and don’ts. Our heart must be so full of Jesus that when anything contrary to His Word, Will or Way comes to mind it is quickly and completely taken captive and our complaints will die in our mouth rather than spreading toxin in our life.

 

When pressure and persecution come, it is our job to respond rather than react. It doesn’t matter what another person says when we stand before the Lord. It will be every word that proceeded from my mouth under careful and complete examination. Grace does not stop the process just allows us to make it through all those times the filter fell off of our mouth and corrupt communication escaped us. (Matthew 12:36) Hence, life and death is in our tongue. Could it be revival has been buried in our words? Is it possible that chronic complaining, backbiting, or gossip has stopped the signs, wonder and miracles of God around us? Totally possible and highly probable. Have we killed the next great move of God in our expressed dissatisfaction in our Lord? Any complaint we have is against the Lord no matter who we think is the cause? Any grumbling rumbles discord through our life as our faith is challenged by our fears? We must shut our mouths and let the Lord filter our words if our desire is that His Kingdom be manifested on the earth.

 

Well, my filter fell off. It did. I repent Lord for saying things not representative of the overwhelming grace that I have been given. My river of life is just a bit salty. Cleanse it in your flow today. Wash every word of mine with the Truth of your word. Cover every uncertainty and complaint with the Blood of Jesus. May each word of mind be tied to God’s Great Love for me and carried to another. May the only fire in my words today that spark revival in my heart and soul to start a blaze for Your Glory around the word. It begins with me, Jesus. My words. My communication. No matter what another person says, let my words be always and only reflective of You – Jesus. Just you. Not me. Take the coal of from the altar today – Lord I ask you to cleanse my tongue so I may be used for Your Glory. Amen.

 

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NIV)

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

The Fruit of My Mouth

The Fruit of My Mouth

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

Communication. What are do we talk about? How do we use our words? I happen to use a lot of words in a single day just ask my husband. When I am not talking and expressing myself, it is then he becomes worried that something is wrong. In general, people know how I feel about something without soliciting a response. The Lord has done a tremendous work in my mouth. That’s right in my mouth. The Message that we have been given to share with the world seems obvious until given to people to carry out. We have this treasure in jars of clay. (2 Corinthians 4:7) The Great Commission would be more effective if we considered the condition of our “jar” rather than trying to flavor the Word given to us.

 

I was once told that the word “but” nullifies everything that comes before it. I’m sorry…but. Think about it. It’s true. We do it all the time. Excuses are born of buts. We have this wonderful message of God’s Great Love. It is news worth sharing with everyone we come in contact. Why do we insist on sharing other things? Meaningless things? Pointless things? Harmful words? Careless expressions? Forget about killing the messenger. The messenger has lost the Word given to deliver.

Christians are dissatisfied and hungry for fulfillment. What could a person in such a state have to offer or testify about their God to the watching, waiting and dying world? The chasm grows wider as the need to share one’s opinion or prove they are right overrides the love, kindness and compassion that is the love letter signed by Jesus’ Blood on the Cross and entrusted in our hearts to deliver. The tongue indeed holds the power of life and death. I was taught from a very young age that they can do infinitely more damage than a weapon and should not be used unintentionally. In other words, if you do not mean it do not say it. So how do we fix the problem?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only hat is helpful for building others up according to THEIR needs, that it may been THOSE who listen. My goal for 2016 in a nutshell. I would love to say that every single world I speak is kind, loving and encouraging. I would be lying if I did. As my walk with Christ intensifies, and I long for a deeper relationship with my Savior and Lord I find that the refining fire is headed toward my mouth. God wants ALL my communication to be worthy of His Spirit that nothing I say will grieve His Spirit in me. It will be a full-time job. I am to get rid of ALL bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander. All of it. Even the smallest most miniscule amount must be severely and harshly dealt with. Every form of malice. I am to be kind and compassionate to every other human being I come in contact with. I must forgive anyone and everyone that I harbor ill feelings towards like Christ forgave me which means grace comes with it. Lord, how will I do this?

 

Matthew 15:10-11 (NIV)

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.”

 

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them” is referring to religiosity and customs. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. This freedom allows us to live and express our worship as we choose. However, it comes with this reminder. “What comes out of our mouth that is what defiles them.” Religion is not a sin unless it interferes with our relationship to Jesus Christ. The only thing in our life that is sinful is that which contradicts or interferes with our relationship to the Lord. Otherwise, go for it. The problem is that sometimes religion takes over righteousness which moves us from humility to personal exaltation which convinces us that somehow do not need grace anymore. In that state, we begin to judge others from a human point of view rather than a godly perspective. Case in point – homeless guy sitting on the side of the road with a sign that reads “Why lie I need a beer?” What do you do? Religion says I will not feed his addiction. Jesus says, “Let’s buy him a burger and bring it back.” The struggle to love others in spite of their sin is hard. I get that. It is difficult to give someone who isn’t working or doing their “fair share” your hard earned dollar BUT that is exactly what Jesus would do. What does that have to do with communication? How does it impact our message? Well, if we ever allow ourselves to get to the place where we feel more worthy of God’s Grace and Love than someone else, we have a heart problem that needs His Healing all over again.

Luke 6:45 (NIV)

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

From the abundance the heart our mouth speaks. Our mouth relays the condition of our heart unwillingly. As the words come tumbling out, it makes it clear to others what our motive is and intentions concerning them. What goes in is what comes out. It is simple science. If you feed worldly communication and only take in what the world has to offer, it is going to contaminate your jar so whatever is stored there is ruined. Jesus told the Pharisees, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26) When we come to Christ, there is an immediate work in us that will often change how we communicate. We stop using certain words. We try to soften certain expressions. You know, we pick up new lingo. Just as we grow in our relationship with Christ, so should our vocabulary change and develop bearing fruit. “The mouth of the righteous should bear fruit of wisdom…” (Proverbs 10:31) Which means? “Bless your heart” is a real and not a statement to validate malice spoken previously. “I will pray for you” are real words of agreement not just a way to facilitate gossip. The enemy does not give up on us just because we surrender our life to Jesus. No, if anything this gets him all fired up and directs his attention on us. He will use every scheme he has to trick us into using our communication as a curse rather than the blessing it could be to us and others.

Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

It is important that our mouth and heart agree. If we declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart, it is salvation to our soul. Our heart believes. My mouth should profess my faith in every attitude and action on a daily basis. Cursing does not flow from a righteous mouth. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. (Proverbs 10:11) What I say about my life reflects the belief in my heart. Grumbling and complaining implies dissatisfaction with God who is my provider. Bickering and fighting exemplifies a lack of peace in my heart. Worrying and stressing over everything means that my heart is faithless and full of fear. Doubt is foretold in pessimism expresses a small lifeless god with no power. If we do not know how to effectively communicate love to others, it is an expression of a heart that has not yet encountered the limitless and unfailing Love of God. Our mouth is a prime indicator of our hearts condition. If the words we hear coming out of our mouth are not reflective of the work inside our heart  – we must change what we are saying to the Glory of God.

James 3:9-12 (NIV)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

We are told early on that if we have nothing nice to say that we should say nothing at all. This is okay for children and spiritually immature. However, one encounter with Jesus Christ changes everything as we answer the call to “follow Him.” Acceptance of Jesus as our Savior and Lord fills our mouth with a message worth sharing. He overflows us with grace, mercy and love not just for our own satisfaction but to share with everyone who we come in contact with. Even in the privacy of our home in quiet conversation with hushed voices with our closest companion or maybe our spouse using words not of love and affirmation but malice and ill will can cause damage in the heavenly realm. We are given the authority of binding and loosing in the Name of Jesus. The fire started by my tongue is so that others will want to know the God I serve and His Son who saved me. The message is all about love. I am the messenger. Lord, make my heart and mouth agree. Cleanse me of anything not worthy to be communicated along with Your Great Love!

Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Straight Talk

Staright Talk

Matthew 12:35-37 (NLT)

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.

 

Lord, help me. No seriously, when I think of all the words that I use in a single day, I am greatly concerned. It took years to develop a filter. There are still days that the bridle on my jaw breaks or loosens. When I see the contents of my heart come pouring out, I am appalled. That’s what idles words and meaningless chatter really are. The dust bunnies hidden in our heart like the ones that creep in the corners under the bed. A good person produces good things from a good heart. I want to be her. All of the time in every season whether I agree or disagree, I want my words to reflect love, mercy and goodness which is not always the case.

A while back, I decided to make “breakfast dinner” for my family. There were eggs in the fridge, bacon in the freezer, fresh loaf of bread on the counter and grits in the pantry. All the makings of a fine southern breakfast so I began cooking. When I opened the grits and began pouring them into the pan, I was quite disgusted to find little bugs making their home in the box. (Insert shudder here.) It ruined the meal for me. It didn’t matter that the eggs turned out sunny side up, the bacon perfectly crisp and the toast lightly browned with melted butter. The little ants in my grits ruined it for me. Tying the box in a plastic bag, I took it outside garbage. I went through every box in the pantry throwing away anything that was open or could have been exposed. I hate bugs. I don’t want them in my house let alone in my food or on my table. What if we felt the same way about our daily communication?

What if we inspected every single word for freshness? What if we made sure that they were good and wholesome for others to “eat”? What if we removed all the contaminants before we used them? Lord, I am talking to me. The Word of God is clear. God shoots from the hip and doesn’t mix His Words when Jesus reminds us that we will one day be judged for “every idle word” that we speak. Not the ones carefully thought about, tasted before used and delivered in love. No, the ones when no one else is around to listen. The ones used amongst close friends. Maybe we were only joking, come on the Lord knows our heart. I have tried over and over again to drive it home to my children that if our words offend, hurt or at the expense of another – we must keep them from ever leaving our mouth. Lord, help me to inspect my words today.

James 3:3-6 (NLT)

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

As I crawl back to the Book of James, it is to remind myself of the power of my tongue. During the hours proceeding the Cross, Jesus was cross-examined by the High Priest, but He didn’t feel the need to defend Himself or argue His Case. He simply was silent. I wish I could learn to do the same when I am aggravated, agitated, and unhappy or just a little bit cross. I want my opinion to be a reflection of what God says about people and situations not what my judgmental heart has determined to be so. If only I could keep control of my tongue like a bridle on a horse or a rudder on a ship, it is important that I do to accomplish God’s Will for my life. Love must be evident in ALL my conversations.

The most telling verse for me in this passage is “a tiny spark can set a great forest fire.” Oh Lord help me to remember this when “tiny sparks” are made with my tongue. You came to set this world on fire. Passionate about your love with hearts burning and consumed for You, I want my words to spark revival not resentment. I want them to be way makers not blockers. There are many words I wish I could take back in my life and some left unspoken. Lord, motivate my conversation and use it to build your Kingdom and not destroy it in my ignorance today. I wouldn’t build a fire in the middle of my living room floor but oh the fires started in the midst of conversation that has gone wrong with a careless word or idle gossip. God, help me to keep my home safe from such destruction.

James 3:10-12 (NLT)

And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

I have sown seeds in my life waiting for harvest. I will one day reap from what I have sown. I am of the firm belief that when salty water or acidic talk pours from my mouth that it will indeed kill the crop of love that I have been planting. I repent today Lord for every one of those words that is killing my harvest. The ones spoken in idle conversation that once released became a raging fire out of control. Lord, remove such conversation from my thoughts and mind so it will never make it to my heart and out of my mouth again.

Psalm 15:1-3 (NLT)

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.

 

Man, this is a rough one today. Who may worship in the sanctuary of the Lord? This is not talking about the church you attend or small group you are a part of but the Presence of the Lord in which we find our refuge each day. Those who live blameless lives. I try to do the right thing, obey the law of the land, do what God says, love other people, and give and so on. But what does He say, “Those who do what is right “SPEAKING THE TRUTH FROM SINCERE HEARTS and THOSE WHO REFUSE TO GOSSIP OR HARM THEIR NEIGHBORS OR SPEAK EVIL OF THEIR FRIENDS.” All caps for me, people. Sometimes we gossip unintentionally, speak evil of others unknowingly, but that does not excuse our behalf. Though the words were idle at the time they were issued, they became a spark for the enemies use at some point upon release. We must learn to catch those little sparks before they make it out into the world. I want to live in the Presence of God. I want Him to want to be near me. I want His Love to surround me and filter through me to others. My conversation will impacts the outcome.

Luke 24:14-18 (NLT)

As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

 

We were at the mall exercising retail therapy last weekend, when one of our kid’s youth pastors showed up. He came out of nowhere and hung with us for the rest of the day. My friend and I continued to shop the great sales we had discovered while the kids shopped, joked and took selfies with each other. We continued about our business with him in tow. It was comfortable. It was not odd and he was not out of place. What if Jesus showed up like he did?

Two men were walking down the road discussing the events of the day. Jesus was crucified. Some now say that He rose again, Jesus joined them but they did not know it was Him. When Jesus asked what they were taking about, the men replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that happened…” Now freeze frame, nobody move. This is where so many of us fall each and every day. We do not consider the Presence of God or the Holy Spirit in our daily conversation. We do not inspect our words but rather deliver them impulsively. I have sat in administration meetings with my superiors who have openly apologized for foul words or inappropriate conversation because they know I am a Believer. This is not a “go-me” but rather me reminding me that I must not use words or enter in conversations that are offensive to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit if I want them to stay close each day. I have engaged in conversations that did not reflect that I am a believer, too. It may not have been my intent but it definitely was the outcome.

Philippians 4:7-9 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Constant illicit communication or inappropriate conversation that continually brings about forest fires in our life is a heart problem. To fix our words, we must fix our thoughts. Our thoughts are a product of the heart. When we are given to slander, backbiting and gossip, there is something in us that must change in order to make room for the Lord to take up residence. I am guilty just like the next person maybe more so because I use so many words in a single day. I want my words to be true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. My grandmother was that kind of person. When I attended her funeral, people went on and on about how she never had a bad word to say about anyone. I want it to be like that when I am gone, but there must be a continued change. Some people may say that she was not always like that and this is probably true. But when she went to Heaven, she had grown in her relationship with Jesus to such a point that her words were impacted. Be it unto me, Lord!

You know there is a nationwide debate about gun control. I am not going to climb on a soapbox or give an opinion other than this. They say, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.” Let me add this, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” Words can be lethal – to people, our life, blessings and relationship with Jesus Christ. You would not hand a loaded hunting rifle to a toddler, now would you? But as he grew into a young man and adult, you would train him and teach him gun safety, respect for the firearm and damage it might do if mishandled or misused. There are still evil people who grow up this way and kill people with hunting rifles. It is not a problem with the weapon but the heart of the people. Our words are loaded weapons. They will bring down strongholds or build walls keeping others from Christ which leads to death. I cannot take a single word I speak today for granted. It has the power to bind or loose the Kingdom. (Matthew 18:18) I decide the intent. The very next verse in Matthew 18 reveals another powerful truth… ”If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.”

 

Proverbs 26:18-20 (NLT)

Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.” Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

 

When I read this verse today, I was completely taken back. God is disarming me today. He is reminding me that my words count for His Kingdom or against it. Will I be one who draws people to Him or a sniper taking them out with my idle conversation? Lord, I repent for all the words that started out right and turned foul in the air. Those things that should not have been a topic of conversation considering all the great things You have done for me. I have plenty to boast about in You. I am secure in my place in the Kingdom of God and have no need to tear another person down or bring up their mistakes. I am a Child of God. I have a purpose. I am to share the Love of Jesus with everyone because You are standing by my side. You are in front of me. You are behind me. Your Love surrounds me. Make me aware of Your Presence. Forgive me for the things that I have said without thinking and come close again! May every word rather intentional or idle be a reflection of your Great Love! I will inspect my conversation today. Is it kind, loving and true? I will make sure that it is not meant for evil but wrapped tightly in Your Goodness? May my words water my field and harvest rather than causing rot and decay! To You I give all honor, glory and power to make it so today!

2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NLT)

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.

Glass Houses – A Devotion

Genesis 9:20-23 (NLT)

After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.

 

I had to “unfriend” a Facebook friend today. For those of you who do not use the social network, it means to remove a person from your friend’s list which means you no longer are privy to the posts and cannot see their activity online. If I encounter this person in real life, I will gladly welcome the opportunity to visit with them. However, a recent post pointed to the shortcoming of another. Instead of turning my head and not turning it into gossip, I immediately shared it with others. Instantaneously, conviction flooded my heart. There is a practice is some denominations known as “church discipline.” When a person falls short and refuses to repent at under private admonishment, they are brought before the congregation for “discipline”. Their sin is laid out for all members to see and they must repent (changing their ways immediately) or they are excommunicated from the church. Ouch! The scriptures used as a premise for this have been shared but they hardly evoke the same thoughts for me. I do not believe that I could comfortably sit in a congregation listening to the sins of another knowing that I fall short every day. Now back to Facebook, I did not “unfriend” this person for what they posted because it was well within their right. People post things every day that I choose not to view due to personal conviction, however; I could not control my response today so it was by choice I removed myself from future temptation. Maybe I am sensitive to the shortcomings of others, because I am a sinner. I know every single way that I have let God down and am convinced there are many ways that I am not even aware of. I would be mortified if all of my family, friends, acquaintances, enemies and strangers knew the details of my life. But God has promised to move them as far as the east is from the west through the Blood of Jesus and personal repentance. But once again, I failed by choosing to partake in gossip and slander of another who had fallen short, shaking my head if you will rather than earnestly praying for the family.

 

My desire is to live in a glass house transparent before God and others not hiding behind self-exhortation and the sins of others. Gossip is a rock that is tossed around lightly but has the potential to destroy an entire glass houses. A life of righteousness and obedience is not marked by perfection. Take Noah for example. He was a mighty man of God who lived a life of righteousness and obedience. When others scoffed, he continued to build the ark and warn the others of the oncoming disaster. The Lord spared his entire family from destruction. How did Noah repay his kindness? He got drunk and passed out essentially. How did his own son pay Noah back? By spreading gossip of his father’s downfall to his brothers who in turned acted as I wish I had done when gossip came my way. Noah’s other two sons chose to cover their father and not look at his sin. The details of the mistake unimportant, they covered their father with love born of respect. Who among us would hope that others would look at our successes rather than defining us by our failures? My hand slides up as a Lover of Christ who has failed the Lord miserably many times. With this thought in mind, the rocks of gossip slowly slip from my hand one by one. I want to live in a glass house marked by righteousness and obedience to God with a past that is forgotten. However, to preserve this position, I must remove the rocks from within to insure the fragile construction of my new life in Christ remains through faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ which means loving others more than I love myself.

 

Psalm 15:1-3 (NLT)

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.

 

If you desire to live in the Presence of God, it is a wide open place. There are no secrets there because God sees through us directly into our heart. The motives which precede our words are noted by the Lord as He ushers His People into His Presence. Churches allow gossipers to come in. Homes swing wide their doors welcoming a good story or tale of woe. Offices and water coolers are the gathering place of wagging tongues and yes, even beloved Facebook is a breeding ground of useless fodder. But for those who desire to dwell in the House of the Lord and live in His Presence, believers like this have to live blameless lives. How in the world do we do that? Many choose lives of service and religious obedience, but this does not change the heart of God. He desires people who have sincere hearts and REFUSE to gossip or harm others or SPEAK EVIL of their friends. Didn’t see that one coming did you? Me either. One would think God desires a consecrated live of obedience like doing all the right things, not doing all the wrong things, paying all of the tithe and never missing church. No, Jesus has told us the greatest commandment is to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. If you want to live in the House of the Lord with His Presence every moment in your life, then gossip cannot remain in your mouth or heart. It has to go. It is a requirement to fully enter the Presence of God.

 

I Peter 4:7-11 (NLT)

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

 

It is time to clean the windows of the glass house of righteousness in which I long to live. My heart is tainted by a propensity to gossip. Even when the story is whispered only to one, it is safe to say that the damage is already done. Jesus is coming back and He knows the tales we tell. As the prophet in Isaiah 6:5,“So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  Jesus is not back yet. So there is still time! Repentance offers cleansing and healing. God will touch a coal to your lips but it is up to you to reserve your mouth for His Communication. While we wait for the Lord, our time is well spent loving others rather than talking about them. Opening our homes while demonstrating love rather than become a haven of gossipers looking for an excuse to talk, and living in glass houses of righteousness free for all to come in and experience the Presence of God. The spiritual gifts you have been given are to glorify God and while there are many do not restrain them with trivial conversation but productive prayers and encouragement when others need it most. Cover those who have fallen and lift them up with faith, hope and love. You will glorify God and the Light of His Love will shine through and the glass house in which you live will remain safe, too!