Saturday, August 12, 2006

Trust, Dwell, Delight, Commit, Wait

Woke up yesterday morning at 4:30. That’s nothing new lately. Every time that happens, I wonder if it is God waking me up like I often hear others talk about. I use the restroom, get a drink of water, and go back to bed. Sometimes, I go right back to sleep; but, usually, I drift in and out for the next hour or so…never really knowing how much sleep I am actually getting.

So, about 5:40, I finally got up. Check my email, the bank account, pay a couple of bills, drink my coffee, then read my Bible. Dave gave me part of a Bible Study in Leviticus-read some of that, it is really good. But, then really felt like I wanted to read some in Psalms. Not sure where to read, I just picked up where I left off a couple of weeks ago. It was Psalms 55.

I read the whole thing, but it happens to be the Psalm that John Bevere mentioned in The Bait of Satan about being offended. 12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.

Nothing really major, maybe just a reminder for God that He is working and has delivered me/us from being offended and unforgiving—I had no negative feelings when I read it this time, as I did before; just thoughts of ‘glad I am through with those feelings’.

But then I read verse 22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

This got me thinking. I think that I cast my burden on the Lord, but I guess I don’t like I should, or could. Then, because of a footnote, I went to Psalm 37. I started out reading just a couple of verses, 5-6 Commit (roll off onto) your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.
And the first part of 34 ¶ Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;

Ok. I guess I need to learn better how to cast my burden, commit everything I am, everything I have, and all decisions over to Him. I thought I was pretty good at it, but I guess not.

Ended up reading all of Psalm 37, and quite a few verses really jumped out. However, I don’t want to be one of those people that pick and choose certain verses to ‘claim’. Often, it just seems like selfishness. Why don’t I ever hear people claim verses like, Acts 9:16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake."
Anyway, it still seems like I read them for a reason this morning, especially when I read them right after all of the ‘cast your burden’ stuff…what really jumped out is in bold.

1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

7 ¶ Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret––it only causes harm.

11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

18 The LORD knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

21 ¶ The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice, And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide.

34 ¶ Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Power to the Weak

I know the Bible says not to worry but I am worried. We are praying, but then everything I think that we are supposed to do, does not work out. I can't figure out if I am not hearing God, if He is not speaking, or what. It is a dark time. We know that God is there, but when will He "show up"? After two years of constant struggle, I am at the end of my rope. But, then I read Job and I see there is more rope. It could be so much worse. I should be thankful that we have what we do.

But, I still cant help but wonder what in the world we are supposed to do.

Right now, I read a Psalm and John 13-14 almost every day. Yesterday, I was flipping channels and saw the Martha Bowman church service on. Since I am studying church and churches these days, I decided to take a look. The first thing he did, which seems absent in most of today's churches, is read the Bible. Not just one verse but many. (I wonder what would happen if churches quit preaching and trying to come up with illustrations? Instead, just read the Bible and maybe throw in a comment or two here and there.)

Anyway, he read Isaiah 40:18-31. It was like God speaking directly to me. Well, most of the passage is God speaking directly...

Then I get up this morning, turn on my computer, and open up my home page on the internet. On it, there is a verse-of-the-day. Today's was, 1st Peter 5:6-7. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. The first part, I think I am doing. The last part, I apparently don't know how. I feel anxious.

So, I look at my Quote-of-the-Day. It said Man does not live by a turkey in every oven or a color TV set in every home. Man lives by faith and hope and love, by the star on the horizon, by the trumpet that will not call retreat. - E. Merrill Root
I would like to retreat. I sometimes wish there were a way to. Well, I guess I dont really want to retreat, I am just tired and exhausted. I don't feel like I have a choice but to give up. But 'man lives by faith, hope, and love'. I feel loved, but faith and hope seem quite depleted. I remember that Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. And, that we actually live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. But, I will have to look up a few verses about hope.

I said a little prayer, grabbed my Bible, and turned to Isaiah 40. I read it and this jumped out:
27 ¶ Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: "My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God"?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

I have definitely said (and am currently saying) in so many words, that my way is hidden from the LORD (or at least seems that way), and my just claim is passed over by my God.

So, how do I obtain this power to the weak and strength to those who have no might? Just believe? Just receive? Ask for it? Or, is it already within? Maybe I will do all these things to make sure I have got it covered. Then maybe I won't worry.

And, maybe God is working much more than I will ever realize

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mansions of God

I have always read, viewed, heard, etc.; John 14:1-3 as the time when I go to heaven. Mansions being these magnificent homes to live in when my time on earth is done. I have heard that these mansions are literal from some preachers; and, figurative from others. I have also heard that we could “add to” our mansions by the good we do down here and “take away from” if we do wrong. But I have never heard or understood until recently, the truth of this passage…

John 14
1 ¶ “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

The word for ‘house’ is-- oikia (oy-kee’-ah)
1) a house
1a) an inhabited edifice, a dwelling
1b) the inmates of a house, the family
1c) property, wealth, goods

The word for ‘mansion’ is--mone (mon-ay’)
1) a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode
2) to make an (one’s) abode
3) metaph. of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers

So, it seems that the Father has a ‘house’ with many ‘dwellings’ or ‘abodes’. A house with many who ‘abide’.

Concerning the house: We know from 2 Cor 5:1 that God’s house is not heaven itself; but it is heavenly; or, eternal.
2Cor 5:1 ¶ For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

But the main thing that I am learning is this: Jesus was not talking about a later time when I go to heaven but later when He sends the Holy Spirit to abide with us. The word ‘mone’ (mansion) only appears twice in the whole Bible.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions <3438>: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode <3438> with him.

How it got interpreted as mansion, I do not know…unless mansion meant something totally different back then. But the important thing is that Jesus was not talking about a mansion as we know it. He was talking about eternally abiding with us. He was talking about preparing a place for us by his death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and sending the Holy Spirit. He was talking about being the Presence our midst; both now, and forever…with the climax being the great Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

One author paraphrases it like this: “If I and My Father come and make our home in you, you will understand what I meant when I said that My Father's house has many dwellings. You are our dwelling place, our mansions. My Father and I make our home in you; yet, you have your dwelling place in us. Thus, our house is in you and your house is in us. This is not a funeral service scripture. It is a present day reality expressing how I am the Presence in your midst.”

You can read the whole chapter here. (it’s not long)

I think I need to re-read John 14 with this in mind...

Friday, July 21, 2006

How Long?

19 How long? Will You not look away from me, And let me alone till I swallow my saliva?
20 Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, So that I am a burden to myself?
21 Why then do You not pardon my transgression, And take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust, And You will seek me diligently, But I will no longer be."
Job 7:19-21

2 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O LORD––how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
Psalms 6:2-4

1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
Psalms 13:1-4

3 Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
4 O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry Against the prayer of Your people?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in great measure.
6 You have made us a strife to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
Psalms 80: 3-7

13 Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalms 90:13-17

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Judge Not

Luke 6:37 ¶ “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

(This concept of judging can be quite confusing. And I am not sure if I have it right. Even while I was studying this, I came across one scripture where Paul instructs us to judge within the church. Then, I found another scripture where James is explaining that the wrong type of judgment is “speaking evil” of a brother. However, the heading for James 4:11 in one of the Bibles (inserted by well-meaning men) is “Do Not Judge A Brother”. The inserted text is not the Bible, but most people will not study this out. If they did, they would find that we are indeed supposed to Judge a Brother; and, that there is a wrong way and a right way to do it.)

One of the terrible things that has slipped into the Church: The idea that we are not to confront evil in the Body of Christ. Nor are we supposed to speak out against sin in the world, because then, we would be ‘judging’.

About 10 years ago, while I was working at Northrop, there was a general conversation about homosexuality. Sometime during the course of the conversation, someone stated that particular lifestyle is immoral and wrong. (Keep in mind that it was not mean, belligerent, crude, or demeaning.) I was surprised to hear other Christian people say things like, “Whoa, the Bible says, ‘Don’t judge’. Just because you don’t agree with someone, does not give you the right to judge.”

I wonder why we have a book in the Bible called ‘Judges’?

I have been thinking about this for years and watching how, in churches, we let good Christian people slowly destroy their lives because we are afraid to speak to them about a sin in their life. Then, I went to a church where a phrase (in my opinion) got way out of hand. “Accuser of the brethren”. I cannot remember how it first got started, but it produced an atmosphere such that if anyone pointed out wrong in another Christian’s life, they were lining themselves up with ‘the ministry of Satan’ as 'accuser of the brothers'

(I think that this started out being a sermon on gossip. The pastor was teaching that we should no go around just pointing out everyone’s faults…which is very true. But there ended up being an atmosphere where people stopped saying much at all and would overlook the obvious wrongs in peoples lives. Of course, there is the other extreme where people go around simply pointing out everything wrong in people’s lives! Both are wrong.)

We NEED loving, Biblical judgment in the Body of Christ. I need it. You need it. We are a Body that is supposed to be working together. At times, we should boldly confront sin in another part of the Body, helping them to make it right; and, we must also remain humble and open for others to point it out in our lives. We all have blind spots where we need another’s help.

Here is some commentary to better explain:
“[Judge not, that ye be not judged] This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. Romans 2:1, Luke 6:37 explains it in the sense of condemning. Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our forming an opinion of the conduct of others, for it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and of expressing such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed.

I think that 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 explains true Biblical judgment. We are instructed to judge, avoid, even “put away” someone “named a brother who is sexually immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard, or extortioner,” who is unrepentant and refuses to change.

James 4:11 explains wrong judgment--speaking evil of a brother.

There is a big difference between judging by speaking evil of another member of the Body of Christ and judging to help them.

In our heart, if we genuinely want to help someone to see where they are wrong, and lovingly & tenderly confront the issue, we are not the accuser of the brethren, but a true friend. However, if we only point out the faults of others, but never actually do anything but talk about them, then we are in the wrong.

May the Holy Spirit give us understanding in all of this.

Help...At the Break of Dawn

1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

Psalms 46:1-5

Friday, July 14, 2006

Arise For Our Help

23 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
24 Why do You hide Your face, And forget our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; Our body clings to the ground.
26 Arise for our help, And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.

Psalms 44:23-26

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Where is My God?

1 ¶ <> As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, "Where is your God?"
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Psalms 42:1-5

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Trap of Offense

My little world is being blown away. But I don’t think that I will be able to communicate with the same intensity that I feel. In reading The Bait of Satan, I am deeply convicted as the Word of God is being revealed. It is forcing me to re-live some moments in my life…

I am realizing that my current problem is that I was greatly offended by people that I call brothers; and, the trap of offense has held me in it jaws. Like David said in Psalms 55:12-14 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”

In my situation, I have been focused on how it all happened. While that may be a legitimate issue, that is not the root of my current problem. What happened, how it happened, etc., should most certainly be addressed if it was wrong, but that does not make it okay for me to get caught in the trap of offense. And because a trap, by its very nature, is hidden and deceiving, I have not realized it until now.

I have also realized the danger of being offended and how difficult it is for an offended brother or sister to recover. Matthew 24:10 says that being offended leads to betrayal, and betrayal to hatred…that is dangerous. Proverbs 18:19 compares restoring relationships where one was offened, to the difficulty of taking over a fortified city.

With those verses, at least I am beginning to understand why this has been the most difficult time of my life.

John Bevere begins with Luke 17:1--but look at the different ways that the word ‘offenses’ is translated in 4 different versions. ‘Offenses, stumbling blocks, temptations to sin, things that cause people to sin.’ I guess I see each of these words slightly different, and after further study, I see that offenses is the best word. It involves the concept of being in a trap, and a trap has the ability to immobilize you, not just make you stumble-or tempt you in some way.

The Greek word used is-skandalon skan’-dal-on ("scandal"). The first definition of skandalon is: “the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick” The word originally meant the part of the trap to which the bait was attached. Being offended, especially during times of ‘scandal’, is the deceitful bait on the trigger of a trap. When we become offended, and hold on to that offence, we trigger the trap, and are immobilized until we let go…something a lot easier said than done.

The second definition, by the way, is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling”. So, I can see why it is translated the way it is in the different versions. But, in the context, we see that Jesus is saying things like, “...if he [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day…”

[On a side note, after studying this word ‘offense’, I think that I will stick to my NKJV. Just think how misled we would be if we taught about stumling blocks instead of being offended. It’s a world of difference, to me. The KJV and NKJV seems much more accurate. But I will keep a couple of other versions nearby for comparison. However, the most important thing is to study…]

So, I am currently meditating on Luke 17:1-5. There is a lot there.
Jesus warns us about the trap of being offended
Jesus warns the one through whom the offenses come
Jesus says that the offender would be better off with a huge stone tied around his neck, and thrown into the sea, than to offend
Jesus explains the first steps when we are offended by a brother or sister: Bring it to their attention in a God-Honoring way, and forgive them as often as necessary.

And I love the apostles’ reply. There is no way for me to know exactly, but based on the way I feel after studying this, I see them sort of shaking their head in amazement, wondering how in the world they are going to obey this teaching. Then all they could say to the Lord was, “Increase our faith.”

And all I can say at this point is, “Lord, forgive me for holding on to offense. I forgive those who I perceive offended me. Help me to never be the offender, and always aware of the trap of offense. Most of all, Increase my faith.”

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Offended, Reading, Change

Looked into my small stash of books today. Looking for answers, I guess. Or at least comfort. Picked out four. The Geography of the Soul, by C. Welton Caddy. The Priest, by Francine Rivers. Breaking Intimidation and The Bait of Satan, both by John Bevere.

Picked The Bait of Satan for now, but leaving the others nearby. I have had this book for years. This particular copyright is 1994, and I think that I got it around 1995, and read most of it then. While it was interesting, it did not apply to me...until now.

It is about being offended by others, especially Christians; and, not being able to let go of the hurt because of how deep the pain goes. He uses words like betrayal. At one part, he says, “How sad that we can find example after example of offense, betrayal, and hatred among believers today. It is so rampant in our homes and churches that it is considered normal behavior…Ministry politics are played at an all-time high. It is disguised as being in the ‘best interest’ of the kingdom or the church.” That is almost exactly what I was told; then and as late as last week!! Wow, Maybe I will find some answers that I need to find.
But the bait of satan is not about what happened; the bait is me putting up walls to protect myself from future hurt, and leaving them up. Whats crazy, is that I know all of this, have consistently prayed against it, but I have to face the fact that I may be there anyway.

I can tell something is changing, but cannot tell what. I know, for the most part, it is deep inside; but, there is probably much more to it. But again, it may be something as simple as where to go to church. I don't know-just going with the flow.

Not really sure about God's Voice anymore, just doing the best I can...praying, reading the Bible, and guessing. But I decided to go back to the last thing that I know for sure that I heard from God. There are many instances over the last 5 or six years, that I thought at one time was God’s Voice, but the last thing that I know for sure (or think that I know for sure) was maybe 1997 or so…give or take a year.
I was at Northrop. I was going through my morning routine. Get up at 5a.m. or so, get a cup of coffee, my Bible, and sit down. First, watch the weather forecast and sip some coffee. Then, turn the TV off and read for about 15 minutes in my Bible. That particular morning, I chose to begin in Jeremiah, and read at least one chapter every morning. I did not make it past the first few verses. I read Jeremiah 1:1-12, but when I got to Jeremiah 1:4-12, I had to stop. All I could do was cry.

So, last week, I read that again. Nothing major; but, I am meditating on it all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Stir Up The Nest"

My disclaimer: There are many people out in the world that have used this phrase (including myself); and, it seems to be gaining in popularity. I have heard it several times in the past two years concerning me and my life. In fact, that is how my difficulties began—someone used this phrase as part of the reason for changing the course of my life. In retrospect, I handled it all wrong. But I digress…I only mention that to say that I have given the phrase a lot of thought and have determined, that we are all idiots. (again, including myself)

Maybe that is a little harsh. Maybe I should have used the word ‘ignorant’--referring to our lack of knowledge, yet thinking that we do know, we run with it anyway.

My intentions are to get us all (especially including myself) to think and study a little more before we latch on to and use popular phrases and concepts thinking they are Biblical. When we do this, we naturally gravitate to using these phrases and concepts for our own self-motivated agendas. Or, at best, we are shallow.

Anyway, here are my current thoughts on this concept of God kicking people “out of the nest”…

When I first heard it, I believe that it was a sermon concerning the necessity for God to move us out of our comfort zone so that we would not get ‘fat and lazy’. Sometimes, God has to stir up the nest so that we will fly into what God has designed for us; and, I think that is fairly Biblical. In fact, the mother eagle has been known to take the nest apart so that the eaglet will not have a place to get comfortable. I think that we have all experienced this in our walk with God.

The Bible text seems to be Deut 32:11. As long as God is the one stirring up the nest, it will be fine, because He will always do the next part—“…spread His wings and catch them, and carry them…” In fact, when you read the context of that verse, the main thing up to this point is that God will take care of us.

Here is where it gets tricky…when we, being the humans that we are, take this concept and use it to make decisions on our own, instead of really and truly finding out what God wants to do. For instance, if I am wanting to accomplish a particular goal in my ministry, even a good, decent goal, it is easy to dismiss someone who does not fit, assuming that God is orchestrating the whole event. In reality, God may be allowing it, but in the heart, we are wrong because our motivation is inward on self, not outward towards the one being dismissed. I know…I did this in a way; and, later, it was done to me.

This brings up another phrase… “Whatever happens, God either allows or plans”. Yes, but that cannot be an excuse for doing the wrong thing. If I hit my wife, I cannot simply walk away and say, “God allowed that to happen…” We will all be held accountable for what we do, even if God does plan or allow it. There is still the neccesstiy for saying, “I was wrong” and making it right. But again, I digress…

Here is my main point: “God…has to kick you out of the nest…” If we are going to use that analogy, let’s use it in its entirety--especially if the decision is, humanly speaking, ours. A mother eagle knows when the time is right to kick her babies out of the comfort of the nest; and, she swoops down under the eaglet before it hits the rocks. This will go on for as many times as it takes, until he learns to fly. If we really feel that God is working through us to stir up someone’s nest, we must also be responsible for swooping down and carrying the baby eagle. If we don’t, the baby eagle will hit the rocks and may never fly.

I don’t think that God would speak to anyone and tell them to do the first half (kick out of the nest) but not the second half (help them to fly on their own). If we don’t do both parts, we will have crippled eagles that need healing. Just look around, you will probably see several...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mysterious Ways

This began as a personal Bible study concerning the quote, “God works in mysterious ways.” However, it turned into something totally different. Before posting it as a blog, I usually edit so that it will ‘flow’. But this time, I just let it ride. (I hope you enjoy this brief trip into how my mind works.) In the end, I learned that while I don’t really like using, or hearing, the aforementioned quote, (it has become too cliché) it is somewhat true at our human level. What began as my own research into the Bible concerning that quote, meandered through some thoughts about Bible translations, and ended up on 1 Corinthians 14; where I think I heard the Voice say, “You need to get back to praying privately in tongues, now that you realize a little better what you are really doing.” And lastly, a reminder of the Power of Peace as a result of Pursuit through Prayer.

The phrase “God works in mysterious ways” is quoted quite often; and, it is a fairly accurate statement. His ways can be difficult to understand-especially when He allows ‘more than we can handle’ in our life. But are His ways really mysterious-in the way that we understand that word? I did a word search in five different versions and here are the results.

One thing jumps out at me. The word mysterious is used often in the NLT, which is the only version that I will not read. I have run into too many verses that give an idea that is simply not what the original text says. In the past, I would use it as a study aid when I ran across a particular text that was difficult to understand. Too often, as I did word studies, I found that the NLT was slightly off. There are too many other versions out there that are just as easy to read, whose translations are far more accurate. As I understand it, most Bible scholars say that some of the most accurate translations are as follows:
King James (KJV or AV [Authorized Version])
New King James (NKJV)
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
Darby’s Translation (DARBY)
American Standard (ASB)
New American Standard (NASB)
New International Version (NIV)
Amplified Version

The NKJV, NIV, ASB, NASB are all easy to read. In fact, I understand that the NASB is the most accurate ‘modern’ translation; and, it is surprisingly easy to read. The Amplified Version is a great one to read if you want to know the meaning of some words as you read along without having to look them up in the Strong’s Concordance/Dictionary. (Don’t use an English dictionary to look up definitions of words in the Bible. While it may be accurate at times, often, it is slightly off. Use a Bible Dictionary or Strong’s)

Here are four versions side by side of 1 Corinthians 14:1-3, looking particularly at verse 2 and the use of speaking mysteries as opposed to being mysterious.
In the last part of 1 Corinthians 14:2, the NLT says, “You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious”. However, the other versions say, “…in his spirit, he speaks mysteries.”

To the casual Bible reader, this is may be nothing; but, there is a big difference between being mysterious and speaking mysteries. When praying to God privately in tongues, I would much rather know that the Spirit is speaking mysteries through me, rather than the whole thing simply being mysterious.

I feel that this is one of those things that happen in us without even realizing it. We read ‘mysterious’ instead of ‘speaking mysteries’, and just don’t get the whole picture. We sell ourselves short and don’t walk in fullness.

Hmmmm….maybe that is what this is all about. I should not fret too much about a cliché phrase; instead, I should understand what one is really doing when praying in tongues, and get back into that discipline.

Maybe God does work in mysterious ways; or, at least in ways that we cannot understand. But even that is not really the issue. The issue is that when things happen to us that we can’t comprehend, we can receive peace that passes comprehension.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

God will not put more on you than you can handle?

It’s tough right now. It is to the point of giving up; however, decisions must be made. Things must get done. There is no stopping. Yet, I am not sure what to do or how to do it. What do you do when you and your spouse are both working full time jobs, but you still can’t afford a much needed ‘new’ used car? What do you do when you can’t afford the rent where you are staying, but you can’t find another place to live? What do you do when…? I am just guessing my way through this.

Thinking back, I was at a job that where I had been for almost 10 years and had worked my way up to 18/hr. Left that job to follow the Voice of God. I continued to follow that Voice for three years. But, in 2004, almost the exact opposite of what I heard that Voice say occurred. Instead of changing roles, and staying there 4-5 more years, we were gone in 4-5 weeks! Went from being able to pay all of our bills on time and having dependable transportation, to bankruptcy in 6 months. Since then, I have had 4 different jobs and one period of unemployment. Did I miss something? It may sound like I am blaming people or circumstances, but the real issue is with me and God Himself; and, the fact that there does not seem to be a Voice anymore.

Maybe there is a Voice, but I don’t trust it. Maybe the voice that I had grown accustomed to was not really The Voice that I thought it was. Maybe this, maybe that…I have been absolutely clueless for the past two years. The only thing that I can trust right now, is the Bible. I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust my prayer life, I don’t trust preachers/ministers/churches, I don’t trust well-meaning people, and I have realized that there is not, and never will be, a ‘safe place' anywhere. (It's not that I 'dis-trust', or think that people are out to get me, but I don't trust either. I just feel nothing.) That leaves me with only one thing to do, or I die…read my Bible consistently…even if I don’t seem to be getting anything out of it. And, I continue to pray—hoping that one day something will ‘click’ again.

As I think back over all of that and wonder about our future…I think about a phrase that I have heard often over the years—“God will not put more on you than you can handle.” Really? Usually we even add, “That’s what the Bible says”. Then why do we get to a point where we can’t handle any more? Why do people have nervous breakdowns? Why are people hospitalized because of exhaustion?

I have not yet found this concept in the Bible. I think that we get this idea from 1 Corinthians 10:13, but this speaks to temptation…not difficulties of life. What I do see in the Bible is plenty of examples of having more than one can handle. Here are just a few:

· A fiery furnace is definitely more than I could handle. Daniel 3:17-18; (I can’t handle these 100 degree days in middle Georgia.)
· Destitute, ill-treated Christians who did not receive what was promised. Hebrews 11:37-40;
· Paul asking God to remove a messenger of Satan, and God doesn’t. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
· Paul describes what, in my opinion, is more than he could handle. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30;
· And of course, there is Job. I should probably read all 42 chapters at this time. Who could handle all of this? And God is orchestrating the whole thing! Then, in James, we see all of that summed up. James 5:11;

I believe that God not only allows more than we can handle, He makes sure that we will have more than we can handle. We pray against it, we call it an attack from the enemy, we ask God to remove us from it, and all sorts of things. However, we should expect it. We should even be content, almost happy, about it. We should even brag about it?

WHY? So that we will become totally dependent on Him. Wouldn’t it better to walk victoriously throught the shadow of death instead of delivered from it? He puts more than we can handle on us, to break us. It has to happen. The Relationship cannot go deeper until it does. The focus should instead be on our response to difficulties, not the difficulties themselves. So, I find encouragement in the following:

Heb 12:4 ¶ You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Jas 5:10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

1Pet 1:6 ¶ In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith––the salvation of your souls.

Rev 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Dews of Grace Fall Heavily in the Night of Sorrow

Devotional from Charles Spurgeon
June 1-Morning {Daily Reading: Ezra 1:1-2:70}

"The evening and the morning were the first day." {#Ge 1:5}

Was it so even in the beginning? Did light and darkness divide the realm of time in the first day? Then little wonder is it if I have also changes in my circumstances from the sunshine of prosperity to the midnight of adversity. It will not always be the blaze of noon even in my soul concerns, I must expect at seasons to mourn the absence of my former joys, and seek my Beloved in the night. Nor am I alone in this, for all the Lord’s beloved ones have had to sing the mingled song of judgment and of mercy, of trial and deliverance, of mourning and of delight. It is one of the arrangements of Divine providence that day and night shall not cease either in the spiritual or natural creation till we reach the land of which it is written, "there is no night there." What our heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.

What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do? Learn first to be content with this divine order, and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord as well as good. Study next, to make the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. Praise the Lord for the sun of joy when it rises, and for the gloom of evening as it falls. There is beauty both in sunrise and sunset, sing of it, and glorify the Lord. Like the nightingale, pour forth thy notes at all hours. Believe that the night is as useful as the day. The dews of grace fall heavily in the night of sorrow. The stars of promise shine forth gloriously amid the darkness of grief. Continue thy service under all changes. If in the day thy watchword be labour, at night exchange it for watch. Every hour has its duty, do thou continue in thy calling as the Lord’s servant until he shall suddenly appear in his glory. My soul, thine evening of old age and death is drawing near, dread it not, for it is part of the day; and the Lord has said, "I will cover him all the day long."

Pitied and Tended by Divine Providence

Devotional from Charles Spurgeon
June 1-Evening

"He will make her wilderness like Eden." {#Isa 51:3}

Methinks, I see in vision a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like to the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye, all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. What an appalling sight! How horrible! a sea of sand without a bound, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a race forlorn!

But behold and wonder! Upon a sudden, upspringing from the scorching sand I see a plant of renown; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands—it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and, miracle of miracles! as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms exceedingly, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Call it not Sahara, call it Paradise. Speak not of it any longer as the valley of deathshade, for where the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, behold a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal.

Jesus is that plant of renown, and his presence makes all things new. Nor is the wonder less in each individual’s salvation. Yonder I behold you, dear reader, cast out, an infant, unswathed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, left to be food for beasts of prey. But lo, a jewel has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and tended by divine providence, you are washed and cleansed from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven’s family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand—you are now a prince unto God, though once an orphan, cast away. O prize exceedingly the matchless power and grace which changes deserts into gardens, and makes the barren heart to sing for joy.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fishers of Men Introduction

Looking for a church is getting more and more difficult. Most churches that I know of are following the modern day current of ‘baiting’ to get people in to their service. I don’t know if I am right in thinking that this is not good…but it does not feel right. Even if I could prove it wrong, I don’t know what I would or could do about it. While it is easy to justify most things, I keep reading the New Testament and I cannot find anything close to what we do today (in most churches anyway).

I think that my only real choice is to become a part of a church that is close as possible to the NT model. Once there, find out what Jesus would have me do personally, especially in the area of discipleship. Then, don’t worry about all the other stuff; just do what HE tells me.

More importantly, listen for his voice all of the time while out in the world; because that is how you really catch people for the kingdom.

Following is a two-part study for the truth concerning “Fishers of Men”…a concept that seems a little misconstrued in my opinion in the church of today. It may sound negative, but I don’t mean to be…just want to know what the Holy Spirit originally intended.

Fishers of Men-part 1

18 ¶ And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus keeps the analogy overly simple for us about making His disciples fishers of men. However, in my opinion, it seems to be misunderstood by so many people. The illustrations based on this passage usually go something like this: “We need to be fishers of men. To be effective fishermen we need to have a good fishing rod, we need to use the right kind of bait, and we need to reel those unbelievers in! [And most of the time, there is an emphasis on ‘bait’]. We must change the bait from time to time because our culture changes.”

The phrase ‘fishers of men’ is the only part of this passage that I hear any more. It is lifted out and a whole new system is born that was never meant to be. Instead of the ‘local church’ being a place where believers gather for discipleship, Bible Study, edification, and personal ministry to those who lack in any area, it has turned into a ‘fishing hole’. The idea is to get as many unsaved or ‘unchurched’ people into the congregation by baiting them with something they like, then reel them in with the gospel show. But very few of us see this as a problem because we are a part of the system; and, it works so well. The end justifies the means. People are saved; so, it must be right.

By accepting this concept, we now have an open license to become like the world…but only if we are trying to catch fish. I have seen it often and have been guilty myself. To be ‘relevant’, we change our hair color/style, grow facial hair or shave, wear the latest style clothes, use lots and lots of technology, etc. One of my favorites is the ‘stool and table’ that many speakers have gone to. Why? It depends on who you ask. You will get varying answers, but the consistent theme is ‘relevance’. A large number of books have been written devoted to this cause. There was (and I think still is) a periodic magazine called “Relevant”. I know, I used to read some of these things. In fact, it easily got to the point where a I was spending more energy learning the ‘how to’s’ rather than “Following”.

This particular passage, and how we use it, is a great example of how much we lack in our personal Bible knoweldge and/or conviction; which I believe is our biggest problem today. Ministers who are gifted in teaching the Bible have even abandoned their gift in order to be relevant or to preach a relevant message... and we will contiue to do so because being relevant increases attendance; and, this will push all of our ‘self’ buttons.We have developed a church culture where we spoon or bottle feed the congrgation at best.

In fairness, I must say two things: First, I don’t have all the answers and I am not sure what to do. And even if I did, I don’t know that I would do it. Right now, I think that I am in a major transition stage of observing, learning, and trying to understand from this new angle that I have found myself in…and I have a very long way to go.
Second, many of these same churches are trying to develop discipleship small groups that meet on Sunday nights or sometime during the week. I understand that Celebrate Recovery is a good discipleship time. I have met a few people that go for the learning and personal ministry, even though they are not ‘recovering’ from anything. Another church that I know have seems to have the small group thing going on. It is their main focus. Build the small groups and, by the way, we can meet on Sundays for large group fellowship. (Most churches have the opposite approach—build the large gathering, then get them plugged in to small groups. The problem is that if you baited them to church, you have to bait them to discipleship.) It seems that in the Biblical New Testament Church, it was meant to be a gathering of Jesus Followers, not a fishing hole.

Fishers of Men-part 2

18 ¶ And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-22

If we impose our modern-day presuppositions about fishing onto this passage we walk away with an interpretation that is foreign to the meaning Jesus intended. The men Jesus called to be His disciples in this passage were fishermen. Their method of catching fish did not involve rod and reel, though that method certainly did exist in that time and is even mentioned in the Bible (Matthew 17:27). However, the method was to cast a net. So, to begin with, we need to at least form our modern day church strategies around casting a net into an open sea, instead of baiting a hook at the local fishing hole.

But even this does not seem to be the truest meaning of the passage. And in this case, it only involves a little study and meditaiton about three things.
1- Follow Me
2- I will make
3- They immedieatly left

“Follow me” means much more than “Get behind me and go where I go”. When a rabbi told someone to ‘follow me’, that was an imperitave command to “become who I am”. Not just observe, but learn and BE. In our culture today, we tend to skip over the full meaning of ‘follow me’ and go to fishing for men. We think that because we are born-again christians and have some form of discipline, we are following Him. This is especially true of those who have “given up everything to follow the call into full-time ministry”. I know, I walked there…and it can be a very deceitful path. You really think you are following as Jesus intended, but you are really following self for the most part. And it is virtually impossible to be convinced otherwise.

“I will make” is what Jesus will do. We don’t become fisherman. Jesus makes us fisherman. It is not our prerogative, it is His. We should not need to read books to become relevant so that we make ourselves fishermen; we abandon our own methods and allow Jesus to make us.

“They immediately left” three things in this passage. What do you think that these three things meant to the disciples at that time, what do they mean to the church of today, and what do they mean to you personally?

The left their Nets.(In the first case, they left the net they were casting. In the next, they left the net that they were mending.)
They left their Boat.
They left their Father.

Fishers of Men-Conclusion

The only way to truly become Fishers of Men is to forsake all and become so wrapped up in the Rabbi and his Life, that we begin to sound and act like Him. It is choosing Relationships over Relevance. Relevance causes us to focus on the wrong thing. Relationships causes us to focus on the right thing.

To abandon all, follow Jesus, become like Him, is our one and only mission, until He makes us. A willingness to give up self, put down the methods of the world, and immediately obey is at the center of this transformation. He then makes us and empowers us to cast the net of the gospel into the open sea of the world, fullfilling HIS mission.

I think that we will find this to be a much more effective way to accomplish His Will on earth, if we follow this as He orginally intended.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Once again the enemy seems to be succeeding in preoccupying the Church with the unnecessary. I have been hearing about churches organizing boycotts, and instructing members that seeing the movie will damage their faith.
What a sad statement. If watching a movie undermines one’s faith, that is a pretty weak faith…and just more proof that the Church lacks in true discipleship. It seems to me that our reaction is all wrong. I see this as a great opportunity to learn how better to “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” 1 Peter 3:14-16 for the whole thought process.

And maybe these churches are doing that. I was behind a lady at Office Depot the other day, where she had just made copies of a flyer for her church. I noticed that they were going to discuss the Da Vinci Code in detail as it compares to the Bible. I have also seen several church marquees inviting people in for that reason.

I hope that they are handling it right. My fear is that it will produce in people a sort attitude which says, “I am right and you are wrong, and if you disagree with me, I will show you how wrong you are by pounding you with my big Bible until I drive you away or you shut up. Or, I will simply isolate you from my world. [Because my faith is too weak to actually Love you unconditionally and engage you in intelligent conversation] And in the meantime I will certainly boycott that movie! [However, I will not 'boycott' certain other movies, or TV shows that I have no business seeing. And the reason that I am acting this way is because I am a weak, immature Christian with little or no faith of my own…I have only what I get at church on Sundays and Wednesdays]

By the way, have you read the definition of boycott? The words ‘coercion’ and ‘isolation’ are used to describe it. Is this what Jesus intends for us to do?…isolate and coerce the unsaved--or those brothers and sisters who are weak in Faith? I think not.

Josh McDowell has written a book entitled, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers. (If interested, go here. I have not read it yet, but I have ordered it.) I think Mr. McDowell has a far better approach than the majority of churches. Following are a few excerpts from his study notes that can be downloaded free; also here, under Additional Resources. Pay special attention to ‘Conversation’and ‘Cooperation’.

DEDICATION: …the character in the book who invites his friends Matt and Andrea to meet for spiritual conversations revolving around The Da Vinci Code—is a Christian, who…is intentionally pursuing the Christian’s mission of sharing the good news with others.

PREPARATION: …Chris has prepared to give an answer..he’s already read The Da Vinci Code and he’s all set to invite his friends to learn more with him.

CONVERSATION: …most of Chris’s interaction involves asking questions. He didn’t preach at them; he invited them, asked them, interacted with them—even learned a few things from them. That’s a good model for all of us, to enter true spiritual conversations, talking and listening, giving and taking, asking and answering, in sincere interest and cooperation.

“COOPERATION: One of the best things you’ll see Chris doing…is entering into a process of mutual discovery with Matt and Andrea. He involves them in researching questions they all have, instead of merely telling them what he wants them to know. He asks them for input and feedback, and lets them see and hear who he really is and what he really believes, even as he learns more about them and what they believe. He never seems to forget that they are his friends, and that they deserve to be treated with gentleness and respect.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Rapture?

In the late 1980’s, a booklet came out entitled, “88 Reasons the Rapture Could Occur in 1988”. It caused quite a stir. I was 22 years old, and working at Zantop. I had recently turned my life around, started going to church; and, more importantly, began studying the Bible for myself on a regular basis—in order to develop a more intimate, personal Relationship with Jesus.

Because those that I worked with were aware of my new commitment, they were involving me in many discussions concerning this booklet. Finally, I obtained a copy for myself. It was very persuasive, and was filled with Scripture verses which seemed to prove the point; but, I did not feel good about it. Thinking it best not to try arguing against it, I would simply say something like, “It really does not matter ‘when’ to a born-again Christian; it only matters ‘when’ to the unsaved. Where do you stand?”

Last week, I brought this subject up to a friend of mine; and, he remembers his pastor preaching regularly from the booklet. In fact, I understand that there were lots of preachers using this booklet from the pulpit telling people to get ready for the rapture that was to occur between Sept 11 & Sept 13, 1988.

Why bring this all up? First of all, to try to clear up some confusion. If you do an internet search concerning the rapture, you will find a large volume of material. After reading through a few pages, I realized that it was a dead end. Most articles are written by people who heard from God. However, person number one (who heard from God) says one thing about the rapture; and, person number two (who also heard from God) says something else which contradicts the other…and so on and so forth.

Secondly, I have been reading through 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. It seems that what we call the rapture, is addressed in both books. (Maybe there was a ‘scroll-et’ going around…”50 Reasons that Jesus is Coming Back in A.D. 50”?) I don’t know, but there seems to have been some confusion back then also—concerning the return of Jesus to gather up all of the Church.

One should definitely read all of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians to get the full picture, but for now, take a look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; especially verses 3 & 4.

It seems that most confusion in this world would be cleared up...if we would just read our Bible.

Oh, here is a little summary of what happened to the “88 Reasons” booklet…

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A little concerned...

When I was somewhere around 20 years old, God showed me that I was definitely going down the wrong path. I felt that I had to get right with Him. At the time, I was not sure what all that meant, so I decided to stop doing the things that I thought were wrong.

One of those things was my language. There is so much to say about this; and, some of it is debated quite often. Like, “Who or What decides what a ‘cuss word’ is?” I even heard a pastor say, “It is not what you say that matters, it is the condition of your heart when you say it.”

I don’t know. My question is, “Why do we insist on getting as close as we can to the ‘line’ without going over it? Why don’t we look towards God and away from the world instead of towards the world and away from God?”

There are some things in this world that will always be in the gray area. Like eating, going to the movies, an occasional drink, and other things that bring us pleasure of some sort. But there are some things that God seems to be pretty clear about, and to me, language is one of them.
Ephesians 4:29--Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

I have often heard the meaning of ‘corrupt’ debated. It is sad that we get stuck there, instead of moving forward and at leaste eliminating every word that does not edify (build up) and/or impart grace to those who hear our words.

There are many words commonly used today that I have never heard in an edifying way…most of them ‘cuss words’, but there are also many other words that we just throw around not understanding that “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:20-21

If you are 40 or over, then you have seen the decline in our language. It used to be unfit and unusual to hear a female say a bad word; but now it is the norm. At one time, a male would not say certain words unless they were really, really angry about something. Twenty years ago, you could watch several hours of TV without hearing a single bad word; but today, it seems that you can’t watch for five minutes. I wish I could blame TV or the movies or something on the demoralizing decline of our language…however, it really is quite simply, the condition of our heart. We cater to our sinful flesh and actually want to hear and say inappropriate words! It makes us feel better for the moment. However, it appears that we will be justified or condemned by our own words...

Mt 12:34 “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Mt 12:35 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Mt 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
Mt 12:37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

So, where do we go from here? Maybe a good starting place is to go back to something that worked years ago. Maybe we should eliminate, or at least greatly limit, anything that God would not approve of going into our hearts. This would automatically limit the amount of corrupt words coming out of our hearts. The only problem here is that we no longer really know what God approves or disapproves of. It is going to take some deliberate thinking, praying, and reading if we are going to accomplish this mission.

What if we kept some sort of notebook with us this week and jotted down every song, every show, every movie, every word, every conversation, etc, that we are pretty sure that God would not approve of. Ok, at least make a mental note of it. And of course, it would help by looking up what God says about our language in the Bible. (Click on ‘R261’ for a list of similar verses)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Evil-What is it?

Satan worship? Any disobedience to the Ten Commandments? Anything against God?

Evil is a word that I have often overlooked. I think that I only associate it with ‘bad’ sins…like murder, stealing, hurting others on purpose; or, I associate it with the devil or demons. But, when we are admonished in 1st Thessalonians 5 to abstain from evil in every form, I realize that this letter was addressed to Christians…born again believers…like me. So, today, in this society, in my life…what is evil so that I may stay away from it? More importantly, what is the Biblical definition of evil?

The best general Biblical definition that I can find is “not such as it ought to be”; referring primarily to the nature of someone or something as opposed to its effects.

In the New Testament, there are at least three different translations for evil.

“kakos” frequently means evil rather negatively, referring to the absence of the qualities which constitute a person or thing what it should be or what it claims to be. It is also used meaning evil in a moral sense. (Every verse with 'kakos')

**Does my heart truly match what I claim to be or project on the outside?

“poneros” is a word stronger and more active, it means mischief-making, delighting in injury, doing evil to others, dangerous, destructive. kakos describes the quality according to its nature, poneros, according to its effects. (Every verse with 'poneros')

**Do the effects of my actions injure others in any way? Sometimes, the only way that I can see if there is hidden evil in my heart, is to look at the effects of my actions.

“phaulos” is the bad chiefly as the worthless, the good for nothing.”
(Every verse with 'phaulos')

Evil-'kakos'-every NT instance

Evil- “kakos kak-os” frequently means evil rather negatively, referring to the absence of the qualities which constitute a person or thing what it should be or what it claims to be. It is also used meaning evil in a moral sense.

Here is everywhere that 'kakos' occurs in the NT. (Notice that the word evil is not always the English word used; however, it is the same word in the Greek language.) I like to print stuff like this out, read over it, and maybe look up the chapter to see the context.

Mt 21:41 They said to Him, "He will destroy those wicked men <2556> miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons."
Mt 24:48 "But if that evil <2556> servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’
Mt 27:23 Then the governor said, "Why, what evil <2556> has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!"
Mr 7:21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil <2556> thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Mr 15:14 Then Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil <2556> has He done?" But they cried out all the more, "Crucify Him!"
Lu 16:25 "But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things <2556>; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
Lu 23:22 Then he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil <2556> has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go."
Joh 18:23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil <2556>; but if well, why do you strike Me?"
Ac 9:13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm <2556> he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
Ac 16:28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm <2556>, for we are all here."
Ac 23:9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, "We find no evil <2556> in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God."
Ac 28:5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm <2556>.
Ro 1:30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things <2556>, disobedient to parents,
Ro 2:9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil <2556>, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
Ro 3:8 And why not say, "Let us do evil <2556> that good may come"? ––as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
Ro 7:19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil <2556> I will not to do, that I practice.
Ro 7:21 I find then a law, that evil <2556> is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
Ro 9:11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil <2556>, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
Ro 12:17 Repay no one evil <2556> for evil <2556>. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
Ro 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil <2556>, but overcome evil <2556> with good.
Ro 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil <2556>. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
Ro 13:4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil <2556>, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil <2556>.
Ro 13:10 Love does no harm <2556> to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Ro 14:20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil <2556> for the man who eats with offense.
Ro 16:19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil <2556>.
1Co 10:6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil <2556> things as they also lusted.
1Co 13:5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil <2556>;
1Co 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil <2556> company corrupts good habits."
2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad <2556>.
2Co 13:7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil <2556>, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified.
Php 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil <2556> workers, beware of the mutilation!
Col 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil <2556> desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
1Th 5:15 See that no one renders evil <2556> for evil <2556> to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil <2556>, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
2Ti 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm <2556>. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
Tit 1:12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil <2556> beasts, lazy gluttons."
Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil <2556>.
Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil <2556>, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
Jas 3:8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil <2556>, full of deadly poison.
1Pe 3:9 not returning evil <2556> for evil <2556> or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
1Pe 3:10 For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil <2556>, And his lips from speaking deceit.
1Pe 3:11 Let him turn away from evil <2556> and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.
1Pe 3:12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil <2556>."
3Jo 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil <2556>, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
Re 2:2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil <2556>. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
Re 16:2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul <2556> and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

Evil-'poneros'- every NT instance

“poneros pon-ay-ros” is a word stronger and more active, it means mischief-making, delighting in injury, doing evil to others, dangerous, destructive.

kakos describes the quality according to its nature;
poneros , according to its effects.

Here is everywhere this word (poneros) is found in the NT.

Mt 5:11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil <4190> against you falsely for My sake.
Mt 5:37 "But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil <4190> one.
Mt 5:39 "But I tell you not to resist an evil <4190> person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Mt 5:45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil <4190> and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mt 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil <4190> one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Mt 6:23 "But if your eye is bad <4190>, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Mt 7:11 "If you then, being evil <4190>, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Mt 7:17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad <4190> fruit.
Mt 7:18 "A good tree cannot bear bad <4190> fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Mt 9:4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil <4190> in your hearts?
Mt 12:34 "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil <4190>, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Mt 12:35 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil <4190> man out of the evil <4190> treasure brings forth evil things <4190>.
Mt 12:39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil <4190> and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Mt 12:45 "Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked <4190> generation."
Mt 13:19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked <4190> one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
Mt 13:38 "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked <4190> one.
Mt 13:49 "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked <4190> from among the just,
Mt 15:19 "For out of the heart proceed evil <4190> thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
Mt 16:4 "A wicked <4190> and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.
Mt 18:32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked <4190> servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
Mt 20:15 ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil <4190> because I am good?’
Mt 22:10 "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad <4190> and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Mt 25:26 "But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked <4190> and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
Mr 7:22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil <4190> eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
Mr 7:23 "All these evil things <4190> come from within and defile a man."
Lu 3:19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils <4190> which Herod had done,
Lu 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil <4190>, For the Son of Man’s sake.
Lu 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil <4190>.
Lu 6:45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil <4190> man out of the evil <4190> treasure of his heart brings forth evil <4190>. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Lu 7:21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil <4190> spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.
Lu 8:2 and certain women who had been healed of evil <4190> spirits and infirmities––Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
Lu 11:4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one <4190>."
Lu 11:13 "If you then, being evil <4190>, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Lu 11:29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, "This is an evil <4190> generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Lu 11:34 "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad <4190>, your body also is full of darkness.
Lu 19:22 "And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked <4190> servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.
Joh 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil <4190>.
Joh 7:7 "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil <4190>.
Joh 17:15 "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one <4190>.
Ac 17:5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil <4190> men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
Ac 18:14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked <4190> crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.
Ac 19:12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil <4190> spirits went out of them.
Ac 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil <4190> spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches."
Ac 19:15 And the evil <4190> spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?"
Ac 19:16 Then the man in whom the evil <4190> spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Ac 28:21 Then they said to him, "We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil <4190> of you.
Ro 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil <4190>. Cling to what is good.
1Co 5:13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person <4190>."
Ga 1:4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil <4190> age, according to the will of our God and Father,
Eph 5:16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil <4190>.
Eph 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil <4190> day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one <4190>.
Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked <4190> works, yet now He has reconciled
1Th 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil <4190>.
2Th 3:2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked <4190> men; for not all have faith.
2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one <4190>.
1Ti 6:4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil <4190> suspicions,
2Ti 3:13 But evil <4190> men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2Ti 4:18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil <4190> work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil <4190> heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil <4190> conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Jas 2:4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil <4190> thoughts?
Jas 4:16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil <4190>.
1Jo 2:13 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one <4190>. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.
1Jo 2:14 I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one <4190>.
1Jo 3:12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one <4190> and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil <4190> and his brother’s righteous.
1Jo 5:18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one <4190> does not touch him.
1Jo 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one <4190>.
2Jo 1:11 for he who greets him shares in his evil <4190> deeds.
3Jo 1:10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words <4190>. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
Re 16:2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome <4190> sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

Evil-'phaulos'- every NT instance

Evil-“phaulos fow’-los is the bad chiefly as the worthless, the good for nothing.

Joh 3:20 "For everyone practicing evil <5337> hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
Joh 5:29 "and come forth––those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil <5337>, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Tit 2:8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil <5337> to say of you.
Jas 3:16 For where envy and self–seeking exist, confusion and every evil <5337> thing are there.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Warn, Comfort, or Uphold?

1 Thessalonians 5:14--Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

There seems to be inside all of us a desire to accuse, blame, then try to fix another. Rarely do I hear any of us speak about how wrong we are…only how wrong everyone else is. Then, we find a verse like 1 Thess 5:14, and quote just the first part—“…warn the unruly”. So, we set on a mission to warn (fix) people who are not living in ways that we do not agree with. However, we really need to understand what is going on here as it leads us towards abstaining from every appearance of evil.

Warn the unruly-- disorderly, idle persons, not working at all, busying themselves with other men’s matters. Often used to describe a lazy, rebellious soldier. Also used to describe people who did not show up for work, and one who is contentious, quarrelsome, headstrong, and causes strife & division.
These type of people need strong, often sharp (yet loving), reproof for their sloth. Exhort them to work with their own hands, and to get busy working in God’s Kingdom. NOTE: it says warn, not ‘fix’. Warning is our job. ‘Fixing’ is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.

Comfort the fainthearted—those who have experienced great loss of any sort. Staggering under the weight of taking up their cross daily, and at the reproaches and persecutions of the world; are almost overcome with the temptations of Satan; and are down and discouraged with the corruptions of their own hearts and minds.
To these, speak a comfortable word; encourage them with the doctrines of grace, and the promises of the Gospel. The overall idea is to speak God’s Word to them in order to calm, console, and encourage.

Uphold the weak-- weak in faith and knowledge. These are to the point of not being able to do it on their on; as it seems with Jesus. They desperately need someone to support them, walk with them, and carry their burden for a while, as directed in Romans 15:1;
It seems that this is where we fail the most. Comforting the fainthearted takes time, upholding the weak takes time and energy. May the Lord help us to be more attentive to the needs of the fainthearted and the weak.

Be patient with all-- towards the unruly, the feebleminded, and the weak. And don’t get these things mixed up. For instance, don’t strongly rebuke the weak or fainthearted. And don’t carry the burden of the lazy, etc. Also, if anyone wrongs you, do not repay evil with evil. But set your mind and heart to pursue only what is good [beneficial] both for yourself and others.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My personal amplified version of 1 Thess 5:22

Overall, the first letter to the believers in Thessalonica was upbeat and encouraging. Paul is grateful and relieved to hear that the people are growing in their Faith. After some foundational teaching in the first three chapters, Paul moves to exhortation in chapter 4. [the word ‘exhort’ should bring up a visual of someone putting their loving arm around another and drawing them to their side in an effort to instruct, strengthen, and encourage. ]

By the way, I have often heard this verse quoted to support ‘not being a stumbling block’. While this should be a concern of every believer, here are some specifics about that; and, I don’t think that is the emphasis here. It seems to me that all of chapter 4 and 5 is one complete thought process in how to “walk and to please God” (4:1). If 1 Thess 5:22 is going to be amplified at all, it seems that you have to include both chapters. But for now, here is 5:22 as I understand it...

I told you specifically to abstain from sexual immorality. However, evil can and does appear in many forms. In fact, evil may even appear as something good. There are countless people who think they are doing a good service for God, but in their heart, there is evil. I, Paul, am one glaring example of this. But beware, there will be far more subtle evil that will creep into the church and into your lives. Therefore, you must test all things…then, abstain from every appearance of evil, no matter what form it takes, and hold fast to what is good.

It may help to periodically review the teaching in chapters 4 & 5. (It may also help to look at the Bereans as good example, and then here for sort of a summary of what I am trying to say.)

Finally, if you will do these things that I have brought to your attention, then my prayers will be answered…the God of Peace Himself will sanctify [set you apart] you completely; and your whole spirit, soul, and body will be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Abstain from the appearance of evil

First Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

A few weeks ago, we were warned that our children should not go to their High School Prom. There was some validity to his concern, but when we disagreed, he quoted “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” reminding us of several sinful activities that often take place on prom night. (I will leave the prom argument to others for now…)

I have wondered about that verse for years, never really feeling like it is being used today as it was originally intended. (I have often used it wrongly myself) So, finally, I am really checking this verse out.

After a couple of weeks of reading through First Thessalonians (esp Chapter 5), looking at the overall context, and doing a word study, I feel pretty sure that we have missed it here. I started trying to type out what I think that I have learned…but then I found these two articles on the internet. While they may not be 100% correct (I really don’t know) I believe that they are definitely headed in the right direction. Together, these two articles seem to be the best interpretation of this verse and offers great advice on how it should be Biblically applied to our lives.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Did Jesus ever condemn anyone with His Words?

My thinking is Yes, but He only condemned the condemned.

I have often heard people quote a verse or two from the Bible in order to reprove, warn, or discipline someone; but, they come across very condemning. In fact, it usually digresses to one proving to another how right they are. Most of the time, the “Bible Verse Quoter” simply says something like, “Hey, truth hurts”. I have probably done this myself from time to time…but I wonder, “Why?” How did it get this way? Some thoughts:

A ‘Quoted Bible Verse’ is often by itself and out of context.
For instance, I know of several oft quoted verses used for warning or trying to ‘reprove’ someone who is OBVIOUSLY so wrong, because I have used them myself at times. One of them is 1st Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” which we usually say in tones which suggest our superior spiritual standing to the person who is so wrong.
We quote this one when we want to dissuade another from doing something that we think they should not do; although, it is usually not clear whether it is sinful or not. We just don’t think it is best and don’t really have any other Bible Verse to back up our claim. Sometimes, we may be right; other times, I am not so sure. I could go on about when, why, and how we use that verse, but the main thing is…Does anyone really know or understand the context of that verse and why it was written in the first place? I have not researched this for myself yet, but I bet you would need to read all of 1st Thessalonians (at least chapter 5) to get a clearer picture. And of course, we usually pick and choose where in our lives (and the lives of others) to apply that verse. If we really applied that verse to our life in the same manner we want others to apply it, we would have to live a very isolated life.

A ‘Quoted Bible Verse’ was spoken by Jesus, but was originally spoken to the condemned, not to believers.
It seems that we sometimes beat believers with verses intended to condemn the condemned; when we should be looking for Words of Jesus that edify believers. In the future, whenever I read one of the four gospels, I will be looking at this. For now, here are some verses that I have heard directed at believers. But it seems to me that they were originally directed at those who had rejected Jesus and will always reject Him. I must go back to find out exactly who He was talking to and why He said what He said…especially in Matthew 23…He was going off on somebody…

Matthew 23:15 “…For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
Matthew 23:13 “…For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”
Matthew 23:27 “…For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”
Matthew 23:33 "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”
John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.”

On the other hand, look at how he treated believers.

John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
John 8:11 “…Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."”
John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

The Solution? Not exactly sure, but I think this is a good start…
* Let’s all read and study our Bibles a little more on our own, asking the Holy Spirit to give us Understanding…instead of depending on others to feed us.
* Let’s change our attitude and mission to one of edifying believers [building up]; and, exercise extreme caution and humility when correcting or reproving believers.