10 Things About Gossip

For this morning, here is a sermon we watched yesterday from Roger Shouse about gossip. By the way, the Internet can be such a blessing when you are caregiving for someone who is unable at times to get to church services. We can click on a website and watch sermons and hear God’s people singing! Awesome stuff.

Ten Things You Need to Remember about Gossip

Here is the list of the 10 things Roger mentioned in his sermon:

  1. Gossip is often found following qualified statements (I shouldn’t be telling you this, but…).
  2. Not all things said are true.
  3. Words can hurt.
  4. Gossip comes from a heart that likes to think the worst rather than the best.
  5. Gossip lives or dies by the choices we make.
  6. Gossip puts us in an awful group.
  7. Gossip is wrong.
  8. Thumper’s mother was right (you have to know the Disney movie Bambi to get this…”If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all).
  9. As our faith grows, our gossipy ways ought to stop.
  10. We will be judged for what we say.

One of the things I loved about this sermon is the acronym Roger used at the end of his sermon. T.H.I.N.K.

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Helpful?

I – Is it Inspiring?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

Proverbs 26:20 – For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

Discerning Soul and Spirit

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The word of God we learn here is:

  • Living
  • Active
  • Very Sharp, but how sharp?

It can:

  • Pierce to the division of soul and spirit
  • Pierce to the division of joints and marrow

But what does that all mean?

The word of God is so living, active and sharp that it can discern my thoughts and my intentions.

There are lots of ideas on what it means to discern between soul and spirit, but I believe what the writer is saying is that the word of God can discern what is from me (the soul of man, who I am) from God (the spirit of a man, who God is). The word of God helps me discern what is God’s voice, and what is my voice. My will versus God’s will.

Our hearts are deceitful above all things, but God knows our heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We can convince ourselves that something is the right path, but we are speaking from our own passions, instead of listening to God’s voice.

The word of God is there to help us discern what is impossible to otherwise discern. What is from me, and what is from God? How do I know if I am following my own will or God’s will? The answers are in God’s word.

and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:10)

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
(Proverbs 28:26)

Daniel: Still in Need of Encouragement

Here are a few observations from a sermon by Max Dawson on Daniel 10.

Daniel needed encouragement!

Age, Maturity – Daniel had served God for 70 years, but he still needed encouragement and comfort from God.

Position and Status – Daniel served in a very important position in Babylon, but he still had to receive strength from God.

Experience – Daniel had faced all kinds of trials and adversity in those 70 years, but he still was not above needing help from God.

Knowledge – Daniel was well-acquainted with the word of God, probably knew it backward and forward, but that knowledge was not enough. He still needed encouragement and comfort from God.

So, there you go for today. If you are 15 or 85, you will always need your Father in heaven. Being in need of encouragement and comfort from God is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength.

Memorials

My family and I are in DC this week for Spring Break and while walking around and looking at all the memorials I thought of a lesson a brother sent me awhile back and wanted to share.

MEMORIAL:  a monument, statue, holiday, or ritual which serves as a remembrance or reminder of a person or an event.

The Feast of the Passover was a memorial of God’s sparing the firstborn of the Israelites in Egypt and of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Ex 12:14).

When Israel crossed the Jordan River and occupied the Promised Land, Joshua commanded that 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, be set up in the midst of the Jordan (Joshua 4:9). “These stones,” he said, “shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:7).

When Jesus was in the house of Simon the leper, a woman anointed His head with oil. “Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world,” said Jesus, “what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:13; Mark 14:9).

On the eve of His crucifixion Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19). The observance of the Lord’s Supper is an ongoing Christian memorial that helps the believer remember the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf (1 Corinthians 5:7; 11:25-26).

Lessons Learned from Memorials

God wants His people to remember some things.  Consider 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1-2.

God has given us memorials to help us remember.  Consider 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

God expects us to be able to explain the meaning of the memorial.  Consider Exodus 12:26-27; 13:8-9, 14-16; Joshua 4:1-8.

God longs for us to be passionate about Him.  Consider Judges 2:7-10.

Let us let the memorials that God has given us stir us up!  (2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1)

Some Thoughts about Guilt

5This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-9)

God is willing and able to hear and answer our prayers and He wants us to talk to Him…about our sufferings and disappointment because He only allows them in our lives for our good…so that we might grow and be able carry not only more of our own burdens but the burdens of brothers and sisters…but we can’t come understand that if we don’t first believe fully in Him…take our burdens to Him…and leave them there in such a way we are able to forgive ourselves.  So many times I have found that my suffering and disappointment was self-inflicted.  I had done something with consequences that made life difficult to bear.  I had chosen to allow what others thought and said affect how I feel and see the world…and I didn’t like what I saw.  I chose to get in my own way and not allow God to work in my life.

I, like anyone else, do (and did not) like to feel guilty.  Like an unwelcome guest, guilt shows up at the worst possible time and does not go away no matter how much you wish it would.  The truth is, however, that we need guilt!  It is the only proper response to any offense, whether a selfish thought or a premeditated murder.  Even a nonbeliever wants a burglar to feel remorse for his theft.  Why?  Because he should!  Guilt exposes the truth that we wish to avoid:  we have all sinned.  John puts it this way; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (v8).  But John does not leave us with this dismal picture of ourselves…instead he goes on to paint a glorious portrait of a forgiving God.  This is our hope:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v9).  Guilt does more than just deliver the distressing news…it unlocks the door to forgiveness.  Progress, change, reform, and most important of all, God’s forgiveness all start with confession.

Confession works against the worst part of human nature, the part that imagines itself to be better that it really is.  What person has not felt, “I’m’ not perfect, but I’m’ not as bad as my next-door neighbor”?  This mindset always stops short of confessing; it would rather ignore or ease feelings of guilt than admit them…but only open confession of our sins will completely cleanse us.  Only when we admit what we are…sinners, unworthy of God’s grace, can we make a fresh start.  Only then can we truly get out of the way and let God forgive us…so that we can forgive ourselves…so that we can forgive each other.  Let go and let God.  This keeps small things from becoming big things…and keeps life filled with hope and happiness rather than doubt and self-loathing.

CS Lewis said that “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”  As children of God…trying to do good…having the perfect Image to compare ourselves to…we are going to feel bad about ourselves and our circumstances.  That is not the end God wants for us…He doesn’t just want us to feel Godly sorrow for nothing…but to feel Godly sorrow so that we will repent and experience His grace.  We can never know how much we need freedom until we try to unload our burden of sin.  God’s forgiveness will liberate us to begin anew on the path of righteousness…in each moment that we boldly approach His throne of grace during every day that He blesses us with.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Unload on your Father…leave it at His feet…and allow His grace to wash over you and His angels minister to you so that you might live cheerfully (in any circumstance) to serve and glorify Him.

Moments

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Believe it to be true…as we look back at our week…look back at our lives wherever we are…we find moments which are good/bad…sweet/sour…happy/sad…

All of us can say that.  But as we think about them, we need to remember this:  THEY ARE ALL GONE!

Jesus does not want us to get stuck in a moment.  The command over and over in the New Testament is to STAND!

Eph 6:10-20…tells us that we are to put on the whole armor of God and STAND against the wiles of the devil…

This call is not that we get STUCK.  It isn’t that we “stand” but TAKE A STAND…rejoicing in the day the Lord has made…be glad in it but continue to walk in Him…whether our moments are good/bad, happy/sad, the best/worst…Jesus wants us to keep walking!

Consider Jesus’ life…nothing more than a series of moments…just like ours…

Heb 2:14…Jesus shared in the same…whatever the experience/moment in your life…He came…became one of us…to share in our experience…our moments (how He experienced them).

Heb 2:17…because He had good/bad moments (sweet/sour, easy/hard)…because He was made like you and me in all things…He is equipped to be merciful and faithful to us in His role as High Priest (18).

Think about your life.  A series of moments connected in the framework of days, weeks, months, and years.  It was the same with Jesus.  His life was made up of a series of little moments.

When we consider Jesus’ life…we tend to lean in our thinking toward a day…the day that Jesus was crucified.  That day matters and is so meaningful because of the little moments in His life that led up to that day.

We know so little of Jesus’ childhood, yet we know He was tempted, grew in the grace and knowledge of His Father, learned the trade of Joseph, and He learned obedience (Heb. 5:8).

His life was made up of significant moments…baptized, His Father’s voice, driven into the wilderness, 40 days filled with temptation.  With each passing moment He resisted, kept a strong mind, restrained His speech, kept His behavior under control.

After all these moments, He returned in the fullness of the Spirit to preach the Gospel and He went to the cross.  That great moment that resulted in our forgiveness of sins.  He shed His blood and what makes His blood enough in that He was washed and pure and free of sin.  All His moments without blemish.  All His moments mattered and culminated in a perfect Life and a Great sacrifice.

As we consider our moments, it is easy to get stuck on those things which we are ashamed of and to get down on ourselves.  We can even throw in the towel and decide that this bad moment is what is going to define us.

But that is a lie of Satan.  Truly, we have HOPE in Christ Jesus…that no one moment will define you or me because of His forgiveness.

Heb 4:14-15…we see present tense weaknesses (plural)…we all have them…we have our moments.  We have our bad moments.  We fall short of the glory of God and we sin, and we are in danger of letting that define us…thoughts we shouldn’t think, slips of the tongue, and/or behaviors that don’t bring glory to God.

Heb 4:16…God doesn’t want us to get stuck there…He wants to come boldly…despite these weaknesses and bad moments.

If we didn’t have the bad then we wouldn’t need grace.  Our hope is that when we go boldly to the throne of God and confess our sins and offer our prayers…we obtain the mercy and grace in our time (moments) of need!

We all have our moments…AND BECAUSE OF JESUS’ MOMENTS WE CAN BE FORGIVEN!

Look back and reflect, but don’t get stuck in moments.  Jesus didn’t and He doesn’t want us to!

The call is to KEEP WALKING.  Whatever things are behind us…leave them there and forget about them.

Whatever else the past is…IT IS GONE!

No one moment can define you…don’t let it…let go and let God!

Where Does Suffering Come From?

It can come from God in the general, physical suffering and death unleashed in the world after man sinned (Genesis 3:16-19).  “And so God placed the curse on man and on his whole environment, thus forcing him to recognize the seriousness of his sin, as well as his helplessness to save himself and his dominion from eventual destruction.”  (Leon Morris, The Genesis Record, p. 126.)

The curse on man himself was fourfold: sorrow, pain and suffering, sweat or tears, physical death.  “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope…” (Rom 8:20).  Romans 8:20 seems to be an allusion to Genesis 3:16-19 and this reference to the past must surely be to the judgment of God, which fell on the natural order following Adam’s disobedience.  The creation was the recipient of the action indicated but only as a result of man’s sin.  God is the One who did the subjecting.  The curse of sorrow, pain and suffering, sweat, tears and physical death was brought about by God…but He did it with purpose…God subjected the creation in hope.

 It can come from God in specific cases to humble and/or strengthen…consider Israel (Deuteronomy 8:2-3), Miriam (Numbers 12:1-10),  and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:10-20).

It can come from Satan through God’s allowance…consider Job (Job 1-2) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  We must note, however, though Satan caused suffering for one purpose…God used each of these for very different purposes than the Tempter intended and in such a manner as to humble and/or strengthen one of His children.  God sees suffering differently than we do and His heavenly “forest” gets lost on us for our earthly “trees”.

Finally, it can come as the inevitable fruit of our own sins…“…the way of the transgressor is hard.”  (Prov 13:15)……be sure your sin will find you out.”  (Nu 32:23).  Sin has temporal consequences – physical, emotional and social.  “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.”  (Rom 6:21).  Yet, at last, unless there is some direct link to our sin it is very difficult to know the exact origins of our adversity…and that is just as well.  For far more important than knowing why we are suffering, is our response to it.

Adversity and discouragement, regardless to its source, is one of God’s most effective tools to deepen our faith in Him and transform our lives.  “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.”  (Psa 119:67)…“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”  (Psa 119:71).  It is difficult for us to truly understand through our earthly lenses…it is only as we come to understand God’s perspective that we are able to respond appropriately.  What better example than in the anguish of Christ on the cross in regards to:  the influence of God…“…the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isa 53:6)…the sufferings of Christ both humbled and strengthened Him (Hebrews 5:7-8).  The influence of Satan “…the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him…Satan entered him…”  (John 13:2, 27).  The influence of our own sins…“…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…” (1 Pet 2:24)…yet it was our Savior’s trusting response to this awful suffering that enabled God to work by it something transcendently wonderful.

So it will be with us if we choose our response to suffering wisely – especially when we don’t understand why…“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Cor 4:17-18)…“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  (Rom 5:3-5)

At last, like that ancient blind man, what we suffer here is in order that “the works of God may be revealed in us.”  (John 9:2)  Our God is Holy…He is eternal…He is love…He is merciful…He is gracious.  Take comfort in that He will not give you more than you can bear…and in all your suffering or adversity or disappointment, whatever the cause, glorify your God and Father, trusting Him to work all things together for your good (Genesis 50:20; 1 Pet 1:6-8).

God has left you here for only a little while (1 Pet1: 6-9) not only for your sake…but for the sake of your brethren (2 Tim 2:10).  In your adversity…go to your Heavenly Father and your Elder Brother and your brethren to be sure…but take the time to see past your suffering or disappointment…see that God has begun a good work in you (Phil 1:6)…and be encouraged… so that you might be an encouragement to me and those of the household of faith!

King David: A Real Man

I love King David.  He did so much in his life.  David can teach us many valuable lessons.  He’s also a great reminder about what it means to be a man.  There’s much confusion in our society about the role of men.  What can we learn from David?

    1. David loved the Lord.  That’s what real men will do.  Real men will submit to the true and living God.  David certainly did.  He had faith in God.  He had a relationship with the creator of all things.
    2. David wasn’t afraid to show his emotions.  People today think that a man is a wimp if he shows emotions.  I say that’s silly.  Jesus wept.  David wept.  Read the book of Genesis and see how many times Joseph cried.  Real men have no problem showing their emotions.  David poured his heart out to God, Psalm 32, Psalm 9.
    3. David was a leader.  He solved problems (like defeating Goliath).  He took action when it was needed.  It takes courage to take action.  That’s what we must do.
    4. David was skilled at many things.  He was a musician, a king, a warrior, and tended to the animals.  As men, we need to have a variety of skills.  We need to be knowledgeable when it comes to how things work.
    5. David was not perfect.  However, he was able to own up to his mistakes.  Many (including myself) think about his adultery, his poor decision of numbering the people, and a list of other sins we could mention.  Yet we often miss the fact that David repented of his sinful behavior, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.  That takes courage.
    6. David was a great friend to Jonathan.  Their relationship would make men today uncomfortable.  They loved one another, 1 Samuel 18:1.  Shame on people who try to change their close friendship and make it some sexual type of relationship.  As men, we need to learn how to be close to one another.
    7. David was a student of God’s word.  He had to make a copy of the Law for himself, Deuteronomy 17:18-20.  He spent time regularly in God’s word.

David was a MAN.  Both young and vintage men need to be reminded of him and learn from him.  Let’s be MEN.

I See This In Jesus

“I see this in Jesus, but do I see it in me?”  That’s a statement I read in a book recently.  It stuck with me.  I’ve been reading through the gospel of Luke this year and have learned a great deal about Jesus.  As His disciples, we are to follow in His footsteps.  I like to share some of the things I have seen in Jesus during my readings.  What I see in Jesus is what I need to see in myself.  It’s what we need to see in ourselves as His people.

    1. I see how Jesus relied upon God’s word when I read Luke 4:1-13.  As the devil tempted Jesus, He responded with “It is written.”  Jesus knew the word.  He believed it to be true.  But do we see this in ourselves?  God’s word is powerful.  We should trust it, believe it, and follow it.
    2. I see how Jesus focused on doing God’s work, Luke 4:42-44.  Jesus knew what His mission was and He would accomplish it, John 17:4-5.  I see an intense focus in the life of Jesus.  Do I see that in myself?  Do we see that in ourselves?
    3. I see how Jesus prepared His disciples to become fishers of men.  In Luke 5:10 it says, “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”  During His ministry, Jesus prepared His disciples to proclaim the good news, Mark 16:15-16.  Making disciples is what Jesus wanted His apostles to do.  Nothing has changed.  As Christians, Jesus wants us to go and make disciples.  This was the mindset Jesus had.  Is this the mindset we have?
    4. I see how Jesus had compassion toward others.  In Luke 5:12-13, we see where Jesus healed a man who had leprosy.  If you know anything about leprosy, you know how terrible it was.  One who had leprosy would have been an outcast.  Jesus would change this man’s life.  Jesus has had great compassion for humanity by dying on the cross.  This is what I see in Jesus.  However, do I have great compassion and concern for others?   Do we see that in ourselves?
    5. I see how Jesus made time to pray, Luke 5:16.  I’ve only given you one example, but there are many when you go through Luke.  Jesus was busy but never so busy that He didn’t have time to pray.  This is what I see when I look at Jesus.  Do I see this in myself?  Do we see this in ourselves?

No one had the strength to subdue him

“He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” Mark 5:3-5

No one could bind him…No one had the strength to subdue him. This man wasn’t fit to live among people. Only Jesus could heal what was wrong with this demon-possessed man. People of the village were trying to use their own strength to harness, control and stop this man, but it was the spirit inside that was giving the man this strength and destructive power.

The man didn’t need chains and shackles, they were useless. He needed Jesus. Look in Mark 5:1-20 to see how Jesus got inside of this man and changed him from the inside out. Once the man’s insides changed, then the outside reflected that spiritual transformation. This formerly demon-possessed man became a powerful evangelist for Jesus! But that didn’t happen until the demons within were cast out.

Again, it is Jesus that makes you and me fit to live among people. We may try to harness, manage or control the behavior and words of others, but it is Jesus that really has the power to release the “demon” within. Those “demons” can be things like guilt, past abuse, shame, addictions, etc. If we find ourselves breaking chains and shackles, going around in a rage, and cutting ourselves with stones, then the real problem is what is going on deep down inside of us. Until we truly get at peace with ourselves and with Jesus, then we will be like this man living in a cave howling at the moon.

In our relationships, we must focus more on root causes and not symptoms.