Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Habakkuk was deeply distressed about the immoral state of his nation. He was certainly justified in these feelings. In his distress he cried out to the Lord, but the answers he received from the Lord were not comforting at first. God would deal with the sin of Judah, but he would use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to do it. “Wait a minute,” Habakkuk thinks, “how can a righteous and holy God use such a wicked and violent nation to punish His own people?” That is not the answer he was expecting…at all!

Through his conversation with God, we see the true character of Habakkuk shine as he is refined by God.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Question: How can a man rejoice in the midst of wickedness, chaos and pending doom?

Habakkuk was told by the Lord that the righteous man “shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). “Trust Me,” God is saying. Trust His nature, His motives and His promises. Know and assume that God will always do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make sense to you and me.

Regardless of what happens around me, Habakkuk had to wait quietly for the day of distress (Habakkuk 3:16). There is a value to silence. The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:10). You know, this time of judgment was going to come whether or not Habakkuk had the right attitude! God was going to bring punishment upon Judah by Babylon and then He would destroy Babylon.

The purposes of God will be accomplished, so let us trust that God will always do the right thing. Let us also quiet our minds knowing that God will always take care of His people. We are “sealed” and “marked,” God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). If you are a follower of God, you won’t get lost in the sauce.

So if the economy tanks and the nation crumbles (no produce, flocks and herds lost), yet we will rejoice in the Lord. The Lord and only the Lord is our strength. If my focus is on the material, then I will never develop true joy.

What Habakkuk learned long ago is what we as God’s men today must get straight in our heads. Especially now in America.

So far as it depends on you

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord (Romans 12:17-19).

Acts 16 is Luke’s account of Paul and Silas preaching the gospel in Philippi. Paul and Silas were falsely accused, unjustly beaten and unlawfully imprisoned. Through the events of that night in prison, the Philippian jailer obeyed the gospel along with his household. What we are going to focus on, though, is what happened the next day.

After Paul is released from prison, an interesting encounter occurs (Acts 16:35-40).

“Now when the day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen saying, ‘Release those men.’ And the Jailer reported these words to Paul, saying ‘the chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace.”

The Jailer, a brand new Christian is overjoyed that the men who have taught him how to be saved are to be released and set free. In becoming a Christian, it is interesting to note, the jailer still remained a jailer and Paul and Silas, while honored by him, were still considered prisoners. Paul, the great evangelist and proclaimer of the gospel, and apostle sent by God in Christ did not overflow with excitement when he heard for their request to come out:

“But Paul said to them, ‘they have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.’ The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. They (the magistrates) were afraid when they heard they were Romans, and they came and appealed to them, and when they appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. They went out of the city and entered the house of Lydia, and when they say the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.”

So far as it depends on you…

Paul and Silas give us a look in to Christianity that popular culture may not agree with:

  • The apostle held those men who had punished himself and Silas without trial accountable.
  • Paul and Silas, being identified as Romans were entitled to a public hearing. Because that hearing had been denied the magistrates themselves could suffer penalties (including death).
  • He demanded the magistrates admit they were wrong.
  • When the Magistrates did so, Paul let it go.

Christians, at times feel they cannot or should not seek the authorities in this land. This is not the example given to us in scripture. However, it should also be noted, Paul did not take it to the point of death or even excessive humiliation. He did not demand the right to beat the magistrates for having him beaten. Instead, while holding to authority, he himself used restraint.

This was an example given to the Jailer and one we should consider as well. In seeking justice, are we trying to do what is right, or do we become vindictive and hold ourselves to the standards and teachings of the world and Satan?  Paul gives a deeper example of what Romans 12:18-19 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God …” Paul certainly practiced what he preached. “As long as it depends on you …” We must strive for peace and use the tools God has given us appropriately. The rest will always be up to God.

Soot

Soot – by Jason Salyers

Many years ago, while working at mail facility, I received a piece of advice, “before you go home, make sure to blow your nose.” I thought that was pretty strange at the time, but after wading into semi-truck and tossing out box after box, I took the advice and decided I would blow my nose. Amazingly enough, black, sooty material filled the Kleenex. As a matter of fact, I had to blow my nose for 2-3 minutes just to get all of the soot out. I was not by definition soot, but carbon material that comes off of the cardboard boxes rubbing against each other.

Recently, I encountered the exact same experience at a small bedroom fire. The area had been officially cleared, there was only a light haze present, and respirators were not required. Assisting a few patients we cleared the scene and headed back to the station. I felt pretty stuffy and blew my nose, there was so much soot I was stunned! In just a few brief moments, exposure occurred to substances that can hurt or even kill an individual if they are left unattended.

In Eph. 4 Paul tells the Ephesian brethren 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ (4:17-19)!” AT the beginning of this chapter, Paul says “walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called …” To WALK the correct way, the Ephesians had to NO LONGER WALK as the Gentiles do – in the futility of mind, with darkened understanding, and hardened hearts. Instead, the Ephesians were told “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (:23-24).”

Paul then refers to very practical things which can and will get the Ephesians in trouble: Falsehood, Anger, Theft, Corrupting Speech, Bitterness, Slander, and Malice.

These things are soot. We need to recognize their effects on us as they surround us. We need to realize they do in fact surround us, they do in fact dwell readily and easily in this world, AND WE ARE EXPOSED TO THEM. We have the ability to remove these from our lives (such is the gift of God), but we have to take an active/conscious approach in their extraction.

Gaining Proper Perspective

Gaining Proper Perspective: Grab a bible and read Psalm 73.

The writer has been observing the lives of the arrogant and wicked.  He sees their prosperity, their lack of pain and suffering.  He sees their pride, their mocking, and total disregard for God and he is envious.  In verse 3 he says, “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”  In verse 21 he says, “my heart was embittered.”  As he looked at this reality he drew the preliminary conclusion that we see in verses 13 and 14.  “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning.”  Why work to stay pure and innocent when the result has been pain and suffering?  Why not give up and give in to the world and partake in the prosperity of the wicked?

But that was just his preliminary conclusion.  As we continue reading we see how the writer’s thought process continues.  First, he is careful not to voice his doubts and frustrations, especially to those less mature in their walk with God.  Verse 15, “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.”  Second, verse 16 says, “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight.”  The writer doesn’t just act on his initial observations and feelings, his envy, but he stops to ponder the situation.  Finally, he gains clarity when he enters the sanctuary of God.  Verse 17, “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; I perceived their end.”  In safety and the presence of God he looks past his immediate circumstances and the circumstances of the wicked, and he realizes the true reality.

Verses 18 through 20, the reality is that the result of a life of wickedness and arrogance and total disregard for God will be destruction and terror.  I love the imagery in verse 20, “Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.”  The life of the prosperous wicked is no more than a dream that will end as a nightmare.  In His time, when God is aroused, He will deal with those who have rebelled against Him.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was a beast before You” (verse 21-22).  To be envious of the prosperity of the wicked is shortsighted and ignorant so our writer takes hold of God’s hand and allows God’s counsel to guide him.  The conclusion, with all things considered, is one of the most beautiful passages in all of scripture.  “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.  But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”  All the things of this life, the money, the power, the pleasures, the entertainment, the hobbies, the stuff…it is all passing away.  What is my “good”?  Where is my strength?  Where do I take refuge?  If the Lord God, the King and Creator, is my portion then I have everything!

Now here is the most important perspective from this entire Psalm.  The writer doesn’t just decide he SHOULDN’T be envious of the wicked, he decides that there is NOTHING of which to be envious!  In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul puts it like this “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”  Paul doesn’t just say, “I gave up a lot of stuff for Christ.”  Paul says, “I gave up a lot of stuff for Christ and it was all rubbish…junk…garbage.”  Too often I have pursued my walk with Christ giving up the things of this world with a feeling of resignation.  “Well I’m a Christian, I can’t do that anymore.”  “Well I’m a Christian, those things shouldn’t be important anymore.”  In reality, those “things” have no value, those “things” are all garbage and the value of knowing Christ outweighs everything this world could possibly offer.  My walk is not one of suppressed longing for the world but one of victory in Christ, overcoming the world, and being at home with my Father.  We should let go of the false dreams and promises of the world and take hold of that which is LIFE indeed!

The nearness of God is my good.

Getting Defensive and God’s Holiness

What does it mean to treat God as holy?  Holy is a word used to describe God in the bible more than any other.  We could spend an entire gospel meeting exploring the subject and still just scratch the surface.  I’d like to explore one practical observation as I’ve been reading through the book of Numbers.

In Numbers chapter 20 verse 8, God instructs Moses and Aaron to “Take the rod and…assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water.  You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.”  In verse 9-11 the text says that Moses took the rod and assembled the congregation and said “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”  Then Moses struck the rock twice with the rod.  God responds in verse 12 “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

Getting Defensive and God’s Holiness

This transgression is also mentioned at the deaths of Aaron and Moses.  In Numbers 20:24 “for he (Aaron) shall not enter the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah.” In Numbers 27:14 “for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you (Moses) rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water.”  And again in Deuteronomy 32:51 “because you (Moses) broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.”

People often simplify the cause of the punishment saying that God told them to “speak” to the rock and Moses “struck” the rock.  I find it interesting that when God instructs Moses in Numbers 20:8, He starts by saying “Take the rod” and then in verse 9 it says “So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him”.  God wanted the rod with Moses and Aaron at the rock and they obeyed.  We gain additional insight in Psalm 106:32-33, “They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, so that it went hard with Moses on their account; because they were rebellious against His Spirit, he spoke rashly with his lips.”  Psalm 106 says that Moses “spoke rashly with his lips”.  It is interesting to me that in God’s rebuke and in the Psalmist’s summation, striking the rock is never pointed out specifically as the transgression.  Numbers 27:14, God’s command was to treat Him as holy and Moses failed to do that by speaking rashly with his lips.  Going back to the original event in Numbers 20, we see that demonstrated in that Moses said “Listen now, your rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”  Please don’t miss my point, I’m not trying to cause a debate regarding whether or not “striking” the rock was wrong or not.  I’m simply trying to get to the underlying cause of the problem that is demonstrated in the text.

In Numbers 20:3-5, when the people complain they focus their complaint on Moses.  Verse 3 says they “contended with Moses and verse 4 “Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness” and verse 5 “Why have you made us come up from Egypt”.   Even though the complaint was focused on Moses, in reality, they were complaining against God.  They were not satisfied with His provision, His care, and His time table.  In most all other instances Moses recognizes this and appears not to take it personally.  For example, in Exodus 16:8 when the people complain about the lack of food, Moses says “for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him.  And what are we?  Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”  Moses’ ability to endure the grumblings, complaints and personal attacks from the people and continue to honor God and strive for the best for the people is one of his greatest examples of leadership.  Yet in this instance, Moses’ response reflects selfishness.  His response rings with personal offense as he calls them “rebels” and says “shall we bring forth water”.  In this moment, he fails to keep God in His proper place.  He fails to treat God as holy.  In a way, as Moses defends himself, he elevates himself and brings God down.

God is holy.  He is set apart, He is consecrated.  As I live my life, trying to serve God and treating Him as holy, all that I do and say reflects on Him and who He is.  Keeping His commands, worshiping according to His authority, speaking where He speaks and being silent where He is silent are all essential to treating God as holy.  But the greatest of tests will come when I stand for His truth and I am personally attacked.  When I boldly proclaim His morality and people point fingers at me.  When I speak out against sin and false accusations are made.  When I try to lead people towards Him and the complaints start flying.  Will I still see God as holy?  Will I trust that He can defend me, fight for me, and help me to stand?  Or will I do what I far too often do?  Return insult for insult, revile in return, go on the attack and, in essence, remove God from His proper place.  It’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

If David Took a Selfie in Gath

1 Samuel 21 was not one of David’s finer moments. I began to think, “If David took a selfie in Gath, what would it look like?”

Well, take a minute to read 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? “Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:10-15).

This is the giant-killer! Here stands the future anointed king of Israel. He is called a mighty warrior (1 Sam. 16:18) who has slain his 10,000’s (1 Sam. 18:7). Can you picture David like this? He “disguised his sanity,” and let “his saliva run down into his beard.” He is “scribbling on the doors of the gate,” “acting insanely.” I do not believe that is the image that most Bible students have when they think of King David!

But even David had his moments…the moments you certainly do not want to capture with a selfie! I don’t think he’d post this on Instagram or Facebook!

What is incredibly fascinating to me and insightful is to read Psalm 56, which the text says was written during this very CRAZY time in David’s life. Please read the whole Psalm today, but I will just put an excerpt of it here for you.

For the choir director; according to Jonath elem rehokim. A Mikhtam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; fighting all day long he oppresses me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long, for they are many who fight proudly against me. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalms 56:1-4)

You see if you only read 1 Samuel 21 then you don’t see Psalm 56, and vice versa. If you only read Psalm 56 and do not place it back in the historical context of what David was going through, you will think David always had it all together. And you would be flat-out wrong. David didn’t start with the mindset of Psalm 56, but he by faith eventually arrived there. But it was an ugly and embarrassing process along the way.

This is the part that sometimes Christians, especially Christian men, don’t like to talk about. Growth is not binary. We are not just light-switched from pagan to Paul in the blink of an eye! Spiritual growth can just simply look ugly at times on the exterior, but with God’s help we are strengthened. We are perfected in our faith and solidified in our trust in Him.

I am so glad the Holy Spirit recorded this very embarrassing moment in the life of the mighty David, because it gives me hope when I have the same kinds of moments! God was still David’s loving and patient Lord even when the spit was running down his beard. We can say all day that “David should have…” but he didn’t. And God loved him through that growth process until his faith was strengthened.

So, do you have those falling-apart moments in your life that you certainly wouldn’t want to capture with a selfie? Well then, so did David.

Now Jesus loved

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was (John 11:5-6).

Here’s a quick thought for today…Jesus loved Martha and Mary. He loved Lazarus, too. But what does it mean when Jesus “loves” someone? Does it mean that He removes all pain and suffering from their lives?

No, Jesus loved this family enough to allow them to experience pain. In John 11, He plainly tells us why.

For God’s glory.

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
(John 11:4)

Jesus said to her (Martha), “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Through pain and suffering, God does amazing things in us and through us. His love, His majesty, His grace and His power are all seen in and through the trials we face. That was certainly true here in John 11.

For stronger faith and a better understanding of who Jesus is.

So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him” (John 11:14-15).

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

Everyone in the crowd that day understood Jesus was the “death-stopper” (John 11:21,32,37). Jesus is growing their faith. He is not just the “death-stopper,” He is the resurrection and the life. If God removes us from all suffering, pain and trials, our faith will never grow.

Faith that is not difficult or challenged is not faith at all.

Ignorance in Us

Eph. 4:17-18 “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

There is a firefighter I know who has been at the job for 20 plus years. One day, he was on a run where electric wires had fallen down on an automobile. He had no idea whether the wires were charged (hot; electrified) or if they were uncharged. This firefighter, rather than waiting for an engine or ladder that has equipment to remove those wires, walked up to the car and slapped it. His premise, if the wires don’t kill me, then they must not be “hot.”

This account gives us more than just a thought about ignorance, but I do think it plays into our understanding of what Paul is trying to say. Ignorance can and will be for many people, especially those caught up in the futility of this world – A CHOICE! We choose not to consider evidence. We choose to focus on self-assertation (or your own opinions in contrast to wise council or authority).

Ignoranceonly means a lack of knowledge. There is nothing wrong with not knowing something. The problem comes in when you are supposed to know something, but you refuse to learn something. Or, after having been presented with the truth you refuse to accept it. Paul tells us why the Gentiles around the Ephesians have ignorance, saying it is “due to their hardness of heart.”

The Hardened Heart. The very definition of this points to “very center of our being” becoming unable to be molded or changed. It’s impossible to be God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10) if we are not willing to be “worked on.”

The word hard incorporates the meaning of “calloused” (past feeling) – loss of sensation, where nothing affects you, or stubbornness.

Psalm 119:69-70 “The arrogant have forged a lie against me; with all my heart I will observe Your precepts. Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.”

A man must not be ignorant by choice

Husbands must pay attention to their spouses and work to resolve issues, even if it means seeking outside help and putting aside our own pride.

Fathers must not assume what is going on with their children without taking a firsthand look at it themselves.

In conclusion, men must continue to increase their knowledge and understanding of God’s word. This increase in knowledge will require acceptance and a lack of stubbornness on our parts.

The Walks of Ephesians

Today let us meditate upon the walks of Ephesians.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

If you are a Christian, then God has created you in Christ Jesus for good works. We are a new creation! We were dead in sins, saved by the grace of God and cleansed by His blood. Through Christ we were raised up to sit in heavenly places, and now we have a God-given purpose. God wants us to walk a new walk…His walk. But just like we are taught to walk by our parents, we are being taught by God to walk in His works. He planned and designed these works from eternity for us.

The Walks of Ephesians

Read or listen to Ephesians 4-5. Meditate today on the walk of the Christian man.

Walk worthy (Ephesians 4:1-16). When we weigh in our hearts everything that God has done for us in Christ (see Ephesians 1-3), it should stir us up to give every last ounce of energy to this walk. Take note that Paul wrote this letter as a “prisoner of the Lord.” He gave every fiber of his being to Jesus. So should we.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.

Don’t walk like the world anymore (Ephesians 4:17-32). Paul makes a clear contrast in the book of Ephesians between our former life and our new life. There should be a distinct difference.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,

Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-7). As Christ also has loved us. That is our pattern, model and example for love. Follow those footprints.

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8-14). God spoke to our hearts and said, “Let there be light” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus said we are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:16). Others around us who are still walking in darkness must see this light (Philippians 2:15). When we walk as children of light, we expose the darkness for what it is (Eph. 5:11).

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15-21). Circumspectly means literally to look all around you. Be careful, watchful and vigilant. We are fighting a war against Satan and the hosts of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). This is not a time to have our heads in the sand, is it?

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.

He who guards his mouth

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).

Men, today let’s look at all of the passages in this article and see a consistent pattern. God wants us to restrain our lips, guard our mouths, and bridle our tongues. It is a simple but much needed thought for us to consider. In order to live as lights among this dark world, we must learn to develop restraint in our speech.

Certainly, most folks around us fly off the handle and say whatever comes to their minds, but that must not be true of God’s men.

He who guards his mouth

I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence (Psalms 39:1).

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).

The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:3).

He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent (Proverbs 17:27-28).

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless (James 1:26).

We will finish with a prayer that is good for all of us to pray. Before we go into that meeting today, pray this prayer. Before we begin to gossip about the boss or a fellow co-worker, pray this prayer. When someone wants to argue politics, pray this prayer.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips
(Psalms 141:3).