Image result for the tongue sharper than a two-edged swordThere is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. (Pro 12:18 )

Today’s topic won’t be long as I feel one verse can best describe the tongue. There are many verses we could read about the tongue and I’ve listed them below for you to look up on your own. I believe that today’s verse best describes the tongue because it is two-fold. It discusses the proper and improper uses of the tongue. This picture speaks volumes. It depicts someone who has been on the receiving end of one who used his tongue like a sword.

Picture this sword for a moment. A sword is used to cut – plain and simple. It serves no other purpose, except if one uses it as a trophy for show. It stands to reason that when a sword is just for show, then it is not in use. It is proper that this verse would compare the tongue to a sword. How many times have you been cut by words spoken by an angry person? How many times have those words cut so deeply that you have found it difficult to forgive a person? We have all been there at some point. Does this justify the person’s use of their tongue like a sword? Not at all.

The verse goes on to say that the tongue of the wise is health. Good health is such a blessing, isn’t it? No pains, no sicknesses – we cherish each day that we can get up and not feel a twinge! A wise tongue is the same as good health according to the Word. The words of a wise person help another to good health – not in the physical sense but in the emotional and spiritual sense.

What words do you speak to others? Do you come bearing health to some and a sword to others? Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (Jam 3:11) It should not be so for believers. We should have sweet water all the time. Our words should bring health to others all the time. If bitter water flows from our mouths and our words cut like a sword, can we honestly say we are walking with the Lord? No, we surely cannot say that. A person who reacts this way with his tongue is one who is not yielded to the Holy Spirit of God.

Have you been hurt by someone’s words? Have they cut you deeply? Remember where those words came from. This hurtful person could be unsaved. If so, they are doing a great job serving their father, the devil. He is the epitome of self-centeredness and they have learned from him well. It helps you to understand why they are the way they are. It does not take the pain away, but it sure does help you focus your thoughts on why they have a need to hurt you. Give God the glory and move on. If this person is a born-again Christian, they are not yielded to the Holy Spirit in their lives, nor their tongue. Forgive this brother and pray for an opportunity to help this brother in this area. Pray for a peaceful time where you can share how the comments hurt you. If this brother is repentant and won, this is a blessing and you have exhorted this brother to righteousness. If this brother is unrepentant and uses his tongue as a sword once again, we are commanded in Matt. 18:22 to forgive our brother (another believer) as many times as it takes. Then ask the Holy Spirit to give you exactly what you need to love this brother the way God loves him.

I have personally been in a situation of this type. Just today alone, I’ve heard from two ladies who are going through similar trials. A sword produces bleeding, wounds and scars. The one on the receiving end will never be the same because wounds leave scars. Can we who have been wounded recover? Absolutely! How? By yielding our tongue to the control of the Holy Spirit. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (Jam 3:13) (Emphasis mine) When we are in the Scriptures seeking after knowledge and wisdom, we put to practice what we have learned and show forth good conversation. Is it easy? No. Is it do-able? Yes! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phil. 4:13 This is yet another burden to lay at the Saviour’s feet, my friend. We are not alone in our struggles but we have each other – the brothers and sisters in Christ who can exhort us unto righteousness and pray for us. Praise the Lord for being a part of this wonderful Family. Christ died for each of us, while we were yet sinners! If anyone had reason to be offended by the tongues of man, it was He.

Extra Verses on the Tongue:

Prov. 10:20
Prov. 11:12
Prov. 13:3
Prov. 14:25
Prov. 15:1, 4, 23
Prov. 15:28
Prov. 16:24, 28
Prov. 18:8, 13, 21
Prov. 21:23
Prov. 25:11
Prov. 26:17
Prov. 26:20
Prov. 27:2
James 3:5
James 3:8

Dear God…
May my tongue be controlled
Each day as I yield to You
Help the living waters flow
So others may see the Truth


And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luk 16:15) I truly believe that the worse “new teaching” from the world today is the one of self esteem. This teaching is definitely not scriptural and it has done so much damage. It is not a new teaching but it is certainly more prevalent in today’s world than in the past. Everyone is focused on me, myself and I. What’s in it for me? You offended me! You hurt my feelings. You’re no better than I am. Don’t tell Johnny, who’s in the tenth grade that he is only reading at fifth grade level, you’ll ruin his self esteem! No where in God’s Word does it say that we should esteem ourselves! Why do you think people are conceited and full of themselves? They have been “self esteemed” to the point of nausea!

Noah Webster’s definition of the word esteem is SO very different from today’s.

1. To set a value on, whether high or low; to estimate; to value.

Then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. Deu 32.

They that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 Sam 2.

2. To prize; to set a high value on; to regard with reverence, respect or friendship. When our minds are not biased, we always esteem the industrious, the generous, the brave, the virtuous, and the learned.

Will he esteem thy riches? Job 36.

Merriam-Webster’s definition

is the regard in which one is held; especially : high regard

Merriam’s definition is quite diluted, isn’t it?

What things in God’s Word are we to esteem? Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12) Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. (Psa 119:128 ) God’s Word should be esteemed. If you were to place the emphasis of Merriam’s definition for esteem to God’s Word, you would not be totally convinced that it deserved such a high rating, right? But if you put Noah’s definition, you see that the Bible is to be prized and reverenced. This is a much different viewpoint! No wonder the worldly Christians do not look to the Word of God to change them. They don’t revere it, therefore, it’s impact on their lives is minimal.

Does God regard esteem as sin? And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luk 16:15) (emphasis mine) God considers it an abomination if you esteem that which is ungodly.

Whom should we esteem? Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phi 2:3) and And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. (1 Th 5:13) We should esteem the brethren better than ourselves and we should esteem those who are over us – our deacons and our Pastors. No where in my 27 years of salvation have I ever read in God’s Word that I should think highly of myself. If I love the brethren, they will always take precedence over me. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (1 Cor 13:4) Paul says that our love for each other will cause us to be longsuffering with each other, be kind to each other, not envy one another, and not think highly of ourselves. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (Rom 12:16)

My friend, these are not the Bible verses encouraging us to have self esteem! These verses are encouraging us to be humble, meek and low in pride. What will happen to the one who thinks highly of himself? Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. (Job 40:11)

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. (Eze 21:26)

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Dan 4:37)

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Mat 23:12)

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luk 14:11)

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luk 18:14)

None of these verses sound like words from a support group for self-esteem. Quite the opposite. We should rather be humble and be promoted to the front of the line by the Lord than to think more of ourselves and have Him tell us to get to the back of the line. If anyone had reason for self-esteem, it was the Lord Jesus Christ. But He humbled Himself to the point of dying for you and I. If we are to walk in His footsteps, how can we possibly have self-esteem and say that it comes from God? This is hypocrisy – we should do well to learn from the account of the Pharisee and the Publican.

Dear God…
May our eyes be off ourselves
And focused on others instead
May we be as humble as You were
As You walked the path to your death

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1Ti 6:10) This verse does not say that it is money that is the root of all evil. It says that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. This love for money will cause a man to push aside his faith and bring trials and tribulations into his life. I don’t believe this refers to “all evil” in the sense of every evil thing there is. Being a disobedient child is evil but it is not because that child has a love for money. I believe Paul was relating this verse to the previous verses:

1 Tim. 6:4–9, “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, (4) Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (5) But godliness with contentment is great gain. (6) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (7) And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (8 ) But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (9)

Can’t you just see the love of money in these instances? When money is the driving force behind what you do, you are guilty of this. You had better beware. It is the love of money that will cause you to envy others because of what they have that you don’t have. It is the love of money that will cause you to crawl over someone to get ahead. It is the love of money that will cause railings (Clamoring with insulting language; uttering reproachful words – according to Noah Webster). It is the love of money that will cause you to have evil suspicions of those around you – everyone is out to get you (or your money). This love of money will cause you to believe that gain is actually what God wants for your life.

Paul says that godliness with contentment is great gain. If you are content with what you have, are you striving for more money? Are you eager to buy things that your neighbor or friend has? Are you honest in your dealings with others? Does what the world has to offer cause you to desire those things? That is the lust of the flesh, my friend. The Lord says in His Word, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 Jo 2:15)
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 Jo 2:16)

Struggling in this area reveals that you are not walking in the Spirit but in the flesh. The love of money and what it has to offer is not from God. The devil desires you to be so caught up in making money and spending it that your focus is drawn away from God. The devil desires you to get into so much debt that you have to work long hours and spend less time in the Word, in church, winning souls, and serving in your ministries. If he can get you here, he has distracted you from the things of God and, therefore, you will not be of use to the Lord. You will be bound in the chains of debt and this will drive you to deeper and deeper sin. Nelson Rockefeller was asked in a magazine interview, “How much is enough money?” His response was, “Just one more dollar.” Here was a man that was worth millions, if not billions by the time he died. Yet, it was not enough for him. He wanted one more dollar! How very sad is that? For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mar 8:36)

There is no peace in this. But there is peace when you are content with what you have and you’re not looking at what everyone else has. If you are not in debt, the debt collectors won’t be knocking at your door. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee? (Pro 22:27) The best rule of thumb to live by is never buy anything that you do not have the money saved up to pay for. When you are trying to decide on large purchases, like vehicles and housing, pray hard and think long before getting into that kind of debt. Counsel with the wise before you make that final decision. Not the wise of the world, but the wise in the Lord. I found it interesting that the words “multitude of counsellors” appears only three times in the Word of God. Three depicts the Trinity. Therefore, consult with godly people, who are wise in finances, and will have your best interest at heart, not their pocketbook.

Dear God…
May I take my eyes off worldly gain
Where the love of money rules
Help me to be wise in all my ways
So my lot doesn’t end as the fool’s


Honour thy father and thy mother. Exo 20:12 The Lord has led a few people in my life who struggle in this area of honouring their parents. Each one has a unique situation and trial with their parents. No matter what the trial or circumstance is, however, I noticed that God’s Word did not put any stipulations on His commandment to Honour thy father and thy mother in Ex. 20:12. I wondered why the Lord had allowed these people in my life who had struggles with their parents. I personally did not have these struggles. But my oldest sister certainly did. For years I was the “bridge” between my parents and her. She was not a Christian, but I was. I was placed in a precarious situation as a believer. I could quite understand the abuse she suffered as a child at the hand of my father. I could quite understand her contempt for my mother because she felt my mother allowed it. Yet, both my parents became born again. Both had sought her forgiveness. But because she had never been saved, she did not forgive them. Instead, in her short life, she lost her husband to cancer, she had no children of her own, and she succumbed to cancer in 2001 and died in a hospital room all alone. She alienated herself from the family all those years and finally those final two-three years, she alienated herself from me. The last thing I heard that she said was from her best friend. Her friend told me that my sister hated the fact that I kept witnessing to her and did not believe her to be saved. Entrenched in roman catholicism, she could not see her sin. In her eyes she was a good person. A born-again child of God would be humbled that someone cared enough for their soul to continue witnessing to them.

But this morning, as I sat praying with a dear friend, the Lord revealed to me why I was allowed to be that bridge for my sister. I was allowed the awesome privilege of hearing the harsh truth of what a child goes through when they have been treated badly by their parents. I have seen first hand how the bitterness and contempt ate up my sister to the point she had cancer in her body. I have seen first hand how this bitterness totally enveloped her and ate at her. In my conversations with her, she did not want to hear anything about what she had to do to heal these relationships. All she could think of was what they had to do to heal their relationship with her. Her eyes were focused on self – a very natural thing for a person who is lost. How she hated my parents – she alienated herself from them all in the guise of protecting herself from their manipulations. Her heart and mind were so obsessed, she became consumed with this contempt for them. It came to the point when my brother (who is also saved) and I tried to talk some sense into her, the contempt spilled over to us. So, I am sharing with you what the Lord has laid on my heart. Hopefully those same people He has led to me will be blessed by what God allowed me to go through. I pray I use it to His glory and honour.

Just what does honour mean in this verse? Noah Webster defines it as:

1. To revere; to respect; to treat with deference and submission, and perform relative duties to. Honour thy father and thy mother. Exo 20:12.

It does not say to love them. I found this interesting. Most of us have a natural affection and love for our parents. But what about those children who have been estranged from their parents for one reason or another? How can they honour their parents if they don’t love them? According to Noah Webster, honouring parents means to:

1. Revere them – To regard with fear mingled with respect and affection
2. Respect them – To view or consider with some degree of reverence; to esteem as possessed of real worth
3. Treat with deference – A yielding in opinion; submission of judgment to the opinion or judgment of another. Hence, regard; respect.
4. Submit to them – the act of yielding to power or authority
5. Perform relative duties to – The acts and tasks children do requested of them by their parents.

Naturally, these actions are a result of loving our parents. However, no where does it say that we must love our parents. We are to obey our parents and honour them. These are the only commandments to children I have found. Naturally a child who obeys and honours their parents will love them but a child who has been abused or hurt deeply, it is not natural for them to love at all.

But again, what about the child whose relationship has been damaged or strained with his parents? He can still honour his parents according to Noah Webster, can’t he? He does not have to love them. However, he does have to honour them. If he still lives under their roof, he still needs to obey them. This is what God commands. I found it interesting that a child is never commanded to love his parents.

I believe from the bottom of my heart that a son and daughter who have been hurt deeply by their parents can heal their broken relationships by honouring them the way God intended for them to honour their parents. Taking Noah’s definitions, let’s look at some ways this can be fulfilled by what God has commanded:

1. Revere them – You may not regard your parents with respect and affection but you can regard their “office” with respect and affection. Your Heavenly Father is the ultimate Parent. Revere the office because it is desired of your Heavenly Father. This will please Him. Use His office as the ultimate example and apply it to your parents’ office. The love you have for God should be your driving force in this effort.

2. Respect them – The office of parent is not an easy task. For those of you with children of your own, you can attest to this. For those reasons alone, this should be enough for you to respect their office. Honouring this office is not a choice but a command (according to Ex. 20:12). Parents deserve respect because of the position they hold, not their actions. When one can look beyond the person and the hurts and focus on the “office” it removes the emotion and personal involvement with the people and places it on the office.

3. Treat with deference – There is nothing more common today than children who have a difference of opinion from those of their parents and they strive to prove their point or make their opinions known no matter what the cost. Just because one disagrees with parents does not mean they have the “right” to “speak their minds” and disrespect them. Deference is a yielding in your opinion and submission of judgment to their opinion. It does not mean your opinion changes, it just means that you are not going to argue with your parents because you respect the office they hold. Would you argue with your Pastor? Would you argue with the President of the United States? No! You would respect their office and watch your tongue. You might even keep a few things to yourself for fear of hurting them. That is all part of honouring them. This reminds me of the verse, A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Pro 15:1)

4. Submit to them – As long as a child lives under his parents’ roof, he is under their umbrella of authority. Like an umbrella protects one from the elements, the umbrella of authority keeps the child from being accountable. The parents absorb any bad judgments. God will hold the parents responsible for their abuse – for their unwise decisions on behalf of their children. To the child who doesn’t know any better and his parents do him wrong, God’s hand is on him and will keep him through it. But the moment this child steps out from underneath the umbrella of authority in his life and takes control,
he is subject to the devil’s trials and tribulations. Not only will the child suffer the consequences of the trial but he will suffer the chastisement of God for not honoring and obeying his parents. Submission keeps things in order. We are not commanded to honour only when parents are good parents. We are not commanded to obey our parents only when they are saved or if they are good parents.

5. Perform relative duties to – Because your parents hold that office, it is the child’s duty to help them – to aid them in their time of need. One of the greatest testimonies I know is a friend of mine. His parents never displayed love toward him. After his salvation, he changed dramatically. His brothers were involved in the sodomite lifestyle and his parents accept them openly. But they do not accept my dear friend and his love for the Lord. They despised his stand on sodomy because it affected their other sons. Does this stop my friend from being kind to his parents and honouring them? Absolutely not. He is usually the one who goes to their house and fixes things, paints, etc. They can always count on him to help them. Today they call him if they have a need because he has honoured them – his testimony has ministered to their hearts. Will he ever be able to lead them to the Lord because of his actions? I don’t know. But what I do know is that even though he is in his 40’s, he is still honouring his parents and doing God proud.

So, dear Christian, are you struggling in your relationship with your parents? It’s not what you think or what your parents think. It is what God’s Word says you must do as a child: honour and obey. Do you honour them in the manner defined in Noah Webster’s Dictionary? You don’t have to love them – but you are commanded to honour them. This is the only commandment with a promise attached to it, Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exo 20:12) God shows it is that important.

Dear God…
Although my parents are not worthy
And their actions toward me are wrong
The Word reveals Your plan for me
Give me grace to always be strong

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. (Pro 17:22)

What needs healing in your life today? Do you have a broken spirit? Do you have hurt feelings? Do you have a broken body or chronic illness? Does your marriage need healing? What is it in your life that is in need of fixing? All these areas mentioned need one thing: the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the center of your life. Is He? He should be. When Christ is the center of our thoughts, words and deeds, it is like a good medicine to us. Our spirit is not broken but encouraged and uplifted.

Not all trials are chastisement from God. Let’s assume today the trial you are experiencing is not due to chastisement but it is to ultimately bring glory to God. The Word has given us accounts so that we can encourage ourselves and grow thereby. One could not find a greater account than Job. However, there is also a New Testament account by which we can learn. Paul had a thorn in his flesh and asked God to take it away three times. But the Lord told Paul, And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Co 12:9) Noah Webster defines the word grace in this verse as:

3. Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin.

Christ told Paul that God’s favorable, divine influence and influence of the spirit should be enough. God was saying that He would renew Paul’s heart – in essence bring healing to his heart and that would keep him going. Through this trial, God’s strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness. People would be able to see the power of God in Paul’s life rather than his infirmity. Is this not what was achieved? Do we not look at Paul’s life as one filled with the power of God?

Because of the promise God gave him, Paul knew that the Lord would always be ready to hear his cry when he struggled with is trial. So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted. (Job 34:28 ) Although Paul knew that his thorn would not be removed, he also knew that the Lord would supply exactly what he needed in the healing of his spirit. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (Mal 4:2) No matter what some may believe, God does not always choose to heal our bodies. There are many accounts in Scripture of people who were sick or afflicted and were used to the glory of God. How many times have we read the account of Moses? The Word says in Ex 4:10-14 that Moses told God that he was slow of tongue and could not speak to his people. God admonished Moses and told him that He created his tongue and nothing is too great for the Creator. But Moses was still doubting at this point – I can almost see a stubborn Moses, can’t you? He had to be because the Word says that God’s anger was kindled against Moses. Would you be angry with your child if they just shared their feeling of inadequacy? No, you’d be moved with compassion and be patient and understanding, wouldn’t you. However, if your child continued acting this way, even after you had assured him that you would take care of everything, his lack of faith would provoke you. I believe that Moses’ lack of faith in God at this point provoked His God. But God, in His infinite mercy, accommodated Moses by placing Aaron in his life. God could have removed Moses’ problem with his tongue, but He didn’t. Could it be that God would not have been glorified by Moses? I’ve often wondered about this. Instead, God allowed Moses to keep this physical problem. Maybe it was to make Moses humble – maybe it was to build Moses’ faith. But the fact of the matter is that God does not choose to heal all of our infirmities. What He does promise is that He will be there to help us as we deal with them.

What do you need in your life today, Christian? Are you at the end of your rope? Has your body failed you? Have relationships failed you? Have you asked God to remove these burdens or to heal you from your physical problems? Has He removed them? If not, is God saying to you what He said to Paul almost 2,000 years ago? Is God telling you that His grace is sufficient for you today? It’s a hard pill to swallow, isn’t it? It’s not what Paul wanted to hear, I’m sure, but the lesson in this verse is how Paul accepted the difficult news. There’s no record of him wallowing in self pity that I’ve ever read. However, he accepted the thorn in his flesh and moved forward in his service for the Lord. Paul’s testimony in this area portrays a selflessness on Paul’s part. Paul did not dwell on God’s “No” answer. He learned to accept that God’s grace was sufficient for him. He learned how to deal with that. What is shown through his testimony is that he was a yielded vessel unto God no matter what God allowed in his life. Are we as yielded as Paul was? Do we accept our trial and rely on God’s grace as sufficient for our daily lives? Or do we dwell on our trials and sick bodies and wallow in self pity? How can God receive glory if we are not yielded vessels unto Him no matter what we are experiencing?

My dear Christian friend, won’t you glean from the Word and accept what God has for you in this life? That’s half the battle! This will produce a merry heart and your merry heart will be like a medicine to you and it will heal you – maybe not physically but definitely spiritually and emotionally.

So maybe God will choose to allow you to continue in sickness or continue in this particular trial. It is for His ultimate glory. He will provide you with the same grace He provided Paul to withstand your trial. Maybe He will choose to heal you totally. Again, it is for His ultimate glory. Either way, you have much to be grateful for – your Creator knows what you need, when you need it and He will provide you with the grace you need.

Dear God…
Help me accept what You have planned
Whether there’s healing or not
To accept that Your grace is sufficient
Being grateful in all of my thoughts
The Baptist Top 1000

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (Tit 2:12)

Denying ourselves of ungodly things and worldly lusts is a battle indeed. The first step is to be able to recognize these things in our lives. How can one recognize them if one is knee-deep in the world? I have seen what allowing the world into one’s life can do to a person. I know someone personally who use to live right. Somehow the devil has gotten compromise in this brother’s life and now he is doing things I never dreamed I’d ever see him do. He still goes to church and serves in different ministries. The sad thing is he no longer sees these compromises as sin but as his “right” and “liberty” in Christ! It grieves me to see someone use Christianity as an excuse to do whatever they want. There’s no consideration given to the weaker brother who is watching and may be pushed to sin because of the poor testimony displayed.

You can’t be around a skunk for more than just a few seconds and the smell disgusts you. You also come away feeling like you smell like a skunk, don’t you? However, the longer you’re around the stench, the less you smell it. I grew up in Northern Maine. A few times a year, we would drive to Massachusetts to visit my sister. The route my father used went right through Lincoln, Maine. We always knew when we were getting close because of the awful smell of their paper mill. This town would have been a great stopping point to eat but we never would stop there because we just could not stand the smell! As children, we would block our noses and breathe through our mouths as we went through town, it was that bad. We actually met people who had lived there all their lives and they claimed they couldn’t smell it! It’s the same with worldliness. The longer you are exposed to it and allow it to come into your life, the more it will permeate your life and your ability to discern it will deteriorate.

I find this type of worldly behavior by Christians as immature. They are like toddlers who keep saying, “Mine!” “Give me!” “I want!” “Don’t tell me what to do!” We had an interesting discussion on the Our Final Authority about comparing a human being’s growth from baby to adult to the spiritual life of a Christian. Thank you, Brother Lee, for sharing it with me. It is worth sharing here with you. I hope you are blessed by it.

Spiritual Growth Chart

Babies

Pacifier – Always needing to feel like you are eating but happy with just going through the motions and not really having to swallow anything or digest any truth. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (Heb 5:13)

Diaper Changes – Making messes uncontrollably that must be cleaned up by other more mature people. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (1Th 5:14)

Crying for attention – Crying not because of pain or hunger, cold or hot, or any other discomfort but because you want attention. Babies lie to get attention! Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Phi 4:11)

Thoughts – They know that they exist and they begin to learn. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (Psa 139:23)

Toddlers

Banging Heads – They see what they want and plunge in after it but they never see any danger. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. (Pro 4:19)

Poison – They will put anything in their mouths But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:14)

Falls – They will walk right off of the edge or trip over the most obvious hazards. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. (Joh 11:10)

Undisciplined – This is the age where discipline must be taught, this is where we learn what no means. He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Pro 13:24)

Learning – Begin to learn the first hard lessons of life usually the hard way. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. (Psa 25:4)

Childhood

Newness – Everything is new and must be discovered. This is where the greatest learning takes place. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4)

Recognition – We begin to recognize what causes sickness and pain, joy and pleasure. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. (Psa 119:7)

Socialization – We learn to play with others and learn from someone other than our parents. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:32)

Independence – We can feed ourselves and maintain ourselves with only a little help and nudging. We begin to make decisions. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. (1Jo 2:14)

Education – The beginning of a formal education they learn the basics from adults. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psa 111:10)

Pre-Teen – Teen

Assertion – We begin to assert ourselves as individuals and demand some control over our lives. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. (Deu 8:6)

Rebellion – We rebel against the authority of others over our life. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1Sa 15:23)

Individuality – We begin to show our individuality and uniqueness. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (1Co 12:18 )

Abilities – We now have the ability to do constructive work or to destroy the work of others. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (1Co 12:17)

Pride – We gain pride thus reaching the age of accountability. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Pro 16:18 )

Self centered – The world is there to serve us. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (Phi 2:4)

Knowledge – Begins to become knowledgeable of the deeper things of the World around them. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Pro 1:7)

Adult

Responsibility – Takes responsibility for his own actions good or bad. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (1Jo 2:10)

Wisdom – Understands truth and his own limitations thus reverences the Creator. The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. (Pro 16:31)

Service – Works for the benefit of others and not just for self. A
nd the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (2Ti 2:24) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (2Ti 2:25) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2Ti 2:26)

Sacrifice – Gives of themselves for their family and the ones that they love. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom 12:1)

Diligence – Does the routine things and the things that are expected of them. Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. (Pro 22:29)

Higher Education – They can now gain that higher knowledge of the mysterious things of creation and beyond. Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psa 143:10)

So, my friend, where are you in the Spiritual Growth Chart? Are you as far away from the stench of worldliness or have you hung around it long enough that the “scent” is all over you? This need not be your story. Paul said you can turn it around by living soberly, righteously, and godly. Get in the Word, Christian. Stop quenching the Holy Spirit of God and allow Him to prick your heart and point out the areas of compromise and worldliness you to need to work on. It’s never too late to turn your life around and be at peace once again. If you were to be totally honest, you cannot say that your worldly life has brought you any true peace. Won’t you turn today and serve the Lord again?

Dear God…
Compromise and worldliness
An awful stench they leave
May Your Holy Spirit cleanse me
While to Your Side I cleave

 The Baptist Top 1000

Phil. 4:7-8, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (7) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (8 ) Let’s face it, my friends, how many Christians do you know that are truly sold out for God and consistently moving forward in their spiritual lives? How many Christians can you say are striving toward living a Godly life in every aspect of their lives? We can perfect one area, like what music we listen to, but if we leave inappropriate reading aside, we are straddling the fence. You are sitting on the fence of indecision.

When you don’t move forward toward righteous living, you are making the decision to sit on the fence. Jesus said it best. Matt. 7:13-14, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (13) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (14) Yes, this speaks of the road to salvation. However, take notice that the believer has to enter at the straight gate and go down the narrow road. The person who sits on the fence is not in motion. The believer who enters in at the straight gate and then sits on the fence is not moving forward down the narrow road. He is sitting still and is not making any progress on his spiritual journey.

What is causing you to straddle the fence today? Is it impure thoughts? Is it covetousness? Is it what you watch on TV? Is it the music you listen to? Whatever you expose yourself to, you should ask yourself if it meets with the Phil. 4:8 criteria. Any Christian who does not desire to grow spiritually needs to ask himself why he is so indifferent about his progress. David took leave of his walk with God and allowed himself to straddle the fence. While he sat on the fence, his eyes caused him to covet another man’s wife. He straddled that fence a little longer and the devil wreaked havoc with David’s thoughts. Next, David began thinking of ways to remove the obstacle out of his way which prevented him from fulfilling the his lust. However, after David was convicted of his sin, he repented and moved forward from that point on. We don’t see any accounts of his falling deep into sin after that. Can you see what straddling the fence does? Any time you are idle in your thoughts, you will be tempted to wander. That is why Paul exhorted us to “think on these things”!

Where is your thought life today? These types of thoughts in Phil. 4:8 are fixed on heavenly things. What are you thinking about? The latest movie out of Hollywood? The latest romance novel? What the argument was all about with your neighbor? How many minutes/hours does your mind dwell on thoughts like these – even when you’re reading that book or watching that movie. Compare it to how many minutes/hours your mind dwells on Godly things.

Paul exhorts us to think of things that are true – only God is Truth – His Word is Truth. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Joh 17:17)

Are you thinking of honest things in all areas of your life? Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:12)

Are you thinking of things which are just? (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (Rom 2:13)

Are you thinking of pure things? The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psa 12:6) If your thoughts are not focused on the Word, which is pure, they will be focused on the world. The believer should be in motion on this one – he should be moving forward working toward purifying himself. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (1Jo 3:6)

Do you think on lovely things? Not things the world has to offer – but things that God offers. Do you think about what Heaven will be like? Do you think about God’s creation? Do you think about the message you heard on Sunday? His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. (Son 5:16) Thinking on Christ is lovely! He is altogether lovely!

What about thinking of things of good report? Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:7) A man considered for Pastor must have a good reputation so the lost don’t have reason to doubt him. Are you thinking about your reputation and keeping it honorable?

What about thinking on virtuous things? Do you think on morally good things? According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2Pe 1:3) God has called us grow in this area. The more we think on morally good things, the less we’ll have time for the ungodly works of the flesh.

Do you think about praises? [To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.] I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. (Psa 9:1) Even when you cannot think of one thing to praise God about, look at His wonderful creation and you’ll find something to praise Him for.

My friend, take moral inventory of your life today. How much time do you spend in the Word? How much time do you spend in prayer? How much time do you spend in church? How much time do you talk to others about the Lord? How much time to you study your Bible? Now compare it with how much time you do everything else in your life – be honest with yourself. Write it down on paper if you have to so you can see it in black and white. I beg you to do this assignment. Are you sitting on the fence of indifference? This ought not be so. The path to heaven is narrow and few are called. Why do you think this is? We must be growing in grace – growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the Word. It is in this growing process that we come down from straddling that fence and move forward in the path of righteousness. Remember, not only does the devil own the wide gate but he owns the fence you’re sitting on, too. He loves it when the Christian is not in forward motion!

Dear God…
Forgive me Lord for straddling the fence
Of indifference to the things of God
Help me Lord to move continually forward
As I walk the narrow way, Heaven bound.

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Pro 16:18 ) Injured pride is a tough lesson for the believer. The earlier this lesson is learned, the better it is.

What is the best way to deal with pride? Doing a study on how God views pride should be the first place we start. Noah Webster’s definition helps us to see more clearly:

Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.

I think the picture of the cat viewing himself as a lion is a perfect example, don’t you? When we see ourselves as better than we truly are, we set ourselves up for a huge disappointment.

If you struggle with pride, remember that one day you will be brought down to the level you truly belong, and maybe even lower. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (1 Sam 2:3) Continuing to be arrogant and prideful will only set you up for defeat. God sees where you truly are, how you think of yourself and He will weigh your actions. When the time comes where you are brought down, your pride will force you to think that you are suffering as a Christian. But God’s Word says, For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Pet 2:20) You’re suffering because of your sinful pride, not because you did something right for the Lord. You must recognize the difference and see God’s chastisement as His way of teaching you to be humble.

It is better to learn to be humble and meek before God has to deal with you and you are brought to shame. When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Pro 11:2) Get in the Word where the teaching is pure – there are so many verses dealing with pride and humbleness. Recognize that your pride is sin in the eyes of God. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. (Pro 21:4) Confess this sin and ask the Holy Spirit of God to pierce your heart and teach you humbleness and meekness.

That pride isn’t bad enough, but it drives you to greater sin. The Lord says you will stir up trouble and that you are a fool. Prov. 28:25-26, He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. (25) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (26) Is this what you want for your life? The Christian who is striving to grow in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit. Pride is not listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit; however meekness is (Gal. 5:22).

It’s always best to learn any lesson early on because the longer you remain in any sin, the harder you will fall. Is it not so with your own children? If they disobey you once, the punishment is minimal. But the more then continue to disobey, the harsher the punishment, right? Can you expect any less from your Heavenly Father? So you ask, “I thought today’s devo was going to be on injured pride? I thought I would learn how to deal with it.” If you look deep within yourself, you will see that your pride was injured because you thought more of yourself than you should have. Dealing with injured pride is learning to be humble.

Dear God…
Place pride far behind me
And I no longer fall
May I reflect Your humbleness
And heed the Spirit’s call

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luk 6:36) Today’s devotional is a long one, but I ask for your patience as it is not a subject that can be dealt with in just a few words. Most of us think that God refers to those “unlovable” people when we read this verse. We think that it is fulfilling the following: Matt. 25:34-40, Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (34) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (35) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (36) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (37) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (38 ) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (39) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (40)

But what about those “prickly” people who are closer to you than strangers? What about those hard to love church folks? What about those estranged family members? What about your own flesh and blood family who have wronged you? Do you think God excluded those from these verses? Are we placing restrictions on God’s Word by omitting them from the mercy we should be showing? Is God’s love conditional? For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:6) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8 ) If God’s love is conditional, we would all be in big trouble, for we have all sinned. Why should our love for those I’ve mentioned be any different? Does God not encourage us throughout the Word to have the same agape love that He has for us? If God took to heart all the bad things we did or said, He would be the first to shun us! Remember the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Easier said than done, right? Broken bones heal but words sure do cut to the core of a person’s heart. How does the world react to hurtful words? I remember my old days – get even, that’s the only way. The Lord sure has done a work in my heart since then.

However, why is it that we struggle with this more when it is someone right in our own family? These family members are the ones that need our testimony the most. Strangers don’t see us as we truly are. They don’t see us at home – behind closed doors. Our families see us for what we really are. All the more reason for us to show mercy and compassion to those who are lost or backslidden. Have you been hurt deeply by a family member, my friend? Have you been hurt by a church member? I know I have. Loving those prickly and hard-to-love people is not something we can do in the flesh. We just cannot “make” ourselves love them. But we can love them with God’s love. How? Love is a word of motion. Love takes action on our part. God showed us this action by leaving His throne and dying for our sins. That is the ultimate display of agape love. It was not a “sit back and see what happens” love but an action love – “I will go to them and see what I can do for them” kind of love.

If we want to get strong physically, we exercise and build up our muscles. If you want to be stronger in the agape love area, start working at it by doing something for those you find difficulty loving. Christ Jesus was our example, was He not? Then follow His example. Go out there and do something for those you struggle with. Forgive them in your heart and move on. The devil would love nothing better than for you to hold on to resentment and bitterness toward those who have hurt you. You no longer serve him so why obey him? Serve your Father in Heaven instead and put some action to your work.

Are you too afraid to speak to that person face-to-face? Why not send a card or an email? Start “doing” for them as you would a total stranger. Start from scratch and build your testimony once again. If you need to ask forgiveness, then do so. If they wronged you, forgive them and move forward. Let the healing power of the Holy Spirit heal you. This is not an option in a Christian’s life. We are commanded, my friend, to love as Christ has loved. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (Joh 15:12) Did Christ set limits to His love? Did He only die for certain people? No, He died for all sinners. Therefore, your love for others cannot have conditions. I know this is not an easy thing to hear. But as long as we neglect this great teaching and disobey this commandment, are we not out of the Father’s will?

It is difficult to put into practice this same love of Christ, especially if we have been wronged. Let’s say that you came up with a great idea for the Easter Cantata at church. You present it to the Choir Director and he excitedly receives it, complimenting you on your idea! The next thing you know, the Pastor announces from the pulpit that the Choir Director has come up with a brilliant play for the Cantata and there is no mention of you! Here you are sitting in your pew and you’re beet red and steaming on the inside. How dare the Choir Director steal your idea? After church, folks go up to the Director congratulating him on his idea and he does nothing to indicate that the idea was not his. You feel so betrayed and hurt at this point. You try to figure out whether you should go to the Choir Director directly or tell the Pastor that this was your idea and not the Choir Director’s idea. After all, the Pastor ought to know this.

It’s when we are at this point that we should think of John 15:12 and put it to action. Yes, you’ve been wronged. That is no longer the point. The point now is to learn to deal with what has happened and apply Christ’s example to your own situation. Christ would not retaliate and hurt but would lovingly bring this person to reconciliation. So must you. Remember that Christ died for you while you were yet a sinner, right? He forgave you before you even sinned. Then forgive this person, no matter if they have offended you countless times. Matt. 18:21-22, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? (21) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (22) I know it’s difficult, but we’re commanded to forgive. What would you do if Christ did not forgive “some” of your own sins? Christ did not set limits, nor should we. This is agape love, my friend. Once you have forgiven this person in your heart, you are free from the chains of resentment that are binding you. It no longer matters how you feel. What matters is to bring reconciliation.

The next step would be to face your offender. You would be amazed to find the reasoning behind their motives. It does not mean the offense is overlooked – it just means that you learn how to approach that person and discuss the offense with forgiveness already in your heart. That’s the difference. Listen with Christ’s heart rather than your own. Using our example, go to the Choir Director and tell him how happy you were that your idea was selected for the cantata and give the glory to God. Then sit back and listen. He will be sure to “hum and haw” and stumble to find the words to explain. It’s not easy to listen to excuses and place ourselves in their shoes but it is the right thing to do. Maybe
the Choir Director had his own reasons for claiming ownership. Maybe he had certain events going on in his life that caused him to do this. It does not justify that what he did was wrong but it will help you to understand his reasoning. Maybe he was getting back at you for something you did to him that you are unaware of. This is not right but, it will help you to understand. It does not excuse what he did but it helps you to see why he did it. This is where reconciliation begins. You’ve already forgiven him prior to the meeting. Now you are working to restoring the relationship. Look at it this way. Can you imagine how Christ felt? He died for you before you even asked forgiveness! Some never ask for forgiveness yet He died for them too.

It’s hard to understand this kind of love, but we are commanded to love as Christ loves. Now that you are exercising this love and taking that first step of reconciliation, you can move forward in healing the relationship. You can speak your mind without being harsh because you are no longer dealing with forgiveness – you’ve already done this. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Pro 15:1) The Word of God has all that we need to tackle each task in life. If you speak non-combative words, you are promised that there will be peace in your conversation. We are also taught how to speak and which words to say. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Eph 4:29) Whatever you say to the Choir Director, let it be to edify him and to minister grace (goodwill and kindness) to him. If you don’t, you are grieving the Holy Spirit in your own life according to God’s Word. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph 4:30) The conversation with the Choir Director will not be an easy one. There is no “easy” way to tell someone that they have hurt you because they stole your idea. But there is a nice way to tell them. You can point out a sin but yet say it in such a way that this person knows you love them in the Lord. Your goal is to reconcile this person to God and to restore the relationship between the two of you. (If the person you are struggling with is not a Christian, then your goal is the same – you want to point him to Christ so he can be saved.) Go into your conversations after having prayed for God’s wisdom. God promises to give us wisdom liberally according to James 1:5.

Can you imagine how the Choir Director will respond if you are enter the conversation already with forgiveness? He will not feel defensive because he will see that your motive is not to get even. Your actions will prick his heart and move him to repent. If he does not, you have already forgiven him and the rest is up to him. You no longer have bitterness and resentment but are free to love him as Christ loves you! If the person is not saved, can you imagine how they are going to view your reaction? They will be seeing Christ in action through you. The Gospel is being spoken through action! What a responsibility we have to show this agape love in our lives – this love is one of motion – always moving forward and upward!

As we grow in Christ, we should be viewing the unlovable and prickly people as opportunities to reconcile them to God. What would we have done if Christ had treated us the way we treat those who are unlovable? Are we any different than they? No, but we have the power through Christ to treat the unlovely as He would. What a testimony we can be! What a powerful message we can preach just in our actions alone! What about that brother or parent you’ve been witnessing to for years? Have you had fight after fight trying to point out their sin? Has it brought the two of you closer together or has it brought distance between you? Were you successful in showing them their lost condition? Probably not. Have they hurt you in return? There are some things that you just cannot control, and one of them is their reaction. But what you can control is your reaction. With forgiveness in your heart, you are free to love them the way Christ loves them. Put into practice this agape love and start loving them with action. Do things for them – send a card, make a phone call, bake a cake, make a meal when they are sick – but just do it! Put Christ’s love in motion and love them unconditionally.

Thank You, Lord, for blessing my heart today!

Dear God…
Agape love is what we need
To show the love of Christ
To those who hurt us deeply
Guide us, help us through Your might.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psa 119:165)

I have loved this verse for many years now. The Lord first gave it to me when I was going through some very difficult trials in my life. When God would speak to me through the Pastor’s messages, I did not like what I was hearing. I did not want to follow the guidance the man of God was clearly preaching. What he was preaching was too hard for me and I felt that it was too much to bear. Sometimes we look at our trials as a whole and get discouraged. This is what I did. I would look at the big picture, hear the preaching and think to myself that God didn’t know what He was asking me to do! Was I ever wrong!!

When the Lord gave Psalm 119:165 to me, it was as though He had reached down and hugged this child. He spoke to me through His Word and said that if I love His Word, nothing in it will cause me to fall or stumble. He would not ask me to do anything that would be bad for me. So, I obeyed the Lord through the preaching and did what was asked. The end result was one of great peace. All the fears I had of what might happen, never happened. I feared the unknown and feared what God would have me to do – all for nothing. God’s Word assured me peace if I followed it and it was true!

I pray that you would glean from that testimony and apply it to your own life. I pray that you will see this verse as one that will bring life changing results to you. Let’s look at it and pick it apart this morning. The Greek word for “offend” is

H4383
מכשׁל מכשׁול
mikshôl mikshôl
mik-shole’, mik-shole’
Masculine from H3782; a stumblingblock, literally or figuratively (obstacle, enticement (specifically an idol), scruple): – caused to fall, offence, X [no-] thing offered, ruin, stumbling-block.

Noah Webster also defines the word in the same manner:

6. To disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble. Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. Psa 119.

What a blessing this is. God’s Word will never bring you harm, my friend. You may hear some hard preaching and refuse to apply it to your life because you feel it is too hard or it will create problems. But God’s Word says otherwise. God’s Word is not offensive. He would never give us something that would cause us to stumble – It only promises peace.

You may be thinking that you already know this. But let me ask you this. Have you heard a message recently where the Pastor says “A Christian should not do _______!” (fill in the blank)? Were you guilty of whatever it was he said you should not do? If you were guilty, did you stop doing it? Or did you shrug it off. If you shrugged it off, you are sinning. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jer 3:15) God’s man has been given to your church to feed you from the Word so you can grow in knowledge and understanding, my friend. The Holy Spirit cannot do a work in you if you are not going to respond to the message God has laid on his heart. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17) When your Pastor brings your name up before God, is he able to do so with joy or with grief? If it is with grief, the Word says it is unprofitable to you.

You only get your feathers ruffled when it is a sin you don’t want to give up. Right? Applying the Word’s teachings is not always easy but it brings peace. It is much easier to give up the sin and do what is right than to hold on to it. There is no peace in that. If you struggle with smoking cigarettes and you hear a message against it, does it not stir you up spiritually? What do you do with that? If you ignore it, you cannot honestly say you are at peace with that decision. Chances are you hide the cigarettes when the Pastor comes to visit. Or you are looking over your shoulder to make sure no one from church has seen you with a carton of cigarettes in your shopping cart. You heard the Bible verses the Pastor used to encourage you to quit smoking but you ignore him. You’re actually ignoring the Lord. This sin is not too great for you to give up, my friend. God promises that there is peace awaiting you.

Everyone has an area in their lives where they struggle. Why do we think that ours is unique and is just too great to give up? It’s because we are not in the Word of God the way we should be. Don’t be angry with the Preacher for preaching God’s Word. If you are, Psalm 119:165 cannot be a verse you can claim. Instead, submit to the preaching and allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in you. There is nothing that you are experiencing right now that you cannot overcome, my friend. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)

God promises peace and He gives peace. The only thing we have to do to obtain that peace is to be in His Word. How hard is that? D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” If things are going wrong and you are overwhelmed, look at your Bible life. If you are on the verge of a marital break up, look at your Bible life. If you are struggling with gambling, look at your Bible life. Every part of our lives stems directly from the time we spend in the Bible and our obedience to its teachings. This is what separates the men from the boys. I constantly meet people who live defeated Christian lives. There is always something wrong and they seem to have one problem after another. Being around them is exhausting because they are negative and constantly complain. When they ask me what to do, I immediately ask them if they are in the Word every day. Every single response reflected little or no time had been spent in the Word! Can you believe that? And they wonder why they are going through these trials and feel overwhelmed? There is no peace there and it is evident why. I also have met Christians who are going through tremendous trials but you would never know it. Why? Because these Christians are in the Word, applying it to their lives and gleaning God’s peace.

Why struggle when you can have that sweet peace that only God can give His children? He waits to give it to you. Why ignore Him? Spending time in the Word and yielding yourself to it produces that peace. These negative people seem to enjoy living this way – constantly defeated. Do you actually enjoy the unrest in your spirit? Do you actually want to continue to live with such a dark cloud over you? Maybe you are the kind of person who loves the attention you get because of it. Believe me, the only attention you are getting is from people who are in the same situation as you are. You are like a person who is drowning – you are looking to others who cannot swim to help you. Instead, you should be looking to others who can provide you with a life preserver!

You can turn yourself around, you know. Sure it will mean setting aside time to read the Bible and study it. Sure it will mean that you will have to apply what you learn and give up those sins that God places on your heart. Sure it will take an effort on your part, but wouldn’t it be worth it? If you’re miserable, Christian, it’s because you choose to be miserable. The sad thing is that you bring down those around you, too. You will have much to account for when you stand before the Lord. Wouldn’t it be easier to submit to God’s Word today? Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psa 119:165)

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa 26:3)

LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. (Isa 26:12)

Dear God…
How can I know You if I don’t read
Your Manual on life
This can only bring me grief and pain
Causing me much strife

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But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (Eph 2:4) In day-to-day living, we human beings learn by watching, reading, and listening. We watch some one’s actions and learn from them – there’s no better example of this than our own children and how quickly they “pick things up” from us – whether good or bad. What we read teaches us and influences our thoughts. Listening also teaches – if we are good listeners. Who we watch, read after and listen to is so important!

The best example and Teacher is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If anyone was perfect in mercy, it was Jesus. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines mercy as:

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num 14.

2. An act or exercise of mercy or favor. It is a mercy that they escaped.

I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies. Gen 32.

3. Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.

And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Luke 10.

4. Clemency and bounty.

Mercy and truth preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy. Prov 28.

5. Charity, or the duties of charity and benevolence.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Mat 9.

6. Grace; favor. 1 Cor 7. Jude 2.

7. Eternal life, the fruit of mercy. 2 Tim 1.

8. Pardon.

I cry thee mercy with all my heart.

9. The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.

To be or to lie at the mercy of, to have no means of self-defense, but to be dependent for safety on the mercy or compassion of another, or in the power of that which is irresistible; as, to be at the mercy of a foe, or of the waves.

What a difference in definition when compared to today’s Merriam Webster Dictionary:

1 a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder2 a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b: a fortunate circumstance 3: compassionate treatment of those in distress

The Christian has seen mercy from the Lord first hand. This lesson in mercy ought to pierce our hearts in such a way that we would want to be merciful to others. How merciful are you toward those who have offended you? Do you mete out mercy equal to that which Christ has shown you? Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luk 6:36)

If we are not merciful toward others, we cannot expect the Lord to be merciful toward us when we need Him to be. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Mat 5:7) Showing God’s mercy to others brings happiness and joy to the believer because we are not oppressed by the consequences of sin. We have been freed and are free to love others and be merciful to them. We don’t feel like we are in shackles and bound. I don’t know if this makes sense to you but it’s the only way I can explain how I feel when I am not being obedient to God’s Word in an area that I know I should be. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Pro 14:21) This is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my Christian walk. It is not human nature to be merciful. Our first reaction is to fight back and prove our point. The furthest thing from our minds is to obey this verse: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (Luk 6:31) But Christ tells us that this is what is required of us. Jesus could have easily chosen the same merciless path as I but instead, He submitted to His Father’s will and showed mercy to all. We would be in sad shape had Christ taken the same route as us, wouldn’t we?

…Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. (Job 11:6b) We don’t deserve God’s mercy – but praise His Holy Name that He has shown mercy to us despite of our sin! So much the more should we Christians show mercy to those who hurt and abuse us. This is not an easy teaching to swallow but it is a needful teaching for our spirit. These lessons mold us and form us into the image of Christ and make us into vessels of honour for His use.

Dear God…
Christ, the great example
Of God’s mercy to all who live
May we follow in His footsteps
Standing ready to forgive

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But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Pro 1:33) As cute as this picture is, its message shows a kitten clinging on. The kitten climbed to a place he should not have been and now he’s in trouble. We’ve all had days, maybe even weeks, like this, haven’t we? We feel like we are at the end of our rope. If one more thing goes wrong, we’re going to snap! The Christian has promises in the Word which assure us of a compassionate Heavenly Father who is there to help us in those desperate times. He promises us that if we call upon Him, we will have the awesome privilege of dwelling in safety and we won’t fear what the future has in store. Our trials may still come but the Lord provides peace and assurance that He will be there with us and take care of all things.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. (Pro 3:24) How can you trust someone you only see on occasion? You can’t! Trust is built on day-to-day relationships. A couple who has been married for 20 years will trust their spouse more than a couple who has been married only a few months. The years of building up the relationship adds trust to their marriage foundation. It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. The older we are spiritually, the more we depend on His Word to pull us through, to guide us, and to encourage us. Those who seek God in His Word daily, learn that this is the place to go where you can meet the only One who has never broken a promise. He alone is trustworthy. The Christian is able to lie down and have sweet rest because he trusts his God to take care of all matters – knowing fully that He will not fail him.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:7) We can’t understand how God can work all things out for all believers throughout all of time – but one thing is for sure, He can and He will. We cannot claim this if our hearts quickly fail us in time of trouble. What a testimony it is to see a dear brother or sister in Christ stand strong in their faith through a major trial knowing that God will pull them through. What a thrill for a Christian to be able to turn to the Master of the Sea to calm the storms of their life. There is no need to worry!

Are you worrying today, dear Christian? It is not a good testimony for the unsaved to see this in you. If a co-worker sees you worrying over unpaid bills or a broken-down car, how will they see the power of God at work? It’s the peace which passeth all understanding that will reach out to them. They will want what you have.

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. (Luk 12:29) For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. (Luk 12:30) Our Father knows our needs and is ever watching over us. Don’t worry about tomorrow and what it might bring. When you are busy serving the Lord, He promises to take care of all your needs – and much better than an earthly father can. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat 6:33) Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Mat 6:34)

Dear God…
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
by Thomas Chisholm

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This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Jos 1:8 ) Meditating daily on God’s Word is a key part of a Christian’s life. Why would you want to read the Bible just for the sake of reading and receiving nothing from it? God tells us in this verse that we should meditate on it day and night so that we will obey it. Meditating implies application here, doesn’t it? I know that I have meditated on many things but failed to apply it to my life. I did not allow the Holy Spirit of God to change me. It was not God that failed, but I am the one that failed. I was a hearer of the word only and not a doer. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jam 1:22) When we understand what meditation is all about, we begin to understand how God uses it in our lives to mold us into the vessel of honour we should be.

When should we meditate? God’s Word reveals that we should meditate on His Word day and night. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psa 1:2) Whenever the Lord lays a verse on your mind, nurture that verse in your heart. Think about it and meditate on its meaning. The Lord impressed it upon you for a reason. Search out your heart to see where this verse applies. Is it to point out a sin? Confess it. Is it to point you to a task to be done? Recognize the task and do it.

Who should we meditate on? When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. (Psa 63:6) Meditate on the Lord, Himself. When you cannot sleep, think of His goodness, His blessings, answered prayer, the trials He has brought you through, or your salvation.

What should we meditate on? I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. (Psa 119:15) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Psa 143:5) Meditating on the Word of God opens our eyes to God Himself. He reveals Himself to us within the blessed pages of our Bible. We learn about His omnipotence, Jesus’ return and His upcoming Kingdom, how to live godly lives, etc. We also can think about the work of God’s hands – His creation, our families, His Word, etc. The list cannot be exhausted.

What should we do with what we have gleaned from during our times of meditation? I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. (Psa 77:12) When we meditate on all that the Lord has done for us, we are then ready to share with others what He has done for us. Give God the glory due Him by sharing praises. Too often, we are quick to complain about our circumstances. However, if we have spent our night watches meditating on God’s Goodness, those complaints are long gone and praises rest on our lips.

When should we meditate? Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. (Psa 119:23) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. (Psa 119:78 ) Whenever we are being attacked by the world, we should turn to God’s Word and meditate on it. It is there we will find peace in the midst of turbulence. We should meditate when we have trouble sleeping. But sometimes the sweetest times for meditation are found in those wee hours of the morning when all is quiet. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psa 119:148 ) Notice that David says that he prevented his eyes from sleeping so he could meditate on God’s Word. When was the last time I deprived myself of sleep so I could meditate on God’s Word? This was quite a convicting verse for me today.

What are the results of meditating? Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (1Ti 4:15) When we meditate on God’s Word and apply what we have gleaned to our lives, we cannot help but grow spiritually. We become profitable and in so doing, we become a blessing to those around us. We can be used of God for their benefit.

When we do not meditate on God’s Word, we are revealing our spiritual barometer. If you talk to a Christian who is strong in this area of meditation, you will find a Christian who is solid and not easily caught off guard by the curve balls of life. He also has a spiritually firm foundation and can easily testify of what God has done for him. Strengthen and build upon your foundation by meditating on God’s Word today.

Dear God…
To read and run is tragedy
Nothing is gleaned or learned
But may we rest our weary souls
While we meditate and discern

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They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing. Ps. 92:14 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a topic on what the Word of God has to say about our dear Senior Saints. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this generation. I would love to run a retirement home where I could love and dote on these dear folks. The Senior Saints in my church have the greatest testimony when it comes to serving. They do not allow their age to stop them from serving God. Even those Seniors who walk with a walker or cane come to our church to help put tracts and flyers together so those who can go out soulwinning have information to take with them. They are the first to volunteer whenever the church secretary needs help putting things together. No matter what their age, they still serve God with whatever they have left in their weary bodies. What a testimony!

Many cultures today, sadly including our own, regard their senior citizens with disrespect. However, the Christian should be setting an example to the world on how one should treat the dear Senior Saint. The Word says But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Tim 5:8 ) First of all, our dear saints should not have to worry about where they will live or how they will make ends meet. Each household is commanded by the Word of God to care for their own. The burden does not rest on the government, my friend. The Lord tells us the burden rests on us. So much so, God says that one who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel (an unbeliever). Sadly, many unbelievers treat their senior citizens better than the Christian!

With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. (Job 12:12) We can glean so much if we take time to listen to the wisdom that our dear Senior Saints have. They’ve lived a full life and have been through many trials and tribulations. We can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to listen to a Senior Saint give an account of how God has blessed them or brought them through a trial. I did not always feel this way about my own parents. It’s amazing how much wiser my parents became the older I got.

Mrs. Sarah is an elderly lady I picked up for church every week. She lost her sight the last 12 years of her life and yet she was never bitter toward God for this trial. Mrs. Sarah lived in a government-subsidized home. The people who cared for her took advantage of her blindess and stole from her – the little that she had. She would hide the few dollars she had on her body because they would go through her dresser drawers. Instead of being bitter, she testified of God’s goodness every day. One of my greatest blessings was to listen to Mrs. Sarah share how she was raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother grew up as a slave on a plantation during the Civil War. Mrs. Sarah shared how her grandmother’s family would go hide in the woods late at night so their “master” would not know they were having worship services and Bible time! Do you think Mrs. Sarah’s grandmother complained? I never once heard Mrs. Sarah give an account of any such complaints. However, I did hear about how they hid God’s Word away in their hearts because they only had a few pages of a Bible which were hidden beneath the floor boards. I am a better person today for having known Mrs. Sarah. She’s home with the Lord now and no longer battles blindness! She was welcomed into heaven by that grandmother who hid God’s Word in her heart from those few pages.

Another dear saint I would like to tell you about is a man named Brother John. He also lives at the same home as Mrs. Sarah. Brother John was a dear and meek soul. He worked hard all his life as a window washer. Like Mrs. Sarah, his family never comes to visit him and his church family are all he has. Brother John made a statement to me one day which will stick with me until the day I die: “Eternity is too long and hell fire too hot for someone not to be saved”! Whether he made that statement up or not, he lives by it to this day. This godly man has never once complained in my presence. I’m pretty sure he is in his late 80’s by now and struggles with walking. But yet he’s still faithful in church. He knows where his power comes from.

Christian, how do you treat the elderly? Do you show them respect or do you make fun of them, young person? How do you treat your parents? It does not matter how old you are, it is never right to dishonor them. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (Eph 6:2) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (Eph 6:3) I look at Hollywood and how many “stars” have died at a very young age. Their parents have been dishonored by their child’s wicked choices and God’s judgment was fulfilled because they dishonored them. Do you honor your parents? If you do, the Word says that it will be well with you and you will have long life. How do you treat them? How do you speak to them in front of others? Do you speak badly about them? How do you care for them? Do you place them on the pedestal of honor? Can God look at your parents and see you right beside them giving them a helping hand? These verses don’t say to honor your parents only when they are good parents. One of the best testimonies I have seen along these lines is of a dear friend of mine. His parents are not saved nor do they display affection toward their children. In fact, they dislike my friend because he is saved and takes a stand against sin. However, he does not let their hatred of the Word of God to stand in his way of honoring them. His father is now in a home and this friend takes care of his mother’s house. He makes sure her driveway is shoveled, her house is painted, and all those other chores. He has two homes he is maintaining but he never complains. He has other siblings in the area but he is the one that his mother can count on. I don’t know whether or not she associates his helpfulness with Christ-like behavior, but what a testimony he is for her. That is honoring one’s parents whether they are good parents or not. What a good son he is.

Have your parents died? There are Senior Saints in your church who could sure use some uplifting today. Do your parents live far from you? There are always Seniors Saints in your church whose children also live far away and they would truly appreciate a helping hand mowing grass or shoveling snow. Show your respect to a dear saint today! Sit back and enjoy their stories – I can assure you that you will walk away truly blessed.

Dear God…
I thank You for the Senior Saints
I’ve met along the way
Their wisdom and great counsel
Bring much blessings to my day

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The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with. (Pro 17:14) Imagine with me this morning a dam with a small leak. The water slowly trickles out until the hole becomes bigger and bigger. Eventually, disaster strikes and the raging waters flow wreaking havoc in its path. I liken arguing to flood waters. The more we desire to prove our point, the more the argument escalates. Eventually this argument becomes a full-blown fight and the flood gates have been opened. Words are said that should not have been said. Sadly, these words cannot be taken back because they have already caused the damage and pain. They produce a flood of turmoil and it takes days, sometimes weeks, to clean up the mess we’ve made. Oh the havoc we wreak with our mouths! If only we would glean from the Word of God and apply God’s counsel to our lives. We would keep ourselves out of trouble.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Pro 15:1) The effects of an argument are not the same if you are the only one involved. Therefore, heed God’s Word and give a soft answer. If someone criticizes you, how can they be angry with the response, “I’m sorry if I have offended you. I’ll try not to do that again.” Or even, “Forgive me for that, I was not aware of how much this bothered you.” Sadly, too many Christians today think that they have “arrived” as a human being when they can tell somebody off or put someone in their place. This is not Christ-like nor does the Lord exhort us to be this way. When Christ was being mocked, He did not give them a piece of His mind.

Our harsh words will only stir up anger in the other person and fuel our own. It will allow the flood gates to open up and damage what is precious to us. It takes more of a man (or woman) to control his tongue than to speak his mind. [To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.] I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. (Psa 39:1) Be careful! One’s character is revealed as he speaks his mind. I have never seen this verse better put into action than in the life of my own Pastor. No one could possibly start an argument with him even if they tried. He does not argue back. Every kind word I have heard about him has included how gentle and kind he is. He can be assertive when the need arises but he has never allowed anger to rule his tongue.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Heb 12:15) I especially love this verse because it goes with the flooding theme of today’s devotional. The root of bitterness springs up within us and the devil uses it to his advantage. The devil says, “Go ahead, speak your mind – let him have it, he deserves to be put in his place.” The devils loves it when he can cause us to concentrate on our own feelings and he stirs up that bitter root within us. Can you have an argument if your heart isn’t bitter?

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phi 2:3) If we truly believed this verse and applied it to our lives, what would be the outcome of arguments that come our way? One who esteems the other better than himself will not be quick to tear down the other but will be totally interested in healing the conflict. He will carefully choose his words because he is esteeming that person more than himself. Would you like to be on the receiving end of hurtful words? Of course not. So if you esteem the other better than yourself, you will not be quick to speak hurtful words.

I once heard a message using a tube of toothpaste as an analogy for arguing. As impossible as it is to put toothpaste back into its tube, it’s just as impossible to take back those words that should not have been spoken! The damage is done – the words have been spoken and can never be taken back. The toothpaste is everywhere and what a mess it has made. These analogies are great ones and we should take heed to their message to avoid damaging a relationship to the point of no return. Sadly, we hurt the ones we are closest to – why that is, I’ll never know. Is it because we are most comfortable with them and feel free to speak our minds? Rather than be this way, we should think the opposite – we should be so comfortable with them that we want to be even more careful not to speak our minds for fear of hurting them.

Is losing a friend or loved one worth speaking your mind? A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. (Pro 18:19) Wouldn’t it be better to choose your words carefully and save that relationship? My friend, if you repeatedly hurt the same person with your words, you chance losing that friend. God is only trying to help us through His Word. It’s so important to place into action and apply what we read so that we may glean the “good” that God intends for us. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (Jam 1:26) As born-again Christians, we should be shining examples to those around us of how we are doers of the Word and not hearers only.

Dear God…
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psa 19:14)

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… The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders. (Deu 33:12) The storms of life can sometimes feel as overwhelming as this picture, can’t they? The tumultuous waves all around us seem to want to swallow us up. If we look at our circumstances, we can easily become discouraged – yes, even depressed. Remember that the same God who caused the seas to calm in Mark 4:39 can give you His divine protection through the storms of your life? I love the account of Peter wanting to walk on the water to meet Jesus. Read it with me:

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (Mat 14:30)

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Mat 14:31)

The storms of our lives will swallow us up if we focus on the circumstances and not on Christ. It happened to Peter. He started out well but the moment he took his eyes of Jesus, he began to sink. The Holy Spirit knew what He was doing when He placed this account in the Word! He knew that each of us would turn to this account during the storms of our lives. Notice in Mat 14:31, Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand to Peter. Our Wonderful Lord and Saviour didn’t wait a minute or two to “teach Peter a lesson” but responded immediately! This is a beautiful example of divine protection.

As the storms of our lives rage about us, we need to remember that our Divine Protector is there to guide us, to help us, to encourage us. [A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psa 27:1) Who and what do we have to fear when God is our light in the midst of the storm? Where do you turn when you are in need of help? Do you go to your Divine Protector or do you run to your spouse, your friend or your parents? If you run to a “fleshly” source, you will receive “fleshly” help. But if you run to the Divine Protector, you will receive divine help.

[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psa 46:1) Again, our God is our very refuge and strength, my friend!! Even better, He is our present help! The Lord does not delay His help – His help is ever present – always there to give us!

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psa 91:1) I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psa 91:2) Dear Christian, are you dwelling in the secret place of the most High? When we are in that secret place, the storms that are raging outside are not a bother because we abide under the Almighty’s shadow! This is the place we need to be when those storms are raging! When you walk through a storm and come out from under your umbrella, you experience that storm to its fullest. As long as you stay under that umbrella, you are protected. As we stay in the Almighty’s shadow, we are protected from the storms. The minute we come out from under His umbrella of protection, we are exposed and the devil is as a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour!

Oh Christian, hearken unto the Lord this day and dwell in His shadow – in safety from the storms of life. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Pro 1:33)

Under His Wings
William O. Cushing

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

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And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. (Isa 42:16)

John Newton spoke his heart when he penned the words to Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

This first verse shows a man that was lost and blind as he walked the world’s path to a Christless eternity in hell. It also shows the beautiful transformation that took place when Christ entered this same man’s heart and this man was led down a new path. This man now had a new direction in his life – he was no longer lost. He also found that he was no longer blind. There now was light shining on his path pointing him in the direction he should go. Do you get the impression that John Newton spent time with the Lord? Do you think he found the direction he needed in his Bible?

The Lord does this same thing in each believer’s life. All we have to do is read His Word and we will see how God’s character shines through in this area. God desires to direct us and lead us. He does not want His children to walk about blindly not knowing which way to turn. Do you have life changing decisions you need to make? Do you worry about your future and what is in store for you? You need not be. God’s promises are written in the Word for our encouragement. We can depend on Him to keep His promises. He’s not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19 and 1 Sam 15:29).

I hope you are blessed by the verses I’m sharing with you today. Please, take the time to read each of them and let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with confidence. You do not have a Father who will fail you and lead you down the wrong path. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and loves His children – His desire is to light our way and clearly guide us. We need to learn to acknowledge just Who we are serving and allow Him to show us His will and the direction that He sees is best for us.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luk 1:79) Our God guides even the lost to a place where they can hear the plan of salvation – how much more will He guide us?

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105) In the midst of the pages of our blessed Bible, we find answers to questions which directly impact our path.

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psa 119:130) As we read and meditate on the Word, they enter our hearts and help us to understand God’s direction.

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psa 119:133) Sin darkens our path when it reigns in our lives. But the light of the Word overpowers this darkness.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; (Psa 139:9) Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (Psa 139:10) No matter how desperate our situation may be, the Father’s hand is right there waiting to hold us and guide us. Doesn’t this remind you of the Footprints in the Sand story? I can envision this in my mind’s eye right now, can’t you?

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (Psa 37:23) When a Christian is striving to live a godly life, his steps are ordered by God. This verse says that God delights in this Christian – like a father delights in his child when his child is obedient and doing right. We cannot be perfect and sinless but we can strive toward the mark.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 ) God’s eye is ever on us, oh Christian. How wonderful is that? How comforting is that? God sees what we’re doing and where we’re going. He guides us through His Word. No Bible, no direction – Know the Bible, know direction!

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (Psa 25:9) We cannot be taught if we do not yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Yielding does not have the connotation of simply reading the Word but reading and applying what God teaches us.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (Psa 73:24) God guides us using many forms – His Word, the Pastor, and even wise friends.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psa 23:3) Our souls have been restored through the precious work of the Cross. Jesus Christ’s own blood has been shed for our sins and has restored fellowship between man and his God. To this child is a promise that his Heavenly Father will be a leader to him and will show him how to live that holy life that He commands us to live. … Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Pet 1:16)

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (Joh 16:13) My friend, we possess this Holy Spirit of truth. He resides within each of us. We have the wonderful opportunity of daily tapping into this truth. This truth will guide us and direct us on our Pilgrim’s path!!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Pro 3:5) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Pro 3:6) When we turn to our own thoughts and logic, we can easily be distracted and misguided because we are fallible. Our sinless and Holy God can be trusted because He is infallible. He has never failed, my friend! NEVER! Is this not enough encouragement for you? When we trust our unfailing Father, He provides yet another promise of directing our path.

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isa 58:11) Don’t you feel yourself sitting beside a babbling brook right about now? Do you hear those birds chirping and the crickets? Your thirsty soul needs to drink from that Fountain. God awaits to fill you in His Word.

I pray these verses have encouraged you today to turn to God for His direction for your life. He knows what is best – He has seen the future and can guide you in the here and now! And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isa 30:21) Do you hear His still small voice, my friend? He longs to speak to you and guide you. Once again, get in the Word and you’ll find Him there – He’s waiting.

Dear God…
Guide me down Your path I pray
That path You chose for me
Shine Your blessed light so bright
So clearly I may see

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If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Tim. 2:21) That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thess 4:4) We are sanctified when we are born again because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. However, every day we should be growing in Christ, as we study and learn from His Word. I love the message God gives us through the life of a butterfly. While in its cocoon, the butterfly struggles to be free. To watch it struggling, one is tempted to help this butterfly along. But in so doing, we deprive that butterfly of the strength it gains during its struggle. Helping it only kills it. So is the Christian. We need the struggles in our Christian walk so we can turn to the Word and allow it to heal us. The more we break free from sin, we become conformed to Christ’s image. We can rid ourselves of the sin that so easily besets us and be set free like the butterfly.

Noah Webster defines sanctification as “The act of making holy.” God commands us to be holy as He is holy.

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Lev 20:7)

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1 Pet 1:15)

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Pet 1:16)

I found it interesting that this statement from God is found three times in the Word. Our Three-in-One God is a holy God. We will never reach a perfected state of holiness in this lifetime but we are to be a constant “work in progress” as we walk this Pilgrim’s path on earth. We sanctify ourselves through our daily time spent in the Word. The Word then washes us as we apply its applications to our lives. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Eph 5:26) We can read the Bible faithfully every day – but without applying it to our lives, it is of no value. A police officer can look at body armor all he wants and admire how it can protect his body from bullets. However, the body armor does him no good if he does not put it on for protection.

The Word of God is just not for reading, my friend. The Word convicts the heart of sin. If we do nothing with that conviction, what good is it? The Word is truth and leads us in the path of becoming more like the Father, thus fulfilling His command to be holy as He is holy. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Joh 17:17)

Jesus was our perfect example of One who practiced sanctification. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (Joh 17:19) As we study the Word and learn about Jesus and how He lived His life, we learn of His meekness, His faithfulness and His love. We learn how His desire was to seek the Father’s will and not His own. So should we, as children of the Living God, work diligently weeding out sin in our lives. The more we work to be more like Christ, the more sanctified (set apart) we will become. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thess 4:4) Emphasis mine. We are to know how to do this. We cannot know without being in the Word!

This is the difference between a Christian who is moving forward in his spiritual walk and one that is at a stand still. Twice Paul spoke of those who were still babes in Christ because they did not get into the meat of the Word – they were still drinking milk. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Cor 3:2) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Heb 5:12)

My friend, repentance brings forth sanctification. One cannot say he is growing in Christ if he is continuing in the same sin. Are you struggling with a particular sin? Until you have forsaken it, you cannot grow more into the image of Christ. I truly believe that many Christians have become complacent to their sin and are satisfied with living with known sin. They live a life of delusion and they will not be a vessel meet for the Master’s use. What kind of vessel are you today? Are you enjoying a Christian life sanctifying yourself daily so the Master can use you? Or are you satisfied with the way you are now, not interested in setting yourself apart from the world? Only you can answer this and only you can change the answer.

Dear God…
May the complacent be pierced today
May he see his sin as You do
Help him to sanctify himself
So that he may better serve You.

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Are you known to be a confident Christian? Where does your confidence rest? In what does your confidence rest? Is your confidence based on the promises of others? Do you have your future carefully planned and laid out? Everyone knows that “life happens” and these carefully laid out plans can quickly change in the twinkling of an eye. However, there is one thing our confidence can be based on and it will never change and that is God’s promises.

Because we are born-again children of God, we have a new covenant with God which states that His promises are never to be broken. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. (Heb 8:6) My friend, isn’t it wonderful that we can rest in God’s promises? The promises of God are many in His Word. But let us encourage our hearts that He who is our Creator and holds our salvation in the palm of His hand will fulfill each and every promise! Read with me this morning and be grateful that God’s covenant with you does not rest in your feelings but in His promises!!

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Num 23:19)

Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. (1 Kings 8:56)

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psa 9:10)

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. (Psa 105:8 )

… yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. (Isa 46:11b)

And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (Rom 4:21)

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Heb 6:12)

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2Pe 1:4)

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2Pe 3:13)

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. (1Jo 2:25)

How can one not have confidence when God has made these promises? He does not lie, therefore, each will be fulfilled! Praise ye the Lord!

Dear God…
Thank You for Your promises
There are so many in Your Word
They are not based upon man’s ways
But our covenant with Christ our Lord

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I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 ) I’m sure we can all say that we’ve been to a similar cross-roads in our life, can’t we? I know I can. It seems like just when I thought I was on the right path, the rug was pulled from underneath me and wham! I didn’t know in which direction I should go! Or just when life was smooth sailing and there were no obstacles in the road, hurdles arose and I felt like my world was falling apart!

I’m so thankful for my salvation! I’m so thankful for God’s Holy Word which encourages my heart through these obstacles and hurdles and shows me that my Heavenly Father loves me and will help me through these difficult times. And you know what, my friend? He’s there waiting to do the same for you! Our Heavenly Father loves us so much! He does not want to see us in a state of confusion. The Christian needs to be a testimony to a lost and dying world. The world is confused and they are the ones that need direction. How can we show them the way if we are living in confusion? How can we be a testimony to them if we do not have the peace that passes all understanding?

Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (5) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (6) What do you “look” like when you’re going through trials and tribulations? What does the world see in you when your life is filled with confusion? Do you look like our friend here? Or are you secure in the Lord, knowing that He will work out every situation in your life? There is no greater testimony than when the world sees us rise above chaos. They don’t understand how we can do it. Are you going through family problems right now? How are you dealing with it? Are you going to work complaining to your unsaved friends at work? Or do they see you calm and collected because you started your day off with the Lord and laid those cares at His feet?

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psa 55:22) Our Father wants to be there for us and He is there for us. He is able and desiring to take on our burdens. Don’t you want your children to come to you with their cares? You would hate it if you knew they were keeping everything inside and they were miserable, wouldn’t you? Our God says to cast our burdens on Him and He shall (not maybe) sustain us! The Lord does not stop there either! He continues on to say that He shall never allow the righteous to be moved! Notice this refers to the righteous. None of us are righteous. All our righteousness are as filthy rags according to: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6) But because of our salvation, Jesus’ righteousness is what the Father sees. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Co 1:30) When we abide in Him and in His Word, the Lord encourages our hearts. We cannot do it apart from the Word of God, my friend. Without spending time in the Bible, one cannot expect to be encouraged in a time of confusion.

God wants to give us strength through the wisdom of the Word. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isa 40:29) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Jam 1:5) How can you pass a test without studying? How can you know the end of that novel you’re reading without first reading it? How can you glean from the blessings of the promises in the Word when you don’t spend time searching for them? A baby can only drink milk for so long. He then must move on to baby food then solid food. Without this natural progression, the baby will grow very slowly and will be sickly. Paul compared believers in this same light. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (Heb 5:13) My friend, God says you are “unskilful” in the Bible because you are a spiritual baby. Does this not shame you? It should!

There are so many promises in God’s Word to the believer. Confusion should not be part of our daily lives – instead we should have peace because we have given our cares to the One who not only can handle them but can solve every problem. God waits to show us the way to go. We don’t have to go down the path of confusion. God’s way may not always be clear but His way always brings peace if we go to the one map that guides us without error – the Bible. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 )

Dear God…
Help me be a testimony
To the lost who are watching me
May confusion turn to bless-ed peace
And be a witness to them of Thee

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