Dec 29, 2012
…You have given life to me…
Dec 29, 2012
…You have given life to me…
You don’t have to be a sociologist to know that one of the most damaging dynamics in personal relationships is unleashed by the hurtful things that we say to each other. We all have a dragon in our dentures that is flat out hard to get under control. Itemizing the major categories of destructive speech is not a hard task. Gossip, slander, and lying always make it to the top of our “most wanted” list of speech criminals. But there are some additional troublemakers lurking in the dark corners of our wicked little hearts.
One of these stealth tigers in your tongue is “contentious words.”
I recall watching a butcher prepare a chicken for selling at the market. His sharp cleaver chopped away with well-timed strokes until the bird lay in a pile of pieces. Contentious words are just like that. They are the meat cleaver of relationships. They have the power to tear friends and family apart until there’s not much left. I suppose that’s why someone “who stirs up dissension among brothers” (Proverbs 6:19) makes the infamous list of things the Lord hates.
Contentious hearts look for things to criticize and for opportunities to tear down a person, program, or idea. They destroy the essential commodities of happy and productive relationships. When we unleash a volley of contentious verbiage, things like trust, thinking the best of each other, and loving attitudes all get buried under our contentious words.
It’s no wonder that Paul warned the Christians in Galatia about the danger of this kind of talk. He wrote, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).
The damage of contentious talk becomes especially significant when we remember that our relationships with each other are pictured in Scripture as the body of Christ. As Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 12, followers of Jesus are meant to be working as one, in cooperative harmony. Have you ever seen a body divided into several parts but still functioning well? Division destroys the reflection of God’s love among us and the power of His unity through us. Words that work against our unity as His body are the meat cleavers in Satan’s hand.
The joyful unity that is enhanced by eliminating contentious speech is vital to the good health of our homes as well. When we refuse to let contentious words pollute the atmosphere of our marriage, God preserves the power of our home to be a living picture of Christ’s relationship to us as His bride (Ephesians 5: 1-33). He never divides Himself from His bride. His unconditional love, patience, tolerance of our weaknesses, and acceptance are all factors that draw us into a positive relationship with Him. His words to the church promote healing and growth. A home where love prevails over contention is a powerful testimony to God’s unifying love for us.
Let’s face it: divisive words among God’s people give Satan a tremendous advantage in stifling God’s purpose and power through our lives. Our usefulness, joy, peace, and loving unity are all at risk when our tongues get out of control.
I’m quite sure that Satan didn’t coin the phrase “divide and conquer.” But he sure knows how to get the job done when he has our words under his control.
– Be honest: Are you prone to use words to sow discord, or are you among the blessed few who use their words to heal, help, and encourage?
– Memorize Paul’s timeless advice in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
– Plan today to target a significant relationship, which you may be tempted to poison with contentious words, and then be intentional about pouring loving words into that person’s heart.
– Make this your prayer: “Lord, speak to me about the way I speak to others.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
No one enjoys the feeling of broken-ness, but we can’t ignore its benefits to spiritual growth. Being broken gives us an entirely new perspective on the Lord’s plan for our lives. You see, enjoying a steady, uninterrupted stream of blessings has an interesting effect on most people: It distorts our view of the Father, often leaving us to assume He exists for us.
We ask the Lord for healing, success, and financial security. We ask Him to bless our family and our relationships. We ask and ask and ask. And the truth is, much of the time we aren’t really talking to God at all. In our mind, we’ve replaced Him with some sort of cosmic errand boy—we tell Him what we want and then send Him off to get it for us.
In all of this, who is actually at the center of our prayers? It certainly isn’t almighty God, our eternal Savior and Creator of the universe. No, instead we find ourselves at the center of these prayers. Therefore, the end result is the subtle belief that God exists for our benefit—a far cry from the reality of His divinity. This distortion breaks the Lord’s heart and leads us far away from truly knowing Him for who He is.
The antidote for this self-centered idolatry is brokenness. When God says “No,” when He takes away instead of adding more, when He divinely manages what we have, how much we have, and how long we have it, He is helping us keep our eyes on Him. Do not despise these moments. Instead, recognize them as the voice of your Father calling you back into His loving arms.
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17)
Peter’s final epistle, especially chapters 2 and 3, is the classic New Testament passage on the false teachers that would plague the church in the “last days” (v. 3). In addition to the characteristics listed in the introductory verse, 2:1 (e.g., slipping in surreptitiously heretical teachings, denying the redemptive work and Lordship of Christ), a number of their attributes are predicted for our guidance, as follows:
They will “wrest the scriptures” (3:16), distorting their literal meaning to conform to their own philosophical preferences. This involves using “feigned words” (2:3)—that is, plastic words, with devious meanings to make them say what their users wish to convey. They may well be very eloquent and seductive in their speech, “when they speak great swelling words of vanity” (2:18).
They will deny the doctrine of special creation and the judgment of the worldwide Flood (3:5-6), teaching instead that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (v. 4), and will scoff at the Second Coming. They “despise government” and are “presumptuous” and “selfwilled . . . not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (2:10).
They both practice and defend immoral acts, “having eyes full of adultery” (v. 14). Yet they maintain their religious ties because they have hearts “exercised with covetous practices” (v. 14), seeing nothing evil in taking money for personal gain from those whose faith they seek to undermine.
This is, indeed, a fitting description of many modern liberal theologians, religious bureaucrats in the big denominations, “New Age” preachers, college teachers of religion, etc. Although this is not a pleasant subject, Christians urgently need to awaken to what is happening and “beware”! HMM
Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted.— Isaiah 7:4.
THOUGH everything without fall into confusion, and though thy body be in pain and suffering, and thy soul in desolation and distress, yet let thy spirit be unmoved “by it all, placid and serene, delighted in and with its God inwardly, and with His good pleasure outwardly. GERHARD TERSTEEGEN.
To say each morning, “I must have things weariful, painful, to bear today, and they shall all be offered up beforehand as my heart’s sacrifice; they shall be, not fought against, but received calmly and as welcome, for His sake who suffers them to come,” gives a dignity, a purpose, nay, a very joy to what otherwise is all cheerless annoyance. H. L. SIDNEY LEAR.
As soon as anything presents itself to your mind as a suffering, and you feel a repugnance to it, resign yourself immediately to God with respect to it; give yourself up to Him in sacrifice, and you will find that, when the cross arrives, it will not be so very burdensome, because you had disposed yourself to a willing reception of it. MADAME GUYON.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things. Revelation 21:7
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. — Now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city. — An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.
All things are your’s; … the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s. — Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. —Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
1 Corinthians 15:19. Hebrews 11:16. 1 Peter 1:4. 1 Corinthians 3:21,22. 1 Corinthians 2:9,10. 2 John 8. Hebrews 12:1.
Our God hath not forsaken us. Ezra 9:9
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. — If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be
without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. The LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
The LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. — Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. — Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.
Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
1 Peter 4:12. Hebrews 12:7,8. Deuteronomy 13:3. 1 Samuel 12:22. Isaiah 49:15. Psalm 146:5. Luke 18:7,8.