Fuel for the Fire
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19
Anyone who has spent time camping knows what it takes to keep a fire going at night to keep curious wildlife at bay: a good supply of firewood! And when it’s time to break camp, removing all combustible fuel from the fire is mandatory (along with putting water and dirt on the coals). The book of Proverbs makes use of this imagery related to speech.
In Proverbs 26:20, the metaphor is clear: “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” And Proverbs 10:19 says that the more we talk (the more wood we put on the fire), the more likely the fire of sin is to blaze up. That’s why James 1:19 says to be “slow to speak.” Regardless of what we have to say, “A prudent man conceals knowledge” (Proverbs 12:23). That is, the more we speak the more likely we are to say something hurtful or harmful.
Words can hurt, and words can heal. Ask God to give you speech that is considered and weighed as to its outcome before you speak—words that bless and build up others.
A sanctified heart is better than a silver tongue. Thomas Brooks
Girl’s Camp 2014//Proverbs 10:19
“In the multitude of words there wanteth no transgression; but he that refraineth his lips doeth wise.” Performed during Proverbs Theatre at Girl’s Camp 2014.
Out of the heart come evil thoughts . . . . These are what defile a person.
When a college class went on a cultural field trip, the instructor almost didn’t recognize one of his star pupils. In the classroom she had concealed six-inch heels beneath her pant legs. But in her walking boots she was less than five feet tall. “My heels are how I want to be,” she laughed. “But my boots are how I really am.”
Our physical appearance doesn’t define who we are; it’s our heart that matters. Jesus had strong words for those masters of appearances—the super-religious “Pharisees and teachers of the law.” They asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating, as their religious traditions dictated (Matthew 15:1–2). Jesus asked, “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (v. 3). Then He pointed out how they had invented a legal loophole to keep their wealth instead of caring for their parents (vv. 4–6), thus dishonoring them and violating the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12).
If we obsess over appearances while looking for loopholes in God’s clear commands, we’re violating the spirit of His law. Jesus said that “out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality,” and the like (Matthew 15:19). Only God, through the righteousness of His Son Jesus, can give us a clean heart.
Lord, we are so prone to rely on our own efforts to impress You and others. Help us to be authentic in all our relationships, and to enjoy the restored heart we can have through Your forgiveness.
2 Chronicles 20:1-25
When God’s people humbly call upon His name, He releases awesome power. The Bible is packed with stories of His mighty intervention on behalf of those who cry out to Him.
Take Jehoshaphat, for instance. He received word that the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites were joining forces to wage war against his kingdom. But today’s passage tells of the king’s reliance upon the Lord in that time of adversity.
Jehoshaphat admitted his fear but quickly reminded himself of God’s faithfulness to other believers in the past (v. 7). Confessing total dependence on the Lord, he gathered all of the Israelites to cry out to their Father. Through the prophet Jahaziel, God reminded them this was His battle, so they were not to fear (vv. 14-15). The people praised the Lord for His encouragement. And amazingly, when they “came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and … no one had escaped” (v. 24). All their enemies lay dead.
God worked in a more miraculous way than anyone could imagine—and He still exceeds our expectations today. Through such means as prayer, praise, song, and fasting, we can ask Him to reveal Himself. He is ready to respond when we bring heavy hearts and deep concerns to Him.
Though we are unable to succeed on our own, we try all too frequently. Crying out to God and asking Him to work in our life requires humility and persistence. By allowing us to bring our concerns and desires before Him, Jesus lovingly helps us realize our dependence—and His power.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
This promise is comprehensive and unlimited—a tremendous assurance of answered prayer. But there is one proviso—according to His will! There are a number of Christians who, with all good intentions, have argued that it evidences a lack of faith to add the qualification “if it be thy will” to one’s prayer. But this can hardly be true in light of the example of Christ Himself, when he “prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
The question is how to know whether or not we are praying according to God’s will. One key, of course, is to search the Scriptures. God’s will can never contradict His Word, and it is foolish to ask God to do something which the Scriptures themselves forbid. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
When, however, we sincerely desire God’s will to be done, and so far as can be determined there is no biblical or personal barrier hindering our prayer, then we can pray in confidence even if we yet don’t know for certain God’s will in the matter. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28). HMM
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
—1 Corinthians 9:27
What must our Lord think of us if His work and His witness depend upon the convenience of His people? The truth is that every advance that we make for God and for His cause must be made at our inconvenience. If it does not inconvenience us at all, there is no cross in it! If we have been able to reduce spirituality to a smooth pattern and it costs us nothing—no disturbance, no bother and no element of sacrifice in it—we are not getting anywhere with God. We have stopped and pitched our unworthy tent halfway between the swamp and the peak.
We are mediocre Christians!
Was there ever a cross that was convenient? Was there ever a convenient way to die? I have never heard of any, and judgment is not going to be a matter of convenience, either! Yet we look around for convenience, thinking we can reach the mountain peak conveniently and without trouble or danger to ourselves.
Actually, mountain climbers are always in peril and they are always advancing at their inconvenience. ITB048
Lord, help me to serve You faithfully, with full discipline, whether it’s convenient or not. Amen.
So shall we ever be with the Lord.—1 Thessalonians 4:17.
They shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.—Revelation 3:4.
We are taught to believe of the Blessed, that they “serve Him day and night in His temple,” that “His servants shall serve Him.” And this must be with powers and endowments developed in harmony with higher worlds, so that all the tastes, the desires, the affections, the artistic powers, the intellectual gifts, which belong to each individual, each with his own special capacities, trained and developed and exercised in spiritual modes of life, will be suited to that higher world, where they dwell in the presence of the Almighty God, and the “Lamb who is in the midst of them.” The activities of a condition of life such as we cannot yet conceive, we shall enter upon, if fitted for it, trained for it, by the exercise of our gifts during our life in this world; we shall be like weapons in the Hand of God, ready for what service He may will.
Thomas Thelluson Carter.
For those who live, as she did, with their whole talents dedicated to God’s service, death is only the gate of life,—the path from joyous work in this world to greater capacities and opportunities for it in the other.
Horatia K. F. Eden.
“And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” Lev. 1:4
If by that laying on of his hand the bullock became the offerer’s sacrifice, how much more shall Jesus become ours by the laying on of the hand of faith?
“My faith doth lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.”
If a bullock could be accepted for him to make atonement for him, how much more shall the Lord Jesus be our full and all-sufficient propitiation? Some quarrel with the great truth of substitution; but as for us, it is our hope, our joy, our boast, our all. Jesus is accepted for us to make atonement for us, and we are “accepted in the Beloved.”
Let the reader take care at once to lay his hand on the Lord’s completed sacrifice, that by accepting it he may obtain the benefit of it. If he has done so once, let him do it again. If he has never done so, let him put out his hand without a moment’s delay. Jesus is yours now if you will have Him. Lean on Him; lean hard on Him; and He is yours beyond all question; you are reconciled to God, your sins are blotted out, and you are the Lord’s.