Be a Blessing to Those Who Hear

What a convicting message for me to consider. But when I start looking at what the scriptures, I see that it isn’t just “what I’m loudest about” but that language like “don’t let any” and “only such speech” are the kinds of words used to describe how we are to live and speak and behave as vessels of the holy spirit of God.

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak]. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.
Ephesians 4:29‭-‬32 AMP

Lord, help us.

You know what, friend? We have an opportunity to repent in this area of our lives. We have an opportunity to be quick to listen, slow to anger, and show to speak — like Almighty God is with us.

As we’ve heard before, the first step towards recovery is admitting we have a problem.

Instead of getting offended at “such a preposterous accusation” when we read such a convicting question — what if we realize as a Christian that we got mad or dismissed a question where the bar was set much lower than the Word of God calls us to live. And for those quick to throw out any commands as “old law”, that’s Paul in the new testament, friends. That isn’t law — that’s whether we are walking with God as vessels of His holy spirit or not.

Lord, help us. Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

Epitaph

This morning, I’m reminded that my love for you is my love for the Lord.

Not my studying and digesting and understanding and teaching the Word of God like a good theologian.

Not my defending the Word of God through debate and reason like a good apologist.

Not my singing and praising with voice and instrument like a good worshiper.

Not my touching and healing or casting out evil spirits by the Word of God like a good healer.

Not my speaking prayers with the tongues of angels and tears and pains of heartfelt concern for the needs of others like a good intercessor.

Not my revealing God’s will and bringing a timely and convicting message to the people of God like a good prophet.

Not my delivering the Roman road gospel explanation and offering an altar call for response and baptizing many in the name of the Lord like a good evangelist.

Not my feeding and providing for the needs of others like a good philanthropist.

These things alone can become tasks, checklists, routines, practices — dead religion and self- righteous hypocrisy.

But love.

Love makes all the difference.

I love you.

He loves you.

In all the things we will do today, we will show others how much we love them:

  • By our respect or our disrespect
  • By our presence or our absence
  • By our gentleness or our harshness
  • By our selflessness or our demands
  • By our patience or our impatience
  • By our joy or our anxiousness
  • By our forgiveness or our bitterness
  • By our making peace or our opposition
  • By our self-control or our attempts to control others

And the world is in desperate need of love. People are even turning their backs in droves from “the usual religious places” because they are not finding love there — they are looking for Jesus — and are understandably doubtful that He is there amongst all this activity and practice, but where there is so little love.

So let us set our sights on living others, Christian, beloved of God — because they truly are beloved by God. Ands out is our job to show that love to them in the language and manner they can see and understand is real.

Go love greatly! Because we are greatly loved!

Amen.

The story of Mary and Martha immediately following the golden rule in Luke 10 is not by coincidence:

And he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart , and with all your soul , and with all your strength , and with all your mind ; and your neighbor as yourself .” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this habitually and you will live .” But he, wishing to justify and vindicate himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, who stripped him of his clothes [and belongings], beat him, and went their way [unconcerned], leaving him half dead. Now by coincidence a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road]. But a Samaritan (foreigner), who was traveling, came upon him; and when he saw him, he was deeply moved with compassion [for him], and went to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them [to sooth and disinfect the injuries]; and he put him on his own pack-animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii (two days’ wages) and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I return.’ Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to the man who encountered the robbers?” He answered, “The one who showed compassion and mercy to him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and constantly do the same.” Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.” But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:27‭-‬42 AMP

God is not a Liar

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good and fulfill it?
Numbers 23:19 AMP

At times, especially during times of difficult challenges, I have found myself tempted to doubt that God is good and has good in store for me. But every single time, He has proven to be faithful and shown me in due time that the storm wasn’t there to bury me, but to clear the way for what He had in store for me.

However, even though it is true, telling someone “God has good in store for you” or “God is faithful” in the middle of a storm where it feels, looks, tastes, and seems like they are about to drown may not be comforting — in fact, it may be like pouring salt in the wound. It may sound like “fix it” advice when they need love delivered in a different language than just a spoken truth.

God provides love in so many more ways to us than just written words in a book. So if I follow His pattern, I will love in more ways than just quoting words from the book or sharing lessons online.

Help me, Lord, to be faithful when the orphans communicate a need to free the purse strings. Help me, Lord, when the widows need a comforting hug and a warm place to sleep and food on their plate to appreciate the opportunity. Help me, Lord, to see a friend in need of something I have and to be open handed. Help me, Lord, to find a friend in need of the type of healing that only you can bring and to be prayerful. Help ne, Lord, to love and be faithful like you are faithful to me all my days. And I begin to realize that when my time is spent being faithful and loving to others — it is such a blessed opportunity. Then, even the sting of betrayal or abandonment but others doesn’t leave me with less love to pour out, because you are my source of love to give. And the depths of your love for me to tap into and receive in order to give never runs out. Amen.

[Spruce Pine] Proverbs 3 Questions

Chapter 3 – Trust His Discipline

1) How does he instruct us which path to take? (Verses 1, 5-6)

2) What does he say about Discipline? (Verses 11-12)

3) How valuable is wisdom? (Verses 13-18)

4) How is the Lord’s outpouring conditional? (Verses 32-35)

Cross References

How does the New Testament words in Hebrews 12:5-11 and Revelation 3:19 confirm and agree with what we have learned in Proverbs chapter 3?

Where am I?

Pride, 

thinking that we have it figured out, 

focusing on what has already been conquered,

Instead of what needs to be surrendered today, 

It will lead to disgrace.
Disgrace,

When it is found before men, 

We have an opportunity to learn, 

To be disciplined by the experience,

And given an opportunity to choose

Between remaining powerless in repeating our prideful failures,

Or if we will seek God, 

And be lead to humility. 
Humility, 

When it is found before God, 

Provides an opportunity to find Hope,

in Jesus Christ who is faithful and true, 

To be empowered by the Holy Spirit,  

who is our teacher or guide and our comforter,

To know the Love of our Heavenly Father, 

Who is the unseen made visible in Christ Jesus,

And in finding God we will understand the fear of God,

Which leads to wisdom. 
Wisdom, 

She is more precious than Gold, 

She is eternal and nourishes our soul for eternity, 

Because wisdom is not worldly knowledge, 

But it is the understanding that God is in authority over all things, 

That He is ruler and we are servant, 

But that He is also Father and we are sons and daughters, 

That He knows what is best for us,

That He has a purpose for us, 

That He loves us, 

Which leads us to Love. 
Love, 

It is that most excellent fruit, 

That grows ripe on the branches of those planted in the Lord’s garden.

It is the fragrance of the incense of the prayers of His saints, 

It is a pleasing aroma to the Lord our God, 

Because it is the evidence of His very essence breathing within those that are His.

It is the life that we find when we lay down our burdens of sin and death and pick up our cross to follow Him. 

It is eternal and it is how He knows us and calls us by name. 

Love is the law of Christ, 

And it fulfills completely the requirements of God that the law of Moses could not, 

Because being reconciled to love is being reconciled to God himself, 

For God is love. 
To love Him is to serve Him, 

To serve Him is to love others,

To love others is to serve them, 

To serve others is to carry their burdens, 

To serve others is to share with them the very hope that we have found in Christ, 

To serve others is to recognize that we have a purpose in life to reach others with the gospel, 

To tell them of this ministry of reconciliation to Christ, 

To show them this love that flows from the very Spirit of Christ who lives in us. 
Where are you today,  friend? 
Moving up from pride to disgrace, 

Moving up from disgrace to humility, 

Moving up from humility to wisdom, 

Moving up from wisdom to love,

Or falling down in pride? 
Even if you find yourself falling, 

It is never too late to let your disgrace lead you to humility, friend. 

Cry out to the Lord, 

Seek Him with your whole heart, 

Repent of your evil and rebellious ways, 

Knock until He answers, 

But remember to be quiet and listen for His answer, 

Because He will answer in that still,  quiet voice, 

And you will recognize Him as the Good Shepherd who loves you. 

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. – Proverbs 11:2 NLT

Love!

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 NLT

A rapper that I like (Bizzle) has a recurring theme in his songs that is “God over money”.  For example, one of his lyrics is “Will you serve a living God or a dead president?” And then from my favorite song:

First im a hater cuz I’m broke and my money low

Find out I made a couple hundred on the low

They be like so I thought it was God Over Money though
Hated when I’m paid hated when I’m broke
They hating on my faith hating on my folks
See em drown in the middle of the ocean
When you pull up they be hating on yo boat”
My point, you ask? 


Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. – Proverbs 22:16 ESV

Are we interested in what the Word of God has to say about money, the poor, etc? Can we hear what that call, that conviction is meant to tear us away from and draw us closer to? Is that surrender a difficult struggle for us or a joyful participation? 

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬7 ESV

Oh, how the world gets this backwards. We can more easily justify helping those who can offer us some help in return, as opposed to trusting the LORD to repay us for serving those who in this life  may likely never be in a position to appreciate or honor us. We are even given the wise advice to give our alms in secret so that we wouldn’t be seeking honor or glory for ourselves – because we are to be seeking glory to God in all things. 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;  to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;  to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that he may be glorified.  They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.  Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;  but you shall be called the priests of the Lord ; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.  Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.  For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.  Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.  I will greatly rejoice in the Lord ; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. – Isaiah 61:1‭-‬11 ESV

“They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any”

Be like Christ. 
Deny ourselves and serve others. 
Commit ourselves to do justice and show mercy. 
Care and love for the elderly,  the infirm, the needy, the poor,  and those who cannot or will not return our kindness. 
Yes, this is a Christian life – to show the world a reflection of God’s very nature that lives in us. 

Then David returned to the brook Besor and met up with the 200 men who had been left behind because they were too exhausted to go with him. They went out to meet David and his men, and David greeted them joyfully. But some evil troublemakers among David’s men said, “They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder we recovered. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone.” But David said, “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” From then on David made this a decree and regulation for Israel, and it is still followed today. – 1 Samuel 30:21‭-‬25 NLT

Why do we worry ourselves about what someone else “deserves”? Why are we so quick to point fingers at the imperfections of one another? 
Friends, have we forgotten love? Have we forgotten mercy?  Have we forgotten that we do not “deserve” His grace ourselves?
Let’s not fall into self righteous hypocrisy by thinking that we deserve anything better than those around us. Let’s not begin to think that our service to the Lord is a burden we bear or a coat we have payoffs for our freedom – or we might find ourselves falling short of the grace of God by submitting ourselves again to the law so we might measure and compare one another in our shameful pride.
No. Encourage one another in good works,  and love one another, and serve together in lifting high the name of Jesus Christ,  whose blood was shed on Calvary for you and I so that our works may be filthy rags,  but His work done through His Holy Ones might be glorious testimonies of His very nature and spirit. 

And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all his servants, all who fear him, from the least to the greatest.” Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord ! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” – Revelation 19:5‭-‬9 NLT

Abounding Love

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9‭-‬11 ESV

Love.

This word has been twisted by the enemy to be used when talking about things that are so much less than love. Sometimes the world uses the word love when they really mean lust. Sometimes they use it when they mean tolerance. There are all kinds of misuses of the word love these days.

For example, is love a woman’s willingness to be manipulated and abused by her abuser over and over again, whether battered by words or fists – because she has this “feeling” for the man that she just can’t get rid of no matter how many times he betrays her or cheats on her or demean her? No. This is not love.

Is love seeing someone doing wrong or who is planning to do wrong and overlooking it and allowing it to continue without dating or doing anything to correct the person or stop them from breaking the law, hurting someone else, cheating someone in business, etc.? No. This is not love.

Love is not blind, it abounds with knowledge and discernment about what is right and what is wrong. Love does not passively seek the easiest option for ourselves, but love actively sacrifices self for what is right.

Jesus demonstrated love. He did not leave sinners in the traps of their sin, but delivered them and said,  “Go and sin no more.” He did not leave the rich, powerful, and secure in their pride, but delivered them with a rebuke that either left them humbled or drive them to anger to the point that they wanted to kill Him. But it was love because it was the cure for the disease that ailed them.

Yes,  Jesus came for sinners – and He did it to bring them to repentance, not to join in the debauchery and fornication. Some of the newer Bible translations may leave that out of Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:32 but where is the love in leaving out His purpose, in leaving out the Truth? Many “emerging churches” (that are really synagogues of Satan) may feel most comfortable leaving out repentance and righteousness from their messages and focusing on a feel good message of positive thinking and treating God like a worldly genie who gives us stuff, but where is the love in a message so much more about self and things of the world,  and empty, completely lacking, devoid of the basics of the gospel laid out in Acts 17:22-34 or Christ’s own preaching of repentance made clear in Matthew 4:17.

But today, instead of offering people the cure for what is killing them,  it is said to be more loving to give more drink to the drunk, more drugs to the addict, more pornography to the lustful, more sex to the immoral, more weapons to the murderers, more money to the wealthy, more poverty to the needy, more power to the oppressors, more persecution to the persecuted, until the stench of a nation burning wildly out of control either finally awakens our nostrils to the warnings of destruction or we remain asleep and unspecified until the Lord steps in Himself.

No, love is not adding fuel to the fire. It is not putting on a Sunday mask of religion and continuing to add fuel to the fire. It is not finding a gathering that makes you feel more comfortable with your participation in sin, death, and destruction. Love is about loving God and His ways and in turn loving others enough to want to see them delivered. Love is about living the light and yes, hating the darkness. Because the darkness comes to steal, kill,  and destroy.

Is God the love of your life that He should be today?

Is sin the enemy that it should be?

Do you know about the type of love that I’m talking about?

Will you live it today?

Will He demonstrate it through you today?

He can, and He will, if you surrender your life.

Do you just know about Him as Savior, and know how to cry out His name, but don’t yet know Him as Lord in your daily life?

Seek Him today. Lay down your old life and let Him walk with you today.

Today is the day of salvation. Today.

Friends of Christ

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  These things I command you, that you love one another. – John 15:14‭-‬17 NKJV

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

Instead of putting on the title of Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Protestant, etc – or wearing the name of “Such and Such” Church – what if we just identified ourselves as “Friends of Christ” and then lived up to that statement?

These things I command you, that you love one another.

What if we stepped past the religion and stepped right into the deep waters of loving and helping and serving people who won’t always love us back?

Are you bearing fruit that will last forever?

Are you a friend of Christ?

Are you friends to one another?

Lord, teach us to love you by teaching us to love others – love that isn’t just a concept in our minds, but that is action and evidence in our daily lives of your presence.