Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Upturned Cup

Honey bee on Echinacea

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup. . ."     Psalm 16:5

"My cup overflows"      Psalm 23:5b

________



In his book, The God Who Would Be Man, H.M.S. Richards tells of the visit of a chaplain-general of the forces, Bishop Taylor Smith, to a military hospital during World War I. He noticed two wounded men sitting by a table on which was a bowl turned upside down. He asked the men, "Do you know the two things that are under that bowl?" "No," one of the men said. "Darkness and uselessness," the chaplain replied. Quickly he turned the bowl right side up. "Now," he said to the two curious men, "it's full of light, and ready to hold porridge, soup, or anything you might like to use it for. It's a converted bowl."

What a grand concept this is. God has assigned us our cup. We can choose to turn it upside down and be dark and morose and finally useless, or we can choose to turn it right side up and fill it to overflowing with His blessings and then share these serendipities with others.

Sometimes we are asked to drink a cup of sorrow. Rather than inverting or controverting what can be a spiritual lesson for us, we can convert our cup of sorrow into a dessert of comfort instead of a desert of corrosive grief. God then blesses the upturned cup for ourselves and others. "When [we] walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!" Psalm 84:6 TLB. "The pilgrim band, rich in hope, forget the trials and difficulties of the way. Hope changes the rugged and stony waste into living fountains. The vale blossoms as if the sweet rain of heaven had covered it with blessings. Hope sustains them at every step. From station to station they renew their strength as they draw nearer the end of their journey, till at last they appear before God." Perowne.

From The Biblical Illustrator, Psalm 84, page 468.

Pat Nordman

Wait for the Lord


Gerbera Daisy

Wait for the Lord.    Psalm 27:14

_______


Waiting has four purposes. It practices the patience of faith. It gives time for preparation for the coming gift. It makes the blessing the sweeter when it arrives. It shows the sovereignty of God — to give just when and as He pleases." Dr. James Vaughan, Streams in the Desert, V.2, January 4.

There is also a condition attached to our waiting: "Don't be impatient for the Lord to act! Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing." (Psalm 37:34 RSV). We are to attend to the little duties as well as to the large ones. Wait and work; pray for grace and then exercise it.

It is interesting that God also waits: "Then he waited for the harvest" Isaiah 5:2 RSV. He waits for us to regard His nature which proves His intelligence and beauty and goodness; He waits for us to consider history threaded through and held together with His justice and mercy, and whose mission it is to turn sin into righteousness; He waits for us to realize that the alternates of adversity and prosperity, friendship and enmity, sorrow and joy, are but the implements of His spiritual instruction that we may finally dwell in the mansions He has prepared for us.

Much time is wasted waiting for signs and wonders. Christ told the expectant crowd, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign" (Luke 11:29). In our day of the Gospel, which is filled with the plainest evidence, we do not need to use a flashlight to shine it on the Son who is the Light of the world and we don't need to dump our buckets of contaminated water into the Living Water. To ask a sign from God when He has already pledged numerous promises is sinful and insulting.
Pat Nordman

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Problem of Anger



"For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
James 1:20 NIV


"So Cain was very angry, and his face was down-cast."
Genesis 4:5 NIV

________


Anger is a mental, emotional and spiritual health problem! I went through a period in my life when I was very unhealthy. Then a friend told me her formula for dealing with anger. I started using it and found that it really does work. She said she would picture Jesus standing between her and the other person, and this would help remind her that Jesus was literally covering that person for her; that she didn't need to worry about the other person's attitude, only her own. I'll be forever grateful to her for her insight.

I love the old writers and I have several Bible commentaries that contain the wisdom of the ages.

I found this gem in the Biblical Illustrator on Romans 12: 
"I remark, then, that a man is overcome of evil—

1. When ill-treatment excites the angry passions, and produces harsh and ill-natured language...
2. One is still more completely overcome of evil, when he settles down into confirmed hatred of the offender. By suffering anger to rest in his bosom, he becomes in God's esteem a fool...
3. One is overcome of evil when he indulges in designs of revenge...
4. We are overcome of evil, when the ill-treatment of one leads us to suspect the friendship of others... 
5. We are more yet completely overcome of evil, when abuse begets habitual sourness of temper. 
6. One is overcome of evil, when he attempts unnecessarily a public vindication of his character. I say unnecessarily, for it cannot be denied that a good man, without his wish, may be forced into such a measure. Often this is the very object which some malicious foe would accomplish." D.A. Clark. 

Father, may we have the spirit of Jesus who, "when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suf-fered he made no threats" 1 Peter 2:23 NIV. Thank You for changing our bad attitudes and being our Go-between!

Pat Nordman

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gossip

"We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies "
2 Thessalonians 3:11

_________


Martin Luther had much to say about gossip and its terrible by-products. Luther pointed out that when we gossip we are doing Satan's chores for him. He related an incident of a couple so happily married that it was the talk of the town. The devil couldn't cause disharmony between them, but he finally hit upon the trick: he sent an old hag to the wife to tell her that her husband was having an affair with another woman and he planned to kill her. The hag told her that she would find a knife under her husband's pillow. She then hurriedly went to the husband with the same terrible tale. Unfortunately for the wife, the husband found her knife first, and that was the end of the town's happiest marriage. There are several vital lessons here: malicious tongues kill; Satan is behind the vicious tongue; trust your partner; and, above all, check your sources.

Gossip is verbal interest in the failings of others rather than their feelings. Our own faults should keep us busy enough praying to a forgiving and forgetting Father and offering prayers of thanksgiving that He so willingly overlooks our own many mal- practices of tongue.

"I take it as a matter not to be disputed, that if all knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world. This seems proved by the quarrels and disputes caused by the disclosures which are occasionally made." Pascal. Busybodies are parasites who go about stinging the innocent with veiled but spiteful venom. Let us beware of the one who is busy with everyone else's business. Paul gives excellent advice to Timothy: "Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge. . ." 1 Timothy 6:20. We have an overabundance of knowledge these days but precious little wisdom!
Pat Nordman

Friday, June 14, 2013

Take Time

Plumeria

"Remember how short my time is ... "
Psalm 89:47 NKJ


_________

Those of us heading for the sunset realize the value of time. And it's true that the older we get the faster it goes! We have to both make and take time for that which is most important in our life. I found this jewel in the 12/12/1940 issue of the Florida Baptist Witness which reminds me of the importance of this:

TAKE TIME


  • Take time to work -- it is the price of success.
  • Take time to think -- it is the source of power.
  • Take time to play -- it is the secret of perpetual youth.
  • Take time to read -- it is the foundation of wisdom.
  • Take time to worship -- it is the high way to reverence.
  • Take time to be friendly -- it is the road to happiness.
  • Take time to dream -- it is hitching our wagon to a star.
  • Take time to love and be loved -- it is the privilege of the gods. Selected.


So, dear friend, take time today for what is really important! We do not know what tomorrow may bring. And then it's too late.

Pat Nordman

Thursday, June 13, 2013

DNA: Different Natures All

DNADifferent Natures All

Resurrection fern - Polypodium polypodioides




"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us'
Romans 12:6



"But each man has his own gift from God"
1 Corinthians 7:7

_______


We each have our different DNADifferent Natures All! Just as fingerprints are different, so is each temperament and each physique. This is what makes life so profound and pro-voca-tive. How dull our lives would be if we all had the same predilections and elections. "For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14 NIV. How easy it is to become discouraged and to hate ourselves because we can't do as much or as well as others, but it is God who has placed us in our circumstances and it is He who has given us our talents. Surely He realizes our weaknesses. He also knows that there are certain areas in which we can do very well, for this is His commission for our life.

Even our bodily constitution is from the Creator, and we have to face the fact that others are stronger, physically. One person has strength of body; another may have to compensate with strength of will and be better for it, too. Some have manual dexterity; others, dexterity of mind. Even in thinking, there are differences. Some have logic and others have intuition, but both types arrive at the same conclusions. This doesn't mean that either is wrong.

In choosing His twelve disciples, Jesus chose across the board of temperaments and physiques. They were busy, ordinary men who probably wondered why they were chosen for the distinct privilege of walking with the Master. He purposely chose clay that could be molded into His image.

We, too, have been chosen that His image can be stamped onto our hearts. So let's not be discouraged at our lack of all ten talents, but give as we have been given by the Master. Had we all ten talents, pride would wipe away His impressions.


by Pat Nordman

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Getting Older

Getting Older

beech leaves autumn

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."
Isaiah 46:4

_______


"Now that I am galloping toward the twilight, I'm trying to pay more attention to these excellent precepts for old age given us by Dr. Frank Crane:


  1. I will not try to act nor dress nor talk so as to make people think I am younger than I am.
  2. I will not pretend to be young, nor be angry when called old, nor ashamed of my age.
  3. I will not complain of being old.
  4. I will not continually remind people of my old age to secure their sympathy, or to hear them say I am not so old after all or do not seem so.
  5. I will not form the habit of indulging in reminiscences.
  6. I will be particularly careful not to repeat the same anecdote over and over.
  7. I will not complain of the present and claim the past was much better.
  8. If I am deaf, weak-eyed, lame, or otherwise afflicted, I will not advertise my infirmities, but avoid obtruding them upon the notice of others as much as possible.
  9. I will not talk of myself, my work, my achievements, even of my mistakes, any more than necessary.
  10. I will speak cheerfully or keep still.
  11. I will never indulge in cynicism, never sneer at youth and will always try to appreciate what younger folks do.
  12. I shall concede my life's triumph to be growing triumphantly, victoriously old.
  13. In a word, I shall try to adjust myself to old age, as well as to all other facts of life.


Pat Nordman

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Don't Blame Me

Don't Blame Me

Ring-billed Gull  - Zoo bird

Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"
Exodus 32:24

____________


How preposterous! "You know the people. . .that they are prone to evil" Exodus 32:22  Aaron said nothing about the mold he made or the graving tool he used. Aaron blamed society and we're still doing it. Give the crowd what they want and then blame them when the gold and what we in our finite wisdom thought was good for them finally destroys them. Actually, our progenitor Adam started the blame game: "The man said, `The woman you put here with me --she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it'" Genesis 3:12. Eve took it from there.

We have all sinned--and we have all blamed nature and them. "They" made us do it. Society makes us murderers and adulterers because it makes such stringent laws, so we reason. Moses literally broke the commandments in indignation at the sin he witnessed; we break God's commandments in indignation that our so-called freedom is curtailed and then we blame others when that so-called freedom grows a bumper crop of unexpected problems.

"But they all alike began to make excuses" Luke 14:18. Everyone does it, so it can't be too wrong for us to do it; We're victims of a corrupt society; God put us in the furnace of affliction and we came out burned. At one time, children's shirts were sold that had emblazoned on them, "The devil made me do it." That's as good an excuse as all the others combined.

Someone described an alibi as an excuse that's cooked up, but is always half-baked. Benjamin Franklin made a couple of observations that have stood the test of time and human nature: "The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse" and "He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."

Pat Nordman

Monday, June 10, 2013

Climbing - Proverbs 29:18


Climbing

crocus



"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:10b NIV

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
Proverbs 29:18 KJV

_______



Florence Nightingale, whose life was spent in service to others, said, "Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it. For the greatest things grow by God’s Law out of the smallest. But to live your life you must discipline it. You must not fritter it away in `fair purpose, erring act, inconstant will,’ but make your thoughts, your acts, all work to the same end and that end, not self but God. That is what we call character."

Following is something I read years ago and tacked to my computer to remind me that I can’t blame anyone else for staying at the bottom of the ladder:

LADDER OF ACHIEVEMENT

100% - I did.
   90% - I will.
        80% - I can.
             70% - I think I can.
                  60% - I might.
                       50% - I think I might.
                           40% - What is it?
                               30% - I wish I could.
                                    20% - I don’t know how.
                                       10% - I can’t.
                                            0% - I won’t.

Motive has much to do with climbing the ladder, too. If Jesus climbs the ladder with us, we will have the success He wants. If we attempt to climb by ourselves or, much worse, step on others to reach the top, we will find much unhappiness at the top. If it is to serve, then we will find our vision!

Pat Nordman

Friday, June 7, 2013

Still Waters - by Pat Nordman


Still Waters


Atwood Lake



". . . He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul"
Psalm 23:2- 3

__________

Perhaps He sees that the best pastures for some of us are to be found in the midst of opposition or of earthly trials. If He leads you there, you may be sure they are green for you, and you will grow and be made strong by feeding there. Perhaps He sees that the best waters for you to walk beside will be raging waves of trouble and sorrow. If this should be the case, He will make them still waters for you, and you must go and lie down beside them, and let them have all their blessed influences upon you." H.W. Smith, Daily Strength for Daily Needs, page 31.

In Hebrew the quiet waters means a quiet resting place. We all want an oasis away from the murky and troubled waters of life that seem to drown us at times. Pure water has a soothing and refreshing effect on us. Our Shepherd leads us to the main well of living water from which flow gentle tributaries of peace, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Jesus also asks us to draw deep from the well of His living water, and not with just a paltry cup or broken cistern. "`[But] my people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" Jeremiah 2:13.

This jewel of a psalm has calmed countless hearts. It is beside the still waters where the Holy Spirit meets His saints, not in the winds and waters of strife, for He cannot lead us to the placid waters if we are rushing ahead of Him. If we don't have the time then we must take the time to be led to the peaceful stream of morning hours with Him. This is when He prepares our hearts for the battles of the day. This is where the victory is won before the battle is engaged: in prayer, seeking our instructions for the day. Come, let us rest awhile by the still waters of His gentleness and concern.

by Pat Nordman

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Leaves - Pat Nordman

New Leaves

Japanese Maple leaf & flowers

"Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth ... "
Genesis 8:11 NKJV

_________

I like to think of the serendipities of life as new leaves. Imagine the surprise and relief, the joy and wonder, Noah felt when the dove came back with a new leaf. It meant new life for Noah and his family. Many wonderful things happen to us in the course of a day, too, if we recognize them. Each day itself is a new leaf. An exciting idea is a new leaf that grows into many leaves of an article or book. A delicious meal, a visit from a friend, an unexpected letter with good news, a compliment, an unusually beautiful sunrise or sunset, an affecting cantata: these are leaves of hope and love. It's an appealing thought.
 
Sometimes all we want is a leaf of a thank you that will stimulate us to further actions. Perhaps our child needs a leaf of appreciation. A student gives a professor a leaf when she tells him that others have recommended his course because he is such a good teacher. Our friend receives a leaf when we write and say, "I love you and I miss you."
 
There is yet another compelling thought here: if we but wait, as Noah had to, we will have joy again. At times circumstances seem impossible and it is easier to give up. The black raven of despair, the carrion bird, settles in our hair and in our heart and we are so tempted to let it make a nest and eat away at our vital life. But our gracious Father will not allow that! The dove, symbol of gentleness, brought Noah the sign of deliverance, and He will do the same for us. Our dry and fruitful land may yet be far off, but God will finally send us His dove with an olive leaf of deliverance! In the meantime, God asks that we trust Him; that we remain within the ark of the circumstance until His good time. How difficult this is! For now He is asking us to prepare ourselves for a great mercy from Him that we can share with others. It is the broken heart that understands other broken hearts. God is getting us ready to share leaves!

By Pat Nordman

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Angry Words - Proverbs

Tame the Tongue of Anger

Osprey with catch

A fool 's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  Proverbs  18:6

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4

With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.  Proverbs 25:15

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,  but a wise man quietly holds it back.  Proverbs 29:11

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.  Proverbs 14:29

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.  Proverbs 29:11

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.  Proverbs 15:18

A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.  Proverbs 29:22

__________

A fool 's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  Proverbs  18:6  We have talked about the fool before.  In Proverbs the fool is one who does not know God.  Lips in this verse  is a metonymy of cause.  It means what is said, or the speech of the fool.  The mouth in the second part of the couplet is also a metonymy for speech. This verse is a completive couplet, noted by the word and.  The two parts of the couplet complete the thought.  Strife is the effect of a fight, and the flogging is  an effect of the strife.  Therefore, what the fool says calls for a beating or flogging.  The fool deserves the punishment, but he did not actually request it.

At the top of the page are found a few of the Bible verses that are associated with the bad effects of anger.  These are all from Proverbs, but there are many others found in the Scriptures.  Anger does not always involve the tongue, but quite often it does.  Some will express their anger by not speaking at all. That makes me very angry when someone does that.  Anger is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible. 

The believer should listen well and consider carefully choose their words before he speaks.  This will restrain one's, anger and prevent hasty, nasty, irretrievable words.  One cannot un-say something.  Once the tongue has done its job and the word has been said, the words cannot be taken back.

There is nothing wrong with differing opinions or disagreements. Freedom of expression often will lead to arguments and differences of opinions. Differences in opinions are inevitable and sometimes unavoidable.  Becoming out-of-bounds angry is a choice, and a very poor choice.   It is not so much a question of do you disagree, but how you disagree.


________

Anger devours almost all other good emotions. It deadens the soul. It numbs the heart to joy and gratitude and hope and tenderness and compassion and kindness.  –– John Piper


The first thing to understand about anger is that it isn't always a bad thing. Many people, especially Christians, have the mistaken notion that anger is intrinsically evil. As a result, they feel needless guilt. The idea that a Christian is never allowed to be angry is a demonic myth that tends to produce neurotic anxiety. I've had to struggle with this myth nearly all my life.     R.C. Sproul
 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Boasting Tongue - Proverbs

The Boasting Tongue


See Me Strut

By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.  
Proverbs 14:3

The man who boasts about a gift that does not exist is like clouds and wind without rain.
Proverbs 25:14

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-17


Don’t boast about tomorrow,  for you don’t know what a day might bring.  
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth — a stranger, and not your own lips.
Proverbs 27:1-2



To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech.  
Proverbs 8:13

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
Proverbs 27:2

_________



Boast verb
1 talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about oneself.
2 possess (a feature that is a source of pride).
noun an act of boasting.
derivatives boaster noun boasting adjective boastingly adverb  

                                           Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press

I guess we all know what boasting means.  Many of us, if not all of us, know what it is to boast.  What is wrong with boasting?  The motive for boasting is to promote ourselves. We were made to glorify God.  The major topic of Proverbs is that wisdom comes to he who "fears the Lord." We are to exalt and esteem the Lord, not ourselves.  To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech.  Proverbs 8:13  Charles Swindoll writes: It is subtle how we shine our own halos.  How desperately we want to be noticed! We hint about it, we feed on compliments, we even brag with spiritual phrases, yet we know that our hidden agenda is to exalt ourselves.

Is boasting all that bad?  The Bible repeatedly indicates that it is.  The evils of boasting are found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes ...  Proverbs 6:16-17.   There are seven thing which the Lord hates.  The first on the list is haughty eyes.   Haughty eyes are the eyes of the proud,  hoity-toity, condescending bragger. 

The man who boasts about a gift that does not exist is like clouds and wind without rain.  Proverbs 25:14   This proverb looks to me like it is a completive couplet.  The first part of the couplet, "The man who boasts about a gift that does not exist" is completed in the remainder of the couplet.  The first part, unfortunately sounds like many of our politicians today. They boast and brag about all they will do for us, but the gift never arrives. The word translated as boasts is the Hebrew word .הָלַל halal.  The root word actually means praise,  but in the usage here it means to praise ones self.  In this Proverb it means to foolishly rave about yourself, to make a show, to make a loud noise about yourself. 

In the second part of this couplet we complete the proverb. This same person is like clouds and wind without rain. In this proverb we could say it is a description of a "windbag."  We see clouds and feel the wind so we expect rain.  We have had an unusually dry Spring thus far this year.  Last week I was working to get my garden in shape before my surgery.  I was also hoping to get my wife interested in caring for it while I was recovering.  I had worked most of the day on it.  As I was about to finish the sky became quite dark and the wind began to blow.  I was so grateful for the coming rain.  I sat down on the back patio to rest and enjoy the heralded  rain.  After a while the winds stopped and the skies cleared. the rain never came. My rest was short.  I had to drag out the heavy hose and water the garden.  In Palestine, most rain comes during windy thunderstorms.  In an agricultural culture like Palestine in those days, skies that promised but never produced rain would be a real disappointment It would be much like a boaster that promises a gift but never delivers.  ... They are waterless clouds carried along by winds;...  Jude 1:12  

The wrong way to boast is to boast in ourselves. Boasting in oneself is an expression of pride. The primary purpose in life for the Christian is to glorify God.  We have received everything from God. When we boast in ourselves we are taking praise that belongs to God alone.

Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9:23-24
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 

_______

A clever commentator says that when he hears some folk blow and brag, he is reminded of the story of the flea who said to the elephant, “Boy, how we shook that bridge when we crossed.” Boasting is seldom associated with real greatness.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, March 7, 1938. 

You are not mature if you have a high esteem of yourself. He who boasts in himself is but a babe in Christ, if indeed he be in Christ at all. Young Christians may think much of themselves. Growing Christians think themselves nothing. Mature Christians know that they are less than nothing. The more holy we are, the more we mourn our infirmities, and the humbler is our estimate of ourselves.
  –– Charles Spurgeon




Monday, June 3, 2013

The Gossiping Tongue - Proverbs

rose thorns

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;    Proverbs 6:12-14

The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.  Proverbs 10:18

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.    Proverbs 20:19

A gossip goes around revealing a secret,
but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.  Proverbs 11:13


A contrary man spreads conflict,  and a gossip separates close friends.  Proverbs 16: 28


A gossips words are like choice food that goes down to ones innermost being.  Proverbs 16:8


Without wood, fire goes out;  without a gossip, conflict dies down.  Proverbs 26:20


_______


The verses about gossip above are just a few of the many warnings about gossip in the Bible.   All of them do not contain the word tongue, but all of them uses speech to spread the bad news.  Gossip is so important in today's world.  There are people who make their living spreading gossip.  Newspapers, blogs, books, radio, TV, magazines –– every way of communication is used for gossip. While we may not have made national news, few of us have escaped the tongue of gossip. Unfortunately, few of us have not engaged in participating in the sport ourselves.   What is gossip?According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is:

  ■ noun
  1       casual conversation or unsubstantiated reports about other people.
  2       chiefly derogatory a person who likes talking about other people’s private lives.

 A gossip was originally a rather more serious and worthy person than they are now. In Old English the word was spelled godsibb and meant ‘godfather or godmother’, literally ‘a person related to one in God’; it came from sibb ‘a relative’, the source of sibling. In medieval times a gossip was ‘a close friend, a person with whom one gossips’, hence ‘a person who gossips’, later (early 19th century) ‘casual conversation about other people’.
Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Today we know gossip as a false or exaggerated report that is maliciously spread about another person.  Where can we find references to gossip in the Bible?  I have found more that 113 scriptures that refer to gossip.  (I stopped counting after that).  Slander is also found numerous times in the Bible.  Slander is quite similar to gossip.  Slander is  the action of making a false damaging statement about someone.  Surprisingly, many people actually are guilty of slander and not gossip. 
You must not spread a false report. Do not join  the wicked to be a malicious witness. Exodus 23:1 
You must not go about spreading slander  among your people; you must not jeopardize  your neighbor’s life; I am Yahweh.  Leviticus 19:16 
They are filled with all unrighteousness,  evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful,  inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving,  and unmerciful.  Romans 1:29-31 
At the same time, they also learn to be idle, going from house to house; they are not only idle, but are also gossips  and busybodies, saying things they shouldn’t say.  1 Timothy 5:13 
In the same way, older women  are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good ... Titus 2:3

I am sure that everyone knows how dangerous gossip is.  We know we need to stop listening and repeating the words of gossip. We also know the pain of gossip.  It is an easy sin to slip into.  Because of the high priority of gossip in today's world we have falsely convinced ourselves that gossip is not so bad.  Gossip is human nature. Sin is human nature.  Gossip is sin.  I would guess that gossip is probably one of the most common sins today within the local church. When people get together they begin to talk.  A "juicy" story is a way to get a conversation going.  Perhaps it is easier to talk about other people than it is to face our own problems and shortcomings.   Let us not forget that the tongue is a powerful organ.  It is difficult to tame.  Using the tongue for gossip is an offense to God.
________


The difference between a gossip and a concerned friend is like the difference between a butcher and a surgeon. Both cut the meat, but for different reasons.


There is a lust in man no charm can tame,
Of loudly publishing his neighbor’s shame.
Hence, on eagles’ wings immortal scandals fly,
While virtuous actions are but born and die.
John Dryden, a seventeenth-century British dramatist and poet


The story is told of a young man during the Middle Ages who went to a monk, saying, “I’ve sinned by telling slanderous statements about someone. What should I do now?” The monk replied, “Put a feather on every doorstep in town.” The young man did it. He then returned to the monk, wondering if there was anything else that he should do. The monk said, “Go back and pick up all the feathers.” The young man replied, “That’s impossible! By now the wind will have blown them all over town.” Said the monk, “So has your slanderous word become impossible to retrieve.”




Saturday, June 1, 2013

An update and a personal note


My first online publishing began in the early 1990's.  I had three several web sites at that time. One was Angels a Biblical View. Another was "Christian Quotations  The third was the "Daily Miscellany" which first appeared appeared on the web in August of 1992.  The Daily Miscellany started as a one short page.  It grew to  3 separate sections each of which had multiple articles.  The "Soul Food" pages had a daily scripture verse, a quotation, Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotions, a link to read the Bible through in a year, and one or more short devotions.  At that time I had three great on-line friends who wrote devotions for me. The Daily Miscellany continued until Yahoo discontinued the Geocities websites.  At the closing at the site there were more than 1000 devotions, and more than 3000 quotations on these pages.  Pat Nordman is still very active and publishes frequently on her blog.  (Please visit it here Light for the Way )  Cathy Vinson and husband Ed have a ministry in  Mechanicsville, Virginia. Tim Knappenberger  is retired from writing but still involved in active Bible study.

I am finding it difficult to maintain a lengthy daily blog.  Perhaps you have noticed blogs are only kept up on weekdays.  I find that I may not be able to keep up with the lengthy weekday blogs. I am trying to shorten the blogs so that I can still have several every week.  The problem with many short devotions is that one can pick and choose random verses and easily misuse them.  A verse out of context can be used to prove a non-biblical view. I will do my best not to fall into that trap.

Starting June third, I will away from my computer for a time for a planned surgery.  I hope to get back to the blog as soon as possible. In that period of time Pat Nordman has given me permission to use her devotions from the old Daily miscellany.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please pray that I might continue with this blog and that God might speak to us through the study of His word.  Pray that we will not promote any false doctrine.  Pray that our walk with God will be closer every day.  Pray that unbelievers will hear the Gospel and called by God to become believers.
Phill




Friday, May 31, 2013

Tongue of the Wise - Proverbs 15:2

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The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive,
but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.
Proverbs 15:2

_________

The Book of Proverbs is full of divine wisdom and practical counsel. It is a wisdom and a poetry book.  It is filled withs small couplets of truth. They are short pithy maxims that help us face the every day.  The truth is so beautifully expressed that one can easily grasp their message.  Most often these truths are expressed in the form of a couplet.  The couplet is two ideas placed next to each other. There are three major forms of the couplet: contrastive, completive and comparative.

  1. The contrastive couplet often includes the word but. One statement is set in contrast to the next statement. For the lips of a strange woman drop honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil:  But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two- edged sword.  Proverbs 5:3-4
      
  2. In the completive couplet, the second statement completes the first and generally adds to it. In these statements the connecting word is generally and or soIn the fear of Jehovah is strong confidence; And his children shall have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26
  3. In a comparative couplet, the one statement serves as a comparison of the other.  The focus in these Proverbs is often to what actually is the more excellent of the two.  To identify these couplets you can look for than.  Also look for  better . . . than  /  as . . .  so  /   or  like . . .  soBetter a little with righteousness than great income with injustice.  Proverbs 16:8
The words tongue, mouth, lips and words are mentioned nearly 150 times in the book of Proverbs.  You likely can not read a full chapter of Proverbs and not find a reference to the words one speaks. It will appear somewhere as a figure of speech, most often as a metonymy.  This should be an indication of the importance of guarding your tongue.   The key verse in Proverbs on the subject of the tongue is probably: The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive,  but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.  Proverbs 15:2  It is a contrastive couplet.   There is that small, important word "but" included in the couplet.  It contrasts the "tongue of the wise" and the "mouth of the fool." Both of these are expressions are metonymies of cause. In both parts of the couplet, the subject is what they say.  The wisdom of a person can be determined by what they say.

The word translated as fool in this verse is the Hebrew word כְסִיל k siyl.  This word refers to a fool, a stupid or shameless person. This noun is used solely of humanity and found only in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. It is found 49 times in the  book of Proverbs.  The verb יַבִּיעַ (yabia’) is translated as "blurts out" means “to pour out; to emit; to cause to bubble; to belch forth.”  The words of the wise are useful.  These words teach valuable information and knowledge in an interesting and pleasant way.  The word of the fool are of no help to the listener. Their words burst out with reckless abandon.

As was stated in an earlier blog, the root of the problem is not in the mouth and tongue, but in the heart. Charles Swindoll states, 
"Like a bucket draws water from a well, so the tongue dips down and pours whatever is in the heart.  If the source is clean, that is what the tongue communicates.  If it is contaminated, again, the tongue will expose it."   


Another biblical book of book of poetry, Psalms states: The fool says in his heart, God does not exist.  Psalm 14:1  As stated in the previous blog: The central and recurring theme in Proverbs is that  the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  What you speak comes from the heart.  Without knowing God your speech is foolish.  It seems that everyone at some time or another have either struggled with using their tongue in the wrong matter, or they have suffered the injury of a harsh tongue from another.  Remember a fool blurts out foolishness, and a fool is one who is not in step with God's will.


_________

The tongue is also used as a figure of speech both today and in the Bible.  Here are a few of the many metaphors for the tongue used in today's culture.
  • The word or answer is on tip-of-the-tongue — Momentary forgot
  • tongue in cheek comment — Not to be taken entirely seriously, subtle irony or sarcastic.
  • tongue twister — a phrase made specifically to be very difficult to pronounce.
  • The phrase cat got your tongue  — when a person is speechless.
  • To bite one's tongue — holding back an opinion to avoid causing offense.
  •  A slip of the tongue — an unintentional utterance. 
  •  Speak with a forked tongue - deceptive person.
  •  A silver tongue – a smooth-talking person.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Power of the Tongue


The Power of the Tongue

A BIG yawn


From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is satisfied;
he is filled with the products of his lips.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue, 
and those who love it will eat its fruit.   –– Proverbs 18:20-21

_______


This is a pretty weighty proverb for our second look at the tongue.  First of all, lets look at the old Testament book of Proverbs in general.  Proverbs is one of the three Bible books called Wisdom Literature.  These three books are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job.  Wisdom literature is poetry. The poetry and wisdom also appears in Psalms, Genesis, Isaiah, Song of Solomon, the Gospel, James and other scriptures.  One of the main characteristics of poetry in the Scriptures is parallelism.  Parallelism is a construction of words in which one line is repeated, contrasted or advanced by the word of the following line.  Biblical poetry does not have word rhyme or rhythm so a sense of rhythm is created by thought. Knowing that the scripture uses parallelism is often a key in its interpretation.  The three main types of parallelism are: Synonymous parallelism, Antithetic parallelism and Synthetic parallelism.  The wisdom literature also uses metaphors, similes, puns and other figures of speech. Hopefully we will look at these in a later blog.

The book Proverbs is both poetry and wisdom literature.  Wisdom is very experiential.  It is often is a characteristic of an older person. Hopefully, a longer life will expose one to more experiences and increase their wisdom. A wise person observes and learns how to live a happy and successful life amidst everyday challenges.  Wisdom is more than intelligence. Wisdom encompasses discipline, knowledge, prudence, and other virtues. The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and he received his wisdom as a gift from God.  The Bible tell us that true wisdom comes from God: For the Lord gives wisdom;  from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Proverbs 2:6  God's wisdom includes

The verses in Proverbs are not promises.  Proverbs draw on observation and experiences to instruct people on how this world works.  Some behaviors and character traits often bring good results and God's blessings.  Other behavior patterns and behaviors bring failure and trouble.  The wise person will heed the knowledge found in Proverbs to put them on the path of more probable success. David Jeremiah writes:
This book is unique in that, while it was written by and for those who are the faithful of God, many of its principles will bear fruit in the life of anyone who practices them. Proverbs reminds us that “all truth is God’s truth.” If a non-believer “turns away wrath” with a “soft answer” Proverbs 15:1, it is because that law of relationships is as certain as the law of gravity. Though they don’t know it, when non-believers practice the truths of Proverbs they are treading on holy ground.
While the gems in Proverbs are useful to all they were written for God's chosen people. They were written by the gifted Solomon and inspired by God.  The central and recurring theme in Proverbs is that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  God is sovereign. God's will is always done.  The Proverbs are not methods or laws with guaranteed results. They are not "do this and this will happen" promises. The wisdom of the Proverbs will aid the believer to stay on the right path and walk more closely with God.  We will look at some verses about the tongue in Proverbs, James and other Scriptures, God willing.

From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the products of his lips.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.   – Proverbs 18:20-21  These two proverbs are a pair that fit well together.  They both refer to speech.  They describe two aspects of speech. These two aspects of speech fight against each other. The words one speak can be either satisfying, or the cause of death.  The tongue can either dispense life or death.

From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the products of his lips. Proverbs 18:20  Two images are used in the first of these two proverbs.  The fruit of the mouth and the harvest of the lips. These two images  (mouth and lips) are metonymies (a substitution of the name of an attribute for that of the thing meant).  They are synonymous for representation of speech.  Fruit from the orchard and products (wheat, barley) from the field.  Both speak of productive speech. Fruit and field products do not just happen.  Fruit results over a period of time. It is planted, tended and cultivated over a period of time.  The type of speech that you constantly use will determine the quality of the fruit or wheat.  If you speech is wicked you will be filled with depravity.  If your speech is honorable you will be filled with the good things you need.  Productive speech is  satisfying  and it meets the basic needs of life. There is a practical return for beneficial words. Likewise there is a return for derogatory words. The type of words you cultivate will determine return the quality of the harvest.  Good and true words will lead to a warm and comforting satisfaction. 

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21
One's speech can do either good or harm. You should be cautious with your speech and determine the direction you want your speech to take.  You can do a great deal of harm by the use of your tongue. You can also choose to use your tongue for good.  From the same tongue you can curse or comfort.  It seems that the old adage – Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. – is not at all true.  Words can and do hurt. The hurt can be deep and lasting.   Notice the little word "it" in the verse above.  It refers to words, speech and the tongue.  If you love talking, engage in it frequently, you will have to eat the fruit of your words. I don't know about you but sometimes the fruit of my words would be quite bitter and nasty. There are consequences to your talking, watch your words. Jesus said: I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37

Life and death are literally within the power of the tongue.  The announcement of the decision by a jury can be one of life or death.  A counselor can give hopeful words to a suicidal client.  A weather warning can save lives. The tongue can cause an action the encourages life or promotes death.  Spiritually, the power of the tongue  mirrors what is in the heart.  Guard your speech.  You will have to eat your own words and the taste may not be to your liking.   Do your word bring life or death?  Do they give hope or discouragement?  Listen to what others say, but also listen to what you say.  Also, remember to speak the good Word of the Gospel.  Those words could help to bring everlasting life to those who hear it. But will they listen if the fruit of your words are spoiled and bitter?

_______


A Greek Philosopher once asked his servant to provide the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying, "It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the faint hearted, inspire the discouraged, and say a hundred other things to uplift mankind."

Later the same philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish of which he could think. A dish of tongue appeared on the table. The servant said, "It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts; destroy reputations; promote discord and strife; set families, communities, and nations at war with each other."

He was a wise servant.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Powerful Tongue

precolombian1


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.   — Psalm 19:14

The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.   –– Proverbs 21:20

_____

The Tongue


The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. That is wordy definition read aloud will exercise your tongue. What is a muscular hydrostat — that is even more a worse definition than that of the tongue. A muscular hydrostat is a structure found in animals that is used to manipulate items (like food) or to move its host around (in gastropods - slugs, snails etc. and the entire body of some worms). A musculat hydrostat is composed of mainly muscles with no skeletal support. Now here is an amazing thing about a muscular hydrostat: Muscles can only create force by contracting. Therefore there must be different sets of muscles working against each other to provide force or movement. One group of muscles will relax (lengthen) while another group will contract (shorten). The muscles in a muscular hydrostat are oriented in three different directions: parallel to the long axis, perpendicular to the long axis, and wrapped obliquely around the long axis.

The average human tongue is 4 inches in length. It is covered with tiny bumps called papillae which gives the tongue its rough texture. Now we know something about a tongue. But the tongue does much more. In the human the tongue is the primary source for taste. There are four common tastes, they are: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. All parts of the tongue can detect these tastes. There are not specific areas of the tongue that are  sensitive to specific tastes as we once thought. There is another taste discovered that the tongue is sensitive to and that is called umami, not a lot of research has been done on this taste yet. Umami is sometimes described as an earthy taste.

It has often been said that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body, but it is not. The jaw muscle is stronger, primarily due to its leverage. The heart muscle is the strongest in terms of endurance. The tongue, however, is the only muscle in the body that is connected at only one end, making it unique in its power. This design allows the muscle to function to move food and to speak.

The tongue is also used for non verbal expressions. Sticking one's tongue out at someone is a gesture of rudeness or defiance in many countries. In Tibet sticking out ones tongue is considered a friendly greeting. This day and age tongue piercing and splitting is quite the fad in the United States. As many as 20% of the the young adults are estimated to have at least one piece of body art in their tongue.

Unfortunately I can tell you the words of my mouth are far too often not pleasing to the Lord.  I know what I should of said or shouldn't have said sometime after I have already said it.  The damage to someone else and to my reputation has already been done.  This definitely is not acceptable to God.  As a Christian, when I slander someone with my words, I have damaged my example as a child of Christ.  I am no longer a worthy ambassador of Christ.  Why do I still do it!  I could say that this is a hidden fault,  but that isn't true.  I know I need to take time and think about what I say before I say it.  That is part of the problem.  I  could pause, think, and not speak those words. Unfortunately I have come to enjoy the accolades of those who hear my stinging comments.   The laughs and high fives of the listeners are more important to me than the hurt I may have caused by my words.  It would be far better for me not to say what I said, but it would be even better not to have thought it. The real problem, however, is that one's speech generally originates with their heart.  Taming the tongue is a good start.  Still, a person's words are the windows to their heart.

Over the next several days we will look at the Biblical references to the tongue. We will be basically be referring to the use of the tongue in speech.  We shall see the tongue used both literally and metaphorically.  We will see all the trouble the tongue will cause.

The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.  Proverbs 21:20  The words mouth and tongue are used as a figure of speech.  This is a figure of speech called a metonymy.  A metonymy is when a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but is called by something intimately associated with that thing or concept.  A businessman might be called a suit. A reporter is called the press. Hollywood might refer to the film industry in general. In this proverb mouth and tongue are metonymies of cause that signify what person says.  

The word for himself is נֶפֶשׁ nepes.  This word actually means breath, life force, soul, or a creature as a whole.  In some translations it is translated as soul and others as himself.  The word used here for trouble is צָרוֹתtsarot.  The word means: a bind, a difficulty, tribulation, tightness or affliction. Its use can refer to social or legal difficulties. Therefore this proverb is stating that: If a person guards or “keeps” his mouth, he will keep or preserve his soul. Conversely it is stating that one can bring many troubles upon himself by careless speech.

_____

“The boneless tongue, so small and weak
Can crush and kill,” declared the Greek.
The Persian proverb wisely saith:
“A lengthy tongue, an early death.”
Sometimes it takes this form instead:
“Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.”
While Arab sages this impart:
“The tongue’s great storehouse is the heart.”
From Hebrew wit the maxim’s sprung:
“Though feet should slip, don’t let the tongue.”
A verse in Scripture crowns the whole:
“Who keeps the tongue doth keep his soul.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Psalm 19 - Prayer and Meditaionn

Psalm 19 - Prayer and Mediation

hyacinth bean

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and,
like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19

________

David closes this beautiful psalm with these beautiful words. This is a very moving prayer from the heart of David. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14 A literal translation of this text would read something like this: “Let what I speak and what my heart murmurs to itself be a delight to You, Lord.”

The word of ones mouth could easily just be words.  One can read, recite or say meaningless words. The words might even sound good to the listener. But to have any meaning they must come from the heart. A prayer of praise that does not come from the heart, is just empty, meaningless sound waves. These words of David came from his heart after meditation. This is how our prayers to God should be.  They can be after meditating on His Word, or His characteristics.  God is listening and God, unlike others you may speak to, knows your heart. You can pray softly, you can sing, you can cry, you can whisper, you can shout –– but the words from the mouth must originate in your heart.

The Hebrew word here for meditation is Higga´ion. The word here refers to the practice of reflection or contemplation. The verb "to meditate" is found mainly in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word means to murmur, moan, or sigh. This meditation is not to be confused with cultic or oriental practices of meditation. In those meditations one tries to empty their mind of all thoughts. The cultic meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. The cultic meditation usually involves rhythmic chants and offerings to appease the gods.  The meditation that David expresses here could be described as “waiting on God” and “thinking on His Word or His character.” This meditation is described in the activities of the blessed man - but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:2

Be acceptable in your sight. The Hebrew word translated os acceptable is רָצוֹן rason. The word means delightful, good pleasure, will favor acceptance.  The word in this case, and in many others, indicates God’s acceptance of a sacrifice. David prays that while in God's presence, his words will be from his heart and that they will be words that please God.  David knows that God judges not only one’s actions and words but also the meditations of his heart.

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Rock is the Hebrew צור sur.  This means a cliff, a rock, a boulder.  Figuratively it means a refuge, an edge.  When the word is used to describe God it refers to strength and protection. God is David's strong, sheltering rock.  God is also David's redeemer.
גָאַל gaal- go'el is the Hebrew word translated as redeemer.  Redeemer refers to the Oriental law of kinship.   The next of kin, which was describer in detail by the law, would be a redeemer.  The responsibility for a go'el fell first to someone’s brother, then uncle, cousin, and finally to the nearest living clan relative. Leviticus 25:48–49. It means to perform the part of near, or next.   To redeem is to act as a kinsman, an avenger, a deliverer. A redeemer would marry a brother's widow to provide a child for the brother. A redeemer is someone who will pay back.  A redeemer had the right to redeem individuals who had sold themselves into indentured servitude.  Leviticus 25:47–49

 In the Psalms, God is seen as a Redeemer on a more personal level. The metaphor here puts God in the role of a relative, a father, who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis.  God is the one who delivers or redeems the life of the psalmist.  Psalm 103:4  In the midst of the trials of Job, he clings to the hope of God's redemption.  Job 19:25  David said that God was his strength. God is his redeemer.

As Christians our Redeemer, God in Christ is the One who buys us back from sin, servitude, and shame.  As Christians we can look to God for our strength. We must proclaim that Christ is our rock (strength) and our redeemer.  As Christians we should be concerned that our words and thoughts should be acceptable our Lord Jesus Christ.  What a beautiful psalm this is.  God reveals Himself in His marvelous creation, God reveals Himself in his Word (The Bible).  God is Awesome!   We are sinners and God provided our redeem.   We should please Him with our words and heart.  We should praise His Glorious name.
_______


My words and thoughts and their acceptability to God caused me great pause. It is something that I have taken rather lightly.  If things go as I plan, I will continue that thought on future blogs, God willing.

_______

My wife and I have the joy of watching our granddaughter on some blessed days. She is now four years old. It seems that she has always liked to color.  You may have noticed that when children first start to color, they have two problems.  First they rarely choose the appropriate color for the right item they are coloring.  Secondly, they do not stay within the lines. Their boundary when they color is the entire page and it may also include the table on which the paper lies. This rarely results in a beautiful work of art, but it still goes on the refrigerator.  As the child grows and matures, the choices of the colors in more appropriate and the colors stay within the guidelines.  These pictures are much more satisfying, and are also displayed on the refrigerator.

God's children are quite similar. Our prayer life resembles the child learning to color. At first, we don’t know what to pray for nor do our prayers stay within the guidelines of His will. As we mature and continue praying, though, we learn to pray for the right things and stay within His will, resulting in a satisfying prayer life.

Adapted from Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Edited by Michael P. Green

Monday, May 27, 2013

Psalm 19 - The Trap of Sin

Psalm 19 - The Trap of Sin


I told you not to do that again

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and,
like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19
________


Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  Psalm 19:12  Our sins are never hidden from God.  We may often hide hide our known sins from others. We as humans often become insensitive to sin.  We tend not to see it in ourselves. God's law is so perfect and righteous and we are so sinful. We as Christians will still sin. We can become so prideful and arrogant that we are blinded to our own sin.  These are our hidden faults. These are our sins that we have hidden from ourselves. These are our sins that we were not aware of when we committed them. These sins are blind spots for us. These may be the sins that surprise us when they just seem to "pop up."  Perhaps when you burn yourself on the stove, or when you trip over the dog,  or drop the screw when you are at the top of the ladder. The law, God's Word, will reveal our sins to us. Sometimes God will choose a friend to point them out to us. When we learn of our sins, we must confess them to God in prayer. The clearer that God's Word becomes to us and the more we study the Scripture, the more we become aware of the holiness of God. When we know God, we will recognize our sins.  This could be the type of sin that Paul spoke of: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.   Psalm 19:13  There are times when we know full well that what we are doing is a sin.  Some times we are aware of God's will, but we openly choose to defy God.  We sin on purpose! That is a presumptuous sin.   I may be wrong, but I think this is what Sinatra was singing about in his ode to pride:
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way! 
David, unlike the lyrics of the Sinatra tune, asks God (probably on his knees) to not let the presumptuous sins have dominion over him. David asks for the power not to commit these sins. Our presumptuous sins, purposeful sins, will end up trapping us.  We will become a slave to these sins. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.  2 Peter 2:19  Pride will allow you to think you are more than what you really are. Pride will make you believe that you can do it your way.  You are either controlled by the Word of God or by sin. David prays for cleansing, for acquittal, and for God to render him guiltless.

I understand that there are 613 laws in the Old Testament. That is a lot of gold and honey. I am sad to say that when I read through the Bible I do not find laws and the genealogies very exciting or interesting.  I scan over them quickly, giving them but little thought.  Today there is estimated to be more than 2,000,000 laws in the United States.  On the first day of every year many new laws become official in the U.S.A. and it territories. On that first day in 2010, there were 40,627 new laws added  in the USA and its overseas territories and protectorates.  The data in 1998 showed that there was currently a a total of 134,723 pages in 201 volumes totaling 54,834 pages of U. S. Federal laws. Since that date thousands of laws have been added.  Just the affordable Health Act added many more. That is many, many, many more laws than found in the Word of God.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest law was His answer was: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 26:36-40  If we could keep these two laws, we would have no need for the millions of others we have and the thousand of new laws that are added daily

 Are Christians not to be concered of the Law of God?  Well what did Jesus say:  "Don't assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished."  Matthew 5:17-18  The life and ministry of Jesus did not replace the Old Testament. The life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus completed and clarified the Old Testament. The Law of God still stands.   God's Word will never be changed, amended, abolished or ignored.  God did not change His Word.  His Word is true and everlasting.  We are sinners. The Lord owes us nothing but justice and wrath.  As Christians our sins are not ignored.  Jesus paid the price for our sins. God sent His Son to die with the weight of our sins upon Him, thereby paying the cost of our sins in full.  Jesus willingly died on the cross suffering for our sins.  For those who know Jesus as their Lord, our sins have been removed from us, they were not ignored. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103:12   What did we, as Christians, do to earn this grace of God?  Nothing!  "By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God;" Ephesians 2:8   God, through His grace, by the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, by faith given to us by God has redeemed us. Those who do not know Jesus as their Lord will receive justice for their unpaid sins.