Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be Limited


Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV)

In keeping with the title of the post, I will attempt to be limited with my words on the subject.

The above verse tells us not to be two things--(1) rash and (2) hasty.

rash-displaying or proceeding from a lack of careful consideration of the possible consequences of an action

hasty-done or acting with excessive speed or urgency; hurried

Have you ever said anything you would like to take back?  Yes?  Me too.  That is the danger in speaking rashly or hastily--you can never take back the words you have uttered.  Once they leave your mouth and reach the recipient's hearing, they are out never again to be retrieved.  

Because of this, the Bible cautions us to be mindful that:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue:  and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. 
Proverbs 18:21 (KJV)

We do not want to be rash or hasty to speak death over anyone or anything.  On the contrary, we should be slow to speak (James 1:19).  Let us not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin  (Romans 6:13) but rather let us present our bodies as a living sacrifice since we know that both sweet and bitter water can not flow from the same fountain (James 3:10,11).  

We are told why we are not to be rash or hasty--God is in heaven and we are on earth.  

Simple.

So let us be limited in what we say.  



Monday, May 19, 2014

Be Devoted


Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  
Romans 12:10

devoted-very loving or loyal
synonyms:  faithful, true, staunch, steadfast, constant, committed

There is something unique, almost extinct, in today's culture--commitment.  More and more we see people calling it quits in their marriages, the ministry, their church in search of the elusive dream (fantasy) life that does not exist and can never satisfy.  They are only committed to one thing--change.  Out with the old and in the new at alarming rates.

The Bible teaches us differently.  We are to be loyal, faithful, true, steadfast, constant, and committed to one another in brotherly love.  Simply put--nothing should ever hinder us from loving one another.  Now here is when things get a little "sticky" because people can have differing views on what love looks like.  We would all do well to take our notions of love and throw them in the garbage and stick to what the Word teaches us about love.  

The preceding verse tells us:

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Romans 10:9

Our relationships must be founded on love (God is Love) and established in truth.  I can not say that I love my brother and yet withhold truth from him.  

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18

This is not popular.  It is not easy.  But it is the essential in any Christian relationship.  We must be willing to share the truth with our spouses, our children, our family in Christ when it is hard to do so, unpopular to do so, and unpleasant to do so.  Anything less than the truth is a lie, and thus sin.  

We are called to hate what is evil.  Lying is evil.  So truth is the only option for the Christian.  We must cling to what is good.  God is good.  In Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  We are called to walk in light and thus have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).  

Our walk in the Lord does not consist of winning Ms. Popular.  A relationship founded on flattery is a false one.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  
Proverbs 27:6

Will we mess up?  Say things not seasoned with salt?  Do things without wisdom?  Sure.  But if we are devoted to one another in brotherly love, I can trust that wound was wrought about in love.  Would you rather someone hurt you while trying to save you from oncoming traffic or someone who just watches you get hit because they wanted to make sure they weren't the ones who hurt you?  

Let's be devoted to one another.  Let love cover a multitude of  sins amongst us.  The devil is an opportunist and will seize the moment to cause division among the brethren if we let him.  Let's not.  

Rather, let's honor one another more than ourselves.  Let us not make assumptions about one another and judge one another according our standards.  Let us consider others better than ourselves.  Let us elevate our brother in our hearts from our limited mindsets and see them through the blood of Christ.  

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  
1 Corinthians 13:6,7

Monday, May 12, 2014

Be Inclusive

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Romans 12:16 (NASB)

As children of God, we know that we are to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) and peace seekers (Romans 12:8).  The question remains how do we do this?

The first step in living in peace with our family in Christ is to have an accurate view of ourselves.  In Romans 12:16, we are told not to be haughty in mind, not to be proud.

proud-feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.

We are not to take pride in what we have accomplished, what we own, nor in who we know.  That is worldliness (1 John 2:16).  Instead we are to boast in the cross (Galatians 6:14).  We can boast in all  Jesus Christ has done and Who He is!  

If we are practicing pride, we will not be able to associate with the lowly.  We will only want to associate with those who can do something for us.  We will use people to our convenience and never develop true relationships with one another.  Our continual pretense will prohibit any true fellowship.  

The NIV tells us to be willing to associate with people of low position or be willing to do menial work.  I love that!  Let's first step out of our comfort zone and reach out to sisters in Christ across age groups, stations in life, or anything else that may separate us into different categories.  Away with the boundaries!  We should be able to glean wisdom from the widowed grandmother to the unmarried college student.  We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).  Let's not look at what separates us but WHO unites us:)

Secondly, let's be willing to do menial work.  I have often told my children that everyone wants to serve the Lord with a microphone in their hands and only a few with a broom in their hands.  Preaching the Word is beautiful, but it is not the only way we can serve the Lord.  Picking up the paper from your church's floor, sending an encouraging text to a new believer, or cleaning the bathroom during church clean up is also service.  Let's not work to the eye but unto the Lord (Colossians 3:22-23).

Let's look for those God provided opportunities to include  those we would not be likely to fellowship with and foster deeper relationships.  Let us do everything, even those menial jobs as unto the Lord.  Let's be more inclusive in fellowship and in work.  Let us remember that we brought nothing into the world and we will take nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7).  So let's not be prideful but boast only in the cross!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: Essential Atlas of the Bible

source
In Essential Atlas of the Bible, author Carl G. Ramsmussen's work 'is designed to help you better understand the history and places of the Bible and it's world.  With this easy-to-understand atlas, you'll find Bible study more engaging and comprehensible, and you'll learn the essential facts about the fascinating lands of the Bible.'

The book is beautiful.  It is filled with pictures, charts, and maps.  It is also filled with information.  The book is divided into two sections-geographical and historical.  The geographical section is very short (about 30 pages) and not my favorite due to the topic, not the writing style.  Although, I find the information well presented, the topic itself does not appeal to me.

The second section is a different story.  The historical section is packed with information that engages the reader.  One is captivated by the story and able to visualize the context far better because of the photos, maps, and charts.  There is a wealth of information covered from the pre-patriarchal period through the seven churches of Revelation.  (The last section is specifically for Jerusalem.)  Although a lot of data is given, it does not feel rushed or as if there are some huge gaps missing.  There are various Bible verses throughout and even a Scripture index which is useful when you want to look up a specific Scripture pertaining to a location.  

My only concern with this title is on page 53 in which the author mentions some "updated" material which seemed to attempt to question the credibility of the copyists and editors thus infusing confusion as to the validity of the Biblical text.

Although the actual apportionment took place during the days of Joshua and Eleazar the son of Aaron (14:1;19:51), later copyists and editors of the book of Joshua seem to have "updated" the lists of cities mentioned as belonging to the various tribes.

Overall, this book is a good resource for indepth study.  The back of the book states that it can be used in small group discussion, Sunday school classes, or in personal devotions, however, I  look forward to using it in my homeschool setting.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Be Selective


Be not deceived:  evil communications corrupt good manners.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (KJV)

We have dealt with the importance of being realistic, knowing that what we sow, we will reap.  Today, I want us to focus on something specifically--communication.

communication-the imparting or exchanging of information or news

The Bible warns us that evil communications corrupt good manners or good character (NIV).  So based on our above definition, we must realize that we are receiving as well as giving.  Let's not make the mistake of limiting communication to verbal.  Remember it is the imparting or exchanging of information.  Communication is occurring constantly whether we realize it or not.  Therefore, we have to be extremely selective.

Let's begin by looking at the receiving end--what communication am I receiving?  I firmly believe that what we spend our time on is what is important to us.  Therefore, if I spend big time slots pursuing my own desires while ignoring the ministry of wifehood and motherhood, that hobby, TV show, ministering to others, etc., is more important than my family.  

Being selective in our communication begins with having the right priorities.  We should seek to communicate with God continuously.  Beginning our day with calling out to Him and reading His Word are vital spiritual disciplines.  Devotional books and/or any other books should in no way replace the Bible just as listening to sermons should not replace your prayer time.  We have a direct connection to God, let's use it!

What do you watch?  What do you read?  What do you listen to?

Many can take the approach that they are allowed to watch/listen/read things they wouldn't allow their children to watch/listen/read.  We justify ourselves by stating that they are not old enough to see such things or understand certain themes.  These are excuses to justify our carnality.  It is also hypocrisy.  Our heavenly Father doesn't want us to listen/watch/read those things either.

I will set before my eyes 
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I
hate;
they will not cling to me.
Psalm 101:3

God does not want us to contaminate ourselves with the filth of this world because He knows that it will corrupt us and our families.  We can not feed our minds and hearts with the trash of sin portrayed in the media and think that we can remain pure.  

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the food feeds on trash.
Proverbs 15:14 (NLT)

Let's not be deceived.  Let us be selective in what we are spending our time reading/watching/listening.  

Now let's have a look at what we are giving.  What do our husbands hear come out of our mouths?  How do we discipline our children?  How do we handle unexpected situations?  Do our family members see us live out the Gospel we preach?

We must be selective about the words we see and the actions we take.  We must have boundaries that are not to be crossed both in marriage and with our children.  Saying or doing hurtful, spiteful things can easily be avoided when boundaries are set.  (For example,  don't threaten your spouse with divorce or discipline your children in anger.)

Remember that communication is not always verbal.  Sometimes the silence we take says more than any spoken word.  It can be that deafening silence that invokes fear, disapproval, and rejection.  Do we want that to be our communication?  Instead, let us turn to our Father and ask Him for help to communicate as clearly and thoroughly as possible to avoid any misunderstandings.  

Let us seek to have an ongoing communication with Jesus to avoid corruption of our character and that of our families.  Let us be extremely selective about what we set before our eyes and tune our ears to.  Ears to hear and eyes to see--both are gifts from the LORD (Proverbs 20:12 NLT)  Let us not be deceived into thinking that what we feed on will not affect what we serve to others.  

Be Patient


Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
James 5:7-8

Slow down.

Wait.

These are words we would think about when driving not living.  Our lives sound more like, "Let's go...hurry up."

We are not prone to waiting.  We actually dislike it.  But the Word of God often tells us to do just that--wait.  Why?

One reason is growth.

The farmer knows that when he throws his valuable seed into the ground, it will not sprout immediately.  He knows there is a time of cultivation and growth that must take place before harvest.

We must be careful to do the same.

Last week, we discussed being realistic about what we were sowing.  This week we are discussing waiting.  Now that you have taken care of sowing for the eternal and not the temporal, it's time to wait.

There is a time for
everything,
and a season for every
activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a
time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2

The farmer is aware that seasons are vital.  We would do well to take note of our seasons.  Are you married?  Have children?  Well, then that is your season.  As a wife and mother you are in an edifying season.  You are to help your husband and train your children.

What happens if you neglect these seasons?  Well, for instance, if you fail to be a wise woman who builds her home, you will be the foolish one that tears it down with her own hands.  Eventually, your lack of acknowledging your season as a wife will result in a broken home.

What if training your children is not on your radar?

A foolish son brings grief to
his father
and bitterness to the one
who bore him.
Proverbs 17:25

There is so much negativity in women fulfilling their Biblical roles.  The world would have us think that being a wife is subservient and mothering is a part-time job secondary to our own pursuits.  But the Bible tells us otherwise.

He who finds a wife finds
what is good
and receives favor from the
Lord.
Proverbs 18:22

We are called to bring our husbands good not harm, all the days of his life (Proverbs 31:12).  If you are married, that is your season--bringing your husband good.    After your relationship with Jesus, this is the most important relationship we as wives should be tending.

If you are a mother, then this is the season to train and discipline your children.  Since your children are growing, so are you.  What they require from you as a mother will continuously change (diaper changes, homework, advice) but what they receive from you should be a constant, consistent woman of God who fears the Lord.

During the waiting there will be growth.  Growth in our husbands.  Growth in our children.  Growth in us.  Sometimes it will not be evident  At other times, it may be miniscule.  But nevertheless, growth is occurring.  We do not walk by sight, but by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Let us not grow impatient with our husband's, children's, or even our own growth.  Let us trust in the Lord who is the only One Who can give the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6,7).  As we wait, let us not become discouraged.  He Who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).  Let us allow patience to finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).