Dealing Biblically With Anger

Grace For The Journey


30Apr  Ever get so angry you put your fist through a wall?  That is definitely a time when anger got the best of you.  Ever kick something over in anger?  Moses once lost his cool and struck a rock and it cost him entrance into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:10-12).  My mother used to talk about getting so mad that she would “blow a gasket.”  I was sixteen years old and driving before I knew what a gasket was – but I knew before then that it was never good to blow one.

If we don’t control our anger,

It will control us and we’ll

Do things we later regret.

I heard about a guy who was so angry with his father that he decided to sit down and vent his frustrations in a really long letter.  And the guy just poured out a string of invectiveness and anger; just wrote down all kinds of insults and hatred.  The son then gave it to a friend to mail.  But his friend thought to himself: “I don’t know, he’s pretty angry; I think I’ll just hold onto this for a day or two.”  The next day, the son felt terrible about what he had written and he said to his friend, “I’d give a hundred dollars to get that letter back.”  His friend smiled inwardly and said, “I believe I can do about that!” 

Unlike that situation, we can’t usually get back the anger once we’ve let it out.  For that reason the Bible frequently warns us about the need to not be angry.  Consider Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry, and do not sin;” do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”  This verse has four verbs and all of them in the imperative mood; the mood of command. From these four verbs, we learn how to deal with our anger.  Let’s look at it:

1) Deal with it Realistically.

The verse begins with in what seems to be an unusual way with, “be angry.”  Some translations soften these words with something like, “In your anger do not sin.”  But this word in the original Greek is a word in the imperative mood, a command.  It literally reads, “Be angry.”  Now I happen to like that!  I mean, that’s dealing with anger realistically, isn’t it?  Be angry.  It’s biblical.  It’s okay to be angry.

God gets angry and Jesus got angry, but neither of them sinned in their anger.  There is a righteous anger.  Anger, in and of itself, is not a sin.  You can’t control how you feel, did you know that?  You can’t.  God created you as a feeling, human being.  You are supposed to feel.  That’s why one minute you’re watching television, minding your own business, and a touchy, sentimental commercial comes on.  A minute later you’re sobbing and blowing your nose.  You are just being yourself.  You feel.

It’s okay to be angry,

But it’s not okay to sin

So when we’re talking about anger, we need to deal with it realistically. Someone might say, “Well, I never get angry.”  That’s just not being realistic.  We all get angry.  We are emotional, feeling, beings.  You can’t control how you feel.  I hope that’s liberating to some of you.  Be angry!  It’s a command.  It’s biblical.  This might lead you to say, “The Bible says it.  I can do it!  I can BE angry!”  Okay, hang on.  If we’re going to deal with our anger, not only must we deal with it realistically, but we must:

2) Deal with it Seriously.

The verse continues with, “and do not sin.”  The New Living Translation has, “Don’t sin by letting your anger control you.”

It’s okay to be angry,

But it’s not okay to sin.

You can’t control how you feel,

But you can control

How you deal with how you feel.

Do not let your anger control you.  You will do things that you will later regret.  Someone said there’s only one letter difference between the word “anger” and the word “danger.”  If you don’t deal with your anger seriously, it is dangerous.   You will likely do something you later regret.

The Bible says in James 1:19, “Let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

Patience is the virtue that often conquers anger.  That’s why you’ll often find anger contrasted with patience in the book of Proverbs.

For instance Proverbs 14:29 says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”

I read where Thomas Edison spent only a few months in formal education. His teacher was often frustrated with Edison, believing him to be not very bright.  Edison’s mother had great patience with him and home-schooled him, showing great interest in his experiments.

Remember Matthew 18:21-22 where we read about Peter’s asking Jesus how often he should forgive?  Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?”  In Jesus response He taught that forgiveness should be limitless.  We must be patient enough to continually forgive the one who has offended us.

A family was taking a trip and the little 4-year-old boy in the back seat was really testing his mother’s patience.  He’d keep saying, “Are we there yet, are we there yet?”  His mother finally said, “Look, stop asking.  It’s going to be a long time before we’re there.”  A few minutes later, the little boy asked, “Mom, will I still be four when we get there?”

It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to sin.  You can’t control how you feel, but you can control how you deal with how you feel.  Be angry and do not sin.  Deal with your anger realistically and seriously.

3) Deal with it Immediately.

The verse goes on to say, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  This is a picturesque, figurative expression, isn’t it?  It does not mean that you can carry your anger around until the sun is getting ready to set and, just before sundown, you deal with your anger.  If that were true you wouldn’t want to run into an angry person in Alaska, where in the summer the sun doesn’t set for some 80 days!

The expression simply means, “Deal with your anger immediately.”  Don’t let your hot anger begin to boil into something dangerous.

Deal with it right away

Before it gets worse.

The longer you wait

To deal with it,

The worse it can become.

The old saying, “Don’t go to bed angry” is actually a pretty good paraphrase of this statement.  That’s a good one for married couples.  A married couple once had a fight that culminated in their each giving the other the silent treatment.  They went an entire week without speaking to one another.  One evening the husband realized he was going to need his wife’s help.  He had to catch a flight to Chicago for a business meeting had to get up at 5:00 A.M.  Not wanting to trust his cell phone to wake him – but also not wanting to be the first to break silence with his wife – he wrote on a piece of paper: “Please wake me at 5 AM.”  Next morning the man woke up late – very late – and discovered his wife was already out of bed and gone for the day.  His flight had long since departed.  In anger, he sat up quickly in the bed and then noticed a solitary piece of paper next to his pillow that read: “It’s 5 AM.  Wake up.”  We must deal with our anger immediately.

A qualifier is in oder here.  Sometimes you can’t deal with your anger the very second you become angry.  Sometimes you’re so hurt that you are not in a position to respond immediately in a rational manner.  You find out someone else stole your idea at work, or somebody said something hurtful to you, or did something mean to you; it’s hard for you to respond immediately in a rational manner.

You may need to cool off for a moment or two.  Walk away.  Keep your mouth closed and just walk away.  Take some time to cool off.  Get into a room and close the door for a few moments.  Breathe deeply.  The old adage of counting to ten is a good one.  Sometimes you need to separate yourself from the situation.  You are, as we said, a feeling being.  You can’t control how you feel, but you can control how you deal with how you feel.

But remember, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.

After you’ve taken a moment or two,

Deal with that anger

Before it deals with you.

If we’re going to deal with our anger biblically, we must deal with it realistically; we must deal with it seriously; we must deal with it immediately; and we must . . .

4) Deal with it Completely.

The verse concludes by say, “nor give place to the devil.”  The idea of this truth is, “Do not give the devil a foothold,” or, “Do not give the devil an opportunity.”  The devil is real.  He’s not just into demonic possession, he’s also into demonic oppression.  He loves to look for a place in your life where he can gain a base of operation, oppress you, defeat you, and ultimately destroy you.  If you don’t deal with your anger, he will.  He’ll take the first opportunity you give him to make your life as miserable as possible.

So you’ve got to deal with your anger completely.  That means you’ve got to deal with your past.  Someone hurt you in the past, you’ve got to forgive that person or you will carry your anger around with you wherever you go.

Your anger toward that person will color everything you see and do.  You’re carrying that anger around like extra weight.  You don’t need it and it’s slowing you down.  You get around other people and you often, unconsciously, project that anger on someone else.

When you look carefully at the context of this passage in chapter four, you note that Paul’s train of thought begins at verse 25 and runs through the end of the chapter.  He’s talking about the behavior of the “new man,” the Christian, not the “old man,” the person he was before Christ, but the “new man” who has Jesus Christ living within him.  And so he says, “be angry, and do not sin . . . let him who stole steal no longer . . . let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth . . . be kind to one another,”  and then he ends it all in the last part of the last verse of the chapter, verse 32, last part of it he says, “Forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”  

The anger that does the most harm is the anger expressed in relationships.  So the Bible says, “Forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”  Who makes you angry?  How do you usually deal with your anger?  Is your way biblical and does it lead you to obey and please God?  How can you help others deal with how they feel?  The imperative commands of Ephesians 4 follow three chapters of Christian doctrine.  Apart from faith in Christ, we’ll be trapped in sin and don’t respond as we should.  Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ?

God says forgive that person, even as God in Christ forgave you.  Deal with that person realistically, seriously, immediately, and completely.  That’s how God dealt with you.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, God turned away his anger from you and your sin.  And God forgives you immediately and completely.  You and I must do the same.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Overcoming Worry

Grace For The Journey


29Apr   The title is God’s words, not mine.  And Jesus says this more than once!  In Matthew 6:25-43, He says it three times, “Therefore I say to you, Do Not Worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?’   Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore Do Not Worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore Do Not Worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Why do you suppose Jesus says this so much?  Well, we know, don’t we – it’s because we are inclined to worry?  It’s hard to overstate the reality of worry.  Worry is an emotion every person on the planet experiences in some way or another.

Mark Twain famously said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”  That was Mark Twain’s way of saying, “I’ve caused myself a lot of grief simply by worrying about things that never came to pass.”

We expend so much energy worrying over things that it affects our physical appearance and our physical health.  We show that we worry by getting up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep; we show others we worry by the worn wrinkles on our faces or by the number of trips we take to the doctor.

I recall a church marquis where a well-meaning person placed the words:

“Don’t allow worry to kill you. 

Let the church help!”

I am sure they did not intend to say, “Let the church help kill you,” but that’s how it reads!   Worry can kill us, but it need not.  Jesus tells us how to avoid that happening in the passage we will look at today.

Learn To Trust In Him.

Jesus says that when we worry we are revealing the fact that we have little to no trust.  Note the last few words of verse 30: “O you (of what?) little faith,” little trust.  If we’re going to stop worrying and start living we’re going to have to learn to trust in God.  We must trust Him to provide what we need, to protect us, and take care of us.

When we worry, we are not trusting God to take care of our situation.  In fact, the word “worry” means to be “pulled or divided into different directions.”  That’s a great word picture . . .

Rather than trusting God,

We are pulled in this

Direction and that direction,

Running from here to there,

Never settled, always scurrying

From one thing to the next.

Everyone is tempted to worry.  Everyone.  Little boys and girls worry about thunderstorms, tornados, or things that go bump in the night.  Young people worry about school, passing an exam, or worry about some boy or girl.  And it seems everybody has been worried in some way or other about COVID 19.

Worry is practical atheism.

It’s like saying,

“I believe in God,”

But then living like you don’t.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid I will trust in You.” 

It’s not a question of whether

It is wrong to worry or be afraid.

It is a question of what we do

When we are worried or afraid.

Jesus gives practical examples of the kinds of things people in His day worried about – food, drink, and clothing.  And He says, “You shouldn’t worry about these things.”

There’s a little humor here when He starts comparing the people to birds.  When was the last time you saw a little bird with its head down, a sad countenance, furrowed eyebrows, pacing back and forth, wringing its hands – or toes, talons  – grasping a rake, tilling the soil, wiping sweat off his little bird brow, planting seed; or a little bird riding a John Deere tractor, gathering the harvest – you never see that, right?!  Why?  Because . . .

God takes care of those birds.

 Jesus declares that you and I

Are more valuable than birds.

We are the crowning achievement of God’s creation, created on the sixth day as the pinnacle of His masterful work.  We are made in the image of God Himself.

This truth is driven home even more specifically a little later in Luke 10:29-31 where Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? (less than pennies) And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

You are worth more than a couple sparrows sold for a copper coin – Sold for next to nothing to eat.  Yet, Jesus says God cares for those birds until their last flying moment.  So He adds: “Do not fear therefore”  – (why? because) – “you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Jesus says it’s the same with the beautiful lilies of the field.  They don’t work for their own clothing.  You don’t see a flower sitting in a chair pulled up to a sewing machine, working the pedal, sewing its own shirt and pants.  God takes care of that lily.  In fact, God can dress up a flower of the field with more regal clothing than what King Solomon wore.

So Jesus concludes: “If God so takes care of the grass of the field – grass which today exists and tomorrow is thrown into the oven” – burned as fuel to bake bread – how much more do you think he’s going to take care of the crowning achievement of His creation?”  

We must learn to trust Him.  Trust God to meet your needs.  Believe that God “will supply all of your need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”

Next time you wake up in the middle of the night worried about something just close your eyes and say, “Dear God, You have taught me in your Word not to worry.  And I’m learning to trust in You.  I trust to Your care right now this problem.  I give it to You.  Take it.”  That’s faith.

Live Today For Him.

When Christians worry, they are living like unbelievers – like people who don’t know God.  Jesus declares in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  The “kingdom of God” is the “rule” or “reign” or even “rest” of God.  Christians enjoy a sense of God’s rest in this life, but will experience a fuller, more complete rest in Heaven.

We enter into God’s kingdom when we receive Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  “His righteousness” in this context refers to living the Christian faith, righteous living.

Jesus’ counsel is to, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”  

What is Jesus saying to us?

  • Make sure Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of your marriage.
  • Make sure you live for Him first.
  • Make sure Jesus Christ comes before your boyfriend or your girlfriend, before your job, before your stuff, before your worries.
  • Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness “and He will give you everything you need.”

Simply put, Jesus is saying, “Live today for Him.  Put Him first in all things.”  Don’t allow the worry and noise of today’s events get in the way of your love for, trust in, reliance upon, and devotion to Jesus Christ.

Leave Tomorrow To Him.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

That is a great message that we need to hear – Do not worry about the future . . . Leave it with God . . .  Live one day at a time . . .  Live today.  Jesus teaches elsewhere that we are to live this way.  In the Lord’s Prayer, for example, Jesus says pray like this, “Give us” – (what?) – “this day our daily bread.” 

The concept of living one day

At a time comes

From the Bible.

Do not worry about tomorrow.

Sufficient for the day

Is its own trouble.

Someone has said that  . . .

“The average person

Is crucifying himself

Between two thieves:

The regrets of yesterday


The worries of tomorrow.”

You can’t change the past and you can’t control the future so don’t worry about it.  It’s a waste of energy.  As another saying goes . . .

“Worry does not empty

Tomorrow of its sorrow;

Iit empties today

Of its strength.”

Learn to Trust in Him.  Live Today for Him.  Leave Tomorrow to Him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Dealing With Depression

Grace For The Journey


27Apr  Someone has called it “the common cold of mental illness.” When it hits, it causes us to feel as though the weight of the world were upon our shoulders.  I am talking about depression, those recurring situations where we find ourselves not “on top of the mountain,” but rather “down in the valley of despair.”

One of the most well-known cases of depression in the Bible is that of Elijah.  In the Book of 1 Kings, we read that Elijah had an incredible “mountain-top experience” in chapter 18 only to be followed in the very next chapter by a journey through the “valley of despair.”  In chapter 19, Elijah even prays that he may die (1 Kings 19:4).

We often get depressed right after a great victory.  That’s what happened to Elijah.  He had just experienced one of the greatest success stories of all times.  He had challenged the false prophets to a battle on top of Mount Carmel and won a big victory.  It seemed nothing could hinder his successes.  And then – Depression hit him like a sudden, winter storm.  He goes from “mountain-top” to “melt-down,” from a “battle ace” to a “basket case.”

Depression should be taken seriously.  I understand there is both “situational depression” and “clinical depression.”  We can thank God that He has gifted doctors and medical practitioners with medicines that help many patients cope with the complexities of a clinical illness not easily cured.

Elijah is suffering from more of a situational kind of depression, a depression not unlike that experienced by most of us from time to time.  What Elijah learns during this time of darkness is instructive and helpful to us when we fall into a similar situation.

1) Be Blessed by God’s Provision 

After learning that the wicked queen Jezebel gave orders to kill him, Elijah runs deep into the wilderness and falls asleep under a tree, totally exhausted from his emotional flight from danger.   Check out what happens in 1 Kings 19:5-8, “Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’  Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again.  And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, ‘Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.’  So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.”

Elijah had been running for his life, running on pure adrenaline, having not eaten for some time.  We can be so energized by a project or event of some kind that our bodies will function on the pure, emotional high of the experience.

Sometimes you can have so much to do that you focus all of your energy into accomplishing that one thing – a sales proposal, a presentation, a speech, an interview, a term-paper, a sermon! – and when that one thing is over, you come crashing down like a house of cards because you’ve been running on sheer adrenaline and determination.

God has provided three necessary things for the human body to function well: food, water, and rest.  God created these things.   They are good things.  And we are wise to draw strength from them and be strengthened by the provision of God.

Elijah needed to eat, drink, and sleep.  He is exhausted!  He sleeps there under that broom tree and an angel taps him and says, “Arise and eat.”  Those are encouraging words, aren’t they?!  I like to do that every day, don’t you?!

Elijah wakes up and looks over and sees a fire with a loaf of bread baking on top of it – the angel had made it.  It’s “Angel Food Cake!”  He eats, drinks, and sleeps again.  And after he sleeps he gets up and eats again.

When we stress our bodies by not getting enough sleep and nutrition, we are setting ourselves up for an emotional breakdown.  Legendary coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers used to say, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  And he’s right.  If you don’t get enough sleep, and if you don’t get adequate nutrition, you become vulnerable to physical and emotional sickness.

To say we are “too busy” or feel we are “too important” for food and rest is to set ourselves up for a prideful fall.  Our bodies are literally temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and we must take care of them to the glory of God.

Make sure you have a healthy diet of nutritional food.  Healthy eating habits, proper sleep, regular exercise – all of these things help us overcome burnout and avoid depression.

We need both physical food and exercise as well as spiritual food and exercise.  The spiritual blessing for Elijah is the presence of God.

2) Be Blessed by God’s Presence 

After eating and resting, Elijah journeys on until coming to Mount Horeb where he enters a cave.  In that very cave, God speaks to him.

God asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9).  Of course, God knows exactly what Elijah is doing in that cave, but He asks Elijah in order to force him to deal with his little “pity party.”  In essence, Elijah replies: “I’m the only one left who cares about the One True God and they’re all out to get me.” (1 Kings 19:10)

Look more closely at the question God asks Elijah.  He asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  God doesn’t ask, “What are you doing there, as in “What are you doing over there in that cave” – as though God Himself were somewhere else while asking.  God may just as easily have said, “I am wondering as we’re both here together, what’s going on, Elijah?  I am right here with you, listening to you.”

Here’s the point:

Even when we’re alone,

God is with us.

So, we’re never actually alone.

As God, this is how Jesus was able to say, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).  There’s just something wonderful about knowing that God is always with us. It makes us strong.

Remember that next time you feel alone and scared.  God is there.  He’s in the darkness of the cave with you.  He will provide the light you need.

We talk of faith when we’re up on the mountain
But talk comes easy when life’s at its best
But it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations
That’s where faith is really put to the test

For the God on the mountain, is the God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right.
And the God of the good times
Is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day 
Is still God in the night. 
(“God on The Mountain,” Lynda Randle)

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



A Reminder Of The Staggering Omnipotence and Intimate Love Of Our Father

Grace For The Journey


27Apr The Lyrid meteor shower has been observed on our planet for more than 2,600 years.  It gets its name from the fact that it seems from our perspective to originate from the constellation Lyra.  The Lyrids are pieces left behind by the comet C/1861 G.  Each year, our planet passes through a cloud of debris left from an earlier visit by this comet.  These particles collide with our upper atmosphere at a speed of about twenty-seven miles per second.

The Lyrids peaked in mid-April this year and was predicted to cause nearly one hundred meteors to be visible per hour.  This is just one example that gives us an excellent for a chance to witness the wonders of the universe’s light show in the sky.

The grandeur of the universe

Is a constant reminder of

The grandeur of its Creator.

Consider these amazing facts:

  • If you could travel at the speed of light (186,232 miles per second);
  • You could circle our planet 7.5 times in one second.
  • You could travel to the moon and back in 2.51 seconds.

But, a new study estimates that it would take you 200,000 years to cross the Milky Way.  And it would take you 93 billion years to cross the observable universe.

How large is the universe to God?  The Bible says in Isaiah 40:12, “Who has measured the waters in the hallow of his hand, measured heaven with a span (measured the sky between his thumb and little finger.)”

I read that President Theodore Roosevelt and his good friend, the naturalist William Beebe, would occasionally stay at Roosevelt’s family home.  They would walk out onto its lawn at night.  They would search the skies until they found the faint spot of light behind the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus.  Then they would remember together the words:

            That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda.

            It is as large as our Milky Way.

            It is one of a hundred million galaxies.

            It consists of one hundred billion suns,

            Each larger than our sun.

Then President Roosevelt would grin at Mr. Beebe and say, “Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.” 

The universe is a reflection

Of the staggering omnipotence

And intimate love of our Father

The immensity of the universe reminds us of the finitude of man.  But it can teach us a second lesson as well: our Creator considered our eternal life worth the death of his Son.

Jesus didn’t die for the Lyrid meteor shower or the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda or the Milky Way.  In fact, all of that will be gone one day, replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 2:1).  But ten thousand millennia after the last star has vanished, you and I will still be alive.  If Christ is your Lord, you will be with Him in paradise forever.

In these days of coronavirus pandemic and all the fears it brings, it’s good to step outside, and step inside the pages of Scripture, and see the power of our heavenly Father on display in His creation.  It is also good to reflect on the fact that you are His creative miracle as well and that He loves you with all the passion of omnipotence.

St. Augustine noted: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circ Rular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

The next time you would like to see proof of God’s creative brilliance, look in a mirror.

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


The Guiding Hand of God, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


23Apr  Yesterday we got an overview of the Bible’s teaching on the sovereignty of God – God is in control.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  He’s in control of everything and everyone, including you.  Today we will see what the Book of Proverbs teaches on this truth.

Proverbs 16:9 declares, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  Solomon’s point is that while you and I may have our own ideas about the future, God is the One Who will ultimately guide us in a way that is in accordance with His holy, wise, and good purposes.

Right out of the box we may find ourselves scratching our heads.  We may ask, “Well, who’s in control here?  Am I the one making decisions about my future or is God guiding me along?”  The answer is: “Yes.”

You are making decisions about your future

And God is also guiding you along.

To practically understand this reality, we need to:

1) Respect His Sovereignty.

The verse is a reminder that we are to respect God’s sovereignty.  He is an active God, involved and interested in you and your life and your decisions.  He gives you freedom of choice, the privilege of prayer and study of His Word, and yet, at the same time – in an admittedly mysterious way – He also guides you in accordance with His good purposes.  He is answering your prayer with the perfect answer because He knows best.

Proverbs 16:1 says, “The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.“  Here again is the idea that man may have his own ideas about a certain thing, but God is also at work.  Man plots and plans, but the Lord ultimately gets the last word.  God’s good purpose will be finally realized.

Proverbs 16:33 states, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

God guides through the smallest of details, even determining the way a lot falls into the lap!  In the Old Testament, lots were sometimes cast in order to determine a course of action.  I think of it much in the way we roll the dice in a game, rolling the dice before making a move.  In fact, the New Living Translation (NLT) of Proverbs 16:33 puts it that was, “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”

We see God’s determining the outcome of a thing, working in such a way that our free human actions and the answers to our prayers are concurrent with His good purpose.

From our perspective,

We are free beings

Making free choices,

But from God’s perspective,

Our freedom is in perfect

Keeping and harmony

With His sovereign goodness.

No one can fully explain God’s sovereignty.  As Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God.” And God Himself says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “My ways are not your ways; neither are My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

But . . .

While we cannot fully explain God’s sovereignty,

We can fully respect God’s sovereignty.

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is a reminder that God has control and we do not.  He is God and we are not.  He is the ultimate ruler and we are not.

We would expect God to be sovereign, wouldn’t we?  After all, what kind of God is not completely sovereign over absolutely everything, including determining the exact number of turns the dice will take as they bounce across the table?

He’s in control of everything


We needn’t worry about anything!

Jesus said in Matthew 10:29 that no sparrow dies “apart from the Father’s will.”  This is the same God who knows the exact number of hairs upon your head (Matthew 10:30). He is sovereign.  This teaching brings peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding.   He’s in control of everything so you needn’t worry about anything!

The wrong response to God’s sovereignty is to throw our hands up in despair and say, “Well, we all must be a bunch of robots.  God has determined everything.  We have no freedom.”  This is so wrong and borders on blasphemy.

Our inability to fully understand a doctrine does not permit our embracing a heresy.  God nowhere teaches that we are a bunch of mind-numbed robots with no freedom, fatalistically moving toward a predetermined course over which we have no influence.  We make free choices, we pray, and yet all the while God guides and controls.

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”  Here is another verse to help us respect the sovereignty of God.  Leaders may make decisions, but those leaders are guided by God – even unbelieving leaders.

Again, let’s admit the mystery: some rulers are evil and do evil things.  Some leaders do wrong.  History records kings who have done wrong, czars who have done wrong, and presidents who have done wrong.

Yet God has held the heart of each one in His hand.  Sometimes God has allowed the leader to “get what he wants,” knowing that later he won’t “want what he gets.”  At other times, God has intervened more directly, actively causing the leader to make a particular choice.  Either way, the leader exercises his or her freedom while at the same time leading in a way mysteriously concurrent with God’s most holy and wise and good purposes.  It’s a mystery, but is meant to give us peace.

One of the best biblical illustrations of God’s sovereignty working through unbelieving leaders is the way God worked through Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus.  We read Moses saying, “Let my people go.”  Then we read about Pharaoh’s heart being hardened.  The Bible teaches that there are times God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and there are times that Pharaoh hardens his own heart.

In either case, Pharaoh’s freedom is not impinged upon in any way.  He is merely being who he is, acting according to his nature, choosing a response that happens to be in perfect keeping with God’s good purposes.  It’s quite remarkable, really.  This teaching causes us to respect God’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 21;30-31 states, “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.  The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD.”  A good illustration of this truth is seen in the actions of Ahab, the wicked king of Israel who hoped to outwit and outsmart Elijah’s prophecy that he would die.  As he went out to battle, Ahab disguised himself in his chariot, believing he would be unrecognizable to the enemy and escape death. He fooled some people, but he didn’t fool God.  We read the remarkable account that “a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor” (1 Kings 22:34).  God guided the fulfillment of this prophecy.  God guided the intricate details: a “certain” man, a warrior who drew a bow “at random” and struck the king, not just anywhere but “between the joints of his armor.”  It is utterly fascinating and should increase our respect for God’s sovereignty.

Hear again Solomon’s words: “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD.”  However much we may prepare, or train, or study a situation ultimately we’d better not put our faith in ourselves, but in the Lord God.

2) Rest in His Sovereignty.

We have made this point already.  God’s sovereignty is meant to encourage us and to comfort us. His sovereignty is meant to give us peace.

Proverbs 16:3 declares, “Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.”  The Hebrew word “commit” means “to roll.”  It pictures the turning over of something to another person for the purposes of management and care.  The idea is: “I’m not ultimately relying upon my management of this situation; I’m going to rest in the fact that God is taking care of it for me.”

The word “thoughts” there refers to our “plans.”   When we pray, we “roll over” our concerns to God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 proclaims, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Incidentally, when Solomon writes “and lean not on your own understanding,” he does not mean “Don’t think!”  God uses our mind and abilities as He works through us.  A favorite biblical example of God’s working through us is the account of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.  A giant of a man named Goliath taunts the smaller, young David, but David is undaunted and unafraid.  He says to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.  But I come to you in the name of the LORD.”  David “trusts in the Lord with all his heart.”  And most of us know David “slayed the giant with a single stone and sling.”  Just one stone!  But the Bible says David had earlier chosen five smooth stones.  If it only took him one stone, why did he choose five?  Did he not trust God to deliver him?  It is interesting that in 2 Samuel 15-22 the Bible tells us that Goliath had for sons.  Perhaps David thought he might need the extra stones to deal in the same way with them.  But there is a much simpler explanation: David chose five stones because he didn’t know how many stones it would take.  I suppose five was as many stones as he could pick up at the moment as he prepared for battle.  What is more, David didn’t pick up just any rocks, but he picked up five smooth stones, stones better suited to fly through the air when hurled at the enemy.

Here’s the point . . .

David used his head.

He reasoned.

He thought it through.

David illustrates that “leaning not upon your own understanding” does not mean, “Don’t think,” or, “Don’t exercise your freedom of will.”  David used his mind, but he rested in God’s sovereignty.

Use your reason,


Rest in

God’s sovereignty

Using our reason includes the wisdom of seeking counsel when making especially difficult decisions.

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”  We may discover God’s guidance by talking with others.  Counsel is helpful.  Indeed, if we refuse to seek the counsel of others, then we increase the chances of our “leaning upon our own understanding.”

In his classic book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer warns: “It is a sign of conceit and immaturity to dispense with taking advice in major decisions.  There are always people who know the Bible, human nature, and our own gifts and limitations, better than we do, and even if we cannot finally accept their advice, nothing but good will come to us from carefully weighing what they say.”

When you have a decision to make – a career move for example – talk to other people about it.  Get their counsel.  Believe that God often guides you through the wisdom of others.  Never forget: “where there is no counsel, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”  

Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon entitled, “Divine Sovereignty,” says: “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty.”  He adds, “Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all.”

Amen!  Rest in God’s sovereignty today.

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



The Guiding Hand of God, Part 1

Grace For The Journey


23Apr  Make no mistake: God is in control of absolutely everything. This teaching of God’s sovereignty is taught throughout the Bible but is especially illustrated in The Book of Proverbs.

Over the next two days we with a study of some of the more powerful statements about God’s sovereignty.  Before we do that, it is important that we understand some basics truths about this subject.

Getting A Biblical Understanding Of God’s Sovereignty

The word means “principal, chief, supreme” . . .

  • It speaks of position – God is the supreme Being in the universe.
  • It speaks of power – (God is supreme in power in the universe).

How He exercises that power is revealed in the Scriptures.

A sovereign could

Be a dictator

(God is not).

Or a sovereign could

Abdicate the use of his powers

(God has not).

Ultimately God is

In control of all things,

Though He may choose

To let certain events

Happen according to natural laws

Which He has ordained.

The sovereignty of God means that He has total control of all things past, present and future.  Nothing happens that is out of His knowledge and control.  All things are either caused by Him or allowed by Him for His own purposes and through His perfect will and timing (Romans 11;36; 1 Corinthians 8:6).  He is the only absolute and omnipotent ruler of the universe and is sovereign in creation, providence and redemption.

What do we mean by the sovereignty of God?  We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God.

  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God.
  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing “according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, no one can restrain His hand, or say to Him, What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35).
  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psalm 115:3).
  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalm 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best.
  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.

If there is any element of the universe that is outside of His authority, then He no longer is God over all.  In other words . . .

Sovereignty belongs to Deity.

Sovereignty is a natural

Attribute of the Creator.

God owns what He makes,


He rules what He owns.

Divine sovereignty is a vast subject . . .

It embraces everything

That comes into

The biblical picture of God

As Lord and King in His world,

The One who “works all things

After the counsel

Of His own will”

(Ephesians 1:11),

Directing every process

And ordering every event

For the fulfilling

Of His own eternal plan.

God’s sovereignty is one of the most important principles in Christian theology, as well as one of its most hotly debated.  Whether or not God is actually sovereign is usually not a topic of debate; all mainstream Christian groups agree that God is preeminent in power and authority.  God’s sovereignty is a natural consequence of His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.  What’s subject to disagreement is to what extent God applies His sovereignty – specifically, how much control He exerts over the wills of men.  When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we mean He rules the universe, but then the debate begins over when and where His control is direct and when it is indirect.

God is described in the Bible as all-powerful and all-knowing (Psalm 147:5), outside of time (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2), and responsible for the creation of everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1).

These divine traits set

The minimum boundary

For God’s sovereign control

In the universe,;

Which is to say that nothing

In the universe

Occurs without God’s permission.

God has the power and

Knowledge to prevent anything

He chooses to prevent,

So anything that does happen

Must, at the very least,

Be “allowed” by God.

At the same time, the Bible describes God as . . .

Offering humanity choices (Deuteronomy 30:15-19),

Holding them personally responsible for their sins (Exodus 20:5),

Ad being unhappy with some of their actions (Numbers 25:3).

The fact that sin exists at all proves that not all things that occur are the direct actions of God, who is holy.

The reality of human volition

(And human accountability)

Sets the maximum boundary

For God’s sovereign control

Over the universe;

Which is to say

There is a point at which

God chooses to allow things

That He does not directly cause.

The fact that God is sovereign essentially means that He has the power, wisdom, and authority to do anything He chooses within His creation.  Whether or not He actually exerts that level of control in any given circumstance is actually a completely different question.  Often, the concept of divine sovereignty is oversimplified.  We tend to assume that, if God is not directly, overtly, purposefully driving some event, then He is somehow not sovereign. The cartoon version of sovereignty depicts a God who must do anything that He can do, or else He is not truly sovereign.

Of course, such a cartoonish view of God’s sovereignty is logically false.  If a man were to put an ant in a bowl, the “sovereignty” of the man over the ant is not in doubt. The ant may try to crawl out, and the man may not want this to happen.  But the man is not forced to crush the ant, drown it, or pick it up. The man, for reasons of his own, may choose to let the ant crawl away, but the man is still in control.  There is a difference between allowing the ant to leave the bowl and helplessly watching as it escapes.  The cartoon version of God’s sovereignty implies that, if the man is not actively holding the ant inside the bowl, then he must be unable to keep it in there at all.

The illustration of the man and the ant is at least a vague parallel to God’s sovereignty over mankind.  God has the ability to do anything, to take action and intervene in any situation, but He often chooses to act indirectly or to allow certain things for reasons of His own.  His will is furthered in any case.  God’s “sovereignty” means that He is absolute in authority and unrestricted in His supremacy.  Everything that happens is, at the very least, the result of God’s permissive will.  This holds true even if certain specific things are not what He would prefer.

The right of God to allow mankind’s free choices

Is just as necessary for true sovereignty

As His ability to enact His will,

Wherever and however He chooses.

The Biblical Usage Of The Word “Sovereignty” In Reference To God.

The Old Testament word “mallku” is always used in association with the word “LORD.”  It speaks of God as being king and sovereign and of His rule and reign in His kingdom.  Psalm 103:19 is an example of this usage, “The LORD has established His throne in heavens; and His kingdom rules over all.”  The  Hebrew word “Adonai” “Lord” may also express concept of sovereignty.  Another Old Testament passage that expresses concept of sovereignty is 1 Chronicles 29:11,12 – “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth: Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou doest exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone.”

The New Testament word “dunastes” is translated “ruler, official”  (See Luke 1:46-55) from “dunamis” which means “power.”  1 Timothy 6:15 is an example of how the concept of “sovereign” is used, “He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  The Greek word “kurios” – translated “Lord” also expresses concept of sovereignty.  Revelation 19:6, “The Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns” and Revelation 19:16, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” also teach this truth.

Tomorrow we will see how the biblical teaching of the sovereignty of God encourages us in our daily walk with Him and equips us to live in joy, peace, and satisfaction.

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


What We Need To Learn About Money

Grace For The Journey


22Apr  “Smart Money” refers to the financial strategies of sophisticated investors.  People who are particularly skilled at recognizing the profit and loss trends of Wall Street, buying and selling at just the right moment, are they who move the “smart money.” 

You may hear: “Smart money is selling off this stock” or “Smart money is supporting this political candidate,” and so on.

Describing savvy investors as “smart” suggests, of course, that everyone else is – how shall we say? – not smart.”  And the implication is, “Hey, if you really want to do the wise thing, then follow what ‘smart money’ is doing.”

The Bible describes Solomon as the wisest person who ever lived.  In fact, God said there would never be anyone as wise as he (1 Kings 3:12).  It is important then to take a look at what Solomon says about money in the Book of Proverbs.  Let’s follow the “really smart money” by read through a number of proverbs related to money and apply their principles to our lives.

1) We Can Learn About Sorrow

Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”

Careful Bible teachers note that the Bible does not say: “money is a root of all kinds of evil,” but rather “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).  If there is some kind of financial problem in your personal life or at home, it is not because money is intrinsically evil or inherently problematic.  Rather, it is our attitude or response to money that brings about the sorrow of financial debt or the bondage of greed and avarice.

Solomon points out that money itself is not the problem.  He points our that God blesses us with money.  He adds no sorrow to it.  If there is any sorrow, it will be because of something we have added to it, something like greed or poor stewardship.

Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.”

Someone said, “It’s better to be honestly poor than to be questionably rich.”  Indeed, God honors steady, honest work.  Increasing our money indicates that we have the wisdom to show restraint and that we are not always looking to spend money immediately or to get rich quickly.

People often seek validation from their money and possessions.  They want to impress.  They want others to regard them as important and successful, so they fall into the trap of trying to “keep up with the Jones’s.”  It just leads to sorrow.

Someone said, “One could live on next to nothing if the neighbors would live on less.”

Proverbs 15:16 says, “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.”

What good are riches if we are miserable because we are never satisfied with what we have?  If we are seeking happiness from riches then we are bound for sorrow.

Proverbs 19:4 declares, “Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his friend.”

When you have money, you have a lot of people who are suddenly your “friends.”  How many “friends” do you suppose write Bill Gates and tell him how great they think he is and how worthy of his money they are?

I’m sure the prodigal son had a lot of friends at the beginning of his journey.  After he received his early inheritance from his father, the Bible says he spent it all on “riotous” living; wasteful spending like partying and having a good time.  I’m sure he had friends on both arms as he strolled in and out of every bar and party house.  The Bible says, however, that when the money ran out, his friends ran out as well.  Becoming hungry enough to eat food meant only for swine, he discovered even then that “no one would give him anything” (Luke 15:16).  Wealth makes many friends, but poverty drives them away.  Which lead to sorrow.

Here’s an important reminder about balance:

Proverbs 23:4-5 says, “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!  Will you set your eyes on that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

There are some people who always need “just a little bit more” to be content.  They make a little bit more and then it’s: “just a little bit more.”  And on and on it goes.  Have the wisdom to show restraint.

Solomon adds: “Riches certainly make themselves wings.” Wings!  Your money will sprout wings – and then what happens?  The Bible says, “They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”  Your money sings the old hymn: “I’ll fly away, fly away, O glory!” 

What else does Solomon teach us about the really “Smart Money?”

2) We Can Learn About Stewardship

Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first-fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Solomon reminds us of the blessing of tithing.  “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the – (what?) – firstfruits of all your increase.”  That’s the tithe.  The Jewish farmer brought to God the first-fruits of his increase; the very first harvest of his crops.   The Jews gave according to the law.  They gave at least ten percent of their earnings.  I believe Christians should give no less according to the grace God has given them.  Think of it . . .

If the Jew returned to God

Ten percent according to the law,

How much more should

Christians give according to grace?

Tithing is a place for the Christian

Really to start in his giving.

After all, everything we have belongs to Him.

Maybe you heard about the minister defending the practice of tithing to a farmer in his church.  He asked him: “If you had two hundred dollars, would you give one hundred dollars to the Lord?”  The farmer replied, “Sure would.”  The minister then asked: “If you had two cows, would you give one cow to the Lord?”  The farmer said, “Yeah, I would.”  The minister then asked him, “And if you had two pigs, would you give one of them to the Lord?”  The farmer replied angrily: “Now, that’s not fair, preacher. You know I have two pigs!” 

Giving to God is just

Taking your hands off

What belongs to Him.

When we give as we should, Solomon says we “honor the LORD.” And when we honor the Lord, He continues meeting our every need: “So your barns will be filled – (imperfect tense; continually!) – with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

God doesn’t need our money. He’s not dependent upon us.  The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, “God provides all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Tithing is not so much

God’s way to raise money

As it is God’s way

To raise Christians.

For most of us, in just 50-75 years, everything we own will belong to somebody else.  All the more reason to be good stewards of the things God has entrusted to our care!

Proverbs 13:22 states, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,  but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” 

Our “Last Will and Testament” is appropriately named.  It is a “testament,” a “testimony” to who we were and how we lived; a testimony to what was important to us.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”  Where is your treasure?  What if Jesus asked to look at your checkbook?  Where would He determine your heart to be?

3) We Can Learn About Salvation.

Proverbs 11;4 says, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

What good are riches in the day of wrath?  That is, what good is all of our wealth when we stand before a holy God?  Worthless.  They do not provide salvation from sin.  We can’t buy our way into heaven.  Billy Sunday used to say, “If we could take it with us, it would melt where some of us are going!”

You cannot earn your way into heaven.  It’s not possible.  Even if it were – just for the sake of argument – how could we ever pay enough?  Sin against an infinitely holy God would require infinite payment.

What delivers from death and wrath?


This is why we need Jesus.

The Bible declares in Isaiah 64:6, All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”  So I cannot be saved from the day of wrath by my riches because – as  Solomon says – only righteousness delivers from death.  But I’m not righteous enough, either.

Again . . .

This is why I need Jesus.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Don’t trust

In your riches,

trust in Christ.

Proverbs 11:28 declares, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage.”

Trust in your riches and you’re in trouble.  Trust in Christ and you will live.  Salvation comes when you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Gossip: Burning The ‘Scandal’ At Both Ends

Grace For The Journey


21Apr  Title pun intended!  That phrase is not original with me.  But I think it captures the intent of what God wants us to understand about this treacherous subject.  And note carefully: BOTH ends.  In other words, gossip requires not just one person, but two.  Someone has said, “Scandal is what one half of the world takes pleasure in telling and the other half takes pleasure in believing.”  

Gossip requires one person to tell the scandalous words and gossip requires another person to receive the scandalous words.  It requires a teller and a receiver or, if you like, a teller and a taker.  My objective in today’s blog is to extinguish the fire that burns at both ends of gossip.

Note what the Bible says in Proverbs 11:13, “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”

While “gossip” is the word translated by most English translations, I really like the Old English word “talebearer.”  It is a picturesque word.  To be a talebearer is to be a person who goes around bearing, or carrying a tale; carrying a story, carrying it from here to there, carrying it for others to hear.

This person thinks he or she is “bearing good news,” but he or she is bearing a “tale” or, as Merriam-Webster dictionary puts it: “personal or sensational facts about others; a rumor or report of intimate nature.”  So … how to we do our part to extinguish gossip at both ends?

Don’t Be A Teller Of Gossip

During a worship revival service a troubled woman went to the altar.  She was a gossiper and everyone knew her.  She was a talebearer, a “teller” of gossip.  She went forward and met the evangelist who was inviting folks to come forward for prayer.  Approaching the altar, she cried: “Oh, preacher!  I just want to come forward and lay my tongue upon the altar.”  The evangelist, who also knew her replied, “Well, our altar is only twelve feet long, but do the best you can!” 

There are some people who are known as talebearers, as people who love to reveal secrets, people who delight in telling things that really shouldn’t be told.

Proverbs 10:18-21, tells us, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool.  In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.”

Solomon writes “whoever spreads slander is a fool.”  Such behavior is contrary to the Christian ethic.

The preacher Gordon MacDonald tells of a time he was in Japan on a speaking tour with a close personal friend.  Gordon recalls: “He was a number of years older than I was.  As we walked down the street in Yokohama, Japan, the name of a common friend came up, and I said something unkind about that person.  It was sarcastic.  It was cynical.  It was a put-down.  My older friend stopped, turned, and faced me until his face was right in front of mine.  With deep, slow words he said, ‘Gordon, a man who says he loves God would not say a thing like that about a friend.’”

Gordon added: “He could have put a knife into my ribs, and the pain would not have been any less.  He did what a prophet does. But you know something?  There have been ten thousand times in the last twenty years that I have been saved from making a fool of myself.  When I’ve been tempted to say something unkind about a brother or sister, I hear my friend’s voice say, Gordon, a man who says he loves God would not speak in such a way about a friend.”

Gossip can destroy our Christian witness

While it is destroying the soul of another.

Someone said, “A tongue three inches long can kill a person six feet tall.”  Gossip can really hurt people.

A few posts ago we looked at the “six things God hates.”  The immediate context of that passage is Proverbs 6:12-15, which says, “A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; he winks with his eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with his fingers; perversity is in his heart, he devises evil continually, he sows discord.  Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.”

Solomon describes a guy who is up to no good.  There is perversity in his heart and he loves to “sow discord among the brethren.”  Put another way, he “stirs up dissension” among others.  He “burns the ‘scandal’ at both ends.”  

In the book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbala writes about the importance of Christians holding each other accountable as they grow together in Christ: “About 20 years ago, I said something impromptu to the new members standing in a row across the front of the church.  As we received them, the Holy Spirit prompted me to add, ‘And now, I charge you that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone – myself, an usher, a choir member, or anyone else – that you stop that person in mid-sentence and say, ‘Excuse me – who hurt you?  Who ignored you? Who slighted you? Was it Pastor Cymbala?  Let’s go to his office right now. He’ll apologize to you, and then we’ll pray together so God can restore peace to this body.  But we won’t let you talk critically about people who aren’t present to defend themselves.’  He adds, ‘I’m serious about this.  I want you to help resolve this kind of thing immediately.  And know this: If you are ever the one doing the loose talking, we’ll confront you.”  

Cymbala added, “To this day, every time we receive new members, I say much the same thing.  That’s because I know what most easily destroys churches.  It’s not crack cocaine, government oppression, or even lack of funds.  Rather, it’s gossip and slander that grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit.”

That leads us to the second thing we can do to extinguish gossip at both ends:

Don’t Be A Teller Of Gossip.

Never “lend an ear” to the talebearer.  Stay away from him or her.  Let him know you’re not interested in listening to gossip.

There’s an old joke about three ministers who were out fishing one afternoon.  They started talking about what they believed were their biggest sins.  The first minister said, “Well, I really struggle with drinking.  That’s my biggest sin.”  The second minister said, “Well, nobody knows it, but I slip out to the horse track every once in awhile and place a bet on a horse.”  They both turned to the third minister and asked, “Brother, what is your biggest sin?”  The third minister smiled and said, “My biggest sin is gossiping about others!”  

Of course it’s the irony that makes the joke funny.  But Solomon warns that listening to gossip is as bad as spreading it:

Proverbs 17:4 says, “An evildoer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.”

Don’t listen for even a moment.  That’s what the “evildoer” does.  And the liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.  Don’t associate with the gossip.  Don’t be a “taker” of the “teller.”  Stay away.

A final exposition from Proverbs 26, verses 20 and following sums up the Bible’s teaching on gossip very well:

Verses 20-21 say, “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.  As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.”  

So again . . .

Don’t be a taker of gossip.

Let any gossip

About any person

End with you.

Tell the person who is talking behind the back of another that they should really go and talk to that person if they have a problem with him.  Don’t fuel the fire of gossip.  Don’t be a taker of gossip no matter how “juicy” the information.  Solomon knows our penchant for participating in talk about others.

Verse 22 says, “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

Solomon warns that sin tastes good.  This verse is similar to Proverbs 20:17, which says, “Food gained by deceit tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.”

The words of a talebearer are like tasty and they go down smoothly, but you’ll regret having taken-in any of the gossip.

Verse 23 says, “Fervent lips with a wicked heart Are like earthenware covered with silver dross.”

You can cover up a clay pot with a shiny silvery finish and you can cover up a wicked heart with smooth words.

Verses 24-26 say, “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself;  when he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart;  though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.” 

If you associate with the talebearer, with the gossip, you will get hurt!

Verses 27-28 conclude by saying, “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.  A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”  

What is the end of the whole matter?

Don’t be a teller of gossip


Don’t be a taker of gossip.

Don’t burn the scandal at either end.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


How To Be A True Friend

Grace For The Journey


20Apr  Few musical groups have cashed-in on our glaring problem of loneliness more than the Beatles.  They wrote a number of songs highlighting mankind’s recurring difficulty to have meaningful relationships with others.  Recall, for example, those hauntingly familiar lyrics about “all the lonely people,” lonely people such as:

Eleanor Rigby
picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
lives in a dream
waits at the window, 
wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door
who is it for?

Or other lonely people such as:

Father McKenzie
writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
no one comes near
look at him working, 
darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
what does he care?

All the lonely people
where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
where do they all belong?

As a minister there have been many times I felt just like Father McKenzie: “writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear!”  Maybe some of you can relate to Eleanor Rigby, picking up rice in the church where a wedding has been, but it’s not your wedding.

Inwardly we each yearn for acceptance.  We want people to like us.  We want people to come to us, to listen to us.  We want people to think we’re really important.  We want to be surrounded with meaningful relationships.  We want friends.

As you read through the Book of Proverbs you will notice that the words “friend” and “neighbor” occur frequently and are often used interchangeably.  In today’s blog we will examine a number of these occurrences and how they apply.

In Proverbs 12:26, the Bible says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully; for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Mankind was created for relationships.  Human beings are different from every other created being in that humans bear God’s divine image.  Our ultimate purpose in life is to enjoy the relationship God intends that we have with Him, bringing glory to Him as He repairs our fallen natures through faith in Jesus Christ.

It is unnatural for us

To have no relationships

Outside of our

Relationship with God

Through Christ we find our sense of completion and wholeness with our Creator.  But Jesus said the Great Commandment is two-fold.  In Matthew 22;37-39, Jesus says: “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

God created us to have relationship with Him and relationship with one another.  God expects that we have love our fellow man, our friends, our neighbors, and our acquaintances.

Having noted this truth, we observe first that Solomon issues a warning regarding wrong relationships.

We Must Be Cautious In Our Friendships

Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Choose your friends carefully.  If you don’t choose them carefully, you may end up choosing those who will lead you astray.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

That’s a good proverb for parents to teach their children.  Teach your teenage children that one: “He who walks with the wise will himself be wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  We become like the people with whom we associate.

Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.”

Solomon warns that we really do become like the people we associate with.  He says if you hang out with an angry person or a furious person, you will “learn his ways.”  That is, you will become like him and you will “set a snare for your soul.”

Hang out with people who have the kind of character you aspire to have yourself.  We should avoid associating with those who will bring us down, but seek out friendships of those who inspire us to be better and do better.  Hang out with people who have the kind of character you aspire to have yourself.

But not only must we be cautious with respect to the actions of others, we must be cautious with respect to our own actions, too.  For example:

Proverbs 25:17 says, “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house, lest he become weary of you and hate you.”

We all need our space.  When you visit, stay a short while and then go.  Don’t bore your neighbors to death!  Stay briefly, be positive, and then go.  Leave them with a positive note.  Be the kind of person they want to see again, the kind of person they want to hang around with.  Be cautious in your friendships.

We Must Be Candid In Our Friendships

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

This proverb sounds backwards. We might expect it to read, “Faithful are the kisses of a friend, but the wounds of an enemy are deceitful.”  But Solomon intends the irony.  That is, you can trust a friend who is candid with you.  He is the one who is honest with you.  His honesty may be like wounds, but they are wounds meant to heal and help.  He tells you the truth.  He doesn’t sugarcoat it.  Do you have friends like that?  You can trust a friend who is candid with you.  He is the one who is honest with you.

On the other hand, “the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  This is the one who always flatters, who always butters up, who is deceitful in his or her praise, as though flooding you with a flurry of kisses.  Don’t trust him.  Don’t trust her.  Friends are those who can be candid with you.  That way, when they praise you, you know it is sincere praise.

Proverbs 27:9 says, “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.”

Again, we all need friends we can go to who will give us good counsel.  His counsel is like the sweet smell of perfume.  But we must always be wary of those who only say good things, who seem given to flattery:

Note the warning in Proverbs 29:5, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

Be wary of flattery and praise.  Even our Lord Jesus warned in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.”  There’s an application there about being cautious and candid in our friendships.

We Must Be Consistent In Our Friendships

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

A friend loves at all times.  He is consistent.  She is consistent.  A friend is one who sticks with your through thick and thin.

Proverbs 26:18-19 states, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking!’”

Nobody likes to be around the one who attacks his neighbor, who pokes fun, who deceives!  A true friend doesn’t do something for a laugh at your expense.  True friends are consistent.  Their behavior is predictable.  You can count on them in a pinch.

We learn about friendships from Charles Shultz’ cartoon “Peanuts.”  One cartoon shows Peppermint Patty saying to her friend Marcie: “I’d like to read this book, Marcie, but I’m kind of afraid. I had a grandfather who didn’t think much of reading.  He always said that if you read too many books, your head would fall off.”  Marcie responds as only a true friend would: “You start the first chapter, and I’ll hold onto your head!”

We Muse Be Christlike In Our Friendships

Proverbs 17:9, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

This is the one who overlooks a matter, the one who seeks to “bury the hatchet.”  A powerful truth is stated in Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”  Jesus Christ knew about “overlooking an offense” and “covering over a transgression.”  The Bible teaches us how Jesus responded to others in 1 Peter 2:21-23, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;’ Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

When someone insults you, just overlook it.  It is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense.  Christ overlooked the insults of His offenders and committed Himself to the Lord God.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

The old adage is still true: “Want a friend?  Be a friend.” Go up to others and speak kindly to them.  Be approachable.  Look at people and smile.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.  Go up to them and be a friend.

Then, the second part of that proverb reminds us of our Lord.  The Bible says “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Our Lord Jesus is like that, isn’t He?  In fact, in Jesus Christ we see what ultimate friendship looks like.  Jesus says in John 15:13-14, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

Do you know the friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Can you sing with the hymn-writer:

I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;


What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Jesus is the closest friend we’ll ever have.  He is the one who takes us in His arms and shields us from all harm.  Find true solace in Him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Using Our Words For The Glory Of God And The Good Of Others, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


16Apr   The Bible clearly instructs us that we are not to use our words to hurt people . . . We are to use our words to honor God and help others.  We will look at what the Bible says about this in today’s blog.

Words Can Be Extremely Helpful

You might be tempted to say, “Well, I won’t talk anymore because it will only cause trouble.”  But that’s not what Proverbs is teaching.  We can use our speech in helpful ways.  You want to use your words for good?  You want to help people?  You want to mentor people?  Here are four ways from the Book of Proverbs that you can speak helpful words:

1) Equipping

Use your words to equip others.  Proverbs 10:31 tells us, “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom.”  Proverbs 15:7 says, “The lips of the wise spread knowledge.”  One of the ways that you can be helpful to those around you is by speaking wise words.  The quality of your words should honor and glorify God and be worthwhile.  Make wise speech a habit so that when someone comes to you and says, “Hey, I could use some advice,” you can give them good advice.

I have a pastor friend who is like that.  The thing I love about him is that every time he talks, he constantly speaks nuggets of wisdom.   They’re not just fortune cookie statements.  He speaks the truth and knowledge of God applied to everyday life.  That’s why older men are to teach younger men, and older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2).  You’ve been equipped with life experiences to help equip others.

2) Exhorting

In Proverbs 17:10, we are reminded that a good friend is one who will lovingly speak hard truths, even when it hurts.  There are times when a brother or sister in Christ will need to hear a word of exhortation.  That brother or sister in Christ needs to hear, “You know what?  The thing I just saw you do was not becoming of a Christian.  What I heard you say probably wasn’t the best thing.  You probably could have done it this way.  You could have done it that way.”

This isn’t an easy thing to do, but the church desperately needs exhortation.  Be careful you don’t become legalistic; don’t point out the specks in brothers’ and sisters’ eyes while you have a log in your own (Matthew 7:1-5).  Rather, through grace, mercy and love, tell one another, “What you said––or what you did, or what you are wanting to do––is unbecoming of a believer.  Let’s talk about it.” 

3) Encouraging

Solomon is led by the Lord to write about the importance of this ministry:

Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” 

Proverbs 15:4, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 15:23, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” 

Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Any medical doctor will tell you that encouragement helps the human condition.  Yet, far too many live your lives like those two old men on the Muppet show who sit up in the balcony.  You remember those guys?  They would say things like, “I thought that was a terrible show.  I thought that was a bad joke.”  We do the very same thing.  We do it at church.  We do it with our kids.  We do it with your spouse.  And we do it at work.  Like those Muppet characters, you are grumbling all the time, critiquing everything and no encouragement comes out of your mouth.

Some dads have said nothing to their children except, “You didn’t do this.  You didn’t do that.”  Critical words are far easier for a father to say than words of encouragement.  I know that to be true in my own life.  It’s easy to yell at the kids.  However, a godly man lifts up his children.  It’s easy to be critical and nag your husband about what he doesn’t do.  It’s hard to find the good in what your husband is doing and to encourage him.  It’s easy to tell your wife, “You don’t do this; you don’t do that,” but what are you doing to encourage her?

Your life will be different

If you would just be known

As a Barnabas,

As one who encourages.

Barnabas was so encouraging that when he showed up, everybody was glad to see him because he just lifted up everyone.  Allow your words to be like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul (Proverbs 16:24).   Share words of encouragement instead of just critique upon critique.

4) Evangelizing

The fourth way our words can help others is through evangelism.  The Book of Proverbs speaks to this aspect of our ministry through words:

Proverbs 10:21 says, “The lips of the righteous feed man.”

Proverbs 11:30 declares, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”

Why are our words so important?  Because, as followers of Jesus Christ, what God uses to save souls is the preaching of the gospel.  How do you preach the gospel?  Some say, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.”  Good point, but some take this too far.  Someone could be tempted to think, “I don’t have to say anything.  I’ll live such a good life that people will just walk up and say, ‘I need Jesus!  Just by watching you, I get it.  Now I understand that I’m a sinner.’” Why would the Bible say in Psalm 107:2, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”  And why would God lead Paul to say in Romans 10:14, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher.”    We have to use words.  We have to speak the words of the gospel.

Of the 15,000 words you shared yesterday, or the 100,000 words you shared last week . . .

What percentage of them had to do with Jesus?

What percentage of them were about Jesus

As you spoke with other Christians?

What percentage of them had to do

With sharing the gospel with unbelievers?

We’re called to evangelize.

The Bible says in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.”  How beautiful is the tongue that proclaims the truth of the Gospel.  We need to speak the gospel to others.

It is important for us to remember what the Bible says in James 3:11, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?”  One of the greatest hindrances to your evangelism can be your words.  When the opportunity comes to share the Good News, it’s wasted because people think, “Where is this coming from?  I’ve never heard you talk about these things.  I’ve never heard you say such things.”  We need to right our words so that when the time comes to share the gospel, people are willing to hear and receive it.

Words Will Produce A Harvest

When you speak, you’re spreading seed.  With every word, a seed gets planted.  What kind of harvest are you producing?  Your words will always produce a harvest.  Will your harvest be weeds, thorns and thistles, or will it be words that bring life and blessing?  The Book of Proverbs gives three metaphors on what your words should produce in the lives of others:

1) Our Words Should Be Like Refreshing Waters

Proverbs 10:11 says, ”The mouth of the righteous is a well of life …”  Are people refreshed  when you speak to them?  When people see you do they think, “I’m glad you are here.  I want to hear from you.  Every time you talk I’m always so refreshed.  I’m so filled up?”  Or do they say to themselves, “When will you stop talking?  You drone on and on and on; and you always talk about yourself.”  Are your words refreshing to the listener?

2) Our Words Should Be Like Outstanding Food

Proverbs 16:24 says, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”  Are our words so gracious that are seasoned and sweet to the listener?  Are your words like a delicious meal?  Do people look forward to hearing what you say and can’t wait to get more?

3) Healing To Broken Bones

In that same passage, Proverbs 16:24 says that good, wise words are healing to the bones.  Your words can do one of two things . . .

They can break bones


They can bind them up.

Which will you choose?  How are you going to use your words?

Words Are Made Healthy Through The Right Habits

So what do we do?  How do you change your words?  How do you start living according to the Proverbs?  Healthy words come from healthy habits.  So you’ve got to have the right habits.  The Bible articulates how to get control of our tongues.

1) Admit You Have A Problem

Admitting the problem is the first step of recovery.  When God was commissioning him to do great things for the nation of Israel, Isaiah had to stop and say in Isaiah 6:5, “Wait a minute, God.  I’m a man of unclean lips and I come from a people of unclean lips.”  Can you admit that today?  Can you admit your mouth gets you into trouble?

While God uses my mouth for great things as a preacher, my mouth gets me in more trouble than any other part of my body.  I get so frustrated because I should know better by now!  Until you admit to yourself that you have a problem with your tongue, you’ll never be stable.  So, you need to admit it.

God says that when we admit and repent of our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  Hallelujah!  Your mouth problem doesn’t have to stay that way because, by the blood of Jesus Christ, it can be restored once and for all.  I am so grateful that I’m not struggling at the same level as when I first met Christ.  Be thankful.  God is at work in you.

2) Be Accountable To Two Others

There are two people you need to be accountable to concerning your mouth.  Number one: God.  Here’s the reason why.  There’s only One Who hears everything you say, that’s God.  You need to pray, “Lord, You hear everything that I say.  You know what I say.  You know why I say it.  I’m going to take my mouth and tongue and I’m going to place them at Your feet.  I’m not in control of them, You are.” 

Before you think your problem is in your head, know that it’s in your heart.  Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).

You’ve got a heart problem.

I’ve got a heart problem.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it.”  We need to go to God and pray, “God, hold me accountable as a follower of Jesus Christ who’s been given a new heart.  Where is this garbage coming from?  God, it’s not from You; it’s from the devil.  It’s from my flesh, rid me of it.  Hold me accountable to that.”

Here’s the reason:  Matthew 12:36 shares frightening words for a big talker like all of us:  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”  How many careless words have you spoken?  You could fill volumes with the stupid things I’ve said and God says, “We’re going to talk about that up in glory.  You’re going to give an account.”   So what do you do?  You keep short the accounts with God.  You ask for His forgiveness.

The second person you should be accountable to is a faithful friend.  When you lie, when you exaggerate, when you curse, allow people to hold you accountable.  Keep short lists with God and short lists with others.  Don’t let your shame for your sin keep you from seeking accountability.

3) Take An Axe To Your Words

If you’ve got a problem with your words, then take an axe to them.  Cut them down.  If your mouth gets you into trouble, stop talking so much.  The Bible says in James 1:19 that we are to be “slow to speak.”

Some of you find yourselves in trouble

Because your mouth is moving so fast

That your brain can’t catch up.

Get rid of the words and then you won’t have to be worried about what you said.

4) Become An Active Listener

In that same passage, James tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  Proverbs supports this advice:

Proverbs 15:31, “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” 

Proverbs 18:13, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

There’s a reason we need to be quick to listen.  It’s because God is speaking to us.  Many of us are wondering, “When is God going to talk to me?”  And the problem is He can’t get a word in edgewise right now because we’re talking too much.

I’ll close with this.  It’s not a Proverb but a poem that I think is a good review:

A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
So why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

Slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry (James 1:19-22).  God has given people a great ability to communicate with words.  However, this gift comes with a responsibility and a commitment to follow the wise words of our loving Father Who wants us to speak words of life, not death.  Be empowered by the Holy Spirit this week.  Control your tongue and use it to bless and encourage others.  Use your words to glorify God by sharing the gospel in a way that you haven’t before.

As we apply these truths to our lives let’s surrender to the Lord and allow Him to lead us to strive to encourage, equip, exhort and evangelize instead of speaking words that can harm.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”