Category: General epistles-BibleTrekToday

The ‘heart/tongue’ connection!

Scripture reading for July 6th: Proverbs 14-17

According to God’s Word, there is a definite connection between the heart and the tongue.  The heart is the source of everything that the tongue speaks. The heart isn’t just the organ that pumps the life blood of a person, however. According to Jesus, the heart of man is the source of  “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.”  (Mark 7:21)   These ungodly sins come from the un-redeemed heart and then the mouth speaks and directs a person into the trouble.

There are several proverbs that relate to the heart and the tongue.  Proverbs 14:3 states that “a fool’s talk brings a rod to his back but the lips of the wise protect them.”  “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouth of fools gushes folly.”  (Proverbs 15:2)    Proverbs 17:20 tells of a man with a perverse heart and a deceitful tongue. Punishment awaits those with perverse hearts and lips that speak lies. The Lord detests all who are proud of heart and He promises punishment! (Proverbs 16:5)

The wise person has a heart that is discerning and lips that promote instruction.  (Proverbs 16:21)  The wise man’s heart guides his mouth and brings forth pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and promote healing.  (Proverbs 16:23-24)  It is the fear of the Lord that teaches the heart wisdom,  and humility brings understanding and honor.  (Proverbs 15:32-33)  As we think of Jesus Christ and His own life of humility and living in the fear of the Lord, we see how His heart guided his mouth.  We are reminded of lips that brought healing and pleasant words of instruction.  He only said what His father said, and did what His Father did! (John 5:19)

Do you need a new heart and a clean mouth?  The good news is that a new heart is available today through Jesus Christ!  He was totally pure in heart and perfectly obedient to the Father in order to give His life as a sacrifice for us to free us from our sins!  If you will confess your sins to Him,  He is faithful and just and will forgive you of your sins and cleanse your heart. 

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts and I will write them on their minds.”  Then He adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16-17)

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God builds back better!

Scripture reading for June 1: Job 40-42

Finally, we come to the end of this long book of endless arguments concerning the nature of suffering and God’s ability to work out everything according to the counsel of His Word.   God continued His questioning of Job, who was now under conviction of being unworthy to say any more. (Job 40:4-5)  Job was to brace himself and give God some answers.  The first question was:  “Would you discredit my justice?”  The next related to the first:  “Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?” (Job  40:8)

Curiously, God directed Job’s attention to two of the most fierce animals.  Behemoth was a fierce land animal that is perhaps the hippopotamus or elephant.  Leviathan was a fierce water creature that was perhaps the crocodile or fire-breathing dragon.  These two animals brought fear to the hearts of men because of their power and ability to dominate.  But God stated that there is nothing on earth that was these creatures’ equal–a creature without fear.  He was king of all that are proud!  Could it be that God was teaching Job about Satan and his downfall, pride?

Job repented and came to a new understanding of God’s greatness and trustworthiness.  God instructed the friends to offer sacrifice and ask Job to pray for them to avert judgment.  Elihu was not mentioned and we are not told why. After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored Job to his former prosperity and gave him double all that he had lost.  (Job 42:10)  Job had seven more sons and three daughters.  This was the same as before his trial and implies that he would see his other children in heaven as well!  We won’t always have all the answers and must be careful when trying to help those going through trials. We must remember that God works all for good for those trusting in Him.

James 5:10-11 “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

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Perfect in knowledge?

Scripture reading for May 30: Job 35-37

“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker.  Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you. Job 36:3-4

Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything?  For every question, they have an answer and even give information you did not ask for.  Elihu boasted of his great understanding and had some good information, but was really not much different from Job’s other three friends.  He talked down to Job and subtly accused Job of not knowing God while he claimed to know God perfectly. 

Elihu stated that God commands sinners to repent and if they listened, they would spend the rest of their days in prosperity.  (Job 36:11)  This argument had already been hashed around by Job and his friends. Job had reminded them that sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them while on earth.  (Job 21:7-14)  We must not judge others by their physical state, or prosperity or lack of it. Only God knows the heart.  

Elihu stated that our sin had no effect on God.  (Job 35:6)  But sin provokes His anger and brings His wrath because all sin is against God first.  Although Job lived before the law was written, Job and Elihu understood God’s basic commands through relationship and conscience. God never changes and His character was the same then as He is now!

Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction.  (Job 36:21)  When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others.  Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up!  (1st Corinthians 8:1b)  Elihu’s last words told of God coming in majesty and splendor, but beyond our reach!  How ironic that God Himself next spoke to Job!

I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20)  No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord!  (Proverbs 3:5-7) Examine your own heart today and confess any presumption or judgmental attitudes towards others who are suffering. Take time to listen to God and those who are needing His comfort. More love and less words speak loudly!

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Miserable comforters?

Scripture reading for May 22: Job 15-17

Isn’t it amazing how we can see the faults of another person and feel that we know the answer to their problems and the cause!  Theologians and students of the Bible can get proud about what they know and forget that they are studying God’s heart and His way.   Job’s friends again attack his character and accuse him of a lack of understanding of God.  (Job 15:3-5)  Job was told that his sin has caused his mouth to be crafty and deceitful.  He was accused of being impure and therefore under God’s wrath. (Job 15:30) They were ‘miserable comforters’ and took the role of ‘accuser’ of their brother!

Job’s response to these new accusations was to label his friends “miserable comforters”.  (Job 16:2)  Job needed encouragement and understanding.  He needed someone to pray with him and seek God’s help and answers.  Job was in despair over these latest accusations and the trouble he was experiencing.  He wondered why God had broken and crushed him.  He was depressed but in faith stated that his Advocate was also on high and his Witness was in heaven.  (Job 16:19)  Job seemed to know that although his physical body was broken, God still knew him, loved him, and would help him.

As I think on this passage, I realize that I have been the “miserable comforter” to some.  Sometimes it is easy to have glib answers and quote standard Bible texts.  God wants us to have His heart of compassion for the hurting and downcast.  We must listen to them and hear their heart.  Sometimes this alone is the best thing we can do.  We must seek to let the Holy Spirit speak through us and address the real needs.  What is on the surface is not always the real issue.  My prayer today is that I would be sensitive to each hurting person that I encounter and that God would use me to be a true friend!

James 1:19 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God,”

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God forgets sin when . .

Scripture reading for May 21: Job 11-14

“Know this, God has even forgotten some of your sin.” Job 11:6b “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17

Job’s friend Zophar was frank in his accusation that Job needed to repent.  He was certain that Job had sinned and that God was being merciful in his harsh trial.  He stated that God had probably forgotten some of Job’s sins or it might be worse!  (Job 11:6)  If Job would put away his sin, God would be merciful to him. (Job 11:14-15)  Zophar could not get away from the common understanding of God’s justice: trouble and suffering were a result of sin in a person’s life.

Job, however, knew of no sin and did not want to fake a repentance or manufacture some sin just to try and manipulate God or appease these friends.  He knew that God alone could cover these sins.  He wrestled with how he could meet with God or if the grave would hold him at death.  Finally, Job made a statement of faith concerning his own life and sins.  It was in the form of a prayer discourse with God.  (Job 14:13-17)  Job asked God to hide him in the grave until His anger has passed and then “to set a time and remember me”.  He asked God “If a man dies, will he live again?”  He expected to hear a call from God and to respond from the grave because God longed to have fellowship with the “creature He has made”.  Job expected all his sins to be sealed in a bag, covered over and not remembered! God revealed these truths to Job by revelation to sustain him in his trial.

As believers in Jesus, we have a mediator Who is like us, but without sin!  Jesus Christ came and gave His life for our lives, promising to come again and remember us!  He forgives our sins and remembers them no more!  We will live with Him forever!  We will hear His call and come out of the grave! This is available now to all who will repent and confess their sins to the Lord!  (1st John 1:7-9)

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:8-9

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God is good and loves eternally!

Scripture reading for April 22: 2nd Chronicles 1-5

Two great truths about God are voiced in this simple song that was sung when the priests and Solomon moved the Ark of the Covenant into the completed temple of the Lord.  These truths are so simple and obvious that one would think everyone should know them and had experienced them. But Satan is a liar,  always questioning God’s goodness and His enduring love!

God is good!  God is good in all His ways and character.  His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives.  (Psalm 23:6)  He is good in His creation through which He has provided for all creatures food and drink to sustain them.  Everything we eat ultimately comes from His hands.  He is good to both the evil and the good.  He shows mercy by his goodness in sending rain and bringing forth crops and food for all, no matter how they might treat Him!  God is good in His character as well.  He is pure and holy and righteous in every way. (Revelation 15:3-4)   His perfection and holiness causes the hosts of heaven to adore Him, crying: “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  ( Revelation 4:8)  Ultimately all nations will come and worship Him for His goodness, justice and truth!

The second truth declared by those who moved the Ark into the Temple was that God’s love endures forever.  God is love.  (1st John 4:16)  His nature is good because He is love that is eternal.  God is from everlasting to everlasting!  (Psalm 90:2)  He pours out His love on those He has made in His image and likeness!  “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) is one of the most quoted verses of the Bible.  God’s love moved Him to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to seek out lost men and save them. (Luke 19:10)  His love heals the sick, cleanses the defiled, and restores broken lives to trophies of love!

Today, try singing this simple song as you go through your day.  Look for all the ways that God is good to you and thank Him as you are reminded of His goodness!  Tell Him that you love Him today and appreciate his eternal love!  As you do, remember that you now bear His presence and glory as a living stone in his temple!  You join Solomon and the hosts of heaven as they worship eternally!

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The wiles of the devil

Scripture reading for April 18: 1 Chronicles 17-21

We have an enemy who is known to be crafty and who uses schemes and strategy to gain access to God’s people.  His motive is to steal from them, kill them, and ultimately destroy their souls in Hell.  (John 10:10)  Several passages of scripture admonish God’s people to flee temptation and resist the devil.  (Matthew 6:13)  We are in a cosmic battle with evil forces of darkness and are in need of God’s help.

David was a man after God’s heart but he was also prone to temptation and did not always resist.  We all remember the time he stayed back in Jerusalem when his army went to war.  (1st Chronicles 20:1)  It is interesting to note that the incident with Bathsheba is not mentioned here.  But David came and took the crown off the head of the king of the Ammonites who Joab and the army had defeated.  This crown weighed around 75 pounds and was full of precious stones.  David placed that crown on his own head.  (1st Chronicles 20:2)

Right after this, David returned again to Jerusalem and Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census!  (1st Chronicles 21:1)  This was evil in God’s sight because it was motivated by pride and not by God’s direction.  (1st Chronicles 21:7)  It appears that  Satan gained an inroad in David’s life.  We know David was not fighting the Lord’s enemies but stayed home to engage in sexual sin.  He had Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed. He took this massive crown belonging to a pagan king and placed it on his own head.  After this Satan was able to incite him to sin that cost the lives of 70,000 Israelites!  Afterwards, David did repent and he bought the threshing floor of Arunah as a place of sacrifice for his sin.  This site became the site of the temple where God’s presence would dwell and where anyone who had sinned could bring a sacrifice with humility and find forgiveness and restoration! 

David’s latter Son, Jesus Christ, would offer Himself in this temple to be the final sacrifice for the sins of the world, bringing victory over Satan. Is there a ‘scheme’ of the devil that has hold on your life and is causing death and destruction? Resist the devil today by declaring the victory of Jesus and His blood!

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in you faith, . .”

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Asking for wisdom!

Scripture Reading for April 2: 1st Kings1-4

1 Kings 3:3 “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.” . . vs. 5-6 “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before You in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you.” . .vs 9 “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this Your great people?”

Newly crowned King Solomon had an encounter with the Lord.  He had gone to Gibeon to sacrifice to the Lord and that day offered a thousand burnt offerings!  Extravagant worship marked the life of this newly anointed king!  That night as Solomon lay asleep, the Lord appeared to him  in a dream and said: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1st Kings 3:4-5)  Solomon first thanked the Lord for his kindness to his father David in placing him on the throne.  Then he confessed his need for God’s help in ruling His people, asking for a discerning heart and wisdom to rule wisely.  (1st Kings 3:7-9)

This pleased the Lord!  Solomon was granted what he asked for and also given by grace what he did not ask for!  God gave him riches and honor so that there would be no equal among kings of that time. (1st Kings 3:10-14)  Jesus Christ has been made to us wisdom from God! (1st Corinthians 1:30)  We are told that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God for it and He will give us liberally! James 1:5-7) Praise the Lord!

In considering Solomon’s walk with the Lord, how would God say that you felt toward Him? How might God describe your walk with Him? How are you at asking God for what you want or need?

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Leaving a legacy–last words!

Scripture reading for April 1: 2nd Samuel 21-24

These are the last words of David: ” The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs:  “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.  The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me:  ‘When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.’ (2nd Samuel 23:1-4)

David, the shepherd boy, anointed King by the Lord, speaks prophetically under the Spirit of the Lord.  His last words are inspired by the “Most High”, “God of Jacob”, “God of Israel” and “Rock of Israel”.  The Bible states that no prophet speaks on his own but is moved on by the Holy Spirit.  ( 2nd Peter 1:20-21)  After seventy years of walking with God, he writes not so much for himself, but for those who will follow him in the walk of faith.

David left a mighty legacy for us.  His Psalms are prophetic of the coming Messiah, his life, suffering and death!  As a young boy, he knew God as his own Shepherd.  Jesus Christ is the good Shepherd Who so cares for His sheep that He lays His own life down for them.  David knew God as the “Rock of Israel”!  That Rock was a firm place to stand in the trials that continually came to this man.  That Rock was a source of water and refreshment in a dry and weary land as David was being pursued by his enemies.  His Psalms flow with an anointing of truth and grace that make them easy reading for people from every age and generation.  His last words still speak to us and encourage us to press on to meet our great “High God”! 

Have you ever thought about what your ‘last words’ might be? What legacy would you like to leave for the next generations? What names might you ascribe to God in your walk of faith today?

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A Pardon from the King

Scripture Reading for March 30: 2nd Samuel 19-20

2 Samuel 19:18-20 “And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, “Let not my lord hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. Do not let the king take it to heart. For your servant knows that I have sinned.”

As David left the city when he fled from Absalom, Shimei yelled curses at him.   (2nd Samuel 16:5-8)    Although Abishai, a son of Zeruiah loyal to David, wanted to kill Shimei, David refused to do so.  David realized that his current situation was a result of his own sin. God had warned him that trouble would come to him from his own household.  (2nd Samuel 12:10-13)  Shimei’s curses were reminding David of his sin and of God’s promise.

After Absalom’s rebellion had been stopped by his untimely death, David was returning to Jerusalem as King over God’s people.  Shimei was one of the first to greet him.  He immediately fell at the King’s feet and asked for mercy, confessing his sin and taking responsibility. (2nd Samuel 19:16-20)  His humble attitude found a receptive heart in the King.  The sons of Zeruiah still wanted to get revenge and had to be rebuked again by the King.  (2nd Samuel 19:21-23)  The King granted a pardon to Shimei! He understood God’s mercy when he, himself, cried out to God for it.  (Psalm 51:1-2)

We can all identify with Shimei in that we have all sinned against the King of Heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ!  We have rebelled against Him and deserve punishment.  Our accuser, Satan, tries to condemn us to death.  But the Lord has mercy on those who humbly confess and call upon Him for pardon.  God forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness!  (1st John 1:9)   This is good news!  We can have a pardon from the King!  Honest confession and repentance will bring forgiveness and restoration.  Take the action needed today to deal with sins against God or man who is made in God’s image!  Psalm 51 is a great pattern.  Forgive yourself too!  We have a pardon from the King!

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