“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but is makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6
Satisfied with where your life is headed? It’s being steered by what’s coming out of your mouth.
Humans are an ungrateful sort. I’m inundated with mail from people complaining God won’t do this or that for them or griping about how He answers (or doesn’t answer) prayer. One guy honestly challenged me to tell him one single thing God has done for him. My response was simple enough. “Did you make the air you’re breathing all by yourself?” God is not some type of colossal candy man who does whatever we demand. He is much more interested in our growth and our Spiritual condition than He is what we think we need.
“But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!'” Numbers 21:4b-5
When it comes to witnessing for Jesus, most will tell you that don’t do it because they are simply afraid or they don’t know how. Others will tell you that they witness for Him, but not by actually laying out the Gospel to anyone, but rather by just living Christian lives in front of them. That is no doubt very important, but how will the people ever see and believe if we don’t tell them? Can we really call ourselves friends and neighbors if we don’t share the love we’ve received with them? The truth is that most problems with witnessing don’t come from any of the above problems. Rather, they are caused by a lack of faith (or belief). The lack of faith comes from not being immersed in God’s Word on a regular basis. The result is that only one in ten who calls him or herself a Christian will ever lead another soul to Christ.
“It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak” 2 Corinthians 4:13
I grew up in a house where there was always alcohol around. As you might imagine, when I got old enough for peer pressure to kick-in, I started experimenting with alcohol. “Experimenting” in the sense that I got “ripped” just about every weekend for twenty years! I can’t even imagine what I could have done with my life if I had those twenty years back. Here’s the bottom line on alcohol, illegal drugs, smoking, etc…
“I’ve never seen illegal drugs or alcohol help anybody with anything.” Coach Jerry Faust (Notre Dame)
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18
Exactly how do these things fit into the plans you have for your life? If they don’t fit in–if they can’t help you get where you’re going, get rid of them! I did, and I’ve never looked back for a minute.
When it comes to understanding Christianity, some people just don’t get it! For those who have yet to be introduced to Christ, that makes perfect sense. But what about for those who call themselves Christians and still don’t seem to have much of a grasp on the tenants of the faith? In the Apostle Paul’s small but powerful letter to a man named Phile we learn something about why some believers are very slow to understand their position in Christ (if they ever do!). Believe it or not, much of it is their own fault. They may or may not spend time in the Scriptures, but even if they do, they will be slow to learn if they don’t go out and apply what they find there. Seeking knowledge for the sake of having knowledge is absolutely worthless. On the other hand, even the newest Christian who follows God’s commands to go and share their faith will grow quickly and have an amazing grasp on the Truths of God’s Word.
“I pray you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Philemon 1:6
Often the enemy brings bad things our way to drive us away from God, and sometimes God even uses them to test our faith. Those who truly love the Lord will hang on all that much tighter when troubles come. Those “fair weather Christians” will move farther away, blaming God for their circumstances, no doubt claiming they deserve better. For those who truly trust in the Lord, their faith will increase through these tough times and they’ll wind up even stronger than before. For those who turn their back on Him and seek comfort elsewhere, they wind up even worse off than they thought they were.
“The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.” Psalm 16:4a
I read an interesting quote in an old Bible commentary recently. “Not only should we do good, but the good we do should be well done.” How true the statement is, but also I fear, it is often not well kept. Whether we are paid a daily wage for a job well done, or if we are servants and are only laying up treasure in heaven, every job needs to be well done. A large number of teens I know (and quite a few adults) will do the absolute minimum about 90% of the time. Often their minds are on other things, or they just want the job to be “over and done with!” But the fact remains that anything done shabbily not only speaks of our walk with Christ, but if it is done shabbily FOR Christ, it speaks of our relationship with Christ. My mother used to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I agree, and I believe God does as well. After all, it’s Him who promises to give us the strength to carry on, no matter how tough the job!
“If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11b
Can God do anything? Many will tell you He can, but they would be wrong. God’s power is limitless, but His nature limits His ability to do many things. For example, God cannot be unjust. He cannot sin. He cannot go against His own Word… and unlike sinful humans, He cannot lie. In a world where just about everything is up for sale, including truth, God remains absolutely perfect, and absolutely unchangeable. Just like the “foundation” He often describes Himself as, I find great comfort in knowing that He’s Rock Solid!
So, as the Holy Spirit Says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, They shall never enter my rest.’
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Hebrews 3:7b-14
Humility might just be one of the most endangered virtues in the world. Simple respect that once was considered mandatory is now pass. Not so many years ago a young person never addressed an older person by his first name. My parent’s friends, for example, were either Aunt So-and-so, or Uncle This-or-that! Now it seems like not only do people not show respect to elders, they are often down right rude to them. And it’s not just strangers, either. Have we forgotten the Fifth Commandment? Honor your mother and your father! What about the multitude of commandments dealing with loving your neighbor, honoring those older than you, or just plain respecting other people. For Christians, these things are not pass, they are mandatory if our witness is to mean anything to those around us. We simply cannot talk about our faith in Christ with one breath and bad mouth a teacher or a boss with the next. At least not if we intend to be on the side of our Lord.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5b