“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT)
Anyone who has a genuine relationship with God desires to please Him. Pleasing God is the response of the human heart that has been saved from sin and wrath. Is it your desire to please Him? If it is, then you are right where God loves you to be.
Apart from faith, no one can be pleasing to God. Hebrews 11 is all about champions of the faith found in scripture. These champions of the faith are celebrated because of their faith. Where you find faith in the scriptures, you also find God celebrating. When Jesus encountered the Roman centurion in Matthew 8:10, His response to the man’s faith was, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” It moved the heart of the Son of God! And it caused God to celebrate him.
If faith makes it possible to please God, then I want to be a person of faith. I want to be one who is growing in faith, walking in faith, and exuding faith! Never in scripture do you get the impression that those who live by faith are being coerced into pleasing God. They simply were taking God at His Word.
Therein lies the challenge: Are you one who will take God at His Word and become a person of faith, a vessel pleasing to God?
"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit." (Romans 8:5, NLT)
While praying in the Spirit this morning, the Lord said, "Tell my people to 'Stop sabotaging my efforts.’" One dictionary called 'sabotaging' the underhanded interference of production or work. Enemy agents carry out this interference during wartime. Another dictionary defines sabotage as destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does not work correctly.
God is always working in our lives, whether we know it or not. The good news is that He is not seeking our harm but our good. He is continually working to restore our lives and increase our hearts' size towards others. The problem starts when we get out of the Spirit and into the flesh. BOOM! Underhanded interference of our own making derails God's activity. This only prolongs the work of God to achieve what is best for us.
How often have your words or actions damaged something so it does not work correctly? When we get in the flesh, we become our own worst enemy by opposing the work of God. When we get in the flesh, we undo what God is trying to mend. "Tell my people, 'Stop sabotaging my efforts.'"
"For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:13, NKJV)
"Do not judge unless you want to be judged.” Mt 7:1
If you have been a Christian for a while, I am sure you have heard someone say these words in a judgmental way: "Do not judge unless you want to be judged." Perhaps you have said them yourself.
We know two things for sure when we read these words in Matthew 7:1. These words were not scripture to arm sinners so they could attack Christians. But they were scripture to arm Christians, so they would not attack others.
Judging is not a negative thing. We have to judge whether something is right or wrong for us to do. We must judge whether we will participate in what others are doing or avoid it. Judging has to do with making right choices. What makes judging bad? Why did Jesus bring it to our attention? Three things can sum up what Jesus was after—He did not want us to be critical; He did not want us to be judgmental; He did not want us to be arrogant. And, He did not want us to attack others with our spirituality.
Criticalness involves fault-finding in others because we see ourselves as better than them. Judgmental has to do with us being both judge and jury, meaning we judge and then condemn. Arrogance has to do with presenting ourselves in a 'self-righteous' way.
The best way to keep ourselves from becoming judgmental is to love. It's golden! "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you." Mt 7:12 NL
"Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are." (Numbers 13:31, ESV)
If there is one thing we can learn from Numbers thirteen, it is "Don't listen to doubters." Say this with me, "I refuse to listen to doubters." You have to make up your mind about not listening to doubters. It was the doubt and unbelief of the ten spies that stopped Israel from going in to possess what God had promised.
Their biggest problem was seeing their problems as bigger than their God. The people are strong, the cities fortified, and giants are there. When you forget what God has done before, you will be more inclined to doubt and not see God in your future.
The other major issue the ten spies had was how they saw themselves. They saw themselves as weak compared to the people of the land. They saw themselves as grasshoppers compared to the giants in the land. They believed the lie that God had brought them to the land to kill them. Whenever we believe a lie, not the truth, we surrender our future to the destroyer.
We must see ourselves as God sees us. And we must see God as He really is. As Bill Johnson says, "I can't afford to have a thought in my head that God doesn't have in His head." Therefore...Do not listen to doubters! They will rob your future!
"But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." (Numbers 13:30, ESV)
God says of Caleb in Numbers 14:24, "that he has a different spirit and follows me fully." What does it take to have God say that of us? What did Caleb have that ten of the other spies did not have?
He had a spirit of faith. Against all odds, he chose to believe God and trust Him with his life. This faith came from remembering what God did to Egypt, the most powerful empire. To have a different spirit requires that we have confidence in an all-powerful God.
Not only did Caleb have a spirit of faith, but he confessed and openly declared what he believed. Listen to these words, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." His faith called him to take action. James said it this way, "Faith without works is dead." Caleb did not have dead faith. He was ready to act.
Ten spies could not see God in their future because of unbelief. Faith is being able to see God in your future! Caleb could see God in his future. He could see his divine destiny and the destiny of Israel colliding in his future. Only God could bring this to pass! He knew that and trusted God. What would you have to change to be of a different spirit like Caleb?
"Jesus was astonished... and said to those who were following him, "He has greater faith than anyone I've encountered in Israel!" (Matthew 8:10, TPT)
Like the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus, this Centurion is also an outsider, a gentile, and an enemy of Israel. Many people fit this description today, and they let it disqualify them from receiving from God. Not this man; he was bold!
Jesus was astonished at this gentile. And He marveled at him. He was astonished that this man seemed to transcend human possibilities. The man possessed incredible faith! What made his faith so great?
First, we see the man comes to Jesus and calls Him Lord. Hebrew 11:6 declares, "Those who come to Him must know that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Jesus saw this quality in the Centurion.
Secondly, the man comes boldly to Jesus because he understands authority. This amazes Jesus because the people He was sent to should have had this understanding of authority but did not. Now a gentile, an outsider, recognizes the authority that Jesus carries and makes his request to Him. "Speak the word, and my servant will be healed. You do not have to come to my house. Just speak the word."
Third, the man understood who he was. The 'lesser' asking the 'greater' to heal his servant. This is covenant language. The very covenant that Jesus had come to earth to establish. Lord, may we become people of great faith!
"Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly." (Matthew 15:28, ESV)
A Canaanite woman comes to Jesus and begs Him to come and heal her demon-possessed daughter. The Canaanites were gentiles and long-time enemies of God and God's people. If anyone was unworthy of receiving from Jesus, it could be said that she was. But Jesus is not moved by one's past, one's race, or one's works. He is moved by faith. And this woman's faith moves Him!
Jesus tries to deflect this woman's appeal to Him. Jesus ignores her. Jesus says that He is not sent to her people. Jesus finally appears to insult her by saying, "I can't give the children's food to the dogs."
The woman pushes back with her faith! She cries out for mercy! She calls Him Lord three times! She identifies Him: Son of David! And she releases her faith: "Even dogs get the crumbs of Master's table." With great faith, a "little bit" of God goes a long way! Jesus replies: "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly." (Matthew 15:28, ESV)
Great faith comes from trusting in a Great God! Great faith comes by not stopping when the answer seems delayed. Great faith comes when you know who you are talking to!
"Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (John 6:28–29, ESV)
So much of how Christians relate to God is through doing. We are, by a religious nature, works-oriented. We seem to be constantly looking for something else to do for God. We think that by our doing, we will win the favor of God or move the hand of God on our behalf. What can I do to make Him proud of me? What can I do to get Him to respond to me? What can I do that would please Him?
Jesus answers our question of 'What must I do?' with a straightforward answer: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." Our work is to believe in Jesus! What can I do to make Him proud of me? Believe! What can I do to get Him to respond to me? Believe! What can I do that would please Him today? Believe!
The writer of Hebrews also makes the answer clear: "...without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6, ESV) Those in Hebrews 11 are people who did things for God. But the big things they did for God were done through faith. Yes, they did work, but the greater work was to believe!
"Enoch walked with God ... Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." (Genesis 5:22–24, ESV)
Enoch was the first man since Adam, said to have walked with God. Perhaps he learned from Adam how to walk with God. And Enoch became more and more hungry to walk with Him.
To walk with someone is to be in close fellowship with them. It was said of many Old Testament kings that they walked before God, but only Enoch and Noah walked with God. What a testimony! The prophet Amos said, "Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?" (Amos 3:3) Enoch agreed with God on the direction that God was leading him. Therefore, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God. When Enoch first appears in scripture, it is said that he walked with God. And at the close of his life, it is written he walked with God.
To walk also implies movement. Enoch stayed in step with God, and the movement of God created a God movement in Enoch's life. Hebrews 11:5-6 says that Enoch, by faith, was taken up by God and did not taste death. Before he was taken, he was commended as having a testimony that pleased God. Enoch lived in such a way as to please God! God took pleasure in Enoch. Enoch's expression of faith in God resulted in God experiencing the presence of Enoch. Faith does this!
Enoch took pleasure in God and got so far out there with God that he could not get back! What a testimony!
"And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8, ESV)
We often hear people speak of Adam and Eve walking with God in the cool of the day. It all sounds lovely and pleasant, something to be desired. Yet most fail to remember that while God is walking in the day's cool breeze, Adam and Eve are hiding from Him.
They had eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Full of guilt and shame, they now hid. Strange how details are often remembered in traumatic events. They heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. What was the sound of God walking? Was it loud? Was it soft? Was it slow and gentle?
Or was it just the awareness that God was getting closer to them? At the time of day when they should have been most enjoying the weather, the stroll, and God's presence, they were hiding. For the first time, they were hiding from God. That will make an impact on you. It did for Adam and Eve...for the rest of their lives, they remembered that day.
They were hiding from the presence of the Lord. The good news is, in Christ, we no longer have to hide!
"On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:6–7, ESV)
Watchmen on the walls are intercessors, prayer warriors, and those who look after others in the place of prayer. Watchmen stand guard over the city—night and day. They sound the alarm of approaching danger. They keep watch over all enemy activity around the city.
In Isaiah 62, the watchmen are placed by God to guard the city. Isaiah says that they will never be silent! Their uniqueness in Isaiah is they will continually remind the Lord of His promises and word to Jerusalem.
Does God need reminding? No, but this passage reminds us that he will never forget what He has promised. The days may become incredibly dark, but God has appointed watchmen to remind Him of what He has spoken. Will He forget? Absolutely not! But these 'Reminders' cry out night and day, saying, "Remember what you said about Jerusalem!"
This passage should remind us of the high calling of the place of prayer in our lives. John Wesley once said, "God does nothing but through prayer." This passage is calling believers to remind God of what He has spoken over Jerusalem, and it is reminding us to remind God of what He has said over us! Never underestimate the power of prayer to shape nations and lives...according to His Word!
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you!" (Psalm 122:6, ESV)
Jerusalem is God's city. Isn't it fascinating that such a little nation and such an insignificant city could be the center of so much attention today? Jerusalem means the ‘city of peace’. Yet it seems that every country in the world wants to destroy it. I believe this is because God has such big plans for it. After all, scripture is quite clear that Messiah will return one day and rule from Jerusalem. If I were the devil, I would want to destroy it too, so that Messiah cannot reign from there when He comes.
Because of such threats of violence through the ages up to today against Jerusalem, King David encourages us to, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." As believers, we have been joined to Jesus and grafted into God's chosen people. Therefore it should be upon our hearts to pray for Jerusalem. The city where Christ will return and reign over the nations of the earth.
The promise that comes with our prayers for Jerusalem is that we would be at rest. As we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the peace we pray for is simultaneously directed by God to us. If you desire to live in peace, make it a point to pray for peace for the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel
"Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This "letter" is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:3, NLT)
What a compliment Paul gives to the church in Corinth, "You are a letter showing..." The word 'showing' comes from a word often translated as 'manifest,' to make visible. What is being made visible is the inward work of the Spirit in the human heart that is clearly visible outwardly. It is the life-giving activity of the Spirit of God living in the hearts of the Corinthian church.
This change did not occur because of some forced morality or behavior modification. It came from the life-giving preaching of Jesus Christ through Paul's ministry among them. This work done within the heart transforms the person so radically that it is visible for all to see.
The goal of the Gospel is to make dead men live! This change is so drastic everyone can see it. All who inquire as to what happened hear the Gospel themselves. Paul's boast is that the Gospel, the message of Christ, is written on the human heart by the Holy Spirit. We must ask ourselves: What are men reading when they look at our lives? What are we manifesting or showing forth having encountered Christ personally? What message is your life sending as people around you read it?
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." (Isaiah 1:18, ESV)
At first, this verse seems like an invitation to sit with God and discuss the sinful patterns that occupy Judah's life. But the word translated as 'reason' really means "let us debate our case in court."*** God wants to bring the case public so that all of Judah knows He has the evidence to convict them fully. This is true of all of our lives. We have no righteousness that could stand before God.
Only Isaiah the prophet can give such hope as he does at the start of this trial of Judah before God. He calls out Judah's sin as crimson and scarlet, easily seen. The sin of the nation stands out. But all our sin before a Holy God plainly stands out. There is no hiding it. All we can do is confess it, declare ourselves guilty, and cry out to God for mercy.
He renders the sentence as He tries us. We know we are guilty. Yet, amid our scarlet guilt, He declares, "I will make you white as snow!" Only a loving merciful God can do that! Though our sin makes us guilty as crimson, He offers to make us white like wool! A wise person would quickly receive what God offers and then be eternally grateful for the rest of his life!
***(TWBOT; Harris, Archer. Moody Press.)
"And what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?" (Zechariah 4:12, NLT)
In Zechariah 4, Zechariah is having an encounter with the revelatory realm of God. In it, he sees two olive trees dripping fresh oil into a bowl with seven lamps. The angel proceeds to speak those famous words to Zechariah, "This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies." (Zechariah 4:6, NLT)
That amazing revelation is for all believers to walk in. So often, as we are doing life, we do it out of our own strength. God is speaking to Zechariah and telling him plainly, "Life is to be lived out in the power of the Spirit." Even mountains will not stand before you when you walk in the Spirit. We have been given God's Spirit not so we can have 'goose bumps’, but to have the power to impact earthly kingdoms.
I am captivated by the fresh oil that drips from the olive trees by the lampstand. Can you imagine the size of that drop of oil falling to the earth? Can you dream of the possibilities that one single drop of fresh oil could do to a person, family, city, or nation? That stirs my faith and causes me to say, "Lord! Please hit me with one of those great golden globs of liquid light!
"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying… the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God." (Revelation 12:10, ESV)
Webster's Dictionary defines accusation as to charge with a fault, to blame. It is found throughout the scriptures but becomes most notable when Satan is in the picture. In Job 1, we see Satan accusing God of keeping Job hedged in. He accuses Job of not being able to walk morally with God. In Zechariah, Satan accuses Joshua, the priest, of being in dirty garments.
The nature of accusations is to separate and divide. Accusations do not bring people together. Accusations in a marriage always disconnect and divide husband and wife. Accusations in the family always separate and divide. Accusations in a local church only serve to separate and divide people from one another.
Satan is called the accuser of the brothers. His nature is to bring accusations so that we would be separated from each other. Separation leads to isolation and opens us up to even more demonic attacks. Separation also leads to division. The more divided a church, family, or marriage becomes, the weaker and more vulnerable they become.
Knowing that this is one way the enemy of our soul operates, let us shut down accusations that divide and let us speak words of life that edify, strengthen and build up. Let us be aware of our words when we talk to each other so as not to accuse.
"After this, I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." (Revelation 4:1, ESV)
What a sight to behold! An open door to heaven! Can you imagine what John must have felt at that moment? "Am I allowed to look?" "I want to look." "Is it safe to look?" Would brilliant light be pouring forth from the open door? Or would it just appear to be open? And what about that voice? It sounded like a trumpet, loud and piercing. It makes one's soul tremble at its hearing. And yet the invitation: "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
God is always giving His people the opportunity to encounter Him. Like a good Father, he wants to surprise us often with 'snap shots' of His goodness. Jesus calls us friends (Jn 15:15) because He wants us to know what the Father is doing. Jesus encourages us to ask, seek and knock (Mt 7:7) so that we might find Him and His ways.
Jesus tore the temple curtain from top to bottom with His own flesh. The door could not be any more open than it is right now. He looks for those who are spiritually hungry and willing to come to Him so that they might see more clearly. Having a "Yes!" in our hearts takes us into the Spirit. And it is in the Spirit that we can see what He sees!
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away." (Psalm 1:3–4, ESV)
The 'one man' from verse one, why is he happy? He is happy because he delights in the instruction of the Lord. He does not gather opinions from the masses but life-giving instruction from God. Because he seeks wisdom from God, and not the world, the Psalmist says that 'one man,’ in the whole big desert of humanity, is full of life.
The 'one man' living from the counsel of God is like a tree in the desert planted by streams of water. He yields fruit in season, and his leaves never wither. This tree is a picture of a life grounded in the counsel of the Lord. We must understand that this 'one man' was intentional about where he planted himself. What sustains the tree is hidden. It is out of sight. But the tree knows where it’s life comes from. It’s roots reach for the living water! What are your roots reaching for?
The powerful product of his location, (the instruction of the Lord) causes him to prosper in everything! The wicked, as numerous as they are, do not have the right environment to stay green and productive. They are destined to dry up and be driven away by the wind.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2, ESV)
In Psalm 1, one man is compared to three groups: the wicked, the sinners, and the scoffers. This one man is set against the masses. One against three is not so bad. One against three groups is vast. The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate the gap between the way of the righteous man and the way of the wicked. Not only are the two ways distinguished by who travels down them, but by how many!
It should not surprise us that the road the one man is on appears to be less traveled. And the road that the groups are on by nature must be broader. Hmmm...narrow the way that leads to life, and few find it. The narrow way may seem less traveled and more challenging, but it is the way of happiness. The one man chooses not to walk with the wicked, stand with sinners, or sit with scoffers. Because of this, he is happy.
On a positive note, the man delights in the instruction of the Lord. When you contrast this to the first verse, here is what we understand: the way to happiness is not in following the advice of the questionable people but rather the instruction of the Lord.
"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (Ephesians 5:5, ESV)
This scripture carries a severe warning! And we must pay attention to what Paul is saying.
To be sexually immoral refers to any sexual activity outside God's design for marriage. The word 'sexually immoral' comes from the Greek word 'porneia.' Porneia, from which we get the word pornography, includes pornography, pre-marital, extramarital, and adultery. It consists of all sexual activity that does not honor Christ. Paul says that we are followers of Christ and part of His body. Therefore when I sin sexually, it is as though I am bringing Christ into my sin. The sin of sexual immorality can potentially destroy the relationship God created to reflect his love for his bride, the church.
The word impure comes from a Greek word meaning clean or pure. When a simple preposition is connected to it, it means unclean or impure. What is clean is made for fellowship with God. What is not clean is shut out from God.
The last word that Paul includes in his list of three is a word that means greedy. To be driven by a power that is not of God.
There is no room for these three sins in God's kingdom. Let there be found no room for them in you as well.
"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:5;15-16 ESV)
Would you want to know if you knew there were specific things that would keep you out of the Kingdom of God? I would, and Paul lays three things out here. Bottom line: If you are sexually immoral, impure, or covetous, you have no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. That is a severe warning to Ephesus and us. In fact, the words "you may be sure of this" expresses a double warning. It is non-negotiable. Paul says it and rests his case.
Later in verses 15-16, Paul gives the Ephesians some direction to avoid missing their inheritance. First, 'look carefully.' To look means to take note and understand. Don't just see. But know what you see. 'Carefully' means "pertaining to a strict conformity, to a norm or standard." (Kittle) So as you look, there is a Kingdom standard that you are expected to conform to. To deviate from that standard has consequences. Therefore 'look carefully' at how you walk.
Be wise and not foolish regarding the three warnings. And make the best use of your time. The best use of your time will always be doing God things!
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." (Ephesians 5:1, ESV)
These words are thrust between our last two devotions: "Therefore be imitators of God." 'Therefore' means that we must look back at what has been said because what has been said is why we must be imitators. The thought prompting Paul's 'therefore' is: to put off the old self and "put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24 Paul's goal is to raise up Christians that look and sound like Jesus. This is why he brought to light those things of the old nature which died with Christ. We are to put them off while putting on Christ.
What does it mean to be an imitator of God? The word imitate means to mimic, but it is much more. It strongly implies being a disciple of Paul and a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone can mimic another's behavior. But only a disciple can do it from the heart, not the head. Being a disciple who desires to be like his Master implies relationship. And nothing speaks more highly of that than Paul's last words in Eph 5:1 "as beloved children." As children of God and loved by God, we look like our Father in character and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.
Being an imitator of Christ is a worthy goal! It just means putting off what looks like your old self and putting on what looks like Jesus.
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)
As Paul continues to address sins of the tongue, let us not forget that the tongue is connected to the heart. Jesus made it clear, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." So again, we see Paul encouraging the church in Ephesus not to let corrupt talk come out of them. It is not a matter of behavioral change but heart change.
The word 'corrupt' comes from the Greek word 'sapros' "meaning the process of decay, to cause decay or rot. (Kittle) The Lexam Theological Wordbook says it is "A word intended to bring about a negative result for another." With those definitions in mind, we must realize that when we let corrupt talk come out of our mouths, we are exporting decay and rot to the souls of others. Now flip that! Start speaking words of encouragement, and watch what happens!
The effect is one of 'good for building up!' The word 'building up' means the act of building. If you are not building and your speech is corrupt, it is tearing down. But if your speech is edifying, you are helping others to reach their potential in whom God created them to be.
The last powerful thing in this scripture written by Paul is this: when we speak with words that build, we give grace (God's ability) to others.
"Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving." (Ephesians 5:4, ESV)
Ephesians 5:14 is very clear! It does not need to be theologized, exegesized, or apologized for. It needs to be practiced. Does swearing, cussing, and telling off-color stories make you more of a man? And, let's not skip the women. Since when did swearing, cursing, and telling off-color stories make you more of a woman? We are believers! Children of the light! Do you think you are more culturally relevant because you speak such? Paul clearly shows that this is not Kingdom culture you are aspiring to. He speaks to three unclean, defiling types of speech.
The first is 'filthiness.'*** It comes from a word that is not a feeling of shame but of 'disgrace.' It is a shame/disgrace brought on by divine judgment. In other words, God says He disapproves of such language.
The second word translated as 'foolish talk' in our passage means "a weakness of understanding or judgment, sometimes through stupidity." *** Paul is calling those who speak such as weak-minded!
The third word He uses, translated as crude joking, is a word that means "a vulgar expression of speech or indecent speech.”*** It is something that even the vile of heart tries to avoid around children.
Instead, Paul says, "Look for something in your context that reflects God and be filled with thanksgiving that releases a culture of the Kingdom in your speech.
***Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). In Theological Dictionary of NT (p. 620). W.B. Eerdmans.
"and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord." (Exodus 16:7, ESV)
What a surprise scripture! God is blessing the grumbling! What does this passage say about God?
Some people think they will be changed forever if God does something great in their lives. But this is not true. Israel watched God destroy the most powerful empire of the day. They saw Him methodically destroy Egypt's gods one at a time. They saw God miraculously protect, provide, and deliver all in one night. They left Egypt with all of Egypt's gold and silver, and garments. They saw and experienced incredible things, yet they still grumbled against God.
God's provision of food to the children of Israel in the morning, despite their grumbling, revealed His glory! The weightiness of God's presence amid their grumbling reveals His goodness, love, mercy, and kindness. I am not suggesting that you should grumble and expect to see God's glory. But you should expect to see God's glory despite yourself. God's goodness to us is not based on upon us but upon His love for us. Let it be known that the Lord our God, He is good.
Bringing Freedom and Life to People and Glory to God!
© 2015 Freedom Christian Center, Inc., all rights reserved.