My Big Mouth
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (NKJV)
Whenever my mouth ran unchecked in childhood, Mom always quoted the above verse. Especially as a teenager, sassing, spouting off, and otherwise behaving in an obnoxious manner warranted multiple warning lectures from Dad. He repeatedly pointed to Proverbs as a good source of instruction for life's little lessons. These lessons never seemed to take hold. It was as if this big mouth had a mind of its own refusing to be corralled.
Was this teenager foolish? Yep, certainly according to Proverbs fifteen this teen was very foolish. The fifteenth chapter of Proverbs thoroughly warns against loose lips and other human failings. Yet, the warnings weren't heeded. Arrogance left little room for instruction and even less for truly learning life lessons in a timely fashion. Like a song from the Kingston Trio intoned, "...when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn." Certainly this know-it-all person never did for many years, even into adulthood.
Proverbs fifteen gives us practical ways to live and leave a positive impact upon others. It's as much about how to live a good life as it is about warning a person away from self-destructive behaviors. It encourages us to use knowledge in a wholesome manner for activities that honor God, serve others, and thus avoid heaps of trouble.
The problem is, try as we might, we find ourselves in a morass of wooden moral teaching. Some of us give up because we think it's impossible to please God... and that's right. We cannot ever hope to please God or live according to Biblical principles without Jesus Christ.
But how does Jesus Christ enter our lives?
First we must acknowledge we can do nothing in our own strength, but need a relationship with Jesus Christ to be able to live according to the directives given in Proverbs. Next we truly need the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives to keep our feet moving in the right direction. Without that, life becomes wooden rote.
With Christ Jesus in our hearts and lives, He amazes us with His awesomeness. He is the One who gave His life to free us from following our own less than honorable path. That fact alone compels us to do everything we can for God's glory and not ourselves. That fact enables us to accept instruction, listen with an open mind, and revel in the resulting relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Likewise, we humbly learn at Jesus' feet and come away with a cheerful spirit knowing we're on the right path.
Indeed, Living with Christ in our lives and according to Biblical teaching, sharing the lessons learned with a sunny spirit and in a loving manner, leads to a fulfilling life. In so doing, we find ourselves living a Proverbs fifteen life.
Prayer: Loving God, Your awesome love amazes us. Come into our hearts and lives through Jesus Christ and enable us to live in a way that pleases You and serves others for we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Thought for Today: Engage brain before running mouth.
Today's Verse: Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (NIV)
The Power of Words--Forgiven
Today (September 9, 2017) is Erev Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, or as one friend pointed out in a recent blog post, the Day of Atonements—since atonement has to be made for the High Priest First, and only then for the people. Following a week of deep introspection, tonight most of the Jewish people are fasting and praying that their sins will be forgiven based on their fasting and heart-felt cry to God in prayer….
While the roads are busier in Israel today than they were when I first came to Israel, they essentially remain empty. Living in a mixed city such as Haifa, where we have a Jewish, Arab Muslim, Arab Christian and Messianic population it is remarkable that the silence of Yom Kippur is honored pretty much by everyone. It is not lightly that we say this is the holiest day of the year. For those who observe it with all their hearts, it is certainly the solemnest. Those who are not doing so, think about it, or ignore it… but the silence of this night makes one thing very clear—God cannot be ignored, since people know what it is that they are ignoring.
What is so important about being forgiven that it brings an entire nation to a standstill for 1 full day every year? Is it really just about placating an angry God, and getting Him to say He’s not upset with us anymore?
Webster’s Online Learner’s Dictionary defines to forgiven as: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone); to stop feeling anger about (something) : to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)
I wonder, does the dictionary definition of “forgiven” miss the point?
I think the key here is to analyze the definitions.
Is it enough for God to just stop feeling anger towards us?
Is it enough for God to stop blaming us?
Is it enough for God to stop requiring payment from us? (As though we can pay Him for what we have done!)
Based on the above definition, one can forgive and continue through life without any relationship with the person who gave offense. This is sometimes that theoretical forgiveness might offer to an abuser. Forgive? Yes. Enter into a relationship with that abuser again? Never.
So perhaps, Webster’s definition is spot on—for the world.
But the Biblical definition of forgiveness implies something deeper, something greater, and something that can be either deeply comforting or awful and terrifying.
Biblical forgiveness implies relationship.
When God forgives, or call us to repent so He can forgive, it is with a greater purpose in mind—to restore us into a personal relationship with Him. This is what Yom Kippur was supposed to be about. A goat was sacrificed on the altar to deal with the sins of the people—a sacrifice similar to those made all year round. But Yom Kippur was different and required something else. The specific sins of the people were confessed over a scapegoat, which bore the moral punishment for the purification of the people, because sin had made the people’s souls as unclean as leprosy made one physically unclean.
Leviticus 16:30 ESV --“For on this day shall atonement [Reconciliation; restoration of friendly relations] be made for you to cleanse [literally, purify] you. You shall be clean [literally, purified] before the LORD from all your sins.”
Two goats, every year, covered the nation for one year—and throughout the following year there were ongoing sacrifices to keep on making atonement for their evil deeds. But purification from the moral stain of sin was only made on the Day of Atonement.
Hence, when The Day of Atonement was over, the hope of the people was for a forgiveness that cleansed them on the inside from their moral stain, and not only resulted in God truly forgiving their sin, but a restored relationship with Him. This was the hope of the people in the Tenach (Old Testament), and it is with this in mind that we can read the Psalms and consider David’s cry to God for forgiveness and restored relationship with God. They both went together!
Until the fall of the second temple; then something terrible happened—there was no more sacrifice for sin. The sages and rabbinical authorities had to come up with something to solve their problem, but that something has never had the authority of divine revelation and has no basis whatsoever on anything in the Tenach.
No more sacrifice for sin.
Does this sound familiar?
Do you recall Hebrews 10:11-14?
11 Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. 12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified.
Here in Israel, Jewish people greet each other with the phrase, “g’mar chatima tova”—loosely translated as, “May your name be written in the Book of Life.”
Believers in Jesus have the assurance that their names are written in the Book of Life.
For us, this greeting becomes a prayer, Oh, may your eyes be opened and may you be written in the book of life—forever.
Because this is what true forgiveness is, the price of our sin fully paid for, God’s anger set aside, and a full moral cleansing on the one who receives Him as Lord and Savior—resulting in a relationship with the Creator of the universe that begins now and will last through eternity.
This is the forgiveness that God gave you and I the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Is it any wonder that the evil one will do all he can to get us forget this truth? When we focus on our sin, our guilt, and our moral uncleanness, we are acting as though we are not forgiven and then we wonder why we feel so far away from God.
Introspection is good, but only to a point. The kind that keeps us on our toes is healthy, like a daily bath, or as Jesus did at the Last Supper, washing the feet of His disciples. We need to keep our feet clean and they will get dirty because we walk in the world.
This means confessing the sins we become aware of every day,
with the knowledge that we have been purified and forgiven!
Have you been struggling to feel forgiven lately? I know I have. Take heart. Go wash your feet, and rejoice, because --
- Jesus has paid the price for our sin and our purification.
- He is the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat of Yom Kippur
- and He is the last and final sacrifice.
Tonight, let’s rest in Him and the assurance of our relationship with God knowing we are forgiven.
To Devora's words, let all God's people respond -- AMEN and AMEN!
*Shared and reposted by permission -- https://www.hope-challenged.com/the-power-of-words-forgiven/
Light in the Night
Matthew 5:14-16 (KJV) ~14 Ye are the light of the world . . . 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
In our rural area, street lights can be found in some small communities, but not all. Individual families do have security lights planted somewhere in their farm or yard, but otherwise, when the sun dips behind the horizon the surrounding area plunges into darkness. To help remedy this lack of light, people attach electric candles to their windows letting them shine throughout the year. When we have a cloudy, dismal, or dark day, the window candlelight dims, but at night these little lights shine providing a welcoming glow for visitors and help to illuminate the darkness.
In the Bible passage quoted above, Jesus spoke about a candle giving light to a whole room as a metaphor for the good deeds we do to help others. Many around here take His words to heart and engage in a variety of good works like contributing to and manning Foodbanks. Likewise, after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Gulf Coast people from our area raced to the flood stricken areas to aid the victims while others donated money or goods. In this way, according to Jesus, they became “light” in the middle of a dark crisis.
When Christ lives in each of us, we gradually become a more like Him and that means we want to do the little, and big things, that shine the light of hope into a dismal, dim, and sometimes dark world.
When we do good things to help others, we too become a shining light for Christ.
Lord Jesus, You are the bright light shining hope into this dark world. Enable us to become more like You so that through our good deeds the light of Your Presence will shine into the darkness. For Your name’s sake, we pray, Amen.
Christ Jesus is the One who takes away
the sins of this dark world.