Thursday, April 25, 2013

Six Names of Jehovah in Philippians

Names in Scripture often speak of the character of the person. In the book of Philippians joy is emphasized over and over. In chapter one it is joy in spite of our circumstances, chapter two joy in spite of people. Chapter three the emphasis is joy in spite of things and in chapter four we see joy that defeats worry. Sixteen times joy is mentioned in this book. But if we're going to have joy in our Christian life we have to get to the source of that joy, the joy giver Himself. The more we learn of the character of God and are occupied with Him, the more joy we will experience in life. I found it interesting that here in this book of joy there are six names of God that are emphasized. They tie in with six of the many names of Jehovah in the Old Testament. 

First of all it is important simply to look at this name Jehovah. This is the name of God as the Covenant keeping God. It is His name as the God of relationship, the God who desires to have a relationship with each of us! It is first used back in Genesis when Adam and Eve are created. Before that God is addressed as God or Elohim. After the creation of man He is addressed as LORD God, or Jehovah Elohim. He desires to have a relationship with mankind, we read in Genesis 3 that He came in the cool of the day to enjoy fellowship with those He has a relationship with. This is Jehovah! 

Going back to the book of Philippians we see that He is still interested in having fellowship with us and He wants our lives to be full of JOY. The Sunday School song says that JOY is Jesus first, Yourself last and others in between, JOY. The Lord Jesus said , that He desire that His "joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full" (Jn. 15:11) and in 1 John 1:1-4 the apostle John wrote, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life, the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." Real joy come the more we know the One who gives it so lets look at how He presents Himself in the book of Philippians: 

In Philippians 1:28 we have indication of Jehovah Nissi which means the Lord our Banner. It comes from Exodus 17:15 where we see Moses giving the alter this name after the Lord gave them victory over te Amalekites. Here (1:27-30) Paul was telling the Philippians to stand fast in one spirit with one mind and strive together for the faith of the gospel. The single mind enables us to have joy in the midst of battle. In the very middle of attacks from the enemy God proves Himself as our Jehovah Nissi, as our banner. This first name in Philippians speaks to us of Divine Protection. 

The next name appears in chapter two. Look at Philippians 2:27, here we see the Lord as Jehovah-Ropheca which means the Lord that heals you. This comes from Exodus 15:26 where He turns the bitter water sweet. In His mercy that is exactly what He is able to do in our lives. He turns the bitter experiences of this life into teaching moment for us and out of those experiences grows us for His glory. This is what read read happened to Epaphroditus in 2:25-30. In this name we see Divine Pity or compassion and we're reminded of Lamentation 3:22-26. 

The third name of Jehovah in Philippians is in 3:9, here we have Jehovah-Tsidkenu which means the Lord our Righteousness. This takes us back to Jeremiah 23:6 which speaks of the Lord Jesus in a coming day. But for us, we know that all our righteousness's are as filthy rags and Paul counted all of his as rubbish. He realized that he had no righteousness in himself. Like Paul we are found in Christ, we are accepted by God not because of anything we can do, but because of everything has done! In this name we see Divine Position! 

In Philippians 4:5 we the fourth name of Jehovah, which is Jehovah-Shammah, it comes from Ezekiel 48:35 and means the Lord is there. Paul declares, "the Lord is a hand." While in the context of Philippians 3:20 Paul might have had the Lord's coming in mind as he does in Romans 13:11-14 or James does in James 5:8. But it would also remind us of the nearness of the Lord's presence at all times as Psalm 119:151. What an impact this would make on our lives if we could keep remember His Divine Presence at all times! 

The fifth name of Jehovah in Philippians is found 4:9 in the expression the God of peace. This would connect with Jehovah-Shaloam which means the Lord is Peace. This take us back to the days of Gideon in Judges 6:24. Gideon lived in a day where there was very little spiritual strength and the enemy was destroying all the resources of the children of Israel. But Lord appeared to him and encouraged Him to be at peace. Gideon name that place The Lord is Peace. In Philippians 4:7 Paul had already spoken of the peace of God, there the thought was "supply." Here it is different, it is rather the source of the supply, the God of Peace! This phrase is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly." It is one thing to enjoy the provision of the Lord , but what joy we can have when we are occupied wth the presence of the God of peace. This is Divine Peace. 

The last name of Jehovah is found in Philippians 4:19, here God is seen as Jehovah Jireh which means the Lord will provide. This takes us make to Genesis 22:6-14 when Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” 

And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behindhim was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” The is one of the most beautiful picture of what God did in giving his only begotten Son. His provide for our salvation through His death. Unlike Isaac there was no subsitute for Him because He was the subsitute. So how does this connect with Philippians 4:19? I think Romans 8:31-32 has the answer for us, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 

We can break this verse in Philippians 4:19. In it we see five keys to God meeting our needs: 
My God- He is the Source, but notice we need to be able to call him MY God. It reminds us that there has to be a Personal Relationship with this great Provider!

Shall Supply-He is always onto time with His supply. Martha thought the Lord was late and said if only you had been here my brother would be alive. But He wasn't late! He is always on time! He shall supply. This is a Positive Promise. 

All your Needs-If He knows the has the very hairs on your head numbered and knows every sparrow that falls to the ground and your more valuable than sparrows (Lk. 12:7), be assured He will provide for your every need! This is the Pointed Scope of His provision. 

According to His Riches in Glory-Notice it is "according to" not out of. Think of: the riches of His goodness (Rom. 2:4), the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7) and here the riches of His glory! This reminds us of the Plenty of the Provision. 

In Christ Jesus- The emphasis here is where He is. He is the Man in the glory seated at the right hand of the Father. This is a Place of Power and wealth. So there is Divine Provision in the name Jehovah-Jireh. 

All of these names ought to bring joy to the heart of every believer and encourage us to carry on here together until He returns for us! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Does God Appoint Government Authorities?

God has established three institutions: the home (Gen. 2:18-25), the government (Gen. 9:1-17), and the church (Acts 2). Paul was writing to believers at the very heart of the Roman Empire. As yet, the great persecutions had not yet started, but were on the way. Christianity was still considered a Jewish sect, and the Jewish Religion was approved by Rome. But the day would come when it would become very difficult if not impossible, for a Christian to be loyal to the emperor. He could not drop incense on the alter and affirm, "Caesar is god!"

It is God who established the governments of the world (Acts 17:24-28, Rom. 13:1). This does not mean that He is responsible for the sins of tyrants, but only that the authority to rule comes originally from God. No matter what form it takes, no human government at any time in history, at any place on the earth, among any people on the earth, at any level of society, has ever existed or will exist apart from the sovereign authority of God, because all "power belongs to God" (Ps. 62:11). The entire world, everything in heaven and earth, including Satan and his hosts. Are subject to their creator. God sovereignty created and absolutely controls the universe, with no exceptions or limitations. Also without any exception the power that any person, group, or society may possess is divinely delegated and circumscribed. How well or how poorly that power is used is another matter. The point is that this power has only one source, God! All the world's thrones are occupied by rulers under God's authority. This was the lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way . It is God, the Most High that rules in the kingdom of men and gives those kingdoms to whomever He wills, setting over those kingdoms even the lowest of men to accomplish His purpose (Daniel 4:17, 25 and 32).

God established human government because man is a sinner and must have some kind of authority over him. In every ordered society there must be authority and submission to that authority. Otherwise you have a state of anarchy, an you cannot survive indefinitely under anarchy. Even though we cannot always respect the man in office, we must respect the office, for government was ordained by God. Whether the rulers realize that they are God's representatives is not the point. How wisely and fairly they exercise the authority invested in them is not the point either. There is no power but what originates with God and is appointed by Him. Again this does not mean that God is ultimately responsible for the excesses of any ruling body. Those who rule unwisely will answer to Him and be subject to His governmental ways. We are to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" and are to be subject to those over us (Mark 12:17, 1 Peter 2:13-14). If there is ever a time where we have to choose to obey God rather than man then that is addressed in scripture as well ( Acts 4:19, 5:29). Examples of this would can be seen in Daniel 3 and 6.

And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Dan. 2:21). At the present time there are around 200 nations in the world (193 member states in the United Nations). Each has a leader. Whether that leader is a dictator or monarch for life, or is elected to a limited term of a few years, "kings" (leaders) of these 200 nations are constantly ascending and descending their "thrones." Without reason to think otherwise, the appointment of kings seems to be a purely human activity -- whether based on heredity or election.

But the Bible gives us a reason to think otherwise. The prophet Daniel, after receiving a vision about the transfer of power from one kingdom to another in Mesopotamia, said it is God who "removes kings and raises up kings." Some may do campaigning and voting, but in the end it is God who moves key players on and off the stage of world history. When the sacrilegious king of Babylon did not repent of his pride, God sent a message through handwriting on the wall that his days as king were over. That very night, the Medes and the Persians captured Babylon and killed the king (Daniel 5:5-31 ). We may not always agree with the changing of our leaders, but we can be confident that God has His reasons.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Power of the Tongue (Part 3)

My Tongue Displays who I Am (James 3:9-12). My words reveal my character. What comes out shows what is inside. This is what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 12:33-37, "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” What we learn from this is what ever is that the tongue is a Window to the Heart. The tongue is the messenger of the heart. 

A Person with a Harsh Tongue has an Angry Heart 
A Person with a Negative Tongue has a Fearful Heart 
A person with an Overactive Tongue has an Unsettled Heart 
A Person with a Boasting Tongue has a Prideful Heart 
A Person with a Filthy Tongue has a Impure Heart 
A Person with a Critical Tongue has a Bitter Heart 
A Person with a Sharp Tongue has a Hurting Tongue 
A Person with a Judgement Tongue has an insecure Heart 
A Person with an Encouraging Tongue has a Loving Heart 
A Person with a Gentle Tongue has a Happy Heart 
A Person with a Praising Tongue has a Loving Heart 
A Person who Speaks with a Truthful Tongue has an honest Heart 

There are times that we need heart surgery, we need to be like David and say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24). What is our tongues revealing about us today? Most of us don't want to be those who tongues do damage. It is interesting that the is only one letter difference between the word "word" and "sword". Our words can be words of encouragement or they can be used as a sword against others. 

We have learn together that our tongue directs us in life. Our tongues can destroys what you have 
and our tongues reveals who you are. Our tongues are very small, but they are very powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" May the Lord help us to use our tongues for His glory and for the good of those around us! 

The Power of the Tongue (Part 2)

My Tongue Can Destroy What I have (James 3:5-6). Just like fire can destroy all that we have careless words can destroy all that we have. When the tongue is out of control they can be one of the most destructive forces. How many marriages have been ruin because of hard critical words? How many kids have been scared because of hurtful sarcastic words? How many churches have been divided because of gossip and back biting? Ephesians 4:29 says "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Proverbs 12:18 says, "Reckless words are like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health." James is telling us that if we don't guard our tongues they can destroy what we have. 

What is the challenge for the tongue that is out of control ? What is the challenge for the tongue that is critical and negative, tearing down and not building up? The Bible tells us to bless and not curse! Cursing is not cussing! Curse means to speak against others, it is to speak in a way the we tear down another person. To make them look bad in the eyes of others. Cursing is to speak negative, critical, sarcastic words. Blessing is to speak well of someone, to make whole, to build them up, to plant seeds of encouragement, affirmation and hope in the lives of those around us. James 3:9-10 says, "With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." 

Reckless words can destroy what we have. Careless words can destroy those around us! Who can we bless today. Start with your spouse, your children. Proverbs 15:4 "A tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, But a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." What do we want to do bring life or crush others? How can this change our relationships in our family and in our assemblies. Proverbs 16:24 "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones." 1 Peter 3:8-9 says, " Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." The Lord wants us to bless one another, even those we don't get along. Since our words our like seeds we want to sow seeds that will bring a good harvest! But how do we do this? Psalm 141:3 is a big help and this needs to be our prayer, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 19:14 goes along with this, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." 

The Power of the Tongue (Part 1)

This subject of the Tongue is a key topic in the book of James. There is a reference to the tongue in every chapter; Chapter 1:19 he says, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." They say that men speak 20,000 words a day and women speak 50,000 words a day. Proverbs 10:19 says, "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise." Proverbs 21:23 reminds us, "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles." In James 1:26 James also says, "If anyone among thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless." In chapter 2:12 James says, "So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty." Here in Chapter 3 James takes a whole chapter to give us many instructions and warnings about the Power of the Tongue. 

Why is there so much emphasis on our tongue in the Bible? The tongue affects or causes wars, marriages, memories, friendships, families and assemblies. It has been said that "the sins of the tongue are the neglected sins of the church today." But let's look at what James has to tell us about our tongues.

The Tongue Directs You Where You Go (James 3:3-4) We shape our words and then our words shape us. Look at verse 3. A horse is a powerful animal and such a small bit controls and directs this massive animal. Just like a bit in the mouth of a horse controls where ever you want to go, so our tongue control us. He also says that the tongue is like a small rudder on a huge ship! My tongue directs where I go. It is the steering wheel of your life. What we say about ourselves and about others affects us and them! Words like: I can't, I'll never, You never do anything right! Words are the steering wheel of life. Can not speak words of failure and defeat and expect victory. What a man thinks in his heart so he is and out of the abundance of that heart a mouth speaks. Instead of saying, I can't and say, "I can do all things through Christ" Stop saying it's impossible and start saying "Nothing is impossible for God." Stop saying, I'm not educating, I don't know much and start saying the words of James, "If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God.." God is greater than any criticism you might be facing. He's greater then giants your facing! He's greater the any burdens your caring! He's greater then any mountains your climbing! The Bible tells us that if we have faith of a mustard seed we can say to the mountain to go into the sea! Maybe your mountain is a sickness, maybe it's financial, maybe it's family. We can grumble, murmur and complain or we can live by faith and it will affect what we say. The Bible says, "Now let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, let the sick say I am healed, let the bound say I am free." I 'm not talking about name it claim it. I'm talking about seeing yourself the way God sees you in Christ. It may not be physical healing or material wealth that we receive, but what we say affects how we live spiritually before God. We need to stop talking about how big our mountains are and talk more about how big our God is! David is a great example of this for us when he faced Goliath! He didn't focus on Goliath He focus on God! He declared that God was going to give him victory over that 9 foot giant. 

Our tongue is the steering wheel that will direct us to victory! We must boldly say, "I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me." "No weapon formed against me shall prosper and all those that rise up against me shall fall." If God be for us who can be against us." We need to stop worrying and complain and start declaring the greatness of our God! Our words can either be a miracle in our mouths or a sword that defeats us and is used against those around us. Our words direct our lives! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tongue is a Window to the Heart

A Person with a Harsh Tongue has an Angry Heart
A Person with a Negative Tongue has a Fearful Heart
A person with an Overactive Tongue has an Unsettled Heart
A Person with a Boasting Tongue has a Prideful Heart
A Person with a Filthy Tongue has a Impure Heart
A Person with a Critical Tongue has a Bitter Heart
A Person with a Sharp Tongue has a Hurting Tongue
A Person with a Judgement Tongue has an insecure Heart

A Person with an Encouraging Tongue has a Loving Heart
A Person with a Gentle Tongue has a Happy Heart
A Person with a Praising Tongue has a Loving Heart
A Person who Speaks with a Truthful Tongue has an honest Heart

For Out Of The Abundance of the Heart The Mouth Speaks
Matthew 12:34

What is in your Heart?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Words that Wound

The Bible has much to say about the words we use—and the way we use them. David new the seriousness of our Words when he prayed, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3). In Proverbs 13:3 his son Solomon said, "He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction." Later he says, "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue. Keeps his soul from troubles" (Prov. 21:23). If we want to preserve our lives, and I would include the relations ships in our lives, we need to guard our mouths. If we want our soul, which is the seat of our emotions to be calm and without trouble we need to guard our mouths. James dedicates most of chapter 3 to our speech! Colossians 4:6 instructs us to "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Our words ought to have the preserving power of salt, preserving our listeners, building them up! Our words are to be motivated and empowered by grace. But there is a type of speech that is damaging. It is when my intention is to make another person feel bad or “look bad,” and to make himself look better at the same time, this is clearly wrong. This is often done through sarcasm. But God’s Word says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves” (Phil.2:3). 

A good practice is ask yourself, “Do my words and actions help and encourage others? Do they build others up or do they tear them down?” Of course, we all occasionally make comments in a mildly sarcastic, without intending to demean others. Sometimes, such statements can lighten a tense moment or bring a smile to another person’s face, when he or she realizes the true intent behind it. By looking at creation, we can see that God definitely has a sense of humor. Therefore, it is not wrong to sometimes look at things from the “lighter side.” 

If grace is guiding my speech the Lord will give me tact and discernment when talking to others. Even when a particular comment could potentially lighten a serious moment, we must put ourselves “in the other person’s shoes,” and imagine how such a statement may be received. Although our intentions could be very innocent, and even good, “a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment” (Eccl 8:5), and knows when to say (or not to say) what. 

Proverbs 17:28 reminds us, “Even a fool, when he holds his peace [does not speak], is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” It is sometimes better to say nothing at all. 

We should examine our motives. Sometimes, we may be tempted to make a particular remark simply to show others how “clever” we are, without even considering how it will make the other person feel. 

Psalm 5:9 describes those whose “throat is an open sepulcher,” and Jesus Christ said, in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” 

The Lord Jesus Christ’s admonitions us in Luke 6:31, “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” We must always be considerate of others, treating them the way we would want to be treated. This includes the way we speak to them. You will be known as much by your words as by your actions, so choose your words wisely. Everyone will benefit in the long run! 

Many comedians and T.V. shows use sarcasm at the expense of others. They think they are entertaining the audience, but they are really setting an example for viewers to follow. Our children grow up believing this is socially acceptable. 

These sharp, cutting remarks are given with the intent to wound or embarrass. Sarcasm is hurtful to others. At the very least, it’s got tremendous potential to be misunderstood since there is always a ‘hidden message’ involved. I urge you to consider today whether it’s worth risking alienating another person in the interest of getting a laugh. 

Someone has said, “Show me a sarcastic person,” he said, “and I will show you a wounded person. And I can tell you where their wound is too.” 

You’ve probably heard it said, “I can’t always tell when you’re being real and when you’re being sarcastic.” 

Sarcasm is the use of irony (saying one thing while meaning another) or other rhetorical devices in a biting, hurtful way. There is a difference between sarcasm and satire, although they are related. Satire is the use of irony or ridicule to expose foolishness, but without the “bite” of sarcasm. Satire is gentler; sarcasm is more derisive and sneering.

The question is, is satire or sarcasm ever appropriate? This would be easy enough to resolve if not for the fact that God uses satire in several places in Scripture. For example, Paul's words in this passage: You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring (refuse) of all things until now (1 Cor. 4:8-13). 

Is Paul's language ironic here? Absolutely. Was it hurtful? Intentionally so. Yet, because his intent was to lead the stubborn Corinthians to the truth, it can still be considered loving. In fact, Paul followed this passage with, "I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children."

The Corinthians would not have considered Paul’s language intentionally cruel. Instead, they would have recognized Paul was using rhetoric to make a point. The Corinthians felt superior to Paul, casting judgment on him. So he calls them spiritual kings and says, ironically, that he is "the filth of the world" and "the (refuse) of all things.”

The passage sounds sarcastic. It says one thing while meaning another in a way that makes the hearers look foolish. But Paul’s method was not meant as a personal insult. The goal was to grab the readers’ attention and correct a false way of thinking. In other words, Paul’s words are satirical, but not sarcastic. They are spoken in love to “beloved children.”

Other passages in the Bible that use satire include Isaiah’s ridicule of idol-makers (Is. 40:19-20), God’s taunting of Egypt (Jer. 46:11), and Elijah’s gibes directed at the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:27). Jesus Himself used satire in the form of hyperbole when He told His hearers to “take the plank out of your own eye” (Mtt. 7:5).

Therefore, we can say that irony is fine; irony is a figure of speech that can bring attention and clarity to a situation. Sometimes, irony can be painful because the truth it reveals is convicting. Satire, which uses irony to gently deride and prompt needful change, can be appropriate on occasion; we have examples of satire in Scripture.

Sarcasm, on the other hand, is not appropriate. Sarcasm has at its core the intent to insult or to be hurtful with no corresponding love or wish for well-being. Instead, the goal of sarcasm is to belittle the victim and elevate the speaker. Jesus warned against such harsh, unloving words in Matthew 5:22. Our words should be helpful and edifying, even if they are uncomfortable to the hearer.

We should speak the truth with loving intent (Eph. 4:15), avoiding “foolish talk or coarse joking” (Eph. 5:4). We should speak in such a way that the hearer will understand our motivation. And we should never be malicious or cruel. Carefully worded irony may be fitting, but malicious sarcasm is not. 

How many times have we heard someone say, "I didn’t mean it, I was only joking," or "JK (meaning Just Kidding)? But what does the bible say about that? In Proverbs 26:18-19 we read, "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, Is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “I was only joking!” We’ve experienced the truth of those words all too many times. 

Author Rodney A Wilson talks about sarcastic humor that damages in a Home Life Magazine article titled “Cut the Sarcasm.” In it he writes: “My dictionary is ancient, but its definition of sarcasm is classic. ‘Sarcasm’ comes from a word meaning ‘to tear flesh, like dogs.’ It means to be brutal, have no mercy, be vicious, go for the jugular, tear flesh the way a dog would.” That doesn’t sound to us like something we should be doing to each other followers o the God who is Love! To be true imitators of the God of Love is to show honor and respect for the feelings others, not revealing or doing anything that will embarrass or “cut others down.” 

In the magazine article previously referred to, Mr Wilson also went on to write, “While humor may appear to soften the blow, the unseen emotional damage of sarcasm can be devastating. I’m convinced many marriages die of a thousand emotional cuts instead of one deadly blow. A steady diet of sarcasm poisons a marriage — so it needs to be eliminated. No good comes from using it. 

In another article titled “Sarcasm: The Verbal Enemy at the Gate”, featured on the LifeWayweb site, authors Dale and Jena Forehand also speak about sarcasm and humor that hurts. They write: 
“Sarcasm is one of the most harmful verbal tactics used against a spouse. It destroys communication and unity in marriage. One of the oldest military strategies is to divide and conquer. Our enemy, Satan, still uses that tactic to destroy families. Satan first seeks to separate you and your spouse emotionally. Then he moves in and seeks to separate you and your spouse physically. 
When this occurs, he is in perfect position to conquer your marriage. In the midst of conflict, the enemy begins outside the gate of your marriage, cunningly tempting you and your spouse to wage war through verbal attacks. And sarcasm often is Satan’s weapon of choice.” The authors then give an acrostic “to help you to understand why sarcastic remarks are so damaging to marriages.” 

S = it Stings
A = it Aggravates
R = it Retaliates
C = it is Controlling
A = it Alienates
S = it Shames
M = it Manipulates. 

They go on to say, “If we know the enemy uses sarcasm to tear down marriages, then what can we do about it? We need to lay down the weapons of our enemy and pick up the weapon God has given us through His Word. Colossians 3:12-17 provides the perfect answer: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hope for the Hurting

So many people today have lost HOPE. Where is hope found? Where can we turn to find it? Hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Hope (1 Tim. 1:1), without Him we had no hope (Eph. 2:12), no help (Rom. 5:6), and no home (Jn. 14:1-6). But with and through Him we have a hope that does not disappoint and we have power within us to enjoy the hope we have (Rom. 5:5). 

In a time of darkness and despair we are connected to the God of Hope who is able to fill us with all joy and peace that we might abound in hope (Rom. 15:13)! He wants to remind each of us "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11). Psalm 62:5-8 reminds us "My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." 

In those difficult times we need to be encouraged to "lift up my eyes to the hills, From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber" (Ps. 121:1-3). When we do that the question we ask ourselves is "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him,The help of my countenance and my God" (Ps 42:11). 

If you are hurting today, Know that there is hope for the hurting and help for the helpless in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn it all over to him today!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Focus on God's Promises

We all have good days and bad days in life. There are time when we are on top of the mountain and other times we in a deep valley. But what do we do when we are down in one of those valleys? When we're discouraged or depressed. I believe that God's Word can be of great help in these dark storms of life. God gave us many precious promises that we can rely on when we need hope and comfort. These promise help us to learn what God is like and remind us that God is for us and with us! He is willing and able to lift us up though His Word. 

When we face difficulties, when fear or doubts seem to overwhelm us we can turn to Him in prayer and look into His Word and realize that He desires to be our source of strength! Here are a few steps. 

1. Choose to trust that God is bigger, smarter and more loving than you can imagine. God loves us, and He always keeps His promises. Read, underline and memorize His promises to you. Begin with 

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. Proverbs 3:5-6 

2. Resist the temptation to worship the problem- it's a common form of idolatry! It's easy to get so focused on a problem so that we eat drink sleep and breath it, instead of praying about it and focusing on God's ability to handle it. 

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

3. Regain your joy and peace by focusing on the Lord! Be occupied with who He is, what He's done and what He is going to do for you! Focus on His power, provision and presence, not your problem. 

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. 
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121:1-3 

4. Speak to God Often! Take your problem to the Lord and leave it with Him. Hand it to Him and let it go! Don't take it back, He can't fix it to you surrender it to Him! 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7