From The Pastor’s Desk

The Power of Our Tongue

I’d like to share this little story with you and I hope that you find this as thought provoking as I did. There is a very powerful message here! A group of hares were traversing across a vast desert when two of them tumbled into a very deep ravine. All of the other hares gathered around the rim of the ravine to behold their sudden and very unexpected predicament. After beholding the enormous depth of the ravine, they told their two comrades that they were as good as dead. The two trapped hares purposely ignored the discouraging comments and earnestly tried leaping out of the deep ravine with all of their might. The others kept shouting at them to stop, that they were doomed, that there was no possibility of escaping certain death! Finally, one of the hares took heed to what they were saying and sadly gave up, laid down and died. The other hare persisted to leap with all his might. Once again, the crowd yelled at him to just stop the inevitable and die, that he would never be able to escape. Yet with each shout that came, the harder and harder he tried, and he finally succeeded in making it out. Triumphantly standing at the top and free at last, the other hares asked him, "Did you not hear us, did you not hear us say that there was no hope, no chance of escape?" The victorious hare explained to them that he was deaf and thought they were encouraging him the entire time. As I read that, there were a couple of things that spoke to me. First, our tongue is a powerful instrument! That is so vividly pictured in the book of James chapter 3 where he compares the power of the tongue to bridles for horses and the rudders of ships. In verse 5 we read, Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! Our tongue is a powerful instrument being used for good or evil, for encouragement or discouragement. Second, our tongue is a revelation of our heart; how is it being used? Is it for praise to God and the encouragement for our fellowman or, cursing and criticizing?

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? - James 3:9-11 

So again, how are we using our tongue? Is it for enlightenment and encouragement or the drowning of discouragement? Does it spread glorious hope and cheer or deep despair and defeat? Do we use our tongue for proclaiming God’s praises and precious promises or the drumming of doubts and disappointments?

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

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When God Refuses To Hear

Psalms 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me
Have you ever heard someone say, “He has selective hearing” or “He hears just what he wants to hear”? Has there ever been a time when you were so involved in reading a book, playing a game or some other intense activity that you didn’t hear someone call your name? There have been times I must confess that I sadly have fallen into that category; I’ve been reading a book or listening to something and totally miss hearing when my wife is talking to me. You know, us men are so often accused of having nothing between the ears, “it just goes in one ear and out the other.” But seriously though, thank God our Heavenly Father is not that way! God never turns a deaf ear to His children, ignoring their pleas for help or words of thanksgiving. Repeatedly throughout the Psalms we read passages such as: Psalms 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. …and…
Psalms 34:6
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Thank God for His love, mercy and grace! And yet my friend, there is a verse that informs us that there are times when God will not hear you and that is: Psalms 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
What a sobering reminder, that if there is still the love of wickedness in your heart; if you have any immorality which you are not willing to forsake; if there is any sin, no matter how insignificant it may appear, which you are not willing to forsake, God will not hear your prayers. The only prayer God hears of the sinner is the prayer of repentance. Friends, there are many other passages we could have looked at to solidify this truth, such as; Proverbs 15:8
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Proverbs 28:9
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
As Adam Clark so clearly states it, “When they regard iniquity in their heart when they wish to be saved, and yet abide in their sins-when they will not separate themselves from the workers and works of iniquity. In all these cases, God heareth not sinners.” Barnes' writes “All prayer, to be acceptable to God, MUST be connected with a purpose to forsake all sin.” Heavenly Father, I pray with the Psalmist, search me, know me, try me and see if there be any wicked way in me…lead me O God, in the way of righteousness, may I ever be true to you. Father, my desire is to be pleasing and obedient to you, that I may hear Your words when this life is over, “Welcome home thou good and faithful servant!” Amen.
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Be A Difference Maker for God

John 6:9
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
  I want to share a story with you that I love to read when the enemy says that there is no reason to keep going, that nobody is listening, that you should just quit. An elderly gentleman had the habit of walking along the beach before he began his work day. One day, as he was walking, he saw a young man bending down repeatedly and gently tossing something into the ocean. As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! May I ask what are you doing?” The young man replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.” The elderly gentleman then asked, “Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?” “Well,” said the young man, “the sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they will die.” Upon hearing that the elderly observer replied, “But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly make a difference!” The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea and said, “It made a difference for that one!” (Author unknown) Have you ever stopped to reflect on how God used ordinary people in such extraordinary ways throughout history? How He took those who many would have never given a second glance and brought about great and mighty miracles through them? Do you ever recall the stories about the ordinary people God used to accomplish extraordinary things for His glory? Like a little Hebrew boy named Joseph, favored by his father, hated by his brothers and yet he saved a nation! Or how about Moses? A stuttering man who led a nation to the promise land! A shepherd boy from the hills of Judea who slayed a giant with a stone and a sling. How about Gideon? Gideon didn’t think he was worthy or capable… Judges 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house… and yet God used him to deliver His people with only three hundred men! And then there is the lad with five loaves and two SMALL fishes… “what are they among so many?” They are the ordinary being used by God for the extraordinary!
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Interruptions Or Opportunities?

I don’t know about you but every time I get ready to relax it seems like something happens. I have often wondered if there was some kind of “secret device” that immediately informs people, “Hey, he’s relaxing, now is the time!” Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining, that’s life and we live in a very busy world. Before our family entered the ministry our lives were extremely busy, having our own business never left us with much “personal” down time. If it wasn’t the clients, then it was the case workers and when they were all taken care of, it was one of the children. That’s just life, there is always a need or something happening. But I’d like to remind us that we are not alone, Christ’s ministry was a ministry of “interruptions”. In Mark 1:21-26 we see Jesus entering the synagogue teaching with such authority that it brought astonishment but it is immediately followed by the attack of the enemy via the man with the unclean spirit. Yet, that “interruption” lead to Mark 1:33 And all the city was gathered together at the door…followed by the very next verse of healing and delivering many. If we move on to Mark 2:1-5 where Christ comes to Capernaum and when it is told that He was there, we see many gathering to hear Him preach. As He is preaching, He is “interrupted” by the roof being removed, a man being lowered down to Him for healing and Christ seeing their faith forgives his sins and heals his body. This act brought amazement to all and glory to God. I also think of the account of Jairus pleading for Jesus to come and heal his daughter and the “interruption” of the woman with the issue of blood along the way (Mark 5). So many “interruptions” and yet handled with such grace and compassion! What can we learn from these events in Christ’s life? How can we be effective in our ministry and yet maintain our own needed physical, emotional and spiritual health?

1. Show Compassion

Remember that people are hurting and longing for love, kindness and attention. Looking to Christ as our perfect example will instruct us as to the purpose of our mission and remind us that interruptions are more often than not, opportunities.

Mark 6:34

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Mark 6:37

He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.
They need to know that someone cares, so return the compassion that was shown to us by Christ.

2. Be Impartial

Christ didn’t show respect of person. The majority who interrupted him were not prominent individuals. James is very straight forward about showing partiality…

James 2:1

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

James 2:8-9

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
If Christ treated all people as important, shouldn’t we?

3. Remain Focused

Christ never forgot His ultimate mission for coming nor did he get sidetracked when things happened. Earlier we referred to Jairus and his daughter, how Jesus was going with him and yet stops to help the woman with her issue of blood; however, Christ didn’t forget about Jairus or his daughter. Even after news comes that she has died, Jesus’s immediate response is… Be not afraid, only believe. (Mark 5:36) The lesson for us is, commit to God the questions we may have in life and keep our eye on the objective and finish the task that has been laid before us.

4. Keep Renewed

There will be times when it is necessary for us to get away from it all if we are going to maintain our needed physical, emotional and spiritual health. Before Jesus began His ministry, Mark relates to us that after Christ’s baptism, immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). Before we begin, before we face the enemy, before we dive into the commission, we must be bathed in the Holy Ghost, we must have that time of spiritual renewal. All throughout the Bible we have examples of God’s people needing that physical, emotional and spiritual renewing. Elijah for one, needed God’s touch even after that glorious victory on Mt. Carmel. Jesus on multiple occasions sent the multitudes/disciples away so that he could get alone and pray (Mark 6:46). Friend, if Jesus needed that alone time how much more do we? We need to minister but we need to be refreshed too. The title of this article is “Interruptions Or Opportunities”, my meager attempt is to remind us that often what we may see as an “interruption” may actually be an opportunity to minister to someone in need. As I sit here writing, there is one phrase that keeps coming to me, John 4:4 And he must needs go through Samaria. Brethren, there will be times when we must needs go…it may seem like an inconvenience or interruption but God is always in charge of weaving the tapestry. The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about John 4:4; “In Jesus' day the Jews, because of their hatred for the Samaritans, normally took the eastern route in order to avoid Samaria. But Jesus chose the route through Samaria in order to reach the despised people of that region.” Do we realize that interruptions and inconveniences could actually be opportunities and appointments designed by God to minister to some desperate soul in need? My prayer, Lord, help me to remember that “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” That in the midst of what I may call an interruption, remind me O God “that all things work together for good to them that love” you, “to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Father, help me to trust you with each day, each moment and to know that you not only have a plan for my life, but you are working through me in the lives of others.
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