Taming the Tongue – Lesson 7

Taming the TongueToday, as I write this week’s thoughts on Taming the Tongue, an assorted group of scientist have successfully landed a spacecraft on a comet. This historic achievement that cost well over 1 billion dollars is part of an ongoing attempt to discover the origins of life. Some hope that contained within the elements gathered by this machine, will be clues to man’s origin. It has to be more than God speaking.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 33:8-9

To those that believe, the words of Jesus are more than just vibrations of air that produce sound. His words contain unborrowed life and limitless power.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3

Even those who opposed Jesus as He walked this earth as a man were in awe of the words He spoke. Relentlessly His enemies thought to entrap Him by His words. Just a slip of the tongue or one “inartful expression” was all they needed.

On one occasion the Pharisees and chief priests sent some officers to do their dirty work by seizing and placing Jesus into custody. The words of Jesus were making such a profound impact on the people that these jealous religious rulers would rather eliminate Him than see their influence lessened.

The officers, witnessing firsthand the power of His words along with sensing the mood of the people, returned empty handed to their leaders.

Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. John 7:45-46

Words are powerful. Words have started wars and words have brought peace. Words have inspired generations with hope for a better life. Words of love and compassion have lifted the downtrodden and disenfranchised. Words are powerful.

But just as a power for good, words are also a power for evil. Inappropriate words have set in motion events that have proved the ruin for many. Not just vile words, but words of dishonesty, faultfinding and criticism have brought grief and sadness to untold numbers.

James strikes with force at this problem. He presents the absurdity of an evil tongue in the mouth of a believer.

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. James 3:9-10

Our words are in indication of the change or lack of change that we have experienced as Disciples of Christ. It’s by our words that we reveal what is going on inside of our hearts.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

The taming of the tongue by changing the thoughts is the fruit of the new heart promised to all who will accept it and there is a recipe given to man to aid in this endeavor.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does the “controlling your tongue” mean to you?
  • Is a simple solution to controlling the tongue simply talking less? Why yes or no?
  • As long as I am telling what I think is the truth about others, I should be free to say it (or write it) even if it is something negative? Why yes or no?
  • Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. What does “idle word” mean to you?
  • What, if anything, is the difference between the speech of a Christian and one who is not?
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The closer my relationship with Christ becomes, the purer my speech will become. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the wise words written in Colossians. It is a sign of the mature believer.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

For online lessons please visit http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/14d/less07.html

 

Love and the Law – Lesson 5

Finding interesting thingsIt is called Bigfoot – a huge ape-like creature that some believe inhabits forests in North America. For many years there have been supposed sightings. People claim to have personally seen this mysterious creature and found evidence, such as large unusual footprints. Even though most of the supposed sightings and gathered evidence have been proven to be hoaxes, people still believe. As you read this, someone is likely hunting for Bigfoot.

I thought about the search for Bigfoot when I read this familiar line from this week’s Sabbath school lesson on Love and the Law“we are to love even those we don’t like.” I’ve heard this expression many times over the years but like the search for Bigfoot, I’ve yet to find the biblical evidence of that position.

Enduring Temptation – Lesson 3

squirrel (300x249)For the last two weeks I have been engaged in a war of wills with a family of squirrels. Those cute little creatures always scampering about my yard had now become my opponents. Unbeknownst to me these creatures had taken up residence in my house.

My wife had suggested some time ago that there could be critters in the attic. I assured her that was not the case as I could see no evidence of that. But over time I too became convinced that something was scratching in the walls of our house.

I engaged a wildlife trapping company who came out for a week in an attempt to capture and relocate these uninvited guests.  That endeavor failed and I was back where I started – squirrels in my house.

The Perfecting of Our Faith – Lesson 2

pvtv_logoNow Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself. Genesis 18:11-12

Sarah had just overheard Abraham being told again that his wife would bear him a son. It was humanly impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have a child. Although firm believers in God, this promise was more than they could take in.

Their reaction to the promise of God was quite similar to ours when we hear the word “perfection.” Our disbelief in the idea that man, even through divine power, can live a life above sin, being spiritually mature and totally submitted to God, makes us laugh within.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16

James, the Lord’s Brother – Lesson 1

pvtv_logoI have thought a lot about James over the last week. The discussions about his identity have been interesting. The evidence seems to support the view that James was actually a brother of Jesus, although no one can say with 100% certainty that he was.

As a leader of the early church, James distinguished himself as a man of wisdom. There’s ample proof that he was highly thought of.

Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” Acts 12:16-17

What I find most interesting about James is how he described himself. He makes no mention of his bloodline, if he indeed was a half-sibling of Christ.

Nor did James describe himself by any accomplishments made in life. No mention does he make of his education or his business acumen. No mention is made of positions of importance that he may have held previous to the writing of his letter. He presents no human credentials to give authority and legitimacy to his words. James identifies himself as simply a slave.

That’s When

Dying Thief

Death and Resurrection – Lesson 12

TombThen said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:14

Lazarus’s sisters were crushed. The brother who they loved so much had been taken away from them by the cruel enemy called Death. They had sent word to Jesus that He was sick, knowing that if Jesus could get to Lazarus quickly, he would not die. But hours turned into days and Lazarus died.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. John 11:5

After Jesus finally arrived back to Judaea, Martha poured out her heart to Him. Her confidence in His power was unshaken but in her grief she could not grasp the deep purposes of God.

The Sabbath – Lesson 11

SunsetAnd He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27

We need the Sabbath. I am not primarily talking about a period of down time from our busy lives, although the Sabbath affords that. Our need of the Sabbath is deeper than mere rest. We need the Sabbath for our salvation.

The Sabbath reminds us that there is a God who created all things. Those sacred hours provide the time to turn our attention to His mighty creation. Our world, though marred by sin, still serves as a lesson book about the God we serve.

We see the beauty of His creation from the lowly flower full of intricate details to the lofty mountains that tower to the heavens. In each we see the hand of God. We read in nature’s pages the care and concern He has for us and we find assurance and contentment as we reaffirm each week who it is that controls our lives.

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30

The Law of God – Lesson 10

pvtv_logoIf ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

God, in sending His Son, demonstrated His love for man. This demonstration of love is designed to pierce the hard-heartedness of man and open up his heart to reciprocate that love. Without love as a motivating factor, the keeping of the law, weighed in the scales of eternity, is just sounding brass and tinkling symbols. Our greatest need is to know and understand that love that was revealed through Jesus the Christ.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3

As He walked this earth as a man we find that Jesus never used force or coercion for the building up of the kingdom of God. The invitation was to whosoever would and there were many who responded to that call of love.

No Inmates Beyond This Point!

PrisonNO INMATES BEYOND THIS POINT!

This was the sign that warned us each time we departed the prison grounds at the women’s federal prison in Texas. As we crossed the boldly red striped line each day we understood what a privilege we have to be free and able to leave the grounds knowing that those who watched us walk away could only dream of the day they could do the same. 

For three days Shelley and I have been conducting a series of workshops to the inmates on job readiness skills once they would transition back into society. For some, the departure date would be decades from now but they were none-the-less engaged as if their freedom was in the near future.

The group of women we served covered a broad spectrum. We had young women all the way to grandmothers that were in the years when most are planning retirement. We had multiple races and ethnicities.

During our time together we learned a little of each woman’s history. Some had been millionaires (not wanna bees), others had never really held a job. We had skilled artisans of a wide variety and even someone who had broken a racehorse in her previous life in the Midwest.

We were struck with how normal many of the ladies were yet through bad decisions they chose to make, they were now convicted felons. We shared useful job readiness information on how to move forward in life once they would be released. But even more important than that we were also able to share example after example of how Jesus had a habit of meeting people at their worst and changing their lives in ways they could have never dreamed.

Meeting people at their worst…, I might have to write something else along those lines.