Idle words profit nothing

Idle words are those that are useless, malicious, have wicked intent, or words that accomplish nothing. Matthew Henry highlights the fact that the heart is the fountain and words are the streams flowing from the fountain. "A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams."

Jesus told the Pharisees that men will have to answer for every idle word that passes their lips in Matthew 12:36. In context these religious leaders had just accused the Son of God of doing the devil's work. Jesus warned them that everything will be forgiven mankind except the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit. I have often heard young people express fear of mentioning the Holy Spirit for fear of committing this unforgivable sin. Personally, I do not believe that a person who is a true believer could ever commit this sin because our hearts are indwelled by the Holy Spirit; and according to Paul's second letter to Timothy (2:13) He cannot deny Himself.

A true believer deeply desires to please God, and we have been given a new heart with the potential to be filled with God's desires. The journey is all about being sanctified and becoming more like our Father. However, Jesus' admonition to the Pharisees is perplexing. If we are forgiven all our sins when we accept Jesus as our Savior, then how can we stand before Him on the Day of Judgment and account for all our idle words? It seems to be a conundrum.

There are two ways of understanding Numbers 22:20-22. Firstly, God says, “If these men call you in the morning, then go with them and do as I say do and only that.” Secondly, God says, “I give you up to your own lusts, Balaam. Since they came go ahead and go with them.” In both cases, God's anger is kindled and burns brightly against Balaam for several reasons.

In the first reading, Balaam disobeys God because he does not wait for the princes to call him which is direct disobedience to God's command. In the second, God's directive is similar to what Paul talks about in Romans chapter one. God gives up the corrupted, wicked to their own lusts and it brings down His wrath upon them for He has provided everything for them to believe in Him, yet they turn from Him to pursue fleeting pleasures trading their souls for temporary satisfaction. In either case, God knew what would happen and how Balaam would bitterly betray Israel to Balak.

 Regardless of how you interpret these verses, it was a sin of Balaam to go with the princes of Moab because God had originally commanded him not to go to Moab. As Matthew Henry says, “As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.” Nevertheless, Balaam had spoken to these princes, “If Balak would give to me his house full of gold and silver, I could not go beyond the mouth of Jehovah my God, to do anything, small or great” (v. 18).  Does Balaam think he can change the mind of God? He calls Him “my God” as if he had a personal relationship with Him. How deeply wicked it is to know God's will (not to go to Moab, and not to curse Israel), yet to turn around for the sake of a few coins and ask permission to go when he was commanded not to go.

Balaam said he would not go against what God said do, yet he did just that. This is what Jesus was talking about when He warned what would happen to those who spoke idle words. How often do we say things that we don't mean, and give promises we don't fulfill? These words Balaam spoke came from a vain and worthless heart. Jesus said the bad tree bears bad fruit, and the good tree bears good fruit. Also, what comes out of the mouth is what is buried in the heart, and therefore leads to good deeds or wicked deeds. Balaam's word should indicate a penchant to obedience but his actions indicate the opposite.

If Balaam had meant what he said, the more honorable princes sent by Balak would have been sent back before they had ever dismounted or spoken to him about all manner of honor to be given him. Idle words mean nothing, do not profit anyone or edify, and are an abomination in God's sight. If we do not have our Advocate Jesus by our side when called to account for our idle words (for we have all spoken them), then we are ruined.

Feelings...Feelings: Where's the assurance?

Feelings... nothing more than feelings... Albert Morris was so caught
Kimochi means "feeling" in Japanese.
up in trying to forget his feelings for some girl. You know, you can't depend on feelings. One day you are so in love, and the next day he's done something that is so outrageous you are infuriated. Children scream, "I hate you!" when they've been thwarted. It doesn't mean the real and abiding love is gone, it just means that feelings have overshadowed that deep emotion of love.

There is a time to rely on feelings and a time to ignore them. Someone said, I know there are times when I'm not saved because I don't feel saved. Pooh! John wrote the believers so that we could be assured of our salvation. There are several things that give us that assurance. 1 John 4 beginning at verse 13.

1. We don't just talk the walk but we walk the walk. We show love and compassion to our brothers and sisters. We act like a family.

2. We put action to compassion. We help those we see in need. Like James says we don't just pat them on the shoulder and say, "I'll be praying for you. Be warm." We give them a coat to stay warm.

3. We don't condemn ourselves. Here's the feeling part. God is greater than we are, He knows everything in our hearts. How amazing that we are forgiven before we sin. If we confess our sin then God is faithful to forgive us, putting our sin as far away from us as the east is from the west. Astounding!

4. We then have a clear conscience. Not only that, but we are blameless. Imagine it! Blameless in the eyes of God.

5. God answers our prayers. Sometimes He answers immediately. Sometimes He says, 'Wait'. Sometimes He says, "You are not ready for that, yet." The condition is praying for things that are within Jesus' character and within God's principles. Like praying for someone to get saved... or for the wisdom of our leaders. We must always rememer that God's ways and thoughts are much higher than our own. He sees all the consequences of every action and if just one thing is out of kilter, that could hinder someone's walk with Jesus. It would be better for that person to have a millstone around his neck and be tossed into the sea. That's how strongly Jesus felt about a stumbling block.

6. We obey God. We keep His commandments and we don't "fudge a little" here and there. It is part of our having a clear conscience. Walking with God doesn't allow for fudging.

7. We want to please God. It isn't a matter of "trying to be good." It isn't a matter of being fearful of what might happen. It is a definite, deep and deliberate desire to please our Heavenly Father. That stems from loving Him.

8. We believe Him. We not only believe in Jesus, but we believe what He says in His word. How can we trust unless we believe? Believing we believe.

9. Abiding we abide in Him. All that happens because He first abided in us. The Holy Spirit ignited our souls into life, Spiritual life and the combination of the Holy Spirit with our soul made a brand new creature. That is so exciting. We are not at all "just human". We are something quite different, and precious in God's sight. Sacrifice. That word that means the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. God gave His Son. Jesus willingly laid down His life in sacrifice for us. God says it and that is enough. Believing or not believing does not make it so or not so. God did it. That settles it. This is how we know beyond any doubt, beyond any question that we are saved. These things are outward indications of the inward change that the Holy Spirit caused to happen. Amen and Glory be to God.

The trouble with Pharisees...

…is that they don’t do anything with God’s rebuke. Matthew 23
wasn’t the first time they didn’t pay attention to God’s rebuke. If it wasn’t their making motions of worship while having greed and murder in their heart it was the painful distress of oppression they brought down on widows and orphans. Isaiah told them. Jeremiah told them. Habakkuk told them. Micah told them. But, Malachi, oh Malachi said it with the sting of a red zinger.

 Mal 2:1  And now, O priests, this command is to you. 2  If you will not hear, and if you will not set it on your heart to give glory to My name, says Jehovah of Hosts, then I will send the curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. And indeed, I have cursed it, because you are not setting it on your heart. 3  Behold, I am rebuking your seed, and I will spread dung on your faces, the dung of your solemn feasts; and one will lift you up to it.

I have so often wondered why the studiers and keepers of the law were so blind to the Grace that abounded in the Old Prophets. There was always a hope, always a bright shining light: “Return to Me, and I will return to you, says Jehovah of Hosts.”

That just wasn’t good enough because Jesus came in an unexpected way. Oh my! Jesus focused on unexpected people. Oh my! This couldn’t possibly be the Messiah, because He didn’t come in purple robes with a built in crown. He was “common” looking.

This was the crux of the problem with the Pharisees. They focused on the outside. They wore huge phylacteries and broaden the hems of their robes, and had tzit tzit  (the tassel with blue cords that were wrapped 613 times for each command of God in the OT) that trailed behind them when they walked. They were so full of religious prejudice they burst with it, sloshing it all over those they had been entrusted to teach God’s Word and God’s ways. Oh, they mouthed platitudes correctly, but their actions were so far off the mark they didn’t even hit the white space of the target. God says it time and again, actions speak louder than words and they have a much more powerful punch. The Pharisees clung to a double standard, which is what Jesus warned against. “Listen to, and do what they say, but do not do what they do,” and He called them whitewashed graves: clean on the outside, but full of filth on the inside.

They are not good life examples. They had egos that bloated them to a ripe fatness that raised a stink and drew flies. They clamor for public attention. They had a destructive witness and were a Spiritual hindrance. Pharisees conform to the external only, and consistently refuse God’s rebuke. This is what locks a Pharisee into being a Pharisee as we think of them today. Because of all this, they missed God when He came.

Now that we’re on the same page, what about today? Are there lots of Pharisaical people populating the pews of our churches? What about our government? As Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Just because we are Americans living in the freedom bought by our forefathers’ blood and guts, we do not have the right to turn our backs on God’s will for our country. He laid out exactly how we are to go in our daily work and play, and how to know His will. He is quite explicit:

Ezekiel 33:25  So say to them, So says the Lord Jehovah: You eat on the blood, and you lift your eyes up to your idols, and you shed blood. And shall you possess the land? 26  You stand on your sword, and you each do abominations, defiling his neighbor's wife. And shall you possess the land? 27  Say this to them, So says the Lord Jehovah: As I live, do not those in the ruins fall by the sword? And I will give the one who is on the face of the field to the beasts to be eaten, and those in the forts and in the caves shall die by the plague. 28  For I shall make the land desolate and a waste, and the pride of her strength shall cease. And the heights of Israel shall be a waste that none will go through. 29  And they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have made the land desolate and a waste because of all their abominations which they have done.

This is not a prophecy, but a done deal. You could read “Israel” as “United States” or “England” or “Germany” or “France”. Our country and our world is in this pickle barrel today because we sit silently by while the squeaky wheel gets all the grease. You know which wheels I’m talking about, too. The homosexuals and the abortionists, and the evangelists who sing God’s word like angels on Sunday and live like the devil the rest of the week are all on the same playing field. Who was it that said that our God’s standards are so high that He considers lust as well as anger against a brother, equal to murder? How much more an abomination is it that we keep silent and watch it happen? Oww! That stomped on my toe… 

So here it comes… you know what’s coming… here’s the million dollar question. What will Jesus find you doing when He shouts your name to “Come up here!

10 Things a Christian should know

1. The difference between love and lust.
1 John 4:16  And we have known and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and the one abiding in love abides in God, and God in him
Jeremiah 22:17  But your eyes and your heart lust for nothing but your unjust gain, and to shed innocent blood, and oppression, and to do violence.
Galatians 5:16  But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
2. When to hold on and when to let go.
Proverbs 3:18  She (wisdom) is a tree of life to the ones who
lay hold on her, and happy are the ones holding her fast.
Luke 14:3  And answering, Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, asking whether it is lawful to heal on the sabbath.
Luke 14:4  And they were silent. And taking the man, He cured him and let him go.
3. Trouble when he sees it.
Exodus 18:8  And Moses told his father-in-law all that Jehovah had done to Pharaoh and to Egypt on account of Israel, all the trouble which they had found in the way, and Jehovah had delivered them.
Job 5:6  For affliction does not come forth from the dust, nor does trouble spring up out of the ground;
Psalm 22:11  Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; because no one is there to help.
4.  A load of bull when he hears it.
Psalm 59:12  For the sin of their mouth is the word of their lips, even let them be captured in their pride, and for cursing and the lying which they utter.
Psalm 120:2  O Jehovah, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
2Peter 2:3  They will be greedy and cheat you with smooth talk. But long ago God decided to punish them, and God doesn't sleep.
5.  His strengths and weaknesses.
Nehemiah 8:10  Then he said to them, Go eat the fat, and drink of the sweet, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of Jehovah is our strength.
Job 17:9  And the righteous shall hold firmly on his way; and he of clean hands adds strength.
Romans 6:19  I speak as a man on account of the weakness of your flesh. For as you presented your members as slaves to uncleanness and to lawless act unto lawless act, so now yield your members as slaves to righteousness unto sanctification.
6. How to start a fire--in the hearth and the heart.
Psalm 104:4  He makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire.
Proverbs 25:21  If one hating you is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, 22  for you shall heap coals of fire on his head, and Jehovah shall reward you.
1 Peter 1:7  so that the proving of your faith, much more precious than perishing gold, but having been proved through fire, may be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
7. How to be gracious in victory and defeat.
1 Chronicles 29:11  To you, O Jehovah, be the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all in the heavens and in the earth belongs to You, O Jehovah; Yours is the kingdom, and You lift up Yourself to all as Head;
1 Corinthians 15:54  But when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, then will take place the Word that has been written, "Death was swallowed up in victory." (Isa. 25:8)
Numbers 10:35  Each day as the Israelites began their journey, Moses would pray, "Our LORD, defeat your enemies and make them run!"
Romans 12:21  Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.
8. When to talk and when to listen.
Numbers 7:89  Whenever Moses needed to talk with the LORD, he went into the sacred tent, where he heard the LORD's voice coming from between the two winged creatures above the lid of the sacred chest.
Proverbs 18:21  Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say.
Proverbs 23:9  Don't talk to fools-- they will just make fun.
Proverbs 25:15  Patience and gentle talk can convince a ruler and overcome any problem.
Ecclesiastes  5:2  Don't talk before you think or make promises to God without thinking them through. God is in heaven, and you are on earth, so don't talk too much.
9.  The Ten Commandments. AND The importance of trying to follow them.
Exodus 20
10.  At least one true friend who will be there whenever he calls.
Psalm 144:2  You are my friend, and you are my fortress where I am safe. You are my shield, and you made me the ruler of our people.
Proverbs 7:4  Let wisdom be your sister and make common sense your closest friend.
Proverbs 17:17  A friend is always a friend, and relatives are born to share our troubles.
Proverbs 18:24  Some friends don't help, but a true friend is closer than your own family.
John 15:13  Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

When the Fish quits struggling it is dead

(Editor's note: This is a previously published article. It relates to my Sunday column you can find here.)

I never really liked going fishing with my Mom. Oh, I loved the fellowship with her, but she caught all the fish while I trailed my hook in the water and fed bait to the fish. One clear day in June, she had talked me into going fishing (her job) feeding the fish (my job). We were trolling along her favorite spot on Lake Bruin and something grabbed my hook. I was so startled I nearly lost my fishing rod. I pulled back then let out the line a little. It was a very strong fish. It headed out in front of the boat then turned back and shot under the boat. That manuever broke the line. Mom, on the other hand, was not happy with whatever it was that had snatched that particular bait because it was her favorite--I had talked her out of it because I wanted to catch something this time, not just be a boat ornament.

Some fish get away, like that one, some get caught and wind up dinner. No matter if it is caught on a hook, a net or in a shark's belly, a fish will struggle for breath as long as it is alive. When it turns belly up in the fish tank, it's dead.

We live in a World of Struggle. Job found this out centuries before I was a twinkle in my daddy's eye. Suffering is part of Life! Three people mentioned yesterday their struggles and how hard it is to even get up in the morning much less drag through the day. I've lived that, as well...Too often to even contemplate.

Job didn't even know about the talk between God and Satan. He was just a God-lover and God-worshiper. He even sacrificed for his children just in case they accidentally sinned. Imagine that! Loving them so much he didn't want them to suffer separation from God. Loving God so much, he didn't want his children to have offended Him. How precious that is.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Let's be honest. Most of the time it is consequences of bad choices -- and yes, consequences of sin. But, what about those other times?

First of all -- 90% of what we dread and fear, never happens. Worrying is usually wasted energy.

Now, in the case of children, when they are good, they do not get a spanking but are rewarded with good things or at the very least, a calm and pleasant time with parents. It works for children. But (now here is the shocker) our goal is not absence of pain. If that were our goal, we'd hole up in a closet somewhere. That wasn't Job's goal either.

In his terrible grief, he blessed the name of the Lord. That made Satan angry. Job testified to one thing early on... God gives and God takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD. There is so much packed into that one sentence. We have nothing without God. We can have nothing without God giving it to us. (Anyone who thinks they've gotten where they are today without the grace of God is a fool.) And sometimes it is because God trusts us that He allows tribulation as a testimony to those who come after us. I would suffer everything I've suffered all over again if it would keep one soul from Hell. I cannot contemplate how awful that place is.

Satan said the reason Job blessed God was because of that hedge of protection God had put around him. God knew that it was because Job loved Him above all else and that nothing could shake that love.

What then? Should we decide not to love God so much so that we can avoid pain? Poppycock! It is that very act of love that holds us together through the good and the valley of death. We fear no evil because God is with us. God provides the whole armor that protects against the firey darts of Satan. Jesus sealed Satan's demise the instant He rose from the dead. How can we not lean on that power that stilled the storm, settled the waves and stopped the wind? How can we not depend on the One that healed the sick and brokenhearted? Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word.

Sometimes we cannot see the ocean for the sea spray in our eyes. It is He that gives meaning to my life and purpose for my being. How precious to sit at His feet and adore Him. How much more precious to be trusted by Him. I would not know how wonderful heaven is without having something to compare it to, like my struggles, trials and tribulations here on earth. I would much rather be in Heaven with my Lord, but I do not want to miss one single lesson, or one bit of struggle that stretches my soul. It is the soul stretching experiences that make more room for God and less of me.

8 traits of a wise husband

8 Traits of a Wise Husband (of course, there are lots more)

Pro 20:22  Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.
The wise husband will not retaliate or seek revenge against friends, enemies or his wife. Waiting upon the LORD is not an easy thing to do, but God deals with each person within that person’s own special heart language. Only God had build and restore friendships and marriages through forgiveness which is a vertical thing, not a horizontal thing. Forgiving someone is not saying, “What you did is okay, I condone it.” Forgiving someone is saying, “I love you anyway, no matter what you did. We’ll bury the thing and not think about it again.” Forgiveness is the best expression of love except for laying one’s life down for another.

Job 11:12  For an empty-headed man will be wise, when a wild donkey's colt is born a man.
Solomon had a lot to say about wives such as living with a contentious woman is like the constant dripping of rain (he should know he had 300 of them and 700 concubines). His wisdom along with some old Hebrew adages are laid out in simple text in Proverbs. He spoke directly to his son about being wise in the world, with others, in business, and many situations. Some particularly seem to resonate with marriage wisdom from a woman’s point of view.
Proverbs 1:5  A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
Listen to your wives, husbands. So often the act of listening and hearing and responding to your wife will avoid misunderstandings and arguments, but more importantly, you will better understand her.
Proverbs 12:5  The thoughts of the righteous are right, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
Husbands, keep your thoughts under control. The man who has a wandering eye, and seeks outside entertainment; who does not drink from his fountain is foolish beyond measure. The pleasures of the body are fleeting at best. The intimacy of marriage lasts much longer, is more satisfying, and is much warmer when the bones get old and tired.
Pro 12:13  The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will come through trouble. Proverbs 12:19  The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment. 20  Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy… 22  Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.
Don’t lie to cover up anything. What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive. When a person is caught in a lie, then trust starts to disintegrate. When trust is gone, that deep abiding love dissipates, too. It is very difficult to love someone you do not trust. It is interesting that there are four verses in this one chapter dealing with deceit. Speaking of peace…
Pro 12:16  A fool's wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame.
When anger rules the man, folly sticks to him like gum on a shoe. A wise husband will be lord over his anger. Righteous anger is a wonderful thing and spurs us to do something about injustices, but foolish anger does nothing but stir up strife and sows discord in the marriage which is something the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:18). Angry words never solve anything, and only cut to the bone wounds that take forever to heal. Soft words turn away wrath. Just remember that always being right doesn’t always make you happy. Joy in marriage is work. Love in marriage is work. Anger is a tool of Satan that steals joy and distorts love, be wary of that fiery dart from Hell.
Pro 12:14  A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, And the recompense of a man's hands will be rendered to him.
There is nothing so wonderful as a hard-working man. There is something about hard work (either in an office, a farm, or a shop) that makes a man smell good to the soul. The godly esteem that exudes from a man who’s put in a good day’s work drapes around the wife’s shoulders and comforts her with warm security. Hard work says, “I love you, my darling wife,” more than words. It goes deeper into the  fibers of her being and encases her heart in a loving, gentle embrace.

Pro 20:7  The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.
There is a whole sermon in this verse. Watching the political game for this presidential election I wonder does any man/woman in politics possess this quite desirable quality? I also wonder about the media, and business owners, workers, Sunday school teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. A man who considers honesty and integrity above himself honors God and his family. Someone who always points a finger, never taking responsibility for his own foolishness will tear down the wall of trust that protects the marriage, and heaps shame upon his children.
Pro 20:30  Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.
There is no wiser husband than the one who bends his knee to the LORD for his discipline, recognizing the LORD’s voice, and obeying Him above all others. He who puts God first and his wife second will have a long and blessed marriage.
Isaiah 54:5  For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.
That is quite a high mark to attain as a husband. God knew there would be only one Jesus, and when Paul told husbands to love their wives like Jesus loves the church, he wasn’t kidding; but the fact remains: there is only one Jesus.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will have the perfect everything when we get to Heaven. For now, we’ll have to strive for what is attainable and the Bible is quite vocal on how husbands should behave, and the wise husband shall have mountains of blessings.