Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph 4:29-32)~ Have you ever heard someone talking about they can’t help being the way they are – that the circumstances of their life’s history and other people make them bitter and resentful and unkind and moody toward others? Okay…being very frank here…that’s a lame and lazy excuse to be able to hold on to that negative attitude. Being negative, bitter and cynical; saying ‘no’ to a positive light affords one the opportunity to just say ‘no’ and sit there with their arms folded and their lip stuck out and they don’t have to do anything else…. they get to be ugly and do nothing… and yes, they ‘could’ help it… they CHOSE to be bitter! There are plenty of us that have tough lives (man born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble – Job 14:1). Being kind though is the CHOICE that God wants us to make. Kindness is a CHOICE we get to make to share what we have with someone in need. It’s a CHOICE to encourage someone with a sincere compliment. God cares just that much how we treat each other. In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus talks about people’s treatment of one another; and since He lives in us, what we do to each other we in turn do to Him. Thinking about it then: As you flaunt around your bad attitude at people, would you carry such a nasty disposition to our Lord? As you cuss out that person, would you cuss Jesus that way? As you abuse that person, would you abuse our Savior that way? How do you have it within you to mistreat that person and the Son of God so brutally? All lying, and corrupt language, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil-speaking, and malice, provoke the Holy Spirit. We should beware of all such demeanor. Ask God to help you make the CHOICE to be kind, especially when you don’t feel like it. It is our duty to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring others to think truthfully, seriously and positively; and to encourage others by our conversation; not belittle and tear them down with ridicule and disrespect. Being kind one to another sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behavior. Would you want other people to treat you that way? Would you want Jesus to be treated that way? Talk about tough lives… Jesus was TOTALLY innocent but HE took on the burden of sins for the WORLD… Yet HE loves everybody!!! Choose your Attitude!
The fool has said in his heart “There is no God” (Ps 14:1); The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the Hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? (Ps 24:1-3)~~ In the beginning, God began the beginning. He did not begin WITH the beginning, He IS the beginning; He BEGAN the beginning; God existed before the beginning began and when the end is over, He will still be God! He is Alpha and Omega – He exists on both ends of eternity – everything starts with Him and nothing ends without Him; and everything in between, He did. He never had to consult with you or I in His creation or when He put the sun, moon and stars in the sky. He didn’t need our permission to determine where to put grass or water or mountains; yet they are all perfect! He didn’t need our advice on how to create our bodies and make us unique; yet we all function and contain more intelligence, greatness and un-duplicatable specialty than the greatest human mind could possibly imagine or understand. Yet in all these things we as His ‘creation’ have the audacity to question His authenticity as our creator! We look to things that man has ‘crafted’…from the creations of God (by the way)… and with our “God-given” talents we dishonor Him.
We have the unmitigated GALL to question His EXISTENCE because He didn’t answer the way WE thought He should!!! We take a negative situation to use as ammunition to question the very presence of God and we seek answers to our curiosity as if looking to disprove His existence and we play around with intelligence and then credit ourselves with the creation of life itself. Our own efforts become our source and salvation. Ultimately, We as the ‘creation’ put more emphasis on serving the ‘created’ rather than the ‘creator’! We have elevated ourselves to be the gods of our own lives. Some of these ‘unbelievers’ even constantly ponder and challenge ‘us’ with the question: “Who is this God? What if you’re all wrong and after this life on Earth, that’s IT? What if all of this focus and attention on God is part of the longest running scam in history and that all of our focus and guiding our lives with this ‘faith’ and ‘integrity’ and ‘nature of goodness’ does nothing more than rob of us what could be while we have time? Why should I believe in Him?” Okay, so looking at that point, if God doesn’t exist; if living your life under guidelines and decent Godly principles means you’ve wasted your life because when it’s over, it’s over.. then the loss is yours. If that were the case, then your life is what you make it. But here is my question: what if the unbeliever is wrong? What if God’s promises “are” real, what if there “is” a beautiful eternity prepared for us but we decided not to believe? For the unbeliever, nothing changes…when life ends on Earth, it’s over and for eternity there will be nothing for them but separation from God…but for the believer, there is God and all He has promised…forever. Whether it’s true or not, we have not seen and could say we really don’t know, but my faith says yes and that’s what I believe! An unbeliever may think I’m “insane” but I’d rather risk being insane in faith and having my eternity than righteous as a self made god to myself that is counting down to my end. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Gal 6:9); And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise (Heb 6:15)~~ God will restore us in HIS due time…we just need to do what we are supposed to do. Regardless of the ‘stuff’ around us that is making us want to just want to quit. The consolations of God are strong enough to support us under the heaviest of trials… But we can’t FINISH the race before us to obtain the reward of endurance if we constantly quit or flee when it gets hard! If you need to forgive…FORGIVE. Whatever you need to do…DO IT… Stop dreading your responsibility!! Stop sitting there wallowing or exercising your right to be a victim of the circumstance. You are more than a conqueror…so name ONE conqueror that QUIT!!!! You can’t. Thought so! Get up off your blessed assurance, stop whining about what’s wrong with the race. You can’t always have it your way, but you have the intelligence to make adjustments. Find the way to keep going…let change energize you! Go get what God has for you at the finish!
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matt 6:1-4).~
God gives us all remarkable blessings of so many kinds and at any given time of need of fellow man, we are likely to see an outpouring of those blessings being shared, whether it’s a material giving or the selfless giving of our own skills and abilities to help out. Look back at 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or at our recent situations, like Houston’s Hurricane Harvey tragedy. As much as we hear about the struggles of this country’s people and economic woes, somehow people are able to dig deep and give so much – again from money to supplies to people coming out to help other people.
One thing that dampens this outpouring of blessings though is when we as givers want to grandstand and broadcast the great things we’ve done, whether in the spirit of helping in the face of tragedies or simple giving to charity. Why is it we feel like we need to be congratulated or praised or put on a pedestal for our giving? Why do we feel the need to write in big bold black letters our name and what we give – to be seen by everyone?? Are we THAT hungry for praise and attention and making our name great? Do we need pomp and circumstance every time we walk into a room because we want people to say nice things about us?
Let’s have a little humility? After all, not that our big gift should be diminished, but in the grand scheme of things, how big is it… really? Yes, every little bit helps, but again, look at the bigger picture – the effort that our giving supports – would still happen without our giving! If you didn’t fully fund it or exclusively do the lifting to get things done – then you are a part of the body that did it. Your giving wasn’t NEEDED for it to succeed. The point here is that we have to stop making this about what we did or gave or had to say. We need to stop looking for praise and accolades for doing what we should be doing in the first place – loving God and loving others.
God gave us the means to do what we are doing and the best way we can show our love and appreciation for Him is to take care of each other – feed His sheep (John 21:17). God deserves the glory for allowing and making us able to do so much. Trust me, the people who are on the receiving end of those blessings you bestow – may thank you, but they are praising GOD for you! They are giving HIM the glory for sending that blessing through you.
God will bless you and its’ absolutely awesome that you want to use that to bless others – it’s what He wants you to do! But your blessing is so much bigger when you just do what He’s made you do. When people thank you and even if they do make a big deal about what you did – remind them that it’s not about you – this is your chance to step aside and give God glory! When you give, don’t look for the parade or the awards ceremony in your honor – look to give God the Glory! Your blessing will mean so much more!
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1)~ Christ will not be the Savior of any who will not own and rely upon HIM as their only Savior. No matter what the ‘world’ leads people to, or determines as the new ‘order’ of things, the Word of God remains as it was in the beginning and we must remain steadfast in the doctrine and liberty of the gospel. All true Christians, being taught by the Holy Spirit, wait for eternal life, the reward of righteousness, and the object of their hope, as the gift of God by faith in Christ; and not for the sake of their own works. Our ceremonies, traditions, self-assertions and rewritings of the ‘laws’ we live by have no impact nor influence on our salvation in Him. No outward privileges or profession, social or economic status, position nor power on earth will bring us to acceptance with God, without sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. True faith is a working grace; it works by love to God, and to our brethren.
Our two prime directives given by Christ were to love the Lord and to love others; that everything within the law hung on this (Matt 22:37-40). Our world has gotten away from those two directives and has spun out of control. We’ve made great advancements in knowledge and discovery and there are many great and amazing things man has achieved. There is nothing wrong with how far we’ve come as a people. But as far as we’ve come, we’ve simultaneously fallen back as more and more the love for and dependence on God in this world continues to diminish – in our achievements we have become self-reliant and self-absorbing. More and more in this world, we see the lack of love and concern for our fellow man. Never has the hatred between us been so prominent. Without faith working by love, all else is worthless, and compared with it other things are of small value. God’s promise restores ‘integrity’ back into His creation as it was at the foundation of the world. May we learn to be still; leaning not to our own understanding; but in all ways acknowledging Him and His finished work; and allow Him to do His works of restoration in us. May we be of the number of those who, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. May we recall and return to a point of living under the directives Christ put before us: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; Love thy neighbor as thyself”!
For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom 7:19, 23-24); Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me (Ps 142:7)~
The knowledge of our own sin and shortcomings produces levels of guilt within us that can be so strong as to make us feel like God would rather discard us by the wayside than have us under His hand. Some of us have gone to the extremes of even imposing certain punitive acts upon ourselves whether in guilt or as our misunderstood interpretations of penance for our failings. When we sit down to think it over, the lies of the enemy will drive us to self-hatred and self-destruction as we look at ourselves as undesirable and unusable to God.
Friend, be comforted! You are NEVER beyond the love of God (Rom 8:38-39) for the Word says there is NO condemnation to those that are in Christ (Rom 8:1). There can be NO situation so distressing or dangerous, in which faith will not get comfort from God by prayer. Rather than show our troubles too much to ourselves, dwelling on them, which does us no service; we find comfort, by showing them to God, that we might cast the cares upon Him who cares for us, and thereby ease ourselves. NEVER should we allow any complaint to ourselves or others, which we cannot make to God. When our spirits are overwhelmed by distress, and filled with discouragement; when we see snares laid for us on every side, while we walk in His way, we may reflect with comfort that the Lord knows our path. Those who in sincerity take the Lord for their God, find Him all-sufficient, as a Refuge, and as a Portion: every thing else is a plot of the enemy; a refuge of lies, and a portion of no value.
It is our duty and of our interest to beg of God to set us at liberty from our transgressions, that we may run the way of His commandments. The Lord delivers us from the powerful persecutions of sin, and yet deals bountifully with us! He raised the crucified Redeemer to the throne of glory, and made Him Head over all things in Heaven and Earth. Now we, the convinced sinner have His salvation over our cries for help, and we are brought to praise the Lord in the company of His redeemed; delivered from this evil world, from sin and death, to worship our Savior forever!
Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33, NASB).
Fellowship. What a great word! It comes from the idea of two people sitting together in a ship. These two men or women would be companions, working or relaxing together, sharing community and conversation. Together they could enjoy the strength of relationship and experience the smooth sailing that camaraderie brings. But what would happen if one of the men in those close quarters was not a nice guy, but instead rude and arrogant? What if one of the women in that boat was a constant downer, endlessly complaining about her troubled marriage or deviant children? The ride would be rough, to say the least. Fellowship like that could cause you to look for the nearest port of call or even tempt you to jump overboard!
It’s important who you fellowship with; that’s an obvious truth. But this Scripture can apply to more than the people you hang around with.
What if we considered it in light of the attitudes we fellowship with? If we were to check the passengers that are on board in the cabins of our hearts, whom would we find there? Would it be the stowaways of discouragement and depression? Perhaps we would find pride, bitterness or faultfinding.
Maybe you have never thought about fellowship in this way before, but the attitudes we stow are as important as the company we keep. We fellowship daily with our own thoughts, and the attitudes that develop as a result of them, like friends, affect our behavior. If we are bound to a negative thought life, are we not fellowshipping with darkness?
The Bible says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). This Scripture is clearly speaking of our human associations, but it’s interesting to apply the truth to our fellowship with our own attitudes.
If we are listening to the voices of anxiety, we may be fellowshipping with the darkness of fear. How can we launch out into the deep places with God if fear is rowing against us? That fellowship would keep us anchored to the shores of safety and comfort.
Or how could we set sail with negativity as our navigator? We would find ourselves seeing everything through a dense fog and then be surprised when we arrived at the wrong destination. Clearly, not the kind of fellowship we need!
Because we are with ourselves 24/7, we are feeding our spirits all the time. Therefore it is important to know with whom—or what—we are fellowshipping. If faith comes by hearing (see Rom. 10:17), what do our hearts hear us say? Does the inner fellowship of our attitudes increase our faith, or do we discourage ourselves and provoke our own unrest?
Faith does indeed come by hearing, but so do doubt and fear. If I hear a negative report, these two shipmates are all too ready to climb on board and set sail with me. There on the open sea of my soul, I wrestle with the fellowship of darkness.
How much better it would be to voyage with the peace of Christ—to descend into the bottom of the vessel and find Jesus at rest there in spite of the storm around me. How inviting it sounds to raise the sail of hope and embark on a journey, knowing that joy and wisdom will travel with me. This is the fellowship I long for.
Of course there may be times when pirates invade our fellowship. The hostile takeover of our serenity is often a real threat. We must be diligent to carefully watch the compasses of our thought lives so we do not wander into enemy territory. Random thoughts, like pirates of the seas, will try to enter your boat and ride with you, tormenting your mind and heart.
If you had to take inventory of the passengers on your ship, what would you find there? Are you on a five-day cruise with criticism, perhaps? This little cabin boy seems to hitch a ride on many of our vessels. How easy it is to point a finger and judge what we see in others while at the same time excusing ourselves from similar flaws!
Or would your inventory reveal that you have braved the open sea with anger as your co-captain? This is one navigator that will steal your peace and take you in the wrong direction.
Whatever you find in the hold of your ship that causes you to fellowship with darkness, throw it overboard now! We are called to fellowship with the light. We do that by inviting Jesus’ thoughts into our minds and asking the Holy Spirit to pilot us into the safe waters of the Word of God.
Paul prayed that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” would be with us all (2 Cor. 13:14). Those are companions we can safely take anywhere!