#7 ~ Speaking Wisdom

Harnessing the Power of the Tongue

For the Glory of God

Key Verses:  Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14

Just a note before getting started on this post.  Each of these lessons in the series is prefaced by the above three verses.  These are key verses that I challenged the class to memorize.  This was in lieu of the Bible drill where we would look up 2-4 verses from the scriptures.  I asked them each week if they had memorized these verses.  They will help keep your tongue from sin.

Imagine how different your life would be if each morning you got up and recited Psalm 19:14.  Then, any time someone asked you a question, before answering, you said in your heart the contents of Proverbs 18:21.  Finally, if anything hasty wants to come out of your mouth, before saying what you originally wanted to say, you say or think Psalm 141:3.

Lesson #7 ~ Speaking Wisdom

Note:  For contrast I include the exact opposite of what we are called to do.  We are called to speak wisdom, so I included a section about speaking foolishness.  The Bible has quite a bit to say about this.

I.  Speaking Wisdom

            A.  I Corinthians 12:8 ~ Speaking Wisdom is one of the spiritual gifts.  “Word” is the Greek word logos which means spoken word.

            B.  Proverbs 8-9:12 ~ Wisdom is an ancient entity.  (Note: depending on how much time you have for your lesson, this section can be customized.  I summarized the passage, but if you break this lesson up, this section contains quite a bit.)

            C.  Job 28:12-28 ~ Wisdom cannot be found in a physical location, but only through the fear of the LORD.

            D.  James 3:13-18 ~ True Wisdom will always be accompanied by good works: purity/holiness, peacefulness, gentleness, compliant, merciful, without partiality, without hypocrisy.  Note:  The “smart” person who also complains, it not really wise.

II.  Speaking Foolishness

            A.  Psalm 14:1, 53:1 ~ The most foolish statement of all is that there is no God.  Note:  I have nothing against great scientists.  But if they do not acknowledge that there is a God, they are nothing more than fools.

            B.  Ephesians 5:3-4 ~ A list of foolish talk includes: sexually immoral talk, dirty talk, covetous talk, obscene talk, joking as in bad humor (the Greek word has the idea of good comeback).  Note: this last section on joking prompted some discussion.  It seemed that some in my class wanted to defend the idea of joking around as being a good thing.  We had already covered edification, which means everything we say must be for the purpose of building up others.  So if I am joking around with someone, and it’s not for edification, then what is the purpose really?  No fun?  What does the word of God say?  BTW, I was also setting them up for the next week, the lesson on Correction.  If they don’t want to be corrected, then they are not wise.  Ouch.

            C.  Proverbs 18:6-7 ~ Leads to arguments and fights, see also James 3:13-18.

            D.  Job 2:9-10 ~ Blaming God for evil in the world.

            E.  Proverbs 29:20, 21:29 ~ A hasty response.  Note:  Raise your hand if you have done this.

            F.  I Kings 12:1-24 ~ The example of Rehoboam stands out as a premier example of speaking foolishly.  He ignored the advice of wise men, he thought of himself and his friends, he did not want to serve others, tried to force his way upon others.  Note:  Again, depending on how much time you have for your lesson, this example could take 5 minutes, or 20 minutes.  You decide.

III.  Examples of Speaking Wisdom in the Scriptures

            A.  I Kings 3:3-9 ~ The example of Solomon

                        1.  Admitted that he was inadequate, that he did not possess wisdom.  Note:  Solomon had already displayed wisdom in dealing with several individual situations, i.e. Joab, Adonijah, Shimei.  Here he displayed humility.

                        2.  Saw the great need in the kingdom of Israel.

                        3.  Wanted to serve God and serve others with wisdom.  Note:  Seems like the exact opposite of his son, Rehoboam.

            B.  Exodus 18 ~ The advice of Jethro to Moses.

            C.  II Samuel 20:14-22 ~ Speaking a word of wisdom can save an entire city.

            D.  Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 ~ Sometimes the true wise man is not remembered.

            E.  Acts 6:10 ~ Stephen possessed extraordinary wisdom, yet it led to his death.

Note:  C, D, and E gave an opportunity to show the reality of those who are truly wise.  You can be wise, you can save a city, and a generation later, no one remembers you.  We don’t even know the name of the woman in II Samuel 20.  You could save someone’s life and they could say they are eternally grateful.  Yet your wisdom could soon be forgotten.  Don’t expect fame for speaking wisdom.  BTW, if you want real wisdom, find some small church where the preacher gets paid hardly anything but is true to the word of God and loves the people.

Wisdom by Jill Phillips

Humble yourself before the Almighty
That’s where you find true wisdom
Make it your first step, make it your last thought
Lying in bed when the day’s done

Hear it calling out your name
In the busy streets in the center of town
Who will turn their face to truth and then live it out

Wisdom is greater than any fleeting
Pleasure that money brings you
Answers will come to those who pursue
The pathway to life that few choose

Hear it calling out your name
In the busy streets in the center of town
Who will turn their face to truth and then live it out

Knowledge awaits you filling your arms
With more than they ever could grasp
Blessed are you who hunger for truth
And keep your eyes fixed on what lasts

Hear it calling out your name
In the busy streets in the center of town
Who will turn their face to truth and then live it out

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Harnessing the Power of the Tongue

For the Glory of God

Key Verses:  Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14

Lesson #6 ~ Edification

Note:  I could have subtitled this “Building up or tearing down?”  This middle section of lessons gives us choices.  The thrust of new covenant teaching and preaching is supposed to be focused on building up, or edifying.  Are we doing it though?  All the time?  Is every word that comes out of our mouths building up and not tearing down?  We will be judged for this.

As always, this is the outline.  This lesson has lots of stories from the Bible to illustrate the point.  All you need are a couple of talking points and you are good to go.

I.  We are commanded to practice edification

            A.  Ephesians 4:29 ~ The Key Verse

                        1.  Edification is the opposite of corrupt (rotten) talk.

                        2.  We are only allowed to talk in a way that edifies.

                        3.  Edification ministers grace to those that hear it.

            B.  I Thessalonians 5:11 ~ Edification and Encouragement are brothers.  Note:  I did this with another family of words.  Here I do it with three brothers, the eldest being Edification, then Encouragement, then Consolation.  These three guys are great to have around.  And not a cross word between them.

            C.  I Corinthians 14:3 ~ Prophesying/Preaching focuses on Edification, Encouragement and Consolation/Comfort (para+muthos, a saying that comes alongside; Holy Spirit is Parakletos, para+kalein, called alongside to help, translated Comforter/Counselor).

            D.  Romans 15:2 ~ Edification is not something we do for ourselves.  Note:  This runs contrary to the latest “self-love”, “me-time” movement.  Everybody is talking about the need for self-care, as if the scripture doesn’t teach us to hate our own lives in order to be a disciple of Christ.  We practice edification for others.  So standing around saying good things about yourself simply does not qualify as being obedient to this command.  You must build up others, this scripture makes it very clear.

Note:  I could have had three more lessons on the negative side of using our tongues.  Flattery, Boasting, and Slander could all have had their own lessons.  For my class, I did not feel God was leading me to teach that way.  Instead, I included these three as subsections within edification. 

Flattering someone, saying good things about them, is not edification.  You can say good things about someone, but never once build them up.  Just because you are a positive person and say positive things does not mean you are being obedient to use your tongue for edification.  How do we know if we are flattering or edifying?  That is the question someone asked me point blank in the class.  I pointed them to these scriptures, to prayer, and had them ask God what their motives were as they speak to others.

II.  Edification is not Flattery

            A.  Psalm 5:9 ~ The wicked use flattery.

            B.  Psalm 12:1-4 ~ Flattery is inconsistent and empty.

            C.  Psalm 55:12-14, 20-21 ~ Friends who flatter may not be true friends.

            D.  Proverbs 7:21-23 ~ Women can use flattery to seduce.

            E.  Proverbs 29:5 ~ Flattery is a trap.

            F.  Galatians 1:10 ~ Seeking to please men is not serving Christ.

            G.  I Thessalonians 2:5-6

                        1.  Flattery can be a cloak of covetousness.  What do they want?

                        2.  Flattery should not accompany the preaching of the gospel.

            H.  Romans 16:17-18 ~ Flattery is used to divide because it has another agenda.

Ahhh, the boaster.  We can say so much about him.  Do you know someone who is constantly framing their words to talk about things that they have accomplished?  Oh wait.  Is it you?  It’s convicting.  Because haven’t we all pointed out something good that we have done.  That’s not edification, that’s boasting and it’s a sin.

III.  Edification is not Boasting

            A.   Psalm 5:5 ~ The boastful will not stand before the LORD, see also Matthew 7:21-23.

            B.  Proverbs 27:2 ~ We are forbidden from praising ourselves.

            C.  II Peter 2:18, Jude 16 ~ Boastfulness is a quality of someone enslaved to the lust of the flesh.

            D.  I Corinthians 1:26-31 ~ God chooses the weak so that He alone receives glory.  Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:23-24 to show that our boasting is inappropriate because it takes away from His glory.

Here is Gossip’s little sister, Slander.  Isn’t she adorable?  No edification will ever be slander in any way, shape, or form.  God will not lead you to tear someone down with your words.

IV.  Edification is not Malicious (not Slander)

            A.  I Timothy 3:8, 11 ~ The qualifications for deacon (servant) include not being double-tongued, and not being a slanderer.  Choose leaders who do not slander.

            B.  Titus 2:2-5 ~ Men teach men, women teach women, not to slander.

            C.  Proverbs 12:18 ~ Rash angry words equal sword thrusts to the heart.  Edification will be a tongue of healing.

This final section composes the talking points.  I only picked a handful of these for time purposes.  Talking about each example could have taken quite a bit of time as the class seemed very engaged with these lessons.  Let’s take David for example.  He wasn’t sinless.  He messed up.  Yet God edified him calling him a man after God’s own heart.  The list goes on and your lesson that you teach from this outline can receive life from these examples in scripture.

V.  Examples of Edification in the scriptures

                A.  Proclaiming and Affirming identity.

                                1.  Judges 6:12 ~ Gideon.  The angel proclaims Gideon as a mighty man of valor.  He was currently hiding grain from his oppressors.  Gideon’s family was poor and considered the least in Manasseh, Judges 6:15.  His brothers had been killed by the Midianites, Judges 8:18-19.  Yet this angel proclaims and then affirms by at least 3 different miraculous signs, the fiery offering, the fleece, and the overhearing of the dream.

                                2.  I Samuel 16:6-13, Acts 13:22 ~ David.  David is called the man after God’s own heart.  God looked at David’s heart and had Samuel anoint him as king.  David’s family saw a shepherd, but God proclaimed and then affirmed him as king through many signs that followed, including the defeat of Goliath.

                                3.  Luke 19:9 ~ Zaccheus.  Jesus affirms this greedy tax collector as a son of Abraham, which was one of the highest praises, see Luke 8:8.  Zaccheus confesses that he has taken things by false accusation and is willing to repay and add four times the amount to it.  This man who had become rich is giving half of his goods to the poor.  Tax collectors were disowned many times, treated as Gentiles, and cast out of the nation of Israel, see Matthew 18:17.  Instead of Jesus pointing out his past, Jesus affirms his identity as a son of Abraham.

                B.  Naming or Re-naming.  Naming things or re-naming them has a special place in scripture.  That name by which you were called defined you.

                                1.  Genesis 17:5-7, 15-16 ~ Abraham and Sarah.  Abraham means father of a multitude and Sarah means Princess.  These names were related to God’s covenant plan for them.  They were currently two old people with no children.  God proclaims them to be father and mother of many nations.

                                2.  Genesis 32:24-32, 35:9-12 ~ Israel.  Jacob had his name changed by God to Israel because he wrestled with God and prevailed.  Israel means prince of God.  This wrestling was not just this one time instance, but his entire struggle with Laban and humbling himself before his brother, Esau.

                                3.  Matthew 16:13-19, John 1:41-42 ~ Peter/Cephas.  Jesus gave Peter a new identity when He first met him; reidentifying him from Simon to a stone.  Jesus affirmed it later when Peter proclaimed His faith in the fact that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of the living God.

                                4.  Acts 4:36 ~ Barnabas.  Joses was given a surname by the apostles, Barnabas, which means the son of encouragement.  This became his main name by which we all know him.  He received a new name because of his new identity in Christ.  Now every time someone called his name, he was being called Son of Encouragement.

                C.  Praising desirable qualities.

                                1.  Matthew 8:5-13 ~ The Centurion.  Here was a man who is most likely a Gentile.  He demonstrated greater faith to Jesus that He had seen by anyone in the nation of Israel.  Jesus expresses His amazement in front of everyone.  He uses parable language to show that many from the east and west (Gentiles) will be in the kingdom while the supposed sons of the kingdom will be thrown out.

                                2.  Matthew 15:21-28 ~ The Canaanite Woman.  Jesus seems like He is not going to answer this woman at all, but she simply will not give up.  Jesus commends her for not giving up and maintaining her faith.

                                3.  Song of Solomon ~ For husbands and wives.

Last year there was an event that our church participated in that very much impressed me.  It was a neighborhood outreach that we had never done before.  I was filled with love for my congregation because of the love that they showed to the neighborhood.  I was schedule to read announcements and I took this as an opportunity to read the following passage in Philippians to my church in the first person.  It was a touching moment.  Edification.  It can work wonders.

                D.  Philippians 1:3-11 ~ Paul’s writing style was one of edification.

                                1.  Verse 3 ~ I thank God for you every time I remembers you.

                                2.  Verse 4 ~ I always pray for you with joy.

                                3.  Verse 5 ~ I’m thankful for your fellowship from day one until now.

                                4.  Verse 6 ~ I’m confident that God will continue to work in you.

                                5.  Verse 7 ~ It is fitting for me to think of you because you are in my heart.

                                6.  Verse 8 ~ I miss you, having the affection of Jesus Christ for you!

                                7.  Verse 9 ~ I pray for your growth in love, knowledge, discernment.

                                8.  Verse 10 ~ I want you to approve excellent things and be sincere and pure.

                                9.  Verse 11 ~ Please be filled with fruits of righteousness having praise from God.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Where is Jesus at Christmas?

I take the funnies way too seriously.  It’s Christmas without Jesus.  Unthinkable?  Not really.  The world is turning and the name of Christ is right under our noses and the world does not recognize Him.  Not much has changed in 2000 years.  Bethlehem was only 7 miles or so from Jerusalem but who bothered to follow some wise men from the East to worship the newborn King?  No one.

So with the comic strips.  Christmas is all over the place, but not Jesus.  There was no room for them in the adjoining room (not a paying inn, but most likely relatives) and there is no room for Him at Christmas either.  The One who left the riches of heaven to be laid in a feeding trough for us has no place in our homes.  The humility of Christ is absent from our every day lives.

Since Christmas fell on a Saturday, the Sunday comics mostly did an after Christmas theme.  So here are the results from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Who talked about Christmas?  Who talked about Santa, presents, food?  But who talked about Jesus the Savior of the world?

Santa ~ Andy Capp, B. C., Brewster Rockit, Close to Home, Cul de Sac, Frank & Ernest, Jumpstart, Pooch Café, Red and Rover, Scary Gary, Wizard of Id, Lio, Archie, For Better or for Worse, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Beetle Bailey, Sally Forth, Crankshaft, Dennis the Menace, Mutts

Christmas Presents ~ Agnes, B. C., Baldo, Close to Home, Cul de Sac, Garfield, Jumpstart, Pickles, Red and Rover, Wizard of Id, Rose is Rose, Nancy, Lio, Heart of the City (which just got a makeover), Archie, Baby Blues, For Better or for Worse, Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Sally Forth, Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, Crankshaft, Dennis the Menace, Family Circus, Hi and Lois

Christmas tree ~ Agnes, Andy Capp, B. C., Baldo, Brewster Rockit, Close to Home, Cul de Sac, Jumpstart, Pickles, Pooch Café, Wizard of Id, Rose is Rose, Nancy, Lio, Ginger Meggs, Baby Blues, For Better or for Worse, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Sally Forth, Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, Crankshaft, Dennis the Menace, Family Circus, Curtis, Hagar the Horrible, Hi and Lois

Christmas decorations ~ Frazz

Mistletoe ~ Blondie, Hi and Lois

Food ~ Agnes, Between Friends (Christmas cookies)

A Christmas Carol by Dickens ~ Frazz

Carolers ~ Archie

Elves ~ Curtis

Eggnog ~ Rhymes with Orange

Jingle Bells ~ Rhymes with Orange

For Better or for Worse had a moment where they recognized it was “someone’s” birthday, but they didn’t say who.  That was it.  That was the extent of Jesus Christ in the comics as opposed to “Christmas” in the comics.  As you can see, the world believes in Christmas trees, Santa Claus, giving presents, but not recognizing the Savior of the world.

Part of my Christmas was spent in church worshiping.  We sang hymns, Christmas carols, heard from God’s word.  “Do not fear” was the message today echoed from the Christmas story.  I pray that your time will be spent focusing on Jesus the Christ, and not on the tree, presents, Santa, and other things. 

Some people have this idea that if you took away the tree and presents, that it wouldn’t really be Christmas.  But most have taken away Jesus and Christmas continues.  Read the story from Matthew 2 and Luke 2.  Set aside your pride and humble yourself as Christ did.  Do something for someone without expecting anything in return.  Don’t expect thanks for anything you do for anyone.  Maybe then you will be in the Christmas spirit.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Lesson #5 ~ Blessing or Cursing?

Harnessing the Power of the Tongue

For the Glory of God

Key Verses:  Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14

Lesson #5 ~ Blessing or Cursing

This is the fifth lesson in the series.  Preparing for this lesson I found it going in two directions.  The first was more practical and the other more scholarly.  The first section is what I taught and the second section was on the back sheet of their paper.  We had great discussion and the technical stuff would have bogged that down.  I did reference one definition in the second part because there was a question on a translational issue.

In this lesson, I noted that we were turning a corner.  The first four lessons were focused on the negative things that we do with our tongues.  All of these things are to be avoided, lying, gossiping, complaining.  These next four lessons give us choices: blessing or cursing, building up or tearing down, speaking wisdom or speaking foolishness.  The last four lessons focus on the higher calling of the tongue.  If we are going to harness our tongues for the glory of God, we need to turn that corner.

I opened with a discussion question.  I read statements from three pastors, Steven Anderson, Jeremiah Wright, and Fred Phelps.  They all believe that they can curse people under the authority of Jesus Christ.  Steven Anderson prayed for the death of a president he didn’t like.  Fred Phelps led protests of funerals of soldiers saying they were suffering God’s wrath.  Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Barak Obama, came under scrutiny when it was brought to light that in one of his sermons he said, “God damn America.”  I read news articles and quoted them in context so that the class understood the entire story behind why they were saying what they were saying.  My question was, if someone were to teach this, that we can curse people in the name of Jesus, “What would be your response based on scripture?”

I.  Blessing

                A.  Blessing came first: Genesis 1:26-28, 2:1-3 

                B.  God trusted the priests with blessing: Numbers 6:22-27

                C.  We are to always bless the LORD: Psalm 34:1-3, I Corinthians 12:3

                D.  Jesus pronounced blessings upon His followers: Matthew 5:1-12

                E.  Abraham and David stand out as premier examples of blessing: Genesis 24:1 & II Samuel 5:12

II.  Cursing

                A.  Curses came as a result of sin and disobedience: Genesis 3:14-19 and Galatians 3:10 which quotes Deuteronomy 27:26

                B.  Can be generational: Genesis 9:25, Exodus 34:7

                C.  Christ redeems us from the curse: Galatians 3:13

                D.  Jesus pronounced curses: Matthew 23:1-29

                E.  Cain and Judas Iscariot stand out as premier examples of cursed individuals: Genesis 4:10-16 & Matthew 26:24, 27:3-5, Acts 1:15-20

II.  A time to bless and a time to curse?

                A.  When and who can we bless? This discussion was encouraging. The class had lots of good examples not included here as to how and when we can bless others. Thanks class.

                                1.  Our children and grandchildren: Hebrews 11:20-21

                                2.  Communion: Matthew 26:26, I Corinthians 10:16

                                3.  When we eat: Mark 6:41, 8:7, Luke 24:30

                                4.  When people curse us: Matthew 5:44-45

                B.  When can we curse?  Note:  This section was important because it demonstrates that the aforementioned pastors could be right.  There are examples in the Bible where people of God rightly cursed others, and not just Jesus.

                                1.  Psalms of imprecation: Psalm 109, see verse 17

                                2.  Elisha cursed youths: II Kings 2:23-24

                                3.  Paul pronounced curses: II Timothy 4:14, Galatians 1:8-9, I Corinthians 16:22

III.  Some notable examples of blessing & cursing

                A.  Genesis 1:26-28, 2:1-3, 3:14-19: Creation and the curse of sin

                B.  Genesis 12:1-3: The blessings (or curse) of Abraham, see also Galatians 3:8, 14-16

                C.  Deuteronomy 27-28: The nation of Israel based on obedience or disobedience

                D.  Luke 6:20-26, Matthew 5:1-12, 23:1-29: Jesus pronounced blessings and curses

IV.  As Christians, should our focus be on blessing or cursing?  Note:  Here are the scriptures that I feel drive this point home.  These are the scriptures that should convince Steven Anderson, Fred Phelps, and Jeremiah Wright that they are in the Wrong.  We bless, and do not curse.

                A.  We bless because we will inherit a blessing ~ I Peter 3:9

                B.  Blessing is a part of loving ~ Luke 6:27-28

                C.  We are not allowed to curse those who persecute us ~ Romans 12:14

                D.  We continue to bless while under duress ~ I Corinthians 4:12

V.  The Example of David ~ II Samuel 16:5-14, 17:27-29, 19:16-23, 31-40  Note:  This is the most powerful example in scripture that I could find.  Here is David, the King of Israel.  In response to cursing, he only blesses.  He does not repay evil for evil.  He had every right to do that, but he held control of his tongue.  His statement was that “Maybe God told him to curse me.  So let him curse me.”  But David will not retaliate.  He could have put Shimei death and was urged by his men to do so.  But he went against popular opinion and let a guilty man live.  I left quite a bit of discussion time for this story and it was well worth it.  I would rather have practicality in my lessons than technical discussions.

What follows is the second section which could be very helpful for those who want to get into the root words used to translate bless and curse.  I tried to pick one or two good examples of the Hebrew and Greek words which are translated bless and curse and demonstrate how that could be useful.  This is the section that I encouraged them to learn at home if they were interested.

Definitions of blessing and cursing

I.  Blessing

                A.  OT definition

                                1.  Barak means to bless or to kneel.  Numbers 6:22-27 provides an excellent extended definition of what blessings include. 

                                2.  A less common word translated bless is ‘esher which comes from a root word meaning to walk straight.  Psalm 32:1 is one example.  In Romans 4:7, Paul quotes this verse and translates the word into the Greek word Makarios.

                B.  NT definition

                                1.  Makarios seems to be a state of being, blessed or happy.  The Beatitudes are filled with qualifications for being Makarios, see Matthew 5:1-12. 

                                2.  The verb Eulogeo is a compound word meaning to speak well of something.  We get our English word eulogy from this word.  Eu means good (or well done) and logos means spoken word (and eventually teaching).  The first instance (chronologically) in the NT is at the announcement of the birth of Christ, see Luke 1:28, 39-45.  There could be no higher blessing (good words) than on the mother of the Christ.

Note:  I thought it was interesting that in both the OT and NT that there were two main words translated as bless, and a host of words translated curse.  God’s way of blessing is narrow, but the way of cursing has many, various words to describe since it permeates all creation.  Just my take on that.

II.  Cursing

                A.  OT definition

                                1.  ‘arar means to execrate and has the idea of cursing and bitterness.  Genesis 3:14 is the first curse in the Bible where God cursed the serpent.

                                2.  Qalal/Q@lalah means to bring into contempt or vilification (to make vile).  It seems to have the idea of an audible curse, see Leviticus 19:14.  An interesting study is Deuteronomy 27:13-26 where Q@lalah is found in 27:13 and ‘arar is found in every other instance in that passage.

                                3.  ‘alah means to adjure or imprecation.  Deuteronomy 29:19-21 is a good example where the word seems to be all encompassing.

                                4.  Naqab means to puncture, to blaspheme, to curse, to strike through.  In Numbers 23:8, the verse reads, “How shall I Naqab whom God hath not Qabab?” 

                                5.  Qabab means to scoop out, to malign, to stab with words.  This is used of Balaam and his attempt to curse the children of Israel in Numbers 23:11, 13, 25, 27, 24:10.  Numbers 24:9 is ‘arar.

                                6.  Cherem is a net, or something secluded, cursed, or devoted to destruction.  Deuteronomy 27:6 shows that it is an accursed thing, see also Joshua 6:17-7:1.

                B.  NT definition ~ Matthew 26:24, 27:3-5, Acts 1:15-20

                                1.  Katara/Kataraomai seems to be the most common word for cursing and has to do with prayer.  Kata (a preposition meaning through or according to) + Ara (prayer).  It means imprecation, execration, or to doom.  It is used when Jesus cursed the fig tree, Mark 11:21, in James 3:9-10, and in Matthew 25:41 when Christ says, “Depart from Me you cursed into everlasting fire.”  Epikataratos is another form of this used in Galatians 3:10, 13 when quoting the law, “Cursed is…”  Galatians 3:10 is quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 where the Hebrew word is ‘arar while Galatians 3:13 is quoting Deuteronomy 21:23 where the Hebrew word is Q@lalah.  Galatians 3:10 reads, “as many as are of the works of the law are under a katara, as it is written, “Epikataratos is every one…”

                                2.  Katanathema/Katanathematizo is a compound word from Kata (a preposition meaning through or according to) + Anathema/Anathematizo, a verb meaning to curse or devote to destruction.  This is the word Peter was pronouncing upon himself in Matthew 26:74.

                                3.  Kakologeo is a compound word from Kakos + Logeos, and is basically the exact opposite of Eulogeo.  Kakos means worthless or bad and the entire word means to curse or to speak evil of.  It is used in Mathew 15:4 and Mark 7:10 which is quoting Leviticus 20:9 where the Hebrew word is Qalal.  Don’t speak evil of your parents.

                                4.  Anathema/Anathematizo means cursed or to be under a great curse.  It has the idea of excommunication.  In Acts 23:12-14 it is translated as curse in KJV, but in Acts 23:21 as oath (see how language can be?)  This is the curse that Paul pronounces on people who do not believe the gospel, see Galatians 1:8-9 and I Corinthians 16:22.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

– The Orange Mailman

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Lesson #4 ~ Complaining

Harnessing the Power of the Tongue

For the Glory of God

Key Verses:  Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14

Lesson #4 ~ Complaining 

Note:  This is part of a series that I taught at my church.  I wanted to present the message of salvation in at least one of these lessons.  We cannot control our tongues if we have not been born again.  Because the sin of complaining led to the serpent in the wilderness, which leads to Christ, I put the message of salvation in this lesson.

Complaining, what is it?  Note:  Here I simply read the definition of complaining from the dictionary.  This led to some honest discussion which most admitted that they complain on a daily basis.

How can we handle ourselves when we are so inclined to complain?

I.  Our Conduct

                A.  Our testimony to the world ~ Philippians 2:14-16.  Our testimony before this crooked world is dependent upon not complaining.  If we complain, our lights will not shine.  If we complain, we will not be holding forth the word of life.  If we complain, our testimony will be in vain.

                B.  Our ministry in the body of Christ ~ I Peter 4:8-11.  The Greek word for hospitality is philo-xenos, literally, a lover of aliens, or generous to guests.  Have hospitality, but not grumbling, whenever you use your spiritual gifts.  Your spiritual gifts are designed to minister to other believers in the body of Christ.  Don’t complain while using them.

                C. Patience instead of grumbling ~ James 5:7-11.  There are two paths laid out in this passage.  The first path includes patience, establishing our hearts, and speaking in the name of the Lord.  The second path includes impatience, grumbling, and condemnation.  One of the main reasons for complaining is impatience.  Suffering affliction patiently is commended, therefore we have the example of Job.  See James 1:3-4 and II Peter 1:5-8 to see patience as a sign of spiritual maturity.

                D.  Rejoice instead of complaining ~ I Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4.  They are opposites.  You cannot do both. 

II.  Examples of Complainers

Note:  The majority of the people in the class are women.  I told them up front that it is not me calling out women as complainers, but scripture.  All the women in the class took these scriptures seriously and admitted that this is a weakness that they have.

                A.  Women ~ Proverbs 19:13, 21:9, 21:19, 25:24, 27:15-16.  Do women know how they come across when they complain?  They make it so that their husbands do not want to come home.  The husband would rather go sit on the roof, or in some deserted place than come home to a complaining wife.  It doesn’t matter how big (luxurious) the house is; if the woman of the house is contentious, it will seem cramped.  One complaining woman can turn the whole house negative.

                B.  Drinkers ~ Proverbs 23:29-35.  Some people think that alcohol will take away your complaints.  This is not true.  The alcohol will only cause you to complain more.  The roots of your complaints will still be there.  It will cause you to babble more about the things that irritate you.  At the end you will utter perverse things.

                C.  Loud-Mouths ~ Jude 16.  Here the passage gives two words, murmurers and complainers, showing them to be basically the same thing.  In Philippians 2:14-16 and I Peter 4:8-11, the word used was murmuring (don’t do it).  Here it is shown to be equal with complaining.  Complainers are also shown to be loud-mouthed, and they show favoritism to gain advantage.  (Remember what we saw last week about flattery being a lie?)  If you sin with your mouth in one way, you are bound to have more weaknesses than just one with that same tongue.  They will receive God’s judgment.

III.  The Children of Israel as a Nation of Complainers

                A.  Admonished by Paul ~ I Corinthians 10:9-11.  Paul points out several things in this passage for us to avoid.  One of them is complaining.  He further states that these things were written down for examples, for our instruction.  Do not murmur (complain).

                B.  Admonished by David ~ Psalm 106:24-27.  As David rehearses the history of the children of Israel to them over and over again, notice how he typifies the complaining.  It was happening inside of their tents.  Not every sin was out in the open.  Some of it was inside the privacy of their tents, but God heard.  Notice also how complaining is contrasted with listening to God.  If you are complaining, you are drowning out the voice of God in your life.

                C.  Taberah ~ Numbers 11:1-3.  What is disconcerting in this passage is that immediately after this episode, the people resume their complaining regarding what God was serving them for food.  They complain.  God burns them.  They cry out to Moses.  Moses cries out to God.  God stops the fire.  Then they complain about not having the types of food that they ate in Egypt.

                D.  The Brass Serpent ~ Numbers 21:4-9.  Note:  I tried to link sins of the tongue to sins of the heart.  It seems that complaining with the tongue is linked to impatience in the heart.  Notice how impatience prompts the complaining.  This is shortly after a miraculous victory against King Arad.  Yet they grew impatient.  As a result of the complaining, God sent the fiery serpents.  After many died, they finally repent, but God doesn’t take away the serpents.  Instead, He makes a way of salvation if they will believe Him enough to look on the brass serpent on the pole.

IV.  The Way of Salvation ~ John 3:9-21. 

                A.  Jesus is the heavenly witness.  When He speaks of being born again to Nicodemus, His authority to say so is that of someone Who has come down from heaven.

                B.  Jesus is (or should be) the focal point of all faith.  As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and Israelites focused on that for their healing, even so must Jesus be lifted up so that all may focus on Him.  Whoever believes in the Son of Man will have eternal life.

                C.  Jesus is a gift from God to the world, given out of love for the world.  God does not want anyone to perish, but for all to have everlasting life.

                D.  The mission of Jesus is not one of condemnation, but one of salvation.  Even at His second coming He will save the world, even if it means a new heavens and new earth.

                E.  The entire world, including us, stands under condemnation.  Without Jesus, we face condemnation.  With Christ, we experience salvation.

                F.  The light that God sends into the world comes to each person in some way.  They either respond favorably to the light, even if it means being exposed as sinful, or they turn away from the light because they love what they do more than they love God.  This doesn’t necessarily mean each person is explained the way of salvation, but rather some amount of God’s light enters every person’s life whereby they can either believe or disbelieve.

                G.  We stand as complainers under condemnation.  Will we believe?  You’ve been bit by the serpent.  His venom is under your tongue.  You will die if you do not receive a cure.  Will you believe?  You must look to Jesus and not yourself.  If you have the belief that your tongue is not that bad, then you are looking to yourself for salvation.  Your complaining tongue is doomed.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Round Table Discussion on The Fantastic 42

Round Table Discussion on The Fantastic 42

Nathan Marchand, one of the progenitors of the 42 series, wanted for all the authors who contributed to the book: The Fantastic 42, to participate in a round table discussion.  We went live and the video can be watched on youtube.  We had some good discussion as we are all a little bit quirky.  However, we all love Jesus Christ and want to honor Him with this nerd devotional.  In the video, Nathan and Eric explain the background of how they came up with the idea and released the first two books.  Then we, as the authors of the current book, got to discuss how we came up with our ideas.  We even got to compliment each other.

One of the things I thought was interesting was the dialogue between Nathan and myself about how I created the devotional based on The Princess Bride.  Nathan and I are having a real life disagreement on something and I worked it into the devotional.  It’s not like an argument or anything, it’s just two different points of view.  It all centers around The Princess Bride and Westley’s Prayer to the LORD of Permanent Affection in the final scene in the book.  This is not included in the movie.  If you have read that particular entry, then the discussion will make more sense.

The other thing that pleasantly surprised me was when the other authors had to pick their favorite devotional of someone else in the entire book.  Two of my entries received a sort of honorable mention from the other contributors.  They pointed out that my devotional on The Evil Dr. Jekyll got into the nitty gritty details of the book, and the actual origin when drawing my spiritual parallels.  They mentioned it was very thought provoking and pointed out a lot of things that they did not know about Jekyll and Hyde.  Scott Bayles also liked my Darkwing Duck entry, which surprised me.  I thought it was kind of campy, but he said he really appreciated how it pointed to Jesus Christ. And that was the whole point of writing it, to point to my Savior, Jesus.  So I was glad that he enjoyed it, especially considering the fact that he is a pastor.

Here is the link to the youtube video, and if anyone wants a copy of the book, please let me know.  I have a good stack of them here and I am giving them away.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Lesson #3 ~ Gossip

Harnessing the Power of the Tongue

For the Glory of God

Key Verses:  Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14

Lesson #3 ~ Gossip

Prologue:  I was again surprised at how honest those in the class were at discussing their propensity to gossip.  I started off subtle though.  Can you think of a time when someone gossiped about you?  But here is the reverse:  Can you think of a time when you gossiped about someone else?  I read the definition for gossip out of the dictionary and added a bit from a couple of verses from the Proverbs.  Everyone realized that they have gossiped at one point and that it is a sin.

Have you ever talked about someone in a negative way when they were not around?

Do you think there is a gossip problem at Evanston?

I.  The Definition of Gossip

                A.  Exodus 23:1 ~ Spreading a false report.  Gossip can be a subtle form of lying and goes against the law of love.

                B.  Leviticus 19:16 ~ The word translated talebearer can also mean slanderer or scandal-monger.  Notice the context.  Verse 14 forbids harmful things to the deaf or blind.  Verse 15 forbids prejudice against the poor.  Verse 16 forbids gossip and slander.  Verse 17 forbids hatred in our heart against our neighbor.  Verse 18 is the second greatest commandment.  Gossip is breaking that commandment.  Do you want people gossiping about you?

II.  Warnings for the Church

                A.  II Corinthians 12:20 ~ All the things Paul did NOT want to find in the church.  How many are connected to the tongue?  James 4:1-3 traces these sins of the tongue to the heart.  Note:  In each lesson, I tried to include how the condition of the heart affects how we use our tongues.  Gossip can be traced back to a certain heart condition or conditions.

ESVKJVGreek WordMeaningsNotes
QuarrelingsDebatesErisContention, strife, wranglings 
JealousyEnvyingsZelosZealous, envious, contentious rivalry 
AngerWrathsThumosWrath, passion, anger, heat 
HostilityStrifesEritheiaElectioneering, partisanshipNote #1
SlanderBackbitingsKatalaliaDefamation, evil speaking 
ConceitSwellingsPhusiosisInflation, loftiness, pridePuffing up soul
DisorderTumultsAkatastasiaInstability, disorder, disturbanceNote #2

                B.  I Peter 2:1 ~ Gossip has a little sister named Slander. 

ESVKJVGreek WordMeaningsNotes
MaliceMaliceKakiaMalice, wickedness, evil 
DeceitGuileDolosDeceit, guile, craftCrafty
HypocrisyHypocrisiesHupokrisisPlay acting, dissimulation 
SlanderEvil SpeakingsKatalaliaDefamation, evil speaking 

                C.  James 4:11-12 ~ When you speak evil of your brother, you place yourself above him.  Note:  I got a little bit of negative feedback on this one.  There was one person in the class who seemed to want to justify saying something negative about other people.  The scripture here seems clear.  If you are critiquing someone, you are making yourself that person’s judge.  However, this passage goes even a step further and states when you do this you are making yourself a judge of the law, meaning placing yourself above the word of God.  Tough words here about something we all have done.

II.  What does a gossip do?  Note:  I cannot find a more comprehensive passage about gossip than Proverbs 26:17-28.  We broke this down verse by verse, but as a whole it has much to teach us.

                A.  Proverbs 26:17-28 ~ The Gossip and all that he/she does.

                                1.  Verse 17 ~ Does not mind their own business.

                                2.  Verses 18-19 ~ Says something hurtful, but then says it’s a joke.

                                3.  Verse 20 ~ Gossip starts arguments.

                                4.  Verse 21 ~ Arguments keep contentious conflict alive.

                                5.  Verse 22 ~ Dual meaning, gossip is like delicious morsels to those who love gossip, but for the person enduring the gossip, it is like wounds deep to the heart.

                                6.  Verse 23 ~ An earthen vessel was cheap and expendable.  To put a glaze over it would give the appearance of a quality drinking vessel, but underneath it was still cheap.

                                7.  Verse 24 ~ Gossip can sound pleasant, but it’s only a disguise.

                                8.  Verse 25 ~ When a gossip is speaking pleasantly, do not believe them because their heart has not changed.

                                9.  Verse 26 ~ Gossips will eventually be exposed, but we are warned about fakes.

                                10.  Verse 27 ~ Gossip will backfire on anyone who uses it.

                                11.  Verse 28 ~ Lies, flattery, and gossip are all destructive in nature.

                B.  Gossip can be factually true.  Sometimes it is information entrusted to you.

                                1.  Gossips tell, faithful friends keep quiet, ~ Proverbs 11:12-13

                                2.  Best of friends can be separated over gossip ~ Proverbs 16:28

                                3.  Love keeps quiet and covers for a friend ~ Proverbs 17:9

                C.  How to spot a gossip

                                1.  Look for the opposite of love in I Corinthians 13.  They are impatient, unkind (with words), envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, want their own way, irritable, resentful (holds grudges), glad when bad things happen to people they don’t like, doesn’t put up with things.

                                2.  Look for lots of words ~ Proverbs 10:18-19

                                3.  Their words destroy ~ Proverbs 11:9

                                4.  Fights and arguments break out around them ~ Proverbs 18:6-8

                                5.  Can’t keep secrets ~ Proverbs 20:19

III.  Examples in Scripture

                A.  David’s Friend turned gossip ~ Psalm 41:4-10, I Samuel 24:9, I Samuel 26:17-20, Psalm 9-title

                B.  I Timothy 5:9-16 ~ Women are to manage the home rather than be gossips

IV.  How can we stop the gossip?

                A.  How can we stop our own tongue from gossiping?

                B.  How do we handle others when they come to us with gossip?

                C.  How can we love with every single word we say?

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

Note #1 ~ Greek word eritheia which means electioneering, partisanship.  This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means.

Note #2 ~ Greek word akatastasia which means instability, a state of disorder, disturbance, or confusion.  The root word akatastatos means unstable, inconstant, restless.

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Lesson #2 ~ Lying

Lesson #2 ~ Lying

This is the second lesson in the series, Harnessing the Power of the Tongue for the Glory of God.

I was surprised at how honest everyone in the class was concerning the fact that we all tell lies.  I guess I was expecting an attitude of, “Before I became a Christian I had a problem, but now I always try to tell the truth.”  Everyone admitted that there is an ongoing battle that they face to be honest.  One of the admitted short comings was making a promise and then not keeping it.  Or perhaps saying to kids or grandkids, “I said no” but then 15 minutes later, “Well, I guess I can allow that.”  This lesson here continued the good discussion that we had about how difficult it is to control our tongues.  I tried in each lesson to take the sin of the tongue and trace it to a sin of the heart.  In this case, lying reveals hatred in our hearts, or maybe just lack of love.  We don’t value people so we don’t tell the whole truth.  Or we try to spin the story to make ourselves look good.  Again, this is an outline.  If you teach this you will need some good discussion questions to make this relevant to your group.

Lesson #2 ~ Lying

This is the most basic thing.  God doesn’t want us to lie, but we do; all the time.

I.  The Origin of Lies ~ John 8:44.  The devil is the father of lies.  He deceives the whole world with his lies, Revelation 12:9.  Genesis 3:1-5 tells the story of how he used the serpent to lie to Adam and Eve.  Notice that much of what the devil said is true.  Only a small fraction of what he presented to them is false.  Telling only part of the truth is what the devil uses to destroy our world.

II. The Ninth Commandment ~ Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20.  They are called the ten commandments in a couple of places in scripture, Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13, 10:4.  In the ten commandments, it is phrased as “do not bear false witness” which has to do with official proceedings such as in court or with officials (which business was done at the city gates in those days).  It could be rephrased, “If you are going to give an official testimony, make certain it is true.”  But there are many other scriptures that speak of being truthful with all of our words, not just when we give official testimony.

III.  Psalms and Proverbs concerning lying.

                A.  We all do it.  Romans 3:4 quotes Psalm 51:4 and concludes that every man is a liar.  How did Paul come to the conclusion that David was conveying this idea?  Study.  II Corinthians 4:4 states all who do not believe are blinded by Satan.

                B.  How to live a long, full life.  Psalm 34:12-14.  There is a question here.  Who wants to live a good, long life?  What is the command for those who want to love life and see many days?  Before the command to depart from evil and to do good is to control that tongue.  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit or guile.  This is such a basic part of the Christian life that this passage is quoted in I Peter 3:9-12.   

                C.  The Seven Deadly Sins!  Notice how 3 out of 7 have to do with our tongue, see Proverbs 6:16-19. 

#1- A proud look.

#2- A lying tongue.

#3- Hands that shed innocent blood.

#4- Hearts that devise wicked imaginations.

#5- Feet that run to evil.

#6- A false witness that speaks lies.

#7- He that spreads discord.

                D.  Proverbs 12:19 ~ The temporary nature of a lying tongue (compared to eternity).

                E.  The hatred behind lies.  Proverbs 26:28 ~ The lying tongue shows that it hates those about whom it lies.  If you have a falsehood, even if you are just twisting the truth ever so slightly to make yourself look good, you show that you hate the person because you don’t love them enough to tell the truth.  Flattery can be lies as well.  When we tell someone how great they are just to get on their good side, then flattery is a lie and it falls under the ninth commandment.

Note* We are going to be in Psalms and Proverbs quite a bit in this lesson series.  It is interesting that David wrote all of these songs (Psalms) which contain so much wisdom.  Then his son Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived.  He grew up singing all these songs that his father wrote which contained all this wisdom.  Then Solomon wrote and spoke all of these Proverbs which have many parallels in the Psalms.  Notice how our three key verses come from Psalms and Proverbs.  We are commanded to sing the wisdom of God, Colossians 3:16.  How would children turn out if all they sang were the truths of God?

IV.  The words of Christ.  Matthew 5:33-37 ~ If you promise to do something, you must do it.  If you do not do what you promised, you have lied, see Numbers 30 as a background for what Jesus was talking about.  Jesus spoke to this principle in the sermon on the Mount.  Apparently, by the time of Christ, people had tried to get out of fulfilling their word, or keeping their promise by saying something like, “I didn’t swear (take an oath) when I promised that.  I was just talking.”  There came about this saying not to swear falsely.  If you said something, then didn’t do it, but you hadn’t taken an oath, you were off the hook.  But Jesus raises the standard.  You shouldn’t have to take an oath saying “I promise”, or say, “My word is my bond.”  Anytime you say anything, anytime you tell someone you will do something, you should be so truthful that you should not have to say, “I’m officially taking an oath.  I promise.”

How many times do you tell your children or grandchildren something, but then change your mind?  When you say yes, let it mean yes.  When you say no, you should have a reputation that people will know, you mean no.

V.  The Apostle Paul.  Ephesians 4:25 ~ It’s not just to stop lying, but to always tell the truth (in love, Ephesians 4:15).  We must be truthful at all times especially with our Christian brothers and sisters.  The way out of lying is to always tell the truth.  One of the names of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, John 16:13, I John 4:6. (Note: I stressed that if we have the Holy Spirit, aka: The Spirit of Truth, then we will not lie.)

VI.  Ananias and Sapphira ~ Acts 4:31-5:11.  Ananias and Sapphira, two liars who brought judgment upon themselves.  It’s a sad story, but it didn’t have to be this way.  The unity of the church was amazing.  People were living for each other instead of for themselves.  Barnabas is pictured as a son of encouragement, laying down the full price of the piece of land.  He didn’t want any say over where the money went.  He completely trusted the apostles to distribute it to those in need.  Ananias and Sapphira also sold land, but kept back part.  But when they brought the money, they told Peter and others that they were bringing the full price of the land they sold.  There was nothing wrong with them keeping part of the price back for themselves.  After all, it belonged to them!  But the fact that they wanted to make a show in front of others and lie about it brought the judgment of God upon them.  Some facts:

1 ~ Ananias and Sapphira were filled with the Holy Spirit  and attested to the resurrection of Christ.

2 ~ The entire congregation was one, sharing everything.  They were a part of this family.

3 ~ Everyone trusted the apostles fully with any money they gave.

4 ~ What they said was mostly true.

5 ~ Peter pronounced the judgment of God upon them because they lied to the Holy Spirit and tested the Holy Spirit who was indwelling them.

6 ~ Peter said they could have done whatever they wanted to with the money, just not lie about it.

7 ~ The correction came in front of everyone who saw that they had lied.  This prompted godly fear.

8 ~ The unity of the church is threatened by any falsehood.

What are ways that we can begin to be truthful all the time?

When someone asks you a question, how about stopping to think before you answer?

Before making a promise, how can you evaluate whether or not you should commit?

Always strive to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Have a genuine love for anyone you talk to.  Do not think you are above them in any way.

Have fun and stay busy ~ Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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1 Geek 4:11

My friend, Eric Anderson, wanted to promote our new book, The Fantastic 42. My subtitle idea won! Thank you to all who voted. The full title is The Fantastic 42: A Fellowship Facing Doom With Hope. The book is available on Amazon. The idea behind it is a 42 day Christian devotional based on lessons from all types of nerdiness and things we tend to get geeky about. I wrote 6 of the 42 entries. I highlight each one of them for at least a little bit in the podcast of which I was a part.

1 Geek 4:11 is a group of geeks that allowed us to almost completely dominate their podcast with what our book is about. There is quite a bit more about general things going on, so if you are not into some of these genres, like anime, Stargate, Dr. Who, The Witcher, etc., you may be scratching your head for the first half. Overall, this podcast will give you a very good idea what our book is about.

You will also find out about me personally. They allowed me to talk about me personally, along with how we used our ideas to point to lessons from the scriptures and Jesus Christ. If you have never met me in person, this is how I am. My microphone wasn’t the greatest. I’m the least techie person that was on the podcast. But you will get to know me if you watch this episode.

Here is the link and if you have any questions or want a copy of the book, please let me know. I will be giving them away.

Episode 182: Characters who Taught Us Spiritual Lessons with Eric and Darrin

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Harnessing the Power of the Tongue for the Glory of God

I have been convicted about the way I talk, the way I use my tongue.  Because the solution to committing sins with our tongues is not to simply stop talking, but to begin talking for the glory of God,  I wanted to teach a series of lessons on how we can control our tongues.  But it’s so hard!  I tend to complain, cut people down, talk foolishness….

I contacted a couple of different curriculum distributors for a series of lessons on controlling the tongue for God’s glory.  Nobody had anything like this.  One rep called me back.  He and I had a good discussion and he admitted that there really was no resource out there for what I had envisioned.  Then he added, “But you could write one.”  I thought, “I would if I wasn’t so busy.”  Then the pandemic hit and our church was shut down for 3 months.  During that time, I prayed and asked for God to show me how to teach a series of lessons on transforming our tongues from instruments of foolishness to glorifying God.  The result was a 12 lesson series titled, “Harnessing the Power of the Tongue for the Glory of God.”

This was a journey.  It was also personally quite convicting to teach this to my congregation; well, just to my Sunday School class.  Each week, as the teacher, knowing that I’m held to a higher standard, I spoke about how God wants us to use our tongues for His glory, and not for ourselves.  I started out with the negative things, like lying, gossiping, complaining, then we moved to areas where we have choices, like blessing or cursing, building people up or cutting people down, speaking wisdom or speaking foolishness, then finally we moved to the higher gifts where we speak completely for God such as teaching/preaching, praising, and evangelizing.  Everyone in the class seemed to identify with this struggle, which is very real.

What follows is the outline which can be used by just about anyone.  If you teach them, you need some good discussion questions to go with them.  I opened this lesson with the question, “What is one animal you would never want loose in your house?”  Answers ranged from bull, lion, and other large animals to snake, crocodile, or anything that creeps people out.  When I got to the part about the tongue being wilder than any wild animal, I made the salient point that your tongue, loose in your own home is worse than any animal you named.  Since the tongue is so deadly, and there is no license required to use it, this is the worst open carry firearm policy ever.  Your tongue kills.  So, without further ado, here is the first lesson in the series.

Harnessing the Power of the Tongue

For the Glory of God

Key Verses:  Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14

Lesson #1 ~ Controlling the Tongue

I.  The Fallen Nature of the Tongue ~ Romans 3:9-20.  We remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in this section of Romans primarily because of the Romans Road.  Romans 3:10, “As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one.”  Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  But here in this passage there is so much content about the fallen nature of the tongue.  Let’s examine the passage.  Paul has demonstrated that the Gentiles are under sin by virtue of their conscience.  Now he asks the question, “Are we (Jews) better than they (them there Gentiles)?”  The answer is no and Paul starts quoting from the psalms to demonstrate the sinful nature of his own people.  The interesting thing is that the majority of what Paul writes condemns our tongue.

                A.  None righteous.  Romans 3:10-12 is a quotation from Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3.

                B.  Open graves.  Romans 3:13a is a quotation from Psalm 5:9.  The open grave refers to a type of disposal place for dead bodies.  Oftentimes bodies would be placed in tombs, but if there wasn’t enough money or maybe in a time of battle when there were too many bodies to be properly buried, there would be an open pit where bodies would be dumped.  It would smell horrible with rotting dead bodies down there.  David and Paul compare our mouths to the stench of open graves.

                C.  Poisonous talk.  Romans 3:13b is a quotation from Psalm 140:3.  The poison of asps is under our lips.  There is no way to make this a good thing.  Vitriol is a good word to put here.  Poisonous talk is meant to poison.

                D.  Full of cursing and bitterness.  Romans 3:14 is a quotation from Psalm 10:7. 

                E.  Set on destruction.  Romans 3:15-17 is a quotation from Isaiah 59:7-8 and maybe Proverbs 1:16.  Not just our tongues, but our entire direction is bound to destroy.  The tongue is leading the charge with destructive words.

                F.  No fear of God.  Romans 3:18 is a quotation from Psalm 36:1.  If there is no fear of God, then we can say whatever we want.  The reverse is also true: if there is a fear of God, then we need to watch our tongues.

                G.  Conclusion:  When Paul gets to “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” he has been speaking about our tongues.  For all have sinned with their tongue by lying, speaking bitterly, and having poisonous words come out of our mouths.  That’s everybody.  No one is exempt.  Please don’t come to this set of lessons thinking, “I do pretty good with my words.”  We need to believe the Bible.  This is what the Bible has to say about the way we use our words.

II.  Harnessing the Power of the Tongue ~ James 3:1-12.  Before we get to our main text, James has had two little tidbits which serve as appetizers to the main course when it comes to controlling our tongues.  The first is in James 1:19-21.  We must be quick to hear and slow to speak.  James 1:26 has a phrase that will be repeated later, bridling our tongue.  The Greek word is chalinagogeo which is a compound word meaning to lead with a bridle.  If we do not lead our tongue with a bridle then our religion is empty.

                A.  Verses 1-2 ~ Bridling our bodies begins with the tongue.  The word bridle is here again.  If we can control our tongue, we will lead our whole body.  The example of Psalm 39.

                B.  Verse 3 ~ The example of the horse.  The bit in the mouth of the horse is what allows us to control the entire body of the horse.  Once we have control of the mouth of the horse, we can ride that horse great distances.  Do you want to accomplish great things with your whole body?  It will start by controlling your mouth.

                C.  Verse 4 ~ The example of the ship.  Look at how small that rudder is compared to the whole ship.  That rudder is the steering mechanism for the entire ship.  Large ship, strong winds, but a very small rudder.  If you have control of that rudder, you have control of the entire ship.  In the same way, if you have control of your very little tongue, you will control your entire body.

                D.  Verses 5-6 ~ The example of the forest fire.  We all remember Smoky the Bear.  “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  The idea is that forest fires are started by little campfires left unattended.  Thousands of acres are burned because of the carelessness of campers which starts with a very little, seemingly insignificant fire.  Those thousands of acres are nothing compared to the damage that the tongue does on a daily basis.  The words are used as flaming arrows to attack someone that they think is an enemy.  It stains our entire bodies, sets on fire the entire course of life, and is set on fire by hell itself.  Our entire world is on fire right now because of words, our words.

                E.  Verses 7-8 ~ The example of domestication.  Every type of animal can be trained in some way, but not the tongue.  There will be some horse whisperer, lion tamer, or snake charmer that can tame that wild beast.  But there is nothing that can tame the tongue.

                F.  Verses 9-12 ~ The divided nature of the Christian tongue.  With the same tongue we bless God, but curse men (who are created in the image of God).  Do you have something to negative to say about another person?  Guess what?  You are saying something negative about God since that person was created in the image of God.  A fountain will always send forth the same type of water.  It will always be sweet or bitter.  A fig tree will always bring forth figs.  In the same way, if we belong to God, we should always have sweet words on our tongues and not bitter.  That bitterness comes from the flesh, not from God.

III.  Pointing us in the right direction.

                A.  I Corinthians 13:1-2 ~ Without love, we are nothing.  We can speak with great words, even speak God’s messages (prophecy), but if we do not have love, we are nothing.

                B.  Psalm 45:1 ~ The pen of a ready writer, or the pen of a skilled scribe.  Our tongues could be used by God who is the most poetic (the Hebrew word means skilled) writer ever.  Do you want for your tongue to bring forth bitter words, or to bring forth the sweet words of God Himself?  God could use your tongue to bring forth words to shape this world for His purposes.

IV.  We will be judged by our words.  Matthew 12:33-37 and parallel passage in Luke 6:43-45.  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  Our words reveal what is in our hearts.  Bitter words reveal a bitter heart.  We will be judged for every idle word (the Greek words means lazy or perhaps careless) that we speak.  Matthew 15:1-20.  Out of the mouths come things that defile us because our hearts are sinful.

V.  How can we bridle our tongue?

                A.  Believe our tongue is a fallen untamed wild beast

                B.  Stop with the comments that burn

                C.  Begin to control the tongue

                D.  Allow God to write our words as they come off our tongue

Have fun and stay busy ~ Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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