Watch Your Mouth!

“Watch your mouth!” I’m sure most of us have heard or used this phrase at some point in our lives. When you tell someone to watch his mouth, it means that the person should be careful about what comes out of it, the things that he or she says. This is especially true when what has been coming out of that person’s mouth is either disrespectful, foul, or abusive language. Unfortunately, that kind of language is prevalent in today’s society.

A poll taken in 2006 found that not only did most people say that they frequently encounter profanity, but a large majority also felt that more people use profane language now than they did 20 years ago. Language that is disrespectful, foul, and abusive is found in movies, on television, in books, and in music. It is nearly impossible to avoid hearing this kind of language in our daily lives. But, as believers, we are to avoid such language.

God’s Word addresses the words that come out of our mouths. In his letters to the various churches, Paul addressed the subject of the language we use several times. He warned that unwholesome language, language that is disrespectful, foul, or abusive should not come out of their mouths (Ephesians 4:29). He also warned against filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking (Ephesians 5:4). Our words should not reflect anger, wrath, slander, or obscenities (Colossians 3:8). The words that we use are a reflection of our heart (Matthew 12:34).

The words that come from our mouths should be words that are full of grace and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). The things that we say to others should be made of words that are meant to build others up, words that are beneficial to the spiritual lives of others, as well as our own. We should strive to speak to others in such a way that we give them encouragement. Our words should be a blessing to them and should reflect God’s grace (Ephesians 4:29).

As believers, we need to be an example to the world. Jesus told us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16) and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We are ambassadors of Christ and our lives should reflect Him (2 Corinthians 5:20). The way that we live our lives and the words that we speak should reflect the kingdom of God and not the world. In our words, just as in our deeds, we are to be “in” the world, but not “of” it.

God’s Love: Stronger Than a Hurricane

In the past few weeks, several Caribbean islands, as well as the states of Florida and Texas have experienced hurricanes that have been like no other hurricane before them. After Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in Texas, Hurricane Irma whipped through the Atlantic, decimating several islands. Irma then tore up the Gulf coast of Florida, bringing destruction with it. The size and force of Hurricane Irma were historic and sent people in southern Florida fleeing for their lives. These storms were immense and had meteorologists amazed at just how immense and fierce they were.

When we look at God’s love for us, we should be just as amazed as the meteorologists were as they watched these storms. God’s love is stronger than a hurricane. It is more powerful than the strongest winds produced by these monster storms. But, unlike a hurricane, God’s love does not wreak havoc in our lives, it does not bring destruction with it. God’s love brings peace into our hearts, and salvation to the lives of those who accept His love by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ.

God’s love is so strong that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins (John 3:16). The intensity of God’s love was evident at Calvary, as Jesus was nailed to a cross and gave His final breath, taking upon Himself the sins of us all. That love is available to all who believe that Jesus died for us, turn from their sins, and allow Him to be Lord of their lives as they follow Him. Because of God’s great love for us, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). His love gives us victory over sin and there is nothing that can separate us from His love, not tribulation, not distress or persecution, not famine, nakedness, danger or sword (Romans 8:35).

Show Your True Colors

What does it mean to show your true colors? It means to reveal yourself as you really are, rather than as you appear to be to others. It means showing your true character rather than hiding behind a mask intended to deceive others or mislead them into thinking you something else.

The phrase “show one’s true colors” has a nautical origin. The word “colors” refers to the flag that a ship is required to fly while at sea. It was once common for a pirate ship to sail under “false colors” by flying a friendly flag that enabled the ship to get in close quarters to a ship that it intended to capture. Once the pirate ship got close enough to the other ship, the friendly flag would be taken down and the ship’s “true colors” would be revealed.

The “true colors” of a believer should be reflective of a changed life, a life being lived in a way that reflects Christ. If we are truly living in Christ, He will be our treasure and where our treasure is, there our hearts will be as well (). Our “true colors” should also be reflected in our conduct. The things that we do should be done with humility, which will reveal a wisdom that comes from God (James 3:13). This is a wisdom that is pure, that is peaceable; a wisdom that is gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits. It is a wisdom that is never partial and always sincere; a wisdom that comes only from God (James 3:17).

On the other hand, earthly wisdom reveals itself in ungodly ways. Earthly wisdom fosters selfish ambition and jealousy (James 3:14-15). We live for ourselves only and not for God and certainly not for other people. The conduct that follows this type of wisdom does not foster peace but rather disorder and sin (James 3:16).

As believers, our true colors should not reflect earthly wisdom. We should always seek godly wisdom rather than earthly wisdom. Godly wisdom can change our lives, allowing us to become more like Christ. And, when we become more like Him, His “true colors” become ours, colors that we can then display in a world that so desperately needs them.

What’s Your Motivation?

When an actor takes on a role, he looks for the character’s motivation. In a play or a movie, just as in the real world, a person goes through life with objectives. There are things that he needs, things that he wants. That person’s desire to accomplish or attain those things make up his motivation. An actor looks at the character he is playing and tries to determine his motivation – what drives him to do the things he does, to behave in the way he behaves. Motivation is important to the actor if he wants to portray his character effectively.

As believers, motivation is important to our worship. What is our reason for worshipping God? Why do we worship Him? Are we worshipping Him because of what we get from it or are we worshipping Him because He is worthy of our praise? Do we worship only when we like the music or even when we don’t? Do we worship Him only when we feel like it, or do we worship Him at all times? Do we worship Him only in church on Sundays or are we ready and willing to worship Him wherever we are?

Our motivation in worship should be to give God the glory that He deserves. We should worship Him because He is worthy. Worship should not be about what we want from it. Worship is not about the music. When we enter into worship based on whether or not we like the songs the worship team happens to be singing, we are making the music an idol. Worship is not about us. It’s about God. We are to worship Him with all that we have, no matter how we feel or what we are going through.

Worship is not about a place or a time (John 4:21-24). We should worship Him in church on Sundays, but that should not be the only place and time we worship. We can and should worship Him at home, in our cars, in anyplace we may be and at all times. A look through the Bible will show that true worshipers worshipped God everywhere – in the temple, in the wilderness, in caves, and even in prison (Acts 16:25).

Our motivation in worship should be to praise the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator and Sustainer of life simply because He is worthy of our praise. Psalm 95:1-7 provides a great illustration of what our heart’s intent should be when we worship God, what our motivation should be. We should worship Him with joy in our hearts because He is a great God and the great King above all gods (Psalm 95: 1-3). All that we see was created by Him and belongs to Him. We should praise Him because He is our God, and we are His people, the flock that He cares for (Psalm 95:7).

The Proof is In the Pudding

“The proof is in the pudding.” This idiom that dates back to the 1920’s came into common use in the 1950’s. It is a shortened version of a proverb that says, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In various forms, this proverb dates back to the 14th century. The meaning of this proverb is that in order to know that something is good, one has to try it first. In the case of the pudding, we don’t need proof that it is pudding, but rather if it is good pudding. The only way to know that is by tasting the pudding.

When we are followers of Christ, we call ourselves Christians. But what is the evidence that we are, in fact, true followers of Christ. We can call ourselves Christian, but what is the proof? Perhaps we call ourselves Christians because we believe in God and we believe that Jesus died for us and rose from the dead. Those things are necessary, but does that prove we are Christians? Perhaps we say we are Christians because we go to church every Sunday. Going to church is important but going to church doesn’t make us Christians any more than going to McDonald’s makes us a hamburger. So, what is the proof that we are Christians?

Being a Christian means that we strive to be Christ-like. We strive to live a life that allows Him to be seen through us. How can we do this? How can the world see without a doubt that we are what we say we are? First and foremost, the world will see we are Christians if we love each other (John 13:35). Jesus demonstrated His love for us by giving His life for us. We need to have that kind of love for each other, a love that knows no bounds, a love that is willing to give all for others (John 15:13).

The world will also see that we are Christians if we have the mind of Christ. What does that mean? We have the mind of Christ when we demonstrate unity with each other. We must all have the same mindset and the same love (Philippians 2:2). We must demonstrate humility, not by doing things out of selfish ambition or out of conceit, but rather by counting the needs and interests of others as more important than our own needs (Philippians 2:3-4).

Being a Christian means dying to oneself and living for Christ. The world needs Christ. It needs to see Christ in us. We must reflect Him in the way we live our lives and the way we treat others. The proof of the pudding may be in the eating, but the proof of the Christian is in the living.

Staying Spiritually Healthy

As the weather begins to change, illness begins to increase. Colds and flu become more prevalent. But there are things that we can do to prevent or avoid illness and stay healthy. The key to staying healthy is to treat our bodies right. This means making sure that we eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, get enough fresh air. Preventative measures for avoiding illness also include things like getting a flu shot and washing our hands before and after handling things like door knobs.

We can think of sin as a spiritual illness that affects the soul. Just as there are ways to prevent or avoid physical illness, when it comes to sin, there are also things that we can do to avoid it and prevent it. The first thing is to meditate on God’s Word, reading it daily and studying it. The Bible tells us that Scripture is God-breathed. Because it comes from God, it is useful for teaching, for correction, and for learning to live righteously (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture, God’s living Word, also helps us to avoid sin when we store it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).

A second way of avoiding sin is to have a prayerful dependence on God. We need to seek His help in avoiding sin and temptation. When Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, part of that prayer was seeking God’s help in avoiding temptation and being delivered from evil (Matthew 6:13). On the night before He died, Jesus warned His disciples to watch and pray in order that they could avoid entering into temptation (Matthew 26:41). Temptations will come, but God is faithful. When we are dependent on Him, when we seek His help in prayer, He will provide a way out of temptation so that we do not sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).

A third thing that we can do to avoid sin is to actively seek to do good rather than evil. Psalm 34:14 tells us that we should turn from evil and seek good; we should seek peace and pursue it. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death ( ). But, if we seek good and turn from evil, we will live and God will be with us. We should not just avoid evil, but hate it while loving good (Amos 5:14-15). As believers, it is important that we imitate good rather than evil. When we do not just seek to do good, but actually do it, we are from God (3 John 11).

Meditate on the Word, be dependent on God through prayer, and actively seek to do good. When you do these things, you can avoid the spiritual illness of sin and stay spiritually healthy.

We Are Co-Heirs with Christ

The year is 1933. America is in the middle of the Great Depression. In an orphanage in New York City, an eleven-year-old orphan girl is taken by the assistant to a billionaire to spend the Christmas holiday at the mansion of her employer. Soon, this spunky and ever-optimistic orphan girl wins the heart of the billionaire and, in the end, he decides to adopt her. The little girl is Annie and the billionaire is Oliver “Daddy Warbucks. And the rags to riches story, of course, is from the Broadway musical “Annie,” based on a comic strip called Little Orphan Annie.

When Annie was adopted by “Daddy” Warbucks, she was given the right to be called his child. She no longer needed to live in the orphanage, where she would spend her days slaving away along with the other orphans who lived there with her. When we receive God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior, when we believe in His name, we are given the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). We receive adoption as His children and are able to call Him Abba and Father (Galatians 4:4-7; Romans 8:15).

When Annie became the adopted child of “Daddy Warbucks, she became his heir. All of his riches would one day pass to her. When we become children of God through salvation in Jesus Christ, because of God’s grace, we also become heirs. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). As heirs of God, what do we inherit? We inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:34). We inherit the Word of God (Psalm 119:111). And, we inherit the Lord Himself; He becomes the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (Psalm 73:26). And the best part is that this inheritance, unlike any earthly inheritance, is guaranteed for eternity (1 Peter 1:3-5).

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