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The service this morning was opened with a song of Joy. And while we have sung it hundreds of times, the second verse jumped out at me.

“I still have Peace.
I still have Peace.
After all the things I have been through,
I still have Peace.”

Do I still have peace? Just last night I read of Perfect Peace. I was still thinking on it this morning. What is this peace? This Perfect Peace?IMAG0333

The scripture reads “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” Isaiah 26:3-4.

As I reread this passage I realize that it is more than just the people of God speaking of God, but singing of him. This is a song of confidence in God’s provision and care.

Thou, God, will keep him, me, in perfect peace, when I keep my mind on you, when I trust in you. My Trust in the Lord must endure for in the LORD is everlasting strength.

So my trust, utter dependence, reliance, belief in, confidence on God will provide me with perfect peace, In-Gods-Handsnot a little bit of peace or shattered peace or broken peace or incomplete peace, but perfect, whole, complete, enough, abundant peace. Abandoning my life in God’s hands gives me a peace that is all I need.
And that isn’t all we get in return for placing our wants, desires, hurts, pains, questions, ambitions, families, loves, on God, he gives us strength to continue to trust him. This strength is everlasting, not just for today, this hour, this trial, the well won’t run dry. The strength of God that he gives in exchange for trust is EVERLASTING. It is of God, there is no beginning and no end. It is eternal strength.

In need of Peace, in a strength drought? Why not Trust in God Again?

“Is there a mountain standing in your way
Is there a loved one you’re worried about today
Is there a blessing you desire that seems intangible
Instead of giving up the fight
Cling to faith with all your might
The One who’s seen you through before is still able
(He’s still able.)

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at his word
Why not trust

Why not trust God again
I know that he can do it
If I pray again, believe again
My God will work it for my good again
I know that He will see me through it all
If I trust in God again.”
Kurt Carr – Why Not Trust God Again Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Why NOT trust God again? He has proven himself Faithful.

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I have been thinking a lot about sarcasm. How many people use it while trying to be funny…and in it’s place, it may be, but all too often it goes a bit too far and causes damage. I looked up the definition and was a bit taken back:

Sarcasm:
1. the use of irony to mock or convey contempt:
2. the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny:
3.a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain:
4. a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual

The whole intent of sarcasm is to hurt or mock. Only 1 short statement about sarcasm is to be funny, while the rest is to put down another person.

A couple years ago I was reading The Screwtape Letter’s by C.S. Lewis and I remember this passage about laughter. It is probably the section that I remember the most about that book. The book is a collection of letters from a “Lead’ Demon as he instructs a subordinate to discourage, distract and bring defeat to the soul of a human man. The following is a passage on laughter.

 MY DEAR WORMWOOD…I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy.

You will see the [Joy] among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday…

Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us….it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

The Joke Proper, which turns on sudden perception of incongruity, is a much more promising field…The real use of Jokes or Humour is in quite a different direction…it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame…

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny.

Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.

If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter.

It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.

Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE

I had never thought of how the enemy of our souls could use laughter against us but how true it is. While reading this passage I remember instantly thinking of sarcasm. That flippant witty joke that pokes just a little fun at someone else and how damaging that can be even if that isn’t the intent.

I grew up with sarcasm. It was the way that we had fun, laughed, it was in our general conversation. I trust that the conscious motive behind it wasn’t to hurt one another, but in all honestly, the jokes were often at someone’s expense. When I was reading this book, I made an active choice, to start to stop using sarcasm. It has been a process to learn to think and speak with out it, towards others and towards myself. I haven’t made it completely and sometimes when I am around my family I fall back into that pattern of speaking, but I work on it.

The Bible has a lot to say about our speech. In 1 Corinthians 14:3 it reads, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation and, comfort.” We are to “be holy in all manner of conversation:” 1 Peter 1:15. To be an “example of the believes, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12. In Philippians 1:27 it says to “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:…that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”. And in Ephesians 4:29 “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.” To be careful with what words we say, Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider no that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine hear be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” And lastly but certainly not the last mention of it, James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved bretheren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

From these few scriptures we find that we are to be careful with what we say, to take a few seconds to think about and consider the words before we speak them. That every word is to build and edify one another and to not harm or hinder. What we say is an example to those around us of a true Christ-like life.

Sarcasm works among friends, spouses, family, saints, acquaintances and enemies. But it is most dangerous among those that are in fellowship. It can hurt and divide saints, spouses, and families. If it doesn’t lift up or edify, think twice before saying it, even if it is just a joke and you think they can take it.

Not only can we be sarcastic and flippant with others, but also with ourselves. We can make jokes, comments, at our own expense that demean or lower our worth. This isn’t an act of being humble, in fact it’s unfair and often untrue regarding our actual worth. It works like this, when someone complements us and our comment is one that would put ourselves down or minimize who/what we are or have done. The enemy can use this to discourage us and make us think we are not doing our best or are that we aren’t saved.

Don’t get me wrong, humor is good. Jokes can be funny. Irony and “sarcasm” in a pure sense (if it can be so) is ok. Can be useful and even a help. But it is when it crosses the line to causing hurt that it has gone to far. I don’t want to say that we can never laugh or joke around. But we do need to be considerate of others and what we are saying.

I am challenging myself once again to be careful in my thoughts and words about others and myself. That the statements are true and not mocking or harmful. Honesty is ok, consideration is a must, and laughter is needed, but harmful, digging, and insulting words are not.

“Only let your conversation be as it [exemplifies] the gospel of Christ:”…”[speaking] unto men [for] edification, and exhortation and, comfort”

Recently I have been given the opportunity to work with the children at my church. This came with much surprise, but with the leading of the Lord.

Before I was approached on the subject, in the Young Adult group that I am apart of we were discussing visions and mission statements, both for us individually and as a class. As I was preparing my individual vision and mission statement, my mind kept returning to the thought of being willing. During this time I was asked to consider assisting in the teaching of the 6 year old class.

In my prayer and meditation on whether or not God would have me move in this direction, I looked up “being willing” in the Bible. God spoke to me through these scriptures, 1 Chronicles 28:9-10. It takes place when God is telling David that his son, Solomon, will build the temple. God chose Solomon to complete this instead of David because of the sin that David had committed. The scriptures read,

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.

Here God calls Solomon to remember the God of his father, and to seek him for wisdom and instruction for his life. He instructs service to God with a perfect heart and willing mind. If we have these 2 things, God can use us effectively to win souls. God reminds Solomon the benefits of seeking God and the penalties of refusing him. He then encourages and admonishes Solomon. God chose him for this special task, a big responsibility, but with God’s blessing Solomon with have the strength to complete it.

In further study on “willing” I found the definition of this to be:

  1. favorably disposed or consenting (to do something specified or implied): not objecting
  2. acting, giving, etc. readily and cheerfully: as, a willing assistant
  3. done, given, offered, etc. readily or gladly; voluntary
  4. of the power of choice; volitional

So to be willing one must perform the task with a good attitude. One isn’t “willing” to do something if the task is done begrudgingly, with reluctance, or negativity.

I also looked up these scriptures in the Amplified Bible, they read:

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father – have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with and understand Him: appreciate, heed and cherish Him – and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind. For the Lord searches all hearts and minds, and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts. If you seek Him – enquiring for and of Him, and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity – you will find Him: but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off for ever! Take heed now; for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong and do it!

When I read this, I was challenged also. God had chosen me; I don’t feel qualified or worthy to be a teacher. I don’t have any experience as one. But he chose me to build the sanctuary of these little souls, I have to be strong, trusting in God and do it.

Be willing to follow God when he calls you, trust in Him; Be strong and do it!

This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

In continuing with our discussion on sin last Wednesday, we explored 2 more of the 10 commandments listed in Exodus 20.

1. Thou shalt not kill, Exodus 20:13. There is a difference between killing and murder. In this statement, the Hebrew word for kill specifically means to murder. In Exodus 21:12-15, the people of God are instructed to handle premeditated murder differently than an accidental killing. We are commanded not to take someone’s life or testimony through hate. If we hate our brother, we are just as accountable as a murderer. 1 John 3:15

2. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14. In Matthew 5:27-28 defines the concern of adultery in the New Testament, it isn’t just the act of a relationship of a married person and someone other than their spouse, but it is the act of lusting after another person. Lust is adultery in the heart. God is not just concerned with adultery among people, but also between his church, the Bride, and Christ. God commands us to refrain from lusting after another god.

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