Lucia's Blog: 2020-04-26
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, May 2, 2020

THE FEAR OF JEHOVAH IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE

"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7



The word "fear" has an evil connotation for most of us. We fear that bad things may happen to us. Some preachers have latched onto this feeling and found enthusiastic support for positive messages that say something like, "We have nothing to fear if we trust in Jesus." The only problem with that is that the Bible is full of warnings to all men, including the saints of God, that we must serve our God with fear and trembling.  Fear of what? The wrath of God if we depart from serving Him! Let us be honest with the Word of God and search out this question as carefully as we can.

In the Proverbs, the “fear of the LORD” is mentioned at least 15 times. According to the wise, it is the only source of wisdom, knowledge, discretion, prudence, truthfulness, and righteousness. The fear of God enables us to live a godly and holy life in a sinful world.  So, what is wisdom?  It is the discernment of everything from God's viewpoint.  What is understanding?  It is the ability to respond according to God's Word.  The "fear of the LORD" is connected to wisdom (cf. Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). 
"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death" (Proverbs 14:27).  

Godliness in the Bible is literally the fear of God and the devotion that grows out of that fear. The proverb says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7).  The fear of God is a fountain of life!  The one who fears God can sleep peacefully because he knows that evil will not touch him, for the LORD encamps around those who fear Him.  Jesus teaches us the fear of God by describing a place of everlasting punishment called hell. The fear of God is clean (Psalm 19:9). There is nothing evil about fearing God!

Today there is a widespread heresy, that since God is love (1 John 4:8b), and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18b), then no Christian should FEAR God.  Is this correct?  NO! and NO!  They have taken this Scripture out of context. They are not handling it correctly.  Many feel that we should avoid mentioning the fear of God because it makes them uncomfortable.  They ignore that "the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him" (Psalm 147:7).  They ignore that in the Old TestamentJoshua exhorted and encouraged the people to "fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness"  (Joshua 24:14).  

From Genesis to Revelation, we are urged to serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11).  Jesus said, 
"Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!"  (Luke 12:4-5)

Jesus spoke more about the fear of hell than He did about the glory of heaven!  He thought it to be urgent. That ought to make us love Him and fear Him!  

Fearing God brings many great blessings and rewards.  Let us not deprive ourselves of the fulfillment of God’s will in full obedience, so that we may meet Him confidently.  It is my prayer that you and I will serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling that we may enter the gates of heaven forever.


I.   WHAT IS THE FEAR OF THE LORD?

It is the belief in our Creator, the God of the Bible, with an awestruck consciousness of His glory and greatness.  It is an earnest desire to obey Him and whatever He requires, to please Him, to avoid His wrath, judgment.  Fear and loving God are very compatible (Deut. 10:12).   In Luke 12:1-5 Jesus said,
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him!"

In this passage, Jesus is speaking explicitly about God's divine authority and perfect justice and not His character.  But someone might say, "God is love," still God's love does not give us license to do as we please, nor is it permissive.  And though our God is a loving God, He is not a God who authorizes or allows sin to continue in His children's lives without consequences whatsoever. 

Unfortunately, there are many people today who misunderstand and misinterpret the meaning of fear toward God completely.  They interpret or define poorly the authority of God or "fear of God" as a detriment (restriction) to one's happiness and an obstruction (hindrance) to one's freedom.  When, in fact, it is precisely the opposite.  
  1. Fearing God is despising or hating what He hates, sin.  
  2. It is wanting and loving what He approves.  
  3. It is guarding our conduct always (our thoughts, words, actions) for His approval (2 Cor. 5:9). 
  4. It is our most fundamental tool for a good conscience, the basis of judging all of our decisions of daily conduct.  
  5. It is matching our life and character with God's perfect will in all.  
  6. It is our goal in life to glorify Him and be in compliance with His Word.  

The fear of God is submission, reverence, commitment, faithfulness, obedience, worship, and honor toward God. It is the most foundational and inclusive expression of love, obedience, and service to God.  And where does all this come from?  From fearing God!  So, do all men fear God? No! Can they all learn it, if they work at it? Yes, of course! 

Although all humanity was born without sin, made upright in the likeness of God, they chose to corrupt themselves and turn away from their Creator God, sinning.  They chose to rebel against Him (Romans 1:18). Thus they must seek after God and learn the fear of God.  
  1. The fear of God is instilled in men when they hear the Gospel, repent, and obey its commands.  When they do this, they begin the process of regeneration through God's grace (Titus 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:22-24; Rom. 12:1-2).  
  2. Once a man is born of the Spirit (John 3:3-8), he can increase and improve in the fear of God through the Word (Deut. 17:19; Psalm 19:9; 34:11).  
  3. The fear of God is something that we must work on until our dying breath.  
  4. We must teach the fear of God by reproof and correction, that we may work the righteousness of God.  
"Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning" (1 Timothy 5:20). 

The fear of men is entirely inferior to the fear of God (Prov. 29:25; Luke 14:26; Acts 5:29).  Even though children must fear their parents, it is not the same as the fear of God (Lev. 19:3; Heb. 12:9). Wives fearing their husbands, still is not the fear of God (Eph. 5:33; 1 Peter 3:5-6).  Servants fearing their masters, still is not the fear of God (Eph. 6:5; 1 Peter 2:18).  Citizens fearing their rulers, still is not the fear of God (Prov. 24:21; Romans 13:3).  

  • Let us consider five factors that must compel us to fear God.
  1. To be in God's presence is dreadful, especially in His wrath (Nahum 1:5-6).  His greatness and majesty are superior to what any man has ever contemplated (Job 37:22).  His glorious Being is superior to men, and because He is holy (Isa. 6:5), His goodness and His attributes must be shielded and muted for man's safety (Exo. 34:5-9).
  2. He is infinitely perfect, righteous, and far superior to anything and anyone else.  He is ruler over all His creation and all facets of life (Eccl. 3:14; Prov. 16:4; Ps. 76:10; Isa. 10:5-15).   He is omniscient, knowing all, both good and bad (Prov. 15:3; Heb. 4:12-13).  He is omnipresent, present in all places, at all times (Ps. 139:7-13; Jer. 23:23-24).  He is omnipotent, able to do anything He purposes to do (Job 37:23; Jer. 32:17).  He is absolutely righteous so that He judges without showing any partiality (Deut. 10:17; Job 34:19; 2 Chron. 19:7).
  3. His creation and His works are awe-inspiring. They inspire fear in those who witness His power and glory.  His creation must compel us to continually fear Him (Ps. 33:6-9).  His providence and power to give and withhold causes us to fear that He may withhold those blessings if we displease Him (Jer. 5:24; Rom. 9:21).  His forgiveness, redemption are aspects of His nature that causes us to fear Him because He had every right to deny us His forgiveness and redemption (Ps. 130:3-4).
  4. His great name ought to produce fear (Ex. 3:13-14; 20:7; Deut. 28:58; Ps. 111:9).  
  5. His judgment, His wrath is fearful (Ex. 14:31; Ps. 119:120; Heb. 10:30-31).


Those who fear God are more prone to live in a way that honors Him.  They keep their commitments and treat others with the same grace God has shown them.  Romans 3, a chapter about sin, declares that mankind's chief reason for sin is that "There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18).  

Many people fear the wrong things.  They think that the world is the "ultimate threat and that God's function is merely to offset it." How different is this from the position that God is supreme and all-powerful in His creation!  The truth is, the world's threats are just temporary.  

You see, when mankind disrespects God and fails to fear Him and His authority as supreme over all His creation, he reduces and diminishes God, our Creator.  His infinite authority and power rescue men from their delusions of self-righteousness by revealing to them the Truth that sets them free from the bondage of sin.

So, what about unbelievers, those who have not yet obeyed the Gospel?  Unbelievers experience a different kind of fear.  For them, the fear of God will begin when they face the judgment of God and eternal death (eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Heb. 10:31).   Indeed, it is a terrifying judgment!  

When we "go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries"  (Hebrews 10:25-27).  When man rejects the Truth, and the redemptive blood of Jesus (that is they remain outside of God's grace and His kingdom), the wrath of God awaits them.  God will indeed execute His judgment over the ungodly and will condemn their ungodly deeds and all the "the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”  (Jude 1:15).  God's righteous wrath will be reserved for those who do not obey the Truth but rather unrighteousness (Romans 2:8).  Knowing this dreadful truth, have you obeyed the Gospel?  

  • Characteristics of those who fear God:
  1. They hate all sin because evil things offend God (evil thoughts, evil works), (Prov. 8:13; 6:16-19; 14:16,27; 16:6; 23:17; Job 1:1; 28:28; Ps. 5:5; 97:10; 110:128; 139:21-22; 2 Cor. 7:1).
  2. They depart from all evil (Prov. 3:7; Ps. 34:14).
  3. They delight in God's commands and keep them (Ps. 112:1; Eccl. 12:13-14; Deut. 10:12-13). They are no burden to them. 
  4. They are willing to sacrifice all for their God.  Abraham proved his fear of God by his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:12).
  5. They obey God's precepts or laws to please Him and avoid His wrath (Ex. 1:17; Heb. 11:7).
  6. They deny themselves, taking up their cross to follow Him and His kingdom of righteousness (Matt. 16:24-26).
  7. They walk uprightly, always doing what is right, just and godly (Prov. 14:2).
  8. They submit to God and others, proper relationships, not disputing, or striving at all (Eph. 5:21).
  9. They do not walk in arrogance, pride, for fear of God is one of the greatest antidotes to arrogance.
  10. They are the best employees, for they fear God and obey Him, knowing that it pleases Him when they serve faithfully, with sincerity of heart, fearing Him (Col. 3:22).
  11. They pray all the time like Cornelius, a God-fearing man (Acts 10:2).
  12. They revere God for His person, name, word, and worship (Psalm 89:7; 86:11; 138:2; 89:7).
  • Four Values of Holy Fear:
  1. The "fear of the LORD" is not rooted in doubt but rather in our confidence and assurance as God's adopted children. The fear of God is the same as the fear and respect a child has for his earthly father, knowing and trusting that He is always there to watch over us when we cry out to Him, “Abba! Father!”
  2. The "fear of the LORD" is also grounded in our respectful knowledge, though limited, of His perfect, excellent character.  God is God, and we are mere men.  His majestic and awesome essence compels us to a profound respect for Him.  It generates a desire in us to live in such a way as to bring the honor and glory that is due Him.  It is a blessing, indeed!
  3. The "fear of the LORD" is also rooted in our desire to be in harmony with God.  We hate sin because it puts a distance between our God and us.  When we separate ourselves from sin, we put that distance where it belongs.  The holy fear of being separated from His blessed communion compels us to draw back when tempted to sin.
  4. The "fear of the LORD" is grounded in our recognition of God's holiness.  God is holy.  Our holy fear forces us to be deeply aware of His holiness and seek to be holy as He is holy.  

For Christians, the fear of God is not the irrational fear of the unknown, but rather a reverent fear for the One who has revealed Himself to us, not only by His creation of the universe but also by His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  We must stress the difference between a holy fear of God and an unholy fear of God.  There is godly fear and ungodly fear (Ex. 20:20; 1 John 4:18; 2 Tim. 1:7; Rev. 21:8). 

Fear that torments is consistent with anguish, distress, rebellion.  It is that kind of fear taught by men.  It is ungodly fear.  The spirit of slavery to sin leads us to fear, sin, anguish, distress, terror, bondage, rebellion, excuses, man-made doctrines and traditions, hypocrisy, laziness, etc. (Prov. 1:27; Prov. 26:13; Prov. 28:14-15; Gen 3:12; Isa. 29:13; 2 Kings 17:24-33; Luke 21:26; Rom. 8:15; Heb. 2:15).  

Rather, the Spirit of adoption through Christ leads us to communion, adoption, forgiveness, love, trust, joy, hope, trembling, honor, dread, thanksgiving, and ultimately our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:15; 1 John 4:18; Ps. 130:4; Ps. 31:19; Ps. 2:11; Ps. 33:18; 147:11; Isa. 8:13; Ps. 119:120; Ps. 34:10, Mal. 1:6; Isa. 11:3).  

Seeking God is godly or holy fear. The fear of God is compatible with loving God (Deut. 6:4-54 cp Deut. 10:12-13).  The fear of God is entirely compatible with humble faith (Micah 6:6-8; Heb. 11:6).  Godly fear seeks after God with repentance, godly sorrow, hoping for His mercy and forgiveness (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 33:18; 130:4; 147:11; Isa. 6:5-8; Matt. 15:21-28; Luke 5:8-9; 7:36-50; 18:13; Acts 2:37-38).  Ungodly or unholy fear runs away in rebellion and self-pity (Gen. 3:10; 2 Sam. 6:9-10; Matt. 27:3-6).


II.   DEVELOPING THE FEAR OF GOD:
  • Through the Word of God:
Each of us must increase in our knowledge of the Word of God (grace).  The same is said about the fear of God (Deut. 31:10-13; 17:19; Psalm 19:9; 119:120).  The fear of God must be taught, that it may fill our minds and hearts (Ps. 34:11; 2 Kings 17:24-33).  We must pray to God, that He may teach us to fear Him that we may walk in His Truth and have communion with Him (Ps. 86:11). When one studies and meditates on the Word of God, he can learn the fear of God.  Are you letting the Word of God teach you a proper reverence for Him?  Through God's Word, we learn to make choices based on the fear of the LORD.
  1. If I fear God, I will not think contrary to His Word and will (Prov. 24:9; 15:26; Job 31:1).
  2. If I fear God, I will not say things contrary to His Word (Ps. 19:14; Prov. 10:32; 8:8).  
  3. If I fear God, I will not do things contrary to His will and Word (Gen. 39:9; Job 31:9-12).  
  4. If I fear God, I will think thoughts pleasing and in harmony with God's will and Word (Phil. 4:8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).  
  5. If I fear God, I will speak things agreeable to His will and Word (Mal. 3:16; Ps. 73:15;; Eph. 5:4).  
  6. If I fear God, I will do things that are pleasing to God (Ps. 15:1-4; 101:2-3; Ec. 12:13).  
Isn't it wonderful to be around those who fear God!!  (Psalm 119:63, 74, 79).  All righteous and godly men fear God (Titus 1:8; Ps. 15:4).

Sadly, 
  1. Some only care about God's love and neglect to fear God.  
  2. Others read their Bibles only about God's lovingkindness but neglect to read about God's judgment.  
  3. Some belittle God's holiness and righteousness when they allow permissiveness in their lives without the fear of God.  

God's grace and forgiveness are only for those who fear Him and repent of their sins and live lives of holiness and godliness (2 Peter 3:7-14; Romans 2:4-11).  Let us study the Word of God to develop a reverent fear of God!


III.   THE FEAR OF GOD AND THE EARLY CHURCH:

The early church walked in the fear of God (Acts 2:42-43; 5:5, 11; 9:31; 10:35; 13:26; 24:25, etc.). The church was described with the phrase, "fear came on every soul" (Acts 2:43).  
  1. Because of their fear of God, they bore good fruits: 3,000 Jews obeyed the Gospel and persevered in the doctrine of the apostles.  In fact, they were willing to suffer lashings, imprisonment, and even death.  The church had to be taught the fear of God.  
  2. Because of that fear of God, they were motivated to love and commune with one another, sacrificing to serve the physical needs of their brethren (Acts 2:44-46).  They likewise were motivated to obey God first rather than men (Acts 5:29).  They were moved to provide for needy widows (Acts 6).  They were motivated to suffer persecution (Acts 8:1-4).  The Book of Acts is filled with wonderful stories of those who feared God and bore much fruit for God's glory.  Their fear of God had a lot to do with the success of the Gospel, the church, the dedication, devotion, and sanctification of the members.
  • The Fear of God In The Epistles:
People sin against God because "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:10-18). Lawlessness abounded because they had no fear of God (Romans 1:28).  Those who fear God honor all people (Romans 13:7); they persuade, warn, and admonish those who disobey God (2 Cor. 5:11).  Those who refuse to cleanse and purify their souls from the defilement of the flesh cannot perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).  That simple!!  Moreover, the church that fears God exercises discipline according to the teachings of Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5, 11, 13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14.


CONCLUSION:

The fear of God moves us to abandon sin, separate, and cleanse ourselves from it. Those who fear God will receive a great reward. Even in this life, they will receive honor and riches; they will be defended by God.  Those who are wise fear God because they understand, appreciate, and develop reverence toward Him in their lives.  Since we walk on holy ground, our lives must reflect reverence toward God.  Otherwise, we run the risk of being consumed by God's wrath against our sins (Heb. 12:29).  Fearing God means one does not fear man.  The fear of God saves us from the bondage of sin.  Wisdom originates in the fear of God.
  1. God opens our eyes, ears, and hearts to His Truth and wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15; James 1:5).
  2. God opens the eyes of men through His Word; He shows them His secrets.  
  3. If we are wise enough to accept His treasures, we will fear no man, for God's wisdom, cannot be found, but in the fear of God (Job 28:12-28).   
  4. The man who fears the LORD will be greatly blessed (Ps. 128:1-6).  
  5. The one who does not fear the LORD is destroyed by the ungodly snares of this world (Prov. 10:27; 22:5; Eccl. 7:17).

The fear of the LORD is sober reverence and a holy desire to please God.  Those who fear God reject sin.  The fountain of life does not depend on circumstances, but on fearing God, for even if we have little, but fear the LORD, our life is better than the life of someone who has great treasure surrounded with trouble (Prov. 15:16).   Jesus, our Lord, feared God the Father, even when facing death on the cross.  Because of His fear and reverenceHe provided a fountain of eternal life to save mankind from the wrath of God.  Those who love and fear Him will find the Truth (John 8:32). Fearing God is connected to judgment (Rev. 14:7).  God is the Righteous Judge of all His creation who sits on His throne, judging all the nations with justice and equity.

All those who fear God will do what is necessary to become acceptable and pleasing to Him (Acts 10:35).  Holiness is perfected when we walk in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7:1).  But the fear of God must be taught (Psalm 34:11).  The fear of God helps us to depart from evil and gives us a righteous understanding (Job 28:28).  The natural man refuses to fear and obey God.  The Bible calls them fools (Ps. 14:1; 36:1; 58:1).  Their reasoning is perverse and full of conceited ideas and assumptions (Rom. 1:20-23; 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 20-21).  

The spiritual man fears God and thus is wise and reasonable.  He is rescued because his thoughts begin with faith and fear in God (2 Thess. 3:2; Heb. 11:3,6).  Now, the fool is deceived with the thoughts, thinking of other fools rather than the Words of God.  The knowledge of a fool revolves around his assumptions.  He assumes his ideas are smarter and more rational.  While the righteous and God-fearing man affirms his faith based on God's infinite wisdom and Truth revealed in the Scriptures.  He humbles himself and acknowledges with godly fear that he knows nothing and needs God's help.  He knows the Word of God is entirely true and perfect.

The fear of God is clean (Psalm 19:9). There is nothing evil about fearing God.  The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and good understanding.  Those who practice it keep His commands and turn away from evil (Psalm 34:11; 111:10; Job 28:28).  True fulfillment is found in fearing God and keeping His commands.  Those who do not fear God, will not keep His commands, or at least not those he wishes to ignore (cf. John 14:15; I John 5:3).  To live a holy life, the fear of God is necessary.  Our fear of God determines our commitment to holiness.  

In 2 Cor. 7:1 Paul stated, 
"Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

It's not enough to be set apart partially for God's use. We must be set apart for His purposes completely!  When we fear God, we will allow Him to shape our lives and our hearts through His Gospel message into things much more excellent than bars of steel. We will not resist God's way (as steel) to mold, polish, and refine us.  The more we fear God, the more we will allow Him to shape us and use us for His purposes. 

Sadly, many churches are moving farther from the fear of the LORD.  It is an indication that they fear men rather than God.  Many pulpits avoid teaching the fear of God as they soften the Message.  In their effort, they are running from the very thing the church needs:  the fear of God and giving Him glory.  

You see, the early church walked "in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:31).  Did you catch that?!  The church was powerful and multiplied because they walked in the fear of God and not to please men.  Did you know that sanctification, holiness, and the fear of God go hand in hand?  Paul reminds us to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"  (Phil. 2:12).  There can be no regeneration, no renewing of our minds, without the fear of the LORD.  
  1. Fear motivates one to godly sorrow and forgiveness.  
  2. The fear of the LORD saves man from himself.  
  3. The fear of God involves respect and reverence toward God Almighty.  
  4. Godly or holy fear protects us.  
  5. So often, reverent fear moves men to Christ and His plan of redemption.  

Therefore, the church must preach and teach the fear of God and faithfulness to Him.  We live in a godless society that has been affected by this.  They have lost reverence toward God and His Word, His Truth.  They refuse to serve Him with reverence in doctrine, worship, and conduct. They have neither respect nor honor toward God or His authority, submitting to Him in all things (Heb. 12:9; Col. 3:17, 23; Ps. 111:10; 119;161; Eccl. 12:13).  We must fight against the current and start exalting God, for He must be rightly feared.  The world, even Christians sometimes use the tune, NO FEAR!  Come on!!!  Even the devil's angels have more common sense than we have.

Many think that God and the word "fear" are incompatible, for all they know is the sentimental, silly caricature they have created.  They show absolutely no fear of God.  Let us never forget that our lives reflect our reverence or fear toward God.  If we let sin consume our lives, because of our lack of fear and reverence toward God, His wrath will consume us (Heb. 12:29). Take heed!
"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (fear); 29 for our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29).

May we always fear, trust, and submit to God's will, waiting with patience for Him to transform us.   May we fear God always, walking in His ways, loving and serving Him with all our heart and soul. May we cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of sin, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. May we put into practice the fear of God in every aspect of our life here on earth, that we may sanctify and exalt our Creator God.  May we teach all men the fear of the LORD, that they may come to know and obey Him and receive salvation.


Luci

Thursday, April 30, 2020

RISING ABOVE DISCOURAGEMENT

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:9



Discouragement is like a brick wall.  It stops the best of us in midstride at the moment of doing wonderful things. The Lord shows us the secrets of success over this darkness. He has raised up great men to show us how they faced their own disappointments, got back on their feet, and returned to active duty. There is too much to do and too little time to do it, for us to waste our time looking back. Let's study together God's recommendations to His saints who fall into disillusionment and inaction.

The way we view and respond to disappointments will determine how we press on and persevere with joy.  God's grace equips us with all that we need to respond adequately.  Disappointment is often the result of our expectations.  We seem to have no choice or control.  Disappointments can cause many unwelcome and harmful emotions for us and those around us:  anger, unforgiveness, frustration, bitterness, etc.  It can also cause us to feel hopeless, helpless, weary, depressed, lacking enthusiasm, pessimistic, bored, and half-hearted.

Indeed, life is hard. We are constantly reminded of disasters, tragedies, heartaches, the failing economy, the decline of moral principles, lawlessness, family struggles, etc.  These troublesome times make us pessimistic rather than optimistic.  Many fixate on things that are tragic and negative. We must learn to see the big picture and be able to be of good cheer.  No matter how bad things might appear, we Christians know that God loves us and will be there for us in our time of need.  He will lift us up during our difficult times.  But we must focus on God Almighty and what He can do for us.  We must learn to rejoice always, for we have the hope of heaven as our home.  Our God will strengthen us in our time of need.  So let us draw nearer to God in prayer, addressing all of our worries, fears, pessimism, and problems to Him alone.  I assure you, He will answer our prayers according to His kindness and mercy.

Consider some great men of God who overcame discouragement and disappointment and let us learn from their example.


I.  GREAT MEN OF GOD WHO OVERCAME DISCOURAGEMENT:
  • Joseph:
Joseph's discouragement and disappointment could have brought about very real emotions. Discouragement affects the heart (Proverbs 13:12). It can result in bitterness, a hardness of heart, callousness, and an unforgiving spirit.

In Genesis 42:21, we read of Joseph's anguish of heart.  His soul was anguished.  Throughout the Scriptures, we read of anguished souls.  Jesus was the greatest example, as He prepared to die on the cross for our sins.  And though we can trust God amid our discouragements and disappointments, that does not prevent us from experiencing anguish.

Throughout Joseph's disappointments, he never complained.  That is remarkable!  He was a man of quiet and mature character.  He trusted in His God, knowing that He was in control.  We must have this heart when we are discouraged and disappointed.  We must realize that our disappointments serve a purpose in our lives.

Though Joseph experienced profound disappointment in his relationship with his brothers, he focused on honoring God in every circumstance of his life (Genesis 39:2-3; 39:21-23).  In Genesis 39:6-13, Joseph:
  1. Resisted the temptations of Potiphar's wife, because he was unwilling to sin against God.  
  2. He trusted in God even though he was beaten with disappointment. 
  3. He trusted God at every turn.  
  4. Joseph chose not to worry about that which he could not control.  
  5. Though he experienced disappointment, he didn't become absorbed with life's worries: those things that were beyond his control.  
  6. He acknowledged that no matter what might happen, God was going to be glorified through him.  
  7. He likewise bloomed in every situation.  He chose to bloom where he was planted.  Even in prison, he trusted in God in the hope that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

You see, Joseph’s disappointments carried out God’s providential plan to save both him and his family.  God used disappointment to change Joseph's character.  Remember, Joseph's brothers did not appreciate his attitude.  As a young man, Joseph's conduct was not the best.  Remember, he “tattled” on his brothers and boasted about his position and dreams.  It looks like he lacked humility, wisdom, and sensitivity.

You see, pride and insensitivity produce jealousy and hatred in others.  And as God looked upon Joseph, He knew he could mold and shape him into a great man of God and used him in a mighty way.  Joseph's disappointments resulted in him becoming humble and sensitive to others. What is the lesson here?  That we must learn to lose before we can win.  That we must trust in God no matter our disappointments.  That we must stay on the right course and allow God to work in our lives.  That we must learn to train ourselves to rejoice when we are disappointed and appreciate the disguised blessings that come with it.

We must learn not to see our disappointments as disappointments but rather as an opportunity to bloom wherever we are found and to fulfill God's will in our lives.  We cannot do that without being humble.

God can use disappointments to shape our character but also to change our circumstances.  Joseph's events in life led him in the right direction, into the arms of God.  God saved the lives of many by using Joseph, a man who trusted in God through many disappointments.  

  • Moses:
Moses was overwhelmed and discouraged because he had been given great responsibility for God's people.  All they wanted to do was complain.  Moses was at his wit's end!  He was so discouraged at one point, that he wanted God to end his life if nothing changed (Numbers 11:11).

Some in Moses' shoes would have given up and walked away or taken their own life.  But Moses did not do this!  He instead went to God in prayer when he felt overwhelmed (Numbers 11:16).  We can rest assured that if we pray to God, He will provide relief.  In Moses' case, God allowed 70 men to share Moses' responsibility.  We must learn to share some of the responsibilities with others when we feel overwhelmed and when there is more than we can handle.

  • David:
When David was still a young man (a shepherd), the army of Israel was afraid.  He came to the battlefield, not as a participant, but to visit his brothers and bring a report to his father.  While he was there, he heard the mockery and the insults of Goliath. He began to wonder why no one was answering.  Sadly, the entire army was acting cowardly (1 Samuel 17:11, 24).  But David was not afraid!  He dared to go after this giant alone.  He trusted in His God rather than in his military strength or tactics (1 Samuel 17:37, 45-46).  And though he used his sling, he still trusted in God!

Today we need to remember that God is with us!  So when we feel discouraged, let us not forget that we are not standing alone.  God is with us as He has promised it (Heb. 13:5).  He will never leave us!  With God, there is no need to fear since we are standing with Him (Romans 8:31, 35-39).  So let us not be discouraged or lose heart.  Let us stand with courage, knowing that God is with us as He was with David.  Through Him, we will gain victory!

  • Joshua:
When Joshua was fighting against the small city of Ai, he expected an easy win.  To his surprise, it did not happen.  He starts blaming God for their defeat.  Does that sound familiar when we are disappointed and discouraged because things go wrong?  But, what we refuse to acknowledge is that there is something else to blame.  Joshua found this out when he prayed to God.  God told him the real problem (Joshua 7:10-12).  So what kept them from defeating Ai?  Sin!  As soon as they took care of the sin, they were able to defeat Ai.  So let us not blame God when troubling times strike us.  Instead, let us acknowledge that God is there to help us succeed so that we may rejoice in Him.  Sin in our life is often the cause of our problem, and we need to take care of it.


II.   OVERCOMING DISCOURAGEMENT AND DISSAPOINTMENT:

Discouragement and disappointment demand our immediate attention.  We must refuse to be discouraged, for neither God nor man can use a discouraged person.  Discouragement and disappointment affect our faith and renders us unprofitable.  It can infect others.  It is one of the weapons in Satan's arsenal.  He will try at all costs to discourage us and give up (2 Cor. 2:11). We cannot allow him to drag us down.

In times of discouragement, God will be there to help us.  But we must determine not to remain discouraged.  Consider what we must do when we are discouraged.

  • Determine Not to Remain Discouraged:  
We need to determine that we will not stay down. We must use mental discipline.  The Bible speaks a lot of physical discipline and self-control.  It also encourages us to use mental discipline (Proverbs 23:7; 2 Cor. 10:5). So we must determine not to be discouraged.  God has given us everything we need to overcome discouragement. 

  • Insist on Finding the Good in Every Circumstance: 
This is crucial to defeating discouragement.  David said,
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:7).  

So often affliction in our life compels us to turn our hearts back to the Word of God.  

  • Set Realistic Goals:  
Setting achievable goals helps us to deal with discouragement.  So often those who become discouraged and disappointed find out that they have set their goals so high that they will never reach them.  On the other hand, if you set your goals too low, knowing in your heart, you can do more, discouragement, and disappointment may still set it in.  So don't set your goals too high or too low.  God knows our hearts and abilities, and He can make us become more than we can imagine.

One Scripture that might help us to set realistic goals is found in Matt. 25. We read about a five talent man, a two talent man, and one talent man.  All three had abilities.   We must become greater and faithful servants of God.  It will help us set realistic goals that we can achieve.  When we use our abilities in the Lord's service, it will bless us and bring comfort to us (Mark 14:3).  

  • Cultivating a Positive Outlook on Life Helps Us with Discouragement:  
Some Christians’ outlook on life is so pessimist, gloom, and doom that they allow themselves to feel discouraged all the time.  They forget to acknowledge that they are serving a living God who is all-knowing, all-powerful.  He has promised us He will make all things work together for our good.  So how in the world can a Christian go around with a pessimist attitude?!  As children of God, we need to be more optimistic.  Our outlook determines our outcome. 

  • Observe God's Dealings with His Children and Be Thankful:  
That is, count your many blessings and see what the Lord has done for you.  When we observe how God has dealt with us, it should encourage us.  When we think about how much mercy and love God has bestowed on us, it will help us not to be discouraged and lose heart.  God stands on all His promises, and He will not forsake us (Psalm 37:25, John 10:29).  When we acknowledge how God has never failed us, it will help us to overcome discouragement in our life.   

  • Use Difficult Times to Strengthen Your Faith:  
We can rest assured that we all will have difficult times in our life.  We can use these difficult times to destroy us and weaken our faith, or on the other hand, we can use them to strengthen our faith.  Think of Paul and Job, who faced difficult times throughout their lives but did not allow their difficulties to overwhelm them (Job 14:1; 2 Tim. 2:3). Thus, as soldiers of Christ is His army, we must endure hardship and choose to learn and grow from them.  In doing this, we can rest assured that our faith will grow.  

  • Resist the Devil:  
Discouragement is one of Satan's wiles.  So we must resist him!  (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9).  When we are steadfast in our faith, we will resist Satan.  Through God's Word, we have the assurance that if we resist the devil in whatever he throws at us, he will flee from us.  It should encourage us to know that our brethren are experiencing the same difficulties we are and are not allowing Satan to discourage them.  If they can overcome their discouragement, we can too!

  • Avoid Self-Pity at All Costs:  
This is where we get into trouble so many times.  We must understand that discouragement and disappointment are universal and that our brethren have experienced the same things we are (1 Peter 5:9).  So when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, believing that you have it so bad, why not think of what our Lord Jesus had to endure for you and me on this earth, all of His sufferings? (Hebrews 12:1).

  • Get Involved in The Lord's Work So That You Can Overcome Discouragement: 
It is no surprise that Satan overwhelms us at times, simply because we are too stagnant and idle, making it easier for him.  Choose to get involved in God's work and be about His business, and don't be idle.  The more work we do for God, the more focused we will be on Him, and the fewer times we will be discouraged (Acts 26:20).

  • Encourage Others:  
This is another good way to defeat discouragement.  It helps a lot!  Encouragement is the best weapon to combat discouragement.  So we must learn to encourage one another and be more like Barnabas. He was a great encourager to the apostles.  His name literally means son of encouragement (Acts 4:36).  Another great example is Timothy (1 Thess. 3:1-3).  He encouraged the Thessalonians tremendously to remain faithful to God through their many afflictions.  So let us be encouragers like Timothy and Barnabas.

  • Make Prayer a Daily Habit:  
Surrender yourself to prayers.  We must make prayer a daily habit to thoroughly overcome discouragement (Luke 18:1).  We lose heart when we don't pray the way we ought to.  And that is exactly what discouragement is, losing heart.  I assure you that if you pray and study the Word of God when you are discouraged, you will not lose heart either.  I have noticed this in my life.  So pray, pray, and don’t faint.  Take it to the feet of Jesus.  He will rescue you.  Remember that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, and we should too.  In fact, Jesus advised His disciples to do the same.

  • Escape The Past:  
Take heed to what Paul said,
"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead"  (Philippians 3:13).

Paul is urging us not to hang on to the past.  We must put our past behind and not allow it to drag us down.  Likewise, we must be continually growing and reaching forward to the goal that is set before us, heaven.  

As Christians, we must be hungering and thirsting for righteousness always (Matt. 5:6).  We live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).  We must esteem God's Word more than our earthly needs (Job 23:12).  When one is pressing forward,
  1. He will devote himself to learning more and more about God's will and ways.  
  2. He will do his best to follow Christ's footsteps.
  3. He will faithfully strive to please God and not himself.  
  4. He will have a strong desire for his goal, heaven.  Nothing will impede him from this goal.  

So let us always look forward to heaven and keep pressing on to reach it and not allow our past to discourage us and rob us of our goal. 

  • Nurture a Patient Spirit Within Yourself with The Emphasis on Yourself!  
As we grow in Christ, we must realize that this is a process that's not going to happen in 1 or 2 days. It is a lifetime commitment of devotion to the Lord.  So don't become discouraged, thinking that you're not growing as fast as you should.  Remember that as long as you’re striving hard to grow, that is all that matters to God.  So try to be patient with yourself and with others as well.  It will leave no room for discouragement and disappointment (1 Thess. 5:14; Ezra 10:13).

  • Take Life One Day at a Time (Matt. 6:34): 
 Often we allow ourselves to be discouraged and disappointed because we are constantly thinking about tomorrow.  The Bible tells us to redeem the time for the days are evil (Eph. 5:16).  It is vital to grasp this to focus on what really matters.  Today we have enough problems to distract us, so let us not drag in tomorrow's problems.

  • Study Your Bible to Find Encouragement (Lam. 3:22; Micah 7:8; 2 Thess. 6:16-17):  
It is healthy food for our souls.  Have Bible studies in your homes, even if there are no visitors.  Go more frequently to gospel meetings to be edified and be with brethren of the same precious faith.  “from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”  (Psalm 62:1).

  • Surround Yourself with Positive and Godly People:  
When Job was undergoing moments of grief and loss, his friends offered prayers and comfort.  They also tried to convince Job that the reason for his suffering was sin.  In their efforts to try to help Job, they ended up pulling him away from God.  Can this be us at times?  The advice of our friends or family may take us further from the Lord.  On the other hand, what really helps and edifies us is the company of positive and godly people when we are low or discouraged (2 Cor. 7:6).  It is such a blessing to have the company of those who love the Lord and are bound to frequently pray and love the Word of God with all their heart.  This is priceless and of great help to the faint-hearted.  It can be a well of strength, comfort, and refreshment to the weary soul.


CONCLUSION:

Discouragement and disappointment are a reality that every Christian must deal with and embrace. With God's help, we can overcome both.  We can choose to mope, groan, and laze around, or we can choose to be positive and seek God for help.

Jesus is our perfect example of conduct and attitudes.  We must imitate Him (1 Cor. 11:1).  While Jesus was here on earth, He also had to face discouragement but did not give up.  He recognized that the key to His circumstances was in Him, not in the obstacles.  And He faced it!  Discouragement is a condition of the mind and not of one’s circumstances.  Happiness does not depend on our circumstances but on us.  Keeping a good spirit is the solution to discouragement.

Jesus saw things from God's viewpoint, and that viewpoint is not discouraging.  He urged His disciples to have the same perspective.  In John 4:35, He told them to "lift up your eyes."  So, no matter what happens in our lives, everything will turn out positively and well if we are faithful in doing God's will.  All things will work out for good to all faithful Christians (Romans 8:28).  Jesus kept working when He found obstacles in every direction.  He always tried to find the solution to all His obstacles.  Nothing was left for Him to do but to die.  He went to the cross willingly and confidently!

We must learn to deal with our emotions (anger, resentment, frustration, bitterness, hopelessness, and depression).  They can cause many unwanted and harmful things.  We must not blame others for our discouragement and disappointment.  We must not allow room for the spirit of blame in our life. We must understand why we are discouraged and ask God to help us.  Discouragement does not depend on others but us (Phil. 4:11).  We must learn to see things from God's viewpoint and in light of eternity.  How will it look in view of heaven or hell on Judgment Day?  Remember that in times of discouragement and disappointment, we must cast all of our anxieties on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Though things may not turn out the way we have planned or would have wanted them to be, look to Jesus, and follow His example.  You may feel so discouraged and disappointed that you want to quit or give up, look to Jesus, and follow His example.  Keep doing your best to reach your goal, heaven, and keep doing God's will with all your might.  So pray and pray and do not faint. Pray like Jesus always did.  When faced with discouragement and disappointments, pray and don't give up!  (1 Thess. 5:17).

Our Lord Jesus will be there in times of discouragement and disappointments to calm us.  Take courage, knowing that our God is with us!  Even amid discouragement and threats, we can still be examples of holiness and righteousness.  So do not despair! Know that our God and our brethren can help us through our difficult times.  Do not let discouragement, disappointment, doubt, and worry, pull you away from God.

 So, when the world says give up, God whispers, try it one more time and don't give up, I am with you.  Why not trust in God and pray to Him?  He can see us through anything.  He is the Rock that will lift us up when we are down.  We can confidently “pant” for Him as a deer pants for the cool refreshing water.  Do not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Gal. 6:9).

Therefore, let us not waste our life living in disappointment each day.  Why not choose to trust God amid life's disappointments, knowing that He is working for the good of those who love Him and that we can use our disappointments for His glory and the good of others?  Why not let God change our hearts by our disappointments, looking forward to our eternal home with Him free from life's disappointments?  God cares and can help us overcome doubt and discouragement.  He will give us the strength to overcome our discouragement and disappointments.  He will command His lovingkindness on us to heal our hearts.

May we rest in the Lord's unfailing love when overtaken by discouragement.  May we turn the eyes of our hearts to our tender and loving Savior who does not break the reed that is already bruised.  And may we be sustained by God's strength to overcome our distresses.

"Hear my cry, O God; Attend unto my prayer.  2 From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  3 For thou hast been a refuge for me, A strong tower from the enemy.  4 I will dwell in thy tabernacle forever:  I will take refuge in the covert of thy wings."
Psalm 61:1-5


Luci

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

EXAMINE YOURSELF!

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 
2 Corinthians 13:5



Is it really possible that we can believe in Jesus, yet not be in the faith? You can see how important it is that we pause and meditate on 2 Corinthians 13:5.  This Scripture gives us warnings and instructions on how to build up our faith that we may behave in a manner worthy of God, modeling Christ in our lives.

We have been given everything we need in Christ to fulfill God’s will, overcome sin, walk triumphantly, spread the aroma of Christ, be transformed into the likeness of Christ, and behold the glory of the Lord.  Let us consider what it means to be in the faith and have Christ in us.
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Although we are clay jars, we own the treasure of the Gospel, which we must share with all men (2 Cor. 4:7).
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."


I.   CHRIST IN US:
"Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Corinthians 13:5)

As faithful disciples of Christ, we must not allow sin to rule our lives but rather repent and take action before it is forever too late. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, we are given a very powerful command to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. So we must check or test ourselves constantly (always), to be in the likeness of our Lord Jesus. When one examines, tests or checks himself, he does not have to wonder if he is in the faith, if Christ is in him, if he is a faithful servant of Christ, for he knows the answer. 

  1. If Christ is in us, meekness and gentleness will rule and be reflected in our lives. 
  2. When Christ is in us, we will refuse to act boastfully, arrogantly, and self-serving
  3. When Christ is in us, we will not remain in sin, but repent right away, for repentance will be our greatest desire. 
  4. When Christ is in us, we want to do right and not wrong, for we want to behave in a manner worthy of God and His principles of righteousness. 

    • Mature And Complete in Christ:  Spiritual Growth
Those who want to be like Christ long to be mature and complete in Him. And though the apostle Paul’s goal was to call the brethren in Corinth to repentance, warning them about God’s discipline, his goal was not to destroy or intimidate them but rather to build them up and not tear them down. Our primary goal must be to build one another up and not destroy the work of God. We must stir up one another to love and good works! (Hebrews 10:24).

Correction is necessary, for it is for our own good and direction! We do this because we don’t want Satan to move us away from the path of Truth, life, and righteousness. So we must examine ourselves to see if there is anything in our lives that we must correct and turn away from for Christ to be in us.

To bring ourselves to completion and maturity, we must examine ourselves to be restored to God’s will and purposes. Paul ends this letter to the Corinthians, giving us some goals that we must bring to completion. He concludes by saying,

“Finally, brothers, rejoice.” 


Being joyful is not earthly happiness, for our joy is based on our relationship with God through our Lord and Savior. As we examine ourselves, our primary goal must be to grow in spiritual maturity to the stature of Christ, encouraging one another to good works, agreeing with one another, being like-minded, and having harmony with one another.

Remember how divided the church in Corinth was, for it was full of conflict and strife. Thus our goal must be not to cause anyone to stumble but to seek harmony with one another and live in peace. We must choose to be peacemakers rather than to look for ways to harm and cause conflict with one another.


CONCLUSION:

Therefore, we must be willing to acknowledge that we are weak and need each other. Most importantly, we need to draw near to God. Examine yourself, and repent if you must, and let your boast not be in yourself but only in our Lord who has chosen and adopted weak people such as we are, and has shown His strength and power to save us.

May we examine ourselves to be in the likeness of our Lord Jesus.  May we never allow sin to rule our lives but rather repent and take action before it is forever too late.  May we grow in spiritual maturity to the stature of Christ.  May we encourage one another to good works, being likeminded, and having harmony with one another, living in peace.  May our boast not be in ourselves but rather in our Lord, who has chosen and adopted us, showing His strength and power to save us (1 Co. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17).
"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends" (2 Cor. 10:17-18).
"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'" (1 Cor. 1:27-31).


Luci

Monday, April 27, 2020

ARE WE GLORIFYING GOD ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 

Our social media have created a surreal world for us. We communicate with the world from a safe distance. No eyes can see us unless we want them to. We can say what we really want to say without immediate consequences. It is like being a little drunk: either you become your belligerent self or your sweet self, and sometimes people get hurt. Let's talk about some old Gospel principles that might help our relationships in this new field of experience.

Social media is an incredible resource, an outlet for wit and wisdom. It is an excellent way to connect with people; one would never have met otherwise; to get news and share information broader and faster. On the other hand, it is a place where common sense and decency often die. Many foolish people spew hatred, lunacy, and folly, without a second thought. They do not follow God's wisdom in their social media. Thanks to mediums like Facebook, some take pride in sowing strife and stirring the pot when it would be better to show gentleness, kindness (2 Tim. 2:24), and love (Eph. 4:15).

Some use Facebook as a means to troll others. This is seen in many political posts. Some create memes and images to troll with something that is completely false.  As a result, many believe these lies and share them with others, causing flames of controversy, endless arguments, and divisive issues. How sad!  Memes are used to distort the truth, especially in the political arena.  We must be careful since many news sources can not be trusted!  Many political websites twist reality and distort facts, so people will click on the links and help them generate ad revenue. Take heed!

The venom is sometimes more potent when someone is sharing and defending the Truth and God's principles of righteousness. Many forget that we can tell and defend the Truth without devastating and vehement vituperation. Social media is a weapon at times to instigate and spread division instead of promoting love and unity among brethren. It grieves me greatly when I see my brethren starting brawls and outrage over politics, race, law enforcement, “guilt by association,” and nitpicking the church. Surely we can express our faith and convictions without divisive diversions. Do you think the Lord is pleased with that kind of entertainment and ungodly behavior? The question at stake is: Do you use Facebook and other social media as a tool for the glory of God or as a distraction from spiritual priorities? Is Facebook helping or hindering you from walking in righteousness and holiness?  


I.  HOW SHOULD WE SOCIALIZE ON FACEBOOK OR OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA?

  • Restraint 
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).

Restraint is the keyword here. It means to hold back, mind our words when posting, or making comments. It is a wise reminder for all of us that we not spout off (brag or boast about anything). In speaking, there is great danger of sinning with our lips. God's wisdom instructs us to abate our words and keep silent as much as possible. He who is wise reflects soberly before he utters any words, for he knows it is easy to sin when words are many, and transgression is not lacking. Our God, the God of wisdom, advises us to be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).

Remember, that once words are spoken, you can never take them back. The fool often says, “I wish I’d never said that,” or, “Why did I say that?” Do you know that you can save yourself from such misery? Then learn to limit your words and refrain your lips from idle and foolish speech. Hold your tongue!  Cut your words in half. Talk less, and don't sin. Remember, the tongue is a deadly fire (Jas 3:1-12).

When one exercises his listening skills, he talks little. The wise man has learned to restrain his words to acquire knowledge. Thus, he is a man of gentle spirit and understanding.  So why not be wise and consider your words before you post anything on Facebook? You will regret what came out of your lips, sooner or later. Review your words before they're posted! Remember, that once words are spoken or posted, you can never take them back. We must hold our tongue!

  • Pride and Disgrace:
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

Pride and disgrace are present here.  Some think that their opinions deserve everyone’s ears and that they can foolishly speak on any issue without a second thought on social media such as Facebook.  The arrogant man makes costly mistakes that bring him shame. His pride distorts his ability to think wisely. But a humble and prudent man can clearly see right and wrong, truth and error, wisdom and folly.

  • Contempt:
“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent” (Proverbs 11:12).

Sadly some lack sense and belittle others on social media. Who shows understanding? The silent one. So simple, yet so difficult!   The way one talks about others reveals his character and heart.  Many fall into sin quickly with their words when they despise those around them.  They cannot hold their peace from critical and negative criticism, judgment, remarks, opinions, and comments about others.  A wise and righteous man is moved by compassion, mercy, and kindness, along with prayer toward his neighbor even when he is mistreated. He does not despise or scorn his neighbor.   God's counsel warns us against backbiting or insulting our neighbor.  He who is wise and righteous does not belittle others.  He restrains the sneering words that only fools (wicked men) are hasty to utter.

Nothing can justify contempt of one toward another. Period!


  • Rash Words:
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).  

The keyword here is rash: thoughtless, unconsidered. How often do we fire off a post or make comments on Facebook without thinking? And when we do, it’s intentional, ignoring a much better alternative, godly behavior. Our speech can cause trouble, pain, or healing to others. The wise have learned to rule their tongue to be a blessing to others.

So when you're on Facebook, do others bleed or grow when you end a conversation? Do others love interacting with you because it is pleasant and profitable? Or do they avoid you because of how you make them feel? Do you leave them bleeding? Do you encourage and help them? Or are you a stumbling block? Remember that a man’s words reveal his heart (Pr. 10:20; Matt. 12:34-37). The wise avoid the swords of others (Pr. 9:7-8; 16:27; 21:19; 23:9).


  • Prudence:
“A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly” (Proverbs 12:23).

Do you know that the more we post on Facebook, and the faster we post, the less prudent we become? It reveals a lack of knowledge or wisdom; thus, we say what we ought not. It would be wiser to hold back. A wise man keeps his mouth shut, even when he knows more than anyone around him. A fool cannot keep his mouth shut, even when he basically knows nothing, for his heart demands that he keep spewing foolishness. The tongue, the bodily member by which one speaks, is a great source of evil and trouble. Our words can hurt and harm others. A prudent man is wise, for he knows when and how to be careful or cautious with his words, especially when he’s posting. Although he has understanding and wisdom, he does not easily share it, for he keeps humility (Pr. 29:11).

  • Self-Control:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

How many times are people tempted to respond to a post on Facebook right away (especially when they're angry) when they shouldn't? It would be better to sleep on it and consider our words with more care before we respond to a post or comment. A wise man gets his spirit under control and rules it.

  • Harsh Words:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Some would rather respond to a post right away when they're angry rather than waiting until they're calm, and their mind is clearer so that they can respond with a soft answer. Indeed, it takes two to fight. But when either party shows kindness, he can stop the fighting. Peacemakers don't use provocative and offensive words when angry. The wise man ends peaceably any matter that causes anger by responding gently and kindly rather than with angry words in defense (Pr. 12:16; 15:18; 29:22). He crushes his pride so that he may end peaceably (Pr. 13:10; 21:24; 28:25). So, why not apply this rule to all our posts on social media? Don't let your pride win over wisdom!

 He who is wise and discreet is slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression (Pr. 19:11).  Why not measure yourself by this rule of self-discipline and peacemaking?  Do you get irritated by others’ provocation? Must you respond to everything that is said about you? Do you have to get the last word always? Are you prone to self-justification rather than self-deprecation?  Remember that soft words are your most powerful weapon against any offense (Pr. 25:15). Learn this wise habit!


  • Biting and Excoriating:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

Do you know what’s not glory? The biting and excoriating of a Facebook post or comment. Swallow your anger! It tastes bitter, but it is good medicine. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends us.

The glorious person uses discretion from God's wisdom.  He defers and ignores any transgression committed against him.  He turns the other cheek, overlooks provocation, and chooses mercy over wrath. Discretion is the ability to know the right action for any occasion. Deferring is putting off, delaying, or postponing something. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends us. It is the mark of a wise man, a gracious and gentle spirit. It is also the mark of Christian maturity, for only fools quickly strike back.  Those who have no discretion often use hostility, hurt others, get indignant, bite back, and plot revenge against those who offend them. They have no discretion since their feelings rule their hearts. They do not know deferment, for they react first, then think about it later. This is the mark of a proud and unyielding spirit (Pr. 16:28; 28:25).  It is contrary to wisdom and grace.

  • Anger:
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man” (Proverbs 22:24).

It’s almost as if Solomon was thinking of Facebook and other social media! Angry people are fools full of wrath. Wise people avoid them at all costs.  It is not godly, noble, or manly, no matter how hard they try to justify their anger.  They are aware of the risk of learning their wrong, hateful ways, for they will lead them to their souls' destruction (Pr. 22:25; 13:20).  To have a peaceful life, one must avoid them, for they will bring unceasing conflict (Pr. 15:18; 19:19; 29:22).


  • Becoming a Fool:
“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words” (Proverbs 23:9).
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4).

Keep in mind that arguing with a fool on any Facebook post or comment makes you one too! Does that make you wonder if it's wise to post anything at all?  Many who do are surprised at the responses they receive. You cannot win with words around a fool, for he will not listen or change (Pr. 27:22).  When one engages in a debate on any post (with a fool), he becomes a fool himself (Pr. 26:4). His foolish and unlearned questions will only cause fights (II Tim. 2:23). If you give him the Truth, he will despise it and trample it under his feet  (Matt. 7:6). He will dishonor, insult, and hate us when we correct him. On the other hand, a wise person will love us for correcting him with the Truth (Pr. 9:7-8; Matt 7:6).    

  • Mind Your Own Business!
“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:1). 

Think of that dog as a pit bull, with foam coming out of its mouth, with its leash dragging behind. That’s right; mind your own business on Facebook!! Even a friendly dog will bite when one grabs and pulls its ears. So it is with the busybody who gets involved in the strife of others on social media. Both parties will soon bite him! God's wisdom teaches us to avoid the conflict of others.


  • Quarreling:
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20)

The wood here is a house fire, already raging, which needs to be put out rather than pouring more gasoline on it. When we make a post or comment to spread innuendos, rumors, and negative information to harm another, disputes, fights, and bad blood start quickly. Fire goes out as soon as there is nothing more to burn. Conflicts end as soon as there is no more irritation made (no more fuel added to the fire).

We have two obligations:  never to bear tales about others and to stop those who do it aggressively.  You see, talebearing (gossip, whispering, tattling, blabbing) is a forgotten sin. It is neither understood nor condemned today. Talebearing is spreading injurious or malicious reports about another person. A talebearer is one who officiously spreads reports of private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity (Pr. 20:19). It is commonly called gossip and slander.  The Bible synonyms are backbiting, tattling, and whispering, which are sins condemned by God (Pr. 16:28; 25:23; Rom. 1:29-30; II Cor. 12:20; I Tim. 5:13).


  • Raging and Laughing:
“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet” (Proverbs 29:9).  
That is, getting into an argument with a social media fool who enjoys it. It will lead you to no peace or satisfaction. Indisputably, fools are hopeless! No matter how much one tries to help them understand wisdom and understanding, they still cannot and will not learn. A fool trusts his own heart and rejects instruction (Pr. 28:26; 15:5). He hates wisdom and loves folly, though he does not admit it. He thinks, speaks, and acts contrary to wisdom and godly conduct.


  • Discretion:
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11).

Just because we can post anything on Facebook or any other social, it doesn’t mean we must. Be wise and ask, “why?” then be sure you have a really good answer before you post. Wisdom is to hold back speech. There is a time to hold back speech, a time to talk, and say it all (Eccl. 3:7). The wise know what to do before speaking and when to speak, but the fool spill everything without preparation, examination, and thought. But knowing when to speak and when to keep silent requires discretion and prudence, two branches of wisdom the fool has never considered.

Indeed, fools talk a lot! They cannot keep their mouths shut.  They give in to their desires to let everything rush out of their mouths (any little thought, no matter how frivolous, no matter how unstudied, no matter how inappropriate).   A wise person speaks with caution.  He does not speak hastily, without examination, or offers his opinions as truth.  He rules his mouth to choose wise words and wait for the right timing.  A talker is a fool, for he talks arrogantly, hastily, and loudly.  He confirms his folly.  A fool loves the sound of his own voice, and he thinks others should love it also. He thinks he has wisdom to share, and he believes others are blessed to hear him. So he gets angry when he is eventually isolated due to his ignorant and obnoxious speech and thinking.


II.  WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK ABOUT WHAT WE POST ON FACEBOOK?

If Facebook is taking time away from God and a life that represents a Christlike existence, then maybe you should consider leaving the site.  Ask yourself:

Do you think Jesus would have used Facebook?  If so, would He have spent time on the site 24/7, every day, and every second?  If Jesus were on Facebook and sent you a friend request, would you have to stop and think before you accepted Him as a friend?  Would you feel the need to remove all your immodest pictures and those taken in inappropriate places?  Would you go back to recheck your postings to make sure you didn't say anything vulgar, crude, or improper?  Would you run an inventory of your favorite movies and music and perhaps delete a bunch of them before you let Jesus on your site?  What about all the games you play?  Quizzes you take?  Copy and paste shares?

If the answer is YES to any of those questions, why not remove them now and show Christ in you?!  The truth is the Lord is watching everything we do or say, including our Facebook pages or walls!  
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good”  (Prov. 15:3).  

Moreover, if Jesus were on Facebook, He would not have used it to boast, be arrogant, or to glorify Himself.  Spending time on social media to glorify yourself is a massive waste of time! Take heed!

Though God is watching us on Facebook, others are watching us as well.  Does it matter to you?  It should matter!  Why?  Because what others see on your Facebook site affects what they think about you, the church, our faith, the Gospel, and God's kingdom of righteousness.

What if others (who perhaps are not Christians) know I am a Christian but see me posting pictures of me at a nightclub dancing and drinking alcohol?  At the beach wearing immodest and indecent clothes?  What if I post the latest lyrics of a Lady Gaga song and others like hers?  Or perhaps I am running someone down with ugly insults?

I could list a dozen examples where we may be stumbling blocks to others.  But the question is: What effect is it going to have on those who are still walking in darkness when they look at my site?  They might think you're just a complete hypocrite!  Posting all these things for the world does not honor and glorify God and His church.  It hurts Christ's cause and His church!  Therefore, make an effort to root these things out of your life and heart and shine your light amid so much darkness (Mt. 5:8; Phil. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:22).  Think about it!


CONCLUSION:

The Bible tells us that a wise person speaks little and guards his tongue.  Yet, people talk too much on Facebook.  Our words are many rather than few.  Our words express what's inside our hearts.  Our thoughts become words which then become good or evil.  We must not speak foolishly.  It is foolish to express whatever thought that may come to mind. We must think before we speak.  Words bring death and destruction! Words injure the conscience of others and ours as well.  They cause deep sorrow and wound others with injuries that are beyond repair. 

Facebook is, at times, the perfect environment for uncontrolled tongues (James 3:5).  All kinds of hurtful words that disrupt, divide and destroy, spew out of our Facebook pages or walls (Proverbs 12:18). Guarding our tongue is hard to do on Facebook or other social media.  Guarding what one says and remaining silent is very hard to do when everyone else is being so noisy.   Some forget to acknowledge that one moment of carelessness can do irreparable harm.  We sometimes see “meltdowns” on newsfeeds that make us wonder if they have lost their mind.  It is the perfect place for flashes of anger, pity parties, vulgarity, and constant rants.  Many don't seem to acknowledge that such moments of unbridled emotion can drastically tarnish one's reputation forever.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” 

Words are powerful tools for construction or destruction in the lives of others. They can be used for great good or great evil, blessing, or cruelty. You may know the little ditty:


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me." 

It is total nonsense. When you were most deeply hurt, was it not words that caused the lasting damage? Perverse words break the spirit and crush the soul. Carelessness with words is the mark of a fool. Whether Facebook status updates or comments, tweets, blog posts, and their comments, chat room chatter, instant messaging or texting, speech or song, the godly man sets out to use words to do good, to promote health instead of destruction.  

Facebook can lead us to mindless character and worse (Prov. 13:3; 18:21).  Remember that words are powerful.  They can either harm or help. There are consequences to how we use our tongues.  For example, if you ridicule someone, you have already become arrogant and unloving.  If you use profanity when posting and join in coarse joking, you have already lowered yourself in the sewer of vulgarity (Eph. 4:29, 5:3-4).  If you post rumor, malicious gossip, and tale-bearing, you have already left the land of brotherly love and have crossed over the land of bitterness and malice (Eph. 4:31-32). Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

Let us not conform to the world but be a light that shines in so much darkness.  Let us not use our words to tear others down but rather to build them up. Why not pray before posting or making comments?
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).  

Let others see the light of Christ based on what you post (Matt. 5:16).  Social networks can be a great tool to show others the hope we have in Christ.  We can encourage and challenge others to believe in Christ and follow Him.  But we must behave worthy of our calling in social media.

As God's children in His kingdom, we must discern between good and evil and encourage others to come to Christ. Bible principles of righteousness are what ought to govern our use of Facebook and other similar social media. Our social media interactions must encourage others to come to God's kingdom. Facebook is a dangerous social tool if one does not use wisdom, discernment, and self-control! The way we conduct ourselves on Facebook or any other social media may glorify God or may hurt the cause of Christ. We should follow the example of the tribe of Issachar, who had “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32). 

Whatever you do on Facebook, remember the impact that it has on you, the church, and our Lord. Choose to use social media to the glory of God. Remember what is at stake (Mk. 9:43-50), and that heaven and hell hang in some measure upon the choices you make while floating in the electronic ether. If your online engagement, Facebook is dragging your soul down to hell, then it would be more profitable for you to cut the cables and cast away the wi-fi than to be up-to-date with all the latest trends and technology even as you descend into the pit and lose your soul.

Though technology is ever-changing, God's Word remains the same! I'm thankful to God for that!  Yes, I want to take full advantage of the internet and all this new technology with all its advancements and upgrades, but praise be to God that I don't have to deal with such regarding His inspired Word!  It doesn't matter to me since I know that today's new ideas aren't really that new (Ecc. 1:9) and that soon they are replaced by something else. God's Word will always be there!

May we always remember that we, as Christians, represent our King Jesus and His church. May we all speak wisely, reflecting the priorities and character of our Lord and His kingdom. May we always consider the words we speak in person and online. May we deny self and remain silent about matters that are likely to hurt our influence or cause an unnecessary division between us and those who desperately need the Gospel.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”  
1 Peter 2:9-12  


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