Monday, December 10, 2012

Loving Words of Grace, Part Three

To understand how I am approaching this subject, it is best to read Parts One and Two first.

Every person who is born again through Jesus Christ has the right to choose behaviors (like words) that are pleasing to their Heavenly Father. Indeed, factually, the Holy Spirit of God lives in them. The Holy Spirit is their helper, their teacher, their guide. He will empower them to do (speak, write) what is holy. This means that the Christian’s birthright includes Loving Words of Grace.

It is my hope that you are receiving my words as the promise of something better. It is my hope that your spirit is bearing witness to these words and that you are serious about expressing loving words of grace. I wish we had a lot of examples of people to follow. Selah.

One of the reasons that I spend a lot of time trying to “listen” to myself, is that I think the expressions of sin, or holiness, are useful for spiritual discernment. I can discern whether or not I am quenching the Holy Spirit in my life, or whether I am walking in harmony with Him. It is amazing to me, yet very true, that the Holy Spirit indwells individual Christians. The Infinite God Himself, eternal, everywhere, all knowing and all powerful, dwells within each individual Christian. And yet, we can ignore Him and offend Him and He lets us do so.

What patience the Holy Spirit has with us! What kindness! He possesses us, created us, owns us, and yet does not want what we have. He us unselfish, humble, modest and polite. It is no accident that the attributes in this paragraph are taken directly from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which defines the love of God.

When we are filled with Him, and walking in harmony with Him, then we are pleasant somebodies who gain much. When we are resisting Him by being unloving, we are annoying nothings that gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Part One).

We can choose to follow the world with sinful words that reject others, or we can follow the Holy Spirit with loving words of grace. We can discern our own heart by keeping track of what flows from our hearts. Thus we can discern the nature of our own spirit. And we can discern the hearts of others. When I am found to utter sinful words of rejection, I need to be rescued from sin. When another utters sinful words of rejection, they need to be rescued from sin. The need is always for a rescue from sin. The need is never to drag another’s name and reputation into disrepute unless it is Biblically directed as part of discipline, of faithfulness. And even then the words should be loving words of grace.

So I end this series with three recommendations. Three things you can do, yourself, to become free of sin. God will have a part in it whether you realize it or not; but He will not do these three things ‘to you’ against your will.

First, believe what the Father says about slander and gossip. When you recognize that you have grown up in a vicious and slanderous nation, then reject the practice of the nation. You can learn the truth of the matter by searching the Bible for such words as gossip, slander, rail and revile. Compare what God says about loving and wholesome communication with what God says about sinful and evil communication. The Word can change you (James 1:21).

Second, humble yourself. If you search, you will find many times when God expects people to humble themselves. When you compare yourself with God, instead of other people, you will come away with a better sense of reality. Reality is accurately discerning your environment. God is the key person wherever you happen to be. His is the important person, everyone else is dust. Only He knows all that is going on, and only He can keep it all in context. Only He knows human motive, often times we don’t even know our own heart. When you humble yourself before the Lord, He gives you grace! You can ignore the grace (for now), but He will give it if you humble yourself.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’”. 1 Peter 5:5

Perhaps this will be a sobering thought for you. God will let you ignore Him and reject His grace. God will not allow you to ignore and reject His opposition. Consider the difficulties you face in this world, and they are all mere vapor in comparison to the fact that the Infinite God will oppose you if you remain proud and will not humble yourself! When God, the ultimate dominating Spirit, who knows more about your life and circumstances than you do, decides to oppose you, then you are as opposed as you can be. He is going to do whatever He wants to do and we are too dull to discern it and too impotent to resist it. There is no plan that will succeed against the Lord.

Far better to choose to walk in submission with Him. We can, if we humble ourselves.

Third, start calling sin “sin”. If God calls my behavior “sin”, then I better call it “sin” too. This also is a good method for discerning the spirit of yourself and others.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us”. 1 John 1:8-10

Several things can easily be understood from the passage above. We can deceive ourselves. Personal deception is not good, personal deception is spiritual blindness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to cleanse us! We call it sin, and then He actively changes us. Finally, His word is not in those who deny their sins. I strongly suspect that there is a relationship between a person honestly confessing their sins and the person thirsting for God’s word, and treasuring God’s word. A general apology is a shallow start. Calling my sin “an accident” or “a mistake” falls short of the mark. I certainly prefer the company of those who have made a shallow start to the company of those who never, ever, apologize for anything.

Speak Loving Words of Grace. It is a skill as well as a blessing. If it seems like an entirely new language, then God has blessed you with an entirely new way of communicating. Following is a passage that is for all of us. The rights and power of the new birth are eternal and growing. Yes, it gets better and better. We have a great covenant!

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

Grace to us all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Loving Words of Grace are the Christian’s Birthright

Part One

One Birthright (of many) from the New Birth

A ‘birthright’ is a right given to someone by their birth. Because they have been born, they have a right to something. That ‘something’ is theirs. That ‘something’ belongs to them and they can take advantage of it and use it for themselves or others. It is their right. It belongs to them.

A Christian is born again through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Because they have been born this way, they have a right from God to express loving words of grace. This right to express loving words of grace is yours as a Christian. It belongs to you and you can use it for yourself and others. Since words can be spoken and written, and since we speak and write quite often, it would be offensive to God if we ignore (despise, have contempt for) the right He has given to us. Dare we say, “Lord, I am just not motivated by the rights you have given”?

Esau had the birthright of the firstborn, a double portion of his father’s estate. God saw fit to record Esau’s contempt for the birthright that was his. You are probably familiar with the story found in Genesis 25:29-34.

Esau said, “of what use is a birthright to me?” (25:32)

Thus Esau despised his birthright (25:34). A bowl of beans was more important to him.

Esau’s reputation stands low because of what God has said. I know that I will not please God if I ignore the birthright He has given to me. And I know that God has given to me, and all Christians, the right (by new birth) to communicate with loving and gracious words.

Here is what I mean by ‘grace’. Grace is a favorable attitude toward someone regardless of who they are and what they have done. It means the door is open to that someone for a holy relationship, God’s way.

Here is what I mean by ‘love’ (agape). God defines His love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It is my desire to call attention to the way love affects communication through the spoken and written word. Specifically, “Love is patient and kind; love does not boast; it is not arrogant (proud) or rude.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5a

I am asserting that God gives all Christians the right to disagree with others through words that are both gracious and loving; even if the disagreement involves sin. May God richly bless this birthright He has given to us; and may we not despise it.

Communicating with Grace

“Let your speech (and writing) always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6

Therefore, the vast majority of our words should be gracious, that is, the vast majority of our words should display a favorable attitude toward the other, so that it is clear that a holy relationship is desired. If we use words that hurt, or cast doubt on the other, then they rightly conclude that we are after a victory over them. The conversation becomes a contest where people get hurt, and any chance of a holy relationship can disappear over the distant horizon. When it is needful to say something ‘salty’ (spicy, it can sting) our words should be few. This is how we ought to answer each person.

And as always, it can be a trial of our faith to do what we ought to do when others are out for victory.

Christians should reflect upon whether the world’s way of debate and argument is godless or not. We affect the lives of others with our words more than we affect them any other way.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths (keyboards) but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Jesus prayed in John 17 that His followers should be one, as He and the Father were one. This comes to pass when we refuse to use talk that corrupts the Christian families’ relationships. No one enjoys being publicly embarrassed and humiliated. And ‘building yourself up’ by sending graceless words at your opponent is a sinful interpretation of this passage. It is not a good thing when we finish a disagreement with the other person doubting whether we want a relationship with them at all.

If we must compete with one another, let it be as follows. “Out do one another in showing honor.”      Romans 12:10

While there are times when we should ‘correct’ and even ‘reprove’ one another (2 Timothy 3:16), it does not follow that such times should lead us to use words in an ungodly way. From time to time Christians should evaluate whether they have been practicing worldly (godless) methods of communication. From kindergarten to grave American Christians are surrounded by multitudes of people who drag each other down for personal gain or satisfaction.

Nevertheless, the Christian birthright is to use loving words of grace. Any victory that requires the use of unholy communication is, by definition, outside of the kingdom of God. It is worthwhile for us to ask if unloving words that reject others are the result of walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. 

Communicating in love

“1  If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4  Love is patient and kind; love does not boast; it is not arrogant (proud) 5  or rude.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-5

Verse 1 says that no matter what I say, if it is not in love (patience, kindness, modesty, humility, politeness) then I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. When we are having a conversation with loving words of grace, building one another up, showing honor to one another, and someone starts repeatedly banging a gong or a cymbal, then meaningful conversation is over! We have a major distraction. Impatient words, mean words, boastful words, proud words and rude words immerse loving and gracious words under annoying noise. Christian fellowship is quenched by sin.

Verse 2 and 3 can be accurately abbreviated by saying that no matter what I think (verse 2) or what I do (verse 3), without love I am nothing. It is not unreasonable to conclude that our words are directly related to our thoughts, and communication itself is something we ‘do’.

Therefore, is it fair to say: “No matter what I say, if it is not in a loving way then I am an annoying nothing who gains nothing”?

But the Christian birthright of speaking loving words of grace offers the blessing of us being “Pleasant somebodies who gain something”. I am confident that God sees things this way. It is worthwhile for Christians to consider who it is that they want to please. Choose to please God.

This idea of ‘loving words of grace’ is too idealistic!

I think God disagrees that it is too idealistic. Rather, it is just ‘ideal’.

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Matthew 5:48

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15, 16

Choosing the virtue of ‘loving words of grace’ is no more impractical than our Lord’s words about perfection and holiness. Indeed, loving words of grace are needed to fulfill perfection and holiness.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Master and our Savior from sin. If you do not reject Him as your Master, then He will also save you from the wrath that follows the Day of Judgment. And our words are a major part of that Day.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (hand writes). The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (write), for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37

Loving words of grace will be a normal part of eternal life when sin is removed!

The above statement is easy to agree with, right?

You may have just unwrapped a major insight. Eternal life begins the moment you are born again. Eternal life can be yours right now. Live it now. Sin is the problem. Eternal life being ‘far off’ is not the problem.

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” 1 Timothy 5:11, 12

Believe that eternal life is for now. Get rid of the sin. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. Let loving words of grace build others up. It is your right by the new birth. Don’t despise this birthright, treasure it. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

As Citizens; vote your preference. As Christians; Clean Your OWN House!

Yes, I am also unhappy with what the United States is doing in regard to defining marriage.

Yes, I am glad that many are working politically against the trend of redefinition. Vote! Lovingly and faithfully express your political opinion.

But I want to ask you: How many 'signs of the times' do you need before you can predict the final destination? Why believe that a secular nation will care about what God has said? It is time for the remnant to own the responsibility of teaching the truth of God to their own family. It is time for the remnant to put significant effort into preparing their own to endure with faithfulness and love the times that will come.

It is time for the church (ecclesia) to actually 'come out' of the world; and this is clearly seen as the world does not want your influence. The United States of America is NOT the Kingdom of God. Faithful Christians are citizens of the Kingdom first. 

Christians are still free to emphasize God’s purpose of marriage. Why wait until the concept of ‘marriage’ is further maimed within our culture? Perhaps we could equip our congregations with what is right in God’s eyes whether the culture ever agrees or not.

I wonder, should we ignore the need for our young people to know about God’s purpose of marriage? Perhaps you do not ‘feel’ a need to set the whole culture right. Can’t we try to equip the next generation with the truth of God?

So I am putting up a ‘model’; a ‘work in progress’, of what could be said as part of the wedding ceremony. I am looking to others to give improvements.

This post is only about constructing the words of a wedding ceremony that is faithful to the Words of God.


Hello Everyone,

We are gathered here, in the presence of God, as witnesses to what is about to take place. We are here to see and hear the commitment that {Groom} and {Bride} are making in this public setting.

{Groom} and {Bride} are entering into a covenant with God and each other, to live together as husband and wife, with the presence of God, Himself, as the primary blessing of their union.

While American marriage is little more than a social contract; Christian marriage is a Covenant first, and a contract second. The Covenant is major, and binding for their lifetimes. The contract is legally binding, but far less meaningful. Only wickedness or death will break the Covenant. They are about to commit themselves to God and one another for the rest of their lives. This is a holy moment.

{Prayer}  “Holy God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Judge of All Mankind, we come before you in humility and faith in your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to ask for your blessing upon {Groom} and {Bride}. They have faith in You, and give themselves entirely to you, knowing that you will lead them throughout their lives; through better times and worse, though richer or poorer, through sickness and health, ‘till death do they part, or the Lord Jesus Christ, returns.”

“We acknowledge our sins before you though we cannot fathom how terrible they are. We thank you for your gracious gift of forgiveness through Christ’s blood, shed on the cross. We hope to live eternal life in your presence, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and through your Holy Spirit living in us.”

{Groom}, do you take {Bride} to be your Christian wife, to love her as Christ loved the church, to give yourself up for her, to encourage her growth in Christlikeness, to lead your family in the holy spiritual priorities of:  personal repentance, personal humility, confession of your own sin, willingness to forgive, Christian love, and continuous meaningful discipleship under the leadership of God’s Holy Word and Holy Spirit?

{Groom} “I agree, and I will do it!”

{Bride}, do you take {Groom} to be your Christian husband, to submit to him as to the Lord, as the church itself submits to Christ, to encourage his growth in Christlikeness, to lead in the holy spiritual priorities of:  personal repentance, personal humility, confession of your own sin, willingness to forgive, Christian love, and continuous meaningful discipleship under the leadership of God’s Holy Word and the Holy Spirit?

{Bride} “I agree, and I will do it!”

{Groom}, if you are committed to this action, then repeat after me; “{Bride}, with this ring, I pledge my life and love, and enter this marriage covenant with God and you, in the name of the Father, and Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

{Bride}, if you are committed to this action, then repeat after me; “{Groom}, with this ring, I pledge my life and love, and enter this marriage covenant with God and you, in the name of the Father, and Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Since {Groom} and {Bride} have freely entered into a marriage covenant before all of you, you are asked to pray for them and encourage them to remain faithful to their commitments to God and each other.

{Prayer} “Sovereign Lord, you have entered into covenant with your children, {Groom, first name} and {Bride, first name}, we ask in Jesus’ name that you seal this covenant, and bless them abundantly, that your love* may abound in them more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to your own Glory and Praise. Amen”

According to our Lord’s own word; “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Amen, and Amen.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you {Husband and Wife, named as they desire}.

{To husband}, You may modestly kiss the bride.


Again, this is only a first ‘model’, I welcome your suggestions.

It is all worthy of thought.

*Philippians 1:9-11