Sticks and Stones

March 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 2 Comments
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The Words of God are not harmful, but high-handed disobedience to the Word of God can do worse than stones that break our bones.

But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.

Numbers 15:30-36

Once, God sent the prophet Elijah to seek a widow woman, who would be able to provide him sustenance.

And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

I Kings 17:8-12

She got angry and used harsh words. She probably wanted to use those sticks to beat Elijah and break his bones, but she didn’t. Instead, she obeyed the Word of the Lord.

You have probably heard the old adage: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” According to the Bible, though, words have power, and they can actually be more dangerous, more harmful, and more powerful than sticks and stones.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:6-8

It’s not the sticks breaking bones that we ought to worry about. It’s the sticks kindling a fire.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Proverbs 12:18

One kind of harmful word is a cutting word – “a cutting remark” we sometimes say – but the tongue of the wise is health. The Word of God is sharp, but it makes the one who gets cut healthier, not sicker.

A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.

Proverbs 13:2

What goes out of our mouths can produce spiritual fruit or poisonous fruit. A good rule of thumb is not to produce any fruit from our mouths that we wouldn’t want to eat ourselves.

A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.

Proverbs 25:18

A maul will break bones. Lies are a type of unwise words that do not always sound harmful because of their deceitfulness.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:21

A person who loves to hear himself talk will not always be guilty of saying something harmful, but we must constantly remember that we are going to have eat the fruit that is produced by what we say.

As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Proverbs 26:21

A person who gossips is like someone throwing fuel on a fire. The harmful fire that spreads through gossip can be snuffed out many times simply by keeping our mouths shut. Matthew 12:34 says that, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” but that doesn’t mean I always have to let everyone know what’s on my heart. Before speaking, I need to make sure that I am filled up with the Word of God and with the Spirit of God, so that what comes out is helpful, not harmful.

Pass It On and Pour It On

December 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Last time we examined two principles that exhort Christian men to work hard:

I. Put It On
II. Pack It On

Now we will think about the exhortation to:

III. Pass It On

If you are a Christian, then God is always teaching you a lesson – but the lessons have two purposes. The first purpose is that whatever you are supposed to learn is going to be for His glory and your sanctification. The second is so that you can pass it on to somebody else.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

The application of true Biblical doctrine that is passed on to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ is not to be kept to ourselves, pridefully “shown off,” or simply meditated upon. No, it is to be passed on to other faithful believers, who, in turn, will likewise share it again. Specifically, the Bible says we are to pass it on to other men. The Bible uses the word “teach” rather than “share” (which coincidentally sounds a little more “manly”). If you are a Christian man, when God teaches you a lesson, teach it to your son or another young man in your church family. Find a single mom who has a son that is being ignored by his selfish dad, and take the kid fishing and teach him what it means to be a man of God. Real men are not sophisticated monkeys, nor overgrown boys who can shave, nor girls with some different body parts. We are imago Dei – the image of God Himself – and we were not created to take up space, to play with toys, to be attractive to women, or to prove how tough we can be. We were made to serve the living God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Great King – and we had better start acting like it and we had better be passing it on to the next generation, or the next generation will be emasculated and routed by the enemies of God.

IV. Pour It On

One of the worst things you could be called when I was a kid was a quitter. God has not called you to be a quitter.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 10:4

The Bible condemns “slackers,” and contrasts them with hard workers.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

Proverbs 12:24

The non-quitter is going to have authority. He’s going to lead. The quitter is going to have to pay an unpleasant price, and he will not be the one making the important decisions.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

The non-quitter is going to have a good, respectable employer. The quitter is going to wind up working for a petty jerk.

If you are a man, pour it on: Work hard and don’t quit.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Work hard at your secular job, then work hard for Jesus; don’t be a secular quitter, and don’t be a spiritual quitter. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Did Jesus ever give up? Of course not!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

If you are a man, here is what you are called to do: Be like Jesus and bear your burdens, yes, but do not be a “Stoic.” Stay involved with difficult people. Christian men bear their own burdens and they bear other people’s burdens. Your wife doesn’t respect you like she should? Tough – you’re a man – pick up that burden and carry it. Be respectable whether you earn her respect or not. Trouble with your finances? Pick it up and carry that burden, working hard and trusting God! Health problems (physical or mental)? Pick it up! No help with the kids? Pick it up! Difficulties with your nieces, nephews, single moms you know, neighborhood kids? Pick up those burdens and carry them the way Jesus did! You are a man. That’s what Christian men do – they carry other people’s burdens, and they do it in love, fulfilling the law of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:9 (emphasis added)

Trying to win Christ’s approval (while still knowing the security of our justification and sonship) will often require us to forsake the approval of the world. We are not to care what they think if we are pleasing Him. Let them jeer, taunt, boo, scoff – we are seeking to please our Master! When we are light in this world, burning with candles lit from Christ’s torch, the darkness will push back. We might lose friends, the love of family members, or jobs. We might get passed over for promotions, and the cool people won’t invite us to their tailgate parties or Christmas parties. But we worship Someone who let Himself be tortured, abused, and ridiculed by vile sinners! He took it all for us; the least we can do is take a little for Him!

What to Be for Your Kids

June 17, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 23 Comments
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Praise the Lord for kids! I have three of them myself [now four!; updated Sept. 2014]. As my wife likes to say, “I just love kids – but I couldn’t eat a whole one!”

The fact is that the three kids who call me “Daddy” are not really “my” kids. They are the Lord’s.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Psalm 127:3

Children are a reward, and a blessing, but they are also given to us as a deposit. We are to manage them, put them to use, protect them, and help them to grow – like an investment… an investment for the Lord.

And, when you have an entrusted investment, the Owner will one day want an accounting.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Psalm 127:4

How are children like arrows? Both arrows and children must be “straight” in order to work right – not crooked, not “perverse.” Bent arrows are no good.

Second, arrows are made to be shot – they are made to go where the archer cannot reach. Arrows go into the quiver first, but they are not meant to stay in the quiver forever.

If you are a Christian parent, there are three things you should BE for your kids:

BE an encourager.

When a child does something good, tell him about it. When a child has something to say, listen to her.

Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Most parents are pretty good at the admonition part. Admonishing comes in when kids do wrong. We are often quick to tell them about the wrong, but not so quick to tell them when they do right. That’s the “nurture” part – the “building-up.”

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

Proverbs 23:24

Do your children bring you joy? If so, let them know about it!

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Proverbs 12:18

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

Parents can encourage their children by talking to them, and they can encourage their children in how they talk to them.

Sarcasm is prevalent in our culture today. If your kids have been exposed to school or television at all, you have heard these phrases come out their mouths just dripping with sarcasm: “Yeah, right;” “Whatever;” “That’s just great.”

Sarcasm can be contagious. Kids bring it home from school or their friends’ homes, and before long the parents are doing it, too. We may think sarcasm is funny, but the Bible says it is corrupt communication. The purpose of sarcasm is to make the other person feel like they’ve said or done something dumb. It tears down; it doesn’t build up, and it doesn’t encourage. God wants parents to be encouragers, not discouragers. God wants children to honor their fathers and mothers – to speak to them respectfully – to not talk back. Children should never speak to their parents in a way that indicates a belief that their parents do not know as much as they do.

Parents should BE encouragers, and parents should BE enforcers.

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Proverbs 23:19 (emphasis added)

Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.

Proverbs 23:22 (emphasis added)

It is very important for Christian parents to teach their children to listen – to hear.

Listening, hearing, and obeying do not come naturally to children. In fact, doing what is right in general does not come naturally to children. Do you know what does come naturally to children? Foolishness.

What makes a child carry a full-to-the-brim glass of red Kool-aid onto beige carpet? Foolishness.

What makes a kid who has 3 hours to clean her room spend 2 hours and 45 minutes listening to music, and then try to do the cleaning in 15 minutes? Foolishness.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…

Proverbs 22:15

When I think back to my earliest memories, I have to admit that no one ever had to sit me down as a little child and teach me to lie. No one ever had to teach me to be selfish and greedy, or to hit my brother. No, those things came naturally to me. I did not jump up and down, and say, “Can I go to church now? Please!”

As Christian parents we need to encourage our children to listen when they are in God’s house, and especially when God’s Word is being read or taught. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:5).

Getting children to hear the Word of God, whether they think church is boring or not, is a heart issue – not an entertainment issue. In Bible times, children were expected to come to church to hear the Word.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Joel 2:15-16 (emphasis added)

God’s will in the Old Testament was for children to be in even the most serious of church meetings – and for people of all ages to be together in the congregation.

When the letter to the church in Ephesus was read in the church – in the assembly – it was read out loud to grown-ups and children alike. Ephesians 6:1 is directed straight at children, whom the Apostle Paul knew would be listening: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Children have to be trained, and this includes being trained in how to behave in church. Training involves an enforcer, and parents are the God-ordained enforcers of their children. Being an encouraging parent is a not always an easy job, but being an enforcing parent is even tougher.

Proverbs 22:15 starts off by saying that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and the rest of it does not say that a good talking-to will drive it far from them. It does not say that being grounded will drive it far from them. It does not say that a “time-out” will drive it far from them. It does not say that sending them to their rooms will drive it far from them. It does not say that taking away their X-Box will drive it far from them. It says that the rod of correction will drive it far from them. I know this may sound archaic, but if I’m not enforcing discipline, then I don’t love my children.

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Proverbs 3:12

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 23:13-14

As a father, if I do not discipline God’s child, placed in my trust, with a rod of correction, then I am placing that child’s life in danger.

Parents should BE encouragers. Parents should BE enforcers. And parents should BE examples.

Being a Godly example may be the toughest thing that parents have to be for their children.

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

Proverbs 20:7

Integrity” is living what you believe. It is inconsistent for me to encourage my children with principles I don’t really believe. And it is inconsistent for me to enforce rules on my children I am not willing to follow myself. Parents need to be careful about saying one thing and doing another. As Pastor John Wilkerson says, what I allow in moderation, my children will practice in excess. What I dabble in, my children will dive into.

If you are reading this, and you happen to be a child, however, I want you to know this: When a parent places a rule on you, but does not follow that rule himself/herself, this is not an excuse for you to be disobedient.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Matthew 23:1-3

The Pharisees appointed themselves to be the ones to tell people what God said they should do – they had authority. Jesus told people to do what they said, but not what they did. As a Christian child, you may be under an authority figure who is less Godly than you are. But there are blessings in obedience. Generally, God will not fight a battle for you that you are trying to fight on your own in the flesh. If you try to make your parents miserable through showing them disrespect, you may get what you want, but God may see to it that you do not want what you get. One of the worst judgments God can place on you is to let you have your own way.

Having said that, you must also realize that parents and adults know more than you think they do. If you are young – especially if you are a teenaged child – guard against thinking that you know everything. I have heard this attributed to Mark Twain, although I do not know for sure if he actually said it:

“When I left home at age 17, my dad was a complete fool – a total idiot. He didn’t know anything. After being on my own for a while, I came back home at age 21, and I couldn’t believe how much the old man had learned in 4 years!”

Parents should not be Pharisees – teachers who teach falsely. We will give an account for any little ones we lead astray. There is no shortage of terrible role models out there for children to follow: rappers, rock stars, movie stars, athletes, rich and famous people. People scream and follow them, and pay hundreds of dollars to get near them at a concert. People beg for their autographs. They wave their arms for a touch, and worship them. Many of these celebrities are about as big as a big-shot can get. But they don’t do anything for the Lord.

You won’t see many Godly pastors, children’s workers, nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, or Christian fathers and mothers on MTV or the E channel – but they are on God’s TV screen – they are before His sight. Children need to follow those who have God’s approval, more than those who have the world’s approval.

As a dad, do my kids ever see me praying? Do they see me singing to the Lord?

As a mom, I hope you would not put up with your kids using bad language. But when your cell phone goes off, do they hear a rap song or a country or pop song that glorifies sin?

I believe God wants faithful, humble parents – parents who do what’s right when no one else is looking. I believe He wants parents who are different, who are distinct. Parents who are going to stand out, and stand up, for Jesus even if it means being unpopular.

I believe God wants kids who don’t laugh at dirty jokes, and who don’t make fun of teachers and those in authority, even when everyone else is laughing and mocking.

Parents, we don’t have the choice to opt out. Our kids are watching us. Even if I am just one person in the world, I am the world to one person.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Next time: What to do for your kids.


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