The Be Quietudes

September 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Talking itself is not a sin. Christianity is a verbal religion, and the Gospel is communicated by words. “Faith cometh by hearing” (Romans 10:17). However, the Bible does emphasize that we should not talk sinfully.

The “Beatitudes” are found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:3-11

The beautides describe the conditions for expeiencing blessedness, and they prescribe what some of the blessings are. Those who are blessed, according to Jesus, experience God’s favor, and are marked by the types of attitudes and actions which are pleasing in God’s sight, and which bring contentment, peace, and happiness to one’s life.

For this lesson I have borrowed the name “beatitude” and applied it to the idea that there are times when it is more blessed to be quiet than to speak up: “The Bequietudes.”

1. Blessed are those who don’t gossip, for they will not make things worse.

Where no wood is, [there] the fire goeth out: so where [there is] no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Proverbs 26:20

Gossip ends when nobody is willing to repeat it – the way a fire ends when there is no fuel left to burn.

2. Blessed are those who LISTEN, for they will gain understanding.

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 20:12

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Matthew 15:10

You can’t listen while you are talking. When people are talking all at once, it causes confusion. You learn more by listening than by talking. God gave you two ears and one mouth – take the hint, and try to listen at least twice as much as you speak.

3. Blessed are those who THINK, for they shall renew their minds.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

The Gospel is intended to engage your intellect as much as your emotions. Christianity is not mysticism. Serious thinking is hindered, not enhanced, by talking.

4. Blessed are those who READ, for they shall gain knowledge.

And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Isaiah 29:12

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

II Timothy 2:15-16

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

It’s difficult to talk while you’re reading (unless you’re reading aloud!) Read the Bible. Read books about the Bible. Read other books, too, but be careful what you read. Don’t read things that do not edify.

5. Blessed are they who CONTEMPLATE, for they shall be prepared.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:31-33

Your mind is a temple. A temple is where man meets with God. Serious decisions are made during periods of silent contemplation, not audible conversation.

6. Blessed are they who MEDITATE, for they shall be glad in the Lord.

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Pslam 104:34

Meditation is deep thinking; unlike contemplation, though, it is not always thinking about a pending decision. It is where you seriously and silently consider what you have learned about God in His word. Meditation is an acquired taste that tastes better the more seriously you take it.

7. Blessed are they who DON’T BUTT IN, for they shall not look foolish.

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Proverbs 18:2

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it [is] folly and shame unto him.

Proverbs 18:13

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.

Proverbs 17:28

It is important to analyze a situation before getting involved. A person with a reputation for wisdom is more trustworthy than a person with a reputation for being a know-it-all or a busybody. People have less of a tendency to trust someone that is shooting his mouth off all the time.

7. Blessed are they whose words are few, for they shall give a better account.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:34-36

One of the best evidences of what is in your heart is what comes out of your mouth, but, just because you are thinking something, you don’t have to say it. There needs to be a probationary holding pen (filter) before the words formed in your mind are deemed fit to come out of your mouth.

ability to not speak

(photo courtesy of: https://www.challies.com/a-la-carte/a-la-carte-august-28-3/)

The Solution to the Problem of Shame in Marriage

February 16, 2012 at 11:03 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 8 Comments
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Last time I wrote about Adam’s and Eve’s response to the problem of shame. Now we see:

God’s Response to the Problem of Shame

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Genesis 3:9-11

God says, “Okay, admit what you’ve done – we both know about it. Then we’ll talk about whose lies you believed.”

Practical help #1: When your spouse has wronged you, make sure he or she knows you are open to honest confession and you are ready to forgive – before you start getting into the cause (whose fault it was, what was the motivation, etc.)

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8 (emphasis added)

Pursue the opportunity for your spouse to ask for forgiveness. Banish the idea of, “He/She is gonna have to come to me first!”

Practical help #2: Stay in the Bible. Almost all sins are the result of believing lies, and the Bible may be the only truth you hear all day.

The practical response of Adam and Eve to the problem of shame was a sinful attempt at hypocrisy – portraying themselves as something they no longer were: less shameful. The practical response of God to the problem of shame was:

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

The purpose of clothing after the Fall was to be a reminder that we are not what we once were. In marriage it is important to remember that my spouse is a fallen sinner – and it is even more important to remember that I am a fallen sinner.

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 10:12

Love does not pretend there are no sins. Love deals with sin in reality – by recognizing that sin needs a God-ordained covering. Married couples in a redeemed, Christ-honoring covenant should not revert back to the state of physical nakedness which Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall – at least not in public. That would make a mockery of God’s prescription for depicting our reality. That would be the equivalent of saying, “My spouse is supposed to forgive me, and I’m wicked, so I might as well let my wickedness all hang out.” What sort of grace-recipient flaunts evil in the face of the grace-giver?

Another principle we learn from the way God dealt with the nakedness of Adam and Eve after the Fall is how He covered them. He did it with a covering that He Himself provided. It was a covering that was bloody, so that it pointed to the covering of righteousness which would one day be provided by Jesus Christ the Righteous. God’s response corrected their response. It pointed to their ultimate redemption. It allowed the correction of the broken covenant, so that, in Christian marriage, we can once again be naked and unashamed.

Clothing should not draw attention to what it is meant to cover.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Isaiah 52:7

Feet are beautiful when they go to people who need to hear the Good News. Feet are beautiful in marriage when they are the feet of husbands and wives walking toward each other, or alongside each other in God’s path.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20

Hands are beautiful when they are comforting, lifting up the hurting, extending in fellowship, raising up to God, building God’s kingdom, or giving to the poor. Hands are beautiful in a marriage when they caress, when they are held, when they are carrying the other spouse’s burden.

And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

Psalm 104:15

Faces are beautiful when they are shining with God’s love, and when they are expressing the joy of His Spirit. Faces are beautiful in a marriage when they are beaming into one another, when they light up at the sight of one another, and when they are so familiar that they are a picture of faithfulness.

Most of my body ought to be covered up – God invented clothing as a reminder of who I am and of what He’s forgiven me. The parts of my body which are normally uncovered – my feet, hands, and face – are to show that I gladly serve the One Who has forgiven me.

A House Built for a King

February 17, 2010 at 10:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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We may never know for sure until we get to Heaven, but it seems plausible that, in the councils of eternity, God the Father decreed that Christ the Son, during His time on earth, would have the sort of occupation which would remind Him of what He had been at the foundation of the world.

Jesus, during the time leading up to his public ministry, was a carpenter (Mark 6:3). In Bible times, a carpenter was chiefly a builder. We know from Scripture that Christ built the heavens and the earth (Hebrews 11:3; John 1:1 and 1:14; Psalm 104).

It may surprise some, but Jesus Christ is still building today. What is He building? He is building His Church (Matthew 16:18). What material is He using? His materials are born-again believers, who have received Him as Savior by faith (I Peter 2:5).

If you have been saved by grace through faith – and that is the only way TO BE saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) – then there are some pre-ordained good works for you – as hand-fashioned material in the hands of the Master Builder – to get busy doing. Christians are not saved BY good works; they are saved UNTO good works, and the best work for a Christian to be involved in is the building of his Lord’s Church.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

The “Great” that Doesn’t “Grate” – Part Two

April 6, 2009 at 11:09 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Greats | 9 Comments
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In a previous post we looked at the idea that familiarity with people can breed contempt, but familiarity with God always breeds awe, love, and worship. Even the person you love the most in this world will grate on your nerves from time to time. But no matter how close we draw to God, we never find any flaws or imperfections.

Here are three attributes of God that highlight His “greatness.”

1. His supremacy shows He is great.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:3

There is one God, and He is over all other things and beings, and in a class above all other things and beings. In fact He is sui generis: in a class by Himself – the only example of His kind. God can not truly be compared to anyone or anything, because there is absolutely nothing else and no one else like Him. Everything in the universe is “creation” except for Him; He is “Creator.” I have heard a couple of preachers say that it is theologically incorrect to say that anything is “like” God. They compare the smallest microbe in the universe to the most powerful archangel next to the throne of God, and say that it is wrong to say that the archangel is more “like” God than the microbe, because God is completely and utterly unique.

Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.

Psalm 86:8

2. His strength shows He is great.

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

Psalm 104:3

God created the seas and the skies, and He rules over them.

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Psalm 104:4

At the same time He commands the armies of Heaven.

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

Psalm 104:5

God built the earth, and He maintains it.

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

Psalm 104:6-8

He commanded the mountains to rise up, and they did it. He commanded the valleys to sink down, and they did it.

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

Psalm 104:9

God told the seas to come up to just the right point, and they came to His boundaries, and did not cross over them.

He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

Psalm 104:10-13

He provides, through nature, for every living thing.

Scientists never have and never will create even a single natural law. Scientific advances and achievements come solely from the discovery and use of laws which God has Himself woven into the universe, and which He constantly controls.

3. His splendor shows He is great.

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

Psalm 104:1-2

God’s splendor is exhibited in His honor and majesty. He has a beauty that is unlike what we normally think of as “beauty,” because God’s beauty has an intrinsic worth.

He does not find splendor from some outside source, and then put it on like a garment. God’s splendor is a part of Who He is.

God has revealed Himself in His creation, but His greatest revelations of Himself are His Word and Jesus Christ (Who is God’s Word personified). (See John Chapter 1.)

The Bible, God’s holy Word, is a love letter. If you have ever received a love letter, you will recall the feeling of delight just at the fact of having received it. But then you begin to read it. Maybe you read it over and over, and dig deep into the meaning of each word. You meditate upon it. Then you begin to heed it – to change your ways according to its precepts.

Such a love letter creates in you a desire and longing to speak with its author. Thankfully, through the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, born-again believers can have intimate conversations with the Author of God’s love letter to them.

As you consider God’s greatness in His supremacy, His strength, and His splendor, let me encourage you to spend much time reading and studying and meditating upon His Word. The benefits are innumerable.

You may have heard the story of the farmer who told the young boy who worked for him to go down a hill, taking an extremely dirty bucket with him, and to bring the bucket back, full of water. The boy raced down the hill to a pond, plunged the bucket in, and began trudging back up the hill. But when he got to the farmer, he and the boy looked down to find the bucket empty, and full of holes. The farmer really needed water so he sent the boy to repeat this process several times. The boy went faster each time, but only grew more and more frustrated after every trip. Finally, the boy, exhausted, told the farmer that the errand was useless. Then, the farmer pointed into the bucket. There was no water, but the formerly dirty bucket was now sparkling clean on the inside.

Learning to appreciate God’s greatness through Bible reading can be difficult. Not every passage of Scripture will be clear the first time you read it. However, pouring the water of God’s Word through your heart and mind each and every day will bring a cleansing to your life that will help you know and appreciate God all the more.

The Crawl

January 19, 2009 at 9:56 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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The swimming stroke which is probably the most easily recognized is called the “crawl.” USA Swimming states that the crawl “is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the water surface and an alternating (up and down) flutter kick.” Although this is probably the most efficient way for a person to move through the water without artificial propulsion, its movements make it appear as though the swimmer is crawling along on his belly on the surface of the water.

In Psalm 104:19-20 the Bible tells us that God, in His glory, has appointed the day and the night for different types of creatures. Although nocturnal beasts often move in a creeping or crawling fashion, they are just as much in the will of God as men who are appointed to be upright in the daylight.

He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

Psalm 104:19-20

Immature Christians are compared in Scripture to babies (Hebrews 5:12-14). It is natural for babies to crawl. More mature Christians need to understand that, although moving from milk to strong meat, and moving from crawling to walking and running, can be a tedious process, it is part of a process appointed and prescribed by God.


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