Your Mouth Needs More Than Soap

I watched a news video of an ugly event that happened at the beginning of August in Chicago. A white woman, flanked by 2 of her friends who are black, started hurling insults & profanity at a young black couple. She used the n-word repeatedly and then spit in the direction of the couple. This tirade was triggered by some misunderstanding over a bean-bag yard game and fueled by alcohol. I’m not going to post the video because it’s extremely offensive. Within the video, the black couple asks the 2 black friends of the white woman what is wrong with them. Why are they not rebuking (my word) their “friend”?

The black female friend tearfully tells the interviewer that she ended her friendship with the woman after this event, and that she is extremely hurt by the ordeal. She shares that they had been friends for multiple years. By her words and tears, I could tell she missed her friend as much as she was hurting over the woman’s hateful behavior. If the news story had stopped there, I would have no problem with the interview, other than the extreme grief & anger I felt over the blatant display of hate.

But here is what angered me even more. The interviewer asked the young black man who had been called n___, how he felt when a white person used that word. Understandably, he was shaken, said he felt demeaned and ashamed. Then the interviewer asked what the difference is when black people address each other by the same word. The young man still seemed uncomfortable, but explained it away as a cultural colloquialism (my word), kind of a black, “yo, what up bro” kind of greeting.

I absolutely hate this. Despite what George Carlin was fond of saying**, words DO have power…and meaning…and weight. I do not subscribe to the belief that if you appropriate a negative word and “own it” , it empowers you and lessens the sting of an insult. I hate to see women call themselves b____s, sl__’s or wh__’s.  If someone else will not respect you, please, have enough wisdom to respect yourself!

These are all issues of the heart. Jesus said “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Luke 6:45 New Living Translation.

People who habitually spew hate, anger, bitterness and strife have those sins within their heart. Please realize this is not a problem easily solved by wishing that everyone would just grow up and play nice. We need God’s help to be the people we all wish everyone else would become…but it starts with us first, as individuals:

“…but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” James 3:8-10 New Living Translation
It’s not right. The simple act of acknowledging our sin before God, confessing it and then asking for His mercy and forgiveness, sets the course for change that makes the light able to overcome the darkness. Your worth to God makes you far more valuable than any word attempting to devalue you.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21
Praying that good fruit flows forth from you!
Blessings!
Children eating fruit

** George Carlin quote: “It’s a notion that they have and its superstitious. These words have no power. We give them this power by refusing to be free and easy with them. We give them great power over us. They really, in themselves, have no power. It’s the thrust of the sentence that makes them either good or bad.”

— George Carlin, Comedian and Actor George Carlin, NPR (2004)[4]

Let Love Rule

Please, dear brothers and sisters, hear the Lord’s heart:

Your anger at the world does not make you holy. It is a distraction and a trap that keeps you from flowing in the love of God! It’s saps your strength; it short-circuits your power in Christ; it grieves the Holy Spirit and it dilutes and destroys your witness!

Yes, there is a lot of evil in the world and so many things are wrong. But God never called us to anger (toward people) and condemnation. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17. Without Christ, people are already condemned (John 3:18-19)

Our anger, grief and frustration should be turned toward prayer, intercession and pleading for God’s mercy…not His judgment. Listen to what Jesus told His disciples when the people of a Samaritan town rejected Him, simply because He was on His way to Jerusalem:

“…and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.” Luke 9:54-56 NASB 

It is so easy to focus on everything that is wrong. I struggle myself! But when I read the word, and see how Jesus interacted with people, the lost, the righteous and the self-righteous, it does not line up with the way so many of us respond to unbelievers. While dying on the cross, in the face of haters, mockers, liars and thieves, Jesus cried out: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 a. 

I did not come to Christ until I was 30 years old. As I’ve said before, while I was raised to believe in God and Jesus, I was not saved. From about the age of 20 until 30, I was a professing atheist. I did not have the capability of following God’s ways, nor did I have any desire to because I did not have God’s spirit in me…

But God.

In His extreme mercy and love, He revealed Himself to me through the love of humble and gracious believers. They did not judge me or treat me like I felt I deserved, or how I was certain I would be treated by Christians. I did sense conviction, even though I did not know it was God at that time. But His loving conviction was not condemnation. I was not made to feel like worthless trash or that they were somehow better than me. I had felt the sting of religious people when I was growing up and wanted nothing to do with them. Unfortunately, people are the only example of God most of us have, so the question becomes: do we look like Jesus to the lost? Do we sound like love when we speak, for God IS love (1 John 4:7).

A final word on associating with unbelievers and believers, and it is from Paul:

“When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 New Living Translation

Humble yourself before God and ask Him to fill you with His heart for the world…everything else will melt in His presence.

Blessings

person helping

Are You Too Far Gone?

One of the biggest hindrances to receiving God’s mercy is the belief that we are beyond forgiveness. In our limited knowledge, we assume that our deeds are so dark, so ugly and unspeakable, that God would never forgive us.

I have some good news for you.

God loves you.

God is also full of mercy and compassion.

We don’t deserve mercy and forgiveness, yet He freely offers it to us through Jesus.

The Lord said it’s the truth you know that brings freedom, so, as always, we will turn to the scriptures to find out what the truth is regarding forgiveness.

This morning I was listening to the Daily Audio Bible, a wonderful app I have on my phone. I listen to it almost everyday. It helps keep God’s word in the forefront of my thoughts, and is a valuable supplement to my private study time.

At this point in the DAB journey, we are at 2 Chronicles 32:1 – 33:13. 1st and 2nd Kings, as well as 1st and 2nd Chronicles, recount the history of Israel’s kings and it’s people, once they had entered and been established in the Promised Land. It’s a fascinating look into redemption & deliverance, holiness & apostasy, righteous leadership vs unrighteous leadership, and the consequences Israel suffered by turning their backs on God. The lessons are applicable to us today, so I encourage you to read it for yourself. Or get the DAB app…it’s great!

Anyway, back to dark deeds and forgiveness…

At the end of 2 Chronicles 32, Hezekiah, King of Judah, dies. He has been a righteous king, governing over the portion of the split kingdom that is based in Jerusalem. Because of Israel’s sin, the country is divided between Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah (southern kingdom), each with it’s own history and rulers. But as noted, Hezekiah “…did right in the sight of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 29:2). He ascended the throne when he was 25 years old and reigned for 29 years.

When he died, his son Manasseh became Judah’s new king. He was only 12 years old and reigned 55 years. 2 Chronicles 33:2 states, “He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.” (New Living Translation)

What are the detestable practices, or abominations, credited to Manasseh?

~ He rebuilt the shrines to pagan Gods, which his father Hezekiah had torn down.

~ He built altars for the idol worship of Baal.

~ He set up Asherah poles, cult objects used in the worship of the fertility goddess (either a tree or carved pole where practitioners engaged in sexual acts)

~ To make matters worse, he also built altars to these pagan gods within the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, defiling the sanctuary. Manasseh bowed before them and worshiped them, instead of the One True God.

~ He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics, which is strictly forbidden by God. (Isaiah 8:19, Isaiah 47:12-14, Micah 5:12, Micah 3:7, Galatians 5:19-21)

~ And for me, the most unfathomable atrocity Manasseh committed was sacrificing his own sons in the practice of idol-worship. (2 Chronicles 33:6)

I think we can all agree that this was one messed up king. And through all this, God spoke to Manasseh and the people of Israel, reminding them of the consequences for their sins:

If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands—all the laws, decrees, and regulations given through Moses—I will not send them into exile from this land that I set aside for your ancestors.”  But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land. (2 Chronicles 33:8)

That’s quite an accomplishment, to actually be worse than the evil nations your ancestors displaced!

Yet neither Manasseh nor the people repented, so punishment was forthcoming. God sent the commanders of the Assyrian army to capture Manasseh, who was bound in chains, had a ring put through his nose and was then led captive to Babylon.

The story could end right there. Most of us would say, “Good riddance! He got what he deserved!” and we would be correct. Manasseh did receive what he deserved. I mean, the man had his own sons burned on a pagan alter!

But the story does not end there.

While in captivity, Manasseh was in distress. He was in chains in a foreign land, being mistreated, suffering a righteous punishment that he brought upon himself. Yet in his distress he prayed to God. Not Baal, not Asherah, not some other false deity, but to the God of His father- Jehovah.

The word notes that, “…he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.” (2 Chronicles 33:12)

In his humility (and humiliation), Manasseh cried out to God and God heard him. Not only did God hear him, but God was moved by Manasseh’s plea and returned him to Jerusalem!

“He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom.” (2 Chronicles 33:13)

You might be saying, “whoa, whoa, whoa! That’s not right!”

I get it. How can God forgive someone who has sinned so obviously and to such a dark degree? Because God is full of mercy and loving-kindness!

The righteous result of God’s forgiveness is found at the end of the verse above: “Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!”

As for the proof of Manasseh’s repentance, the scripture goes on to reveal that Manasseh:

“…rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel. He built the wall very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified towns of Judah. Manasseh also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the Lord’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the Lord, the God of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 33:14-16

God has always forgiven sinful people who genuinely seek Him for mercy. None of us can ever be good enough in and of ourselves to receive God’s forgiveness. We get that backwards. We don’t clean our act up and come to God. We come to God and He cleans us up! The penalty, the punishment for sin has been put upon Jesus at the cross. When He suffered and died, He received the punishment that we all so richly deserve. That is one of the primary reasons, or THE primary reason Jesus came to earth: to be the propitiation for our sin!

If you need and want mercy, humbly go to God and ask Him for it. He will not turn you away!

“Come, lets talk this over! says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 The Book, Living Bible

bloody-hands

Praying that whoever needs this will experience the peace that comes from God alone.  You are accepted in the Beloved.

Blessings ❤