Gossip

Gossip – the word itself “hisses!” Gossip poisons lives, torches reputations and pollutes souls! Just as a great forest can be set ablaze by a single spark, so a persons’ reputation can be “torched” by a word spoken carelessly or maliciously. The following word by Charles Spurgeon is a timely reminder of the importance of controlling our tongue.

 

“Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, by the precept of God’s Word we are forbidden to spread it.” (Spurgeon)

 
As a “second witness” to testify to the destructiveness of Gossip, I include the following brief essay by an unknown author. It speaks for itself. Let it speak to you.
 
NOBODY’S FRIEND
 
My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I Break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.
 
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.

To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
 
I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights. I make the innocent cry. Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip.
 
I make headlines and create headaches. Before you repeat a story ask yourself:
  • Is it true
  • Is it harmless?
  • Is it necessary?

If it isn’t, then don’t repeat it!


“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good to the use of edifying others, that it might minister grace unto the ears of the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Thanksgiving Day ~ “Bless The Lord!”

For many years now, there have been verses/passages of scripture that I have purposely read on Thanksgiving Day. One of those passages is Psalm 103, which begins with a very personal exhortation ~

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”

If you are familiar with Psalm 103, you know the verses that follow begin to identify many of those benefits, beginning with forgiveness, followed by healing, then redemption, and on & on they follow. It is in the spirit of remembering not to forget the blessings and the benefits He has bestowed upon me this past year that I, with a grateful heart, write this morning. As He promised they would, goodness & mercy have followed my wife Kathy & I each and every day of this past year. He has daily reminded us of His love for us, and He has piled on His blessings. The trials and the testings of this past year have been many, but His mercies – which are renewed daily – have been many more. I praise God with a grateful heart this morning that He did not send us into the “storms” we have encountered (all which came upon us suddenly and without warning) alone, but He reminded us He was with us in them – for as the scriptures have said, ‘He is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in our time of trouble or need’ and therefore, we had no reason to fret or to fear (Psalm 46). Indeed!

In this past year the Lord has reminded me to remind myself that He has promised to be a refuge for me in the storms, but not necessarily from the storms. He who knows best knows that “storms” are necessary to mold our lives, strengthen our faith and shape our characters – and for that, I am likewise thankful.

As I was “musing” over all of the happenings of this past year, a song crept into my heart and the familiar words of Psalm 95 filled my thoughts. I share it with you here that it might exhort you as it has me. Read on ~

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord  is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”  (Psalm 95:1-7)

I conclude with something I read this earlier this morning from “Streams in The Desert 2” ~ “Thanksgiving Day is a sacred day for retrospective – a day for taking spiritual inventory. It is a day for family reunions, fellowship with old friends and neighbors, of sharing our bounties with those less favored. If throughout the past year earthborn clouds have blotted out the sunshine in your spiritual sky, may there be a rift in those clouds today so that you can see through to the land of pure delight, where saints immortal reign.” (Mrs. Cowman)

Mrs. Cowman’s thoughts reminded me of another of my favorite promises from the Word ~ “But when the complete and perfect comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away…but for now, we are looking through a two-way glass that gives only a dim and blurred reflection of our reality, but then [when that which is perfect comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part and imperfectly, but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known.” (1Cor.13:10,12 amplified)

Let me leave you with an exhortation found in a couple of verses from another of my Thanksgiving Day Psalms ~ “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so(!) those whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” (Psalm 107:1-2)

** Testify of the goodness of the Lord in your lives today. Tell someone about the Love of Jesus and what He has done for you and what He will do for any and all of them who will place their faith & trust in Him.

The Cost of Discipleship

A devotional thought I read this morning made reference to the Spanish Conquistador “Cortez” (Hernán Cortés). Some of you are likely familiar with his exploits – including his destruction of the Aztec Empire and his conquest of Mexico. For those of you who are not familiar with him, I want to share an interesting ‘factoid’ from the story. The year was 1519 when he and his modest force of 700 men landed at Vera Cruz to begin their conquest of Mexico. After they disembarked and brought their necessary supplies to the mainland, Cortez purposely set fire to his fleet of 11 ships. His men stood on the shore and watched as their only means of retreat sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. With no means of retreat, there was only one direction to move: forward into the Mexican interior – to meet whatever might come their way.

Perhaps you are wondering if I have a point? Indeed, I do. It’s this: In ‘counting the cost’ for being a disciple of Jesus Christ, we too must be willing and determined to purposefully destroy all avenues of retreat into the world. We must resolve that whatever the price/the cost involved for being His disciple, we will pay it. Think about it with me for just a moment: Jesus did not say, “If any man would come after Me…let him ‘get on the bus’ and find a comfortable seat.” He said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

Quite clearly, “DAILY” is the key word. Our commitment to Christ – however genuine and wholehearted it may be today – must be renewed tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, until the path comes to the proverbial ‘the end of the trail’ and find ourselves in His presence in eternity.
  
Let me conclude here with the famous and often quoted words of Jim Elliot, missionary and martyr: “He is no fool to give that which he cannot keep, in order to gain that which he cannot loose.”

“No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Jesus, Luke 9:62)

It is a Good Thing to Give Thanks

“There are some who, at death, will feel that their life has been a vain show. I would not have it so with thee, O my soul. I should like it when death comes, to feel that I had thoroughly enjoyed life – taken the honey from the flower as God had meant me to take it. I should like to know that I had not defrauded myself of my birthright, that I had made room for others because I had had my share. The cup of gladness which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it, even to the dregs! I shall thank Him for every bird that sings. I shall praise Him for every flower that blooms. I shall bless Him for every stream that warbles. I shall see the sparkling of the cup before it passes to the hand of my brother. Aye! There shall be no remorse of memory when I have thanked God for today.” (George Matheson)

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, for You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. O Lord, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this.” (Psalm 92:1-2, 4-6)

A Helpful Reflection

I just finished a pre-surgical interview with a nurse from Inova Loudoun SC in preparation for a procedure I will be having in a couple of weeks (for a second time, I’m having a cataract removed and a lens implanted – pretty cool stuff). I wish I could say otherwise, but I am no stranger to hospitals, surgeons or anesthesia. In fact, this week marks the 6th anniversary of the first of two major gastrointestinal surgeries whose aftermath would, in the end, radically change my life. Consequently, my thoughts this morning are many as I look back over the physical and emotional roller coaster of the last six years, and at the same time, look ahead to what the Lord may have in store.

As I prayed this morning, I asked the Lord for a confirming word in regard to the many thoughts of my heart: “Lord where, when, what, how?” I seemed to hear nothing, but I was content in resting in the fact that God sees what I do not see and knows what I can not know. I was about to get up and get on with my day when a book I have been reading caught my eye. I picked it up and continued with the next chapter, which contained some journal entries made by Amy Carmichael on October 26th of 1915. (October 26th is an important date to me because it marks the day of my firstborns birth.) How blessed I was to read the following: “When decisions have to be made, don’t look back and wonder what I might have done differently. Look up and light will come to do what our Lord and Master would have you do. It may be that decisions which seem to change the character of the work will have to made, but if the root principals which have governed us from the beginning are held fast, there will be no real change. The river may flow in a different direction, but it will be the same river.”
(she concluded) “If you hold fast in all things that Christ, as Lord, shall have pre-eminence, if you seek His glory and His pleasure high above everything, and if you continue in His love – loving one another as He has loved you – then all will be well, eternally well.”

Indeed, I have heard from the Lord today! I pass these words along with the hope He will speak to you through them as well.  

ps. Psalm 95 is on my heart this morning. Below, you will find a few verses that always bring me into an attitude of worship. I share them with the hope they will provide the same for you ~

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. 
(selah)
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our God, our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” (Psalm 95:1-7, esv)

Encouragement from Psalm 33

While doing some devotional reading this morning, I was directed to Psalm 33. Seeing an old NASV Bible on the table next to me, I was prompted to pick it up. A few verses in Psalm 33 had been highlighted with a note in the margin explaining that these verses had been sent to us (actually, they were left on our answering machine) by our friends Steve & Bobbi Whinery in May of 1983. The memories of that season of our lives came flooding in. I won’t take time here to explain those circumstances in any detail except to say that they closely parallel the current season of our lives. In short, we really needed wisdom to discern the Lord’s will and direction for our lives; we were at a “crossroads” and we needed to know if we were to go left, go right or stand still. The Lord really used the verses below to buoy our faith that spring evening 31 years ago, and He did the same for me this morning as He took me on a stroll down memory lane. He sees, He hears, He knows, He is trustworthy — so deserving of my/our complete trust. It’s in that regard that I share these familiar verses with you here. Perhaps they will encourage some of you as they did me. Read on ~

The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth…Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.” (Psalm 33:13-14,18-21; nasv)

The concluding verse of Psalm 33 became our prayer that night, and it was/is mine this morning: Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord , be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.” (V:22)

** While referencing “The Treasury of David” this morning, I found the following commentary on this particular section of Psalm 33 ~ “Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee. Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him.” (Spurgeon)

Spurgeon then quotes the hymn writer William Cowper ~

“Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires; 
No God is like the God my soul desires; 
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even He, 
Great as He is, knows how to stoop to me.”

The following is my personal declaration ~ “In You, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; Be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, O Lord, lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:1-3)

A Man of God

There are very few, if any Christians I know, who do not desire to be Men (or as the case might be, Women) of God. While doing my devotional reading this morning, I came across the following description of such an individual. I include the following character portrait supplied by Andrew Murray, one of my favorite devotional writers. Read on and “muse” ~

“A man of God. How much the name implies! It describes a man who comes from God, chosen and sent by Him; A man who walks with God, lives in fellowship with Him, and carries the mark of His presence; A man who lives for God and His will, whose being is pervaded and ruled by the glory of God, who involuntarily and unceasingly causes men to think of God; A man in whose heart God has taken His rightful place as All in All, who only desires that God should have that place throughout the world.

“Such men of God are what the world needs; such men are what God seeks…that He may fill them with Himself and send them out to reach and teach others.” (The Believers Daily Renewal)

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking for a man (or woman) whose heart belongs to Him and whose life is completely loyal/yielded to Him — in order to show Himself to be strong, supportive and faithful on their behalf…” (2Chronicles 16:9, free translation)

Life & Living

In recent days (that have quickly become weeks, and now months) I have been in the place where I have needed to trust the Lord for all things related to life & living like I have not for quite some time (read that: “for the past 30 years”). I have always said to myself (and to others) that I was trusting the Lord for all things needful & necessary for life and living – but in truth, I was more likely trusting my bank balance and the fact that I had a consistent, dependable source of income. Such is no longer the case. And as a result, my faith has been tested to uncomfortable levels. I could go on for hours about all that I have discovered/been reminded of regarding myself and regarding the faithfulness of my good, great, gracious and loving God – but I won’t do that here this morning. Instead, I want to share the way HE met me in the course of my daily devotional reading with a gentle, encouraging & necessary reminder. What I am including below will not be revolutionary (or ‘revelationary’) to any of you, but my hope is that it will be a reminder to you as it was to me that God, our Father in Heaven, sees you where you are and understands your need. And much more than that, HE has promised to meet that need in HIS time, according to HIS purposes and plans. What is our part in this process? To not be fearful or fretful, but to trust in the Lord, to commit your way unto Him and to rest in His person & His promises(1). Read on ~

“In the world we are often troubled about our earthly sustenance; we must have food, we must have raiment (clothing & shelter); we must have some guide for the future – some ‘wisdom’ that is beyond ourselves. We cannot see before us at all and we know nothing of what is beyond. Reasoning this way about our prospects, we fall into doubt and perplexity. But when we come to God and abide under the shadow of His wing, with His mighty arm enfolding us, there is rest. We enter into rest with regard to God’s promises because (by faith) we hear the voice of Jesus saying to us, ‘take no anxious thought for your life as to what you should eat or drink, or wherewithal you shall be clothed, for Your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things; but [continue to] seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you(2). This is the way that the soul that is in God, through Christ, enters into His rest.” (Henry Foster)

(1) Psalm 37:1,3,5,7
(2) Matt. 6:31,33

The Wonder of Prayer

“Prayer” – The wonder of it, the necessity for it, and the unfortunate lack of it in many of our ‘much-too-busy’ lives has been a recurring emphasis in my devotional reading this morning. It is in that spirit that I share the following with you. I invite you to take a brief moment to read the thought below… and “muse” as the Lord gives you pause.

“Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeble child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One. The powers of the eternal world have been placed its disposal. It is the very essence of true religion, the channel of all blessing, the secret of power and life – not only for ourselves, but for others: for the church and for the world. It is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength. It is through prayer that the promises of God wait for their fulfillment; the Kingdom for its coming; the glory of God for its full revelation.” (Andrew Murray)

Wholly = Holy

Every so often while doing my devotional reading I come across something so simple and engaging, yet important – perhaps even imperative – that I feel compelled to share it here with all of you. This morning was just such an occurrence. The following deals with the always-important subject/topic of Holiness. Read on, then take some time to “muse” ~

“Suppose I own 10,000 acres of land. Then suppose you come into the market as a purchaser and I sell you 9,999 of those acres, but retain for my own pleasure a plot of one acre in the very center of that holding. I have the right to cross your broad acres to get to my property, and you can’t keep me out. The law is on my side. And in the same way, if, when you gave yourself to Christ you retained anything for your own delectation at the center of your dedicated life, the Devil has the right to cross acres of your best resolutions and purposes to get to his property, and you can’t keep him out. The ‘law of possession’ is on his side. Jesus said, “The Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me” (1)  In other words, the Devil had no right, no holding, no access to anything in Jesus. This fact makes the matter quite clear: every child of God ought to be able to look the Devil squarely in the face and say ‘You have nothing in me – no territory over which I acknowledge your dominion – none over my tongue,  none over my temper, none over my will. You do not control me by greed; You do not control me by selfishness; You do not control me by worldliness. I am the Lord’s property. Be gone, thou seducer and tempter!’ Dispute him right on the border of your life over which he knows he has no control…if that life of yours is wholly God’s. Is it? Wholly and entirely? O believer, be certain that if you are after ambition, after position, after power, after influence among men, after human applause, the Devil has territory in you. Be that as it may, there is a remedy for this carnal malady [and] it’s as simple as being wholly God’s; His purchase, thus His property and possession. If you are and as you are, the Devil loses hold on you. Therefore, be wholly God’s – that is all; wholly God’s. On that, holiness depends.” (A.T. Pierson; edit, jfo)

(1) John 14:30