Word of the Day

Take Care

Luke 10: 41              KJV

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.

The word “careful” has become iconic in the American lexicon. We have adopted expressions like “Take Care” and “Be Careful” as routine sayings, by which we mean to bestow good tidings to the recipient. However, this is one of those uses of language which we all too easily fall into, not really appreciating the actual conveyance of meaning. In other words, it has become a normative expression without regard to its literal meaning. These expressions which creep into the vernacular without due notice given to their true meaning may well be what Jesus referred to in Matthew 12: 36 when he said, “I can guarantee that on judgment day people will have to give an account of every careless word they say.”

I have written on this before but I find it so prevalent in our society that I feel I must remind myself and others of this pitfall. There are many truths wrapped around this topic the greatest of which is that it is a violation of scripture. We say these words, well-intentioned, intending to bless others, but no expression which violates scripture can ever be the source of blessing. In today’s verse, Jesus conveyed the exact opposite message to Martha. He told her, “Martha you are full of care.” That is what careful means, full of care. He went on to tell her that there was only one thing that was needful, only one thing with which she need concern herself. That, of course, was himself. Keeping our minds and hearts on Jesus is the prescription, rather than worrying or being full of care about the many incidents of life. Matthew 6: 34 is illustrative in this matter, “Be not careful therefore for the morrow,” Jesus said, “for the morrow shall be careful about itself. Sufficient to the day [is] its own evil” (Darby Translation). Even though each day has its share of issues, Jesus said not to be full of the care of them. Tomorrow will take care of tomorrow. What about today then? Today is the only day we need concern ourselves with. Is that the same as saying that today is the only day we need worry about? No, that is being full of care again. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 11: 28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

We are supposed to take all of our worries and cares and give them to Jesus. He will, in exchange, give us rest. He will release us from our burdens and carry them himself or if you wish to know the fullness of truth, he already carried those cares to the cross. Peter expressed it this way, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5: 7 KJV). We are supposed to cast all our care on him, not carry it. Therefore, taking care, being careful, or not fully casting our care upon the Lord is completely contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus. As such, it is a violation of Scripture and, if you have ears to hear, sin.

Whatsmore, this idea of taking care and being careful is born of and perpetuates fear. Today at the YMCA I heard a lady bestowing what I believe was meant to be good wishes to a couple who is leaving today for Maui. She said, “Be careful. Don’t go scuba diving.” Despite what may have been well-intentioned, what was conveyed was fear and fear polluted the environment. One need not be very sensitive or tuned in to have felt the immediate change in the atmosphere. All fear is of the devil. Our God is a God of faith. Fear comes right out of hell for there is no fear in heaven. There is only trust, faith and well-being in the Kingdom of God.

So, with fervent prayer and pastoral concern, I implore you to eliminate this language from your vocabulary. Tell people to have a great day, be blessed of the Lord, be faithful. Give them words of faith and encouragement rather than a caution rooted in fear. Further, don’t allow people to speak these unscriptural words into your life. Help them to find better expressions, expressions which will bless rather than hinder, words which comport with the message of Jesus instead of flying in the face of his teachings. All the world will be a better place as we do. Be blessed!

Breaking Bread

Hebrews 10: 25

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

Many people take this verse to mean that we should attend church. Okay, that is a fair reading but I see so much more in here. This verse has always spoken to me equally, if not more so, in the context of personal relationships. Some of the best church I have every attended has been around a dinner table at a restaurant.

Implied here is that our assemblage has spiritual purpose. There is a verse which comes to mind. It is Ephesians 5: 19 which encourages “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” Taken together, these two verses paint an image of people gathering socially but where the Word of the Lord is central to the get together.
You will have noticed that part of the purpose in gathering together is for encouraging one another. It isn’t about just having a beer with your friends. The real power of social gathering as well as church gatherings is to be an encouragement to each other. What brings more encouragement and hope than God’s Word? That is why speaking to one another in spiritual songs, psalms, etc. is prescriptive. Any word from God or about Jesus infuses hope. There is joy in our thoughts and words about the Lord. He instills within us the belief that all challenges are overcome in him. Problems melt away in his presence. Therefore, when you get together with your friends and the joy of the Lord is present, their burdens lose their weight.

No one is without problems. Jesus told us that in this world there is trouble. However, when we gather in the presence of the Lord, even if that is over a meal at a restaurant, those momentary troubles become less significant. Friends are important but Christian friends are a blessing from God. So the next time you gather to break bread with your friends, remember Jesus. Share his goodness at the table. It is good for your digestion, good for your soul and good for your friends.

Encourage, Stimulate, Motivate

Hebrews 10: 24

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

The key word in this verse is “stimulate.” Other versions use the word “encourage.” We have a role in the body of Christ which is to encourage. I take special note that the verse isn’t giving me permission or license to boss others, or harangue them. We are to be encouragers. Usually judgment and criticism do not make the best encouragement. How, then, can we stimulate others to demonstrate the love of God and to express that love in kind deeds?

I suppose the first step in leadership is to be a good follower so we might look at our leaders, those who encourage us in the faith, for clues. The second step might be to lead by example. I doubt we will be able to stimulate others into any course of action which we do not first model.

This passage is not intended to stimulate ourselves or others into empty, dead works. Works which are not motivated by love will eventually smell like so much rotten fruit. The good deeds come out of love. They are an expression of the love of God. That is why the author mentioned love first. When love comes, a natural by-product is kind, good deeds.

One thing we can all do is to remark on people’s kind gestures of the goodness of God. We can acknowledge them. You know people who ooze kindness. A word of appreciation to them certainly would not go amiss. Perhaps you are a business owner or a supervisor. You have opportunities to praise people and even reward their acts of kindness. Doing so conveys a clear message that love inspired kindness is something you value. Of course, do not overlook what you can teach your children. However, if there is anyone in your circle of friends, family and co-workers who demands a model, it is your children. They will do what they see you do and they will most certainly notice if you are all talk.

In all ways, be an encourager. People need to be lifted up daily. Give them honest praise and recognition. Plant your seeds of kindness in them and you will see the harvest in the fruit of their actions.

Recharge

The Word of the Day is taking a break but will return Monday, October 30th, recharged and ready for more exciting revelation from God.

In the interim, please visit the Word of the Day page on our website, http://iveyministries.org/word-of-the-day/.  There you can find hundreds of devotions.  You can even search by topic or a key word or scroll down and see all of the topics along the right side.  They are alphabetical if you want to find something specific.  When you click on one of those keywords, it will bring up every devotional using that word.  You can do your own keyword searches with just a click.  Want to know something about Abraham?  Click on his name and get every Word of the Day written about him.  Have fun strolling through the Word of the Day archive!

 

Unity v. Uniformity

1 Peter 2: 1 – 2

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

We have all heard the sermons based on this scripture. I have no doubt that you could talk about its meanings and implications for quite a while yourself. I want us to look at this slightly differently today. Let us pull back from its application to us as individuals to a more global level. How does this scripture affect us as the body of Christ rather than just as Christians?

While we are all called to Christ by Yahweh, the Father of our Lord, we are also divided along many lines: denominational, theological, cultural, geographical and more. Sometimes I think there is more that divides us than that which unites us. Few would disagree, though, when I say that what unites us is much more important than that which divides us. Is this a call for unity, then? Absolutely, but that idea is so esoteric that as we devolve back to our daily, individual lives, it may be difficult to discern the larger implications of our individual thoughts, words and actions. I believe that as we close in on the end of this age, the age which is to usher in the return of the Lord Jesus, it is imperative that we find the means by which to lay aside our differences and to come together as a unified body of believers.

The beginning of such a move is imbedded in the end of today’s passage: “[L]ike newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” As we yearn for the pure milk of the Word, as we feed on it as on mother’s milk, we unavoidably grow.” There is no way you can feed your spirit on the Word of God and remain an infant. However, if you only feed your brain and intellect on the Bible, you will not necessarily grow. This longing for the Word comes from the deep places of our soul. It is not a pursuit knowledge but rather a quest for the Lord Jesus himself. When we long for his Word, we find him. In that finding is the growth in the fullness of salvation, remembering, of course, that this salvation applies to every facet of life: saved in your health, saved in your finances, saved in your family relationships, saved in your occupation. It means fullness in every one of those areas and all others as well. The more filled up we become with the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father, then the less our differences matter. We become united by that which is important and recognize that the dissimilarities in doctrine and belief are the Father’s problem rather than ours.

From that revelation comes the unity and it immediately applies itself to the former portion of the verse. No longer do we feel a need to slander another denomination or belief system. There is no more room for malice and guile. In these latter days it is important that we allow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives, personally, and in our assemblies. Even firmly structured denominations will find the need, and the impetus, to incorporate flexibility and acceptance. Jesus said to gather in the tares with the wheat and let the Father sort it out. In other words, we do not have to bear the responsibility of who gets saved and who goes to hell. That is all on the Father. We can even let people into our congregations that seem different. If the truth were to be known, few people in our denominations or even in our own congregations agree with every fiber of our doctrine anyway.

If the Church of Jesus Christ is to be fitted together as a Holy Edifice for our Father, then we must not reject one another. Each brick may be slightly different. The miracle is not in our uniformity but rather in our cohesion. Therefore, let us bite our tongues in criticism of other Christian groups or denominations. Let us individually abandon our superiority complexes in favor of acceptance. Only together are we the body of Christ. Individually, we are just a severed, lifeless body part. Malign no one nor group. Let the unfavored have a place and a voice. Embrace all who believe in Jesus as the Christ and Lord. Seek the pure milk which is Jesus as the Word and include all other seekers. We can now put aside the childish things, as Paul declared (1 Corinthians 13: 11), and take our positions as strong pillars of faith.

Edifice of God

Matthew 16: 18

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

We have been talking about this scripture in a group study I participate in and I have been giving it a lot of thought. Jesus said he would build his church. We use the word “church” interchangeably. When we say, “I am going to church,” the reference is usually to a church building. When we are not going to the church building we usually clarify by saying, “I am going to a church event.” Now, obviously, in this latter example the word “church” does not refer specifically to the church building but it may well be an event specific to our congregation even though it could involve other groups of believers too. Is this as clear as mud yet? Let’s go a step further. We also talk about THE church by which we mean the body of believers. In this case THE church is the nebulous group of people who call Christ Lord. We can divide this group into parts by saying the American Church or the Austrian Church, or whatever. Usually we use the word church in this capacity to describe how the masses of believers move, believe or think. It does not refer to any one denomination but rather the collection of us all.

So here is the question, when Jesus said, “I will build My church” what did he mean? It’s a little confusing, isn’t it? Does the word “church” refer to a building, a congregation or all of us en masse? Well, here are a few points to ponder. First, know that when you walk with Jesus, your mind and your thinking pattern have to become flexible. Thinking, “outside the box” most definitely describes Yahweh and Jesus. Let’s see, though, where we can get with this.

Note that Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. The name Peter means “rock.” This is significant for the obvious reasons of stability and foundation but there is another insight implied here. Jesus is called the rock. He is also the corner stone but wait, it gets better. Look at 1 Peter 2: 5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The first mention of a living stone, rejected by men is, of course, about Jesus. So now we have Jesus the rock, cornerstone and a living stone. I didn’t even know stone was living, did you? There is a second mention of living stone in this verse. You, also, are living stones. I bet you didn’t know that. So if someone calls you hardheaded you can say you get it from Jesus. The even more fascinating bit of this scripture is the end. It says that we, the living stones, are being built into a spiritual house. Each of us is a brick in the house God is building through Jesus. Are you getting this? Can we go a bit further?

1 Corinthians 3: 9 reads, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” There it is again. Collectively, we are the house of God. God is building us together into an edifice for Himself. We are the temple, His abiding place. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2: 19 – 22).

Picture this then. The foundation was laid by the apostles and the prophets. We are the brick and the mortar which has been laid upon that foundation and Jesus is the capstone and the cornerstone, the beginning and the end. The whole building rests upon and is dependent on the cornerstone and the capstone is the finisher. He is first and last, Alpha and Omega, the Aleph and the Tav but in him, we are all being fitted together as a holy building to the Father. We are the new temple. Solomon built the first temple but Jesus is building the eternal one in which the Father will take up permanent residence for all time. That is amazing!

So back to the original question – does the word “church” refer to the building or to the people. Now we know that the answer is “Yes!”

Multiply, Amplify

Mark 4: 24

And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.”

This verse has almost unlimited application. It applies to your giving, to judgment and even the way you treat others. One other application is in regards to the Word. The measure of thought, study and attention you give the Word will determine how much you get out of it.

The first part is easy. I send you a morsel of the Word every day. You don’t even have to go mine those nuggets for yourself. Then here is your part. The amount of thought and meditation you give to that word is directly related to how much you will ultimately get out of it. It reminds me of school. The amount of effort you put in is directly related to what you get out of it. Have you ever taken a class and then at the end of it weren’t sure what you learned? You retained enough for the final exam but then it flew from you.

It is the same with the Word of God. What you read, even in the Word of the Day, is only the appetizer. There may be great inspiration in the Sunday sermon but what makes it stick is the thought you give to it afterwards. The Word of the Day is meant to feed you but the thought you give it is what will change your life. If you meditate on them and integrate them, these tidbits from God can revolutionize your life.

You know, this is not far afield from the singular principle which guides a life with God, sowing and reaping. What you put in is multiplied and then returned to you in the form of a harvest. It works with food. It works with money. Now we find it even works with revelation from God. If you will take the bit of inspiration and revelation you get from your devotionals and services and sow it into your own heart by thinking about it and meditating over it, you will find the multiplication factor works there too. You will get back more than you put in.

Now, go back and read the verse one more time and be blessed!

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