February 2010

I try to link to pastors and theologians who should be read today.  There is much out there in bookstores that is not worth trying to build a fire with.  Francis Chan is a pastor in California and this is a recent post he did that is worth some time and thought.


Christ cuts to the heart of the matter of our words in Matthew 15:10-20 

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” 

My words good or bad merely reflect what is in my heart.  We may say our words betray us… but what we really mean is that our words reveal who we really are.  You might be thinking what if we lie or misrepresent ourselves.  We will get there, stay tuned.  

We can try techniques to polish our words, to speak more positively, control our anger, or  speak with confidence.  But as Christ says it is our heart that determines our words and defiles them.  We need to address our heart.  Christ alone can transform our heart.  We can try to do better, but the doings of our hands only reinforces our inability to be righteous.  

The hope for our words is Christ alone.  Christ can transform our hearts and give weight and beauty to the words we speak.  It doesn’t mean that all believers will be eloquent speakers.  But there is nothing more beautiful or weighty than the proclamation of the gospel.  God is glorified when our words flow from a heart dedicated to Him.  

So what have your words revealed about your heart this week?

In Ruth chapter 1 we get a beautiful picture of gospel community in the midst of great disappoint and bitterness.  Ruth is a Moabite woman who married Naomi’s son.  At this point all the men in the family have died and Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab as she goes home to Bethlehem.  Ruth responds, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth declares her commitment to Naomi based on her faith in the LORD.  Naomi has nothing to offer Ruth to gain her favor.  When we read Ruth’s declaration we know she understands covenants and that the LORD is a covenantal God.  The LORD is faithful.  Ruth’s faith influences her relationship with Naomi and leads to gospel community.  The words of Ruth should be desire of our hearts for relationships within the body of Christ.  Ruth’s commitment supersedes any personal preferences or comforts.  Ruth says I will be with you until you die, nothing will separate us.  Ruth adds that if she allows anything other than death to separate them then God should bring death to her. 

This should be our heartbeat for those God has called us to walk with.  We will let nothing sway us, no personal preference.  We will not be separated by circumstance or disagreement.  Let us be faithful as God is faithful.  May the marriages within our body exhibit this commitment.  May our men speak truth to one another, challenging each other to walk as Christ did.  May our women exhort one another to be the godly women God has called them to be.  May God help us to walk with one another faithfully as He walks with us.

Here is a blog post from pastor Ray Ortlund on husbands and wives. Well worth the read.

The Ichthus Men’s Bible Study began a new series this past week on the words and language that we use.  It is a study that I have been living in for a while and this past Sunday God overwhelming told me that it’s something we should walk through in this season.  By gifting and personality I am a communicator.  I did not say good communicator.  Just as God has gifted me to teach and preach to build the body, I can just as quickly use my mouth to tear down those around me.  My hope is that as we explore how we speak in this season that God can truly redeem the words that flow out of our mouth.  This week we talked about Jesus as the Word of God being the foundation of our speaking.

We learn from the beginning Genesis chapter 1 that words are very important to God because He uses them to create.  If we took a trip to Mount Everest we could look at it and realize God created it out of nothing by speaking it into existence.  We also learn in that chapter that man is made in the image of God.  We have creative ability with our words.  We may not be able to make mountains but the power within our mouths is enormous.  In Jeremiah 1 God tells Jeremiah “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  The potential of our mouths is almost unimaginable.

In John 1 we learn more about why our words hold so much weight when John reveals to us that Jesus is the Word of God.  John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  And then John 1:17-18 “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

Jesus, not only was God, He was an exact representation of God.  In Jesus God is known.  Words represent the one who speaks them.  Even if our words are lies they speak volumes about our heart and character.  We will talk more about what our words reveal about us and about our beliefs about God in the future. 

For this week think about Jesus being the Word of God.  Think about the power within God to create with the word of His mouth.  God desires for us to use our words for His glory and our good.  He desires for our words to build the body through encouragement and exhortation.  If we allow God to speak through us or if we allow our words to be dedicated to Him we have an incredible opportunity to bring Him glory and to build the body.  How does God want to speak through your words this week?

Guys, here is a good post from Pastor Kevin DeYoung on pursuing your wife.  It’s short and practical.  Read it here.

This week at men’s bible study arrived at 2 Corinthians 13 which contains a famous verse if you have been around Ichthus for a while.  2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”  Paul is wrapping up his 3rd letter to the Corinthian church – no that’s not a typo.  1 Corithians is actually the second letter because it refers to a previous letter.  So there is a phantom Corithian letter out there some where. 

Paul has taught them about what reconciliation looks like based on what has happened in their church with the brother in sin and the divisions that have occurred because of their preferences for leaders and eloquent teachers.  Paul has to defend himself, his ministry, and his writing against false teachers.  In his final plea he appeals to the people of Corinth to test their faith.

Tom would either make us look up this verse every week or would quote it to us.  Exhorting us to “Test ourselves”.  The point was you may look the part, you may know your way around the bible, and you may go to church services, but are you fooling yourself.  Test yourself and ask if there is faith there.

For the Corinthian church the question was who were they trusting and what were they trusting in.  Men had come preaching a gospel of Jesus plus works.  Paul wants them to test whether that faith they have is producing fruit and if their lives are being transformed.

Test yourself, yes you that is reading this.  I’m not trying to get you to question your salvation, but I am.(Stole that from Matt Chandler)  You should question your faith today and make sure you are placing it in Christ alone.  Your mind will do you no good when it comes to your salvation.  The works of your hands are as filthy rags when it comes to your salvation.  Your strength or self-control only prove your inability to help yourself.  I plead with you today trust in Christ alone.

Right now some will be tempted to think I am talking about salvation only.  Have you prayed the prayer or walked the aisle?  But I am also talking about today.  That sinful heart your woke up with this morning, are you trusting in Christ alone to change it?  That bout of anger you showed this morning when something didn’t go right, are you confessing that to Christ or are you telling yourself you will do better next time?

Test yourself to see if you are in the faith.

Men’s bible study will begin a new study called “The Words of Our Mouth” starting this Monday night at 7:30pm.  It’s a bible study open to all men whatever age, life stage, or church you attend or don’t attend.  We would love to have you come and walk with us.