Sunday, July 25, 2010

OUT OF THE SALT SHAKER:(You are the salt of the earth..Matt 5:13)


Samandar Singh was arrested and sent to prison in connection with the murder of Sister Rani Maria on 25 February 1995. Sister Mary was a nun in the diocese of Indore India, where she worked. Samandar spent 11 years. During that time, his wife divorced him and his first son died. While he was in prison, Sister Selmi who was the sister of the murdered nun visited, hugged him and called him brother. That embrace of love led Samandar on his journey of repentance. All the Christians in that town went with a petition to the local governor to plead for the release of Samandar. The governor said, “Only you Christians can truly forgive.” You are a great example.” Eventually Samandar was released from the prison. After his release Samandar began to treat Sister Mary’s family as his own. He says, “I want everyone to know that Christians work to make India great. The missionaries give us hope through their service, which is to make us a strong and independent people.”

What made sister Selmi to forgive her sister’s murderer? What changed the stony heart of a hardcore murderer Samandar? Is it the preaching of the Gospel or its presentation through acts of love? How did Christians in India live out their Christianity? Jesus showed his disciples how to live out their Christianity in this corrupt world by these well familiar words “You are the salt of the earth.” Why did he call them “the salt of the earth instead of saying the sugar of the earth? What did he mean by that? Could the salt really loose its saltiness? What happens when salt looses its saltiness? These are some of the questions we will be looking at as we read Matthew 5:13

Salt was greatly valued and commonly used in the time of Christ. It was used for seasoning and preserving food and also as a curative agent. A bag of salt was reckoned as precious as a man’s life. When Jesus called the disciples, the salt of the earth he was referring to a number of things. Firstly, they were precious and valuable. Secondly, they were to do the work of the salt in the society. Thirdly, he was reminding them about the covenant that God made with Abraham and subsequently with the nation of Israel. What is that covenant? What did God use to make covenants with his people?

A covenant is a mutual consent or agreement between two persons. In the OT God used several objects to make covenants with people. For example God used the stars and the sand of the sea with Abraham. After the flood he used “the rainbow” with Noah. In the wilderness God used stone tablets with Moses. With David he used salt. It was called the covenant of Salt.

The covenant of salt appears three times in scriptures signifying its validity and importance. (Numbers 18:19, 2 Chronicles 13:5; Lev 2:13). For this message we will look at 2 Chr 13:5, “Don’t you know that the Lord the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” The essence of this covenant is that the descendants of David are the true heir of the throne of Israel. And eventually the savior of the world would come through the line of David.” In this covenant God has positioned the nation of Israel in a strategic location with a specific purpose.” What is the purpose of Israel? The purpose of the nation of Israel is to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. The prophet Isaiah affirms this purpose in Isaiah 49:6 “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” Unfortunately Israel has disappointed God through their continuous rebellion. However God’s purpose for Israel still stands the same.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasized the blessings his disciples would receive and also the work that was entrusted to them. The scripture tells us when we accept Christ’s salvation by faith we become the sons of God. Our belonging in Christ enables us to receive Abraham’s blessings as well as the responsibility. (Gal 3:26-29)

How can any one just enjoy the blessings without accepting the responsibility? The Apostle Peter says in I Pet 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” We have been saved not so that we will get to heaven, while that is true we have a job to do on this earth.

To be the salt of the earth means a number of things. Common salt has certain distinct qualities. When we are called to be the salt of the earth it is important for us to understand what salt is? And for what purpose it was made? By definition it is a substance used for seasoning certain kinds of food and for preservation of meat. It was made to season (to make food more palatable) to preserve (to keep the meat from decay) and to cure. In the same way we are called to be a seasoning, a preservative and a cure in a world full of sin and hatred toward and God and the things of God.


Try putting a spoonful in your mouth. You couldn’t swallow it. Unlike any other substance salt can not be eaten alone. You have to put it on something in order for it to be useful. The common table salt is actually a combination of sodium and chlorine.

Sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine, on the other hand, is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride it is now useful to preserve meat and bring out its flavor.

Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is irresponsible, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines. On the other hand, truth without love can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous. The common criticism from non Christians is that when we speak of God or things of God we don’t have love. They say we are hyper critical of the world we live in, narrow minded or too harsh with our words. Even when we are speaking the truth, without love it can turn people away from the gospel.
When truth and love are combined in an individual or a church however we are able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our faith. The Bible says in Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

When we are talking with non Christians let us seek not to be critical and negative of everything they do or say. Paul tells us to rebuke others with longsuffering. 2 Tim 4:2, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience. In I Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. This is what it means to season our words with salt.

Food cooked without salt tastes bland, but when you add the right amount of salt it tastes a lot better, isn’t it? In the same way let our words be seasoned with love and grace.
Excessive use of salt is not good in the same way we must choose our words carefully and use moderation in our speech. It’s not enough to tell people they need to get saved but we should tell them how to get saved. Remember the story where Jesus talked to the Samaritan women at the well? He did not right away condemn her saying “You sinful woman get your act together or you will go to hell” No! Instead he graciously and gently steered the conversation in such away that in the end not only the woman but the entire village got saved. Jesus showed us how to love sinners. We too are called to love people regardless of their sin and background.


Salting with dry salt was the only widely available method of preserving food until the 19th century. Salt inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Concentrations of salt up to 20% are required to draw up water and kill most species of unwanted bacteria. The Dead Sea waters in Israel are famous world wide for its curative nature because of its high levels of salt content.

There was a biblical precedence where salt was used to cure bitter waters. The men of a particular city came to the prophet Elisha and complained about the bad water source. Elisha ordered a new bowl and he filled it with salt and he went right to the source of the spring and threw the salt into it saying 2 Kings 2:20-21 "This is what the LORD says: I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.” We as the salt of the earth need to speak God’s word into this morally decaying society. However we are to speak God’s word seasoned with grace and love. When we do that God can heal broken relationships, strained marriages, give hope to the hopeless, and bring encouragement to the discouraged.

We know how harsh winters can be in New England. Especially when it snows, and freezes at night. For the first time in 2005 I learned the power of salt to melt snow and ice. In the same way we are called to use God’s Word to soften stony and icy hearts of New England skeptics. A couple of scriptures to help us see how powerful God’s word is.
Psalm 147: 16-18, “He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them, he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.” There is no powerful argument that can stand against God’s word. We are to take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God in our battle against Satan and his forces. God has given us his word as a powerful weapon to demolish every argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Cor 10: 5)

These are some of the ways we Christians are to be like salt in our communities. We are to add seasoning to the society and preserve it from its moral decay. We are to help people change their lives by leading them to Christ. We are to cure the backsliding of people including church goers by speaking words of truth and hope. We are to destroy every argument by speaking the powerful word of God uncompromisingly. If and when every Christian seeks to be the salt in the community this world would have changed a long time back. But we know that is not the case. Then what is hindering us from being the salt? How can a Christian loose his witness (the saltiness)?

In ancient times salt was stored in barns on mud floors. As they heaped more salt, the bottom layer of salt would never get used. When it is kept in that state for a long time it looses its saltiness and becomes hard like a rock. That was used as gravel to fill up potholes on the roads.


Have you ever enjoyed eating a salt less food by keeping a salt shaker near you? Will a salt shaker change the taste? How about if you admire and boast about the quality and the cost of the salt shaker, will that be useful? No, unless you take the salt shaker and shake it over your food nothing changes. The Bible says that salt is good, similarly Christians are good because they have Christ in them. Then what is the problem? The problem is that they are like the salt in the salt shaker. The church building represents the salt shaker. If all we do is come to church every Sunday, sing a few songs, listen to a sermon, and enjoy being comfortably around other Christians we are like the salt in the salt shaker, good for nothing!

If a Christian loses his zeal for the things of God, becomes backslidden and is full of sin then he is not useful to God. He can not reach the lost because he has lost his saltines. A ruined testimony is only good for one thing, to be trodden under the foot of lost man, like the salt which has lost its saltiness is trampled by men. Remember the scandals of Jimmy Swagart and Jim Baker and recently Ted Haggard, these are only a few well known examples but there are many more Christians who have fallen to the world and lost their testimonies.

We need to remember whom we are representing in the world. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. Himself. We should bring honor to his name not shame through our sinful and shameful life style. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth, but how far are we letting our saltiness be felt in the community or are we like the salt in the saltshaker or even worse have we lost of saltiness? My prayer is that God would restore our Christian flavor back to us and shake us so that we might be finally out of the salt shaker and get involved in transforming lives all around us by the power of the Gospel.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


William Norris, the American journalist who specialized in simple rhymes once wrote: If your lips would keep from slips, Five things observe with care: To whom you speak; of whom you speak; and how, and when, and where. There is a lot of Wisdom in this quote; we sure would save ourselves from a lot of trouble if we kept those five things in mind? But regrettably so often we let our tongues slip and pay dearly for the unwise and uncaring words we have spoken. Publius a Greek sage noted "I have often regretted my speech, never my silence." Don’t we all have regrets over our speech? Don’t we all lack control over our tongue at times?

The Bible has numerous examples of those who lacked control over their tongue and paid dearly for it. Remember the story where the Israelites quarreled with Moses at the Desert of Zin because there was no drinking water. The Lord said to Moses to “speak to the rock and it will give water.” Instead of calmly speaking to the rock, Moses lost his cool and struck the rock twice saying, “Listen you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” What Moses did and said displeased God, hence Moses couldn’t enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 20)

Another example was Nabal. He was a harsh man and evil in his dealings. When David sent some young people to him to ask him for some bread and water, this is how Nabal answered David's servants, and said, "Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?"

If it was not for his wife’s shrewd thinking and quick intervention he would have been killed by David that day. (I Samuel 25: 10-11). These two are the biblical examples where people lacked control over their tongue and reaped bitter consequences.

Recently a high ranking USA military officer due to his insensitive remarks lost his job as the commander in chief. General McChrystal made some rude and insensitive comments about the president, the vice president and the current administration in his interview to Rolling Stone Magazine and he had to face the music. An Associated Press writer reports, “President Barack Obama sacked his loose-lipped Afghanistan commander a seismic shift for the military order in wartime, and chose the familiar, admired — and tightly disciplined — Gen. David Petraeus to replace him.” This is a classical example of a person who lost control over his tongue.

It is important that we learn to control our tongues, especially if we claim to be Christians. We are encouraged in James 1:26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
Last week we looked into the evil power of the tongue and how destructive our tongues can become when we lack the fear of the Lord. Today we look at one more sin of the tongue “The boastful tongue” before we discover the constructive power of the tongue. The apostle James explains the power of the tongue and shows how Christians must learn to use their tongues to praise God and bless people instead of cursing those who were made in the very image of God. Most scholars believe that the oldest half brother of Jesus wrote this epistle. It was written around A.D 45. Though it was primarily written to Jewish Christians who were scattered around the world, the principles are applicable to all Christians.

In his book “The purpose driven life” Rick Warren first coined the phrase “It is not all about you, but it is all about God” what a paradigm shift when all of life has always been about I, me and myself! The bragging and boasting of some people knows no limits, so much so that they themselves are oblivious of it. I much rather listen to a person who is full about God than full about themselves.

What is boasting? It is “To glorify oneself in speech; talk in a self-admiring way. To speak of oneself with excessive pride. The act or an instance of bragging. A source of pride.” With or without realizing we carry certain prejudices of our culture, background, and accomplishments and take great pride in them. We seldom hear so called self made professionals, politicians, athletes saying that they have made it in life with the help of God. It is all about how hard they worked how well they acted, or played, smartly conducted their business and so on. James vividly described in his letter how a small part in our body, the tongue can do great boasting. James 3:5 “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!”

Recently I was listening to an interview of Lebron James the basket ball legend by Larry King. Throughout the interview Lebron boasted about his troubled background, how he came up in sports, how well he invests his money, how well he understands the game and so on, there was not a single mention of God in that interview either by Larry King or Lebron. What a tragedy? You might be asking is it wrong to boast about our accomplishments? What wrong is it if we take pride in ourselves? Well, boasting may seem a culturally accepted innocent norm, yet it has far greater ramifications than you realize. How does God look at boasting?

I John 4:15-16 “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

Face Book is a classical example of what John was saying through this scripture. I enjoy connecting with family and friends overseas via face book nowadays. But sometimes I have to laugh at the self aggrandizement and self profiling that floats around on face book. There’s a lot of “been there, done that” or even more mundane; “I ate this or got that. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that in itself but if all we are defined by is what we have or what we have done and our self projection, we have a shaky identity. God’s desire for us is to be secure in His love for us, we don’t need to impress him or anybody for that matter.

To come back to the boastful tongue, what do you think of this one?

Prov 27:2 “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.
Gal 5:26 “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

But if at all you want to boast you are encouraged to boast only in one thing. Jer 9:23-24 “Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.

We can overcome boasting, when we realize all we have ever done and we will ever do only with the help of Christ, because apart from Him we can do nothing. We have learned enough of the evil power of the tongue and its consequences. Now let’s look at the positive power of the tongue and its blessings. How should Christians use their tongues for good? Scriptures suggest a number of ways. I would like to look at three distinct ways we can use our tongues for good.


When we accepted Christ as our personal savior, we became dead to sin and to our old nature. That’s what it means when it says the “old has gone and everything has become new. Our old sinful habits and life style has no longer power over us. When we were baptized in water we became dead to sin, buried and raised with Christ putting on his righteousness. In other words once we were slaves to sin but now we have become slaves to righteousness. As a righteous person how are we to use our tongues? Proverbs 10 shows how a righteous person uses his tongue in a God honoring way.

Vs 11 “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life”
Vs 13 “Wisdom if found on the lips of the discerning”
Vs 20 “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver”
Vs 21 “The lips of the righteous nourish many”
Vs 31 “The mouth of righteous brings forth wisdom”
Vs 32 “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.”

The essence of this chapter is that Christians ought to speak differently than non Christians. Unfortunately, these days we can hardly tell the difference. Many Christians tend to mimic the world in every thing. They curse, slander, use filthy language, and say things like “Oh my God” without realizing that they are using God’s name without any reason. It is breaking the third commandment which says, “you shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guilty who misuses his name.”( Ex 20:7) What more should I say about the flattering tongue, which we often use merely to please people in order to get into their good books.

Why are we Christians to be careful with our words? Firstly, our words have power and they can hurt others immensely. Secondly Jesus said that we will be judged by our words, Mat 12:36-37 "And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. "For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned." Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Thirdly, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”(Prov 10:19)


With our words we have the power to bring healing and encouragement to others or we can hurt others and damage their reputation. Do you realize that so many people are hurting because of the insensitive words spoken to them? We don’t want to further add to their hurts with our harsh and cutting words. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was “full of grace and truth” John 1:14, it is not other way around first grace and next truth. Some falsely believe that we must say “truth as it is” therefore they often come across blunt and hurtful without extending grace.

We serve a King whose lips have been anointed with grace (Psalm 45:2). Prov 22:11 “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.” Ecc 10:12 “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.” This is what the prophet Isaiah has to say about this servant King, Isaiah 50: 4 “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary.”

We are the citizens of the Kingdom of God then are we to be any different than our King? Paul encourages us how our speech should be in Col 4:6, “let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.” When we are gracious with our words we are walking in the footsteps of our Lord in bringing healing to the hurting.


One of the primary purposes, why God created us is to give him praise. We praise God through all of our life. God is praised in right relationships; God is glorified through work well done. God is praised when we trust Him on a dull Tuesday or a challenging Friday.

When we come together on a Sunday morning it is a very special time of celebration and worship of the Most High God. Our Praise and worship brings us into the presence of God where we can unload our burdens and receive fresh strength to walk into a new week with confidence. It is not just singing a few beautiful praise songs but each time we sing praise songs we are powerfully declaring the character of our God. We are boasting about who God is and what God has done and what he can and will do.

The book of Psalms is all about praising God.
Psalm 34:1 “I will extol the LORD at all times his praise will always be on my lips”
Psalm 33:1, “Sing joyfully to the Lord you righteous, it is fitting for the upright to praise him.”
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him.”

We have barely touched on how to and how not to use our tongue and there is much more to learn. I would encourage you to do a personal study on this subject, and it will change you forever. My prayer is that we will have the fear of God upon our tongues and we will use our tongue to glorify God. We will bless others and not hurt others. For now let’s practice what we have learned about praising God by singing a praise song for Him. Amen

Sunday, July 11, 2010

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE: ( Lessons from James 3:1-12)

A young man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, "Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that's how we sell them!"
"You mean," she persisted, "that after all the years I've shopped here, you won't sell me half-a-head of lettuce?"
"Look," he said, "If you like I'll ask the manager."
She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. "You won't believe this, but there's a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce."
He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. "And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half" he concluded.
Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, "That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I've ever seen! Where did you learn that?" "I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it's known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women."
The manager's face flushed, and he interrupted, "My wife is from Grand Rapids!" "And which hockey team did she play for?"

How often are we like that young man who talked behind that woman’s back without realizing that he was getting into trouble? We let our tongues speak any and everything that comes to our mind without using discretion. Certain people think they have the gift of the gab to walk away from any situation simply through their shrewd talk. But do we realize that our words can either deeply hurt people or bring healing and hope to people.

The Bible talks a lot about the tongue; there is power of life and death in the tongue. The apostle James explains the power of the tongue and its use and abuse in James chapter three.

Most scholars believe that the oldest half brother of Jesus wrote this epistle. It was written around A.D 45. Though it was primarily written to Jewish Christians who were scattered around the world, the principles are applicable to all Christians. During its time of writing the early church was mixing up Jewish traditions with Christ’s and the apostles teachings. James was addressing a number of problems in the body of Christ, for example: the sin of partiality, works vs faith, false teachers, quarrels and conflicts, misuse of riches, the power of prayer, conflicting wisdoms and so on. James chapter three, deals with the misuse of the tongue by so called false teachers. The first five verses of chapter three talk about the destructive power of the tongue.
James opens up this chapter with a warning and explains the awesome responsibility of those who are leaders and teachers of God’s word in the Church. In the ancient Churches these men and women were held in high esteem because they were teaching God’s word. But unfortunately there were certain false teachers and abusive leaders who were teaching false doctrines and were misleading people. James was up against such people. He used three powerful yet familiar analogies to convey how a small part in our body called the tongue could have devastating effects not only on an individual but particularly on the body of Christ.

Let me explain these three analogies, “A rudder, a bit, and a spark of fire” A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything or destroy it. It only takes a spark; remember to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (The message Bible)

What was James saying here? Is he saying that our bodies are controlled by our tongue? Not necessarily, as we know our bodies are controlled by our mind, however the words we speak to ourselves (specially the negative words) and to others can have a deep impact more than we realize. Especially in the body of Christ the Church “if the teachers or leaders who use their tongue to influence others are kept in firm check, the spiritual health of the congregation would be much better.

Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which is best known for the November 18, 1978 death of more than 900 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana. He is a classical example of a spiritual leader who never had control over his tongue, neither had any one who kept him in check; the result was the loss of innocent lives. The uncontrolled tongue is destructive. So James warns us not to be in a rush to become a teacher of God’s word because teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. If we pray like David prayed we keep our selves from a lot of trouble, “I said, "I will guard my ways, That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle.” (Psalm 39:1)
In the bible we can find various tongues mentioned, both the evil and good ones. Today let’s talk about the evil power of the tongue. I would like to highlight three types of evil tongues.


Lying seems to be a way of life for many people. We lie at the drop of a hat. The book The Day American Told the Truth says that 91 percent of those surveyed lie routinely about matters they consider trivial, and 36 percent lie about important matters; 86 percent lie regularly to parents, 75 percent to friends, 73 percent to siblings, and 69 percent to spouses. Not only in America but lying is universal. What do we lie about? It’s not often the major things we lie about but, they can be small things. Did you know there is no such thing as a white lie or a black lie any lie is a lie. How about the cute little lies that parents seem to habitually tell their children? What do those false messages teach our children about truth?

The Bible is very clear about how God views lies: One of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not lie.”
Psalm 38: 3-4 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth. They have venom like the venom of a serpent; like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear.”
Pro 6:15 “There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”

It is for our good that God warns us against lies. Psalm 34:11-13 “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” Rev 20:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” How serious do we take God’s hatred of lying lips?

B. THE HARSH (Crude/curt/blunt/sharp) TONGUE
A friend of mine uses an expression whenever he wants to be honest with someone, he would say, “to be blunt with you” For some it will be no problem to be harsh and rude with their words without realizing how harmful and damaging those words can be. Yet others carry a harsh exterior and often make rude comments to keep people at arms lengths in order to protect their own insecurity.

Can harsh words have harmful and devastating effects when they are directed towards children and our loved ones? Many counselors tend to agree that most emotional wounds are caused by insensitive and hurtful words. The Hindu scriptures Sama Veda notes, “Just as an arrow once released from the bow can not return, in the same manner painful and harsh words can not be taken back.” There is quite a bit of truth in this statement, so let’s watch our words. It’s often not so much what you say that hurts a person most but it is how you say it.

The Bible denounces harshness and promotes gentleness. Pro15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Eph 5:4, “And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” How about those who are not as loud, rude and obnoxious? Is there a place for them in this world? The world often despises gentle and meek people thinking that they are weak. In fact meekness is not a weakness it is a sign of great strength.

Jesus showed us an example of what a gentle leadership style would look like, Matt 11: 9 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” Mat 21:5"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
Paul walked in the foot steps of Jesus in modeling gentleness 2 Corinthians 10:1 “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!”

It was not the aggressive propaganda, neither was it the military campaign that brought the mighty British empire to its knees in India, it was the determination of Mahatma Gandhi a meek, gentle, and unassuming man who practiced nonviolence. Gandhi was impressed by the Sermon on the Mount where it said, Matt 5:5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Much can be talked about gentleness but this is sufficient for now.

Some of the greatest role models in my life have been people who exemplified integrity not so much in what they said but in what they did not say. Those are people who simply refuse to speak negative about others in their absence even if they have been hurt or misunderstood. They talk to someone but not about someone if it isn’t edifying.

How comfortable are we talking behind peoples back with an intention of damaging that persons reputation, we say things like, “It’s between you and me,” “I didn’t tell this to any body” “it is a top secret” we even spiritualize it and say “let’s pray for Mary she is going through such a hard time.”

If you are given to gossip, watch out it doesn’t please God. The Bible warns us to avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and also those who indulges in malicious gossips. (2 Tim 2:16, 2 Tim 3:5), Pro 20: 19 “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.” There is a warning for both older men and the women in the body of Christ regarding gossip

I Tim 3: 11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
Titus 2:1 “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

One pastor gave this formula to his church members who are struggling with gossip. It is called “THINK” before you speak.
T--Is it true?
H--Is it helpful?
I--Is it inspiring?
N--Is it necessary?
K--Is it kind?

If what we are about to say does not pass those tests, we will keep our mouth shut! I believe if we practice this simple but powerful formula our churches can be a gossip free Church. What more should I say about other destructive tongues? such as the deceitful tongue(Psalm 35:20) slanderous tongue,(Psalm 15:3) boastful tongue(Gal 5:26), arrogant tongue( I Sam 2:3) Judging tongue(Matt 7)backbiting tongue(Pro 25:23),cursing tongue(Psalm 109) accusing tongue(Mar15:3),agitated tongue(Acts 17:13),angry tongue (Pro 14:29).

It is enough for now to learn about the destructive power of our tongues. After reading this message about all the evils that can come from our mouths, you may have regrets for the ways in which you have used your tongue to hurt others, in the process you have hurt yourself by loosing relationships. You don’t have to remain like a person from whom people keep a distance; instead you can be a person whose words bring hope and encouragement. I believe an invitation for personal change and growth is found in the words of Psalm 34:11 “Come my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Would you like in your own heart to respond to that invitation and ask God to teach you His ways?
Loving life and seeing many good days has a lot to do with how we speak.

More about this next week!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Every year on July 4th we are reminded of the great freedom we enjoy in this country. Thank God for the freedom in this country. But what freedom did the early settlers fight and sacrifice their lives for? Did they imagine that in less than 300 years later in the name of freedom we would kill nearly 50 million innocent babies? Or that the freedom to speak God’s truth, and prayer would be taken away from the public schools? Did they imagine that sexual perversion would be promoted by the entertainment media? Or that the institution of marriage, family values, raising children would be attacked? I don’t think they had any idea of how far we would be removed from true freedom to do what is right?

We are proud of all those who have laid down their lives and are still laying down their lives to protect our freedoms. We boast about America being the greatest nation on the earth, but what makes America great and different than rest of the nations? Where does the greatness of America lie? Does it lie in its military might? Or in it’s political power? Or in the hands of a few wealthy people?

French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting America in 1831, said, "I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests--and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning--and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution--and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!!

According to Tocqueville, What makes America good? is it’s the Church of Jesus Christ and the people whose lives are transformed by the saving power of Christ. On this day as we celebrate our freedom let’s give some thought, we might be freed but how free are we indeed? Let me talk about what the Bible has to say about “True Freedom,” the privileges of freedom, the responsibility of freedom and the cost of freedom. What is freedom? John George Diefenbaker, the 13th Prime minister of Canada has profoundly defined freedom, he noted, “Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.” There is a lot of truth in it isn’t it?

For the citizens of America either born here or neutralized there are numerous privileges. Here one is free to pursue his or her dreams. You can work and live any where, move freely in and out of the country, express your views freely, attend Church freely without someone pointing a gun to our head, and enjoy the fruit of the land. Don’t we all enjoy these privileges? Similarly in the Bible we learn about numerous privileges that are available for the citizens of God’s Kingdom. Jesus explained who gets to enjoy these privileges by using the parable of the shepherd and his flock. The Bible says, “We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” Isaiah 53:6

The description of men being compared to sheep comes over and over again in the Bible. I think the description of us being sheep befits us. We sometimes blindly follow other people in doing wrong things without questioning. We imitate wrong and harmful habit patterns of others without any discretion.

For example, the macho guy on the Marlboro cigarette Ads. In 1950’s & 60’s millions of people were influenced to smoke cigarettes by looking at those cool Ads. Interestingly all the three characters who appeared in Marlboro advertisements - Wayne McLaren, David McLean and Dick Hammer - all died of lung cancer, thus earning Marlboro cigarettes, specifically Marlboro Reds, the nickname "Cowboy killers".[12] McLaren testified in favor of anti-smoking legislation at the age of 51. This is day light robbery! How many innocent people continue to be deceived and are being led astray by the power of media? Which I believe is largely controlled by Satan.

Jesus referred to Satan as to a thief in the parable where he compared himself to a gate for the sheep and a good shepherd. “I tell you the truth; I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

The parable has full of contrasts: Satan is out there to deceive people, to steal their joy, peace, health, to destroy families, relationships and societies and eventfully kill those who follow him. Where as Christ came to give life and life in abundance. That is true freedom. Only in Christ one gets to enjoy the privileges of true freedom. What are those privileges? They are eternal security, peace of mind, protection from the enemy and God’s presence and provision In Ephesians 1:3, Paul noted several privileges “praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” The apostle Peter echoed the same words In II Peter 1:3“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us.”


Freedom is sweet; it offers a lot of privileges but also calls for responsibility. If all you want is only freedom but never accepts responsibility then it is both dangerous for you and to those who are around you. Dr Francis Schaeffer explains the dichotomy between freedom and form, “During 1920-1980 there was an attempt to have absolute freedom. The attempt was to throw off anything that would restrain one’s own personal autonomy. If there is no balance between form and freedom, then the society will move into either of two extremes. Freedom without a proper balance of form, will lead to chaos and to the total breakdown of society. Form, without a proper balance of freedom, will lead to authoritarianism. In other words if we only have freedom no form then we have anarchy, on the other hand if we only have form and no freedom then you have dictatorship. What we need is a balance between form and freedom.

God gives us freedom of choice but at the same time he sets up boundaries and expects us to act responsibly. Remember that he told Adam and Eve that they were free to eat fruit from any tree in the Garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is freedom with responsibility and accountability. In Ecc 11:9, “Be happy young man while you are young and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” If you just follow only the top line of this scripture you tend to think, great, God is permitting me to enjoy any and everything in my life but there is a warning at the bottom. The bottom line is that we have to give an account of all the wrong things we do.

It rather seems unfair isn’t it? As if with one hand God gives freedom and with the other he curbs the freedom. Why would he do that? Wouldn’t it be better if never gave us freedom in the first place?God is a loving father and he wants what is best for his children. But it is the enemy who twists everything and makes us believe that which is wrong and harmful for us, as the very best for us.

God has given us a free will, with that we can either choose to obey him and worship him or reject him and continue to live in rebellion. Paul addressed the Corinthian believers two times how they can misuse their freedom when it comes to two of the most natural appetites: food and sex. “All things are lawful for me but not all things are profitable. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. We are free to eat anything but eating certain things are not beneficial and especially over eating is not profitable.” (I Cor 6: 12-18; 11:23)

For me I realized that many things may be permissible but that not all of them are beneficial for me. I learned this the hard way since I started having gout attacks a few years ago. Particularly eating beef seems to trigger this for me. If I ignore the warning signs and don’t watch what I eat I suffer the painful consequences. In the same way regarding sex outside of marriage, you are free; not many would stop you from having pre and extra marital relationships. I have a warning though especially to you teens and young adults; yes you have got all those powerful hormones and feelings kicking. However how you channel this high powered energy in you will have a huge impact on your future.

Blowing sound teaching to the wind in this vital area can land you in bondage in more ways than one. Sexual immorality can cause not only STD’s and AIDS but more than that it tends to emotionally hamper you in ways that you are not aware of until later. It takes courage and strong determination to live pure lives when promiscuity seems to be the norm all around us. Let’s take note of Paul’s advice, “Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive.” (I Cor 11:23). Be mindful of Peter’s warning, in I Peter 2:16, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” Freedom without responsibility can be dangerous.


Do we have any clue of how many lives were lost and how much blood was shed in order to obtain our freedom from the tyranny of the British Empire? We are enjoying the freedom in this great and beautiful land of America but sadly we take this freedom for granted without realizing at what cost it was obtained. We are indebted to all those who have sacrificed their lives in fighting for our freedom and all those who are still sacrificing their lives to protect our freedoms. May the Lord protect our troops and bless their families.

Do we have any clue of how much it costed God in order for us to obtain freedom from the bondage of sin and slavery to Satan? In the OT God required the blood sacrifices of animals in order to wash away the sins of his people. Aaron the high priest was commanded to not to enter the Holy of Holies inappropriately otherwise he would die. So it was a life and death matter when it comes to bringing sin offerings before GodOnce a year on the Day of Atonement Aaron was to offer an animal for his sins first and then another animal for the sins of Israel.(Lev 16) Similarly our great high priest Jesus Christ offered his sinless body as an atonement for our sins.

The writer of Hebrew so clearly writes what the blood of Christ can do to sinners like us. Hebrew 9:12-14, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more then will the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God.”

In the OT the animal sacrifice was repeated year after year, but Christ shed his blood once for all and for all of mankind. What a powerful truth this is. Christ’s blood, even after over 2000 years is still powerful to not only cleanses us outwardly but also inwardly. It is powerful to forgive anyone no matter whatever sins they may have committed. Though we may be living in a free country yet inwardly it is possible that we are not yet free.

The apostle Paul recognized that he was a prisoner to his sinful nature within. He was desperate to be set free so he cried out, “Wretched man I am, who will set me free from the body of this death. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24-25)

Are we greater than Paul to think that we never have to cry out to God for him to set us free? Maybe you say “I have blown it so badly, I have missed the mark and I don’t know how to change. You may have fallen in some of the areas that were mentioned today. That doesn’t mean that you have to remain captive to your sin and guilt. You can repent today, make a U-turn and have a fresh start. With God’s grace you can abstain from harmful desires and habits. He paid the price for you through his blood sacrifice my prayer is that we are sufficiently impressed with this awesome God for as it says in Hebrews 10:26 “for those who have known the truth but continue to sin there is no sacrifice is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” May this day of Independence be your day of freedom from sin and guilt? Remember freedom also comes with responsibility. Amen.