The Part Where the Bible Flirts with Nihilism

Ecclesiastes 1-2 and Galatians 1

Often I think that mowing the lawn is pointless. Why do we mow lawns? Who decided for all of us that it is just something we have to do? Wouldn’t the grass and weeds exist happily without being cut down every week during the warmer months? How does it really benefit me or anyone to mow the lawn? Also, it’s time consuming, and costs money for gas and to maintain the mower.

Yet, I cave to societal expectations and take reasonable care of my lawn. It isn’t so bad. Often it is enjoyable, and can be therapeutic or meditative. It’s a chance to sort out my thoughts. But still, there are so many things on the list of things I’d rather be doing.

We could all come up with lists of what we think is pointless. It would be an easy project. The harder project would be to see what is left over. What actually matters? What has true significance?

This is the question brought to the table by the book of Ecclesiastes. Our Qoheleth (Hebrew for teacher) is beginning to let us know about all the things he thinks are pointless, and there are a lot of them. All the work we do is pointless, because you can’t take the results with you when you die. Someone else gets all of it (2:18). The pursuit of wisdom is pointless because “in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow” (1:18). The pursuit of pleasures is pointless too, like chasing after the wind. He tried all of them, and gained nothing from it.

Are these things bad? The teacher doesn’t say that. Surely working is something we have to do, otherwise we can’t provide for ourselves or our families. Wisdom and knowledge are positive things. Isn’t it beneficial to understand things? Pleasure is a good thing given a few healthy boundaries. We all need opportunities to appreciate and enjoy the good things in life.

The teacher does mention a few things that might be worthwhile: eating, drinking, and enjoying your work. They are from the hand of God, he says. Also on the list of not-so-pointless things is pleasing God. This is a good start. If we think about it long enough, maybe we can figure out what the essence of something meaningful is. Could we decide what is meaningful or not based on a set of criteria? I currently don’t have a good method of deciding this, but I’d like to get better at recognizing what is meaningful and what is not.

What if we spent more time thinking about and pursuing things that are truly meaningful? Doesn’t that allow us to focus our efforts on things that will actually benefit us and others? If only it was easy to know what those things are. We constantly have to prioritize the many options for how we could spend our time, whether we consciously think about it or not. The teacher is not giving us a complete guide for what should take priority, but he is challenging us to think about it.

Looking at Galatians 1, we might be able to pick out a few things the apostle Paul thinks are pointless. Perverting the gospel, being a people-pleaser, persecuting the church, and climbing up the ladder of Judaism all could make his list. What does Paul think is worthwhile? Serving and proclaiming Christ! As we continue on through Ecclesiastes and Galatians, maybe we will get more insights into what these authors think is important, and by doing so, improve our understanding of what God thinks is important.

Seek ye first…

Jay Laurent

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ecclesiastes 1-2 and Galatians 1

The Under Pressure / I Will Survive Mash-up

Job 39-40

I’m intrigued by tardigrades. They are eight-legged microscopic animals that look almost like bears when they move, earning them the alternate name water bears. They can be found anywhere on earth, surviving the most extreme temperatures and pressures. Apparently it is no big deal for them to have no air, water, or food for a while. They can dehydrate in a water shortage and sit dormant for decades until more water comes along, and then rehydrate and continue their life as if nothing happened. They can even survive exposure to outer space unshielded from dangerous radiation. They have a resilience of almost mythical proportions.

Consider Behemoth (Job 40:15-24). He seems pretty solid. He makes me think of an elephant, hippo, or in the Harry Potter universe, an erumpent. Who knows what he is anyway? All I know is that I’d rather not cross paths with one. The most a tardigrade could do to me is crawl on me, and I wouldn’t notice it. Encountering a black bear could be scary, but they’d likely run away, especially if we are in a group. They don’t want to run into you any more than you want to run into them. But Behemoth doesn’t care. He’d trample you.

“Even if the river is turbulent, it is not frightened; it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth. Can one take it with hooks or pierce its nose with a snare?” (Job 40: 23-24)

Like the tardigrade, Behemoth is resilient. You or I would be swept away by the current, but not Behemoth. He makes his way through the turbulent Jordan and doesn’t lose his confidence. He knows the struggle is real, and the waters may even slow him down, but this is not the end of Behemoth. Not even close.

We’re of “small account” just like Job (40:4). We all have our struggles, our raging Jordans, that we are trying to make our way through. During the process, it’s fair to want to know why we have to struggle and suffer, and where all of it comes from. Is it from a broken world paying forward the hurt? Is it the natural consequence of our poor decisions? Does it come from God, like the author of Psalm 88 might suggest? Is it from evil forces trying to discourage us? Is it just general suffering we’re guaranteed to experience? Is it some combination of all of them?

But do you think Behemoth or the tardigrade worry about why they suffer? Probably not. They just try to get through it. Maybe while you are suffering, the “why” questions aren’t going to be the most important thing. You may only have the energy or capacity to react to the crisis and pick up the pieces later. Figuring out the deeper questions might be something you only worry about on the other side of suffering.

The ability to think about suffering is both a blessing and curse. If you think about your situation and realize that you are at least partly responsible for your suffering or the suffering of others, you have the ability to learn from your mistakes and avoid making them again. In that way, being able to avoid unnecessary suffering is a blessing. But it can seem like a curse to keep thinking about the purpose of your suffering when it comes from something completely beyond your control. This is the carousel of painful thoughts Job was on.

In that situation, it is fair to want to challenge God, like Job did. Where is his supposed justice? Go ahead and challenge God and have the wrestling match (Gen 32). He can handle it. Just be prepared to be challenged back. Be prepared for the possibility of injury. Be prepared to grow and receive a new name. Be prepared to be more resilient, more Behemoth or tardigrade-like.

To quote someone who voluntarily took on suffering for our benefit and was resilient through death itself: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

-Jay Laurent

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway here – Job 39-40 and Psalm 87-88

Gird up now thy loins like a man

Job 37-38 and Psalm 85-86

There is an idea called the “retribution principle” that you can find woven into much of scripture. If you think that being good and righteous means that you will be rewarded, and that being wicked means you will be punished, you think that the retribution principle is true on some level. It seems to make sense as a general rule. What goes around comes around; you reap what you sow.

For most of the book of Job, we’ve been immersed in a debate between Job and his friends about whether this principle holds up. Job’s friends insist that Job must have done something wrong to bring on this suffering. Job insists he’s righteous and that his suffering makes no sense, bringing God’s justice into question. Elihu shows up, defending God’s majesty and justice, and condemning Job for being too self-righteous.

Sometimes Job’s friends seem like they have a grasp on the truth, but other times what they say seems misguided, and in the times left over, we just aren’t sure what to think. They all have worthwhile things to say, but at the core are still flawed humans. When reading anything in Job, we have to use some discernment to decide if what is being said is really true. After all, in the last chapter of the book, Job’s friends are criticized by God for not speaking of him what is right. 

At this point we have read a large chunk of Job, yet we are not sure who to believe or how to make sense of all the things that are being said. Suddenly in chapter 38, God rejoins the conversation from a whirlwind, signaling that this should be the dramatic moment when all our questions are answered.

We get no answers. In fact, God says he is going to ask the questions now.

If Job is man enough to challenge God, then he’d better be man enough to be challenged back. He’d better brace himself like a warrior. Job, were you there when I put down the foundation of the earth and gave the chaotic waters their boundaries? Do you have intimate knowledge of how all of creation works? Have you explored the highest highs and the deepest and darkest chasms? Do you have control over light, rain, snow, lightning, stars, or animals? Where does wisdom come from?

What would you say back? Really, what could you say back?

Does this frustrate you? It frustrates me. We call out to God in our deepest despair and questions but then feel like we just have more questions. It is not any fun to be humbled and put in our place. It’s disheartening to follow God and still go through hard times; we think it isn’t supposed to work that way. It’s natural to ask why we even bother serving God when we can’t seem to find the benefits, and yet the troubles have no trouble finding us. This all hurls us back to the question posed in Job chapter 1: If all the benefits were stripped away, would Job still serve God? Would you?

Through the story, the author of Job is asking us to question the retribution principle. Apparently, being good doesn’t mean you’ll expect only good things in your life. And being bad doesn’t mean getting a lump of coal. Reality is just more complex than that. It rains on the righteous as well as the wicked, and even in a desert land where nobody lives.

I’ll close with prayers of hope from the other part of our reading today:

“Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:8-9)

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)

-Jay Laurent

Some of you may know Jay as the really tall bass player in the FUEL worship band. We welcome his deep thoughts on God’s Scriptures this week.

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 37-38 and Psalm 85-86

Please Lord, Get Your Hands Out of Your Pockets!

Job 25,26 and Psalm 73,74


Job had certainly experienced his share, actually more than his share, of trouble.  Add to that the counsel of his wife and friends and you can’t help but wonder how he managed to survive, and to actually thrive in his relationship with the LORD.  None of it was fair, but why would we expect life to be fair?  If life was fair, I suppose we’d be zapped with judgment upon our first sin.  Job seemed to have wisdom and understanding beyond most.  Psalm 111:10 comes to mind, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him (the LORD) belongs eternal praise!”  Job did his best to follow the LORD’S precepts, and he was consequently blessed with understanding.  He was certainly a man of faith, with determined loyalty to the LORD, no matter what came his way.  What an example for us as we see evil in our world, as we experience trouble, disappointment, pain, sorrow, frustration.  It’s easy to wonder, where is God?  Why doesn’t he send Jesus back?  Isn’t it time to put an end to this broken and disobedient age in which we live? 


Asaph, author of Psalm 73 and 74, may have had similar thoughts.  He seemed to envy the arrogant, even thought the wicked had it better than he.  Everything seemed to go well for them.  They were carefree, yet their wealth increased.  This bothered him to no end, until he remembered the rest of the picture.  All may have appeared bright and shiny, but he was reminded the wicked are doomed to judgment and destruction.    


Still, it bothered Asaph that things continued as they did.  Notice Psalm 74:11, “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?  Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!”  Asaph felt, as probably most of us today, that God should get his hands out of his pockets and fix things.  Deal with the evil!  Get rid of those who persecute God’s people!  Smack those who call evil good, and good evil!  Bring your salvation!  Have regard for your covenant, your promises!  Defend your cause!  


Doesn’t that sound like our thoughts and wishes?  Send Jesus back now!  I suspect things are going to get a whole lot worse than they are now, than we can even imagine.  It’s okay that we would wish God would take his hands out of his pockets and fix everything, because that in itself shows that we do know he who can and will eventually fix things.  At the same time, may we be patient, may we persevere, as did Job, and may we wait upon the LORD to take action when and how he sees fit!

-John Railton

Today’s Bible passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 25-26 and Psalm 73-74

Current Events & Proverbs

When I first started reading my Bible regularly as a teenager, my youth pastor suggested reading a Proverb each day because they were full of wisdom and you can read one for each day of the month. Years later, I heard my pastor at the time, John Railton, suggest the same to his church. I have implemented that strategy intermittently over the years, and while I don’t do it every month,  I have come to learn that the book of Proverbs is a terrific source of reading for wisdom/comfort/practical teachings. I would definitely recommend reading words from “wise King Solomon” to anyone! And, no matter how many times I read them, I still find new lessons and comforts.

Just this week I was reading Proverbs 3, and found a few of them to be very relevant with what I had read a few minutes before in the current events of this world! In fact, if there is one thing that makes me realize how much I need to read the Bible more, it is reading the news these days. So, in case a few words of wisdom that brightened my day brightens yours, here goes. And there are lots more where these came from. Smack dab in the middle of your Bible. Or under “P” in your trusty Bible app.

Proverbs 3:5-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.

And a few more wise words of comfort, verses 21-26

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
    and will keep your foot from being snared.

-Jennifer Hall

Keep up with that Bible reading plan – read or listen at BibleGateway here – Job 17-18 and 2 Corinthians 10

Sharing Treasures

Godly Wisdom and the Coming Resurrection

2 Chronicles 9-10

Imagine the excitement as the very great caravan of the queen of Sheba arrived in Jerusalem. Envision the camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones. The queen brought amazing treasures, but she was in search of a different kind of treasure from Solomon. She had questions and she wanted answers. Solomon was able to answer all her questions through the God-given wisdom he possessed. She experienced the blessings that God had given to this king and his people which made her feel overwhelmed. She offered praise to the LORD and understood that God loved Israel. She discovered that out of this love, God had provided the people with a king that could maintain justice and righteousness. Her encounter with Solomon, the people and her time of worship in the temple made a lasting change for this queen.

Even Jesus states that the queen will rise at the judgment with his generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon was there. Of course, that something greater was our Lord Christ Jesus. It is great to imagine meeting and talking with this queen in the resurrection. It is incredible to think of the people that have the opportunity to experience this resurrection because of sharing our love and faith in our God. Just as the queen encountered the LORD through the Israelites, we have the opportunity to share how amazing God is with those in our world today. What a celebration that will be when all of us are together at the resurrection!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 9-10 and Romans 4

Working Towards Wisdom

2 Chronicles 1-2 and Proverbs 31

It was 10 o’clock. The air was heavy with humidity and filled with the familiar sound of girls giggling from the top bunks of the cabin. Crickets buzzed. Floorboards creaked. The busyness of the day was finally settling down. I slid into my freshly washed sheets and laid down on my lumpy plastic mattress with a smile. It was so good to be home. After a long two years, we were finally back at our beloved Family Camp. 

“Hey, Casey?” One of my cabin daughters called.

“Yes?”

“Can we borrow your AirPods? We want to watch a movie together.” 

We’d barely arrived and I already felt my preachy-cabin-mom instincts kicking into gear. Here we go. “Girls, girls, girls! That would defeat the whole point and the beauty of family camp! This is meant to be a week of IMMERSION. A detox from all the outside junk of the world. I used to love the feeling when I was young, before we even had the capability of having technology in the cabin, that I was on an entirely different planet when I was at camp. No TV. No news. No music that wasn’t worship. When I’d get in the car after camp and finally hear a radio station playing secular music, it’d be like, ‘Whoa! Oh yeah! I forgot everyone else on the outside was still doing this!’ It was a great escape from everything that distracted me from focusing on my faith and my relationship with God. For a couple years after I first got a smart phone I thought, “Hey, this will be cool. I can fall asleep listening to TV at camp now.’ But then I realized I was robbing myself of that high I used to get. And its SUCH an amazing feeling that I don’t want you girls to miss out on it either. Cut all of that stuff out and give yourself a break. You’ll feel renewed!” 

Fortunately, my cabin girls are super awesome and wise (or perhaps they just wanted me to stop preaching at them) and didn’t push back at all. We went on to have an amazing week, cut off from the world, and I was delighted to return home with that blissful Family Camp high. 

Then… Saturday came. Life was returning to normal and we were back into the routine of things. The TV was on, my browser tabs were multiplying, and social media was overtaking my thoughts. I felt my fire simmering down to coals.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I needed Cabin-Mom-Casey to give Every-Day-Casey a loving lecture. “Your fire is burning out because you’re not fanning it! Why do you limit yourself by only cutting out worldly things and focusing on God that one week a year?! What can you limit and cut out right now today and everyday?”  

The daily Bible readings for today are 2 Chronicles 1-2 (on the wisdom of Solomon) and Proverbs 31 (on the virtuous woman). As so often happens, I think God gives us the right passages when we need them most. So how do these verses apply to my current conundrum? 

In 2 Chronicles, we see Solomon didn’t ask for wealth or riches, but for something much greater… wisdom. That wisdom in turn brought on all the desires of his heart. But he had to actually implement that wisdom. I feel God provided me with the teaching, knowledge and  experience to know what I need to do in order to keep my fire burning, but I need the wisdom to actually make those right decisions. 

In Proverbs 31 we read the long and daunting list of the ideal woman. It’s a popular and somewhat intimidating chapter. The virtuous woman makes her own clothes? And does all the cooking? And brings food from afar? And gets up when it’s still night time?! How does she have the time?? I occasionally ponder on this before getting distracted by the interesting part of my current Netflix show… and wait, someone just messaged me on Facebook… I’ll think more on it when I finish this oooone last round of Candy Crush. I may never know how she did all that, but there is one thing I do feel fairly confident about: I think the virtuous woman was focused. She didn’t allow silly worldly distractions to separate her from the godly tasks before her. Proverbs 31:26 says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  She was wise in what she allowed to occupy her time and thoughts.

So what would Solomon advise me in his wisdom? What would the wise and virtuous woman instruct me to do to keep that fire burning? I’d imagine they’d encourage me to cut out or greatly limit my TV time. They’d probably advise me to stop wasting as much time on my phone and to use my time wisely. I think they’d love for me to make my home a holy oasis away from the world for my family. 

My prayer today for my cabin girls, for myself, and for you reading this; is that our fire and faith would be lit anew as of today. I pray that we would eliminate some of the worldly winds threatening to snuff out those flames. Finally, I pray that God grants us the wisdom to actually do it. 

-Casey Kiel

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 1-2 and Proverbs 31

Wise Ants

Proverbs 30

Have you ever thought about ants as something besides a pest? Before I started researching facts about ants, I just thought about them as annoying insects that carried away crumbs left around your house. However, research proves that ants are much more than just annoying pests, they are also very intelligent and good at working together.

Ants are able to come together as large groups and use all of their intellect as a whole.

Ants are officially the world’s smartest insects and have 250,000 brain cells.

Ants are the only non-mammals who can learn through interaction.

Research is not the only thing that proves that ants are smart; the Bible also describes the wisdom of ants. In Proverbs 30:24, it says that there are multiple small things on the earth that are very wise. The first thing listed that is small but wise is ants. Proverbs 30:25 says that ants are wise because they spend their summer gathering food for the winter, even though they are small. While ants are wise because they gather food for the winter in preparation, they are also wise in the method by which they gather their food; teamwork. Each ant is able to gather some food by itself. It may be able to gather enough food for a month if it works alone, but it wouldn’t be able to gather enough food for the entire winter if it worked alone. But when an ant works as part of a colony, it is able to help make sure all the ants in the colony have enough food for the winter. As Christians, we should be the same way. We should be working together to help each other stand firm in God’s word, instead of trying to do God’s will by ourselves and stumbling in our faith throughout the process.

As Christians, we should be working together to help each other to better understand the Bible. Understanding the Bible gives us wisdom, which in turn helps us to stand firm in our faith. Every person reads the Bible differently and learns different things when they read it. Working together with fellow believers to study the Bible allows us to each learn the things others learned when they read the Bible that we wouldn’t have learned by ourselves. The more lessons we learn from the Bible, the sturdier foundation we are able to build our faith upon.

Not only can spending time with other Christians help you to build a stronger foundation, but it also helps you to draw closer to Jesus, allowing you to live your life more like Jesus. Matthew 18:20 says that where two or three believers gather together, Jesus will also be there in the believers’ midst. When Jesus is in the midst of a group of believers, each believer becomes stronger in their faith. This allows them to imitate Jesus better in every action of their life and to stand firm in their faith throughout hardships with less difficulty.

Throughout our lives, we will all face trials that try to shake us from our faith including people who try to challenge our faith. Many people who try to cause you to fall away from your faith come with reasons and logic that very subtly oppose the Bible. If you try to stand by yourself without surrounding yourself with fellow believers, there is a good chance you may start to fall away from your faith because you start to believe what others say. However, if you are surrounded by other Christians, they can help you find the flaws in the logic and continue to stand firm in your faith. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 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.”  Just like ants, we need to be gathering with other fellow believers and working together, so that we can stand firm in our faith.

–Kaitlyn Hamilton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Chronicles 27-29 and Proverbs 30

The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart

Proverbs 17-18

The book of wisdom says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21). I understand this scripture to mean that we have the power to speak words to others unto life or words unto death, so we should choose our words carefully. If we love to talk, we better make sure our speech represents who we are because we become what we speak (eat your words). Our words are death and life to our own bodies.

I keep coming back to the issue of the heart. I know we need to have a heart for God if we desire to be with him and his son in the Kingdom of God. But how do we really know if we have a heart for God? The heart can be seen in the things we do that correspond with Jesus’ commandments (love) that we must do to enter in. Works are fruit but works can be deceiving if the heart behind the works is not motivated by love. Mathew 7:15 – 23 says:

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

The people speaking to Jesus in this passage are shocked that Jesus doesn’t know them. The works mentioned in this passage do outwardly appear to be good fruit. Fruit can look good on the outside but can be rotten on the inside.

It can be difficult to identify bad fruit sometimes. If you really want to know if you’re producing good fruit or not, there is one particular fruit that’s pretty transparent, at least to the people we’re around the most. Our words are a good indication of what’s in our hearts.

Here’s a similar passage from Luke’s perspective in Luke 6:43-47:

43 For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: 

Jesus has a little more to say about the mouth in Mathew 12:30-37:

  30“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

      31“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32“Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

      33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart35“The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

James gives us even more clarity about the power of our speech in chapter 3:5-12:

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our body’s parts as that which defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one among mankind can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, bear olives, or a vine bear figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Are you noticing as I am that some of the scariest, most convicting verses in the bible for a supposed Christian regard our speech? We must tame our tongue. To tame the tongue we must change our hearts.

By examining our own words, we can tell if we have a heart for God or not. I think it’s a really good indication about our destiny too. If you really want to know if you are producing good fruity speech, ask those who are closest to you how they perceive your speech towards them. If they aren’t on the receiving end of your good fruity speech, that’s not good. Be prepared with your response. If you don’t like what you hear, how will you respond? Choose your words wisely.

If you know you will have trouble responding with good fruit, prune your speech! You might find it helpful to practice not saying anything at all. Proverbs is chock-full of verses that tell us that there is wisdom in keeping our mouths closed. Even a silent fool is considered wise if he keeps his mouth shut. We can use that silent time to pray for wisdom and words of life and in the meantime, practice our sacrifice of praise to God, which is the fruit of our lips that give thanks to his name.

-Juliet Taylor

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Chronicles 3-4 and Proverbs 18

Lead

The Right Way

2 Kings 15-16


As a child, I was always told to be a leader, not a follower. The importance of leading with wisdom and godliness was engrained in my mind; it was repeatedly being taught by parents, teachers, mentors, and of course, leaders. I’m sure most of us grew up with similar advise. We all know the impact a good leader can have, as well as the impact a bad leader can have. That’s why
if we know what it means to be a good leader, we must take it upon ourselves to be one.


The thing is, most of us do know what it means to be a good leader. We all have it within us to lead as God instructs us to lead, because He gave us this whole enormous book full of leaders to read about and learn from. Jesus Christ was obviously the top dog when it comes to leaders…and everything else, but there are so many others we can look at too, including the not so great leaders.


Throughout the Old Testament, the importance of a strong leader is stressed over and over again. We see these amazing, capable, resilient, faithful leaders bringing God’s people into the light, guiding them in the direction God laid out for them, like Jesus someday would. But we also see weak leaders, lacking in faith and abounding in pride. When leaders like that are in charge, they
normally can be observed dragging their followers down with them. The readings of the past week have been absolutely full of leaders who could not leave behind the sins of their predecessors, which “made Israel to sin.” When you have been blessed with the knowledge of the truth, and you know the commands God has given us, it is your duty to be a leader. It is your duty to point others to God in everything you do, not to continually lead others in sin.

When Israel had weak kings who did evil in the eyes of the LORD, the whole nation was brought down as a result. On the other hand, when Israel had strong kings who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, the entire nation would be lifted up. You can see when God favored Israel and its king, because He would lead them to victory in battle, and bless them with prosperity. When the king and Israel failed, however, they would often be delivered into the hands of their enemies.


It is clear how much of an impact a leader can have in the Bible, and that hasn’t changed at all today. We are so blessed to have the knowledge of the truth, and to know that we are loved by the Almighty. To have this knowledge, and to have a real relationship with God, we also have to accept our responsibility on this earth to be leaders. Not the kind that will lead others into sin, but the kind of leader God can count on to be a light, just as His son was. The kind of leader that has unwavering faith, because they know who holds the future. The kind of leader that obeys the words of the LORD in every circumstance. The kind of leader that shows the unconditional love of God to each and every one of His children, everyday.


Let it be our prayer that we become the leaders God made us to be, to be a bright light that guides others to Him even in this dark world.

-Isabella Osborn

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 15-16 and Proverbs 12