12/01/16: Speak No Evil

•December 1, 2016 • 1 Comment

images-3The Three Wise Monkeys remind us to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.” It may be difficult for us to guard what we hear; sounds are everywhere. And it also may be hard to shield our eyes from everything we don’t want to see. However, we have complete control over what comes out of our mouths. James 4:11-12 tells us, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (NKJ)

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the New Testament explains the meaning of these verses and how we may well be guilty.

We are cautioned against the sin of evil-speaking: Speak not evil one of another, brethren, v. 11. The Greek word, katalaleite, signifies speaking any thing that may hurt or injure another; we must not speak evil things of others, though they be true, unless we be called to it, and there be some images-2necessary occasion for it; much less must we report evil things when they are false, or, for aught we know, may be so. Our lips must be guided by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice.

The commentary goes on to give us the three reasons why we are not to engage in this practice:

  1. Because you are brethren: Since Christians are brethren, they should not defile nor defame one another. It is required of us that we be tender of the good name of our brethren; where we cannot speak well, we had better say nothing than speak evil; we must not take pleasure in making known the faults of others, divulging things that are secret, merely to expose them, nor in making more of their known faults than really they deserve, and, least of all, in making false stories, and spreading things concerning them of which they are altogether innocent.
  2. Because this is to judge the law: The law of Moses says, Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people (Leviticus 9:16). The law of Christ is, Judge not, that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1). The sum and substance of both is that men should love one another. A detracting tongue therefore condemns the law of God, and the commandment of Christ, when it is defaming its neighbour. To break God’s commandments is in effect to speak evil of them, and to judge them, as if they were too strict, and laid too great a restraint upon us.
  3. Because God, the Lawgiver, has reserved the power of passing the final sentence on men wholly to himself.images-1

Let’s be more mindful of how we speak of our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we know a negative thing to be true, it’s not our place to spread that around. Would we want them spreading negative things around about us? And especially if we have only suspicions about some negativity, our place is not to “speak evil” of them, spreading those damnable suspicious and infecting the minds of others against them. If we must talk to anyone, let’s take our concerns to God, and then discipline ourselves to think only the best, speak only edifying words, and picture others living in God’s favor.

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 

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11/29/16: Shepherd Evaluation

•November 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment

images-2All through Scripture, shepherds and sheep are spoken of symbolically representing the leader or pastor and God’s people. God holds the position of a shepherd to an extremely high standard. After all, the shepherd is directly responsible for the welfare of the sheep.

When the shepherds of Israel messed up, God did not mince words. He told them exactly what they had done wrong, enumerated the results of their mismanagement, and pronounced His judgment. Listen in at Ezekiel 34:2-10:

* … “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.

* “So they were scattered… they became food for all the beasts of the field… My sheep wandered… no one was seeking or searching for them…

* “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand…” (NKJ).

The checklist evaluation of what a shepherd of God’s people is supposed to be doing is right here in this passage. It’s not our job to judge God’s chosen leaders; God is perfectly capable of doing that Himself. However, it is our responsibility to place ourselves under leadership that is reliably following God. Are our pastors concerned with:images-3

  • Strengthening the weak?
  • Healing the sick?
  • Binding up the broken?
  • Bringing back those who have been driven away? and
  • Seeking the lost?

Those called to be pastors and church leaders (shepherds), there’s the evaluation of your motive. Those called to be sheep, there’s your prayer list for your shepherd.

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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11/28/16: Thankfulness – the Overflowing Tank

•November 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

imgresThe writer of Hebrews ends the book by taking us back to a discussion about Jesus. Verses 12 – 14 remind us of what Jesus did for us at Calvary, sanctifying us with His own blood. He goes on to say, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” Hebrews 13:15-16 (NKJ).

You see, that one remembrance – the recollection of the act of Jesus Christ dying for our sins – should engender such thankfulness on our part that the praise literally erupts from us, unable to be held back by anything. No amount of depression, pain, loss, fear, or sadness should ever snuff out our feelings of overwhelming gratitude for having our sins forgiven.

Even so, please do notice that sometimes, the praise is a sacrifice. The Greek word “thusia” (thoo-see’-ah) used images-2here literally means “the act or the victim.” In dark moments of our lives, it may seem as if offering praise to God actually hurts. Thanking God may be the last thing our flesh wants to do. In those instances, the sheer act of our will must push us to say as Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” Luke 22:42 (NKJ). Even in the midst of our struggles, it is God’s will that we give Him “the sacrifice of praise… the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

And thankfulness is an overflowing tank. As we obediently thank Him continually, God will be pleased because thanks not only lifts us, it tends to flood over and affect others. We’ll want to “do good and share.” It will be utterly impossible to keep all that thankfulness to ourselves. Thanks may start as a sacrifice, but it ends as both a self-healing balm and an over-reaching blessing to others.

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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Unknown-2Mission Trip Update! I think about Africa every day. My new Motherland friends and I stay in contact thanks to Facebook. God is the true international God; Jesus is the international Savior; the Holy Ghost is the international Spirit. Love for our God crosses country checkpoints without needing a passport or a visa.

________________________________

Links you won’t want to miss: 

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    • A View from the Upper Room

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11/26/16: It Is Not God’s Fault

•November 26, 2016 • 1 Comment

images-2Comedian Flip Wilson made a fortune dressed as his comic character Geraldine. He had her deny all culpability for her outrageous behavior by proclaiming, “The devil made me do it!” If we could get away with it, most of us wouldn’t mind finding someplace else or someone else on which to place the blame for our wrongdoing. We hear excuses being bantered about all the time. “My workaholic mother neglected me, choosing the power of the boardroom over the peace of a bedtime story,” or “My father was an alcoholic who abused me,” or “teachers never took the necessary time to help me,” etc., ad infinitum.

What’s even worse than placing the blame for our screwed-up thinking on other people, is when we have the unmitigated gall to place the blame on God.

  • “I couldn’t reach my dream of playing in the NBA because God made me too short. That’s why I’ve been imgres-1forced to throw my life away to drug abuse.”
  • “God knows my body has needs, so that’s why I’m promiscuous and dependent upon government subsidy to feed my six kids.”
  • “I didn’t make this society so hard to live in. That’s why I cheat on my taxes, tap into my neighbor’s cable line, purchase bootleg CD’s, and lie about where I live so my kids can go to a better school. God knows I just have to beat the system.

This place-the-blame-on-God phenomenon is nothing new. Our first ancestor, Adam, started it in the Garden of Eden. The minute he was caught doing the first sin, instead of ‘fessin’ up, he threw Eve under the bus, and blamed God all in one sentence. (Okay, so buses weren’t invented yet, but you get the picture.) When directly asked by God if he had eaten of the tree he had been told not to eat from, Adam answered, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” Genesis 3:12 (NKJ).

imgres          Yes, it seems fewer and fewer of us want to step up to the plate and take responsibility for our own actions. James 1:13-15 shows clearly that our sinfulness is not God’s fault. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (NKJ).

God does not tempt us to sin. Our own flesh is our problem; it lures us toward evils. Spending time desiring those evils causes us to start planning to make those desires reality. When we make our sinful desires into realities – when we do the deed – sin happens. And sin always, always leads to death.

Today, let’s stop blaming God for our sin, realize the enticement lies within, and turn to God for the strength to avoid yielding to temptation.

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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Unknown-2Mission Trip Update! I think about Africa every day. My new Motherland friends and I stay in contact thanks to Facebook. God is the true international God; Jesus is the international Savior; the Holy Ghost is the international Spirit. Love for our God crosses country checkpoints without needing a passport or a visa.

________________________________

Links you won’t want to miss: 

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11/25/16: Being Rich on Black Friday

•November 25, 2016 • 1 Comment

imgresHere in the United States, on the last Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving. We get together with family and friends, have a huge dinner in which turkey is traditionally the main meat dish, and sit around enjoying one another’s company. I think it actually may be my favorite holiday of the year. The whole goal of the day is to be thankful to God and to share that day and thankfulness with those we dearly love.

But then comes the next day. The retail industry has dubbed the day after Thanksgiving to be “Black Friday.” This is the “official” start of the Christmas shopping season and many retailers make the money that will sustain them through the whole next year in the next 30 – 45 days. Retailers used to write their financial statements in either black or red ink. To be “in the red” indicated they owed money; to be “in the black” indicated they made a profit. That’s why the day is called “Black Friday.” Thanks to all the shoppers, the stores’ financial statements could be tallied in black ink rather than being written in red.

As I think on drawing a connection between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, by our social standard, the two days imgres-1have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Families got together on Thursday hoping to have a great meal; people go out to spend money on Friday hoping to get a great deal. But for me, the two days are closely tied. It irks me that some of my wonderful family members only want to show up at our gathering place at dinner time. Thanksgiving Thursday is more than the meal. Being together is important and we’re running in so many different directions in our lives that we need to set aside this special holiday time to just enjoy being in the same room together for the day, even if we don’t eat until later. Nevertheless, because of Thursday, I can see Black Friday as another day to celebrate. I am “in the black” with the riches of having a family who also love the Lord and with whom I can spend time.

images-2God has supplied us all with some riches. First Peter 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” We may not feel we have much money to spend in the stores today, but let’s spend at least part of this Black Friday rejoicing about the rich inheritance we do have – the one that has been provided for us by God.

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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Unknown-2Mission Trip Update! I think about Africa every day. My new Motherland friends and I stay in contact thanks to Facebook. God is the true international God; Jesus is the international Savior; the Holy Ghost is the international Spirit. Love for our God crosses country checkpoints without needing a passport or a visa.

________________________________

Links you won’t want to miss: 

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11/24/16: Payback

•November 24, 2016 • 2 Comments

images-1It is said that what goes around, comes around. Anyone who has lived on this planet for any length of time knows this to be true. This principle even worked in Bible times. For example, Esau sold his birthright for one morsel of food, but afterward, “when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” Hebrews 12:16b-17 (NKJ). You see, when we don’t honor what we should honor, that action will eventually come back to bite us. No amount of pleading, crying, and attempting to place a guilt trip will make a bit of difference.

By not pursuing peace and holiness, and by not “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God,” we allow a “root of bitterness” to spring up and “cause trouble and by this many become defiled” Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJ). Another old saying sums it up this way, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.”

What’s basically being discussed here is payback, the negative side of the sowing and reaping principle. The neat thing, though, is knowing that this principle also works in the positive. Both the Old and the New Testaments speak to this:

  • Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. (NKJ)
  • Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (NKJ)

Truly we reap what we sow. Sow a harvest of neglect, indifference, and evil; reap a harvest imagesof loneliness, isolation, and violence. Sow a harvest of love, concern, and being nice; reap a harvest of love, friendship, and people being nice to you.

Don’t get it twisted. The principle of sowing and reaping is not the same as kharma.  Kharma, which is not at all a Christian concept, is a balancing act of your good works vs. your bad works. If when you die, your good works outweigh your bad, you win. This is a classic works salvation model. Christianity is not about piling up enough good works to get to heaven. Christianity is about receiving salvation as a free gift and serving God (doing good works) because of what He’s already done for us. We don’t serve God to earn Heaven; we serve God because we’ve already attained it through His Son, Jesus.

Still know that along this journey, our actions and attitudes matter and the principle of sowing and reaping plays that out. Payback works. Will it work in the positive or in the negative for you?

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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Unknown-2Mission Trip Update! I think about Africa every day. My new Motherland friends and I stay in contact thanks to Facebook. God is the true international God; Jesus is the international Savior; the Holy Ghost is the international Spirit. Love for our God crosses country checkpoints without needing a passport or a visa.

________________________________

Links you won’t want to miss: 

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11/23/16: God’s Not Happy About This

•November 23, 2016 • 2 Comments

images-1When Osama Bin Laden was killed, some people in America rejoiced in the streets. After all, this one man had accepted blame for masterminding the 9-11 terrorist attacks within our borders. Acts carried out under his direction left many loved ones with empty arms and hearts when the planes used as missiles hit their marks. Even the plane that missed its target crashed in a field killing all aboard. Wasn’t the celebration of punishment for Bin Laden justified?

Not in God’s sight.

Ezekiel 33:11 states, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…’” (NKJ). Bin Laden professed that he devoutly followed a religion that does not believe that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and there’s no other way to get to God except by the acknowledgement of who Jesus is (See John 14:6). The atrocities sanctioned by Bin Laden were indeed wicked acts, but God had no pleasure in his death. Why? Because He is longsuffering (patient) toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” Second Peter 3:9 (NKJ).images

We see Bin Laden’s sin as so much worse than our own. The truth is: none of us deserve salvation. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans3:23 (NKJ). Any sin is enough to preclude us from Heaven. It’s only thanks to God’s amazing grace and mercy that our lives were not cut short before we had a chance to come into the saving knowledge of Christ, trust Him as our Savoir, and be welcomed as part of the family of God.

By all indications, Bin Laden is spending the rest of all eternity in hell’s fires along with everyone else who died without the saving knowledge of Christ. That’s nothing for us to celebrate. God gets no pleasure in an unsaved soul. Let’s busy ourselves today and every day spreading the Gospel so the tragedy of a lost soul won’t happen to anyone with whom we come in contact.

___________________________

©2016 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

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Unknown-2Mission Trip Update! I think about Africa every day. My new Motherland friends and I stay in contact thanks to Facebook. God is the true international God; Jesus is the international Savior; the Holy Ghost is the international Spirit. Love for our God crosses country checkpoints without needing a passport or a visa.

________________________________

Links you won’t want to miss: 

  • Watch Sharon in two shows on The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network: 
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    • A View from the Upper Room

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(Stream current show or view past episodes anytime!)

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  • Pick up a copies of Sharon’s books for yourself and as gifts for your family members and friends!

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