Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who love you and were helped by you will remember you when the forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on their hearts, not on marble.” A life of faith, obedience, and pursing holiness will help us attain Godly character. Self-discipline will allow us to take those mountaintop moments with God to not only teach us but change us. Finally, humility & virtue will grant us the grace to be battered into the shape of God’s vision for our good and His glory. Integrity is a right relationship with the Lord that leads to the right course in life…a life well thought of for honesty & moral excellence…written on hearts forever.
Proverbs 10:19 ” When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
We only have to go to the Book of James, Chapter 3:2-12, to read a wonderful & insightful discourse on the tongue. Now the tongue may be one of the smallest parts of the human body, but it’s capable of creating some of the biggest disasters in our lives… and with it, the potentially serious consequences of mis-speaking. Or as Psalm 59:7 says, ” They spew out swords from their mouth.” So what’s the remedy? Proverbs 10:32 tells us, “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.” There is much to be said about being quick to listen & slow to speak, (James 1:19) and intentional listening shows wisdom & insightfulness rather than rash folly. For a wise person will hold their tongue, while a fool will claim to know it all.
Luke 6:21 “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
When we look at how evil & corrupt the world has become today, we can’t help but mourn over all the sin that surrounds us. For we know the failure of mankind to give proper glory to God grieves the Father, and thus it grieves us. But there’s coming a marvelous day…a day like none other, when every knee shall bow & every tongue confess that He alone is God. And our weeping will end as He wipes away every tear… and we behold His holy face.
Matthew 6:25 “I tell you, do not worry about your life…”
Here, Jesus isn’t talking about being concerned where you’re going on Summer vacation, or fretting over which new car to buy. When He tells us not to worry about our life, Jesus means the bare bones basics of food, shelter, & clothing. And He goes on in Matthew 6 to make it very clear that our worrying changes nothing…”Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (or as other translations read, ” Can add a single cubit to his height?”) But the worrying kicker is found in verse 30 when Jesus calls it for what it is…”Oh you of little faith.” Worry is nothing more than unbelief, doubt, and lack of trust that God can look after the very practical details of our life. And it reveals our faltering faith in our Heavenly Father’s ability to care for us in the area of basic resources that He already knows we need. Worrying is unproductive & futile and does not change anything…only heightening our anxiety level.
Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your Presence?”
God’s personal Presence is everywhere throughout His creation…in other words, God is Omnipresent. So the answers to these two rhetorical questions are there’s no where we can go that’s beyond God’s view. God even declared this in Jeremiah 23:24, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” To demonstrate this, the next five verses (Psalm 139:8-12) gives examples of where we can’t go to escape God. We can’t hide in the highest of heavens or the depths of the grave. We can’t fly on the wings of the dawn or travel to the far side of the sea. We can’t even use darkness to hide from God…for darkness isn’t dark enough to hide us…”For darkness is as light to You, God.”
John 18:27 “…And at that moment a rooster began to crow.”
Peter wasn’t just one of the crowd that flocked around Jesus, he was one of the Twelve that had been with Him from the start. Peter had even boasted that whatever happened to Jesus, he’d be right by His side to the end. But little did Peter realize how his own spiritual weakness & fear would cause him to deny the Lord. And as that third denial tumbled out of Peter’s mouth, the rooster began to crow, and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken…and it says that, “He went outside and wept bitterly…” (Matthew 26:75) But as a great testimony to both human weakness and the greatness of God’s mercy, Peter wasn’t left in that pitiful state. For early on Easter morning we see the women at the empty tomb and an angel tells them to, “Go and tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” (Mark 16:7) Those two words, “and Peter” not only showed the graciousness of God but the forgiveness & restoration afforded to all of us when we fail. We see this in John 21:15 when Jesus restores & commissions Peter to play an enormous role in the early Church… despite all his shameful past failures.
Luke 21:19 ” By standing firm you will gain life.”
Jesus made it crystal clear throughout the Gospels…”All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, John 15:21) When you give your life to Jesus you suddenly have a target on your back & are open to the world’s ridicule, mockery, insults, & contempt. Sure, you can remain quiet & secretive, hiding your confession of faith under a barrel so to speak…but you become utterly useless in Kingdom work. Or you can stand strong in your belief, persevering patiently & suffering well…never surrendering or succumbing under the trials you face. Jesus never promised we’d have a smooth, trouble-free life as a Believer…quite the opposite! But He did promise He’d be right beside us to the end.
Psalm 91: 15 “I will be with him in trouble.”
We need to realize that our sufferings aren’t some unexpected novelty. We need also to realize that they will never be some grand, highly welcomed events. Trouble comes at the most inopportune time & when we least expect it….causing worry, stress, and discouragement. But God promises in this verse that He will be with us…seeing us through to the end. Sure, our sufferings can be exhausting and irritating, but they will never separate us from the love of Christ. And His powerful love will continue to hold fast even when ours wanes… and everyone & everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie. One way to look at it is this…our sufferings become stepping stones on the path to glory…each one bringing us a little closer to Jesus.
Jeremiah 9:5 ” Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.”
If I asked you, you’d probably say you know the difference between right & wrong. For even if you were raised by a pack of wolves, your conscious is pricked at the sight of something wrong or a flagrant lie spoken. But what about telling the difference between what’s right & what’s almost right? We tend to spin lies to our own benefit…with the biggest lies being the ones we tell ourselves. We say to ourselves, “It’s not hurting anyone else.” “I’m only going to try it once.” “It’s just a little white lie I’m telling them.” And in doing so, we rationalize, and justify the untruth…searching for a plausible, (but still untrue) reason for our conduct. So in the end, we find ourselves not only deceiving others, but ourselves as well.
Haggai 2:23 ” On that day, declares the Lord Almighty, I will take you, My servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and I will make you like My signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord.”
In Jeremiah 22:24-30, we see God rejecting Zerubbabel’s Grandfather, Jehoiachin, right before the Babylonian evasion. But God never negated the covenant He had made with king David back in II Samuel 7:11-13, establishing David’s kingdom & throne forever. So we see here in Haggai God using the same language to promise a renewal of the Davidic kingdom through His chosen person, Zerubbabel. The importance of the signet ring here was hugely important, for it was an official insignia used for contracts & other important documents. And later, we find this distinguishing mark used in II Corinthians 1:22, where God’s authority, ownership, and guaranteed protection seals us, not with a wax seal, but with the Holy Spirit in our heart as we read, “He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” So just like Zerubbabel, we’ve have been chosen of God & given an eternal promise never to be broken.