The Seed Sower Newsletter May 2023
Quotes of the month:
Idle men tempt the devil to tempt them. Charles Spurgeon
My pen serves as my tongue. Saint Augustine
God is everywhere around us and in us, if we only open our eyes. Frank Laubach
The days are evil, dress appropriately. Put on the whole armor of God: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Ephesians 6:10 – 17, a paraphrase
The Mouth by Frank Paul
Let us use Ecclesiasticus 28:12 (Sirach) to jump start this article about the mouth. “Blow on a spark and it flares up; spit on it and it goes out – both come from the mouth.” Oh, that mouth of ours, that hurtful, spiteful, vicious weapon; yet so small when compared to other parts of our body, but just as powerful. And out of that same mouth comes praise and nice words for the people we care about. Whether they are good or harsh words, once they go out, you cannot get them back. What to do with such a contradictory creature such as this? Thankfully, the Bible has been answering this question for us as far back as 1500 B.C. in Psalms, and all the way up to 65 A.D. in James. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word from God, then it is the Lord, Himself, who is instructing us to be watchful over our tongue and mouth. It seems rather straightforward: “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech.” Psalms 34:14. It hits home even harder when you think about having to give an account to God on judgment day of everything that you have ever said. Ouch. “But I say unto you, that every idle word that man shall speak, they shall give account therefore in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37. Our words come out so quickly, more often than not, too quickly. If we could only take a moment to think before we speak; and it does only take a moment. If we follow Jesus’ advice regarding not to judge others, and to treat people how we would like to be treated, perhaps this will help you curb that nasty tongue, or at least think about the impact of your words before blurting them out. We all know words hurt. We all know words can lift us up. Why be the cause of someone else’s pain because you could not hold back your tongue? If you couldn’t care less about hurting others, why should they give a heck about you? Oftentimes neutral can be better than drive, meaning if you do not have anything nice to say, drop down into neutral and do not say anything, instead of gearing up into drive and running the person over. Matthew was quoting Jesus when he wrote in 15:18, “But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Perhaps our tainted mouth has a deeper root cause; we are just not feeling right inside. God can also fix that. He gives us instruction on how to do just that in Psalms 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O, God; and renew a right spirit in me.” There are so many verses of Scriptures zeroed in on this very topic. Here are just a couple: Proverbs 12:14, “A man gets his fill of good from the fruit of his speech.” Job 27:3-4, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.” I urge you to read James 3:3-12 in its entirety. He says it far better than I can. What is the bottom line here? It might be as simple as that age-old saying reminding us that we have two ears and one mouth. Since God designed us this way, maybe He was giving us a hint that we truly should listen more than we should speak. It was not until I got much older in life that I realized that another one of those long-ago sayings is true: Silence is golden. It can be difficult to change our ways but isn’t that what being a true follower of Jesus charges us to do. It is a choice; similar to every other decision you make in life. You can choose to be kinder. You can choose to continue to be a foul-mouthed individual. When you put it in black and white terms as that, your choice should be clear. Take away the hurtful speech: see if it not only helps others, but makes you feel better as well. I am quite sure there is enough negativity in this world, there is no need to add to it.
Think by Pastor James Merritt
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15. Gossip is perhaps one of the most destructive yet overlooked sins in the Church today. Nothing can destroy relationships and unity in the body of Christ faster than gossip. The dictionary defines gossip as idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. This type of talk is in direct opposition to the Apostle Paul’s description in Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Gossip has no place in the body of Christ. The Church will never be what God intends for her to be when gossip is present. And nothing will destroy our witness any faster. When outsiders see Christians speaking unkindly about one another, it is an instant turn-off. Jesus told His disciples that they would be known by their love for one another (John 13:35), and the same is true today. Gossip is not loving, therefore it must go. I recently saw this acronym, which can be helpful in measuring what we say. T – is it true? H – is it helpful? I – is it inspiring? N – is it necessary? K – is it kind” This is a great recipe for us to follow as we weigh our words before deciding whether to speak them.
Where do verse and chapter numbers in the Bible come from? by Andy Rau
When the books of the Bible were originally written, they did not contain chapter or verse references. The Bible was divided into chapters and verses to help us find Scriptures more quickly and easily. It is much easier to find "John chapter 3, verse 16" than it is to find "for God so loved the world..." In a few places, chapter breaks are poorly placed and as a result divide content that should flow together. Overall, though, the chapter and verse divisions are very helpful. The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions. The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.
Let’s not forget our prefrontal cortex
There are short and long term memory functions in the different lobes of the brain; however, the prefrontal cortex is one of the major ones. The need to memorize anything lessens as we get older, mainly because we think we know everything we need to know by now; however, without use, this function will fade away. So let’s not fall victim to a failing memory. Here is your homework for the next newsletter. Have these seven churches from the Book of Revelations memorized by next month. There will be a test…
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea
I wanted to have my research complete by this newsletter on the whole Sabbath Saturday or Sunday question that has been around for hundreds of years, however, I am finding the task much more difficult than I had imagined. Hopefully it will be done by our next issue. If you are so inclined, take a look into it yourself; it’s quite interesting how once again, man has decided to change God’s word; and in this case, one of His commandments.
If anyone knows of a local family that is in need, (I’m in North Olmsted, Ohio) let me know and we will be glad to swing by wherever they are and bring some food.
Anyone want to chat about the Bible and how it pertains to 2023, let me know and we can gather at my house on Saturdays or Sundays and have our own house church; or you could join us via Zoom. My email is listed below.
The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence
A Christian classic on cultivating intimacy with God through life's everyday tasks. This enduring classic of devotion consists of the letters and recorded conversations of a simple seventeenth-century lay brother who, through the most ordinary of activities, was able to achieve a profound intimacy with God.
The Mortification of Sin by John Own
Written in 1656 by the famous Puritan, John Owen shows the need for Christians to engage in a life-long battle against the sinful tendencies that remain in them, despite their having been brought to faith and new life in Christ.
(Editor’s note: Excellent, excellent reads. Both will have a lasting effect on how you go about your daily lives.)
19th Century Prayer
Lord, take my lips and speak through them; take my mind, and think through it; take my heart, and and think through it; take my heart, and set it on fire. Amen W.H.H. Aiken
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