How Strong Are Our Words?

Hello friends! Today, I wanted to dive into the passage below (Matthew 12:33-37) and break it into pieces so we can study it more easily. This passage is rich and convicting, and I believe it has a message that we all need to hear.


“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. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

Jesus (Matthew 12:33-37)

1) The Tree Is Known By Its Fruit

If a tree is healthy, has clean water, plenty of sunshine, and it is far away from any sort of disease, the tree will produce healthy, juicy, fruit. If a tree is diseased, weak, and in a dry area, the fruit will subsequently be unripe, small and measly. It might get rotten before it even turns ripe. 

Suppose you had two pieces of fruit in your hand. One was large, brightly-colored, plump, and juicy. The other was smaller, hard, with bruised spots, and was a pale brown color. What would you infer about the trees they came from just from looking at the fruit?

Jesus is using a very simple picture to show people how the human heart works. 

I once watched an American Girl movie based in Colonial America. In one scene, the grandfather is talking to his granddaughter after the grandfather and father have gotten in a fight. The grandfather says, “Words of anger are never from the heart.” That’s what the world wants people to believe. But Jesus says something different.

2) Heart Fruit

If someone’s words are uplifting, encouraging, fun, wise, lovely, and admirable, that shows you what is in their heart. If someone is constantly encouraging and lifting others, it shows that they are humble and they care for others. If someone is wise and is constantly teaching others about God’s Word, it shows that they have God’s Word stored up in their hearts. If someone is fun and lovely in what they say, it shows that they treasure the beautiful, unexpected, joyful moments of life. 

If someone’s words are discouraging, dirty, rude, foolish, and repulsive, that gives you a very clear look into their heart. They discourage because they are proud or they are insecure in who they are and thus they try to put others down so they can feel high up. When they constantly make fun of someone they are doing the same thing. Their words are dirty and repulsive because they treasure sin. They are rude in their talk because they find themselves to be above the person they are addressing. They consider that person worthless. When their words are foolish, it means they haven’t stored up God’s Word in their heart. 

You may think, “Breanne, that’s way too harsh.” But I didn’t come up with it. Read the verse again. That’s what Jesus was getting at. 

3) Good Can’t Come From Evil

In verse 34, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees He is talking to. Although the Pharisees’ words seemed good, Jesus knew what their hearts looked like. Their hearts were evil. 

So even when they spoke “encouraging” or “good” words, their intentions and wants were self-exaltation, honor and self-righteousness. They wanted to do good so that they could be seen and known and respected. But Jesus said that that wasn’t “good”. 

4) Good Treasure

Whatever you treasure up in your heart, that’s what’ll come out. To treasure up means to hold or keep as precious. What is most precious to you? Your reputation, or God’s? Acceptance and praise, or God’s presence? The words of others, or God’s Word? 

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 

Psalm 119:11

The more we treasure and store up God’s word in our hearts, the more we pour out that treasure. When we give importance to something, it changes our actions. 

5) Accountable For Every Careless Word

When I read this passage, this is what got me. We will stand in front of God, and He will hold us accountable for every word. Those careless insults, those empty foolish mockery-filled words. He says we are accountable for them.

We will be condemned or justified because of them. 

The Hope

But wait, you might say, didn’t Jesus die for our sins? Yes! He did. Romans 8 verses 1 and 2 say this: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

If you are a believer, you will not be condemned. 

The Warning

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-2

However, we do not take grace for granted. If you are a believer, you should strive for purity, not trying to see how far you can bend the rules. 

If we are bearing bad fruit, we need to have a heart check. What are you treasuring? What are you deeming important? 


Disclaimer: I struggle with making fun of others because I am insecure in a certain situation, or putting people down because I think they are immature or “bad”. I care more about what others think than what God thinks, most of the time. Because what comes out comes first from the heart.


Some take away questions and thoughts to chew on:

When it comes to the words you speak, what areas do you struggle with? Do you tend to make fun of people? Or do you use crude language? Do you use your words to brag, and make yourself look bigger so everyone else feels a little bit smaller?

Why do you think you struggle in those areas? What sinful things are you treasuring or storing up in your heart? What are you prioritizing in your life, God, or something else?

What simple steps can you take to treasure the right things first? Remember, it’s the heart change that needs to happen first. What insecurities need to be addressed with God’s Word and His promises? What pride needs to be brought down when compared to the glory of the Maker of the universe? Memorize Scripture that addresses the heart issue, and meditate on that Scripture. Pray that God would change your heart and help you treasure the good and lovely.

God’s Plan: The Coronavirus Pandemic

As I listened to our pastor’s sermon this Sunday, I started to ponder my last post. I didn’t disagree with anything I wrote, but I felt that there were gaps that needed to be filled. I pray that this post will do that. 

God Is Completely Sovereign

Nothing can successfully stop any act or any event or design or purpose that God intends to certainly bring about (- John Piper). 

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

God is in control of everything that has happened, is happening, and will ever happen on this earth. Nothing catches Him by surprise. Nothing happens without His permission. He has complete authority. He has ultimate power. 

God planned to bring the Coronavirus about. He is in control of every government and economy and nation. He is the King of Kings. He planned the pandemic and all its effects. 

God’s plan is intricate. His knowledge is unlimited. No sparrow falls from the heavens without Him knowing about it (Matthew 10:29). He knows every time a virus infects a new body. Every time someone loses their job. Every time someone loses a loved one. 

God Is Ultimately Good

God is the epiphany of good. He is the most self-sacrificing, self-humbling, loving, and just King there is. Psalm 34:8 says: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 

Then comes the question: How can God be good when there is so much bad in the world? Why doesn’t God just abolish all the evil? 

The thing is, no human is good. We all have sinful hearts. We have all gone astray like sheep (Isaiah 53:6). If God were to get rid of all the evil in the world, He would have to destroy all of humanity. That includes you and me. 

God already abolished almost all of humanity with the world-wide flood in Noah’s day. He is a just God and cannot stand in the sight of filth and evil. 

The Bible also tells us that God is a merciful God. We see this over and over again in the Bible. He spares humankind by saving Noah and his family. Jonah tells God that he knew He was “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster” (Jonah 4:2). In Psalms 78 and 106, we see His utter mercy and faithfulness to Israel even in their uttermost rebellion and sin. Lamentations 3:22 says that God’s mercies never end. And at the cross, we see God’s mercy fully displayed (Ephesians 2:4-5). 

How We Should View Trials In Light Of God’s Attributes

What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? – Laura Story, Blessings

Laura Story states it so beautifully. What if God planned the Coronavirus so that yes, He could judge some, but He could also have mercy on people by drawing them to Him throughout their desperate circumstances? What if He is letting Satan tempt some believers, or He himself is testing their faith so that they will become “steadfast … (and therefore)… perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4)? 

If God is in control of all, and He is good, and we are His children, what is there to fear? 

“…be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 

Hebrews 13:5b-6

I know who goes before me

I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever

He is a friend of mine

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

-Chris Tomlin, God of Angel Armies


What has God been teaching you during the Pandemic? What truths has He brought to your mind lately? Are there any points in my post that you disagree with? If so, comment, and I would love to talk them over with you. 

Blessings, 

Breanne

Mission: Eternity

I sit staring at my laptop. I listen to encouraging music, poke around online, waiting for the idea to hit. Exhausted. Discouraged. Sound familiar?

I re-read a hymn today that I know well but hadn’t thought about in a while. The hymn is called O Church Arise. It’s a modern hymn, by Keith and Kristyn Getty. It’s a call to war. 

To War

A call to war? Aren’t we, as believers, promoters of peace? 

We are. But not when we wage war against the lies that culture tells us. Or the lies Satan tries to feed us. Not when we wage war against temptation and sin. Not when it’s to release prisoners of war from sin and darkness’ chains. 

We are in a battle. It might not seem like it. We get another Messenger text, we watch a show, we talk with friends, make food, take a walk. But Satan is a lion prowling around, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He is dangerous. As humans, we are weaklings in comparison to his utter evil and power. 

When The War Becomes Visible

These days, in quarantine, during the pandemic, the war has become overwhelmingly real. God is sovereign and he has allowed this. However, I believe Satan is using this. It’s comparable to when Satan asked permission from God to torment Job in the Old Testament (Job 1:6-12). God let him take all that Job had.

Satan is trying to tempt believers. It’s all lost. You don’t have any friends or family around to support you. You probably won’t get to worship normally in church again. Forget about ever graduating. Or finding a job. He also comes up with quite the opposite: Coronavirus? Why is everyone so worried? Just go watch your new show. Go take a nap. 

The whole world is going crazy. Entire governments and nations are crumbling. It’s simply gone to show how weak we are. People are turned against people, fighting over a piece of fabric, called a mask, or the last packet of toilet paper on the shelves. Friends are in tension because of different ideas on how we should cope with the virus and social distancing. 

Fighting In Light of The Victory

The hymn calls believers to war, but it also reminds them that this war isn’t your ordinary fight. The winning side has already been decided. 

Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,

As the Son of God is stricken;

Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,

For the Conqueror has risen!

And as the stone is rolled away,

And Christ emerges from the grave,

This vict’ry march continues till the day

Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come, put strength in ev’ry stride,

Give grace for ev’ry hurdle,

That we may run with faith to win the prize

Of a servant good and faithful.

As saints of old still line the way,

Retelling triumphs of His grace,

We hear their calls and hunger for the day

When, with Christ, we stand in glory.

We will stand in glory. We will tell the stories of the triumphs of His grace. Our state in this war might seem desperate and impossible. The news is horrible, the whole world seems to have despaired, and yet we will stand in glory. 

Let us fight. Let us rise. Let’s remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of the Hope that never fails. Let’s fight against the devil’s lies. Send fellow believers messages reminding them that we aren’t separated. We might be so physically, but not spiritually. The Church of Christ can’t be moved. When a friend tells you they don’t want to get together because they are worried about COVID, respond in grace. The last thing we need is a Church divided against oneself. Let’s pray for those who are suffering. Let’s let people know that we are praying for them. 

Let’s stand together. A couple of months of separation will feel like a couple of seconds when we are together for eternity. 


Listen to O Church Arise here.

Listen to another song which has a similar message, and is just as powerful, called Start Right Here, here.

Treasure In Jars of Clay

‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.’
2 Corinthians 4:7-10

I had wasted most of my day. I was disappointed because I felt that none of my efforts to use my time well were ever fruitful. I wanted to be a good steward, to do good. I felt completely weak and defeated. And guilty.

That morning my mom had reminded me how Jesus chose his disciples knowing they would abandon Him. He chose Judas as His disciple knowing He would betray Him. In Mark 3, it says that “He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him.” It later goes on to list the twelve disciples, and ends with the phrase “and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.”

Let’s apply the words of Mark to Judas personally. Jesus went up on the mountain and called to Him Judas whom He desired. He spent years loving and serving Judas, using Him for His Kingdom, all the while knowing that Judas would stab Him in the back. He knew that. Nevertheless, He desired Judas.

Jesus desires us. He desires broken souls and rebellious hearts. He has chosen us. This is a marvelous truth because it frees us from the spiritually deadly idea that we have to earn His love.

We work so hard to be good. To be enough. The world feeds us the lie that we can be enough, that we are what we need. It sounds like freedom. It isn’t. We try to earn the pleasure and affection of God. But we are unable. We are weak. We are human. David committed adultery and murdered someone to cover it up. Abraham lied about his wife saying she was his sister, and got his wife taken from him. Moses was a criminal and couldn’t speak well. Mary was accused of having sex out of wedlock for her whole life. We are broken, fragile creatures.

Jesus has chosen to put His treasure in jars of clay.

To find out what the treasure talked about in Mark 4:7 is, one needs to look at the preceding verse: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The treasure is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” that has been given by God by shining in our hearts. We now know the glory of God. That’s the treasure. The glory of God is precious, immortal, powerful, holy, and good. All the things we aren’t. Yet he has chosen to give us that.

Clay jars are fragile. They are thick, and they look rigid and sturdy, but with one fall they break into pieces. That’s us. We think we’re sturdy, that we can navigate life by our strength. We just aren’t. And Jesus chose us. He knew we were jars of clay.

So we can rest in the fact that He chose us. We can rest because He desired jars of clay, and He uses us for His glory. The verses 8-10 explain that all the afflictions and the pains and the hardships and even the temptations to waste our time, that we go through, display His glory. Those things show that we are frail, but the fact that we aren’t ever totally defeated shows that He is mighty.

Jesus is ok with us being weak. He chose us. So I choose to rest in His wisdom and to let Him have the glory and to strive to not try to be enough.

Peace That Passes All Understanding

Before I start this post, I want to apologize for not posting on Tuesday. We had a crazy busy week and it slipped my mind. I hope the post will be worth the wait. And it’s not as long as the last one, I promise 😉

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. It means not only the absence of war and strife but “wholeness”. When a complex world is working together as one piece, in harmony, there is shalom. When a “broken” relationship is “restored” or “made whole”, there is shalom. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death, He made whole our broken relationship with God on the cross. He made Shalom between us and God. That’s what I explained in my last post. Jesus’ death provided judicial peace.

But that judicial peace also allowed us to have experiential peace. This is the peace that is spoken of in Philippians 4:7.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Experiential peace is the peace that we feel in our hearts and minds.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

When we worry, the shalom of our trust in God is broken. We don’t believe that God can provide, or carry us, or that He can love us. The wholeness of our relationship is broken. We try to put the pieces back together by our strength. It doesn’t work. We were never meant to live without God. We were never meant to live without His friendship and presence. We cannot live a life of shalom, a whole life, without Him. So when we trust Him with our lives, He restores our broken relationship. And we have peace. We are whole.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

This world does not have shalom. It’s broken. People search for peace. They search for that missing thing that will make them whole. Some think they’ll find it in power. In money. In human relationships. In family. In a career. In fame. But as humans created by our God, we can find shalom only in the one that created us because we were created for Him. Without the One we were created for, pieces are missing. People can not feel true experiential peace before having judicial peace. People cannot feel true peace without first being restored to their God.

As believers, we are already restored. We stand before God in Christ’s righteousness, with no strife between us. So when we feel the temptation to worry, or to search for wholeness in other things, let us approach the throne boldly and go to the One who can make us whole, and give us peace.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Peace: Our Standing Before God

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:15-17

Here’s the post I promised on the 1st point I made about Colossians 3:15-17 in this post. 

As I was pondering different verses about peace, I realized that two different kinds of peace are talked about in the Bible regarding our identity as believers. As I further researched, I found more on the subject. One kind of peace is regarding our standing before God “judicial peace”, and the other is our state of mind and heart as believers “experiential peace”.

Judicial Peace

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 

And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:20

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  Ephesians 2:13-16

We were once enemies with Christ. We were in rebellion against God. The Old Covenant (the Law of Commandments) separated us from God because, to be with God, we had to faithfully fulfill all of God’s commandments. However, because of our sinful flesh, we couldn’t. Only the completely holy could be in the presence of a holy God. We could not access His presence. God created the sacrificial system so that the Old Testament believers could atone for their sins. In Hebrew, atonement, “kafar”, it means covering or blotting out (one might even say “painting over”). The blood of the animal symbolically paints over the sin. The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and eternal death, at that. Death is separation from the living. So the penalty for sin against an eternal living God is eternal death. The sacrificed animals covered the sin of the person up to that point so that they would be clean. It was a result of their repentance, and it served as a reminder to them that sin was deadly. In spilling the blood of an animal, they were restored to the covenant, where they received God’s mercy and forgiveness because God is faithful to be Himself (He is who He is).

Death was the only way to Life. Only through the death of the living could one satisfy God’s wrath and atone for debt. We could not provide that sacrifice. We had already sinned. If we were to die, we would forever remain indebted, in eternal death in hell. If we were ever to access God’s presence, we needed a sacrifice that could satisfy the debt eternally. 

This is where we get to the doctrine of Atonement. Atonement, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “the reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ”. Before, the sins of the Jews were atoned for once a year by the animal sacrifices. But now, our sins are atoned for by the death of Jesus Christ. The atonement of animal sacrifice only covered the sins of the here and now, but the atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cover all our sin, past, present, and future. 

If our debt is paid, and God has blotted out our guilty record, then there is no reason for us to be in enmity with God any longer. If we believe this to be true, we are reconciled to God. 

Reconciliation is what I talked about before when I said we could not enter God’s presence. Before the Fall of humankind, we had access to God. Adam and Eve would walk with God in the garden. They would talk with Him. However, when Adam and Eve sinned, they could no longer enjoy His presence. They were unclean. They were guilty and ashamed. Jesus’ death and sacrifice erased the guilty record of humankind before the Righteous and Holy God. Since our sins are atoned for, we can now go back into God’s presence. 

How Judicial Peace Transforms Our Lives

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:5–9

We are no longer hostile to God. We are no longer enemies with Him. Therefore, we can set our minds on the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us life, and gives us experiential peace.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

 “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

  we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31–37

Unlike our relationship with God before, where we were against Him, we are now on His side. When God, the immortal, eternal, all-powerful, strong King of the Universe is for us, nothing can stand against us. We can now stand in His presence, come boldly to His throne in times of need (Hebrews 4:16), with the promise that He will graciously give us all things. We are reconciled to Him. There is no more separation! Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing! 

We are safe in His love because we have peace in our standing before God.


I used ESV for all my verse quotations.

Many thanks to my uncle who helped out with the tricky and deep theological bits.

Tuesday’s post will be on experiential peace, the second kind of peace.