“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

I read this question in a book some time back: “If you were told that you only had thirty minutes left to live and that you could make one phone call, who would you call, what would you say, and why are you waiting?” Those kinds of questions have a way of revealing “who” and “what” are most important to us, don’t they? That final question, “Why are you waiting,” says that we can do the important things NOW. We do not have to wait until the doctor gives us a bad diagnosis.

We can make the phone call today.

We can write the letter today. (Handwritten ones are best:)

We can say, “I am sorry” today. We can say, “thank you” today. We can say, “I love you” today. We can ask, “will you forgive me” today.

We can invite them over or out to eat today.

We can give them a gift of appreciation today.

James, the Lord’s brother, reminded us that life is brief and unpredictable when he wrote, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) Since we cannot know what may happen tomorrow, it only makes sense to do and say the important things today.

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

I have always appreciated the story about David Livingstone, missionary and explorer on the continent of Africa. He once received a letter from an aid group in South Africa asking, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.”

Livingstone replied, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I do not want them. I want men who will come even if there is no road at all.”

I have been fortunate to know such missionaries in my lifetime. Men and women who went to mission fields where there were no easy roads – but with Heaven’s help, the gospel was preached, souls were saved, churches were established and God was (and continues to be) glorified. People like: Richard and Elaine Walker, Doyle and Louise Gilliam, Curtis and Lamoine Harrison, Cline and Jo Paden, Gerald and Bobbie Paden, Howard and Jane Norton, Ted and Dot Stewart and others.

Of course, Livingstone’s sentiment expressed above, does not apply to missionaries only. It applies to any man or woman, boy or girl, dedicating themselves to follow and serve Jesus Christ. It raises the question, “Will I only follow the Lord when it seems easy to do so? Or will I follow Him even when I cannot see the pathway forward?”

Jesus calls followers NOT to a life of ease. But to a life of cross bearing. Not to a life of comfort, but a life of suffering. About which Paul writes: “…if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17)

Before the glory must first come the suffering.

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister once said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

This is what the angel of the Lord was doing when he approached Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” And, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” (Those sounds you are hearing are the tink, tink, tink of God’s pick ax mining away inside Gideon’s mind to reveal his own riches to him.)

Did Gideon see himself as God’s “mighty warrior”? Certainly not. Not yet, at least. “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15)

In other words, Gideon is saying, “I’m no one special.” “What makes you think I am a leader?” “I come from a weak people – and, in fact, I am the weakest person among all my people!”

By the way, what is the Lord’s answer to all of Gideon’s self-defeating words? “I will be with you…” (Judges 6:16)

THAT, my friend, is the blow of the pick ax that reveals the vein of gold in the heart of the mine! Knowing that God is with us helping us become all that He has created us to be. This is when all thoughts of inadequacy no longer matter! And so God used Gideon and his 300 men to defeat 135,000 Midianite warriors.

Here is a fantastic thought: If God keeps hammering away on me, what riches may come to the surface?

Believe it. There is gold inside you! And God can bring it out.

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

One of my favorite words may be one that you would least expect. It is the word repent.

The word “repent” is not a bony pointed finger of condemnation stuck in your face. It is the opportunity to begin anew and once again be right in the sight of God.

Acts 3:19 tells us to “Repent … and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”

Listen to that. Repentance is a blessing. It ushers in forgiveness and a time of refreshing from the Lord.

Repentance is our dearest friend. It does for us what it did for the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. It brings us home to our Father.

I was reading the prophet Ezekiel this week. Listen to what is found at the end of chapter 18. “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezek. 18:30b-32)

An old time preacher that I like to listen to used to point out that Jesus’ last word to the church was not the great commission. Jesus’ last word to the church was “repent”. Five of the seven churches found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 were told to repent.

In repentance there is forgiveness. In repentance there is refreshing. In repentance there is life.

Dear friend, let us love and appreciate the convicting Word of God that wounds us like a friend (Proverbs 27:6) in order to bring us to repentance – turning away from sin and back to the home of our Heavenly Father.

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

Some stories and quotes have made the rounds over the years, but are still worth sharing. Here is one of those quotes.

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered – love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives – do good anyway.

If you’re successful, you will win false friends and true enemies – succeed anyway.

The good you do today will perhaps be forgotten tomorrow – do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable – be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind – think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only hot dogs – fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight – build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them – help them anyway.

Give the world the best that you have and you will get kicked in the teeth – give the world the best you have anyway.

The point is simple: No matter how people may treat you and no matter what circumstances you may face in life, do what is right and good anyway.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

We reap what we sow. So keep on sowing the good and don’t give up!

“The Danger Of Not Knowing”

The Bible tells us, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs. 1:7). In another passage, it says that the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). Question: How can one fear (respect) God, if he does not know who God is? By looking at creation we can know His magnificent glory (Psa. 19:1). By looking at His Word, we learn that He is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and worthy of praise. The more we learn about God as the Bible reveals Him, the more we have a better understanding of how we should approach Him. Therefore when a person realizes that God is sovereign and understands God’s desire of man, the fear of Him produces, and true knowledge begins. The wise king Solomon realized this truth after his quest for satisfaction: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NKJV)

To truly know God is to have the knowledge of Him and His will as stated in the Bible, carried out in our lives. James the half-brother of Jesus said it this way: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22 NKJV) I want to emphasize that James said that first of all, one needs to hear before doing (Listen, Know, Learn, Study, Be taught). If we do not hear first the Word, then there is no faith (Romans 10:17). Many people who skip the hearing the Word of God part, and with much zeal are already trying to do. The question for them is, “What is their guideline for acting in the name of God if they did not first hear His Word?” The answer is scary: they could be self-guided, emotionally guided, or listening to man’s wisdom instead of God’s wisdom. The proverb speaks against this type of spiritual guidance: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV). Jeremiah preached to a people who were guided by self, false prophets, and sin: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23 NKJV) The danger of not knowing God and His Will is that we could deceive ourselves thinking we are right, assuming God accepts our approach, and it does not matter how we do it. Jesus has words for those kinds of people:

““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21–23 NKJV)

It is vital to salvation for all to know the Will of God. Paul encouraged the Ephesians: “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17 NKJV). This task requires dedication to study and learn the Bible, and anyone can do it!

Have you noticed that many of the spiritual problems recorded in scripture have to do with a lack of knowing and doing God’s will? There are many occasions but here are a few scriptures:

  • “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 NKJV)
  • “Therefore I said, “Surely these are poor. They are foolish; For they do not know the way of the Lord, The judgment of their God.” (Jeremiah 5:4 NKJV)
  • “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6 NKJV)
  • “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1–3 NKJV)

There are many other occasions such as Jesus’  ministry where the lack of knowledge of God was the problem. Jesus would ask “have you not read?” or “what do the scriptures say?” or “Do you not know?” All questions related to knowledge. He would tell the Jews: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39 NKJV) The Jews thought because they possess the writings they were saved. But Jesus says to read the writings, know the writings because they testify about Him being Messiah. Therefore we find in the New Testament the apostles and early Christians encouraged one another to have the knowledge of God because it was vital to their service to Him and their eternal destiny. Notice a few passages:

  • “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV)
  • “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV)
  • “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18 NKJV)
  • “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,” (2 Peter 1:3 NKJV)
  • “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” (Colossians 3:10 NKJV)
  • “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:20 NKJV)

Friends before we get worked up in emotion, before we get to the doing part, we need to be sure we have the correct knowledge of God and His Will. Today there is much confusion and division in the world of “Christendom”  because of the lack of knowing the will of God. So many have the zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge which amounts to vanity (Rom. 10:1-3). Jesus condemned that kind of zeal that is without knowledge when he said: “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9 NKJV). Avoid the dangers of not knowing, by putting forth the effort to know.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”” (John 8:32 NKJV)

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

In his book “Spiritual Leadership” J. Oswald Sanders wrote an insightful remark. He said, “Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare.”

I read once that the difference between listening and hearing is that listening is wanting to hear. The same kind of thing could be said about the difference between looking and seeing. Seeing is wanting to look. Looking is a function of the eyes. Seeing is a function of the heart. It means you care about the other person.

Have you ever noticed how often the Bible says, “Jesus saw”? And oftentimes it is connected to the Lord’s compassion.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt. 9:36)

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Mt. 14:14)

One of my favorites is the story found in Luke 7 about a widow in a village called Nain who was part of the funeral procession carrying her only son to the cemetery for burial. The Bible says in v.13, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.'” Then Jesus resurrected her son from the dead.

You and I may not be able to heal the sick with a touch, or raise the dead. But we can make it our practice to really “see” people and to let their situation stir our hearts to action. And the action we take could be as simple as a smile, a hug, a kind word, a listening ear or a prayer.

Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare. Choose to do more than just look. See.

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

This little story puts a smile on my face every time I read it. It’s called “Sel Not Spel”.

A recently hired salesman wrote his first sales report to the home office after working in his territory the first week. It shocked the sales manager because he suddenly realized that he had hired someone who was illiterate. Here’s what the report said: “I went and seen this outfit which ain’t bot nothin from us befour and I sole em a good order. Now I’m movin to Nu Yourk.”
The manager was in a panic. But before he could get hold of the salesman to fire him, he received a second report that said, “I done been hear fer too days and sole them haff a millyon.”

By this time the sales manager was totally confused about what to do. He knew that he could not keep an illiterate salesman, but he also knew that he could not fire a salesman who had outsold everyone else on the sales force. So, he did what any good middle manager would. He dropped the problem into the lap of the company’s president.

The next morning, everyone in the sales department was amazed to see the salesman’s two reports on the bulletin board along with the following memo from the president of the company: “We bin spendin weigh two much time tryin to spel in sted of tryin to sel. Lets all try to get our sails up. Reed these too letters from hour best salsman. He’s doin a grate job and all you shud go out and do like he done.”

Today’s lesson: The importance of doing.

James wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22) When it comes to being students of the Bible, there is more than just reading or hearing or meditating on a passage that is required. There is to be doing.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) In other words, if we are at all able – take action, serve, be helpful! DO.

After telling the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, Jesus applies the lesson in v.37 by saying, “Go and do the same.”

Some things are important. Like being able to spell correctly on a sales form. Other things are even more important. Like DOING.

Let’s determine within ourselves to never stop short of the “doing” of those things which we have learned.

 

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

 

A positive life is a caring life.

My heart ached this past week as my wife shared with me the horrible story of little 8 year old Gabriel Fernandez who died after 8 months of physical torture and abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect him. The details are so awful, I would rather not write them. The part of the story that touched my heart most deeply was a note which Gabriel’s teacher found in his school desk that read: “I love you mom and Gabriel is a good boy.”

This is a little 8 year old boy, still reaching out and saying, “I love you mom” to the very woman who helped destroy his life. And he just wants her to know that he is a good boy.

All Gabriel was saying in that note was this: Please love me back. Please think I am good.

He simply wanted his mom to care.

Pay very close attention to what I write next. This is the deep need of every human heart. To love and to be loved in return. To care for others and to believe that others care about you. You know instinctively as you read those words that they are true.

Psalm 142:4 expresses this thought in a haunting kind of way: “Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.”

The message for us is this. Look at every human you come into contact with as someone who needs love and care. Then, be willing to give it. Smile a caring smile. Speak with a caring voice. Listen with caring ears. Give a caring hug or handshake. Offer a caring hand of help.

And always be willing to go first.

Jesus taught, “Love your neighbor.” He taught, “Love one another.” He taught, “Love your enemies.”

Say to yourself, “Today I will go first. I will show others that I care.”

“A Good Word” – by Charlie Thomason

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

Living a positive life includes believing the best about God, about others and about yourself.

What do you believe about God? Is He “for you” or “against you”? Is He your friend or is He someone you are afraid of? Does God care when you face problems or is He calloused?

When I was a boy, my picture of God looked like this: God was a stern Judge, seated behind His enormous wooden desk, with a large filing cabinet behind Him. Inside that filing cabinet was a thick, manila folder with all my sins listed on sheets of paper inside. There I was standing before God the Judge, and beneath my feet on the wooden floor was a trap door in the shape of a square. As I stood, God would read out all my sins and humiliate me in front of every human soul that ever lived, then, at long last, He would throw a nearby lever releasing the trap door. Finally, the last thing I would hear as I descended into the flames of Hell was God’s laughter. (Even as I write these words, I can hardly believe that was my concept of God; but it was at the time!)

Praise God, the Bible teaches that God is for us! (Romans 8:31) He wants the very best for you and me! Of course God cares when we have problems. He is on our side! THAT should be what we believe about God. Not that He would be happy to send us to Hell.

Next, we will do well to believe the best about others. Whenever we believe the best about others, we are acknowledging that God created them with all the potential to be and do and live for His glory. Not only that, when we believe the best about others we also tend to say and do things that bring out the best in others. Jesus gave the fisherman Simon the nickname “Peter” (which means a solid rock) even when he still exhibited the qualities of loose gravel. But when it mattered most, after the resurrection, Peter stood like a solid rock and preached the gospel so that 3,000 people became Christians!

Jack Canfield, one of the editors of the popular Chicken Soup For The Soul book series, worked for motivational author W. Clement Stone when he was a young man. Canfield says Stone was “an inverse paranoid”. In other words, instead of thinking that everybody in the world was out to take advantage of him and somehow “do him wrong” – Mr. Stone thought of everybody in the world as having his best interests in mind. They were in a conspiracy, not to harm him, but to do him good. What a great belief to have about others!

Finally, to live a positive life we should believe in ourselves. I’m not promoting an unhealthy, ego-centric, humanistic “I believe it, therefore I can achieve it” type of self belief. No. I’m advocating the kind of self belief that the Bible teaches. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

This approach says, “I can accomplish as long as the Lord is working alongside me, in me, and through me.”

Philippians 2:13 says as much: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

Start believing. And if you initially have difficulty convincing yourself to believe in these things, pray the prayer a desperate man once prayed to Jesus: “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Start believing the best about God. He loves you, He cares for you and He wants the absolute best for you. Start believing the best about others. When you do this, it helps bring out the best from inside others. Start believing the best about yourself – what it is possible for you to become and what it might be possible for you to accomplish with the Lord’s help.