Tear Down Or Build Up?—Ephesians 4:29

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Have you ever stuck your tongue to cold metal in the winter? 

 

When I was a kid, my teacher told us students how his son went sledding down the hill straight toward the barb-wire fence at the bottom. He hit the fence in such a way that he actually bit the wire (thankfully, between the barbs). 

 

Since it was cold, however, his tongue stuck to the wire. Our teacher said that some people had their tongues stuck to cold metal and had yanked them off, leaving a bit of their tongues to the metal. 

 

He wanted to teach us the easy way that he got his son’s tongue unstuck—he breathed on it and the warm air of his breath freed his son’s tongue.

 

Being the scientifically-minded boy I was, I decided to replicate this experiment at home. Would my tongue really stick to a piece of cold metal and, if it did, would breathing on it release me from it? 

 

I found the perfect piece of metal in the barnyard—the latch for the chain of the barnyard gate. I went up to it and bravely stuck my tongue to it—sure enough, my tongue did indeed stick. It really does work! 

 

Then I performed part two of the experiment and started exhaling on it. After a moment or two, I had success! My tongue easily came off from the latch.

 

I paused to consider my success when I noticed a side effect: my tongue stung. It wasn’t a great pain, but it was noticeable and quite disturbing, especially when eating. My tongue stung for hours or maybe days after that—I don’t remember. All I remember was regretting sticking my tongue to cold metal.

 

Our tongues can get us into trouble and easily hurt others, and the pain they cause doesn’t go away quickly. That’s why it’s important for us to learn what the Bible teaches about using our tongues.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about how we use our tongues. They can be used to tear down people, and they can be used to build up people. It’s important that we follow the Bible’s instruction and save ourselves and others a lot of pain. 

 

One of the best verses in the Bible to learn about using our tongue has to be Ephesians 4:29. You will clearly see the division in the text: First, what not to say and, second, what we should say. Let’s call the first part…

 

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Habakkuk’s Strength In Trying Times—Habakkuk 3:1-19

Series: Trusting God in Trying Times

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Where do we get the strength to survive in trying times—whether it’s a personal trial like the death of a loved one—or it’s a national trial, like the sliding of our nation toward’s Gomorrah?

 

Habakkuk, as we have seen, was a prophet of God who lived during very trying times in the nation of Judah. In this last chapter, he encourages the remnant of believers to find their strength in the Lord.

 

Habakkuk 3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. 

 

This whole chapter is a prayer, but it’s a prayer that is also a song. The odd word, “Shigionoth,” [SHA-GUY-AH-NOTH] probably refers to some sort of musical notation or instrument.  At the end of the chapter, we have confirmation that this is also a song:

 

Habakkuk 3:19b To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

 

Why did Habakkuk write this prayer-song down? Well, one benefit of writing a prayer is that it can reach and encourage more people. That’s what Habakkuk was doing here. He wanted to encourage the remnant of Judah (who were about to be conquered by the Babylonians) with a prayer of praise to God. 

 

He wanted to remind them where to turn in the dark times ahead. Then he put his prayer into a song form so that it could be memorized easily and sung by the captive remnant like we might sing a hymn today to lift our spirits.

 

Of course, this prayer-song also was inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it became part of God’s Word and now it can encourage us today. 

 

Today many Christians are afraid of losing our nation. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I do know where to turn for strength even if the worst possible things happen to me, my family, and my nation. 

 

Habakkuk knew where to find strength in trying times. First, he teaches us that…

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Will You Be Sorry?—Habakkuk 2:4-20

Series: Trusting God in Trying Times

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Many folks make choices as if there were no consequences to those choices. Part of the reason that they do so is that there may not be immediate consequences to their choices. So they abuse their freedom and power again and again, and nothing bad seems to happen.

 

This is particularly disturbing for believers. We know God is holy and just, and so it is confusing to us when people seem to be getting away scot-free when they sin over and over. 

 

This is Habakkuk’s question when he first comes to God. “How long O Lord?” he cries, “How long will let your people continue in sin?” God answers and says that he will correct his people by raising up the Babylonians to conquer them!

 

Well, that just throws poor Habakkuk for an even bigger loop. How could the Lord use a more evil people to discipline his own people? Doesn’t God know what kind of evil those Babylonians commit on a daily basis?

 

In Habakkuk 2:4-20, God continues his answer to Habakkuk’s “How could you use evil people to discipline your own people?” question. 

 

The first part of God’s answer was to wait, the answer will come in time. The second part was to trust God, for the just shall live by faith. 

 

Now we get to the third part, which, stated simply, is that the evil will be sorry for what they’ve done. In trying times, we can trust God to give just punishment to those who deserve it, in his time. God says,

 

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: But the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, He is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, Who enlargeth his desire as hell, And is as death, and cannot be satisfied, But gathereth unto him all nations, And heapeth unto him all people: 

 

In the following verses we find five “woes” stated against Babylon for the evil they committed. “Woe,” is a way of saying to someone, “You are gonna be sorry.” Each woe is linked to some different sin that the Babylonians were committing in the present.

 

In these “woes,” God was showing Habakkuk the end of the matter: Babylon is going to be sorry for conquering God’s people. God shows him the future woes that Babylon will suffer. Knowing this, Habakkuk would be more able to trust God in his trying times.

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How Could You, God?—Habakkuk 1:12-2:4

Series: Trusting God in Trying Times

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Have you ever asked God, “How could you?” How could you do this or that? How could you allow those things to happen? How could you, God?

 

It’s a very human question. I say human, because the reason that we ask “How could you, God” is because we are limited in our abilities and understanding as humans. God, on the other hand, is infinite and powerful and all-wise, and, well, really hard for us to get.

 

Rich Mullins was a Christian musician that I listened to in the 90’s. His music was honest, simple, and had substance to it. One of his songs that I still listen to from time to time is one called, “Hard to Get.” 

 

The recording I have of this song is rough, because Mullins recorded it in an abandoned church on an old tape recorder. He was testing out a group of songs for a new album. Nine days later, he died in a car accident. His “Hard to Get” song is really a “How could you, God?” question set to music.

 

…Did You ever know loneliness, did You ever know need?

Do You remember just how long a night can get?

When You were barely holding on and Your friends fall asleep

And don’t see the blood that’s running in Your sweat

 

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted

While You’re up there just playing hard to get?

 

And I know You bore our sorrows

And I know You feel our pain

And I know it would not hurt any less

Even if it could be explained

 

And I know that I am only lashing out

At the One who loves me most

And after I figured this, somehow

All I really need to know

 

Is if You who live in eternity

Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time…

 

I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here

Where I’m lost enough to let myself be led

And so You’ve been here all along I guess

It’s just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

 

Habakkuk would have really resonated with those words. He understood that God was just plain hard to get sometimes. We have already seen that Habakkuk was crying out, “How long O Lord?” How long was God going to allow his people would continue in their evil ways? 

 

God’s answer was surprising: he was sending the Babylonians to conquer his people! So Habakkuk’s next question was raw and honest…

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