One of You Is a Gossip

A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. –Proverbs 16:28

Jesus made a remarkable statement concerning Judas: “‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’ Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him” (John 6:70-71).

To what was Jesus referring when He identified Judas Iscariot as “a devil”? Was He speaking figuratively or factually? Is Jesus saying that a human being could not only have an evil spirit living in his soul, but that a person could actually become a demon?

Some teach that Judas had become so perfectly possessed by Satan that he actually lost his humanity. Before we accept this interpretation, let us remember that after this fallen apostle delivered Jesus up, he felt such remorse for betraying Christ that he committed suicide. Could a demon feel such remorse for sin? I do not think so.

What I believe Jesus is identifying in Judas Iscariot as a “devil” is something that, today, exists unchecked among many Christians: slander. In the New Testament the Greek word diabolos, which is translated “devil” in this text, is translated impersonally elsewhere as a “false accuser,” “slanderer” or “malicious gossip.” In fact, 1 Timothy 3:11 and 2 Timothy 3:3 both translate diabolos (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #1228) as “malicious gossip(s).”

In other words, Jesus is not saying “one of you is a devil” in an organic or theological sense, but that one of you is “a slanderer, a malicious gossip.” So while the disciples were almost bragging about their loyalty to Christ, Jesus corrected them, in effect saying, “Yes, I chose you, but even among you there is one who is a malicious gossip, whose words will eventually betray Me to My enemies.”

Gossip in the Last Days

This problem of gossip in the Church, Paul tells us, will continue right into the end of the age. Listen carefully to what Paul wrote to Timothy about the last days: “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips” (2 Tim. 3:2-3), and the list goes on. In the midst of this list of great sins of the apostasy, the apostle includes “malicious gossips.” This is the exact same word translated “devil” in John 6:70.

Perhaps you know people who always have something negative to say about others, who always bring negative information about people into their conversations. I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us how “malicious gossip” is kin to the nature of Satan himself!

The Scriptures say that we will be justified or condemned by our words. Yes, our words—even those spoken in secret with a spouse or friend about others—are used by God to measure our obedience to His will. James writes, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2).

Words have power. Scripture reveals that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). Our words, expressed as a confession of faith, bring us into salvation; but words without faith can lead us and others with us into destruction and heartache.

James 3:8 warns, “The tongue . . . is a restless evil . . . full of deadly poison.” “The tongue,” he says, “is a fire, the very world of iniquity” (v. 6). And James reveals a most profound thought: “The tongue . . . sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (v. 6).

Satan gains access to our world, to destroy all that is good and holy in it, through our tongues. The very course of our life, the direction and quality of our earthly existence, is “set on fire by hell” through the words we speak. If we talk negatively about someone or maliciously gossip, the destructive fire of hell itself is released through our words. Lord, help us to understand the power of our words!

I believe God wants to break the power of gossip and negative speaking from the Church. We may have a perfect analysis of what is wrong and why it is evil, yet if all we do is talk about it, we have yet to disavow our allegiance to hell. God calls us to be a house of prayer for all nations—a spiritual community that is mature, fully capable of seeing what is wrong, but positioning itself to release redemption into the world.

If Paul Visited Your Community

Imagine if the apostle Paul came into a typical American city. Do you know what he might say about our divisions? Probably what he told the Corinthians: “I am afraid that perhaps when I come . . . there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances” (2 Cor. 12:20).

Does that remind you of any churches anywhere? Strife? Jealousy? Slander and gossip? How can we approach God with these things existing in us? I believe God desires to give the Church a whole new approach. But we cannot lay hold of the future unless we first let go of the past.

Perhaps you are thinking, “So and so should hear this.” Yes, but we must start with ourselves. Pastors must stop talking negatively about people; they need to refrain from “leaking” problems with people into their sermons. Intercessors must stop negative gossip about the people for whom they should be praying. If we discuss what is wrong for ten minutes, let us pray for redemption for twenty.

Judge Not

How do you respond to life’s imperfections? Do you gossip? When you hear of someone’s failure, are you quick to spread the news? If Jesus was looking at the Christians with whom you fellowship, would He say to you what He spoke to His early apostles, that “one of you is a malicious gossip?”

Even if you are not a gossip or slanderer, you must be careful to avoid “fellowship” with gossips. Criticisms incubate. Paul warned that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). If we walk with the wise, we will become wise, but if we open our hearts to the cynical and critical, then we become like them. That is why Jesus said we were to “take heed” to what we hear. For whatever we intently focus upon, we absorb in abundance (see Mark 4:24).

Thus, we must not even listen to gossip. When God shows us what is wrong in life, it is so we can pray for redemption, not spread the bad news all over town. Prayer has a positive focus. People with Christ’s love have a spiritual vision that causes them to see beyond the imperfections and limitations of the present world into the potential awaiting in the future—and they pray until what they see comes to pass.

Remember: None of us stands perfectly upright. Every time we judge someone, we position ourselves to be judged as well. Indeed, we each continually lean in the direction of our weakness. Only by the grace of God are we kept from falling. The moment we begin to self-righteously judge or gossip about another for their failings, we lean a little closer toward our own fall.

Our actions and words should be motivated by mercy. If we must discuss the situation or individual, let us harbor no malice or ill will. Let redemption be our guide, not revenge. Let us keep ourselves from becoming those who betray the working of Christ on earth. Let us keep ourselves from the realm of the malicious gossip.

Lord, purify my lips with fire from Your holy altar. Father, forgive me for my words that have not always been redemptive. Lord, deliver the Church from the realm of spreading gossip to the work of spreading grace. Help us to be a house of prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

 

 

A Place for Him to Rest

In the kingdom, there are no great men of God, just humble men whom God has chosen to use greatly. How do we know when we are humble? When God speaks, we tremble. God is looking for a man who trembles at His words. Such a man will find the Spirit of God resting upon him; he will become a dwelling place for the Almighty.

Entering the Sabbath Rest of God

Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? —Isaiah 66:1

God asks for nothing but ourselves. Our beautiful church buildings, our slick professionalism, all are nearly useless to God. He does not want what we have; He wants who we are. He seeks to create in our hearts a sanctuary for Himself, a place where He may rest.

In the Scriptures this rest is called “a Sabbath rest” (Heb. 4:9). It does not, however, come from keeping the Sabbath, for the Jews kept the Sabbath but never entered God’s rest. The Book of Hebrews is plain: Joshua did not give the Israelites rest (v.v. 7-8). And after so long a period of Sabbath-keeping, Scripture continues, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (v. 9).

The question must be asked then, “What is this Sabbath rest?” Let us explore Genesis in pursuit of our answer. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work” (Gen. 2:3). Before God rested on the Sabbath, there was nothing special or holy about the seventh day. Had the Lord rested on the third day, then it would have been holy. Rest is not in the Sabbath; it is in God. Rest is a prevailing quality of His completeness.

Revelation 4:6 describes the throne of God as having before it, as it were, “a sea of glass, like crystal.” A sea of glass is a sea without waves or ripples, a symbol of the imperturbable calm of God. Let us grasp this point: the Sabbath was not a source of rest for God; He was the source of rest for the Sabbath. As it is written, “The Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired” (Isa. 40:28). And even as the Sabbath became holy when God rested upon it, so we become holy as we put away sin, as the fullness of God settles and rests upon us.

In our study, we are not associating God’s rest merely with the sense of being rebuilt or rejuvenated, which we obviously need and associate with human rest. The rest we seek is not a rejuvenation of our energy; it is the exchange of energy: our life for God’s, through which the vessel of our humanity is filled with the Divine Presence and the all-sufficiency of Christ Himself.

Enveloped and Permeated With God The Hebrew word for rest is nuach; among other things, it means “to rest, remain, be quiet.” It also indicates a “complete envelopment and thus permeation,” as in the spirit of Elijah “resting” on Elisha, or when wisdom “rests in the heart of him who has understanding.” God is not looking for a place where He can merely cease from His labors with men. He seeks a relationship where He can “completely envelop and thus permeate” every dimension of our lives, where He can tabernacle, remain, and be quiet within us.

When God’s rest abides upon us, we live in union with Jesus the same way He lived in union with the Father (John 10:14-15). Christ’s thought-life was “completely enveloped and thus permeated” with the presence of God. He did only those things He saw and heard His Father do. He declared, “The Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). There is rest because it is Christ working through us. Jesus promises us, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (v. 14). How vain we are to think we can do miracles, love our enemies, or do any of the works of God without Christ doing His works through us!

This is why Jesus said, “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). In a storm-tossed boat on the sea of Galilee, Christ’s terrified disciples came to Him. Their cries were the cries of men about to die. Jesus rebuked the tempest, and immediately the wind and sea became “perfectly calm,” even as calm as He was (Matt. 8:26). What program, what degree of ministerial professionalism can compare with the life and power we receive through Him?

You see, our efforts, no matter how much we spend of ourselves, cannot produce the rest or life of God. We must come to Him. Many leaders have worked themselves nearly to exhaustion seeking to serve God. If they spent half their time with Him, in prayer and waiting before Him, they would find His supernatural accompaniment working mightily in their efforts. They would become passengers in the vehicle of His will, a vehicle in which He Himself is both captain and navigator.

Cease Striving, Know, Then Obey To enter God’s rest requires we abide in full surrender to His will, in perfect trust of His power. We learn to rest from our works “as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10). To “rest from our labors” does not mean we have stopped working; it means we have stopped the laborious work of the flesh and sin. It means we have entered the eternal works that He brings forth through us.

The turmoil caused by unbelief is brought to rest by faith. The strife rooted in unforgiveness is removed by love. Our fearful thoughts, He arrests through trust; our many questions are answered by His wisdom. Such is the mind that has entered the rest of God.

The church needs to possess the knowledge of God’s ways, for herein do we enter His rest (Heb. 3:8-12). We gain such knowledge through obedience to God’s Word during conflicts. As we obey God through the testings of life, we learn how to deal with situations as God would. Consequently, it is of the utmost value to hear what God is speaking to us, and especially so when life seems to be a wilderness of hardship and trials.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness. . . . Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways’; as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.'” —Hebrews 3:7-8, 10-11

He says, “They always go astray in their heart . . . they did not know My ways . . . they shall not enter My rest.” Let us understand: knowing God’s ways leads to His rest.

We must see that there is no rest in a hardened heart. There is no rest when we rebel against God. Our rest comes from becoming honest about our needs and allowing Christ to change us.

Thus Jesus said, “Learn from Me . . . and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Stop fighting with God and learn from Him. Let His Word put to death the torments of the sin nature. Cease struggling, cease wrestling against the Blessed One. Trust Him! For eventually His Word will plunder the defenses of your heart. Be committed to your surrender. In time He shall no longer use adversity to reach your heart, for you shall delight in being vulnerable to Him. Continue your diligent yielding until even His whisper brings sweet trembling to your soul. Far more precious than the men of a hundred nations is one man perfectly given to the Spirit of God. This man is God’s tabernacle, the one to whom God looks . . . and with whom He is well pleased.

He says, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being” (Isa. 66:1-2). Yet, incredibly, one man with one quality of heart captures the attention and promise of God. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (v. 2).

God looks to the man who trembles when He speaks. For in him the holy power of the Most High can, without striving, abide in perfect peace. He has learned the ways of God; he delights in obedience. He has chosen to give God what He asks: nothing less than all he is. In return, this man becomes a place, a holy place, where God Himself can rest.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a while since I last posted on my website as I felt that the lord wanted me to take a time of rest. It was at first a very difficult thing to do, as I was so used to being busy and having my hands into everything. I have to say though that the rest has been very good for me, as I can see things a bit clearer now, the sky looks bluer and brighter and I am enjoying just being a child of the Most High God.

We have all mistakenly bought into the lie that if we are busy and are involved with many things that we have greater value to the world around us. Well I have learnt that just because it is a good thing, does not make it a “God Thing” that he wants me to be a part of.

Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to love our neighbors and serve those around us, but I have found a disturbing trend in North America, and that is to be involved with everything, never saying no to anything or anyone, being on every sports team, learning musical instruments and languages, taking care of the needs of other and a dizzying array of other things.

In the end we walk away, completely exhausted, and feeling like we have been dragged through the mud backwards. Our moods are up and down, we are no longer capable of truly showing love to others, we snap at the weirdest things that people say and do, and well we are just not that pleasant to be around.

Ok, so maybe I am just talking about myself here, but I have seen this take a hold of others around me too, and unfortunately for most people they do not see it themselves, they do not understand why they are so tired, or frustrated or even overwhelmed. They just keep plodding along.

This is the state I found myself in, when I heard the lord say, “Enough, it is time to learn to rest”

I have to admit that I did not know how to do it, and found myself in a place of fear that I would be out of the will of God because I was not doing all that I thought I should be. I felt frustrated at my own apparent laziness, I was irritated that I was not really “doing anything” and the list continues.

Then I felt the need to just give it up, trust God that he had put me into this place of learning to lay things down, and learning to find joy in the things that I did get to do. I discovered a new found joy, one that I would not have experienced if I was still so caught up in the “doing” and not resting.

I have therefore learnt that I can be content in that place of rest, enjoying a moment to read a book on the couch; I can be content spending extra time quilting, or visiting with a friend. I can be content and enjoy a more relaxed time with my husband instead of all of these things being chores.

Therefore, when Jesus told his disciples that they needed to take on his yoke for it was way easier to walk with, than the heavy burdens that the world around us and even our flesh says we need to carry, Jesus knew that sooner or later we would feel the tremendous pressure of not only our sin, but the expectations of the world around us and the expectations that we put on ourselves.

Therefore, I believe that in this time of rest, the lord has taught me, that the things that I thought were so important, are not as important as I thought they were, and that I can rest in the knowledge that he is taking care of all the things that I thought I needed to personally be responsible for.

I praise the lord, from the depths of my heart that he has taught me this very valuable lesson, one I hope that I will carry with me for a very long time.

Therefore my new motto is, don’t sweat the small stuff, and leave the big stuff to God.

He is way better at handling it all, and giving you a deep peace as you walk with in trusting him to show you what he wants you to do next.

I praise the Lord!

If you find yourself in a place of constant motion, unhappy, overwhelmed and just plain miserable because of all that you are doing, maybe it is time to stop and reevaluate what is truly important; what your priorities should be and where would your time and effort be better spent.

I have had to ask myself these tough questions over the last few months, and have found that what I believed to be so important to God that I do really was not.

 So I have sincerely asked him to truly order my steps and lead me to his path, that will bring me not only a deep sense of peace and contentment, but that I would be able to bring him glory, by being and doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

The bible is very clear, that when we ask the lord to show us his path for our lives that he is very willing to do so.

Why not stop today and ask him, if all that you are involved in is his perfect plan for your life. If there are things that you need to lay down for a season and if you need to even change directions. The lord is gracious and will show you what is his will for your life if you ask him.

My Prayer for you;

Lord God, I pray that you will help my brother/sister to find a place of rest in you, to learn to trust you that they can put things down if you say they need to, and they can pick up other things if they need to as well. Father, you promise to always answer us when we call to you; I pray that you will lead them and guide them into your rest for their lives.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen