“Why?” Life is filled with perplexity and many unanswered questions –– “The Jewish Book of Why,” was written by a rabbi who attempted to answer many of the difficult questions that his congregants ask him over a number of years.
Jewish Book of Why Kolatch, Alfred J. and then Chief Rabbi Dr Hertz of the UK’s book –– The Jewish Book of Thoughts.
Jewish Book of Why Kolatch, Alfred J. This complete, concise, fascinating, and thoroughly informative guide to Jewish life and tradition, Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch clearly explains both the significance and the origin of nearly every thing that is important that makes the Jewish people distinctive: • symbol, • custom, • and practice known to Jewish culture-from Afikomon to Yarmulkes, and from Passover to Purim.
• Why do Jews • circumcise their sons on the 8th day? •Disclaimer: We totally reject any notion of female circumcision! • even do this circumcision on the Sabbath? • follow the mother’s Jewish heritage, and not their fathers to prove that they are Jews? • called the ‘Chosen people?’ • eat Kosher food? What is the significance between clean and unclean foods? • keep the Sabbath? • observe the Jewish festivals, such as Purim, Pesach, Shavuot, The Feast of Trumpets [Rosh HaShona, Yom Kippur and Succoth] ? • keep Chanukah? • observe Shivah (7 days morning) for the dead? • read the Tenuch (Hebrew Scriptures) and also the Talmud? • believe in One GOD? • believe that when the Messiah comes there will be universal peace? • not believe that Yeshua/ Jesus is the Messiah? • suffer persecution? • look to Israel as their ‘Promised Land?’
From a Messianic Jewish perspective there are equally a multitude of perplexing unanswered questions.
Why? • do bad things happen to good people? • did six million Jews die in the holocaust? • do pandemics happen? • do some people blame the Jews? (Anti-Semitism) • do wars happen? • are there food shortages? • are there natural disasters happen? • do people blame the Jews? • do people persecute the Jewish people? • do Jewish people believe in One GOD? • do most Jewish people not accept Yeshua as Lord and Messiah? • do folk say that Jesus-believing-Jews are no longer Jewish? • does are the Jewish people called the God’s Chosen people? • do some say the Jews have fulfilled their role since Christ came?
Body, Mind, and Spirit––It became very popular about thirty years ago to speak about Body, Mind, and Spirit as a new approach to wellness and wholeness and out of this came alternate therapies, meditation, mindfulness and this included a lot of other new age ideas. Some were based on sound principles, while others were very suspect and lacked any real scientific or spiritual soundness. Suddenly, popular bookshops, such as Waterstones and WH Smiths in the UK, and Barnes & Nobles in the USA introduced a brand new book section under the heading of ‘Body, Mind, and Spirit.
What Does “Body, Mind, and Spirit” Truly Mean?
You have heard people talk about the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Many people have a hazy interpretation of what it means, but it simply pertains to an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional/spiritual health.
According to a Biblical outlook, there are two distinct ways of viewing human beings––this should not be seen as contradictory, but rather complementary: Judaism speaks of people as being “living souls,”while in New Testament terms, Paul the Apostle speaks of a trinity of being as “body, soul and spirit.”
Feeling Troubled and Unwell
You have likely noticed that when something is troubling you mentally or emotionally, you actually begin to manifest symptoms physically. This is referred to as a ‘psychosomatic’ illness. Your heart starts racing, you get head aces, stomach cramps and in severe cases stomach ulcers, some even hyper-ventilate, while you may sweat more than usual, you have a hard time sleeping because you keep thinking about the problem – others begin to feel lethargic and fatigued. If these pressures persist one of the outcomes is clinical depression, and some have contemplated suicide too. Some begin to compulsively over eat or drink alcohol or even take drugs in a vain attempt to compensate for feeing troubled. Rather than these escapisms helping the situation it actually make them feel worse. This is when the mind-body-spirit are out of balance.
However, when your mind is at peace, you are more likely to be happier, kinder, and more grateful, because you’re not so embroiled from within. Physically, you are relaxed and ready to take on whatever challenges life throws your way.
The Connection Between Mind, Body, and Spirit
Dealing with struggles is a part of life that cannot always be avoided. Strengthening the connection between the mind, body, and spirit takes effort, so here is how these three factors work together to benefit your overall health:
A Healthy Mind
Someone with a healthy mind keeps the brain exercised regularly, and stress and worry are kept at bay by choice. Positive thoughts, gratitude, and a feeling of joy are present, and there is a thirst for knowledge and learning. Just like the brain requires sleep every night, the brain also requires things to think about and to ponder.
A Healthy Spiritual Life
It is only possible to enjoy a healthy spiritual life in and through getting to know and love God––this can only transpire through being “Born Anew.” When we born of God, our human spirit is made alive through God’s life-giving Spirit that regenerates us. Before that happens be can best be described being spiritually dead.
A Healthy Body
A healthy body is free of disease and illness, and it is not riddled with pain. Bodily health is also made possible by a healthy diet, good nutrition, and regular exercise.
A healthy body naturally wants to move and seeks activity. Maintaining physical health also includes keeping regular checkups with your primary care doctor in order to prevent illness, or to detect it and treat it right away if a disease does exist.
A Healthy Spirit
Being spiritual is being centered and having an understanding that you are part of something much bigger than yourself. Facilitating a healthy spiritual life includes being part of a faith community to share yourself with others, and enjoy the life of God and his people, in and through Yeshua the Messiah. Also through receiving God’s love and forgiveness, we in turn are able to give without expecting anything tangible in return. A healthy spirit requires to be able to love, and be loved.
The question of spiritual regeneration is fundamental to our experiencing God’s redeeming work––Yeshua, the Messiah and Lord is Saviour: He said, that He is the Light and Life of all who turn to him. He sends the Holy Spirit to enliven our human spirits and that is how we are ‘born agin.’
How is the Harmony to be Found?
According to the Scriptures, in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament there are numerous texts that encourage us individually to seek God and to discover his perfect will and purpose for our lives.
“If you seek me you will find me if you seek me with all your heart.”
Seeking and Finding
There needs to be an earnestness and a sincere endeavour to seek after the ways of the Lord God. Half-heartedness will yield little if any satisfaction in our quest. There is reward awaiting each one of us, if our desire is to discover the key to life and its meaning for our mortal lives.
Yes, We are Living Souls––Live Life to the Full
As the Jewish concept of human beings sees us as living souls, we need to not only understand ourselves to be whole integrated beings, but alive to God and to all that he has for us. Lay hold of what he has laid hold of for us. Grasp it, don’t neglect it or let it slip away from your reach. Determine that while you have life and strength that you make the most of the opportunities that you are presented with. Then you will have a fulfilled life, and a happy and blessed one.
Body, Mind, and Spirit––One Whole New Being
A new opportunity to enjoy God’s New Life that He has given us in Yeshua. As we live and have our being restored to the divine image that God envisaged for us we will be able to live out our lives just as God had intended us to do––more according to his perfect will and our purpose for us, and less of our empty and futile imaginings––Wow, it’s good to be alive and to be able to walk in the ways and light of God. Amen!
How Can We Fix People’s View of Messianic Judaism?
The Messianic Community and its Many Manifestations
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The world’s primary religions fall into two categories: Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and Indian religions, which include Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and others. Of the world’s major religions, Christianity is the largest, with more than two billion followers. Now each of these religions each in turn have their varied sects, sub-sects and off-shoots. Some are considered, as being orthodox, while others are considered as heterodox and at time heretical and are rejected from the main religious group. For the purpose of this talk, Judaism and Christianity are the primary focus of this consideration.
Judaism is the oldest monotheistic faith––the belief in one God only in contrast to the polytheistic belief in many gods.
Christianity traces its early origins as one of the manifestations within Judaism and did not, nor could it stand alone as a separate faith. It was wholly dependent upon Second and Post Second Temple Judaism for its beliefs. It was in relationship to this early Judaism that the Messianic/ Christian faith developed. Two faith emerged from the one belief in Judaisms God––But why? Was this separation inevitable, part of the divine plan and unavoidable? Following the destruction of the Second Temple of the Jewish people by the Romans under Titus, Judaism and its many expressions faced an existential crisis that threatened its very future. What happened following this catastrophe is a fact of history and its outcome has fundamentally shaped the destiny of humanity. Judaism, A Short Introduction, by Norman Solomon, explains that as he puts it Christianity (the Older Sister), and Rabbinic Judaism (the younger sister), were both derived from Post Second Temple Judaism. Prior to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans under Titus (70 CE), Second Temple had many different sects and this included Jewish Christianity, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, Zealots, and the Essenes. The Pharisees emerged as the custodians of Judaism and at the Council of Javna, in 125 CE, Rabbinic Judaism was firmly established. If we follow Solomon’s chronology, then he is correct that Jewish Christianity is older.
Why theSplit? There are numerous contributing factors that led to the split––firstly, Yeshua’s claims to be the Messiah, i.e. the Anointed One (Mashiach) and also the divine Son of God, was bound to cause a division among his contemporary Jews.
The Trilema––Lunatic,Liar or Lord: So which is it to be? Lunatic is a non––pc way of describing someone who is mentally ill or delusional. As C S Lewis puts it as on the level with someone who thinks that he is a poached egg.Liar, he knew that he was not the Messiah, but nonetheless, he still claimed to be one and was in fact demonically inspired. Lord, he is the Messiah as he claimed. There are equally three responses to be made to the Trilema––dismiss him as being a harmless fool, lock him up because he is dangerous due to his false claims, or fall at his feet as Lord and Messiah.
The Third Option––this third option needs further exploration: If he is Lord and Messiah then the Evidence Demands a Verdict (Josh McDowell). It is up to each individual. Now those first century Jews who embraced him became known as Jewish Christians. Initially they were tolerated as one of the various Jewish sects of late Second Temple Judaism. We are aware from Yeshua’s /Jesus contemporaries during his life time he received varied reactions––Pharisee, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes and Gentile God-fearers each had different responses to his life and ministry.
The two strongest groups that opposed Jesus were the Sadducees that were made up of the High Priestly clan together with a number of Pharisees. Some of these people constituted the Sanhedrin or the Jewish Ruling Council and they were the official custodians of first century Jewry and are severely referred to as the Jerusalem Temple Leadership, and also the Judaean Leaders. The second and most powerful group of leaders were the Romans, and their puppet leaders––Pontus Pilat and the various Herods. They were subservient to Roman and were particularly responsible for law and order in the Galilee. The Romans focused their main attention on Judaean province because that included Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. The High Priestly leadership were directly responsible to the Roman overall and they had to ensure that peace and stability was maintained among the various and at times very fractious Jewish sects. The followers of the Nazarene Jesus were a growing cause of concern and their presence was threatening the status quo. Things were rapidly escalating with Jesus and his followers making claims that he is Messiah, King of Israel and that the Kingdom of Heaven/God was at hand!
The Death of Yeshua: Following his crucifixion and burial surely that was the end of all those false claims? But, not so––Now his followers were claiming that he had risen and was alive! The Resurrection of Yeshua/Jesus became the cornerstone of the New Faith. Into this turbulent mix the numerous Jewish sects were getting more and more fractious and things were increasingly challenging Roman rule over this fractious Judaean province. Titus the Roman General was appointed by Rome to put things in order, and in the process the Jewish uprising resulted in the Romans destroying the Jewish Temple and ultimately any Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land was ended. Jews were scattered far and wide and without the Jewish Temple the Rabbinic Council was convened at Javna in 125 CE under the leadership of Rabbi Johanan Ben Zakki.
Jewish Christians were rejected as Jews. This was due to the fact that they persisted in their claims that Jesus is the Messiah who they claimed is alive. Additionally, the Gentile mission began to flourish, particularly under the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Paul insisted, that while Jews who followed Yeshua should remain Jewish, Gentiles no longer were required to observe aspects of the Torah/Law. This made the separation between the two faith final.
Is there any Good News? It would appear that the last remnants of Jewish Christianity survived up until the tenth century and evidence of this was traced to modern day Iraq in Mosul. So how can Jewish people claim to be Messianic Jews if in fact the sect disappeared in the tenth century?
What’s in a Name? Christian Jews, Jewish Christians, Hebrew Christians and Hebrew Catholics are some of the names that Jewish followers of Yeshua call themselves, and latterly, the term Messianic Jews has become popular.
Some explain the fundamental differences between being called a Hebrew Christian and Messianic Jews is more than simple semantics. In English usage and grammar we have the adjective and the noun. With Hebrew Christian––”Hebrew” is the adjective and “Christian” is the noun. By referring to oneself as a Messianic Jew––”Messianic” is the adjective and “Jew” is the noun. This change in usage is much more important than an issue of a grammatical construction, it is a different way of looking the world and also forces people to sit up and take note when a Jesus believing Jew calls him or her self a Messianic Jew. It can be referred to as cognitive dissonance.
Uncomfortable, conflicting beliefs and certainly mental discomfort are not wholly undesirable–the term Messianic Jew certainly makes people sit up and take note.
What are Messianic Jews saying?
We are here and as much as many would want us to disappear as the tenth century Jewish Christians of Mosul, Iraq did––its is not going to happen.
By God’s grace we are growing as a movement with more and more Jewish people making the discovery that Yeshua is their Messiah and Lord.
This increase is due to numerous mitigating factors–– There is greater Jewish pluralism with Jewish people no longer feeling bound to remain loyal to former religious classifications, and also the willingness to move beyond the narrow confines of the so–called tribal boundaries. Many Jews have ‘married out,’ which does not automatically mean that their Jewish heritage is no longer important to them. This particular group of people are often more open to exploring alternatives to faith––this makes the Messianic Jewish expression of the faith particularly attractive. This is particularly the case if it is an inter-faith marriage of a Jew and Catholic or Protestant. Increasingly there are Jewish families who know of one or more relative who is a Jesus-believing-Jew. Personally, I have had family members who have wanted to know about my faith in Yeshua. The questions have come from them, rather than I attempting to share my faith with them, that all too often can lead to accusations of one trying to proselytise. It is quite different if the questions come from them.
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This is to enable you the listener to express your thanks and help me expand the work of Shalom Radio UK by making a donation
Thanks to Roni for inviting me to share some thoughts with you about my faith. I would also like to introduce myself and tell you about the two books that I have written. I came to faith in Jesus the Messiah when I was in my late teens and have been travelling this journey ever since then.
Studying the Bible provides us with a pathway to knowing God. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.
I spent time ministering among the Marwari Bheel tribes in Pakistan and found them so eager to learn about the Word of God. Listen further to the audio programme about my experience in teaching them in Pakistan.
Even children are keen to ask questions about God. In studying theology we learn more about the Christian faith and discover more about God at the same time.
Details about my book Getting to Know God: An Introduction to Christian Theology.
Getting to Know God: An Introduction to Christian Theology, by Elisheva Mechanic. Resource Publications, Wipf and Stock Publishers. Paperback ISBN: 978-1-6667-0946-9 Hardback ISBN: 978-1-6667-0947-6 Ebook ISBN:978-1-6667-0948-3 Available from Amazon or directly from the Publisher, Wipf and Stock: https://wipfandstock.com
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How did you land up with a name like “Mechanic?” It is of Russian Jewish origin, and in the Russian language Mechanic means a technician or mechanic. My younger brother and I are the two most technically, practically and mechanically minded of our direct family. As far as I can tell all those who bear this surname are of eastern European origin.
When my wife and I visited Auschwitz in September 2021, Poland, in the hall that has the record of over 4,000,000 Jews that perished due to the Nazi genocide there were at least 25 Jewish name called “Mechanik or “Mechanic” or similar spelling.
What needs fixing?
That is an important question to ask. For as some great philosopher said, “The Universe is broken!”
Brokenness can be expressed in many different ways:
While there is scientific and physical evidence of brokenness, I am particularly concerned about the spiritual state of humankind. Everywhere we care to look we not that things are out of order and lay broken to some extent.
According to the Scriptures:
The Hebrew Scriptures and equally the New Testament Scriptures testify to the human condition. It was not always like that, but the more people turned away from God’s design for humankind the worse things got. In the beginning our common ancestors Adam and Eve lived in harmony with their creator and enjoyed fellowship with him. It was not God’s designer intention that humans should be like robots or puppets on a string. He gave us free will and the ability to choose between good and evil. According to Judaism we are given two inclinations––nefesh ha tov and nefesh ha rah. According to St Augustine in his attempt to explain the condition of human nature and the subsequent fall, as “original sin.” In contrast Judaism teaches that babies are born innocent, but as they grow mature they must begin to make moral choices that will lead in them either becoming good or bad people.
How are we to choose to live? According to Judaism to gain God’s favour it is an issue to which of the two inclinations that we yield to––the choice is unto us individually. If we want to be good then we should pay attention to the study of the Torah. In addition one must seek to keep the mitzvoth––commandments, show acts of mercy to our fellow human beings and practice tesuvah––repentance for our wrong doing. According to the Messianic/Christian faith, all of humankind have failed to live righteously and fall short of the glory of God. Salvation or deliverance is only possible through trusting in the ‘finished work of Messiah Yeshua,’ when he died on the Cursed Tree (Cross). All human virtue however good we may be, does not fulfil God’s way of making atonement. We cannot save ourselves!
God’s Part verse Our Part
We are the weaker and He is the stronger and we depend upon him to do his work in the world. In helping to play our part in Tikun Olam––Repairing the World, a partnership needs to be developed, a plan devised and then action begin to be taken.
As we face the New Year let us go forth with courage and hope trusting in God’s unending love.
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Yeshua said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people!”
What is a Jewish view of Jesus?
What is a Gentile view of Jesus?
* A Jewish perspective – then and now. * A Gentile perspective – then and now. * Exploring how perceptions are changing for the better.
The question what it means to be members of the One Body – Where there is neither Jew or Greek (Gentile)? Our present reality and future hope!
Yeshua said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people!”
“A Very Jewish Jesus!” * Yeshua lived as a Jew and how that should impact upon our faith?
Compassion between then and now – many attempts are made by well meaning people to recreate what the earliest manifestation of belief and faith was like in the first two centuries of the common era – is this an impossible dream or can it be achieved?
* A Jewish perspective – then and now. * A Gentile perspective – then and now.
* Exploring how perceptions are changing for the better. The question what it means to be members of the One Body – Where there is neither Jew or Greek (Gentile)?Our present reality and future hope! What kinds of congregation are we desiring to develop and how do these reflect the one universal body of Messiah Yeshua?Unity with diversity — the significance of difference without division?
What does it mean to become a “fisher of people?” How do we share the Good News of Yeshua in a culturally appropriate way?
Recently Roni and his wife Elisheva visited Cracow, Poland and in the Old Town they met a Catholic lady by the name of Sylvia at the Franciscan Convent – Sylvia is involved in an institute that fosters Catholic––Jewish dialogue and reconciliation.
Roni interviewed Sylvia in which they discussed a number of topics of mutual interest, including the Catholic Charismatic Movement that has lead to a number of “Born Again” Catholics who are helping to bring spiritual renewal within the Catholic Church.
Poland––Suffering and Tears through thorns and thistles
There are a number of Bishops, and Catholic priests that actively are encouraging this renewal. Including many lay people of whom Sylvia is one. WWII deaths caused by the occupying Nazis equally cause immense suffering to Poles as well of Jews. One in ten Polish people were Jewish before the Holocaust.Today only a fraction of that number remains. They also discussed “Victimhood,” who suffered more Jews of Gentiles in Poland? The ultimate goal is that Jews and Catholics may be reconciled.
Charitable Donation to Support Shalom Radio UK’s Running Costs
This is to enable you the listener to express your thanks and help me expand the work of Shalom Radio UK by making a donation
The spoken and written word each canary significant power to either hurt or heal others. Think for instance Hitler’s Mein Kampf –– My Struggle, a book that set the world on fire that gave expression to his hate filled ravings that resulted in the death of over six million Jews, One and a half million Gypsies, and millions of others:
In Charlie Chaplain’s The Great Dictator –– He gives an impassioned speech in which Henkel appeals for world peace. This parody on Hitler’s Nuremberg speech is the polar opposite of what the evil dictator actually said. Chaplain appeals for love and toleration, mutual respect and the fostering of hope, harmony and peace––Hitler stood for discrimination, race hatred, war, power and destruction. This is an extreme example of the destructive power of the written and spoken word.
Words that hurt are everywhere apparent––just think of the consequences of the words of deception that Satan spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:
New International Version
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and hers; he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Satan is the father of lies and those who habitually and deliberately tell lies are doing the work of their father the devil.
The dialogue that followed tells the tragic narrative of the outcome of listening to the words of deception. We can refuse to listen to lies as the writer of Psalm 1 says,
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The company that we keep will determine the conversation that we have––godless company––godless outcomes/ godly company––godly conversation with godly, positive outcomes.
New International Version
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Yeshua’s Blessed Sayings:
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them––His spoken teaching words were life-giving.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
The Fulfilment of the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
Give serious thought to what you say!
The words we speak have the power of life and death––”Put in gear before you proceed!” It is important that we consider what we are going to say before speak.
REVEREND MARCIA MARTIN
VIAN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
My dad gave me piece of advice when I was a know-it-all teenager. He said, “Never say in anger what you don’t mean, because you can say you’re sorry, but you can’t take it back.”
Satan can use our tongue to cause division, putting others down, bragging, false teaching, exaggeration, complaining, or just flat out lying. It only takes a few words to hurt someone. Wounds heal but they leave scars that never disappear.
Our words have power––They can bring joy or cause misery. Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” The stakes are high.
Your words can either speak life, or your words can speak death. Our tongues can build others up, or they can tear them down. An unchecked fire doubles in size every minute. Gossip and false teaching are no different. It’s been said that great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.
The congregation that James is writing to in James 3:1-12 was full of small-minded people who gossiped about each other and tore one another apart with their tongues. We’re quick to avoid the sins of murder, stealing, and drunkenness, but we often assassinate fellow believers and leave a trail of destruction by the way we use our tongues.
Husbands have stabbed their wives with words that are as sharp as daggers.
Wives have lashed out with tongues that slice and dice.
Parents have devastated their children by repeated blasts of venom.
And children have exploded at their parents with words that have leveled the entire family like a bomb.
Look at what’s written in the first chapter of James’ letter: James 1:19 “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;” And verse 1:26, “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” If you and I launch verbal destruction, those words will have devastating consequences on others.
James connects sins of the tongue with sins of the body because our words usually lead to corresponding deeds. Proverbs 21:23 says “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” The tongue can express or repress; offend or befriend; affirm or alienate; build or belittle; comfort or criticize; delight or destroy.
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” We all know that isn’t true, don’t we? Actually, psychological pain is much more severe and lasting than physical pain. More people than we might think harbor scars from psychological abuse as children. Those scars are on their hearts and they influence their lives.
Words can break our hearts. Words can break our spirits. Broken bones can heal with time, but a broken spirit caused by words of death, isn’t easily repaired. How many people have you maimed or killed with your words? Is your tongue too quick to criticize? Do your words build up…or do they tear down?
So how do we tame our tongue? Did you know that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters? One for every day of the month. I’m going to read one chapter of Proverbs and one chapter of James every day for the next month. I invite you to do the same. Nearly every chapter of Proverbs has something to say about the tongue. At the end of the month, we’ll have read the entire book of Proverbs once, and the book of James six times…
Is there any good news?
Words that Heal – Writing and Saying things that make a difference
When was the last time when you said something kind, encouraging and life-giving to someone?
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